There are basically 2 opposing sources of explanation concerning the appearance of human beings on Earth: science vs religion, or evolution vs creationism. In this post I would like to share an alternative explanation that is called the ancient aliens theory or ancient astronaut theory.
Ancient alien/astronaut theory proposes that a long time ago intelligent ancient aliens/astronauts from another planet visited the Earth. They were the ones who taught our primitive half-ape ancestors how to build civilizations and taught them religion.
This theory is considered as a pseudo-science in the academic world, although it remains popular among laymen especially today with the advancement of the Internet and of course due to the many sci-fi Hollywood movies.
THE ORIGIN OF THE ANCIENT ALIENS/ASTRONAUT THEORY
The idea that humans (i.e. Homo Sapiens) came to being through evolution is being made popular by Charles Darwin after the publication of his book The Origin of Species in 1859, although he was not the first person who came up with this idea.
Previous to the proposal of the evolution theory, the explanation of humans came to being as a direct creation of God (or gods) was the popular belief all over the world including in the West. The acceptance of the evolution theory in the scientific world (despite its missing links) naturally puts the religious explanation in a serious credibility position.
Ancient aliens/astronaut theory gives some possible explanation to answer these missing links and shorten the gap between the religious explanation and the scientific one.
The first person who puts the seed of the alien ancestor theory was probably H.G. Wells (1866 – 1946) who wrote fictional accounts about aliens in his book called the War of the Worlds. By 1920s aliens became popular via a movie that was adapted from Jules Verne’s book called From the Earth to the Moon (1865).
Then in mid 1947, a crash of a military Air Force surveillance balloon near Roswell, New Mexico gave rise to claims alleging the crash was of an alien spaceship. By then alien conspiracy theory was en vogue especially among ufologist saying the alien occupants of these spacecraft/s had been recovered by the military but this event has been covered-up for the public.
In 1950s Russian-Jewish independent scholar, Immanuel Velikovsky forwarded his theory of periodic catastrophic events in a series of books, the most famous was Worlds In Collision. He used comparative religious/mythologies and ancient texts to argue that the Earth suffered catastrophic close contacts with other planets in ancient times. These events were recorded in religious books, such as the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah that is told in the Bible (OT: Genesis 19).
CHARIOTS OF THE GODS
The first person who really used the term ancient astronaut was Erich Von Daniken who wrote in his book called Chariots of the Gods that was first published in 1968.
According to Von Daniken humans are not the only intelligent beings in the universe. His theory being a long time ago from a galaxy far, far away (don’t you just love this text from Star Wars? )… came a group of alien astronauts which landed on Earth, at that time a place filled with half-human – half savage cave drawing hominids.
Those ancient aliens coming from their space ships (or chariots) were perceived as gods by the savages, so they worshipped them. The ancient aliens taught them how to read and write, how to cultivate and finally how to build cities. Allegedly, it seems like there is a missing link between our savage pre-historical period and the time of ancient mega stone constructions on our planet, right? Well, according to Daniken, these ancient aliens were the reason why there are so many ruined cities from ancient civilizations popping out of nowhere, so the speak, everywhere around the globe. Civilizations such as: ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Mayan, etc.
Furthermore, almost all (if not all) of these perished ancient civilizations also believed that one day their gods will come back to the Earth. These stories came to being because these ancient astronaut “gods” went back to their own planet/s after intermingling with our primitive ancestors in order to create a better hominid species (i.e. Homo Sapiens). This story (with varied details) is indeed found in almost every myth and religion, including in the 5 major religions in the world today.
For example: Jews are struggling today with the preparation to build the third temple of Jerusalem as they are waiting for the coming of the Jewish messiah (Hebrew “mashiach”). As they believe that a future Jewish King from the House of David will appear during the Messianic Age, gather the Jews back into Israel, usher an era of peace and build the third temple. His coming will be heralded by Elijah who will return from heaven.
Whereas Christians believe the Messiah already came in the form of Jesus who will return for a final battle at the End of Time at Armageddon and bring justice.
Muslims believe that a descendant of Muhammad by the name of Imam Al Mahdi will also come before Judgment Day to rid the world of evil.
Hindus believe that the last avatar of Khrisna will appear at the end of this era (Yuga) in the form of Sri Kalki to destroy darkness, foulness and ignorance.
While Buddhists believe a successor to the present Buddha will appear on Earth in the future to teach the pure dharma by the name of Buddha Maitreya.
In pagan religions as well as world mythologies similar stories like this exist too, such as the return of the Egyptian god Osiris, the Norse god Baldur, etc.
Additionally, Erich Von Daniken also explains that this promise/prophecy was the reason why there are many mummy traditions around the globe, waiting to be awakened by the gods/saviors who had promised to return and reward them with eternal life.
And that’s how religions were created.
THE ANUNNAKI & 12th PLANET
In 1976, another author by the name of Zecharia Sitchin wrote a book about ancient aliens. The book is called the 12th Planet. In this book, not only did he propose similar theory like Erich Von Daniken he also proposed that these aliens came from a planet called Nibiru.
According to Sitchin’s interpretation of ancient Sumerian tablets, planet Nibiru is an undiscovered planet beyond Neptune with long elliptical orbit that is reaching the inner solar system every 3,600 years that collided with Tiamat (a Babylonian goddess) which he theorized was actually another planet located between Mars and Jupiter. Our Earth is the result of this collision.
Sitchin claimed that the Sumerians believed there were 12 heavenly bodies in our solar system (i.e. Sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, Earth, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptunus, Pluto and Planet X or Nibiru). This planet Nibiru was the home of the technologically human-like alien race called the Anunnaki in the Sumerian myth or the Nephilim (the giants of Canaan) in the Bible (OT: Book of Numbers 13:33). These beings were our creators/ancestors.
The first time I read about ancient aliens/ astronaut theory was in early 1980’s from Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods. And I was really shocked when the first time I read it because when I was young I was taught to believe in the Abrahamic stories. But, as crazy as it sounds actually many of his explanations make sense and they do answer some of the missing links that cannot be explained by the theory of evolution as well as shortening the gap between religious creation story and the evolution theory.
Children today, who watch so many science fiction movies, might not be as shocked as anyone from my generation or older generations who read a theory like this. This is good in a way, but on the other hand, many science fiction movies today are so far-fetched, the historical data and mythical names so jumbled up and inaccurate that children today might even be more confused and misinformed then children from my generation ever were.
I am not saying that I agree or disagree with this theory (yet). Although, I have also always thought, that there is no way in this mega vast universe, there is only one insignificant blue speck of a planet called the Earth which is populated by intelligent creatures!
If evolution could take place on Earth, why wouldn’t it be possible for it to happen in other planets, right? And why did God (the real God, if you believe in one) create the rest of the vast universe if the only intelligent creatures He created wouldn’t even be able to witness it all? So I agree with Erich Von Daniken that human beings are just being arrogant thinking that we are the “paramount” of God’s creation.
However, it should be noted that many details in this theory are inaccurate, many of the proofs have been debunked successfully and today with the technology of internet and photoshop many hoax images flying around the internet! Although, I still think there are still some truth behind this theory that should not be dismissed so quickly.
There might be some wisdom and truth behind this crazy theory considering how many strange, illogical, unfair, bloody and even downright brutal some stories are in religious teachings (read the compacted complete biblical stories and Islamic traditions in this book) and also the many missing links in the evolution theory as well as the many errors science has actually made throughout its history. Maybe real scientists should research this theory further and keep an open mind, do you agree?