My Opinion about the ‘Ancient Astronaut’ Theory: 2

Towards the end of the previous post in this series, I wrote something to the effect that mythical accounts suggesting sporadic, transient and accidental contact between extraterrestrials and human beings are far more likely than those which claim purposeful, extended and prolonged contact between the two. To put it another way, the Sumerian or Babylonian myth of Oannes is far more likely to be evidence of an extraterrestrial visiting earth than, for example, the construction of Giza pyramid complex or any other large bronze-age (and earlier) buildings and structures found in Egypt or other parts of the world.

One my major issues with people such as Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin or Giorgio Tsoukalos are their attempts to pass off large man-made ancient structures as evidence of extraterrestrials helping human beings, even when it is pretty clear than humans built those structures by themselves. Much of the willingness, among their audience, to believe such bullshit comes from the still prevalent general belief that all people in previous eras (especially in bronze-age and pre-bronze age times) were stupid, primitive and generally incapable barbarians. However, even a brief look at modern archaeological evidence show that was not the case.

It is clear that even pre-bronze age human beings were quite capable of exploring and manipulating the world around them- even if they did so in ways that are not immediately familiar to us. For example: The indigenous people of central america were able to selectively breed an otherwise barely-edible grass known as Teosinte into Maize almost 10,000 years ago. Similarly, the selective breeding of a number of edible plants from potatoes to wheat and rice- all of which occurred before the bronze age suggest that human beings in those eras were just as clever as those living today.

The domestication of certain livestock species, such as cattle, from problematic wild ancestors such as Aurochs also occurred before the bronze age (or very close to its start). Of course, not all species of livestock were that difficult to domesticate and some such as pigs and goats can easily revert to their wild phenotypes. My point is that we should not underestimate the intellectual capacity and ability of human beings from previous eras- even if their mental model of the world around them was rather different from ours.

Moreover there is evidence that technologies were often discovered and then lost in the pre-printed book era. A good example of this is Concrete, which was made and extensively used by Romans only to be lost and then rediscovered almost 1,500 years later. Or take the Antikythera mechanism which is a , pretty complex, geared astronomical calculator made over 2000 years ago. Even fairly large and complex technologies like those behind the sanitation and drainage systems of the Indus Valley civilization can be lost for thousands of years. The mere presence of seemingly advanced technology does not, by itself, prove that extraterrestrials were interacting with or teaching human beings in the past.

And this brings us to the next issue: Is it possible to group instances of alleged historical extraterrestrial-human contact into categories based, perhaps, on their likelihood of being based in fact? After giving this problem some thought, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to categorize alleged instances of extraterrestrial-human contact cannot be binary (as in ‘yes’ or ‘no’) since the classification too much certainty. A better way to classify them would be as follows: high unlikely, ambiguous and somewhat likely.

The highly unlikely, aka basically impossible, category is the largest of the three. It contains ancient mega-structures such as the Giza pyramid complex, the Megaliths at Baalbek, Moai on Easter Island, Stonehenge in UK, other Megalithic structures and complexes in Europe, Mesoamerican pyramids and pretty much all of the very impressive structures built in the stone- and early bronze-age. Note use of the words “pretty much all” rather than “all”. We will come back to that in future parts of this series. The common feature of all objects (mostly structures) in this category is that they appear mysterious only because so many people today think that people in the past were totally stupid savages.

Based on more recent archaeological finds such as the massive and long-used religious complex at Göbekli Tepe, we know that even stone-age humans were far more organized than even “experts” had previously imagined. Let us also not forget that certain parts of the world with the potential for rich archaeological finds such as the Persian Gulf and coastal areas of the Black Sea were above water during the last ice-age which ended about 10-12k years ago. To put in another way, what we consider as “human civilization” very likely began at least a few thousand years before the dates given by conventional historical guidelines.

It is therefore not surprising that humans around the world had the capability and organization to build large stone mega-structures much earlier than is popularly believed. This is why I am very skeptical about those who want to interpret any ancient stone mega-structure as evidence of extraterrestrials interacting with and helping human beings. The case for extraterrestrial assistance or inspiration in building such structures would be stronger if they were built of materials other than stone or were built in hard-to-reach locations where they did not serve any obvious purpose.

In future parts of this series, I will look at examples of physical evidence that is ambiguous or somewhat likely.

What do you think? Comments?

This entry was posted in Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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