A Book by a Zecharia Sitchin Acolyte Covered the Same "New" Material as "Sekret Machines" Many Years Ago
Since I was on the subject of Peter Levenda yesterday, I thought I would take a moment to remind everyone that Levenda has placed a lot of weight on what he claims to be his surprising and new approach to the ancient astronaut theory. Specifically, in their recent Rolling Stone interview, Levenda’s coauthor Tom DeLonge emphasized that his discussion of human religion as a sort of cargo cult inspired by space aliens is a quantum leap forward in understanding space alien interaction with humans. As I pointed out in my review of their book Sekret Machines: Gods, this claim is not new or even special; it was first used in the 1970s in the TV movie In Search of Ancient Astronauts.
However, I was intrigued to see that the late Vine Deloria offered a nearly identical argument in one of his books, Evolution, Creationism, and Other Modern Myths (2002), and its parallels to Levenda’s are rather striking. He starts by describing cargo cults and space aliens:
Western religion may simply be the historical remnants of an ancient cargo cult. I do not believe the ancient astronaut thesis, contrary to what I’m sure many reviewers will insist. Following Occam’s razor, however, I am forced to admit that it ties up a lot of loose strings. I do believe that it has much to tell us and should be a topic for serious historical investigation rather simply the concern of flying saucer groups.
Regular readers know that I don’t think much of Deloria’s frequent forays into hyper-diffusionism and other fringe history staples, but I was rather struck to see Levenda’s major claims given quickly but succinctly here. The difference is that Levenda extends the same claim to Buddhism and other Eastern faiths, too.
Obviously, Deloria was simply aping a larger argument that has come and gone many times. After In Search of Ancient Astronauts, Dean J. J. Dunderstadt wrote of the “fascinating phenomenon” known as the cargo cult in 1977 in the Michigan Technic, relating it to ancient astronauts. It is a quite frequent ancient astronaut touchstone.
But what might be interesting is to note that Levenda’s fascination with claiming that modern religions are cargo cults echoes also a claim made by Neil Freer, the futurist and ancient astronaut theorist, a couple of decades ago in his book God Games. He specifically claimed that “religion as we know it is a cargo cult sublimation of the ancient master-slave relationship.” Now what is most important here is that Freer is an acolyte of Zecharia Sitchin, but his argument adds the weight of the master-slave relationship that is missing from the 1970s versions but is ever-present in Levenda’s version, one that goes to great pains to acknowledge and cite Sitchin as a source.
Remember how Levenda said that his book wasn’t trying to provide evidence, but that the whole Sekret Machines project was designed to assume the ancient astronaut theory was true and then work out the philosophical implications of it? Or, as he put it to Rolling Stone: “What we’re saying is, let’s proceed under the assumption that this is real. What does that mean for history, for medicine, for physics, for chemistry, for astronomy? What does it mean for us as humans if we accept that the phenomenon has always been real?”
Guess what Sitchin himself said of Freer in the introduction to God Games: “Neil Freer undertook a different kind of mind-boggling task. If all that I had concluded was true, he said, what does it all mean not to the human race and the planet in general--what does it mean to the individuals, to each one of us?” Hmm. Sounds familiar.
Sitchin also described himself in that introduction as having “an obsession to find out who the Nephilim were,” which seems about right. Those damn Nephilim/Watchers are always hovering over everything, oversized reminders that behind every ancient astronaut claim is someone struggling to make room for religion in scientific world. They also make their dutiful appearance in Sekret Machines.
Maybe the secret is that Sekret Machines contains nothing original.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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