Unidentified Flying Objects ("UFOs") have received lots of notice in recent decades. Anything that's a mystery to man catches the fancy of many people.
For the atheists, the "God is an astronaut" approach fits the bill, with UFOs used to explain away deity.
For others, it may simply be a quest to try and find evidence of UFOs.
Aside from errant, high altitude weather balloons or top secret government aircraft (as the Stealth bomber certainly might have appeared as a UFO to many before it was publicly unveiled), can UFOs really exist?
There's something out there flying around that people keeping seeing — it's not all from their imagination.
For the Latter-day Saints, what might a UFO be? There are some possible answers that fit into the gospel framework.
Scripturally, "there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it." (D&C 130:5)
This seems to me to totally preclude any "aliens" from being angels.
However, God has created other earths and all "inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God." (D&C 76:24).
Humans are his standard, made in his likeness (Genesis 1:17). So, non-human aliens as intelligent beings would NOT exist then, except in science fiction.
These worlds were also created by Jesus Christ and are saved by his same redeeming power. But, Christ died on this earth, the wickedest of all God's creations (Moses 7:36) and even many non-Christians accept that Christ was at least a historical figure in earth's history.
Yet, what about these other earths? Christ's atonement still redeems the people there and so what do they know of him? Their scriptures must at least mention another planet, our earth, where he died for the sins of all. They know of us.
Since ours is the wickedest earth and focused on weapons and warfare, we might have the best weapons, but what about other technology?
Could one of these other earths be very far advanced in say space travel, because they are more righteous and haven't wasted all their time and efforts on war?
If so, that would be the first possibility to UFOs. Are they resident humans of other earths come as a pilgrimage to see the wickedest earth, the one planet where Christ, who is also their Savior was born in mortality, died and was resurrected? Perhaps.
These people seem to simply be observers, who don't harm or threaten people. Crop circle markings and occasional, unexplained animal mutilations are among the only physical traces attributed to UFOs (and those evil twists could be more like Satan's power manifested than that of aliens).
Actual abductions of people are more likely fabricated tales, or the unreal experience of mentally ill people.
Another possibility of UFOs fitting into the gospel is if angels and exalted beings do travel in such vehicles and they are occasionally glimpsed.
Do celestial beings need vehicles to travel in?
There are references in the Old Testament to celestial "chariots" (Isaiah 66:15, Jeremiah 4:13).
In 2 Kings 2:11, "a chariot of fire and horses of fire" were used to take Elijah to heaven (translate him). Unless that is pure symbolism, it does imply a vehicle was used. How might a person in ancient times describe a flying vehicle? They knew chariots, but they did not know space vehicles.
When God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, they didn't need a vehicle of any sorts, at least for short range travel. Neither did the Angel Moroni.
Another possibility for UFOs in the gospel sense is that they could be coming from the City of Enoch or the Lost 10 Tribes. Both these are to return to the earth in the last days. Would they have scout ships here first?
Neither of those two lost groups of people are likely on earth, at least not in this dimension. So, them being off planet, it does make some sense that they are scouting around.
If they physically live on another planet, they may have vehicles and those could be far advanced of anything the earth has.
Otherwise — without explaining UFOs away as "other earth" visitors, UFOs could be some sort of tool by Satan to lead us away.
Some people do spend much of their life seeking UFOs, a distraction from the gospel and serving others.
Is the rise of UFOs somehow related to the world's increasing wickedness and that Satan and his hosts can somehow grandstand some physical signs in the sky because of that?
The Scriptures do talk of signs and wonders in the heavens before Christ returns. (D&C 45:40).
Could UFOs be some part of that prophecy? Perhaps.
Of course if you believe in UFOs abducting people, then that's certainly a sinister side to UFOs, but why the Lord would allow Satan and his demons to do that kind of kidnapping is not logical.
So, unless UFOs are pure apparitions, there are humans piloting them and they could be connected with another earth, the lost 10 tribes, or City of Enoch.
And, it is only the unwise person who simply believes UFOs don't exist at all.