We open in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1991 to review singer-songwriter Pam Reynolds’s aneurysm. Doctors cooled her body and stopped her circulation and brain activity before bringing her back to life. Reynolds then reported having a near death experience where she met angels and her relatives. The narrator wonders whether this proves that the “immortal soul” exists independently of the body. Research by Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff is used to suggest that consciousness is a quantum state that exists independent of body itself. Physicists reject this idea, and there is no evidence in favor of the suggestion. But no matter—Jonathan Young of the Joseph Campbell Archives notes that near death experiences are similar across cultures. Rather than following the ideas of David Lewis-Williams that these experiences arise from the similar architecture of the human brain operating in altered states of consciousness, the show instead suggests that near death experiences are the same as the tractor beams that haul abductees aboard UFOs. According to William Henry, UFOs and heaven are the same thing, and accessible through our brains.
So we go to Israel around the ninth century BCE to talk about the prophet Elijah who in 1 Kings 17:21-22 brings back a dead boy by praying and laying atop him three times:
And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
This segment opens with a science experiment to test the resurrection potential of microscopic creatures called tardigrades that become completely dehydrated and inert in extreme conditions and can be revived with water. The show likens this to the mummification process for dead human bodies and goes back to the well from last week’s episode about the resurrection of mummified corpses. We review the Egyptian afterlife for the second time in two weeks, and most of this material is very similar to the “Aliens and the Undead” treatment of the same topic back in season three. William Henry falsely claims that the god Ptah was an alien from Sirius who taught the “technology” of resurrection. Sirius was the star of Isis, not Ptah.
Oddly, in this version of the resurrection claim, the show reverses course on the earlier episodes and instead argues that resurrection is spiritual rather than physical, and that the soul instead is a piece of “technology” (in Henry’s words) that is beamed into the sky after death. Ah, but the narrator seems to have anticipated my objection! He briefly notes that “ancient astronaut theorists” also believe that the Egyptians anticipated a bodily resurrection. Thus are the opposites reconciled simply by declaring two contradictory ideas true. If your soul is off on Sirius with Ptah, how can it also be reanimating your desiccated corpse? Does it come back, like the Christian and Islamic souls that will return to the flesh at the Last Judgment but otherwise pass the time in heaven?
For some reason we are discussing efforts to Christianize the Congo in the late 1400s and early 1500s. The Congolese apparently believed at the time that humans have two souls, one which bequeaths personality and the other that animates the flesh. Missionaries report (almost certainly exaggerated) stories that the Congolese “witch doctors”* (the show’s term) use the lesser soul to create zombies from the newly dead. The narrator suggests that the existence of zombies proves that the “witch doctors” and Egyptians are right that the soul exists and has two parts which can be manipulated through powers given to Africans by the sky gods, called orishas, who are aliens. Giorgio Tsoukalos takes the tall headdresses and hairstyles of African art as evidence of “elongated skulls” among the aliens. William Henry tells us that the myth of zombies originate with aliens. Having Erich von Däniken on to talk about Africans mistaking alien doctors for divine supermen is uncomfortable since von Däniken is on record in Signs of the Gods as asking racist questions about Africans: “Was the black race a failure and did the extraterrestrials change the genetic code by gene surgery and then programme a white or a yellow race?”
(* Note: I originally indicated that witch doctor is a pejorative, but as the comments below show, the term is still used as a technical descriptor of certain types of medicine men, distinct from its pejorative connotation when used to describe quacks.)
This segment takes the opposite tack from the last. We looked at the resurrection of the body without the soul (though without even making an effort at proof), so this time we’re going to look at reincarnation as the resurrection of the soul without the body. David Wilcock believes that reincarnated people have birth marks that graphically depict their death in their previous lives. No examples are given. But if the Hindus are right, as the show suggests, each person would have died hundreds of times and should be completely covered in birthmarks. How does the soul decide which deaths to commemorate with scarring? The show discusses various world reincarnation beliefs and then suggests that there are quasi-magical spirit beings who are also aliens and, something like the resurrection technology from To Your Scattered Bodies Go, have mastered reincarnation to the point that they simply ignore death as they hop from one body to the next, functionally immortal. Would this not also make them functionally gods and therefore make the alien part of the equation functionally irrelevant? And why do they come to the earth to spend all their time training us (badly) to follow in their footsteps? I guess that is the kind of logic only an immortal alien god understands.
Oh! We’re going to get a little controversial now. In this segment, the show finally brings Jesus into the ancient alien fold. The ufologist Christian preacher Barry H. Downing (from Syracuse, NY, near my hometown, no less) suggests that Jesus’ vision of Moses and Elijah in Matthew 17:3 was a UFO encounter. The Resurrection is now declared to be an extraterrestrial event on the strength of the glowing angel from Matthew 28:3. They don’t quite go far enough to say Jesus was himself an alien, only that his resurrection was attended by aliens. All of these claims are lifted, sometimes nearly verbatim, from a 1977 ancient astronaut article I wrote about back in August, right around the time they would have planned and shot this segment. After this, the show recognizes that the Catholic Eucharist asserts that the bread and wine literally become the flesh and blood of Jesus, and in a kind of icky way suggests that Jesus is “resurrected” at the Eucharist, either physically or metaphysically. The various pundits offer thoughtless reflections on the Eucharist that are fairly close to actual Catholic dogma about entering into spiritual communion with Jesus and becoming of one body with him through the Eucharist, only they want to swap out the divine for a metaphysical and/or quantum alien cannibalism that, like the belief of cannibals everywhere, allows us to absorb the power of the victim.
But: Jesus is an alien! An alien who can possess bread. Since ancient astronaut theorists do not believe in just one alien the way Catholics consider Jesus unique, does this mean that every food has aliens possessing it? What does that mean for the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Is my dinner safe?
Here the show goes all Jurassic Park and repeats material from last week about whether mummies can have their DNA restored so the bodies and souls can be brought back to life. (Souls, of course, are drawn to DNA matches like magnets—or something like that.) The show takes this a step further and claims that the Last Judgment is a technological achievement through which all bodies are resurrected in a shocking genetic engineering and/or cloning event that somehow also involves movement into and out of a spiritual dimension populated by aliens, who are not actual flesh and blood creatures but rather immaterial floating souls. This shit doesn’t make any sense, but it has a vaguely spiritual message that points toward a New Age purpose behind the ancient astronaut theory, and which motivates it.
Seriously, though: Aliens (a) are immortal, (b) are immaterial, (c) control our souls, and (d) nevertheless are forced to inhabit bread at our command. This was one wacky episode that managed to have something to insult skeptics and Christians alike!