Today’s Great Moment in Ancient Astronautics comes from the self-described “qualified journalist” Sarah Moran, in her 1998 opus Alien Art: Extraterrestrial Expressions on Earth, with an introduction by none other than Erich von Däniken and photographs of some fraudulent artifacts, including crystal skulls and gold tablets, long exposed as hoaxes. But no matter. What interests me is Moran’s blithe and ignorant dismissal of evolution, recognizing, correctly, that evolutionary theory poses a significant challenge for claims that aliens genetically engineered humanity.
Moran begins with an appeal to ignorance, makes false claims, and finishes with monumental stupidity cast as skeptical inquiry:
“There are so many puzzles which we are not clever enough to solve […] Evolutionists follow Charles Darwin’s theory to the letter. They, and mainstream science, tell us that we are simply part of the planet’s evolutionary process, changing and adapting in a ‘survival of the fittest’ manner until we reach the point where we are best suited to live in our environment. […]
“When Darwin wrote his On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859, there was no evidence to support his radical new theory. […] When the ‘proof’ started emerging in the form of fossils and ancient monuments, scientists eagerly pieced the various fragments together and declared Darwin a genius.” (pp. 13-14)
This idiocy barely requires discussion, so self-evidently ridiculous is it. Let’s leave aside the subjective issue of whether humans are clever—ancient astronaut theorists think every human except for ancient astronaut theorists are blinkered clods who rigidly defend dogma unless the aliens pass them blueprints and patents for new ideas. That Moran thinks “evolutionists” rigidly support evolution as Darwin first suggested it in 1859, reveals the depth of her research—ignorant of advances in genetics, DNA, punctuated equilibrium, and any number of modifications that have grown and developed evolutionary theory into one of the crown jewels of science. Apparently, for Moran, since she takes Chariots of the Gods as gospel, so too must scientists view Darwin as a fixed, unchanging Bible.
In the second paragraph, one might reasonably ask: If there was no evidence to support evolution, where did Darwin’s theory come from? Has Moran ever read Origin of Species? It’s full of evidence. Moran seems to view science through the lens of the ancient astronaut theory, where evidence exists solely to “prove” a predetermined theory and therefore cannot exist as such before the theory. Instead, Darwin’s theory emerged the other way around (i.e., the right way), with the evidence Darwin collected on his travels forcing him to the inexorable conclusion that life evolved. It also doesn’t help Moran’s claims that Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus, among many others, had already been working on these problems and had amassed evidence that very strongly suggested evolution. Even Aristotle (Physics 2.8.2) had suggested a form of natural selection.
Finally, what on earth do “ancient monuments” have to do with evolution? Cultural evolution and biological evolution are not the same thing. Here again, it seems Moran’s ignorance got the best of her, and she again conflated the ancient astronaut theory (which combines a creation story with historical claims) with evolution’s biological basis. Moran seems to want to see archaeology and cultural anthropology as extensions of (biological) evolution.
That said, I will eagerly await news of which biology textbooks use “ancient monuments” as evidence for natural selection.
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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