Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Ancient Astronaut Theory?

Hello Bishop Manchester. Last night I was watching Ancient Aliens on the History channel. After watching it, I would like to ask you what is your opinion of the Ancient Astronaut Theory? — Ruben H.

It is not my field of expertise, but I firmly believe in life on Earth originating with God and not the result of any intervention by visitors from outer space.

Erich von Däniken introduced the theory in the late 1960s and early 1970s, gaining support through the 1968 publication of Chariots of the Gods? I recall people getting excited over the prospect which was not unique, as it had been used as a device in science fiction.  Quatermass and the Pit, a 1958 British television science-fiction serial, involves a psychic projection of these visiting aliens that remained behind on the alien craft and is seen by certain people who come in contact with it. Professor Quatermass has a working theory where he believes that in its most primitive phase mankind was visited by these aliens. Some humans were taken away and genetically altered to have special abilities such as telepathy, telekinesis and other psychic powers. They were then brought back to Earth — the buried artefact was one of the return crafts that had crashed. With their home world dying, the aliens had tried to change humanity's ancestors to have minds and abilities like theirs, created in their own mental image, but with a bodily form adapted to Earth. In effect, humanity are the Martians.

Proponents of ancient astronaut theories often maintain that humans are either descendants or creations of extraterrestrial beings who landed on Earth thousands of years ago. An associated idea is that much of human knowledge, religion, and culture came from extraterrestrial visitors in ancient times, in that ancient astronauts acted as a "mother culture". Ancient astronaut proponents also believe that travelers from outer space known as "astronauts" or "spacemen" built many of the structures on earth such as the pyramids in Egypt and the Moai stone heads of Easter Island or aided humans in building them.

Writers such as Erich von Däniken, Giorgio A Tsoukalos, Zecharia Sitchin, Robert K G Temple, David Icke and Peter Kolosimo support the idea that ancient astronauts actually existed, but this is not taken seriously by the overwhelming majority of academics, and has received no credible attention in peer reviewed studies.

Some ancient astronaut proponents such as Von Daniken and Barry Downing believe that the concept of hell in the Bible could be a real description of the planet Venus brought to earth by extraterrestrials showing photos of the hot surface on Venus to humans.

"The Nephilim were on the Earth in those days — and also afterward — when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them" (Genesis 6: 1–4). The characteristics of the Ark of the Covenant and the Urim and Thummim have been said to suggest high technology, perhaps from alien origins.

In the Book of Ezekiel, part of the Old Testament, a prophet has a vision of a flying vessel accompanied by fire, smoke and loud noise. Some ancient alien theorists have argued that the vehicle’s design closely mirrors that of a modern spaceship, alluding to the text describing an early encounter between humans and alien astronauts.

Proponents argue that the evidence for ancient astronauts comes from supposed gaps in historical and archaeological records, and they also maintain that absent or incomplete explanations of historical or archaeological data point to the existence of ancient astronauts. The evidence is said to include archaeological artifacts that they argue are anachronistic or beyond the presumed technical capabilities of the historical cultures with which they are associated (sometimes referred to as "Out-of-place artifacts"); and artwork and legends which are interpreted as depicting extraterrestrial contact or technologies.

Mainstream academics have responded that gaps in contemporary knowledge of the past need not demonstrate that such speculative ancient astronaut ideas are a necessary conclusion to draw. Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, nonetheless strongly believed in what he called panspermia, the concept that earth was "seeded" with life, probably in the form of blue-green algae, by intelligent extraterrestrial species, for the purpose of ensuring life's continuity. He believed that this could have been done on any number of planets of this class, possibly using unmanned shuttles. He talks about this theory in his book Life Itself.

Thomas Gold, a professor of astronomy, suggested a "garbage theory" for the origin of life, proposing that life on earth might have spread from a pile of waste products accidentally dumped on Earth long ago by extraterrestrials.

And so on.

I believe all these theories overlook the most remarkable and important factor about the Universe in which we dwell — its Creator.


Friday, 17 February 2012

Jean Pateman MBE † RIP

Jean Pateman MBE has died of kidney failure at Whittington Hospital, Archway, London, following a fall at her home in View Road. She was ninety.

Whittington Hospital holds particularly sad and poignant memories for me because it is where my mother died and where I last spoke to her when she was alive.

Since Jean Pateman's death last Saturday, friends and colleagues have paid tribute to the former chairwoman of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery, a role she retired from in 2009.

We knew each other and continued to stay in touch by correspondence until quite recently. Following my relocation to a more tranquil setting, it was always such a delight to receive from her FoHC literature and news from a place with which I was once so intimately acquainted. She also knew and greatly liked my London Secretary, Diana Brewester, who sadly passed away earlier this century.

Jean Pateman was born on 14 July 1921 at Bromborough, Cheshire. Her father was a solicitor and she studied at Queen’s School in Chester, before moving in her late teens to a convent school in Belgium. She met her husband, John Pateman, a housemaster at a school in Edinburgh, in 1946. After marrying, the pair moved in 1947 to South Africa, where her husband became a headmaster. The couple returned to England in 1953 and settled in Hampstead. Five years later, they crossed the Heath and moved into View Road, where they would remain for the rest of their lives.
It was after settling in Highgate that Mrs Pateman became interested in the cause for which she became best known. Highgate Cemetery’s gates were locked in 1975 after the owners, the London Cemetery Company, ran out of funds.

Mrs Pateman, as a founding member of the Highgate Society, reacted with horror at the issues of vandalism and dereliction that had plagued the cemetery. She set up the Friends of Highgate Cemetery (FoHC) and organised teams of volunteers to manage the site and offer guided tours. She stood down as chairman of the Trust two years ago, but continued to play an active role as a trustee right up until her death last weekend.

The passing of Jean Pateman MBE is the end of an era.