This week the peer-reviewed solar system science journal Icarus published a paper by two Kazakh physicists who claim that human DNA encodes a mathematical message genetically engineered by extraterrestrial beings when they “seeded the universe” with life. According to the scientists, DNA has “precision-type orderliness”:
Simple arrangements of the code reveal an ensemble of arithmetical and ideographical patterns of the same symbolic language. Accurate and systematic, these underlying patterns appear as a product of precision logic and nontrivial computing rather than of stochastic processes (the null hypothesis that they are due to chance coupled with presumable evolutionary pathways is rejected with P-value < 10–13). The patterns are profound to the extent that the code mapping itself is uniquely deduced from their algebraic representation. The signal displays readily recognizable hallmarks of artificiality, among which are the symbol of zero, the privileged decimal syntax and semantical symmetries.
Essentially, the scientists claim that there are non-random patterns in DNA, but their conclusion does not seem to follow logically from the observation. Writing in Discovery News, astronomy writer Ray Villard noted that even taking the claim of non-random patterns in DNA at face value, it says nothing about the existence of aliens. Such patterns could be the result of hitherto unknown biological processes (including emergent phenomena inherent in DNA), or even “intelligent design” by a supernatural entity. (Villard seems weirdly concerned about how to squeeze God into the findings, asking who designed the aliens.) However, it’s probably important to also note that the Kazakh authors did not apparently test non-human DNA to see if such patterns repeat elsewhere, an important factor.
Nor are physicists necessarily the best judges of concepts outside of physics. I just got an email today from a physicist in India who has convinced himself that all earth languages are corrupt versions of Tamil, that the Tamils founded the Maya civilization, and that the Indo-Europeans stole all of their religious ideas from the Tamils. Does it surprise you that the physicist is himself Tamil? I’d like to know what biologists think of the DNA “patterns” the Kazakh physicists found.
I don’t know enough about DNA or how one would encode “the symbol of zero” into DNA to say much useful about this, but I do find it interesting how the conclusions to which the authors jump reflect a very longstanding urge among humans to seek out supernatural parentage. Looking for aliens as the authors of our DNA is a modern reflection of the ancient drive to seek out the gods as the authors of our lineage.
This Friday Ancient Aliens is doing an hour on the Vikings (tying in with History’s dramatic series), and among the Vikings it was believed that various families descended from the gods. Snorri Sturluson describes in the prologue to his Edda how various families descended from the three sons of Odin: “These forefathers ruled the land which is now called Frankland, and from them is come the race that is called the Volsungs. From all of these many and great races are descended.” Among the Greeks and Romans the same held true, for the family of Caesar claimed descent from Venus, and various and sundry men spoke of the gods as their ancestors. The incorporeal form of Zeus as a golden shower impregnated the virgin Danae with the semi-divine hero Perseus, alleged progenitor of several races. Anthropologically, innumerable cultures recognize the ability of the gods to interbreed with humans and produce a race of semi-divine beings.
That this belief was prevalent even among the Jews is in evidence from the famed passage in Genesis 6:4 when the “sons of God” had sex with the “daughters of men” and gave rise to a race of heroes. Although the Jews stopped considering the sons of God (literally: sons of the gods) to be a real supernatural race, the belief lingered on in the Levant outside of Israel, as the Qur’an suggests in describing the nebulously-defined mushrikun as believing God was the progenitor of a divine race of gods or angels (43:19) and, along with the Christians, believe him the father of one or more human children (18:4, 19:88, 21:26). Christians, of course, believe that the incorporeal form of God as the Holy Spirit impregnated the Virgin Mary with the divine hero Jesus (whose exact degree of divinity was subject to several centuries of debate). Although Jesus was not traditionally seen as the father of peoples, today alternative historians have made him into the semi-divine ancestor of a broad swath of Europe’s Caucasian elite.
It’s also interesting to note that this impulse isn’t confined to the supernatural realm. Snorri Sturluson, for example, did not view the pagan gods as divine but rather as heroic men whose lineage was possessed of great power and bravery, descended from the heroic men of Troy, who therefore seeded the wild men of the North with the civilization of the Mediterranean. (The Romans also thought that an infusion of Trojan blood gave their race a special claim to power.)
This is the same idea behind Thomas Sinclair’s claim centuries later that Native Americans were racially inferior to the point that only an infusion of superior European blood, in the form of sex with Henry Sinclair, could raise them up from savagery to barbarism. Ignatius Donnelly, too, in his books on Atlantis, saw the (white) Atlanteans as a heroic race who seeded the world with their superior blood, a concept we find anew in the work of Graham Hancock.
In adapting both the “sons of God” and the “superior bloodline” themes, ancient astronaut theorists like Erich von Däniken developed what has been dismissed as the “horny alien” hypothesis, whereby extraterrestrial beings physically mated with early humans. (And apparently still do: One British psychic recently said that she receives intense orgasms at night from the aliens.) By the infusion of their alien genes, they raised up primitive humans into the glory of full consciousness. Ancient Aliens modified this to become genetic engineering (to overcome the challenges posed by cross-species breeding), but the sexual idea lingers on in the UFO movement, where “abductees” claim that aliens sexually abuse and impregnate them in order to create “hybrid” creatures, seen as the next (often spiritual) phase in human evolution. In all cases, though, control over human reproduction is ascribed to extraterrestrial beings, and the infusion of superior non-human genes is thought to lead to an improvement in human adaptive fitness.
In this, there is really no difference between the idea that aliens are sexing up the ladies and earlier claims that the gods fathered heroes among human women. There’s probably something interesting to say about the fact that in the Western tradition male aliens and gods take a sexual interest in human females, resulting in the fathering of powerful races of heroic males (regardless of the fate of the irrelevant female sex object—Zeus would sometimes blast them to dust or turn them to animals), while the rare instance where a female alien or goddess takes up with a human male results in terror and/or death. Compare the “anal probing” of male abductees to the castration of Attis for love of Cybele, the goring of Adonis for love of Aphrodite, the violent dismemberment of Dumuzi (Tammuz) for love of Inanna, etc. Since Caesar claimed descent from Venus, it isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it seems that there was something of a double standard between gods and goddesses, and that seems to carry over into modern UFO myths, with men expressing sexual anxiety about penetration and violation while women express anxiety about parturition.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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