Erich von Däniken (b.1935),the most prominent advocate of the ancient-astronaut hypothesis,underwent a mystical experience at age 19 that left him convinced the earth had been visited by extraterrestrials. His obsession with this idea led him into debt, and in 1968 the Swiss police arrested him for fraud. He was convicted of it in 1970, but by this time his enormously popular book Chariots of the Gods? had appeared, so that he was able to pay his debts and be released early. Many sequels followed.
Von Däniken’s books argue that the gods of existing religions were actually visitors from outer space that—either by interbreeding or direct genetic manipulation—created Homo sapiensfrom our unintelligent progenitors.They were also responsible for all the archaeological and architectural wonders of the ancient world. Critics have pointed out that his ideas are not very original; they can be found in at least a dozen books by previous authors,especially in the theosophical writings of H.P. Blavatsky and those of 1950s contactees.However,von Däniken is the one who pulled them all together into a fairly coherent philosophy.
See Also: Ancient Astronauts;Gods and UFOs;Theosophy
- Goran,Morris.The Modern Myth,Ancient Astronauts and UFOs.South Brunswick,NJ:A.S.Barnes,1978.
- von Däniken,Erich. Chariots of the Gods? Unsolved Mysteries of the Past.Trans.Michael Heron.New York: G.P.Putnam’s Sons,1970.
Taken from : UFOs and Popular Culture – An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth
Written by : James R. Lewis – Copyright © 2000 by James R.Lewis