Kingdom of Priests

When I was a kid with a big imagination and a taste for mystery, a defining experience was seeing the classic speculative documentary Chariots of the Gods, based on Erich von Daniken’s spooky book of the same name claiming to prove that ancient astronauts visited the earth. I hadn’t seen the film since 1972 and on a nostalgia kick the other day I checked it out of the local library. It’s as creepy as I vaguely recalled — I was 7 when I saw it, I believe in a drive-in theater in Torrance, California, with my parents. Why they took me, I don’t know.

Anyway, what’s interesting is I noticed this time around that the cover on the DVD package tries to position the film as a challenge to, of all things, Darwin: “Charles Darwin maintained that man was descended from apes. Erich von Daniken countered with his own astonishing theory: ‘We are not descended from apes, but from gods!'” By “gods,” he meant a superior alien civilization.
Curiously this puts Von Daniken in a broad sense on the same page with Darwinian biologist and bestselling atheist Richard Dawkins, author of the new book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Dawkins of course argues for man’s sharing a bloodline with apes but he is willing to entertain the idea that life on earth was intelligently designed only if the intelligent designers were space aliens. He said just that in an interview with Ben Stein in the 2008 documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed:

Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now, um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.

He later tried to wriggle out of the implications of the statement by claiming that anyone who straightforwardly cites him on the subject must be “lying for Jesus.” Maybe he would say that by quoting him in full as I do above, I am lying for Moses.

Incidentally, I dealt with Dawkins’s Jewish problem in an earlier entry.

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