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Jason Colavito has once again directed the attention of his readers to how people in Christian churches have begun to tout the ancient astronaut paradigm as a tool for understanding the Bible. His post draws on the thoughts of a Lutheran pastor over at the well-known Christian periodical First Things.

As I’ve noted before, this is ill-advised, misguided, and even dangerous. The Bible is not about alien visitation. While certain biblical passages (like Gen 6:1-4) can be read that way (e.g., as abduction narratives, since some of the elements are shared with such “accounts”), just because a reading of the biblical text happens (even if well-intentioned) does not make that reading coherent and does not serve as proof (or even evidence) that ancient astronaut ideas conform to reality. Put another way, using the Bible to prop up ancient astronaut myth does not result in the myth becoming respectable just because the Bible is respectable. That assertion is not a denial of the content or character of the Bible, since the biblical material, taken in its own ancient context, is not an obtuse mystery. There is no need for projecting modern myths on the Bible to make it understandable. It’s coherent on its own (ancient) terms. That people (even or especially Christians) are ignorant of the original languages of the Bible or the mountain of scholarly research from archaeology, linguistics, literary study, and ancient Near Eastern background material for the Bible is no excuse to opt for interpretive nonsense.

Why do Christians opt for this nonsense? A couple reasons come to mind right away. I’ve seen or heard the cycle of Bible boredom hundreds of times. It’s just that the victims don’t all end up resorting to ancient alien bunk to get excited about the Bible. Many others just quit church altogether. But the cycle is the same.

What am I talking about?

Watching Ancient Aliens is easier than doing serious research and engaging in careful thinking. Pastors have spent decades, through shallow (“relevant”) preaching that basically every passage is about Jesus, or tithing, or getting along with others, or healthy marriages, or raising kids, etc. When you’re trained to think that basically every passage you read in the Bible conveys the same messages, there’s no reason to read it closely or seriously analyze it. The Bible loses its mystery and fascination. Preachers do this because they are either lazy, are inadequately taught, think poorly, or go with the flow of their content-intolerant audience. People who want more than self-help therapy sessions facilitated by the Holy Spirit on Sunday morning go elsewhere — physically or out into cyberspace. They come across the fascinating worldview put forth by Ancient Aliens and get excited about the Bible, since some “researcher” (= nimrod) on the Fantasy Channel tells them that’s what their Bible is really describing. If they ever bother to ask the pastor about all of it, they’ll suspect they’re onto something as soon as they get derision or a chuckle as a rebuttal. They just need to love Jesus and forget about all that silly stuff. As if that answers their questions. Then they encounter Christian researchers — people who share their Christian theology — saying the same thing as Giorgio, but in ways that aren’t theologically offensive. Now they’re convinced they’ve found the truth.

This is all painfully predictable. It’s easy to pity the laity. Granted, they share responsibility for thinking so poorly, but I lay most of the blame at the feet of pastors whose sermons range from drivel to self-help pablum on any given Sunday. They underestimate what their people can absorb and their interest level. But the coffee and the worship band are good.

We reap what we sow.

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5 Responses to “Ancient Astronaut Nonsense as an Interpretive Filter for the Bible”

  • Ben Valleo says:

    Why do Christians opt for this nonsense?

    You seem to be applying a pretty general statement to a very specific example. Most of my friends and family are Christians and I have yet to meet one that shares this ancient astronaut view. And contrary to popular belief, old testament Scripture is spoken about all the time. And not just the warm fuzzy stories.

    As for myths. There are many. Including the myth that physics and chemistry alone can account for lifeless matter spontaneously turning into life, even if it has never been observed, and even though it was empirically proven a long time ago that living things only come from other living things. Or the myth popularized by Lawrence Krauss and many others that “nothing” created the universe. Or the myth of multiverse, etc. And since none of these beliefs have ever been scientifically quantified. They do indeed stand on the same level as all other myths, even if they bear the veneer of scientific constructs.

  • A.G.L. Buyers Beware says:

    MINISTER IN DENIAL THE CHURCH NEEDS TO CLEAN HOUSE

    One of the reasons I left the church was because ministers would not DO THERE HOMEWORK. They preach misinformation, disinformation and lies. I decided instead to expose these lies. One of the interesting things about the Alien Bible or the Alien Agendas that have infiltrated and permeated the various societies through out history is that records of their existence are found in every religious texts that exist as well as in most myths and legends and this is especially true for the New Age and Celtic religions. Born Again ministers may finally be recognizing this today but they are NOT going along with the Alien Agenda or the Alien Bible they are recognizing that these entities exist and are exposing them as DEMONIC where the misguided souls who produce the “Ancient Alien” documentaries, etc., are ignoring that. Those who do these “Ancient Alien” documentaries all refer to the Sumerian Documents as their primary source for this data when these Sumerian Documents are more fable than fact. The Sumerian Documents were being used by a group of Semites who migrated into Medo Persia long after the indigenous people settles there. These people were more akin to New Age mystics and pagan worshipers of the day than anything else.

    Part of the Alien Agenda is to fool mankind into thinking that THEY CREATED US. It has always been top on the Alien Agenda List of lies. Next they want us to think that mankind is a lesser being when Jesus (Yashua) clearly taught that they were the FALLEN BEINGS, liars and evil doers. He labeled them as snakes, scorpions and as satanic beings that CAN NOT CREATE HUMAN BEINGS. They have always had to rape artificial insemination and clone to create their human hybrid populations.

    The same lies being promoted by the Atlantian and Sumerian cultures are now being adapted today by those promoting the “Alien Agenda” and the Alien Bible,” which is part of what Jesus (Yahsua) referred to as the END TIME DELUSION OF MANKIND

    This minister and those like him that promote the Bible as the “Inspired Word of God” are not doing any of us favors as they ignore what is going on. He is simply another DISINFORMATIONALIST that should not be standing behind a pulpit.

    The church needs to clean house and dig the skeletons out of the closet not put another pad lock on the door.

  • MSH says:

    This is good news (about the ancient astronaut nonsense). I’d concur in general with respect to Christians. However, a LOT of Christians who are “into” UFOs, alien subjects, etc. are here hook, line, and sinker.

  • MSH says:

    You post some of the most confusing material I’ve ever read (and that’s saying something – I grade lots of papers and read lots of weird things). Sometimes you go after me for not affirming your own belief in aliens and your conspiratorial takes. Then you write things like this, assuming I don’t believe things I do (you hit a couple here) and then criticize me for that. I”m beginning to think you really haven’t read much of what I write here (or elsewhere) but have found a home to post various scattershot screeds. Hard to figure out. Like I said – confusing.

  • Cris Putnam says:

    A.G.L. Buyers Beware,

    If the Bible is not the “Inspired Word of God” then why do you assume you know that Jesus warned us about “END TIME DELUSION OF MANKIND.” If you do not trust the Bible then how do you know you have Jesus’ words?

    You cannot have your cake and eat it too.

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