I unfortunately have some work and other obligations to attend to today, so I’m going to present a few news updates as today’s blog post.
Finally, if you subscribe to me on Facebook, you already know that I lost my grandmother this week. She died on her seventieth wedding anniversary, at the age of 94. There are many great stories about my grandmother, but perhaps the best was this: In the late 1950s, she pulled her children out of Catholic school when the local priest was suspected of inappropriate actions with some of the other children. The priest confronted her and told her that she would go to hell for denying her kids a Catholic education, and she told him, “Then I’ll see you there.” In that day and age it must have taken great strength for a devout Catholic and a woman to stand up to a priest like that.
Given this, I trust you will understand if my reviews of Ancient Aliens and America Unearthed are a bit late and possibly shorter than normal this week.
But this blog isn’t about my personal tragedies, so I will end it by bringing the discussion around to ancient astronauts and death, since both are on my mind. When Philip Coppens’ funeral was held earlier this month, Giorgio Tsoukalos delivered the funeral oration (because, of course), and he then posted these most private of words on the internet (because, again, of course he did). They are an interesting view into the internal contradictions of alternative belief.
Tsoukalos said that he believed in reincarnation and that Coppens was acting as a disembodied spirit guardian while he awaited rebirth in a new body:
I’ve proposed for a while that the period between when our soul leaves this earthly body and transitions into the next reincarnation, that period of time, however long it may be, IS heaven…
Obviously Tsoukalos did not “propose” this idea; it is very, very old. It belongs to Hindus and the Theosophists who stole it from them, and it is found among the Orphics and in Plato, who claimed that between incarnations the soul resided in the heavenly realm of pure form (see Republic 514a–520a). I didn’t say anything about this at the time because what was the point while the man’s death was still so recent? However, it boggles my mind how the same person can simultaneously believe that humans were genetically engineered by alien beings from apes to be gold-mining work slaves and yet also have immortal souls that cycle through endless rebirths. I won’t say it’s impossible to believe both—enough angels could dance on the head of that pin—but it suggests an entire spiritual realm (presumably ruled by God or gods) that interacts with the material world, and that souls simply pop into being whenever consciousness arises. Either that, or the aliens have unsuspected spiritual powers. In such situations, to what end do we propose aliens, except as substitute angels? The difference between gods and aliens collapses, and the ancient astronaut “theory” reveals itself as a substitute religion that attempts to marry science to faith.
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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