Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

Believe in UFOs? You’re round the bend!


Not so long ago, an acquaintance and I happened to be joking about superstitions, when out of the blue the following conversation arose.

HIM: Do you believe in UFOs?
ME: Yep.
HIM: Seriously?
ME: Seriously. Don’t you?
HIM: You don’t really believe there’s little green men from Alpha Centauri fly about in the sky, do you?

The penny dropped. We were talking about different types of UFO’s.

ME: What makes you think they’re green? They could just as likely be fluorescent mauve, don’t you think?
HIM: You’re taking the piss!
ME:  Kinda.

I then had to explain that by UFO I simply meant an aerial phenomenon for which an adequate rational explanation has yet to be found. When such an explanation is found, the phenomenon will no longer be a UFO.  Most UFOs stay as such for short periods of time before an satisfactory explanation is found. A few such as the Kaikoura Lights still haven’t been explained to my satisfaction, but I’m sure that whatever they were, there was no cover up conspiracy to hide the existence of little green men in flying saucers. It’s most likely a natural phenomenon. but the official explanation of squid boat lights seems a little too simplistic to me as the lights were seen from an aircraft and tracked on radar. My guess is that the squid boat explanation sounded more “knowledgeable” than “We don’t have a bloody clue at this point in time“. Conjecture can be fun if it’s not taken too seriously.

A similar reaction occurs on the very rare occasions I’m asked if I believe in God and I get a surprised look when I answer in the affirmative. Actually it’s just occurred to me that the question is usually posed in the negative: “You don’t believe in God, do you?” Perhaps we in Aotearoa New Zealand are even more secular than the pundits claim.

No, I’m not convinced that there are any deities, especially the wrathful, vengeful God portrayed in parts of the Bible. But I do frame the concept of agape as God, and I admit that at times (although less so these days) I tend to bestow upon the concept “human/divine” qualities such as a will (as in the Will of God) and the ability to prod (the small still voice). Concepts such as the light and every person having that of God within have meaning for me. There’s no way I could explain these concepts in a purely rational way as I find my language skills rather inadequate for such a purpose. Perhaps the best I can do is say that they are a means of sharing very complex ideas in a few words with those whose experiences are similar to mine.

So when I say I believe in God, I have a specific concept (not a supernatural being) in mind, and not necessarily what the questioner meant. Perhaps next time I’m asked, I should reply with two questions of my own:

  1. What do you mean by God?
  2. What do you mean by believe in?

For those not familiar with local expressions:
round the bend: going insane/crazy
taking the piss: to ridicule

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

21 thoughts on “Believe in UFOs? You’re round the bend!

  1. Hey Barry! Great to see you posting. Of course there are UFO’s – green men type (i.e. extraterrestrials). Of all the unknowns that we ponder – that one I am most sure of. Logic would insist on their existence. After all we would be megalomaniacs to think that of all the uncountable number of worlds out there in the universe, our little planet would be the only one to have intelligent life.

    Astronomers have already discovered thousands of worlds like Earth and there is no reason to believe that life requires earth-like conditions. How do we get from life to UFOs you ask? Well, it is pretty simple – you see our little galactic neighborhood is a new development in the suburbs of the Universe. In fact there are star clusters with planets closer to the center of the Universe, that are billions of years older than Earth. Given there are too many to count (numbers that make quintillions look small), it is inevitable that life there is much older and some of it more developed than Earth.

    And we have wandered to the edge of our solar system already with only about 100 years of flight science. Imagine what a billion years would produce. Yikes! Anyway, at edge of our present knowledge but still teasing us, are pathways to interstellar flight. It has been said that any science that is advanced enough appears to be magic. And so no doubt if extraterrestrials can get here (and I’m sure they would have figured a way),then they can certainly hide from us. There may be the occasional mechanical issue that exposes them but in general we would not know they were observing.

    So,yes there are extraterrestrials and yes they have/are visiting and NO many spottings are NOT generally UFOs cause w ain’t gonna see those lads and lasses (or whatever genders they may have) unless or until they wish it so.

    As an aside Barry, I just did a guest post over at Mark Bialczak’s. I would be honored if you had the time to drop by for a read. Thank You.

    • While I accept there’s a high probability of life elsewhere, probably intelligent life, I suspect that our chances of coming across it any time soon, if at all, is fairly remote. Even if we did, we may not recognise it. There’s no reason why it must be based on carbon or oxygen

      • One of the apparent qualities of life is the ability to form many compounds at low energy levels. The only material other than carbon for which that is true in our knowledge is silicon. There may very well be unknown materials that meet that criteria (some crystal structures show promise) but of the assuredly many life forms in the universe, most will likely be carbon or silicon based for energy reasons. Barry we are talking massive numbers of possible life cradles – more than we could ever count in a lifetime. Given that and the older age of the rest of the universe, we most assuredly have been visited by others since curiosity seems to be a hallmark of life as we know it, a characteristic that would not be missing from all other life. And we have foolishly been radiating signals for more than a century. Any life form that gets within a 100 light year distance from Earth is going to know we are here. Which is a bit scary. We have creatd a flashing radio beacon that will draw in visitors.

        • Not believing in deities is not incompatible with Quakerism. Nor is being a pantheist. I thought I made it clear that I no longer hold a belief that is compatible with pantheism except in a metaphorical sense. There is considerable difference between what I feel on the one hand and what seems logical and rational on the other. That post you refer was more about how I feel and not what I believe is reality.

          I am quite convinced that there are no deities or other supernatural beings. There are no supernatural events, simply events we are unable to explain at times. There’s no heaven or hell.

          • Ummm, I’m lost Barry. Th only post I refered to was the one I published this morning about a conversation on my front porch. I didn’t and haven’t mention dieties at all in this conversation.

            • Apologies Paul. Blame big fingers,a tiny screen, and the WP android app. That was supposed to be a reply to a comment on a previous blog “misunderstanding a message”

            • Ha! No problem – I don’t know how you work off such a small screen – I couldn’t do it.

            • It appears I can’t do it either. Although it’s the first time I’ve done it on my own blog, I’ve done the same thing on a couple of other blogs recently 😦

              The app is difficult to use. you can only see 2 lines (about 60 characters) of your post, and about 4 lines of the comment you are replying to. The rest is taken up by the virtual keyboard.

              And to make matters worse, randomly it decides to add the content of a previous comment to the current one. It’s great when I can use a “proper” computer instead of the Android.

        • @Paul, I do think you have some good points there. To me this all boils down to what we can actually know and how. I agree with both you and Barry, that as there are billions of worlds and we do not know what are the prerequisites of life other than the sort we have manifested in it is quite possible that there are billions of inhabited planets in the universe. Heck, there might be uncountable inhabited planets bearing innumerable civilizations even on the Milky Way alone.

          The distances between solar systems are vast to us, but as we do not know what these other life forms in other solar systems may be, it is unknown to us wether by longevity of age, or by some cultural phenomeonon, or even by some technology the interstellar travel might not be such a leap to some of them as it appears to us at the moment.

          Yet, the problem lies in us not knowing. We do not know enough about them to infer that they have indeed reached us any more than we could infer why they remained in hiding from us, if they indeed have. As it is, the time to believe there are extraterrestials here on earth is not when someone can make an inference, that it could be possible, but rather when we have actual evidence that it is so. Anecdotes of personal experiences are hardly very convincing evidence. Are they? Do you see what I mean?

          We do not even know wether there have been a civilization on Earth before humans rose to intelligence. If for example, the sauropods reached a culture of intelligence that lasted for a few hundred years and were destroyed either by their own technology (not unlike we are on the brink of destroying ourselves at the moment), or a natural catastrophy, such a culture could have dissappeared with most of the larger animals some 65 millions years ago, we simply do not know unless we find some evidence of such a culture ever having existed here. Despite the fact that we know for a fact that there was life on earth then, dispite the fact that we know the sauropods had as good blood circulation as we mammals do, and could therefore support an advanced brain. Despite even the fact that we know they had some sort of brains, or that people tell stories in firm faith, that there are still some lizardmen among us. There is not enough information to discern that they indeed ever had a culture.

          We may very well be a rare quirck in evolution and it may even be that such quircks are typically not very long standing as our “intelligence” has led us to destroy so much of our very own environment already, when we are only at the brink of space travel. Such evolutionary mutations that cause a species to destroy it’s habitat on wich it is dependant upon tend to be evolutionary dead ends. Do they not? Maybe the extraterrestials have declared us a quaranteen area, untill we reach adulthood grow up of our imaginary parent entities and start to take responsibility of our actions. Eh? 😉

          • Well said rautakyy. The only thing I might add is that anticipating major influences is a necessary part of adapting to reality. It helps to prepare a mid set that allows inclusiveness of likely impactful revelations.

  2. Hello, and good morning! Just a brief note to say that I like your clarifying questions and think such questions (in this and many other situations) are mightily valuable. Whether or not your interlocutors can answer them is another matter – but they are well worth asking.

  3. I thought this short article worth sending along because it explains a typical bottleneck between atheism and theism: this notion of what does ‘believe in’ mean. I especially love the elephant in the trunk bit; how often do I find theists who make empirical claims about the effects supposedly evidence for some tweaking god alter this a supernatural causal agent to transmogrify into ‘love’ or some other equivalently nebulous ‘spare tire’. When belief in some god or gods as any form of causal agent is claimed, then a person cannot be by definition an atheist… except by those who wish to have their cake and eat it, too.

    • What supernatural causal agent? There isn’t any I am aware of. There are personal experiences, the sources of which are most probably natural, but are sensed as something else. I don’t claim to be an atheist, but according to most definitions, one is an atheist if one lacks a belief in gods. You seem to be confusing belief and interpretation of experience.

  4. May 20th response on my blog “Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. I have a lack of belief in gods therefore it would seem that the definition above also applies to me.”
    “I don’t claim to be an atheist, but according to most definitions, one is an atheist if one lacks a belief in gods.”
    Are you an atheist? “Well, I don’t claim to be one, although I do have a lack of belief in Gods and if you look at the definition of an atheist that says atheism is a lack of belief in god, it applies to me. But I don’t claim to be an atheist though. It’s just that the definition of atheist describes me accurately

    I can certainly say one thing Barry. That you’re consistently inconsistent, purposely vague and absolutely non committal on just about everything you say. You are without a doubt the most obtuse, obstinate person I have every talked to. By a long shot.
    Your M.O. – Never commit to a definitive answer and always make sure to leave yourself an escape hatch. There’s no position that doesn’t rest of a foundation of jello and there’s no statement that can’t be weaseled out of!
    You’d make a FANTASTIC politician.

    • Ashley, you have already told me i don’t understand what an atheist is. I agree that labels can be misconstrued. That is why i avoid them particularly in such areas as religion and politics. However what i have done it say precisely what i do, or do not believe. I think that provides less wriggle room than if give myself a label then later try to redefine what that label meant. Especially on the internet as understanding of many terms varies by region and country. My recent post on Steven Adams is a case in point.

      The term Quaker will be understood differently depending on where one lives. The largest branch of quakerism are the evangelical Quakers, who for all practical purposes are no different to most other evangelical churches. They are concentrated in the US and east Africa and it’s reasonable that people from those regions would think of an evangelical Christian when hearing the term Quaker. On the other hand in NZ liberal Quakerism is practically the only form practiced. So a Kiwi is likely to have a very different idea of what a Quaker is and what they do than say a Kenyan.

      Even you misunderstand the use of the word Pakeha. It doesn’t describe what I am or who I associate with. It informs others of my Whakapapa.

      • Yes of course Barry. Surely the fault of the misunderstanding is all mine. Surely not because you couldn’t give a straight answer to a question if your life depended on it.
        No, that certianly couldn’t be it.
        This coming from someone who can’t even attempt to define what organized religion is.
        Sooooooooo many mysteries…..

        • Again Ashley I believe you are reading something into a passage that is not there. I’m not saying the misunderstanding is all your fault. Misunderstandings happen. I do believe that you fail to recognise or acknowledge differing perspectives, even the fact that at the time I was probably incapable of finding my way out of a paper bag, let alone defining organised religion.

          I notice, however, that you have declined to answer even one of the questions I posed. So although you might find my answers circuitous, I’m not able to find your answers at all.

          I’m not trying to avoid answering questions, but I admit my answers are often tentative, because I don’t see things in absolute terms.

          How about you give me a definition of organised religion and I’ll tell you whether or not I agree with your definition? And how about we continue this discussion on a more appropriate forum, namely Misunderstanding a message?

        • “Even you misunderstand the use of the word Pakeha.”
          “I do believe that you fail to recognise or acknowledge differing perspectives,….”
          “The term Quaker will be understood differently depending on where one lives….”
          “Again Ashley I believe you are reading something into a passage that is not there.”
          Yes of course, how could I get the impression that it was me who misunderstood what you were trying to say? I obviously misunderstood what you meant by the word Quaker because it can mean so many different things to so many different people depending on what part of the world you live in, that it’s really impossible to define it. It’s not like there are hundreds of explanations from reputable sources all over the internet. No, those won’t do. It means something different to you and I clearly misunderstood what you meant by it. My bad.
          I obviously misunderstand the “use” of the word pakeha too. I had no idea what that word even meant until you mentioned it. So I did what any intelligent, curious person would do and I went and looked it up
          But of course, that’s not what you mean by the word Pakeha. You mean something totally different than that, and I clearly misunderstood you. Even though you say you are a Pakeha, it doesn’t describe what you are. So when I thought you were trying to convey to me that you identify yourself as a New Zealander of European or non-Maori decent because you call yourself a Pakeha, I clearly misunderstood the “use” of the word Pakeha. My bad.

          No Barry, I am not going to give you a definition of organized religion so you can see whether or not you agree with MY definition. For starters, it’s not MY definition, it’s an agreed up definition used in reputable sources like dictionaries. Like the Oxford Dictionary for example. That’s a great source. They even have a definition of organized religion. That’s what dictionaries are for and that’s what lexicographers do. Define words. I use dictionaries and the internet all the time to make sure I have an accurate description and understanding of a word. You, on the other hand, prefer to use what ever vague, opaque description appeals to you at that moment in time, never completely committing to anything, leaving yourself an escape hatch so that you can claim later on that there is a misunderstanding of terms between the 2 of us. Which in turn of course, always leads to me misunderstanding you. You’ve done it so many times in all of our discussion, I’ve lost count.
          Argument and debate is something I really enjoy doing. Words are precious to me and making sure I have the correct meaning is something that is very important to me. I can clearly tell from our many arguments that the exact opposite is true for you. You prefer vagueness and imprecision.

          So how to have a discussion with someone who thinks and talks like that?
          Answer – You don’t. You recognize that you can’t have one because there will ALWAYS be a misunderstanding of some sort. It’s a waste of time.

          Good Bye Barry.

          • Ashley, once again you fail to understand what i meant. You gave me an abbreviated definition of Pakeha which did not convey the context in which i used the word. Actually that link you provided is actually quite extensive and more accurate than many I have seen. It does include the context I meant and would be understood by fellow Kiwis, but might be lost on others such as yourself.

            The prompting to post the article regarding Steven Adams’ so called racist comment was to some extent triggered by this discussion with you and Tildeb. There are some who still insist that it’s impossible for those words not to be racist. For example that Steven would never refer to a non African American as a little monkey.

            I concede I am sometimes misunderstood, but that seldom occurs in dialogue with fellow Kiwis. I find I am most misunderstood by North Americans for some reason which I am unable to fathom. But most don’t sink to describing those misunderstandings as personal flaws on my part.

  5. I am all the way with you on the UFO issue. On the issue of gods, I must say, that the problem lies perhaps in the fact, that a god is a loaded term. There are a lot of people who expect it always to mean their particular god, whose name even is God.

    I think calling things people do not universally recognize as belonging to the group or label may have it’s use. Saying something is a god, that people have never considered to be a god, might be a very sobering experience, if in fact people have subconsciously been deriving their god from that thing. Like say, subconscious as it seems a lot of people seem to think their inner monologue is with a god, especially when they draw upon it to be wiser than they expect from themselves, but when they are in need of wise advice. However, to awoid unnecessary confusion, it might be a good idea to also every time (even though it may become tedious) explain what and why something is in this, or that particular context called a god, if the name is used for something people would not usually refer to as a god.

    I purposefully talk about gods with for example Christians, as they do recognize the concept, even they do not like it to be used to refer to other gods than their own particular one. This is to achieve the point, that there are indeed other concepts of godhood, even though I could just as well explain to them, that within their own religion there are billions of widely different concepts for what this god thing is supposed to mean. Some of them know about this, but for some reason it seems easier for them to approach when it is distanced from them that much.

  6. As an aside Barry, I just did a guest post over at Mark Bialczak’s If you have the time to drop by, I would be honored. Thank You.

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