Von Daniken, Aliens, and Worship

James McGrath, Associate Professor of Religion and Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, and fellow blogger, is teaching a course I wish I could have taken in college -- Religion and Science Fiction.  The topic of a recent class concerned the theories of Erich Von Daniken, a purveyor of alien lore.  I remember the books and TV shows back in the 1970s, about the Chariots of the Gods The idea was that many of the amazing buildings and humanly created desert formations owe themselves to alien presences. 

The idea that the pyramids of Egypt or South America had alien designers has intrigued folks for some time.  We wonder how a much less sophisticated culture could do such things.  So, maybe there is a better answer.  It is, of course, not just a premise in Von Daniken's books -- consider the Stargate series and movie -- The ancient Egyptian gods were ancient alien travelers.

So let me ask readers of this blog a question an atheist once asked me: If it turned out that "everything in the Bible happened as it says it did," the only difference being that the being who reveals himself and accomplishes these things is a highly evolved intelligence that arose through natural processes over the course of many universes, how if at all would that affect your faith? Would you worship such a being? Why or why not? Would you consider this to scientifically prove the Bible true, or to undermine it, and once again why?

What might your answer be?
Here's my attempt:
You know, I don't have an answer to the question. It's possible, but its hypothetical. The Stargate thesis is that we're masters of our own destiny. If I follow Col. O'Neil, then I guess if such an eventuality turned up, maybe I'd not worship. But, then again . . .


John said…
I was thinking about a similar question recently:

Is the creator (with a small "c") simply a superior being - or perhaps THE superior being? If so why do we worship it rather than merely acknowledge its role in our creation?

What is it about the creator, or the process of creation, or the substance of creation which compels reverence and a sense of the sacred and holy? Are we merely being unduly superstitious?

I personally feel confident that the Creator is Holy and Sacred, and that we are compelled to participate in a relationship with the Creator which reverences and worships the Creator's Holy Person. But that belief is a product of my faith and not from an act of reason.

I also feel the need to acknowledge that Scripture has played an important part in forming my response to the Creator.


This is a problem with the Intelligent Design crowd -- in their attempt to make it "scientific" and not "religious" they end up having to allow for something like a higher being -- an "ancient" (Stargate) or some form of extra terrestrial life form.

But what does that leave us? From a Christian point of view, is it really an improvement on theistic evolution? I don't think so.
Anonymous said…
Oh, just go by instinct. That seems the safest way, and the one scripture suggests. David Mc

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