Nothing was on the TV the other day, so I put on Ancient Aliens.
The show presents the hypothesis that humanity’s early development was influenced by extraterrestrials.
I’ve done a wide variety of writing: science fiction stories, journalism, and scientific papers. There are big differences between these types of writing, and I feel theories about aliens in the distant past are a great way to illustrate this.
When you write science fiction, you try to convince people that something outlandish is plausible. In effect, you use the idea that the most interesting version of reality you can get away with. In scientific writing, you use the assumption that the simplest explanation that explains what you’re seeing is right.
Most of the “evidence” the show present is reinterpreting artifacts and ancient myths in the light of a science fiction-inspired worldview.
The science fiction writer in me would love it if something like this was true. It’s a fascinating idea, that our early development wasn’t just random chance and slow progress from caves to cities. It would mean we’re a part of a bigger universe. But none of the evidence precludes simpler theories, that humans just did it and made up some interesting mythologies along the way.
It’s somewhat arrogant to assume that ancient people were too ignorant to have anticipated or imagined these stories without a frame of reference. One of the earliest science fiction stories that I’m aware of was True History by Lucian of Samosata in the second century. In this case, the story’s genesis is well documented. At the time “true histories” were a popular literary genre, where people would make up outlandish stories and pass them off as real travelogues. Lucian wrote a parody of them, featuring interstellar warfare between acorn-riding dog-men and a race of fungus people.
The bottom line is that yes, if ancient people encountered technologically advanced space aliens and wrote about it, it would sound like the various stories that make up ancient world mythology. But it’s also how they would write about religious revelations, unusual natural occurrences, and interesting stories they made up.
Which one is more likely?
Robert is a science geek with a passion for science fiction. He has a BS in general biology and currently works in an occupational health lab at The University of Arizona. Additionally, Boumis has published three short stories, all science fiction, and does costuming in his spare time. His interests include classic science fiction novels, sci-fi films, filmmaking, UFOs, and video games. Follow his Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-J-Boumis/142544852462290?ref=ts