Downing, born in 1938, has been a fixture of central New York ufology for decades. He was a pastor at a church in Endwell, a suburb of Binghamton, in the Southern Tier of New York State. He recently spoke at the Endwell Rotary Club, where he told members that ancient astronaut theorists have it right about aliens being the true creators of humanity.
“There are people who are private researchers who say that the, (sic) we have contacted the aliens and the aliens have said that they have developed many of the religions on earth,” Downing said.
He also demanded that the United State government release any and all information about their knowledge of ancient astronauts and extraterrestrials’ role in the creation of humanity.
“I think every religious leader has a right to know if the United States government has information about these issues,” he said.
I grew up in a town near Syracuse, where Downing was born, so it’s somewhat amusing that the one-time Ancient Aliens theologian is still promoting his alien-themed work in and around New York State almost half a century later.
Downing is most famous for his 1968 book The Bible and Flying Saucers, in which he postulated that Yahweh was a flying saucer piloted by aliens masquerading as angels, and Jesus was a space alien. He cited John 8:23 to prove that Jesus had come from outer space: “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” A confession if ever I’ve heard one!
In the 1973 edition of The Bible and Flying Saucers, Downing said that Erich von Däniken helped to prove his thesis with his 1968 book Chariots of the Gods and to help shape humanity to better understand the alien truth behind history: “I do not recommend von Däniken as a careful Biblical scholar, nor as a theologian, but I think he has helped us make some important psychological adjustments.”
In an article in the Binghamton Evening Press, included as an appendix to the 1973 volume, Downing went on to attack von Däniken for his shoddy understanding of the Bible, but it’s more interesting to see the way Downing’s quasi-spiritual view of biblical UFOs, expressed here, has overtaken the nuts-and-bolts ancient astronautics of Chariots of the Gods:
The space age is forcing us to ask the question: Is it possible the Old Testament and New Testament religions were DELIBERATELY brought about by beings from another world? This is a fearful question, but it is also a hopeful one. Von Däniken thinks the Biblical religion is an accidental byproduct of primitive contact with ancient astronauts. I think the Biblical religion is the deliberate work of ancient astronauts, or at least of Higher Beings.