ExoTheology & Space-Age Interpretations of the Bible

(religious implications of an inhabited universe)

Monthly Archives: March 2012

Should Christianity Embrace Ancient Astronaut Theory?

Should Christianity Embrace Ancient Astronaut Theory?

(posted February 4th, 2011 06:02 AM by Met7797)

[…]

My question, or my ever increasing fascination of connecting the moral stories my grandmother used to read me, the current ideas behind ancient similarities in creation stories from around the world with various historical times and demographics, and the current ideas floating around about intelligent evolutionary interference accounting for our “missing link” gaps; Is should Christianity, and other major Religions go ahead and bite the bullet, and accept Ancient Astronaut ideas as plausible account of their version of our existence?

We already have instances where Vatican officials have come out saying that Alien existence wouldn’t negate Catholic Doctrine. A stance supported by a Pope that has made a strong conscience effort to bridge the gaps between faith and reason. And this is Catholicism, largely regarded as one of the most orthodox Christian sects, since ever.

Giving all that we know, and don’t know, accepting the similarities of creation stories, and details of local mysticism from civilizations from around the world, and from different time periods, and with the constant attempts at reconciling popular science with popular religion; Why shouldn’t our Religious leaders look at the possibility that we are seeded life, placed here by an extraterrestrial source?

And in response to another’s comment… Read more of this post

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“[T]he character and message of Jesus are searingly clear and distinctive even taking into account that daunting veil through which we are asked to see.”

I just finished grading one of my class’s summary-and-responses, and am taking a break surfing the net about the Shroud of Turin. I came across this blog– “The Shroud of Turin blog” at shroudofturin.wordpress.com. In one post (for October 22, 2010), the author quotes Andrew Sullivan. He/she doesn’t link to the exact article, but the quotes are from Sullivan’s Daily Dish blog.  Anyway, he/she says these are keepers, and I agree.

. . . There is no single authoritative text, written by one God, word for word true. There is a much more complicated series of writings designed by many men, doubtless under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, that help us see some form of the figure Jesus through languages and texts and memories. I think the character and message of Jesus are searingly clear and distinctive even taking into account that daunting veil through which we are asked to see. [emphasis mine]

. . . So we are left in search of this Jesus with a fast-burning candle in a constantly receding cave where we know that at some point, the darkness will envelop us entirely. We will catch Him at times; He will elude us at others. We will have to listen to many words he may have spoken before we can each discern the words he may have meant; we will have to keep our eyes and ears open for science’s revelations about the world, while understanding that science is just one way of understanding the world and that poetry, history, and practical perspectives have things to tell us as well. The cathedral at Chartres; the long story of Christian debate and theology; the rituals and daily practices that help us stay trained to intuit the divine we cannot understand [emphasis mine] and the divine we do not always see in every face around us: these too tell us things that go beyond fact, archeology and hermeneutics.

Yes, this intellectual sifting is hard and troubling to faith; yes, it may end with more mystery than clarity. But if our faith is to be true, it must rest on something more than denial of reality. It must rest on being the greatest experience of reality. [emphasis mine]

Especially love the line: “I think the character and message of Jesus are searingly clear and distinctive even taking into account that daunting veil through which we are asked to see.”

another false dichotomy (it’s either the “the biblical worldview” or the ancient astronaut theory)

Ancient Astronaut Theory Meets 2012 (see article below).

This is another example of either/or thinking in regards to the “ancient astronaut theory” — the choice is between the “Biblical worldview” and the AAT. How about seeing it as seeing the Bible through a different lens? The traditional lens, the liberal lens, the space-age lens. They’re just lenses. It’s not either/or.

So I have to agree with “Adam,” who commented on this article this way:
Adam

February 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm

I have seen the History Channel’s shows that the author speaks of in this article. I am also a religious person as well. My question would be why can’t it be both? The exception I take to this authors writing is that he seems to be getting hung up on the words used by either side of the coin. Is it not an accurate description to say that God or even the gods are indeed “Extra Terrestrial” or not of this planet? And perhaps God who is often described as the King of Kings was in fact the leader of a higher intelligent species. And that there were good and evil amongst them both. There are in fact other ancient texts beyond the bible, most specifically texts that are linked to the Jewish faith that may add some credence to the Ancient Astronaut theory. Such as the ancient text of the Zohan or the Dead Sea Scrolls or even the Babylonian Talmud. I think it would be foolish for anyone to rule out one or the other as I am sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle. After all, the one thing that can be said of both sides of the argument is, “none of us were there.” And to shut down the conversation by belittling or labeling them a “cult” by either side is far more dangerous than any editing job by the History Channel.

Ancient Astronaut Theory Meets 2012

28 Dec [by Cris D. Putnam]

Apocalyptic fervor is running high.  Maybe it’s the downturn in the economy or the tension in Israel but everyone seems to be feeling it. It has been building up for a few years too. There was that titanic tsunami in South East Asia and a devastating earthquake in Haiti too. Not to mention the emergence of communist China as America’s economic overlord and the burgeoning trend toward technocracy. While Alex Jones is frantically screaming at the top of his lungs about the NWO, most of the population is still oblivious to the incoherence of the government’s official 9/11 conspiracy theory. Religion is on a slippery slope as well. Sure there is plenty of Oprah inspired pantheism but the zeitgeist of the decade is leaning toward the new atheism promoted by Dawkins, Hitchens and crew.  While it is quite reassuring that the enemies of Christianity seem to be doing everything in their power to fulfill end times bible prophecy (2 Pet 3:3, 2 Tim 3:1-2, 2 Thes 2:3, Mat 24:11), I cannot say when the tribulation proper will begin. It feels imminent… or maybe it is just me? Read more of this post

Ancient Astronaut Theory, lack of imagination, and false dichotomies

I just read a brief discussion on christianforums.com about ancient astronaut theory — some saying it’s interesting (but probably not true), some saying it’s a plot by the Devil to distract people from God). But part of it serves as an example of how people can perceive (or will be likely to perceive?) “ancient astronauts” as not much more advanced spiritually or technologically than NASA astronauts — in other words, not much more than what we humans can now do or imagine (not very much, in other words).

And when people perceive celestials (or “ancient astronauts”) this way, it is not surprising that they would feel a conflict between their religious / spiritual impulse and their attraction to this theory, and that that conflict would result in people falling back on an over-simplified dichotomy: “I definitely don’t think their [angels] from other plants but from heaven [sic].” In other words, the only two options are the traditional view of the Bible and the view that angels are akin to Apollo astronauts.

“[Celibacy] relate[s] to the resurrection of the dead; they are signs of eternity, of incorruptibility, of life.”

I’ve never seen an argument for the value of celibacy based on the way in which it signifies the resurrection and the kingdom of God. Interesting.

Life in the Resurrection and the Kingdom of God
Father Thomas Rosica

[…]

Marriage has as its natural end the procreation of children, it assures the continuance of the human race and the creation of new beings, since human beings are destined to die and need to leave successors. How many times did the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II tell us, “The future of humanity passes through the family.”

Consecrated celibacy and chastity are signs of the resurrection and of the Kingdom of God which is drawing near, for in the resurrection and the kingdom there will be neither marrying nor giving in marriage. Celibacy and chastity in the Church draw attention to the new order of the Gospel. They relate to the resurrection of the dead; they are signs of eternity, of incorruptibility, of life. [emphasis mine]

[…]

In the biblical stories of the Old Testament, when God wanted to make a certain truth vividly known and visible to his people, he often chose a prophet and commanded him to act out that truth, to embody it concretely. For example, God told Hosea to marry the unfaithful Gomer in order to sacramentalize God’s fidelity to wavering and sinful Israel. Thus, the truth of the non-ultimacy of sex, family and worldly relationship can and should be proclaimed through words, but it will be believed only when people can see it in flesh and blood. [emphasis mine]

“the life Jesus lives”

Nice short article by Andree Seu, on Jesus being very much alive. In Seu’s case, she means as in not just sitting motionless posing for an icon but acting in creation. I see it as a reminder of his post-resurrection life in general — very much alive as we are alive (only a lot better).

Retiring childish images of Jesus

Written by Andrée Seu  March 11, [2010] 7:54 AM

I must have seen one too many pictures of Jesus as a kid—the Resurrection Jesus of Eastern Orthodox iconography. The image settled into theology in my mind, the unexamined notion that Jesus spends all his time just frozen on a throne, posing for portrait artists.

This is the kind of failure of imagination that we smile at in children but that is not amusing in adults: “When I was a child I thought as a child . . .” (1 Corinthians 13:11). In fact, my adult perception of God has embarrassingly remained one of remoteness, and a Savior as lacking in affect as the Vlidimir Madonna.

All this is changing gradually as God ferrets out error with multiple surgical instruments, as is His wont. First I started meeting Christians who live as if God is so near that one might expect him around each corner of the house, putting tea on for an afternoon conversation. And now, he has peeled away one more scale from my eyes, to reveal for the first time a verse I have read a hundred times:

“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God” (Romans 6:9-10).

Jesus is not sitting or posing. He “lives life.” And when the Bible says Jesus “always lives to make intercession for” us (Hebrews 7:25), it is not as some bored functionary slumped in his chair and pushing papers on his desk. Jesus is busy, occupied, traveling, ordering, dispatching. He is “the living God” (Daniel 6:26); presumably as active as He was when His dusty feet plied the streets of Israel—and with a newly unleashed authority.

Faith will never rise higher than one’s perception of who God is. “The life he lives” is a phrase full of hope and feistiness. It invites prayer. Aslan is on the move, both bringing in His kingdom in lands I’ve never seen, and always ready for that cup of tea with me.

“Survey: Less than half link Easter to the Resurrection”

I’m not surprised.

Survey: Less than half link Easter to the Resurrection

Though most Americans describe Easter as a religious holiday, less than half of U.S. adults surveyed link it specifically to the resurrection of Jesus, a Barna Group study shows.

Seven in 10 respondents mentioned religion or spirituality in their response to an open-ended question about how they describe what Easter means to them personally. But just 42 percent tied Easter to the Resurrection.

At 73 percent, baby boomers (ages 45 to 63) were the most likely to describe Easter as a religious holiday, compared to two-thirds of those ages 26 to 44 and Americans 64 and older. The youngest group of adults (ages 18 to 25) were least likely, at 58 percent, to use that kind of description.

Other than the day Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead, respondents described Easter as “a Christian holiday, a celebration of God or Jesus, a celebration of Passover, a holy day” or a special day to go to church, Barna researchers said.

“The Easter holiday in particular still has a distinctly religious connection for people, but … the specifics of it are really fading in a lot of people’s minds,” said David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, which is based in Ventura, Calif.

“Hell, give me a time machine, a helicopter, and a 9mm semi automatic pistol and I’ll have the 12 tribes of Israel worshipping me.”

A couple of comments on a discussion of Ancient Astronaut Theory…

BUT, Clarke’s Third Law:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” So in terms of such beings, if we assume they did exist, being able to drop the jaws of some bronze and iron age cattle herds — yes, that part is totally plausible. Hell, give me a time machine, a helicopter, and a 9mm semi automatic pistol and I’ll have the 12 tribes of Israel worshipping me.

and

Carl Sagan I think actually weighed in on this subject some years before Von Daniken made it popular. I believe the more technical term is “Paleo-Contact”. The general theory is not so absurd at all. It’s simply the idea that, at some point in antiquity, intelligent creatures from another solar system visited the earth and that their visits were misinterpreted by the locals who had no knowledge of space travel. I don’t remember, but I think Sagan may have cited aa Assyrian story that sounded like it may have been a “contact” story. The idea then, on the face of it, seems plausible. Where Von Daniken made his mistake was, in assuming the impact of these visitors on human culture, and the possible artifacts they left behind.

Technological AND SPIRITUAL advancement

from If Mars Attacks …Do we have an alien-contact contingency plan?
By Juliet LapidosPosted Friday, July 16, 2010, at 5:56 PM ET

[…]

Many scientists, including Stephen Hawking, believe that contact with intelligent aliens would end badly for us—we’d be the Native Americans to the alien Europeans. “I imagine they might exist in massive ships,” Hawking said recently, “having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonizes whatever planets they can reach.”

Lacking official protocol, those worried about first contact can turn to the very unofficial Introduction to Planetary Defense: A Study of Modern Warfare Applied to Extra-Terrestrial Invasion. Like Hawking, the authors believe humans would play the part of Native Americans circa 1492. They also think that, in light of the sluggish global response to natural disasters, there’s little indication that we could react effectively to invasion. Since we’ll probably be technologically outmatched, the best defense strategy would be guerilla warfare.

[…]

I thought about this fear before — i.e., that aliens may well come in massive ships with super-advanced technology and try to take us over malevolently. But it seems no one (that I’ve seen) is talking about the spiritual nature of these ETs. The whole focus of the discussion is on technology: the ETs have it and we don’t; thus we ought to be frightened. But there are other types of advancement than technological advancement. There’s spiritual advancement.

So when I read this article (above) just now, I appreciated this comment:

Jonathan Taylor
Regarding “Slate”‘s article on planning for an alien invasion, you are missing an obvious detail in asking the question at all. Any alien invaders must master at least interplanetary travel, if not inter-stellar travel, and no society can do that while remaining warrior-minded. Humanity has proven that a society intent on violence will spend so much of its energy killing its own kind, there won’t be enough resources left to colonize their own moon, much less build an interplanetary fleet and take war to other worlds. In order to fund research into space travel, the only place humanity could find the funding would be its global military budgets, which must be spent to facilitate killing other humans. Space travellers will be peaceful entities. They visit Earth, see that we have not evolved beyond the us-good/them-bad, kill-them-all-and-let-God-sort-them-out mentality. With no one to hear their message of peace, they just leave. And they will continue to do so until humanity matures, if we can find a way to avoid rendering ourselves extinct.
Yesterday [July 17, 2010], 9:52:44 PM

God versus death

I started out googling for an article I’d seen a few days ago on the Dead Sea Scroll stone (“Gabriel’s Vision” as it’s being called), but I ended up finding some good stuff on resurrection. This is from Walter Brueggemann’s review of The Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews by Kevin J. Madigan and Jon D. Levenson (Yale UP, 2008). I have never read anything by Brueggemann that I didn’t agree with and also love, and this is no exception. I agree completely.

This is an important, even urgent book that comes with vigor and passion. It clearly recognizes that Jews and Christians share a legacy and a conviction that sets them apart from the secular, rational alternative, whereby many seek faith as an ethical mandate while failing to recognize the basis of moral passion for a restored human community (and restored Israel as a subset of that restoration). The book is a challenge to the “cultured despisers of religion” whom Schleiermacher sought to accommodate, and an invitation to Jewish and Christian interpreters to recover nerve and passion for the scandal of newness that comes only from God.

I do not know how it is in rational Judaism, but in rational Christianity there is much embarrassment about the resurrection as a defining claim of faith, especially among those who have been wounded by the authoritarianism of the church. Among liberal Christians there are endless attempts to explain it away, and among conservative Christians there are endless reductionisms in rationalistic form. Madigan and Levenson urge otherwise. The truth to which they attest is the victory of God over the powers of death. Since they are Harvard-informed scholars, it is not surprising that the divine Warrior makes an appearance in their narrative; this mode of God’s self-presentation is as old as Israel’s memory.

In contemporary culture, which in fear, anxiety and brutality keeps ceding its existence to the powers of death, this book is an authorization for both countertestimony and counteraction. When such countermoves are made, they are congruent with the deepest conviction in the tradition shared by Jews and Christians, a shared conviction so deep as to identify who we are as Jews and Christians—in the world, apart from the world and for the world.

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