Ancient Aliens pundit Giorgio Tsoukalos was asked on Twitter yesterday whether he believes in God, to which he replied that he does, but not the God of Christianity. He further clarified his position, asserting that the ancient astronaut hypothesis, which he calls the “ancient astronaut theory” or AAT, makes no claims on contemporary religion:
This appears to derive from his mentor Erich von Däniken’s stated position, which is that God exists but that the true God is that of Jesus, not the Old Testament or other ancient scriptures, which mistakenly describe extraterrestrials. (Of course von Däniken originally tried to make Jesus an alien, too, until his publisher convinced him to think better of offending his readers.)
But I take issue with the claim that the ancient astronaut hypothesis has “nothing” to do with “modern-day worship.” Consider the following:
This does not count the polytheistic pantheons of native peoples worldwide whose mythologies have been strip-mined for ancient astronaut books and Ancient Aliens. Nevertheless, such peoples as the Australian aborigines, the Polynesians, and Native Americans continue to exist, and many continue to worship their traditional gods. Most directly relevant: The Dogon people, whose myths were fabricated into the Sirius Mystery about space frogs from Sirius, still exist, still engage in traditional religion, and therefore are impacted directly by claims that their faith is a fraud born of aliens in disguise.
Giorgio Tsoukalos may want us to think that the ancient astronaut hypothesis is concerned only with the dead and dormant mythologies of vanished peoples and is therefore nothing but impact-free, fun speculation, but as put forward by Tsoukalos, von Däniken, and others, it makes clear and direct claims about the identity of beings worshiped by “modern-day” peoples. It is therefore not “fun” but a direct challenge the spiritual beliefs of, by my count, at least three billion of earth’s seven billion people…though I may be undercounting somewhat. He may believe that all gods but his are false, but the ancient astronaut hypothesis certainly has something to say about those gods, and thus their "modern-day worship."
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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