Ancient Aliens Part 2 - Religion and Myth

Introduction

This is part 2 in a series of hubs discussing and dismissing the claims of ancient astronaut believers and explaining why they simply don't hold up. Religion and superstition go back long before recorded history and tell the story of how early man made sense of his chaotic and often deadly surroundings. Because mankind was reacting to the same planet and groups and societies often interacted and exchanged religious ideas through oral traditions, trade or conquest many myths and gods shared similarities.

In this hub I'm going to focus on the attempts by ancient astronaut proponents to circumvent the burden of proof by submitting legends, myths and religious texts as evidence of extraterrestrial contact in the distant past. Not only are their attempts absurd but, for religious believers, they are potentially offensive.

Native Americans and Pilgrims are both races of aliens on South Park's "A History Channel Thanksgiving"
Native Americans and Pilgrims are both races of aliens on South Park's "A History Channel Thanksgiving"

Context and Interpretation

Now I'm no stranger to criticizing religion and even declaring its supernatural claims to be false or, at the very least, unbelievable. However there is one thing I try not to do and that is treat religious myth as if I can interpret it however I want and ignore what the text actually says to insert my own meaning. Many vocal supporters of AAH (ancient astronaut hypothesis) do just that however, tearing myths and ancient stories from their intended context in order to re-interpret them in the light of modern UFO lore and thus form an alien connection.

Often times similarities between myths from different cultures will be emphasized as suspicious while differences or inconsistencies will be ignored and details often thrown out altogether in favor of vague assumptions. Rather than attempt any actual scholarly study of the texts and beliefs in question ancient astronaut proponents, like cold readers, will point out anything that sounds remotely like a “hit” regardless of its actual context or meaning within a story and ignore any other absurdities – although in some discussions they will actually double-down on the absurdity (ie explaining Jonah and the Whale as a story of an Unidentified Submerged/submarine Object, an alien craft under water).

Bald, Bald Bald - MY EYES!
Bald, Bald Bald - MY EYES!
Cernunnos the horned god of pagan mythology is related heavily to nature, not aliens, but that won't stop ancient astronaut believers
Cernunnos the horned god of pagan mythology is related heavily to nature, not aliens, but that won't stop ancient astronaut believers

Those Who From Heaven Came

I've been told in multiple discussions online that the gods of old were actually space aliens because “all religions involve beings coming down from the sky to create or meddle with humanity”. This apparent parallel is supposed to somehow be evidence that the gods were actually alien beings from another world mistaken for or posing as supernatural entities. The claim itself, however, is a ridiculous mischaracterization of the contents of ancient folklore.

Not all creator gods came from the sky and while it is true that many gods have descended from the heavens it is also true that many gods had other specific domains. These godly domains often had direct correlations to phenomenon believed to be divinely controlled by the ancients and go a long way to debunking the erroneous and downright stupid claim that all gods came from the sky and that all myths have the same meaning or ultimate source.

Poseidon is the Greek God of the Sea, his domain is as such, and there are plenty of other sea-related deities from antiquity as well as volcanic gods, mountain gods, cave dwelling gods, etc. The Greek gods themselves resided not in the heavens above but atop Mount Olympus. Mankind used such mythmaking as a way to make sense of the patterns we saw in nature and also the chaos we could not understand. The Earth would quake, the tide would rise, the river would flood, and in each sphere, each element, each catastrophe and each blessing, ancient man would see the hand of a spirit or god assigned to each sphere.

There is no way to honestly claim that all creation stories involve beings from the sky and even if there were that itself is not evidence that the claims of said myths and religions are true. Furthermore the details of these stories, allegories, fables and myths are often widely varied and are certainly not the sort of accounts we would expect of an eye-witness reporting the events in a straight-forward way.

Even more damning, if we expand to include other mythological creatures, not just gods, we will see even more variety, everything from forest dwelling nymphs to Scottish water horses to griffins guarding gold. It seems that the ancient astronaut proponents only take mythology as reality when they think they have a reinterpretation capable of bringing aliens into the mix but have nothing to offer otherwise and yet I've been told in numerous online conversations that mythology has the BEST evidence to offer of alien visitation (of course I've also been told the same thing about massive monolithic stones and medieval and renaissance artwork).

ancient astronaut proponents have gone so far as to say that Centaurs were real and were merely genetic experiments created by aliens. Apparently the ancients did not have imaginations and were incapable of art, literature and superstition.
ancient astronaut proponents have gone so far as to say that Centaurs were real and were merely genetic experiments created by aliens. Apparently the ancients did not have imaginations and were incapable of art, literature and superstition.
actual image of Elijah's Chariot
actual image of Elijah's Chariot

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Let's take a look at a few specific examples of religious myths ripped from their original context and poorly reinterpreted to assume aliens. The easiest and one of the most laughable is the story of Elijah's ascent into Heaven witnessed in the Bible by his protégé Elisha and recorded in the book of 2 Kings. Elijah is getting old and is preparing to pass on the mantle to Elisha but rather than die a natural and ordinary death Heaven sends down a fiery chariot drawn by flying fiery horses that appears in a whirlwind.

Now to the average reader it sounds like a miraculous event is being described, a fiery chariot has just allowed Elijah to go straight to heaven without having to endure the hardship of physical death. It appears, or disappears, in a whirlwind (the word used in Hebrew means tempest or storm) and takes the man right in front of his student Elisha. To a reader who subscribes to the ancient astronaut hypothesis however the entire thing is rewritten in their minds as the arrival of a spaceship which comes out of a fiery cloud due to re-entry into the atmosphere or dropping out of warp too fast or some other bullshit. A story about a servant of God earning a place in Heaven without the agony of dying of old age and blessing his friend and successor is replaced by an arbitrarily conjured up ancient UFO account where a flying saucer inexplicably abducts an old guy who happens to be a prophet (or if you prefer, God is an alien, which raises some questions about modern day reports of anal probing aboard flying saucers).

At no point is the object in the story unidentified or mysterious. When ancient astronaut believers say that these stories are UFO stories that the ancients are merely describing “to the best of their vocabulary at the time” they are talking out of their asses plain and simple. Even an ancient person would have described an unidentified object as unidentified, obviously whoever wrote this story knew exactly what the object was meant to be and wrote that down as part of the narrative. If the flaming chariot in the story had been an unidentified mysterious object it would have been mentioned as such.

Ah, I hear the AAH crowd saying in unison, but Elisha was describing it as a religious event because that's what he believed it was, it actually wasn't a miracle from Heaven at all but was instead an alien abduction. Well then, why was Elijah abducted? You see within the narrative of the story it MAKES SENSE FOR GOD TO TAKE ELIJAH, it does not, however, make sense for aliens to take him whether those aliens were pretending to be gods or not. To believe this was a UFO account you not only have to ignore the context but you have to reinterpret the text in light of modern UFO lore and there is no intellectually honest reason I can think of to do this.

*theorist
*theorist
the ark is a radio for talking to god
the ark is a radio for talking to god

Raiders of the Lost Crock

It may surprise people to see me defending the Bible here but let me be clear that I do not believe any supernatural events in the Bible actually happened. The Bible is a collection of works of religious mythology and as such it has great historical and literary value even if I vehemently reject its claims and argue against those who believe they are literally true. With that being said many many of the myths ancient astronaut theorists bastardize come from the Bible including one of my favorites, the Ark of the Covenant.

In the Bible the Ark is placed in the Holy of Holies, it contains the ten commandments and the High Priests have to be extremely righteous to get close to it and be able to call upon God. For ancient astronaut supporters, apparently having watched Indiana Jones one too many times, the Ark is some kind of super-weapon that doubles as a radio antenna for talking to space aliens.

Cited as an example is usually the fall of Jericho, an exercise of faith and obedience in the Bible in which Joshua must march around the city a given number of times and sound trumpets a given number of times to make the walls of the impenetrable city finally crumble. The myth, as I said, is a pretty straight-forward exercise in obedience and faith, in trusting in God even in the face of an insurmountable obstacle and the idea that God would deliver the enemies of the Israelites over to them if they just trusted him.

When you put on your ancient aliens glasses however (no doubt similar to the ones from the movie They Live) you can't help but see aliens everywhere. Suddenly the retelling of a story of a conquest that may or may not have actually occurred becomes the story of a sonic alien ray - the super-weapon known as the Ark of the Covenant. Those are the two main versions of the desperately-grasping-at-straws ancient aliens explanation for the story, the idea that the frequency of the trumpet blasts was somehow amplified to match the resonant frequency of the walls and blah-blah new age mumbo jumbo relating to the ancients and alien secrets of harmonics OR that the Ark somehow did it with some other inexplicable sci-fi sounding power it possessed that turned it from a Holy relic into a siege weapon.

Once again in context the Ark makes sense as an ornamental carrying case for the two holiest relics in Judaism, the tablets that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai with the very hand-writing of God upon them. If God was, however, a masquerading alien, the Ark makes no sense whatsoever for nowhere in the directions God gives Moses – and they are obscenely specific – is there anything about a super-weapon or the Ark having any abilities or powers that weren't entirely dependent upon the spirit of God being present. The Ark is not a device God builds himself but rather is a project he gives to Moses all of the ingredients and specifications are written in the Bible in the book of Exodus and there's no death-rays, radioactivity or aliens for that matter.

Bring out your Dead!

The claim that ultimately lead me to write this series and use simple logic to shred the stupidity of ancient astronaut “theory” was featured on an episode of “History” Channels Ancient Aliens program. Specifically the episode was about the Vikings and the Norse gods potentially being influenced by extraterrestrials including a rather absurd assertion that Valhalla itself was a space-station serving to rehabilitate injured warriors (rather than being a place of revelry for the honored dead).

After showing us a Viking longboat discovered with corpses inside it is explained that the Vikings sometimes were forced to bury their dead at sea, as they were a sea-faring civilization, but then the assertion comes that somehow this ritual, of burying their dead at sea, was actually a reference to aliens. I sat with a baffled expression as they tried to somehow tie viking long-ships to the Egyptian journey into the afterlife and ultimately to spacecraft and equate Viking beliefs about the journey to the afterlife with alien abduction and extraterrestrial intervention.

That is the reason why the series was originally going to be called Denigrating the Ancients, because of how insulting it is to the imagination and ingenuity of our ancestors. To the people who peddle this “theory” the ancients apparently couldn't have even scratched their asses without alien influence. Everything from architecture, to engineering, to fables and legends had to have somehow been touched by aliens. The reason they do this is clear, they have no evidence of their own and so all they can do, other than continuously and fallaciously insert aliens into any gap or mystery from antiquity – real or imagined – is take existing material and reinterpret it to fit their beliefs no matter how batshit crazy their attempt to stretch reality to fit their bias turns out to be.

The Vikings, the ancient Hebrews, the ancient people of India, and indeed ancient peoples everywhere had their own cultures, their own religious beliefs, their own gods or superstitions. These myths make sense in their original context and do not contain aliens. Attempts to insert aliens are openly fallacious and often stupid beyond belief and require reinterpretation to myth to fit modern assumptions about space aliens and space travel. There is a reason actual scholars don't take these attempts to reinterpret myth seriously, because they are not based on evidence but on an obvious biased agenda.

in at least one episode good ol' Captain Kirk met with a would-be god. Works of science fiction like Star Trek and the works of HP Lovecraft helped spark the ancient astronaut belief but hard evidence is lacking...
in at least one episode good ol' Captain Kirk met with a would-be god. Works of science fiction like Star Trek and the works of HP Lovecraft helped spark the ancient astronaut belief but hard evidence is lacking...
Star Trek - The god Apollo meets Nurse Chapel
Star Trek - The god Apollo meets Nurse Chapel
A UFO photo I took myself from the porch of my childhood home nearly a decade ago. It's actually just a quarter I tossed into the air, I used to hoax these all the time.
A UFO photo I took myself from the porch of my childhood home nearly a decade ago. It's actually just a quarter I tossed into the air, I used to hoax these all the time.

UFO Lore, Myth and the need for Hard Evidence

Ezekiel's wheel-within-a-wheel is a great example of this. Modern UFO lore is caught up on the idea of the flying saucer, the disc shaped classic UFO, and so naturally it is assumed by those seeking to reinterpret myth while ignoring context that this is what Ezekiel saw. However no one has EVER established that extraterrestrial visitation is actually happening or that flying saucers are anything other than another short-hand for the word UFO and UFOs have not been identified by definition. It is simply assumed that UFOs are alien craft and that they are saucer shaped based on unreliable eye-witness accounts and unidentifiable objects in photos. It is worth noting that there are many common shapes for UFOs besides saucers (cigar shaped, triangular, etc). They take for granted that alien craft are disc shaped and just slap the alien label onto the Ezekiel story for no good reason.

Why would we assume that UFOs are extraterrestrial craft and even if they are why would we assume that the craft they flew around in 3000 years ago look anything like the craft they would be flying around in today? In fact why assume that they are still on Earth now? None of the assertions made by believers in alien visitation, either in ancient times or in the present day have been proven, these beliefs simply are not evidence based.

We have no hard facts, no definitive leads, regarding alien visitation. There is no hard physical evidence that we have been visited and if there is it must meet the proper standards of science. Myths and legends may be fun to interpret, it may be fascinating to try to get into the heads of the ancients but it is far from scholarly to take a modern pseudoscience meld it with myth and declare it evidence of something extraterrestrial.


Conclusions

While it may be tempting for us to compare and contrast religion and draw conclusions based on the similarities of ancient faiths it is doing the ancients a disservice to not study the details and complexity of ancient myths with real scholarship. When proponents of ancient astronaut visitation attempt to discuss myth they often disregard or completely discard the actual context or meaning of the story in order to insert aliens.

It seems to me that they do this to cover over the complete lack of physical evidence they have for their claims and in the end they are about as convincing as those who claim the texts are literally true as written. At least those with a sincere belief in these texts have just that, a sincere belief, with many of those who make their living peddling ancient astronauts I don't get the feeling they have that same honest belief in what they are proposing.

Thanks for reading! In the next installment I will be discussing artwork and artifacts said to be linked with ancient aliens so stay tuned!

These people make money selling bunk science

A Picture of me from 2006

as a Viking myself I am personally offended by the claims made on Ancient Aliens, I dug up this old angry Viking photo for the occassion
as a Viking myself I am personally offended by the claims made on Ancient Aliens, I dug up this old angry Viking photo for the occassion

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Comments 9 comments

Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Whoa! An actual photo of Elijah's Chariot! And taken from space apparently with a high def camera! Oh, those ancients had some real technology going for them.

Seriously though, do you see any credence to the theory of ancient civilizations that reached technological maturity and then fell to pieces for whatever reason. These ancients were just buried and no history really recalls them. I'm referring to sites like Gobekli Tepe, Alexandria Library, and even perhaps the builders of the pyramids.

Whole civilizations have been wiped out and reduced to previous caveman status. I wonder that this phenomenon will actually happen to our current civilization and may be the reason the Georgia Guide Stones were erected.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

First, I'll note that I don't believe any of the ancient astronauts bunk. Being aware of the almost incomprehensible size and complexity of the universe, I recognize that trying to find a primitive society like Earth's ancient civilizations from beyond our own cosmic neighborhood would be like trying to find a needle in a billion haystacks. In other words, it's not very likely.

Having said that, I have a fanciful, tongue-in-cheek hypothesis that just may blow your mind. Surely, you're aware of the thread that often runs through sci-fi movies and shows like "Star Trek" about how interstellar organizations decide which newer civilizations are ready to join the "adults" -- sort of like "First Contact" (the episode of TNG, not the film).

I can imagine no better or thorough means of testing the development of a planetary population that implanting the seeds of religion early in their development, then sitting back and watching what happens.

If they end up stubbornly persisting in superstitious ignorance and even kill each other off, then all your questions are answered. If, however, they manage to mature enough to grow beyond their religions and fully embrace reason and rationality, what better signal is there that they're ready to join the rest of citizens of the cosmos? It's the perfect test!

Just an amusing bit of food for thought... ;-)


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again Author

I am very much fascinated by how advanced the anicnets actually were, there's something very compelling about all the myths, legends, supposed lost civilization. For example most people know of Atlantis, but there was also Hyperborea and Lemuria to contend with. For a long time I was very interested in the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the lost wonders of the ancient world, and there's plenty of other stories, such as ancient scientists designing automatons and other massive machines, or Archimedes and his many machines of war. I do not ever think they were, say, as advanced as we are now, but I do think in various corners of the world they were far more advanced than we give them credit for.

Ancient history still has plenty of mysteries to be solved.


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again Author

Well let's just hope we figure things out before the Vogons decide to delete the Earth to create a space highway.


artblack01 profile image

artblack01 2 years ago from New Mexico

Again, great work here, have you seen the Ancient Aliens show and the Ancient Aliens Debunked show? The Debunked show basically takes all the claims of aliens being necessary for humans to build the things that they did, like the Pyramids and the Easter Island Statues and so on, and shows how it was done by people of that time. Not could have been done, it shows the evidence left behind by ancient people, like tools and methods and such. It's a great show.


Sesil 22 months ago

Hi RockJohnAxe,Right now I'm reading Abduction, Human Encounters with Aliens by John E. Mack, M.D. This book goes thrugoh hypnosis sessions with people who have been abducted. They share their experiences and their struggle with grappling with their newly developed consciousness as a result of these abductions. Another very easy to read and interesting book about the abduction experience is Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, which is about a couple who had an abduction experience in the 60 s, I believe and didn't know that that is what happened until after going under hypnosis. Another interesting book that really sheds light on the reality of UFOs is UFOs Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record this book interviews very respectable pilots, air force personnel, nuclear physicists who have had first-hand encounters with UFOs.So, as you can see, I'm very very interested in this subject as well and admittedly tend to read books that further prove to me that this stuff is real so I have a bias. I have NO doubt at this point that it is real.


artblack01 profile image

artblack01 22 months ago from New Mexico


Banu 22 months ago

Hi RockJohnAxe,That's definitely a pibsosility that they're intrigued by our art and creativity. But, from what abductees seem to report, it seems like there is a lot more going on than that. It sounds like they're doing a large project involving breeding alien/human hybrids and training certain humans for very particular things like for natural disasters or nuclear wars (events that the aliens may know are going to happen in the near or hopefully distant future). Maybe they're breeding with humans to regain some of that creativity and those emotions (but not all of it!!) in the hybrids. i feel like I sound crazy when talking about this stuff, but all of this is based on watching many documentaries and reading a lot on this subject. I'm reading a book right now written by a psychotherapist who specifically works with people who feel like they may have been abducted. He uses hypnosis with these people and their stories and experiences are remarkable.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 22 months ago from Houston, TX USA

The article said:

"Cited as an example is usually the fall of Jericho, an exercise of faith and obedience in the Bible in which Joshua must march around the city a given number of times and sound trumpets..."

Before we go much further let us all agree to a religious/moral principle that Joshua & Co. were wrong to kill women and children. Allegedly The Lord ordered Joshua to kill every man, woman and child in the land of Canaan. The women were subservient to the men and the children subservient to the women.

As an alternative to the Divine killing innocent people, I suggest a human ordered Joshua to kill. That absolves "God" of allegations of child abuse. But what human...?

The human must have seemed like a God to Joshua & Co. or Joshua would not have followed him. I suggest an ancient High-Tech civilization came in contact with a Low-Tech civilization (Joshua & Co.) and were taken to be "Gods." This hypothesis would completely explain the Old Testament (OT).

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