by John Lash
NOTE: This is an expanded version of the article, "Abraham and the Doctrine of the Aliens," byJohn Lash, published onwww.phenomenamagazine.com/0/editorial.asp?aff_id=0&this_cat=Area+51&action=page&obj_id=2524">PhenomenaMagazine.)
In 1968 a Swiss innkeeper named Erich von Daniken publishedChariots of the Gods?, which became an internationalbestseller and remains in print today. According to von Danikan'ssensational theory, "ancientastronauts" from an advanced civilization visited theEarth in times long past. He found proof of their presence inrock-carvings, religious artifacts, ancient myths, and, of course,megalithic monuments such as the Giza pyramids.
Von Daniken provocatively asked, Did God drive a Flying Saucer?
With this question planted in themainstream mind, God, angels, and everything Biblical instantlyattached itself to UFO speculation, but von Daniken did not explorethese associations in a cogent or consistent manner.. A less-knownbut far more intelligent study, which appeared in the same year asChariots, did just that.
The Bible and Flying Saucers waswritten by Barry H. Downing, a Presbyterian pastor withdegrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and the University ofEdinburgh. The scope and depth of his book reflect his learning, afar cry from von Daniken's hokey shenanigans. But this book alsoreflects the author's steadfast faith in Christian tradition:Downing assumes that God and his angels, even if theyare ETs who navigate in UFOs, are implementing a divine plan for the benefit of humanity.
(Note: I am informedthat Desmond Leslie in his 1952 book Flying Saucers Have Landed,featured an entire chapter entitled "Chariots of the Gods." This isthe source from which Von Daniken borrowed both his title and muchof the content for his book. Thanks to Sweeps Fox for this detail.).
Downing, along with Desmond Leslie, may be consideredthe founders of Biblical Ufology, the genre of studiesproposing that many events in the Bible reflect extraterrestrialintervention, assumed to be benign.Visions such as those seen by Ezekielare taken as close encounters. Angels, such as the one who announcedthe birth of Jesus to Mary, are regarded as aliens of asuperior evolution.
Some interpretations even regard Jesus as an extraterrestrial who comes to Earth from a morehighly evolved world, or is cloned as a “model human” bytechnologically superior space brothers. Imagine the headline, Jesus– The First Designer Baby!
Biblical UFOlogists assume that space aliens or ET-likeentities act in a kind and benevolent manner toward humanity,consistent with the fulfillment of a "Divine Plan."
Downing wonders if,
"Biblical religion was planted andnurtured by persons from another world."
He does not merely speculate on thepresence of “ancient astronauts” on Earth, but he considers theirpossible role in initiating and directing the religiousexperience of humanity. This issue demands a much deeper cutinto the human psyche than von Daniken undertook.
Without the benefit of Gnosticmaterials, Downing was unable to conceive that Biblicalreligion,
"planted and nurtured by personsfrom another world, works not for the betterment of humanity,but for its enslavement."
Biblical Ufology is widelydeveloped today, but an optional interpretation that could not haveemerged until some time after Downing and von Danikenwrote has yet to be considered. This option arises with the view ofalien intervention proposed by the Gnostics of the Mystery Schools.
Although some of the Gnostics' views canbe found in obscure arguments written against them by earlyChristians, original Gnostic material was not widely available untilthe Nag Hammadi codices, discovered in 1945, were translatedinto English in 1978. The Mysteries were destroyed in the 4thCentury CE, when the Nag Hammadi cache was buried, but they areknown to have preexisted Christianity for thousands of years.
Gnostics were psychonauts of extraordinary scope and finesse.Their cosmology, centered on the figure of theGoddess Sophia,presents a complete and coherent description of the origin andmethods of an inorganic predatory species called Archons.
Although Gnostic texts describe firsthand encounters withArchonswho "abduct souls by night," their teachings do not emphasizephysical threat. Rather, they warn that the Archons affect us mostprofoundly in our minds, especially through religious ideology,through beliefs about God and what God wants for us.
For Mystery School instruction on facing and repelling the Archon ETs, seeA Gnostic Catechism and thecommentary on the First Apocalypse of James, text 9in the Nag Hammadi Reading Plan.
One of the most sensational ideas of the Gnostics is thatJehovah, the Father God ofJudeo-Christian religion, was an Archon, an inferior orimposter deity not to be confused with the true Gods, calledAeons, who inhabit the cosmic center (galactic core). Jehovah is said to be blind and mad, a demented alien whonevertheless has some god-like powers.
Although he does not create the world weinhabit, he believes that he does.
"Opening his eyes, the chief Archonsaw a vast quantity of matter without limit, and he becamearrogant, saying, 'It is I who am God, and there is noother power apart from me.'"
(TheReality of the Archons, NHC II, 4, 94.20).
Of course, this is exactly what Yahweh-Jehovah says in the Old Testament. Over and over again,the Mystery teachings preserved in the NHC presents a view ofJudeo-Christian religion that turns it completely inside out.
Fortunately, the Nag Hammadi cache, meager as it is, contains quite a lot of clear information on the Archon God and hisinsidious tactics. In theSecond Treatise of the Great Seth,an unnamed Gnostic Master says,
"The Archons devised a plan about meto release their error and their absurdity."
"The way to a man's belief isthrough confusion and absurdity."
The text cited explains how the Archons induce a false plan of salvation into the human mind, acounterfeit of the true path of self-liberation we can take bydeveloping our innate potential of Nous, "divineintelligence." The Gnostic teacher, called Phoster or Illuminator, openly ridicules Abraham, Moses and the prophetsfor accepting the Archons as divine and putting faith in animposter god who works against humanity.
The Second Treatise says that the"doctrine of the aliens" is,
"a great deception upon the humansoul, making it impossible for humans to find Nous, theself-liberating mind, and thus come to know true humanity."
What Gnostics meant by "the doctrineof the aliens" is the ensemble of beliefs at the core ofJudaic and Christian religion - and, by extension, Islam.
All three of the "great world religions" derivefrom the revered Patriarch Abraham, thought to have livedaround 1800 BCE.
Because the history of the ancientHebrews is taken as exemplary or symbolic of humanity as a whole,our species' "sacred history" begins with Abraham, but Gnosticsconsidered that Abraham was a dupe, the psychological"vector" for the intrusion of the Archons. In effect, they trashedthe notion of a “Divine Plan” overseen by Jehovah, andexposed Judeo-Christian salvationism (the Redeemer Complex)as an extraterrestrial religion, alien to the Earth andhostile to human potential.
The Gnostic critique of the Redeemer Complex was devastatingto the cherished beliefs of many people, and still is, but theteachers in the ancient Mysteries did not leave us withoutalternatives to these received beliefs. Gnostics taught what theyembodied: the illuminist path of experimental mysticism,contrasted to blind belief in salvationist dogmas.
Against the religious deceit of the Archons, the Second Treatise invokes the "hope ofSophia," affirming our bond to the Wisdom Goddess whose bodyis the Earth.