Michael Heiser has been called one of the nation's leading experts on "UFology" - the study of unidentified flying objects - yet he says he has never seen any scientific evidence that they are visitors from other worlds.
Heiser, 49, has released a special edition of his novel, "The Façade," which combines factual data with a plot about mysterious visitors. The academic editor for Logos Bible Software in Bellingham, he holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in Hebrew, biblical and Semitic languages.
Question: You've been on radio quite often, haven't you?
Answer: I've spoken 22 times on "Coast to Coast AM" (a nationally syndicated night-time show heard locally on KGMI). I've become the friendly "ancient astronaut debunking guy."
I self-published the first version of "The Façade" for fun in 2001. I've sold 5,000 to 6,000 copies. You could call me "nerd famous."
Q: Tell me about "The Façade."
A: The novel asks the fundamental question: What would the impact be on traditional Judeo-Christian faith if there was a genuine extraterrestrial reality?
Q: What makes your new version "The Façade: Special Edition" different?
A: It's published by Kirkdale Press, a Logos imprint. There's an annotated bibliography related to plot elements, along with a list of all the fact-based data points: ancient texts, government documents, quotations by public officials, exotic technologies.
The fiction is the characters and how I connect the data points. The book also includes the first five chapters of the first sequel. I'm one-third finished. I also plan a third book.
Q: What is the main protagonist like?
A: The main character, Brian Scott, is essentially (a younger version of) me. I named him for my best friend at high school in Pennsylvania. Against their will, Brian and other members of a group of academics get pulled into a government project. Brian is sort of transformed into Agent Mulder (from "The X-Files"), with a doctorate in ancient languages.
Q: Are there aliens in the story?
A: I don't really want to give anything away. Gradually, Brian and the other members of the project begin to wonder if there really is an ET reality, or could it be something else? Could it be a visitor from a spiritual dimension?
The characters also become involved in another possibility: Could a strange being (to which they are exposed) actually be a "nanobot" - a functioning, conscious being that is not human?
Q: Is bringing in your factual research difficult?
A: It takes a lot of work, but I think it's worth it. I try to bring in peer-reviewed research and primary source documents.
Q: Do you see a conflict between Judeo-Christian faith and whether aliens could exist?
A: I don't see anything in the Bible that forbids it.
Q: Do you believe some UFOs could be from other worlds?
A: I don't think we've seen any really good evidence. I want something better than anecdotes. There's been no real credible evidence that aliens visited ancient civilizations or helped built the pyramids, things like that. The "evidence" is impressive only to people who are not specialists in those fields.
In my book, I talk about experimental wingless aircraft (dating back several decades). I think a lot of what can't be identified is off-the-books, black-budget human technology.
Q: Do you believe alien beings exist but are too far away to reach with any known technology?
A: It feels like the odds are in favor of that. But I don't believe in the Drake Equation (which supposedly offers proof). Every element of the Drake Equation is invented.
Michael Heiser's blogs can be found at paleobabble.com, at uforeligions.com and at http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/" target="_blank">michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible. His website is drmsh.com.
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.