For reasons that pass understanding, The History Channel canceled UFO Hunters a while back. This left me with a bit of a void in my already dwindling amount of television viewing. That void has been somewhat filled by Ancient Aliens. You might infer from the title that the program covers the Ancient Astronaut theory and how supposedly, aliens have been visiting Earth since the dawn of time. And you would be correct.
During a recent episode, it struck me how ubiquitous it is, this meme of "beings far superior to us" bringing about our advancement if not our very existence. Technically, you could say that all views of God are a posit of this. But seeing a few of the alien theories put forth made me think of colorful world of Marvel Comics. Not a far stretch for me as I've been reading comics for nearly 40 years. In Marvel continuity, mankind as we know it was brought about by a godlike race known as The Celestials, who travel the universe in mammoth, spiky-looking ships. This in turn made me think of Warren Ellis' New Universal series for Marvel, where a spiky-looking ship brings about "The White Event" on Earth, causing otherwise normal people to develop superpowers. Then I remembered my good friend Dreamer telling me that Ellis had in fact cribbed Philip K. Dick for that business.
For those of you who don't know, Philip K. Dick was a tremendously influential science fiction writer who wrote Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep and We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Translated for Americans, he wrote the basis for Blade Runner and Total Recall. Shit, if you've ever read or seen a work of fiction that asks "what is real?" or "how fragile is our reality?" it owes itself at least in small part to Dick. The creators of The Matrix fully acknowledge this. Turns out PKD wrote a story called VALIS, his own gnostic representation of God where one node of an alien satellite relay known as the VALIS system, sits above Earth and creates reality for us.
Well he certainly was a prescient guy, that Philip K. Dick. Funny thing is, I'm not so sure he'd appreciate my linking him to the Ancient Astronauts theory any more than he would like being associated with any of the "bug-eyed alien hoo-hah" as a few might call it. Can't say I blame him. It is human nature to want to know where we came from, to believe that our origins were special, to know that we are on a pre-selected path to a higher destiny. That's what in my opinion drives the bulk of the Ancient Astronaut theories. To boot, AA believers even argue that we are a genetic hybrid of the aliens, explaining why they are bipedal humanoids when all biological odds say they shouldn't look like we do. "In God's own image" indeed.
But to attribute our development and technological accomplishments in such large part to alien intervention, well, that to me discounts human aptitude. The human brain is inherently no smarter today than it was 3,000 years ago. Mathematics and the principles of science could have been parsed just fine without the aid of alien beings.
I'm not saying the AA proponents are wrong. It would be amazing if they found evidence that conclusively bore out their position and my goodness wouldn't it just turn science and religion up on its end. I know that my own personal beliefs would have to be questioned and that I might become a bit less eager to meet my maker. Nonetheless, if fiction like Philip K. Dick's VALIS is any indication, it's really an old story.
Operative word there being "story."
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