Chariots of the Gods? and In Search of Ancient Gods by Erich Von Däniken

Chariots of the Gods? – Erich Von Däniken
Laffont / G.P. Putnam’s Sons – 1970

In Search of Ancient Gods – Erich Von Däniken
G.P. Putnam’s Sons – 1973

I believe in aliens. I would be surprised to find out that the only forms of life in the universe exist on this small planet. I even believe it likely that life on Earth originated elsewhere in the universe. I haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary.

Erich Von Däniken believes that an alien civilization came to earth thousands of years ago with the aim of speeding up human development. Apparently Quetzalcoatl, Odin, Zeus, the Burning Bush, and all of the other gods of ancient mythology are members of this band of galactic Samaritans.

Some of the theories in this book are interesting, but the reasoning that Däniken uses is so incredibly bad that he discredits his own work. The first vision of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:4) is analyzed in both of these books. Now, Ezekiel is one of the more ‘out-there’ prophets in the old testament; early in his narrative, he has a vision of God floating down to Earth in what Däniken very reasonably refers to as a spaceship.  Däniken also makes the reasonable point that if God were truly omnipotent, that he would not have to arrive from the North as he does in Ezekiel: if he were truly omnipotent, he should have been able to instantaneously appear. Even devout Christians must admit that even God can’t do what he can’t do, and I think that if you’re willing to believe in Ezekiel’s vision at all, that you must accept that the God that therein appears is in fact an alien. Now this reasoning should be convincing to believers of the Old Testament, but people with any shred of intelligence won’t really care if the Bible contains aliens. Well, in order to convince non-believers, Däniken actually dismisses the story of Ezekiel and other myths as mere exaggerations of real life UFO encounters. On one hand he is saying that we should believe in aliens because they appear in our mythologies, but on the other hand he is saying that myths are not to be trusted as they are full of exaggeration. According to Däniken, we should only trust the parts of ancient stories that suggest that aliens were once our overlords.

These are two different books that cover largely the same material. Chariots of the Gods? was Däniken’s first book. It seems that some newer versions of the book have dropped the question mark in the title. I find this unfortunate for comedic reasons; every time I see the title I imagine it being read aloud by Ron Burgundy. The other book, In Search of Ancient Gods, has no question mark in the title, but it does have the aptly descriptive subtitle; ‘My Pictorial Evidence for the Impossible’. This one was published a few years after the first one, and it’s almost the exact same content, just with more pictures. Some of the pictures in here are truly bizarre, and they’re far more unsettling than any of Däniken’s writing. This book also has a cool little alien man embossed on the front cover:

Both of these books are ridiculous. They’re not remotely convincing, but they did make me think. I really like reading writer’s predictions for a future that is now past. Däniken believed humans would have reached Mars by 1986. I don’t hold that against him though; if we focused our attention on space travel rather than on killing each other, we might well have reached Mars already. He also imagines the rather futuristic notion of a series of computers in different cities around the world being able to store information and send it to each other! Overall, I’ll give these books a 5.5/10. They were dumb, but they were interesting enough to finish. The film version of Chariots of the Gods refers to to book it was based on as a novel, and I think that reading these books as novels is a good idea. They’re good as science fiction, but shit as science.

I really want to visit Erich Von Däniken’s theme park.

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