Monday, October 10, 2011

Clash Of The Deities, Or Perhaps Here Be Aliens

Throughout human history humans have populated their world with thousands of gods (like Zeus), goddesses (like Hera - Mrs. Zeus) and demigods (like Hercules, son of Zeus, but not of Hera), along with many associated assortment of beasties, often half-human, half-something else (usually animal), or else humanoid with associated 'defects' like the one-eyed Cyclops or the Medusa. Add to that zoo, our monotheistic God and associated hangers-on, like angels, etc. What are we to make of this menagerie?

Postulate One: All of these beings are mythical and imaginary. To be honest, that's the most likely scenario, though of course millions of Christians, Muslims, and Jews would have one survivor from the deity zoo - God. However, if thousands of gods don't exist, then isn't it logical to assume that thousands and one, gods plus God don't exist?

Assuming neither the gods nor God exists - then we play the 'what if' game...

'What if' no deities exist or have ever existed?

Then billions of people, over thousands of years, have spent trillions of ultimately wasted hours in prayer, attending church, observing/attending various religious rituals, spent in religious/Biblical study, door-knocking, preaching, discussing, arguing, going on pilgrimages, etc.

Then all those religious rituals, the do and do not rules that govern things regarding food, dress codes, ceremonies, relationships, and etc. ultimately have been meaningless.

Then millions of people have been tortured, murdered or executed, imprisoned, ridiculed, humiliated, exiled, and hated for no reason.

Then billions of dollars have been spent on cathedrals instead of say hospitals; Bibles instead of textbooks; educating priests instead of medical doctors, nurses and scientists.

Then for those formally educated and qualified in religious studies, spending entire careers preaching, etc. they have wasted their lives in devotion to an invisible friend(s) that has all the reality of Casper, the Friendly Ghost.

Then multi-millions of animals have been sacrificed and offered up to a supernatural being(s) that doesn't exist.

Then you can't blame all your aches and pains, your bad back and creaky joints, on some all knowing great intelligent designer(s), who apparently bioengineered you (from dust or a rib or whatever) while simultaneously failing Bioengineering 101. I mean placing the food tube right next to the breathing tube was a disaster waiting to happen, as evidenced by all those people who choke to death every year. And how many women have died giving birth because the compatibility between the birth canal and the size of the baby, well just wasn't! A divinely created human wouldn't be flawed and have need of eyeglasses or a hearing aid. God wouldn't create a human with jaws to small to allow for wisdom teeth. As to the appendix organ, that's just another oops.

Postulate Two: Some or all of these beings exist and are associated with the realm of the supernatural.

Assuming both supernatural God and gods exist...

1) Both might exist quite independently from each other in space, in time, or both. One doesn't know about the existence of the other.

2) Both might exist as independent entities (not of the same family) in the same time and space, but choose to have no interactions.

3) Both might exist as independent entities (not of the same family) in the same time and space frame and interact.

4) Both might exist, but God is just one of the gods. That is, there is no independence between God and the gods; they're all kin.

5) God and the gods do not get along, be it #3 or #4. But while the gods are silent on God, God doesn't overly love His god kin, since He instructs us not to have any other gods before Him!

God or the gods: who comes first?

1) In terms of human history, the gods existed before God. Polytheism existed prior to monotheism.

2) Therefore, the gods, if responsible for all things created, created God. Monotheism is subservant to polytheism. God answers to the gods.

3) If God came before the gods, and God is the supreme creator, then God created the gods. Polytheism is subservant to monotheism. The gods answer to God.

4) However, if God created the gods, God is ultimately jealous of the gods (as per His Commandments), and therefore of His own creation. God, being all-knowing, foresaw this, but did it anyway. That's illogical.

Assuming God exists and the gods don't - well, that's pretty much the status quo today. What few believers still exist in worshiping Zeus, Jupiter, Odin and associates aren't sufficient to cause any resurgence in polytheism.

Assuming the gods exist, and God doesn't - well, a significant percentage of the inhabitants of Planet Earth over the past several millennia have got lots of collective egg on their faces. Much of the 'what if' given above applies equally well. However, in one sense, the gods make more sense than God. Contrast the following. There's this God, your invisible friend who art in heaven, which is also invisible and a place you can not travel to. Contrast that vis-à-vis the Greek gods say, who were visible to and interacted (i.e. - mated usually) with the mortal Greeks. Further, they lived right next door up on Mount Olympus, a place you could actually climb up and visit. I mean the gods are practically your next door neighbour. How could the Greeks get something that obvious so wrong? Maybe they didn't - get it wrong that is. So who is more likely to be mistaken, the monotheist who has never seen God or heaven, or the Greek polytheist who has their gods living in the neighbourhood? Who has more credibility?

Postulate Three: Some or all of these beings exist but do not reside in the realm of the supernatural. Perhaps they are terrestrial flesh-and-blood natives! But if they are terrestrial flesh-and-blood life forms, they are extinct now, which is, as far as we're practically concerned, the same as their non-existence in the first place. There's no fossil evidence for any of the assumed mythological beasties (like the Minotaur - half bull; or satyrs - half goat; or centaurs - half horse; or a sphinx - half lion), or tombs or gravesites for the gods, goddesses or demigods with actual bodies in them. That might not be surprising seeing as how they (gods and goddesses and demigods) are supposed to be immortal.

Postulate Four: Some or all of these beings exist but likewise do not belong to the realm of the supernatural. Since they aren't terrestrial, they must be extraterrestrial.

If there is any historical evidence for a god, gods or The God, then that evidence could just as easily be equally interpreted as evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence(s), whose purpose(s) or objective(s) may not be all that obvious or even benign.

What would an extraterrestrial 'god' ('sky being' might be a good synonym in many cases) do that a bona-fide supernatural god wouldn't do - or vice versa? I'll be damned if I know the answer to that, and it's probably an unanswerable question. It's at least not illogical to equate a god, goddess or demigod with an extraterrestrial or extraterrestrial intelligence. Any sufficiently advanced (extraterrestrial) technology is just the supernatural to entities that are too primitive yet to know what advanced technology is. A television set or jet airplane to someone living 2000 years ago would be pure magic.

Taking another approach, I'd imagine a theoretical advanced extraterrestrial being or race, like the gods, don't have attributes that are self-contradictory, unlike God (or the idealized concept of God). The gods are not depicted as all-powerful (just powerful); not all-knowing (yet knowledgeable); not omnipresent; and hardly all-loving. The one attribute usually attributed to the gods is immortality as noted earlier, though that doesn't mean they can't be bumped off. They're immortal, but not invincible or invulnerable. To a human, especially humans living thousands of years ago, immortality could equally translate to and mean a very, very long lifespan (akin to some of the life spans given to a select few in the Biblical texts). Now very long life spans is something one might desire when postulating getting ET from there (wherever there is - somewhere out there among the stars) to here (Planet Earth).

Is there any suggestive evidence to associate and equate the gods with extraterrestrials? Well, appearance could be a clue. Our modern world is full of images from ancient times of entities or beings that wouldn't be out of place in any "Star Trek" or "Star Wars" movie. Translated, whatever these images represent, they most certainly aren't your everyday terrestrial species you're likely to see in a zoo. I mean you have all seen figures depicted as gargoyles - definitely not terrestrial beasties. Nor are the gorgons likely to be terrestrial. Many of the gods, like say the ancient Egyptian ones, while humanoid, are anything but human in appearance. Lots of beings, creatures depicted as rock or cave art around the world appear very other-worldly. For example, the Tassili frescoes in the Sahara, some going back to 6,000 BC, are very suggestive of ET. One was actually dubbed by an archaeologist 'the great Martian god', although there's no actual evidence to connect the image with the Red Planet Mars. The puzzling statues on Easter Island are very nearly human but just weird enough to be distinctive - close but yet odd. You can ask this logical question - are demons really supernatural, or just rather ugly and potentially nasty aliens?

Even the very well known arch sceptic (when it came to UFOs and 'ancient astronauts'), the late Dr. Carl Sagan was impressed enough by a combination of ancient text translations coupled with images on ancient cylinder seals to suggest that this might be a bona fide contact between extraterrestrials and humans. The 'this' had to do with strange appearing beings who brought knowledge to the ancient Sumerians. Images depicted on later cylinder seals associated such beings (who look quite unworldly) with the stars and stellar planetary systems.*

Last, but hardly least, is, as noted above, one of the interactions between the gods and humans is sex - by trickery, by force, by any means fair or foul, often with disastrous consequences - as demigod Hercules, or Medusa could testify to. In modern UFO lore, sex or sex-related themes, albeit of the more impersonal kind, is a common theme in abduction cases. Whether or not there's any connect I don't know, but it's an interesting 'virgin' area for further research.

Conclusions: All the gods and God and all their associated supernatural baggage are total inventions of our fertile imaginations, OR, some or all of those gods (probably including God) are actual flesh-and-blood extraterrestrial entities. The middle ground, belief in the supernatural, gods and/or God with actual magical powers, is not really a credible option, IMHO.

*Sagan, Carl & Shklovskii, I.S.; Intelligent Life in the Universe; Holden-Day, San Francisco; 1966; p.455-462.

Science librarian; retired.

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