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Your Paracast Newsletter — February 4, 2018

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
February 4, 2018

The Legend of Ancient Astronauts Debated on The Paracast

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This Week's Episode: Best-selling author Erich von Däniken and UFO researcher and biblical scholar David Halperin debate the theory of ancient astronauts, that advanced beings from other planets visited Earth in ancient times. David also continues with discussions about his very different views of UFO reality, and the causes behind related events. von Däniken is arguably the most widely read and most-copied nonfiction author in the world. He published his first (and best-known) book, Chariots of the Gods, in 1968. In the 1960s, David Halperin was a teen-age UFOlogist. He grew up to become a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with special expertise in religious traditions of heavenly ascent and otherworldly journeys. He is the author of five books and numerous articles on Jewish mysticism and messianism, and a novel, ‘Journal of a UFO Investigator.”

Chris O’Brien’s Blog: Our Strange Planet

Erich von Däniken's Site: Erich von Däniken

David Halperin's Blog: David Halperin

After The Paracast -- Available exclusively for Paracast+ subscribers on February 4: Gene and very special guests Greg Bishop, host of “Radio Misterioso”, and J. Randall Murphy talk about ancient astronaut myths in the wake of the debate featuring author Erich von Däniken and researcher/scholar David Halperin on the 2/4/18 episode of The Paracast. Considering David’s belief that the collective unconscious theory explains the UFO mystery, Greg brings up his co-creation theory, that we play a part and not a complete part, in the phenomenon. The definition of the acronym “UFO” is discussed by Gene and Randall, and why a “one size fits all” theory doesn’t work as an explanation for the phenomenon.

Reminder: Please don't forget to visit our famous Paracast Community Forums for the latest news/views/debates on all things paranormal: The Paracast Community Forums. Check out our new YouTube channel at: The Official Paracast Channel

The “Extraterrestrialism” Myth
By Gene Steinberg

Although it’s often claimed that author Erich von Däniken was the originator of the ancient astronaut theory, that humans were visited by advanced beings from outer space in Biblical times, that’s not so. Over the years, others have written books and articles on the subject.

One of those early theorists was Desmond Leslie, an electronics music pioneer, who co-authored “Flying Saucers Have Landed” with George Adamski, published in 1952. You can guess which author received the most attention.

In 1960, a member of British royalty, Brinsley Le Poer Trench, the 8th Earl of Clancarty, published a pioneering work about the presence of ET in ancient times, “The Sky People.” He also wrote material on the Hollow Earth theory.

By far the most fascinating character to cover the subject was Yonah Fortner, who wrote several articles on Extraterrestrialism for Jim Moseley’s Saucer News magazine beginning in the 1950s. Yonah’s theory, that Jehovah was a spaceman, was fascinating enough but seriously flawed. You see, Yonah had a penchant for telling fanciful stories without necessarily observing the facts or citing evidence that even existed.

Over 20 years ago, not long before his passing, Yonah told me that George Lucas based the Star Wars character Yoda on him. I actually thought Jabba the Hutt would have been the more likely candidate.

Despite not being first, von Däniken caught a wave when his 1968 book, “Chariots of the Gods” was published and became a worldwide best-seller. Skeptics soon pounced on the theory, claiming that some of the concepts in the book were “borrowed” from other works, including short stories from H.P. Lovecraft.

Regardless, the ancient astronauts theory is incredibly fascinating. Fact, fiction, or some combination of the two, it has clearly influenced the world of sci-fi and TV reality shows.

Take the movie “Stargate,” which begins with the discovery of the titular object during an archaeological dig. Over the course of the film, the protagonists succeed in making the device work, as it’s revealed that an evil alien race of serpent-like parasites that possess humans, came to Earth to rule our planet in ancient times.

The movie led to several TV series in which stargates were employed to travel to other planets in far-off star systems via wormholes.

As much as the TV shows adapted ideas from Star Trek, they were nonetheless enjoyable and fairly well presented considering the limited budgets for special effects.

Today von Däniken is in his 80s, but still spry and well spoken. His theories seem credible enough, and he is able to glibly cite chapter and verse from Biblical passages and other texts that appear to confirm the presence of advanced beings in our history.

So what if ET did visit Earth two or three thousand years ago? How would their presence be described by people we’d regard as extremely primitive? There is no physical evidence of alien technology from the distant past, and I’m not talking about objects and artwork that may or may not depict aliens and spaceships. So the theory depends on adapting ancient texts to the modern era and lingo.

Can we take Ezekiel's vision of angels and wheels and assume he was describing a spaceship? What about the destruction of Sodom? Was the mention of fire and brimstone a primitive interpretation of the explosion of a nuclear bomb? But why would ET allow such a weapon to be used, knowing, as we do, of the harmful effects of radiation? It doesn’t make you feel very warm and fuzzy about the Space Brothers, or whatever they were.

Over the years, the critics have cited chapter and verse why they felt von Däniken was clearly reaching with his Biblical interpretations in claiming that we were once visited by ET.

During this weekend’s episode of The Paracast, my old friend David Halperin, a first-rate Biblical scholar, calmly and gently disassembled von Däniken’s theories during the first half of the show. Before he left for another appointment, von Däniken was very much left saying that it was all based on his version of those ancient texts. Does that mean that one version is as good as another? Or is there an original meaning that one must accept as genuine?

I’m not about to say, since I am by no means an expert at such matters. But it’s fair to say von Däniken probably isn’t either. His early job history included working in the hotel business. But he also reportedly served nine months in prison after being convicted for fraud and embezzlement. “Chariots of the Gods” evidently was written after he was freed from prison, while he worked as the manager of a hotel in Switzerland.

Now the fact that someone is convicted of a crime doesn’t mean that person must always be disbelieved? Being hired as a hotel manager means that he was trusted to treat finances responsibly. Perhaps he was totally rehabilitated, and even if you think his ancient astronaut theories are wrong, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe what he writes. As I’ve said, he was not the originator of the theory, but he cleverly, or unwittingly, latched onto a compelling legend of the ages.

If there are indeed alien visitors who have visited Earth, is their presence limited strictly to modern times, or have they been here, on and off, through the ages?

But if there were real ancient astronauts, just how can we possibly prove it? Lacking physical evidence, one might do as von Däniken did, reimagining Biblical and other historical passages in ways to buttress such theories.

Can such a thing ever be proven? Indeed, should those texts be taken as myths and moral fables, or as true events that were beyond the ability of the scribes to describe?

It’s hard enough for scholars to agree on what happened in the recent past, let alone hundreds or thousands of years ago. Without a smoking gun, it may require a visit by ET and an admission as to how long they’ve been here. And maybe not even then. After all, why should they be believed anyway? Does being advanced in any way compel an intelligent species to be honest when dealing with primitive beings?

Or are they just messing with us?

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