Over the past two seasons of watching Ancient Aliens, I came to realize that the skeptical attacks on the evidence for extraterrestrial presence in the deep past have made an impact. The current ancient astronaut theorists have all but abandoned flesh and blood aliens, and with them the ancient astronaut theory in its classic form. Instead, today we have a freeform neo-Paganism that all but begs the reader or viewer to worship the aliens as actual gods.
Consider this astonishing passage from the conclusion to Philip Coppens’s The Ancient Alien Question (2011):
Now ask yourself this: If the aliens are (a) non-corporeal, (b) supernatural in nature, and (c) not physically present on this plane of existence, in what way do they differ from the traditional idea of polytheistic pagan gods? How does an ancient astronaut theorist downing hallucinogens to contact the “metaphysical” aliens in a quantum dimension differ from the shaman guzzling ayahuasca to meet the gods in the spirit realm?
This is something I noticed especially in the Ancient Aliens episode “Aliens and the Undead” in which Coppens, along with David Childress and others, more or less told viewers that the aliens were gods living in a special quantum dimension that is essentially heaven and that if we are all good ancient astronaut theorists, then the quantum alien energy beings will take our “consciousness” (read: souls) across the energy bridge to the quantum dimension (read: heaven) to live with them in blessed harmony forever and ever, for theirs is the power and the glory, amen.
The aliens have ceased to be anything but the very gods they were proposed to replace, and the members of the current generation of ancient astronaut theorists are huckster prophets abetting a duplicitous religious revival. At least L. Ron Hubbard was honest enough to admit that his ancient astronauts (and their salvation-for-sale) were a substitute religion. Coppens should be honest enough to just say what he means: He thinks the pagan gods are real and that if we think really hard then Zeus or Marduk or Thor will come down out of the sky and give him presents.
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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