Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aliens and ancients, opinions and opinions.

Let me preface this post by saying that it's full of personal ideas and beliefs, many of which are not exactly mainstream. It's also full of ideas that I think are crazy and don't agree with. Let's hope, at the very least, it's an entertaining, if not wholly interesting read.

After reading a lot about the subject of aliens over the years, and laughing at a lot of the most ridiculous crap ever, and just recently seeing a special on the History Channel about aliens in ancient religions, I have come to a point where I can't remain passively silent anymore. I choose to be passively vocal.

First thing's first. I do believe in "aliens," though I am in no way convinced of alien sightings, contact, and technology. It's fairly simple logic, which while being straightforward, may lead to me being ultimately wrong. If the universe is infinite, conceivably and practically, and has a really large number of galaxies, filled with stars and other matter, then I think it's safe to say there's probably a really large number of planets out there. The more planets there are, the more likely there is to one that is like ours, and can support life. Given the vastness of the universe, there's probably some sort of life out there somewhere.

Also, assuming we don't know everything there is to know in the universe (which is a really safe assumption to me), then there's a chance that there is a way for life to exist outside of our limited experience with it. That is to say, non-carbon-based life may be possible somewhere and under some conditions. After all, most of what we put forth (in invention, concept, and theory) is based on what we know or have experience with. It's extremely difficult, and some may argue impossible, to put forth an idea that has no basis in something we don't already know. When children draw weird animals, rarely do you see animals that are completely unlike what we actually have. Upon explanation, you'll see parts of animals that the child is familiar with put together. Just an example. So let's say it's a possibility, however remote it may be.

So we have aliens. But do we really have "proof" from antiquity? We barely have "proof" now, when sightings are photographed and recorded in video. To say with any sort of certainty that the vimanas (Deva: विमान) that are described as "flying vehicles" are in actuality flying machines not unlike modern aircraft is completely absurd. Yes, there's a lot of stuff in religious texts (especially Hinduism) that may seem really crazy. Actually, there's a lot of stuff in there that IS crazy, depending on who you talk to. But really, that doesn't mean that it's necessary.

Ancient ideas aren't always so remote and fanciful. The same fascination that the ancients had with flight motivated the Wright brothers to create, motivated many of the science fiction and fantasy writers from all eras, and motivated many others to dream. It's much less far-fetched to think that perhaps people from antiquity really just used metaphors or believed in less complicated things, and there was some really huge game of telephone that reached beyond their time. And I'm not necessarily saying that those from years gone by elaborated and exaggerated their own stories. Instead of always arguing how accurate things are due to their source, sometimes it's more prudent to argue how accurate things are due to their transcription. When you think about this through the ages, it adds up. To what degree are WE perverting what came before us?

To me, I don't think you can really call everything cut and dry without being there. A lot of historical inference is based on context, without which you cannot assert that something actually happened. Then again, I don't have a degree in History, or Archaeology, Anthropology, or whatever else. I suppose that while some people will say, "Show me the proof!" when it comes to debatable ideas and theories, I'm the type who'll take it as true in its context. I don't mean that I'll take it for granted; I always want to see the support. I mean that I won't take it as absolute if at all possible. Occam's razor is useful, but from what I've experienced in real life, the whole truth is nowhere near as simple as the first conjecture made.

Anyway, the show mentioned one thing in particular that I thought was note-worthy. "And, each time [the aliens] leave, they make a promise: to return in the distant future" (quoted as accurately as I can remember from a few hours ago). That statement really struck me with the stupid stick. Suppose that aliens did exist, and visited us. Suppose that when they visited us, they visited various different groups/cultures/societies of humans. In all likelihood, they ended up visiting different groups on each subsequent visit, each time promising that they'd return in the future. In that case, they wouldn't be very smart. If each group of people wasn't busy trying to take over the others already, then it surely would try to after "the Gods" visited earth. They'd be just plain dumb to continue to come back, regardless of how much more advanced they were. And, perhaps they were more advanced, but does that prove that they were smarter? Maybe their planet just allowed them to exist earlier than ours did.

To some degree, I think it's better to believe in the "ancient alien contact" theory than in our own religions. Inevitably, some idiot thinks it's a good idea to go literal. Also inevitably, some idiot thinks it's a good idea to go in a completely different direction. It's not so much that their actions make them idiots (also in some cases it's true), but more that they end up with idiot followers who need power, can't think for themselves, and/or are just bigots to some degree. If God exists, and aliens contacted us, who would you rather blame for the horrible paths that some of us have taken?

I don't often speculate on things, especially things that can't be proven in any degree. I also don't get so misanthropic and deterministic. But, I thought that some post is better than none. I also thought that any argument one tries to make about aliens visiting, the same can be said of a time traveler coming back. O Futurama velut luna statu variabilis (an O Fortuna reference, for those that didn't get it).

I mentioned vimanas, but in addition, you have the devas themselves, their various forms and incarnations, the divine weapons, and the "psychic" phenomena classified as divine and/or magical that can be questioned for being alien/extra-terrestrial(/from the future) in origin. Now, your homework for this lecture is to compare and contrast if you are not Hindu, and if you are, then come up with one MORE thing that hasn't been covered that can be construed as such.

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