Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chariots of the Gods?

If you were a child of the 70s, there’s no way you bypassed that period of time without hearing references to "Chariots of the Gods?" book by Erich Von Daniken (published in American in 1970). There was a TV documentary based on it called “In Search of Ancient Astronauts” which was wildly popular at the time.

This is what happens when you follow your passion and aren’t scared to travel the world and seek knowledge. Von Daniken began as a study of ancient holy writings and, although like most of us was forced to work in the “real world,” he continued to study things of interest to an obsessive level. He found a theme in archaeological artwork which created his hypothesis; perhaps the earth was visited by aliens in ancient times.

I have a personal respect for anyone who’s willing to create conjecture that rocks the majority’s world and makes us question just how much knowledge we have accrued and if perhaps we’ve accrued knowledge in the wrong areas for healthy growth.

In his book, he points out how ancient art drawn on cave walls and on desert rock outcroppings have shown amazing images of flying machines and references to beings that appear to be in space protective clothing and helmets. The knowledge of ancients to build pyramids, to postulate the stars and their movement, to build Easter Island’s statues, and to plot out the lines of Nazca of Peru, seemed to indicate influence from an outside source.

Von Daniken also brings into question the knowledge with which the prophet Edgar Cayce was able to do his clairvoyant readings. In Cayce’s readings, he could sit with a patient and detect illnesses in their bodies while he went into a meditative state in which he said his brain could ask their brain about issues, resulting in Cayce being “part of all brains.” This is a talent Von Daniken believed to be originated in other worlds by higher beings. This also expands into the concept of psychic abilities and how we can enter other energy pathways and gather information.

On the point that we can tap into other energy and gain information is one that I completely accept, having been able to do this my entire lifetime. I can’t tell you how, I can’t tell you why, but I do know that it’s possible to jump into a stream of information and sift through it like a radio sifting through radio waves for the right station. It might have been a vital attribute in early pre-language times, I don’t know. I only know it’s an ability we all possess and often use without being conscious of it. It's really all in our priorities and focus as to whether this talent develops or not.

I’m sure you’re probably wondering where I stand on the concept of Earth being seeded by aliens. I grew up in deep fascination with this book and the theories. To me they seemed to be grounded in fact, some kind of new discovery in the science world. Now, of course, I’m older and more logic-minded and skeptical, so when I re-read his book again with a fresh mind, I do find some discrepancies and I have better questions to ask about the correlations.

Von Daniken’s referenced the great flood of the Bible and assumed it was a plan by an alien god to obliterate "bad stock” and begin again with mankind. This is an example of his limited view at the time. Man has since discovered there was absolutely no way such a flood could have existed, even if it involved all the water in the oceans and in the earth combined. So, some of his postulating was with limited knowledge of the time period, giving that particular hypothesis a death sentence. He tied part of his theory to something that wasn't factual but was storytelling and folklore, so that would make perhaps other parts of his theories no longer valid either, given our present-day knowledge.

However, it’s understandable that the images he references (such as the one above) do seem out of place with the time period and the knowledge of the people. However, I am certain that anyone of an ancient time period would have devised a god based on things he was most dependent upon, such as sun, rain, earth, and seasons. Some of the images were surely otherworldly for the fact that a god of the sun or weather might be something we haven’t seen, something unusual or hybridized. It wasn’t until man became less dependent upon growing his own food and stalking his own meat, that a father-figure god came into the collective consciousness when a need for someone with wisdom and knowledge. This sort of almighty judge of character, was a more fitting deity to civilized man.

When I was younger, the correlation between these astronaut-like images and the cave drawings seemed like a direct hit, but now that I’m older and a debunker, I have to admit that the chances of a civilization existing, one with knowledge to travel and visit and influence us, who happens to use similar space suits and possess the same body type seems rather farfetched. The other option here is that man develops a way to time travel and influences his own ancestors. Even that seems unlikely, as I doubt by the time we possess time travel skills we’ll still be zipping ourselves into classic 1960s Apollo jumpsuits. At the time Von Daniken made these theories, they fit the knowledge of his time period.

I will admit that man seemed to have more knowledge than we gave him credit for. I believe that pyramids existing in continents separated by a vast ocean were not a complication for ancient man. I do think it was possible he circumvented the globe, although I’m certain it was a rare and special event, as surely the majority never made it. That ancient man wasn’t designing super computers and radios says something about his priorities. Early man would have had a very hard lot in life and survival would have been what he considered 24/7. When you are helpless to the elements, designing gods to protect and developing a deep spirituality would have been urgent. If man was advanced back then, more than likely it was of a psychic and spiritual nature more than it was a technology rush. Even today, we’re finding some ancient knowledge of leylines and crystal powers might have some actual basis in a geomagnetic intelligence we’ve lost along the way. A sort of personal compass with Mother Earth that ancients used to make important decisions.

Yes, man is an exceptional creature when you consider all the possibilities along the way. That life found a way to exist and evolve and become intelligent beings above the other creatures is so unbelievably rare and that I doubt it could be calculated. Anywhere along the line, we could have developed flat ears and inability to hear, one sex and inability to procreate, hearts that had too few chambers to allow us to move large bodies. If you were to ask me about how we came to be, I’d have to say there is something in nature that is intelligent and that is programmed to survive at all costs. That alone is quite remarkable.

Were we created by aliens? I seriously doubt it.

Were we seeded by a meteor from another planet that contained important amino acids for the beginnings of life? Most surely.

Is there anything we can take away from Von Daniken’s theories? Yes!

Ancient man was leaps and bounds beyond what we ever assumed about him. There is knowledge that has always been out there and depending on where man is in his priorities, we either bury it (such as psychic skills) or we accelerate (such as multitasking).

The biggest question in the world right now, when faced with potential changes in the way we’re used to living is, what will be man’s next big priority? Will he continue to consume and dominate and disregard human connections or will he evolve into something that President Obama has been hinting at, a man who values everything he has, saves, reuses, finds ways to make excess power without pollution, enough to power his neighbor? To use science and natural resources that are renewable?

What will tomorrow’s man carve into his cave paintings if he did so? I would guess it would have images of self-sufficient communities and a newfound love of Earth, sky, and water.

Perhaps man went to one end of the pendulum and is now swinging back to ancient knowledge, earth-based wisdom. We can certainly hope so as his priorities thus far have shown a disregard for the very planet that he must subsist upon. Just like the big 80s look is cropping back up in our fashion world and the free-child earth-based living of the 70s turned into the excess and money-making preoccupation of the 80s, man lives on a pendulum. Some day, perhaps, he will accrue enough foreknowledge to stay centered, but for now it takes great adversity for change to occur.

Man may not be alien-based, but he is spiritually based and that makes him an exceptionally unique creature capable of doing anything he dreams up. When I see the cave drawings with suited creatures and flying objects in the sky, I think of man as having pre-knowledge. A strong use of his spirituality and psychic abilities. He could envision. If you think of it, Gene Roddenberry was one such man, imaging transporters and fazers. Occasionally we get great visionaries such as Da Vinci who draw up helicopters long before man has taken flight. That's pre-knowledge. And, I think that's what Von Daniken was tracking.


  1. This is great Autumnforest-being in my early years to early teens in the 70s I very much remember hearing about his work-I think I had a couple of his paperbacks also and definitely saw the movie-I am glad you posted about this -I had basically forgotten all about him over the years-best to you as always!!

  2. Devin;
    Glad you enjoyed it. I've had a few friends over the years who changed their religious beliefs based on Von Daniken and it made me wonder why it's so appealing to folks that we descended from aliens? I think it's pretty brilliant that we descended from pond creatures...

  3. That was one of my dad's favorite books because it was so out there and yet half believable. We would talk and theorize for hours about it. He died a few years ago, but that book means a lot to me, not so much because I believe it, but because it is a great memory. Thanks for reminding me of better times.

  4. Kimberly;
    It seems to have been a universal coming of age for a lot of us. My father and I shared that book too and also the one "Life After Death" which ironically a few years later he experienced. I was looking through my 1970 version if "Chariots of the Gods?" and realized--this must have hit a note in others too. Glad it did.

  5. I too grew up in this era and I heard about the book, but I had totally forgotten about. Maybe I'll go back a read it. Great post

  6. Autumn, this was mostly a good post. I enjoyed Erich Von Daniken's book and plan on doing a book review on it soon, though it may take longer than I think before I can get around to it. Daniken made a lot of claims that are still bizarre in our day and age so I can only imagine how bizarre it must have seemed when Chariots of the Gods first came out. HAHA. Anyway, I do disagree with a couple things you said though. You said:
    “Von Daniken’s referenced the great flood of the Bible and assumed it was a plan by an alien god to obliterate "bad stock” and begin again with mankind. This is an example of his limited view at the time. Man has since discovered there was absolutely no way such a flood could have existed, even if it involved all the water in the oceans and in the earth combined.”
    Autumn, I would like to know what proof “man has since discovered” that says there was absolutely no way such a flood could have existed.
    Many scientists (usually the same ones that deny the existence of ghosts, ESP, and ETs) claim that the Flood never really existed because they have accepted the widely believed evolutionary history of the earth, which interprets fossil layers as the history of the sequential appearance of life over millions of years. Having said that, several scientists now are understanding the fossils, which are buried in water-carried sediments of mud and sand, to be mostly the result of the great flood. In other words, it would seem that those who still accept millions of years of gradual accumulation of fossils have, in their way of thinking, only rationalized and explained away the evidence for a global flood.
    Evidence of Noah’s flood can be seen all over the earth, from seabeds to mountaintops. Whether you travel by car, train, or plane, the physical features of the earth’s terrain clearly indicate a catastrophic past, from canyons and craters to coal beds and caverns. Some layers of strata extend across continents, revealing the effects of a huge catastrophe.
    The earth’s crust has massive amounts of layered sedimentary rock, sometimes miles (kilometers) deep! These layers of sand, soil, and material—proven to have been laid down by water—were once soft like mud, but they are now hard stone. Encased in these sedimentary layers are billions of dead things (fossils of plants and animals) buried very quickly. The evidence all over the earth of a great flood is staring everyone in the face.
    Another thing you said that I took issue with was this:
    “He tied part of his theory to something that wasn't factual but was storytelling and folklore, so that would make perhaps other parts of his theories no longer valid either, given our present-day knowledge.”
    That's quite an understatement! It's not like it was just one story that a bunch of people in Erich Von Daniken's day happened to believe. There are literally hundreds of stories and legends about a worldwide flood (over 270 from nearly every language and corner of the world!). Stories about a worldwide flood are found in historic records all over the world and most of them share a common theme and similar characters to that of the story told to us in Genesis in the Bible. When stories of an event emerge all around the world, seemingly independent of each other, it's probably more than just a story. Having said all this, I don't believe a space alien caused the flood like Daniken did, but I am saying that there's no reason why the theory should be dismissed for the reasons given to it in this post.

  7. Stephen;
    Good points. I can see where you're coming from. Scientists have assumed how much water could possibly be held on earth and the sky to rain for 40 days and 40 nights and there is no way it could possibly cover all the land of the earth, even with the thawing of the caps. It's an absolutely ludicrious story, but that doesn't mean the unbelievable stories told in the Bible aren't based on things that did occur. If you know anyone who's retold the story of a local hero enough times, suddenly they take on superhuman characteristics about the 10th telling. It's really to be taken as a kind of lesson about life. Floods have occurred. There is no place that hasn't had a horrible flood. It's not as if ancient man was able to fly to other countries or take pictures from space to see how bad the damage is or how widespread the flood was. To him, having just lost his village, it was extensive and all the people of the Earth (at least the ones he knows exist) are gone! To them, that was the biggest flood. It's all relative to the time period, just like Von Daniken was trapped within the confines of what they knew at the time. The story of Gilgamesh is so identical to the flood stories from the Bible (pre-Bible era), that is it obvious that such tales have been told repeatedly through different cultures and worked into their religious cautionary stories. I won't even go into the idea of a what...300 year old man building a boat for a flood and collecting animals? Hmm, where did those kangaroos in Australia come from??? Okay, enough said. I await your review. Good discussion.

  8. I still think there's more to this than you allow for. You said:
    “Scientists have assumed how much water could possibly be held on earth and the sky to rain for 40 days and 40 nights and there is no way it could possibly cover all the land of the earth, even with the thawing of the caps. ”
    Before the Flood, the mountains were not so high. The mountains today were formed only towards the end of, and after, the flood by collision of the tectonic plates and the associated up-thrusting. In support of this, the layers that form the uppermost parts of Mt. Everest are themselves composed of fossil-bearing, water-deposited layers. So what is now Mt. Everest was once covered with water and uplifted afterward. If we even out the ocean basins and flatten out the mountains, there is enough water to cover the entire earth by about 1.7 miles (2.7 km). Also important to note is that, with the leveling out of the oceans and mountains, the Ark would not have been riding at the height of the current Mt. Everest, thus no need for such things as oxygen masks either.
    I don't want you to get me wrong. I really did think this was a good post. Hopefully this gives people some food for thought though. I'll try to put up some articles about this if I find the time. But it's your blog so if you want the last word, by all means, go for it.

  9. Stephen, I'm glad you read my review of this book.

    This was an exercise in how I go about debunking and coming to my own conclusions. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, someone else out there says, "yeah, I was thinking the same thing" and a discussion can ensue. This is one such discussion.

    It was not meant to step on the toes of people who believe in the Bible in the literal form. It's really about the questions that I, myself, ask about it based on my own logic-based system and about whether or not the theory of aliens seeding Earth has any merit by my observations.

    I would take it that you don't believe aliens did, and I know I don't believe aliens did, so we're really on the same page, just got there different ways. That's what's so wild and wonderful about the US in general and the blog-world specifically.

    My intention is to give people my take on why I don't believe Von Daniken was accurate and some examples of why it doesn't "hold water." (no pun intended).

    Since I'm a logic-based person, I find inconsistencies in his explanation for why the Great Flood (to replenish the earth with better people) supposedly occurred. The issue of whether such a thing were possible is not what I'm trying to discuss here. My stand on the issue is pretty relevant to my own review in that I see it making no logical sense given simple questions such as care and feeding of two of every animal, repopulating the earth, and having odd animals in some continents not found anywhere else such as kangaroos (which I cannot explain Noah acquiring in his hometown or swimming across the ocean to magically join him). I personally won't base assumptions about aliens settling the Earth based on stories from a literary work written thousands of years ago and that requires blind faith to accept in the face of my own personal logic.

    I guess what I'm trying to say here is that Von Daniken's theories were based on shaky legs. He really needed stronger evidence and correlations than just coincidence to support it. He used many comparisons that weren't convincing.

    I never under any circumstances want to talk religion or Bible with anyone. That is a matter of personal faith and belief and I respect anyone who defends their beliefs. It was not my intention to dismiss Bible-followers, but to question the logic of Von Daniken when he uses literature that may or may not have a factual basis for which to explain his theory. (This taken from my point of view, once again).

    Sorry if you were offended that I don't share your belief system. It's kind of why I go ghost hunting, to try and find something that rings true for me and not accept the tales of what ghosts are or aren't from others. I'm sure there's some folks out there who love Von Daniken's work and probably are frustrated by my views, but that is just what they are, my assumptions I've made after studying it and studying what I know to be true and finding inconsistencies.

    Keep up the big questions and seeking your own truth. I'd love to hear what you come up with. We all get to our conclusions by very different paths, hence, many different conclusions.

    Thanks for reading and for expressing yourself. Some folks are too shy to do that. You can probably tell, I'm not one of them. :-)

  10. “Sorry if you were offended that I don't share your belief system.”

    Autumn, I really don't want you to get me wrong. There's absolutely no reason to assume that I get offended when others don't share my belief system. I'm a five-point calvinst, reformed evangelical, young-earth creationist, who believes in ghosts, aliens, government conspiracies, and a good number of paranormal things. There may be a total of 5 people on the planet (though I couldn't tell you who) who actually do share my belief system. I'm actually quite used to people not believing what I do. Having said that, I've got thick skin and am pretty open-minded to what others believe.

    “I never under any circumstances want to talk religion or Bible with anyone. That is a matter of personal faith...”

    I knew this about you when I started commenting on this blog post. That's why I limited the conversation to scientific inquiry, not faith, religion, or the Bible. You've mentioned those things more than I have . . . which is fine because this is your blog and you may do as you please . . . but I'm just sayin'.

    Again, I thought this was a fantastic post! The disputes I had with it were petty but are serious things people should consider when examining these claims, which is the only reason why I brought them up. Again, Great Post!

  11. Hey Stephen;

    I just don't understand why you don't have a blog. I'd be really curious to read your views on things. Please, please, please (in a whiny child's voice)

    How people come to conclusions and the influences they've had always intrigue me. As a writer of horror, I can't help but wonder what motivates folks, what changes their life course, or makes them so complex. I've never met so many complex people as I have while writing this blog. I always said "where are my people?" Because I never really fit in anywhere. I was a model and a pageant contestant and came from a well off family, but I wasn't bubble headed or superficial. I usually call myself kind of a mix between a geek in the brain, Martha Stewart in the home, and a Julia Roberts in spirit. I'm one of those annoyingly excited, enthusiastic, bubbly, and demonstrative folks who knows nothing of personal space and loves everyone I meet instantly just because we share the same role in humanity as sort of Earth's guinea pigs. I have a raunchy sense of humor and want to do 12 things at one time. My father told me my grandmother from Swedish Lapland was just like me. She must have exhausted her family and friends too!

    It's thrilling for me to meet others who are just as warm and interesting and educated and curious. I love meeting people who never stop asking questions.

    How do you juggle all those viewpoints at once? I admire your ability to do so. It can be a lonely world when you share only one or two aspects in common with others and the other aspects conflict. I also imagine it's not something you can readily talk to folks about for fear of ridicule one way or the other. I know, when I said I was ghost hunting, all my evangelical relatives dropped out of sight--even my own brother (he was useless anyways as a brother). It just kind of confirmed for me what his character is.

    Although I've always said religion is the prostitution of spirituality, I grew up in a devout Methodist family with relatives who were everything from Catholic to athiest to Jewish, so I really get how people come to different systems of belief. I think I was never comfortable with having a strange man tell me how to talk to my creator and direct my spirituality. It's an extremely intimate thing relationship.

    But, I also understand why religion is important to so many folks with the sense of community and fulfillment. I know how it can give people a sense of identity and family heritage. I only get defensive when they seem to want me to believe what they do. That's one of my boundaries. In fact, I have a sign on my front door I burned into a wood plaque (folks are always asking me if I'll make and sell them). It says "No soliciting ESPECIALLY religious" (neighborhood of Mormons and Jehovah's). One time they knocked on my door and I looked them in the eye when they said they wanted to talk about my relationship with God and I said, "Okay, if you want to talk to me about your sex life." It's that private.

    I admit it's hard for me to bring up my disbelief in the literal Bible without bringing up the Bible when talking about the Great Flood. That was the point I was trying to make without being too frank about it.

    Oh, this discussion has been so much fun. I really like going at it on subjects. I should have been on the debate team instead of a short flag twirler!

    Thanks for reading my blog and please, please, please (there's that whiny kid's voice again) start one of your own. I'm dying to hear about conspiracy theories and such, I have many of my own on that subject!

  12. This is my blog:

    I attempt to explain paranormal phenomena from a rational point of view, but also try to show Christians that believing in it doesn't contradict any of their doctrines and that there's much paranormal to be found in the Bible if you know how to look for it.

    I also blog at:
    but all I do there is copy and paste relevant news articles that I find around the internet.