Joaquim Fernandes, Fina D'Armada Heavenly Lights: The Apparitions of Fatima and the UFO Phenomenon, pg. iii-iv

Foreword by Jacques Vallee

This book is the product of an analysis of perceived "apparitions," whether religious or profane in nature, and their interpretation in a rational, scientific context. Such an effort is long overdue. By bridging the gap between the vast domain of spiritual miracles (illustrated here by the Fatima events of 1917) and the equally immense amount of data recorded by investigators of unidentified flying objects, Joaquim Fernandes and Fina D' Armada have opened an important new avenue of research. In the process, they tell the fascinating story of a global phenomenon that reaches far beyond the boundaries of Portugal and stretches through centuries of passion and puzzlement. The facts they have uncovered bring new light to the age old problem of unexplained aerial phenomena. This neglected area of research is fundamental to our understanding of the physical universe, of human consciousness, and of the role played by spiritual movements in shaping human history.

Consider the statement made by the 3 children of Fatima who, while watching their sheep on May 13, 1917, said they first saw lightning, and then "As we arrived at the middle of the ranch, another flash of lightning struck again, and we saw a lady on on top of an oak tree. We were very frightened at seeing the resplendency that enveloped her." Now compare this statement with the report provided by the Arias family of Nicanor-Olivrea, Argentina, who, on Aug. 31, 1978, were awakened by an intense luminosity outside their house. An egg-shaped object, they said, hovered over a nearby eucalyptus tree. From one edge, the object emitted a circular light. At the end of this beam, they saw "2 bulky beings" that carried, at chest height, a red light that "seemed to run as if falling from a small waterfall." The entities moved in a rigid fashion, like "floating travelers, seated on something".

The burden falls on the scientific commntiy to explain why these seemingly absurd observations arise so often from frightened and sincere witnesses, and how they have such a powerful influence on our belief systems. But what should the professional scientist or the curious amateur do when faced with events that seem to contradict everything we "know" about normal reality?

THE EASIEST PATH IS THE WELL-WORN ONE, AND THAT IS TO FLATLY DENY THE FACTS. Perhaps the witnesses are deluded individuals, or liars. Indeed, this accusation was made against the shepherds of Fatima, until the final sighting, when over 60,000 witnesses observed the luminous displays, and the physical effects were such that no one could deny them any longer. The scientific consensus, and the majority view in educated circles, however, still hold that the events in question, must have been "ordinary", and mistakenly observed. This is certainly the most parsimonious assumption.

A second way of interpreting incidents like Fatima is held in respect throughout most of the world. It does not deny the facts but instead carefully reframes them within the structure of dogma and belief. This cosmology assumes that the witnesses were privileged to take part in a miracle, a signal sent uniquely to them from a divine level of spiritual intensity that it would be a folly to try to understand it, blasphemy to challenge the wisdom of its pronouncements. This is the religious path. In this view, God, or his messengers, are so far above the human level that we would display silly human arrogance if we did more than record the events and cower in obedience before them.

For those, who like the authors of this book, refuse to follow either one of these convenient paths, the challenges become enormous. The involve detachment and critical analysis of difficult material; correlation of testimony from many independent parties; and confrontation between two sets of physical descriptions, namely those of religious events, like Fatima, and those of more mundane but equally puzzling unidentified aerial phenomena, like the reports of the Areas family of Argentina. As the authors show, it is in this manner that genuine research can go forward. The result is a new awareness of the complexity of consciousness.

Modern laboratory research has shown that our perceptions are highly vulnerable to changes in our physical environment. They can be altered by drugs, hypnosis and electromagnetic fields. They are shaped by language, culture and education. They are subject to social pressure.

As we enter an age when the functions of the brain can be studied in real-time with sophisticated instruments, academic research is beginning to seriously consider a range of consciousness phenomena that earlier scientists discounted. In this context, percipients of unusual events are becoming participants in a novel and exciting field rich in potential scientific breakthroughs. The authors of this book analyze such events, and they go to establish relevant linkages between various classes of unexplained facts. Their work makes an important contribution to our understanding of the human condition and of the universe in which we live

Full Index
Indoctrination Tactics
The Real God Maybe
Free Speech
Lessons From Histoy
What Religious people really Worship
Theory for everything
107 Wonders of the Ancient World