Before embarking on my little fairy tale, I note that for such taken-for-granted imaginary beings, the polytheistic gods and their relationships and adventures are spelled out in exquisite detail. I mean this was way before multi-season TV shows and volumes of related paperback novels for mass consumption. I mean we know an awful lot about Captain Kirk and Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter. But were there writers of polytheistic fiction back then who knew perfectly well they were fabricating the lives and times of the gods for consumption by and entertainment for the great unwashed and kept quiet about their literary fictions? Probably not! I don't think the gods were literary characters invented out of whole cloth. Dare say a non-fictional biography of (fill in the blank - pick a god, any god) would be far more detailed than a similar tome devoted to God or J.C.
The second point from the outset is that IMHO the polytheistic gods aren't gods but 'gods'. We think of them as the mythological gods but they weren't actual gods but real alien beings. Now let's get on with the tale.
1) Once upon a time, a long time ago, a group of boldly going extraterrestrials discovered Planet Earth and took dominion over it, like humans take dominion over national parks and reserves, but starting at a time before humans.
Discussion: If you assume advanced extraterrestrial civilizations exist; If you assume that some advanced civilizations arose way, way, way before human civilization did; if you assume that they (or some of them) will boldly go and explore their galaxy; if you assume that there are no laws of physics that prevent subluminal space travel (there aren't); and if you go along with calculations that suggest that the time it takes to explore every nook and cranny of the galaxy is but a short fraction of the age of the galaxy; if you accept that Planet Earth isn't cloaked/invisible; then it's logical that one of more such extraterrestrial civilizations have noted and logged Planet Earth in their galactic databanks, and because Earth is such a bio-friendly place, took a liking to the place, perhaps as a nice vacation spot for R&R.
There are many references in creation times and myths to the concept of paradise, perhaps ultimately nice vacation spots for the extraterrestrials, who we've come to identify with as the 'gods'.. For example, the ancient Sumerians had this paradise called Dilmun, but it was a resort of, and for, the 'gods', not for humans. Dilmun was something like Eden, though who's to say Eden didn't serve as 'God's' paradise retreat - a summer vacation home away from His day-to-day abode in heaven? In this case, 'heaven' is God's home base, or in the case of the Norse 'gods', Asgard is their heaven equivalent, or perhaps spaceship. In Star Trek terms, 'heaven' or Asgard is the NCC 1701 Enterprise. So perhaps we have Starship Heaven and Starship Asgard!
One could argue that you'd need a very long lifespan to get subluminally from there to here. While there are other ways around that chestnut, recall that the 'gods' are immortal, or as close to it (in the human mind at least) as makes no odds. Whether it's natural or technologically enhanced immortality is of no consequence in this case.
2) Now I've no idea where they came from except from somewhere out there. Different myths and legends point to different points of origin, all of which could well be the case.
Discussion: In the case of the ancient Greek 'gods', there's some association with the stars, or constellations - the Pleiades and Orion in particular. The Greek Andromeda is also associated with a constellation of stars. Now a constellation is just a random grouping of stars usually not in close association with each other, but when viewed from Earth against a 'flat' blackboard or background of space, tend to form a sort of picture and our minds are very good at finding patterns and connecting the dots when presented with random configurations. The Big Dipper and the Southern Cross are two well known examples. Of course the ancients, our remote ancestors, didn't know that. It was probably just as logical to associate a 'god' or 'gods' with a constellation as with one specific star (which we of course would do today). It's sufficient for the sake of this argument that there is an association between the 'gods' (or at least some 'gods') and outer space. It seems as if nearly every culture's 'gods' has some affinity with various stars, constellations, etc.
3) In the time of humans, sometime later on down the line, these extraterrestrials would become, in the minds of the humans, the 'gods'. But the so-called 'gods' (including 'God') were never real supernatural deities, but 'flesh-and-blood' extraterrestrials with advanced technology and powers.
Discussion: How would our ancient ancestors, with no knowledge of physics and chemistry and relatively little of what we'd call modern day astronomy, and who had only the rudiments of mechanical and construction engineering (though sufficient to build the pyramids, etc.) but certainly nothing in the way of being knowledgeable of electrical or nuclear engineering or abilities in same, view sky beings who had all this sort of advanced technology and powers. As equals? No, probably just as deities or 'gods'.
What's Zeus and Thor noted for? Lightning or thunderbolts, which is what ancient humans might have interpreted laser and particle bean weapons as, sort of like that envisioned as part of America's Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) - the 'Star Wars' program. 'God's' been known to toss around a thunderbolt or two as well. That's an example of advanced technology or powers.
4) The 'gods' reign over their dominion of mankind wasn't always benign and just.
Discussion: Well any readers of the Bible are well aware that 'God' has a big temper and a short fuse. Our so called 'loving God' certainly has directly caused massive death and destruction, so much so that I'd rather find my 'loving' in the arms of someone else. The 'gods' on the other hand are very loving, but often treat us mortals as their sexual playthings. Zeus apparently fathered a considerable proportion of the ancient Greek populus via mortal women and not via Mrs. Zeus - Perseus for one; Herakles (Hercules) was another; ditto Helen of Troy, the list goes on and on. And Zeus wasn't the only randy 'god'. That the 'gods' were sex machines, well that has filtered down to us even via such means as Richard Wagner's four-part mega-opera "Der Ring Des Nibelungen". In the second installment, "Die Walkure", we find the head god Wotan (Odin in Norse mythology) has fathered twins via a mortal woman, Siegmund and Sieglinde (who would in turn have a role in the hay and produce the flawed hero, Siegfried). Needless to say, the 'gods' hardly offer up any alimony or child support!
5) They, the extraterrestrials, made their presence felt at the dawn of mankind's emergence; but hence, because there were so many of them, polytheism became the religious order of the day as far as the various human cultures were concerned. The humans obviously mistook the advanced extraterrestrials for supernatural deities, worshiping what they thought were the 'gods', but who in reality were at best pseudo-gods.
Discussion: One criticism of von Daniken's (and others) 'ancient astronauts' was the 'evidence' in their use of their advanced technologies in building, or assisting in the building of the ancient Egyptian or Mesoamerican pyramid and other monumental constructions or well, monuments. Critics suggest that it insults the reasoning, resourcefulness, ingenuity, stubbornness, imagination, intelligence and other capabilities of our remote ancestors. If that's the case, and I agree it is, then it's equally insulting to suggest that they couldn't distinguish fact from fiction and invented imaginary beings (their 'gods') out of whole fictional cloth as opposed to presenting their 'gods' as real entities. They certainly believed their 'gods' were really real, so let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they were indeed really real.
So what evidence do I offer up that the 'gods' were really real, albeit actual flesh-and-blood extraterrestrials. Well, there's the consistency of the tales within each culture and often parallel consistencies between ancient societies and their mythologies. For example, parallel ideas central to a 'paradise' or to 'sky beings' or to 'wars fought in heaven'. That's very unlike the Bible which contradicts itself no end - like at nearly every opportunity. I mean, 'turn the other cheek' vs. 'an eye for an eye'; 'thou shall not kill' but please execute homosexuals. Then there are the images of the 'gods' as wall paintings or rock carvings or as statutes, frescoes, etc. So what? Well, these images are contemporary with the reign of the 'gods; it's as if the 'gods' sat for their portraits. The 'gods' weren't camera shy! If the 'gods' didn't exist, why would the ancient Greeks go to so much trouble as to construct the massive Statue of Zeus at Olympia which occupied the whole width of the aisle of the temple that was built to house it, and was 12 meters (40 feet) tall; the Colossus of Rhodes, a giant statue of the Greek god Helios, god of the sun, some 35 meters (110 ft) tall; or the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus which was dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis and took 120 years to build. Oh, all of these are listed as being three of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. That's big league territory. Sorry, not one of the Seven Ancient Wonders was devoted to 'God'.
Then there is the nature of some of those images. I mean if you look at, or read a description of the Egyptian god Seth (Set), it just screams out 'I'm an extraterrestrial'.
6) Therefore, the polytheistic pseudo 'gods' (or at least some, many or most of them) exist. Later on down the track, what became the monotheistic 'God', actually pseudo-God also existed. However, in the beginning, pseudo-God was just one of the pseudo-gods.
Discussion: If you assume the 'gods' exist, you may as well assume 'God' exists, but it's also logical to lump them all together. On the other hand, if 'God' exists, why are there no images of 'God' from say 4000 years ago (to the best of my knowledge anyway)? There are no paintings; no frescoes; no statues; no images at all. Perhaps that's suggestive evidence that there is no 'God', or perhaps 'God' was just 'camera' shy!
7) Now I assume here that the 'gods' and 'God' are all related, but like humans, aren't always one big happy family. In fact, if there's any one word that describes the family of the 'gods', its "dysfunctional"!
Discussion: Take the ancient Egyptian 'god' Seth (or Set - whose appearance just screams out something extraterrestrial), who had quite a domestic spat with fellow 'gods' Osiris, Isis and Horus. Poor Osiris was murdered in fact by Seth. That's dysfunctional!
Speaking of dysfunctional, there are lots of references in mythology to wars fought in heaven between the 'gods' (battles in outer space - a sort of 'Star Wars' perhaps?). There's no doubt the 'gods' do fight among themselves for dominance. For example, the Olympian 'gods' (Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, etc.) kicked out the Titans to achieve top ranking status as the Greek 'gods'. Then there's the Norse apocalypse of Ragnarok - more 'gods' behaving badly. Finally, there's that heavenly battle royal between 'God' and company, vs. 'Satan' and company. [See Section 9]
8) Even further on down the track, was there was some sort of a falling out between 'God' (and His followers) and the other 'gods' for control over humanity? If so, 'God' and hangers-on win - monotheism comes to the fore.
Discussion: Well there's no disputing that once upon a time, polytheism ruled the world; today monotheism tends to hold sway. Translated, in those ancient polytheistic times the 'gods' ruled, but in later times, our beloved monotheistic 'God' ruled heaven and Earth. If 'God' were once just one of the boys, just one of the 'gods' then there must have been some sort of falling out, even if there's no documentation to that effect (that I'm aware of). Of course a non-existent 'God' might have won the hearts and minds of humanity by default. The supporters of monotheism had a good PR operation going!
9) However, 'God' (assuming His reality) and His minions have a falling out in turn - a house divided against itself. This is where 'Satan' and followers tell 'God' and followers to take a long walk off a short pier. Ultimately, 'God' proves to have 'the force' be with Him.
Discussion: Well there's no disputing the Biblical (tall) tales that 'document' some sort of domestic disagreement between 'God' and some sort of entity we call today 'Satan'. If you believe those Biblical tall tales, the end result of that domestic dispute, Armageddon, isn't in fact in dispute. There's a decided element here of "This ain't over till it's over; this ain't finished yet; I'll be back"! However, if you believe the Bible and the Book of Revelations, then you realise that Armageddon should have taken place over 1900 plus years ago, at least according to J.C. He said that the final battle between good ('God') and evil ('Satan') - I bet he was biased in deciding who was what - would take place within a generation or two of his utterances. So, if it took place way back then it took place off planet and out of human sight - a real life 'Star Wars'. But if it hasn't happened yet, assuming 'God' and 'Satan' are really real ET's, then it probably isn't every likely to. I mean you can only hold off a grudge match so long. Maybe they've kissed and made up, or...
10) But, a now much weakened 'God' and company are ripe for getting their comeuppance and it was so. They then get overturned and banished by the 'gods', which is why there's no evidence for any Godly presence over the past several millenniums. 'God' has left the building! 'God' has been tarred and feathered and exiled from Dodge City.
Discussion: There have been no 'acts of God' documented over the past several thousand years - no burning bushes, no universal floods, no pillars of salt. So either there is no 'God', or 'God' is afraid to show His face or His presence, or 'God' has tucked tail between legs and sought fame and fortune elsewhere - if the latter, who else had the power to exile 'God' but the 'gods'?
11) But are the 'gods' still around? There's been equally and relatively little evidence for them too over the past several millenniums. Still, I propose they're out there at a distance, patiently observing, ever observing.
Discussion: It's unlikely that if the 'gods' are really boldly going extraterrestrials, and since they have expended so much time, effort and energy in exploring this strange new world and new civilization (Earth and Earthlings) they would totally abandon their investment, their vacation R&R spot, their paradise, their home away from home. On the other hand, it's one thing to hold sway over relative primitives, quite another to try to hold sway over a rapidly advancing civilization, one which by leaps and bounds begins to achieve their level of thunderbolt and related technologies.
12) But what happens when humans get advanced enough technologically to begin to, at least in principle, have the potential to challenge the 'gods' on their own turf? That is, we humans can begin to toss around a thunderbolt or two of our own.
Discussion: There's no doubt that we've come a technological long way baby over the past 6000 or so years; even in the past 600 years, far less the past 60 years which has seen humans go from a relative state of being at the mercy of Planet Earth, to Planet Earth being at the mercy of humans. Even if the 'gods' decide to concede their dominion over Planet Earth to the natives, they can not be confident that the tide won't turn and that we humans, we natives, might ultimately seek dominion over the 'gods'. So, if we're becoming an increasing potential threat to the 'gods', why don't they just wipe us out while the wiping out is good. Well, firstly, we're just 'potential', not actual. Secondly, they may have some sort of Prime Directive against genocide. The 'gods' aren't totally amoral beings. Thirdly, they could just leave, leaving no trace as to where they went. Sure, thousands of years hence, when we boldly go, then it might be the case that they can't hide from us, but by then perhaps we too will have a Prime Directive in place. But in the meantime...
13) Enter the modern UFO era, with the 'gods' moving in to keep far closer tabs on us and their dominion, which they've probably never relinquished but are worried that it will be taken away from them, even by force. Our thunderbolts are now, or soon will be, bigger and better that their thunderbolts.
Discussion: Well, there's no denying that the modern UFO era dawned at the very time our nuclear thunderbolts came to the fore of our offensive capabilities. We've only increased the technological sophistication of our thunderbolts since.
The question is, will we all live happy ever after?
Science librarian; retired.
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