A crop circle, also called a crop formation, is an area of flattened vegetation, usually a cereal grain such as corn or wheat, that forms a geometric pattern. Although crop circles have been discovered all over the world, they are predominately located in the UK and the United States. Early reports of similar circles date as far back as the late 1800s, but they became a phenomenon in the late 1970s when they began to appear overnight in several places at once. Since then crop circles have appeared by the thousands, some including intricate designs or interconnecting shapes. Theories abound as to the origin of these circles, but does the Bible say anything about them?
The overnight appearance of such circles has led to wild speculations involving aliens, UFOs, or strange tornadic winds. And as happens when the mysterious becomes popular, some people have stepped forward to declare that they have seen flying saucers taking off from fields and leaving such circles. Then, in 1991, self-described pranksters Dave Chorley and Doug Bower admitted that they had created the crop circles in 1978 that started the worldwide frenzy. To prove their claims, they took investigators to a field and showed them how it was done with a length of string and a board to flatten the grain. The result was identical to the circles found in other places.
Even though the pranksters were outed, crop circles continued to multiply. Many of the newer batch of crop circles displayed intricate designs and mathematical complexity. Other crop circles were commissioned by companies that wanted the publicity that comes from having their logo impressed in a field of smashed-down grain. Although a few die-hard conspiracy theorists still cling to the idea of alien invasions, it seems quite clear that crop circles are a human invention started by hoaxers and sensationalists who enjoyed the mystery they created and quietly laughed at the public stir.
Crop circles are never mentioned in the Bible, but the sin of property damage is. The Bible clearly supports the concept of private property ownership. In Exodus 22, God gave the Israelites the law concerning a neighbor’s property. If someone was responsible for the damage or destruction of another’s property, the responsible party was ordered to pay restitution to the owner. In the case of modern crop circles, the pranksters are usually destroying private property—the harvest of someone else is affected. Unless the crop circle makers had permission from the owner of the field, they are stealing a farmer’s crops and should pay restitution to that farmer. Some crop circle artists have been arrested and fined for the destruction of property. Such fines accord with the biblical principle.
Restitution is a common subject in the Bible. When Zacchaeus met Jesus in Luke 19, the first sign of his repentance was his willingness to pay back all he had gained through dishonest business practices. He was so overjoyed at his acceptance by Jesus that he vowed to repay four times the amount of anything he had stolen. The Bible says much about restitution being a sign of true repentance. Whether property is destroyed by man-made crop circles or simply through careless acts, God commands us to make things right with the ones we have offended (Matthew 5:23–24). It is only right that those who have had their fun using someone else’s property should pay for it. When making restitution becomes the norm, crop circles may disappear as mysteriously as they began.