Thursday, July 22, 2010

Richard Dawkins, Ancient Astronaut Theorist?: Part 2

A few months back we looked at a fascinating statement made by Richard Dawkins that went something like this:
"It could be that at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civilization evolved by probably some kind of Darwinian means to a very very high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet."
It's a good thing Dawkins chose to utter this heresy in Ben Stein's Expelled documentary, since it's a lead pipe cinch that none of his followers would go anywhere near the film. But an anonymous tipster wrote to me and turned me onto this cheeky bit of naughtiness in Dawkins' bestseller, The God Delusion. In Chapter 5 the professor muses upon the 'cargo cult' phenomenon, which was so crucial in the life and work of Erich Von Daniken:
In The Life of Brian, one of the many things the Monty Python team got right was the extreme rapidity with which a new religious cult can get started. It can spring up almost overnight and then become incorporated into a culture, where it plays a disquietingly dominant role. The 'cargo cults' of Pacific Melanesia and New Guinea provide the most famous real life example.
After recounting how these cults arose out of tribal peoples' contact with advanced technology they had no exposure to, Dawkins starts to get quite cheeky indeed:
The entire history of some of these cults, from initiation to expiry, is wrapped up within living memory. Unlike the cult of Jesus, the origins of which are not reliably attested, we can see the whole course of events laid out before our eyes (and even here, as we shall see, some details are now lost). It is fascinating to guess that the cult of Christianity almost certainly began in very much the same way, and spread initially at the same high speed.
Now, it all undoubtedly slid past his readers, but Dawkins is saying here that Christianity "began the same way" as the cargo cults. Which, as he exhaustively explains in this chapter, arose from native peoples' exposure to superior alien technology (the aliens being Europeans in this context). As he says here:
It seems that in every case the islanders were bowled over by the wondrous possessions of the white immigrants to their islands, including administrators, soldiers and missionaries. They were perhaps the victims of (Arthur C.) Clarke's Third Law, which I quoted in Chapter 2: 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.'
Now isn't that a fascinating little juxtaposition? Quoting the author of the the world's most acclaimed Ancient-Astronaut narrative (2001: A Space Odyssey, for those new to all of this) shortly after claiming that the cult of the god-man Jesus "began the same way" as the cargo cults! As Eric Idle once said, "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more, say no more."

And just in case you missed Richard's inference the first time, he repeats it:
Fourth, the cargo cults are similar, not just to each other but to older religions. Christianity and other ancient religions that have spread worldwide presumably began as local cults like that of John Frum.
The cargo cults which- and I'll state this until the cows come home- began when a primitive people encountered a technologically superior civilization.

After making quite a bit of the cargo cults, Dawkins then writes:
I don't want to make too much of the cargo cults of the South Pacific. But they do provide a fascinating contemporary model for the way religions spring up from almost nothing.
Which, as Richard goes to great pains to explain, were the result of contact with a technologically-superior alien civilization.

What a cheeky little devil, indeed!

Or maybe not. We've already discussed the directed panspermia theories of Francis Crick, and yet another prominent British scientist is wandering off of Randi's Reservation:
One suggestion, by the physicist and cosmologist Paul Davies, is that life might have arrived here from the planet Mars, which was once rather more benign than Earth, being smaller and receiving fewer 'hits' from space debris.
In which case, we are all Martians and should be looking for fossils of our ancient ancestors on the Red Planet.

Davies, whose new book, The Eerie Silence, comprehensively tackles the question of ET, thinks that perhaps a radio search is not the way to go. Maybe, instead, we should look for direct evidence that aliens have visited our neck of the galactic woods in the past.
Which people like Richard Hoagland have been saying for nearly 40 years now. Now, I'm sure there will be those who'll tell me what Dawkins et al really mean, but for now I'll have to be content to go by what they actually said.

UPDATE: And lo and behold the Daily Mail has this article today: "Aliens have been trying to contact us by cosmic Twitter, scientists claim." Thanks to Reader David.

SYNC LOG UPDATE: Dawkins appears at The Amazing Meeting this week in Las Vegas (basic admission: $425). The writer opens his piece with some odd non-sequiturs about hot-tubs, Greek philosophers and bathhouses. Somewhere, Eric Idle is smiling.

Which reminds me, I wonder when Randi will bring the TA!M to Jersey...


  1. Ancient Language Decoder?

    Perhaps we'll discover more answers or debate more questions. Yeah, yeah....debate wins.

  2. I'll add that on the cover of Dawkin's "The God Delusion" book, the word "God" appears to be on what looks like a sun symbol.

    That is all ;D


  3. Dear Chris, Not quite off topic but back topic- that Scottsdale cowgirl is EVERYwhere I go it seems- GLP, Susan Joy Rennison- I just can't believe how much I have seen of her. I don't quite know what you hit on but she is out there like white on rice...spiral on cowgirl! Delorus

  4. I just watched “Mission to Mars” last night and then I see this post.
    Did Stephen Hawking come up with his alien danger theory or just borrow it in whole from Conway Morris?
    Quoted from:
    Aliens visiting Earth will be just like humans, scientist claims

    Governments should prepare for the worst if aliens visit Earth because beings from outer space are likely to be just like humans, a leading scientist is claiming.

    And while aliens could come in peace they are quite as likely to be searching for somewhere to live, and to help themselves to water, minerals and fuel, Conway Morris will tell a conference at the Royal Society in London tomorrow.

    "Extra-terrestrials … won't be splodges of glue … they could be disturbingly like us, and that might not be a good thing – we don't have a great record."

  5. Dawkins may be right about the exposure to superior alien technology as to forming cargo cults. I remember some depiction of cargo cults or in “The Gods Are Crazy” or similar that the founders of the religion need not have any real contact with the human operators of the objects of their devotion but they recreate them in their own image so to speak or salvage left behind or wrecked flotsam and jetsam. No face to face communication required just imitation of the use of the things they find or they make it up as they go if they haven’t seen it used before. Whether that is right or wrong I can’t be sure at this point. He has this thing with cults I think maybe he just likes to use it since he probably thinks every religion in the world is a cult which is probably correct in a dictionary since.
    Be that as it may Dawkins’ writings amount to a tacit admission that the man-God Jesus was in possession of advanced technology which was alien to the people of the area he traveled in for sure and maybe from another world or dimension alien as well. The accounts available to us of the story of Jesus, believed or not, tell us that he moved through the country teaching and performing miracles. He was using his advanced technology and people saw it and told others about it. That includes his closest followers who are said to have learned to use the technology too.
    That a religion would spring from the above activity is quite different in my imagining than one springing from a cargo cult because the above participants already share a cultural familiarity.
    My point being is that would be equivalent to teaching a cargo cultist how to drive a car, fly a plane, or coxswain a boat and then watch him spring up a religion. What ever he came up with would not be the true source material or teachers paradigm. Consequently, in both cases we do not know what the teacher knows only what he taught us and if we don’t get the whole story directly from the teacher we get what people think the teacher meant or what they said he did. Or more likely we fill in the blanks to suit some agenda of our own.
    I am just going off what I read quoted in your post Chris, I’ve never read Dawkins. I was just compelled to comment.

  6. Scientists have a hard time admitting that they could ever be supplanted by a cargo cult, i.e. that there's alien technology that's so far ahead of ours that all the giant atom smasher projects in the world are just so much totems and feathered devil masks by comparison. The 2012 date corresponds to the orginal Mayan 'defining' cargo cult moment, the invasion of Spanish conquistadors, who as far as the Mayans were concerned, were aliens from beyond the skies, and so our future may hold just such a catastrophic realignment, where even our top scientists are suddenly no more than ooga-booga witch doctors by comparison, while meanwhile who knows? Non-scientific intuitives like Amazon shamen might be the new cultural ambassadors, the only ones with a clue how to relate on a transdimensional level.

  7. LD- Great link! Thank you.

    Jim- Indeed. Thanks for that.

    Delorus- As to the cowgirl, we're going to have to find out more about her. She seems to be a strange attractor of some kind.

    Algiz-As to the Morris quote, Jack Kirby said the exact same thing 30 years ago! And very interesting insights- it says something about technological evolution. How many indigenous societies have been destroyed when they find themselves overwhelmed by a technologically superior society? Maybe the problem is that you can go from riding a horse to driving a car just like that- for your own sanity you have to go through all of the intermediary steps. Maybe the evil aliens would simply land and show off all of their toys.

    Erich- You know, I've always been extremely skeptical about the whole 2012 thing (I've been known to call it y2012k) but sometimes I can't help but wonder. But as to your last point, that's always on my mind, but more so lately.

  8. Hello Chris,
    As usual I'm dropping in not to talk about your recent artice (which is excellent btw)
    but to post this alleged yearbook picture of President Obama.
    I think it fits well with your previous post about him and "Tut" ahahah

  9. The Greatest Story Ever Told … THE BIGGEST LIE EVER SOLD.

    The Jesus myth (the Hey-Zeus myth) and every christ lie sold throughout the ages is exposed in these pages. Christianity is 6,000 plus years old, not merely 2,000 years since the non-existent Jesus (Hey-Zeus). All sun god worship (including the Jesus myth) has its source in the constellations, the sun and earth. We will discuss the foundation that even the constellation source of religion is built upon. The constellations and natural disasters of our time are connected to the World Trade Centre attack, the fabricated war on terrorism and the global climate scam. These events are different stages of the same agenda.

    The World Trade Centre attack did not end on September 11, 2001. That event was only the start button.

    Only the Luciferian (as in lucifer the light bringer) Thought Process is concerned with the concept of rebirth in any of its forms.

    Christianity’s belief in rebirth, or the notion of YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN, as well as other esoteric reincarnation beliefs attempts to persuade us that we are not already perfect eternal beings. To be reborn implies we must experience a death. All rebirth or reincarnation concepts are in actuality, death ritual, human sacrifice doctrines. It implies we need to die to live. This is THE BIGGEST LIE EVER SOLD.

    This is what 911 is all about, including the illusory 9-11 day of creation, up until the illusory 9-11 World Trade Center attack of 2001. Making us be the animal sacrifice for slaughter. Making us be the Baphomet, the Pentagram, the Five Pointed Star, the Goat, Sheep or Ram, the Son being led to the slaughter.

    Watch, Wait, and Don't React! DS888

  10. It is quiet a stretch to take Dawkins' generic use of "alien" in the quotes to imply he meant specifically "extraterrestrial."
    Not persuasive.

  11. “Planets are spaceships orbiting their suns with cargos of teeming, self destructive life! Their leaders even die with their followers, the rich vanish with the poor...”

    - to quote a New God from an issue of Super Powers [the Jack Kirby created companion comic to Superfriends. Now try imagining that quote in an episode of Superfriends. "Meanwhile, in the Hall of Justice...."]

    The live action Thor film is coming out next year. I wonder how the general public will react to Kirby-esque themes? [assuming the film isn't a sanitized version of the source material like so many other comic book adaptions]

  12. Daniel- Good catch.

    Anony- Tweeted.

    DarkStar- Hmm- One day I gotta dig into the archives and get out the burnt offerings file.

    Terry- Who are you addressing? If it's me, then you've completely missed the point of the article.

    レベッカ Which issue of Super Powers is that? I'll have to look it up. Why aren't you at San Diego?

  13. Okay, I'll bite. What was your point?

  14. OK, first you have to point out 'Dawkins' generic use of "alien" in the quotes.'

  15. To follow your Grant Morrison tweet:

  16. Chris,

    This has to be seen to be believed.

    TWO suns in India.

  17. You have to understand academia, particularly ivy-league academia.

    It is not kosher to say things that are very heretical, especially not loudly. Science is actually very conservative, as is academia as a whole. Remember that the evolutionary ancestor of the academy is the seminary / religious school.

    But, it is ok to cautiously allude to far-out or heretical speculations. I think that's clearly what Dawkins is doing here. He is alluding to the fact that he thinks there might be something to "intervention theory."

  18. Well done, 1205. Dawkins has read Crick very carefully, I'm sure. The MIC has everyone who wants to earn a living doing science by the short and curlies. EVERY one- no exceptions.

  19. Oddly, I was thinking of the cargo cult analogy back when you posted about the possibility of massive planet-sized UFO's near the sun. One of the scientists you linked said he believed that it would be possible to use a star to create wormholes, so alien races could be coming and going through the "sungate" all the time for all we know. Maybe a few have used the Earth as a kind of rest stop and these random and rare encounters at a crucial time during human evolution might have left behind a "cargo cult" namely our entire civilization as we wait for these "gods" to return.

    It could be that we have no idea what the aliens were doing, but human intelligence being the storytelling (actually, lie-creating) engine that it is, the people at that time came up with explanations and throughout history those became templates for the collective emotional journey of the race through time.

    In the end though, all you would need for this is the perception or creation of some meaning behind any unusual phenomenon that impacted the human race when it was still small.

    Nowadays, of course, with mass communication, you can see the same social deception on a mass scale.

  20. Chris:

    You sure are right about that. Virtually all science is government funded, and outside of medicine virtually all of that is funded by the military directly or indirectly. The whole agenda for R&D comes out of the pentagon.

    Look at MIT for instance. I live near MIT, and I figured out a while ago that the purpose of MIT is to gather lots of super-smart people and put them to work on projects of DOD interest. It's almost to the level of a bait-and-switch. I've met some jaded folks who have come out of there.

    All the state schools are in the same boat. You can think of them as feeders, though interestingly they lead in some areas. MIT-ish places seem to do the more hard-nosed parts of the DOD research agenda, but a lot of the more spooky stuff goes on at state schools in towns you've never heard of. Maybe they moved the fringe stuff (what they call "high risk, high payoff") out of the magnet places to keep it out of the limelight.

    The old school ivies like Harvard are slightly more independent, but not much. That's why you sometimes see the biggest heresies quietly creeping out of those. Dawkins is out of Oxford.

    Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist. The thing is, evolution explains about 99.9% of life's history on Earth pretty well. But it's the other 0.1% that makes people scratch their heads, such as the sudden anomalous jump in human intelligence and social complexity. Evolution doesn't really have a good answer for that.

    The problem is that human intelligence is massive overkill for our environment and for the rest of our brains. Our emotional and social centers are not up to the task of dealing with what our neocortex can produce. It's like someone took an animal and grafted on a giant oversized pulsating alien brain. (Maybe that's not so metaphorical?) Combine that with something you've mentioned before, namely our weird mal-adaptedness, and you've got a real head scratcher from a conventional evolutionary perspective. I'm sure that's not lost on someone whose main area of interest is evolution.

    -1205 :)

  21. John- Yep. And then you have DoD shills out there scaring people off from sensitive topics in the name of Skepticism.

    1205- Don't I know it. I grew up in a family up to its ears in defense contracting, military, etc etc. Grandpappy was the president of the Harvard Club at one point.

  22. Soory- I was a bit rushed before- but this point here is crucial:

    The problem is that human intelligence is massive overkill for our environment and for the rest of our brains. Our emotional and social centers are not up to the task of dealing with what our neocortex can produce. It's like someone took an animal and grafted on a giant oversized pulsating alien brain. (Maybe that's not so metaphorical?) Combine that with something you've mentioned before, namely our weird mal-adaptedness, and you've got a real head scratcher from a conventional evolutionary perspective. I'm sure that's not lost on someone whose main area of interest is evolution.

    Exactly. Planet Earth has produced lots of intelligent life- dogs, elephants, dolphins, apes, etc- that are perfectly suited for their environment. We are not. And as society evolves it continues to endanger the environment which sustains it. Other species overbreed, overeat, etc, but they don't have anything near our destructive capability. How does evolution account for that? Why would a biosphere produce something that endangers it?

    Human intelligence is absolutely out of whack with the rest of the biosphere, and seems to have this idea hardwired into it that the summit of human achievement is leaving this warm, wet planet for the cold, dry, dark reaches of space. Kind of how adopted children feel compelled to find their birth parents...

  23. 1205- Your comment on state schools being into the spooky stuff made me think about an article the Lansing City Pulse ran a year or two ago, about Michigan State University and the CIA having some sort of a dual program in Vietnam in the early 60's before the main SHTF. This program led directly into the formation of Students for a Democratic Society at MSU and U of M in Ann Arbor (with who knows who's "help" really). Even us locals, in a generation, so easily lose the links...Delorus

  24. "Ancient astronaut" equals Nephilim. Has Dawkins been reading Raiders News Network or something?

  25. Another Yahoo 17!;_ylt=At.nZS_5ePBYQL0yeFmiTqxvzwcF;_ylu=X3oDMTJmc3R1djFoBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwNzI3L2d1bGZfb2lsX3NwaWxsBGNwb3MDMQRwb3MDMgRzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3J5BHNsawNicHRhcHNuZXdhbWU-

  26. re post!