- Education and Science
Ancient Aliens Part 4 - Intelligent Design
After I left the Christian faith behind there was a brief time in my life when I seriously considered ancient astronaut theory a plausible idea. Among the so-called “proofs” I presented to others and myself during this time was the human lust for gold and precious jewels. Wealth seemed like such a petty pursuit to me in my late teen years and when I was exposed to the idea that human beings had been bio-engineered to seek gold and riches, to gather them for our alien overlords, it all made sense.
Part of this was political naivety and constant exposure to conspiracy theories on the internet and part of it was replacing one faith with another to fill the void. Yet there are many ancient astronaut believers who do not have the excuses I did and who still cling to the idea that human beings were created not by gods or the natural processes of evolution but by extraterrestrials.
In this hub I hope to show that rather than being based on evidence or sound reasoning the outrageous idea that we human beings were engineered by aliens is in fact based on the same kind of faith that religious superstitions are based on.
We can Rebuild them we have the Technology
One of the primary problems with the “theory” that human evolution was interrupted to create modern homo sapiens is that it makes assumptions and leaps in logic based upon what might be hypothetically possible and expects us to accept that they aren't just possible but are likely to have occurred. This includes common assumptions made about extraterrestrials, like their ability to alter the DNA of Earth so seamlessly as to not leave even the slightest clue for future scientists to discover. The idea that they would even be interested in life on Earth and the assumption that they could come halfway across the cosmos but still somehow needed a slave race to mine to minerals and ores. In the end we are left with more questions than answers and the answer we do it is inadequate and not based upon any solid evidence.
One big example of a clue that human beings are the product of natural processes and not the design of an intelligent god or alien race is the presence of junk DNA in our cells. There is plenty of human DNA that does little or no good for us and while some New Age believers suggest that this code is the key to supernatural or paranormal talents scientists are quite certain it is vestigial and passed on to us. If aliens took the time to refine the human animal why would they leave so much junk lying around. Why not create something with precision and efficiency?
In fact for all the trouble that human beings tend to cause it makes far more sense to design automatons. As creationists often say “God did not want robots” however an alien race would have no need of a sentient slave race of potential rebels and malcontents, aliens have no reason to program a creature with free will. Thus if human beings are a slave race they are the most poorly designed slave race in history.
For some alien design believers it wasn't other apes that our DNA was molded with but rather alien DNA, creating hybrids. The problems with this are numerous but again the biggest problems are the assumptions we are asked to accept before even considering the true theory beneath. Assumptions such as: how can extraterrestrials that evolved on a completely different planet have DNA even remotely similar to compatible with our own? There is no reason to assume an intelligent species that evolved on another planet would resemble human beings in any way shape or form or that the genetic information of those foreign organisms would have formed to be even remotely similar to what happened on Earth billions of years ago.
Some believers simply expand their net, claiming that the aliens, like gods, had been watching the Earth and guiding evolution for billions of years but this just begs the question of where all the evidence is even farther! It is one thing to say that aliens have been visiting Earth for a few thousand years but another thing entirely to extend their reach and powers to a level more similar to deities.
It all comes down to the fact that if we were a designed race we would expect fewer design flaws and rather than having greater intelligence we might expect less intelligence but better endurance, stamina and overall lifespan. We might have immune systems so well designed we never get sick or have organs like the appendix replaced genetically with far more useful organs. Instead what we see, and what we are, is far more consistent with the progression of natural selection along perfectly conventional roots.
Probably the biggest piece of physical evidence of alien intervention in the human genome the Starchild skull is touted around by some believers as evidence of alien tampering in our ancient past. The only problem is that after being tested, re-tested, tested again and over and over and so on and so forth the starchild skull has been proved to be a human skull.
Physical evidence like the Starchild skull could overturn mainstream science if it turned out to be legitimate but every time such physical evidence is presented it is found to be of normal human origin. Everything from elongated skulls stretched by the barbaric practice of skull binding to supposed footprints showing that man and dinosaurs co-existed every piece of evidence is found to either be a hoax or an underwhelming misinterpretation.
Each time the skull is tested the believers dig in their heels and simply refuse to accept the possibility that its human based on faith, “gut instinct” or just on how the skull doesn't look human to them. Even if its not human it is certainly a species that is related to humans evolutionarily speaking and we would expect aliens who evolved on another planet to be human. Yet as implausible as the whole theory is, and as often as this piece of evidence is proved human, believers remain.
In the Beginning
As I discussed in part 2 of the series one of the most common tactics used by ancient astronaut believers when faced with the stark lack of actual evidence for their beliefs is to borrow myths and scriptures from various traditions and stretch them out of their proper context in order to insert modern UFO lore. Nowhere is this perversion of our heritage more common than in discussions on the origin of the human species. Of particular note is the work of the late Zecharia Sitchin and the ever popular Erik Von Daniken both of whom specialize is misinterpreting myth in light of modern reports of alien visitation and UFO belief.
Sitchin is most famous for, with no real credentials in any relevant field, translating cuneiform tablets from ancient Mesopotamia (Sumerian and Babylonian) and getting results that no other scholar in the field ever got. Sitchin's translations and the interpretation of them is that the gods descended from the heavens and created mankind to harvest gold and other precious metals. These beings were from the planet Nibiru, a planet you might have heard of as it is supposedly a rogue planet within our own solar system that was meant to destroy the world in 2012. The aliens were called the Annunaki and needed precious metals to save their dying planet.
Of course his translation is highly suspect and pretty much discredited even within some corners of the ancient astronaut “movement”. Among the convincing “proofs” for this whole thing that I had managed to convince myself of as a teenager was the fact that in the Bible the word Elohim is considered plural leading to the translation in Genesis showing God saying “Let US make man in OUR own image”. This plurality convinced me that the Bible was taken from earlier polytheistic myths that had been based upon alien intervention.
We Need to be Special
In truth though, as with our lust for gold, our intelligence and our origin in general, we already have explanations of where our mythologies come from. One does not need aliens to visit Earth to understand where the human concept of the gods has come from. We have a need to explain the world around us and to understand that world in whatever way we can. Understanding our world, our environment, helps us to survive and thrive especially in groups. When a group creates a mythology, forges into it their understanding of the natural world and uses it to enforce the rules and regulations of their society that is called a religion and it proved a very useful – albeit destructive – tool to aid our survival.
Now as science unravels the mysteries of our world and the cosmos at large the mythologies that once guided us fall by the wayside. Yet we still earn to be special, to have gods and goddesses and cosmic forces at our beck and call concerned with our every deed and our every thought. We want to believe that we are not “accidental” by-products of blind unguided natural forces but rather specially created biological machines meant for some ultimate function.
And so ancient astronaut theory becomes just another faith-based belief, not a religion in and of itself but an unsubstantiated group of pseudoscientific beliefs that border on and sometimes cross the line into the superstitious and paranormal. It is no longer simply an amusing and unproved hypothesis for some but instead becomes an unfalsifiable web of pseudoscience and unprovable speculation.
In the end there is no evidence of any tampering in our early genetic make-up. No marker or seam we might consider the hallmark of alterations made to our species either by supernatural or technological means. We have plenty of fossils detailing parts of our origin and DNA evidence proving our direct kinship with other primate species on this planet but nothing about our history or origin proves or even remotely suggests the influence of extraterrestrial visitors.
While it may not offer the emotional comfort of ancient astronaut belief or religious faith the real scientific conclusions are the ones we should follow. Science does not declare absolute truths but rather follows the evidence amending itself accordingly and providing us with a coherent and as-accurate-as-humanly-possible representation of the facts. If there is real evidence of ancient alien intervention to be found it will not be found by ignoring science or giving into the credulity of faith but rather by genuine scientific inquiry and open-mindedness.
Other Relevant Hubs
- Into the Weird Part 2
Educational analysis about two more pseudoscientific ideas. In this installment the Starchild skull and Ghost Box are discussed.
- Ancient Aliens Part 1 - Megaliths and Monuments
The first hub in the series..
- Ancient Aliens Part 2 - Religion and Myth
Reinterpretations of religious myth to insert aliens are examined.
- Ancient Aliens Part 3 - Artwork and Artifacts
In this installment I deal with artwork and ancient artifacts that supposedly show evidence of alien visitation.