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Old 06-02-2010, 02:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
Dom
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Default Ancient Astronauts

I came across some interesting theories a while back, and decided to see what MB thinks. The theories are called the "ancient astronaut" theories and all entail Earth being visited by extraterrestrials. Some theories of it say that aliens are in fact the missing link in the human evolutionary chain, using examples such as the Starchild skull as evidence. Other theories say that extraterrestrials are the "Gods" that almost all ancient religions speak of, and that these "Gods" gave them technology.

Evidence proposed for these theories include:
  • Beliefs that the people of the time could not possibly have had the technology or power to create monuments suchs as the Pyramids (some believe we couldn't even replicate some monuments today) to such incredible size and technical accuracy (including things like alginment with constellations).
  • The fact that a lot of ancient religions depict the "Gods" descending from the skies. Some even mention ships made of metal.
  • The interpretation of some ancient art containing deptions of aliens or flying ships.
  • The Nazca lines - they can only be seen properly from the air (the people of the time had no kind of plane or anything), are drawn to a good degree of accuracy and could be interpreted as landing lines or aliens or even messages to them.
  • Some believe that the ancient people had a sudden and inexplicable "boom" in technology, and could not have come up with some of their technologies themselves.

So what do you make of this? Personally I can see some possiblity to this but I think there are better explanations. For example, on a National Geographic programme a while back on the subject, they proved that they could recreate one of the shapes in the Nazca lines using only technology they had at the time to a reasonable degree of accuracy. Interesting nonetheless.

Pictures and more information: Wikipedia article.
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Old 06-02-2010, 07:29 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Though I am interested in all this stuff, I try to be as skeptical as I can. Humans then are not much different from humans now and a lot of knowledge has been lost over the years. I feel like we don't give ancient humans a whole of credit when we say things like "aliens helped". People seem to think we were totally stupid back then and somehow became geniuses overnight during the industrial revolution. I doubt it.

edit: I do believe in aliens, though.
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Old 06-02-2010, 08:21 AM   #3 (permalink)
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oh rats, i thought this was a thread about the hip hop group Ancient Astronauts

well while i'm here, i'll throw my 2 cents in.

speaking as an anthropologist, i call BS on the lot of it!

there is no good reason to jump to such bizarre and incontrovertible theories when there are completely plausible explanations for these things. moreover, it is irresponsible to try and interpret much of this 'evidence' outside of the framework in which it was produced.

pyramids: this is just old ideas about primitive savages rearing its ugly head. there is no reason to suspect that humans are not capable of building them. i've seen tremendous archaeoastronomical sites in the US that could be used to predict events like eclipses and the motion of the planets with amazing accuracy. not unheard of at all in the ancient world.

as for the technological feat of building the great pyramid - well, with tens of thousands of slaves and many decades in which to work, it's really not that unbelievable to imagine...

gods from the skies: well why not? a tripartite cosmos is a common thread in ancient religion, and the upper world was often one of supernatural beings. no surprises here.

ancient art: if you choose to interpret ancient art from outside of its native sociocultural framework, then you're free to interpret it as you wish - but don't expect anyone to listen to you.

nazca lines: again, why should we imagine humans are not capable of this sort of thing? no need for otherworldy interpretations.

boom in technology: no idea what you're on about here. got any examples?
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Old 06-02-2010, 09:05 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I think it's natural to think of gods as being "up there" (or possibly "down there") because they're obviously somewhere and we can't see them. We don't know what's up there - must be the home of the gods. This is too brief to summarize all my thoughts on the matter, but for now, suffice to say I think it's natural for people to believe in gods coming from heaven.

About the nazca lines, it is strange that you have to be high up to see them. Perhaps they were images or messages made to please deities rather than real aliens?

That skull looks like it belongs to eh victim of some genetic disease or mutation to me. The rest is speculation, free interpretations and wishful thinking in my opinion.
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I agree that a lot of this theory is quite ridiculous, but it does make you think. For example, the fact that almost every ancient religion has Gods which physically descended from the sky at some point. But again, I'm sure there are other, more reasonable explanations, it's just quite an interesting theory I thought.

As for technological boom, I can't give any examples because it's not my idea, just an idea I've seen used in favour of the theory.
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dom View Post
the fact that almost every ancient religion has Gods which physically descended from the sky at some point.
this simply is not true. it may be an uncanny trend, but it's far from universal...
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noise View Post
this simply is not true. it may be an uncanny trend, but it's far from universal...
Granted, but I did say almost every. I personally have come across very few that don't say this, but I'm sure there are a lot more than I know.
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:27 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Hmm, the vikings believed in Yggdrasil, the world tree, and then the gods lived higher in the trees than regular humans do and so arguably, you could say they also came from the sky. To get there, you could walk on this rainbow bridge.



The greek thought many of their gods lived on mount Olympus which arguably is also in the sky. Or at least it's upwards! Not all the gods could have lived there, though. Hades would've been in Hades (of course) and I always thought Poseidon (god of the sea) would be in the sea somewhere.

There are also animistic religions in which they revere some kind of force which is in nature, for example in animals, trees or rocks. It's popular now with hippies and the like, but I don't know, perhaps some indian tribes have believed something like that although I know at least some of them have also believed in totem spirits and I've no idea where they would be.

I guess the more gods you have, the more likely they are to be elsewhere than just in the sky I'm sure noise has some better examples though!
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Old 06-02-2010, 11:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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tore mentioned animism - this is the foundation for most primal 'religions'. the idea of gods, or even of powerful supernatural entities, is really quite recent.

even the idea of the 'supernatural', which is by definition opposed to the 'natural', is a modern idea. the more time you spend learning about ancient religion, the more natural it becomes.

i have spent a lot of time studying ancient art, and i have seen very alien looking images in my studies (like the one below). but if you take the time to approach these images from the context within which they were created, rather than from an external perspective, you realize that the sorts of interpretations you proffer are really not valid.

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Old 06-02-2010, 12:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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^Wow, that creature on the left there looks really like an elongated E.T.

Do you know of any plausible interpretation of that thing? I guess it could just be a fantasy creature?

In a sense, anthropology sometimes sounds like trying to figure out what people were thinking based on some pottery here, some imagery here. I mean, you have a very few pieces of a puzzle and the rest you have to fill in on your own as best you can. It sounds pretty hard!

Depending on how you fill in the pieces, I'm sure you could use such art to draw all sorts of conclusions, for example about alien visitors. I'm sure noise agrees, at least to some extent, that such interpretations is not the right thing to do. Coming from biology, I would say it's the wrong thing to do based on principles of parsimony. If you make the assumption that the image is an illustration of an alien who visited these peoples, then you have to assume that aliens exist and visited earth and these people at some point(s) in time. If you assume that it's an illustration of a figment of imagination, you don't have to make any "new" assumptions about our universe. We already know people are capable of art and fantasy.

edit :

Parsimony is sorta about making as few wrong assumptions as possible. For example we know people are smart and can build things. If we assume people made the pyramids, we have a hypothesis which is broadly congruent with this knowledge. If we assume aliens guided the builders or even built the pyramids, then we have to make a whole new set of assumptions to accomodate that hypothesis.
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