Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The New Religion

The other day, the topic came up at the Hanja Discussion group of "Has Scientific Athieism Become a Religion".  In this article, I'd like to discuss at least one area where it clearly has.

For many people, science destroyed their religion so they let science replace it with another.

For most of them, the vague sense that there are intelligent aliens out there simply replaced the idea that one day Jesus might return to earth. While most aren't particularly into it, polls clearly show that in the English-speaking world, more people believe in intelligent life off the earth than believe in God.

With the publication of his 1968 book, Chariots of the Gods?, Erich von Däniken was the first to suggest that the aliens and our ancient religions were actually the same thing.

For millions of people wanting to switch from "bad" magical thinking to "good" scientific thinking, Von Daniken's book couldn't have come at a better time.  He, quite cleverly, took many of the most notable artifacts of our religious past (the Pyramids, Stonehenge, the Sphinx, The Bible) and re-purposed them to support his U.F.O religion.

Some of these artifacts, like the Sphinx, already had a long history of getting new meaning every time a new religion moved into town.

U.F.O. religions had a distinct advantage over traditional religions in that the new ultimate priestly authority on these matters was science, and although scientists themselves poo-pooed UFO "evidence" as swamp-gas, weather-balloons and the like, they had to admit, at least, that it was possible, indeed likely there were other intelligent beings out there (whether they ever bothered to contact us or not.)

High Priest Carl Sagan Holds one of the
Pioneer Gold Plaques prior to lift-off.
They even made quite a show of their own search for the intelligent aliens and from their radio telescopes, as grand and impressive as any temple, they listened hard to the blips and boops of space for the unmistakable message of "we're here!" that one day must come from our neighbors.

They even went so far to fashion gold plaques with messages of greeting attached to our Pioneer satellites, knowing it would be millions of years before the satellites passed close enough to a foreign planet to be discovered.

There is no logical, scientific reason to waste precious satellite fuel with these heavy gold plaques.  The odds that ET will ever see them are actually greater than the odds that an omnipotent God might hear the prayer of a lonely child somewhere on this troubled planet, and yet we persisted with the practice with each of the Pioneer vessels, and nearly all of its successors, including the Cassini–Huygens exploratory craft.  This was not a scientific practice, but a religious one.

Though the scientific establishment ripped von Däniken's work apart, they clearly supported his first premise that there is intelligent life out there and that was priestly authority enough for him to make millions of dollars off the idea.  To date he has published some twenty-six sequel books to Chariots of the Gods? translated into dozens of languages, and he even has an ancient astronaut theme park in Switzerland.  

1 comment:

  1. Heck...Intelligent life is hard to find on this planet.


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