I first became acquainted with what I call the UFO religion when studying the Sumerian Gods. Starting in 1976, Zecharia Sitchin (Note 1) wrote a series of books detailing how humans are the slave species of these Gods. Sitchin said that he realized from reading the Sumerian myths that aliens had colonized the Earth. For him, the myths were not mere stories but actual history. According to Sitchin, the Annunaki (the Sumerian Gods) created people to mine gold for them.
Pondering Sitchin, I discovered a cottage industry of authors starting with Erich von Daniken (“The Chariots of the Gods”) who claim that ancient aliens are the Gods of humanity. Not only that, humans are a construct of these aliens. An example of this cottage industry is a recent title is “DNA of the Gods: The Annunaki, Creation of Eve and the Alien Battle for Humanity (2014)” by Chris Hardy. It would appear that ancient aliens (the UFO Gods) satisfy the sensibilities of post-modern people.
How did the UFO religions become so popular? To start with, modern industrial people regard the old myths as irrelevant and stale. They want new myths which are global in scope and value modern sensibilities. They also want myths to be scientifically true. This follows what Joseph Campbell wrote about myths in general. (Note 2) He said that they should be plausible and fit with the scientific awareness of the time.
Secondly, the old faiths represent the old world of restricted freedoms and ignorance. The replacement religions are rooted in corporate materialism, which gives a terrifying vision of decaying societies. Therefore, the new religions must embrace things beyond this world. UFOs and aliens are more accessible in this post-modern world than the Gods.
Today, the reverence that was allocated to the Gods is now for the Myth of Progress. In modern industrial society, the idea that literal Gods exist is scoffed at. The ancient myths have become fairy tales. If the Gods do exist, they are psychological constructs or archetypes that spring from the subconscious of humanity. In other words, humans are the creators of the Gods. However, this leaves an inner emptiness.
Believing in the UFO Gods allow people can stand in awe of the heavens. With aliens, people can experience the Divine under the blessings of science. Alien contact (and disclosure) is only a day away from official validation, thereby making that more credible. Technology as developed by aliens is an expression of the Divine. Science has melded with religion to satisfy the longings of post-modern people.
Hence to some, the ancient myths have become accurate histories of prehistory. The aliens with their technology encouraged primitive humans to believe that they were Gods. In the UFO religion, this means that one day, humans could meet the aliens on their own terms. Then humanity could be Gods thereby fulfilling the promise of the Myth of Progress.
The monoculture of the industrial world has homogenized diverse world cultures into one bland one. The monomyth of this culture encourages people to mix and match various myths into an uneasy whole. As the Gods and heroes are relics of the past, so the UFO mythology is for the future. It allows for the myths to be explained as alien interventions. Religious history then becomes the history of aliens on the Earth. Mysticism in the modern materialistic world is the belief in alien Gods.
Note 1. Zecharia Sitchin claimed to be able to read both Sumerian and Akkadian. According to Sitchin, these aliens came from the Twelfth Planet of Nibiru, which had collided with Tiamat, and formed the asteroid belt. (Nibiru and Tiamat are names of Mesopotamian Gods.) One of the last books he wrote was “The Lost Book of Enki: Memoirs and Prophecies of an Extraterrestrial God.” Another was “There were Giants Upon the Earth: Gods, Demi-Gods, and Human Ancestry, the Evidence of Alien DNA.”
Note 2. Joseph Campbell, noted mythologist, said that (1) “myths should awaken the ‘mystic function’.” (2) The image of the universe that the myth provides should be in tune with the scientific awareness and general knowledge of the actual world. (3) “Myths should validate the norms of society that have adopted it.” (4) “Myth can act as a guiding force for each person.” (5) In their original versions, myths are for the underdeveloped mind.
John Michael Greer, “The UFO Chronicles.”
Dr. Allan Hunter, “Spiritual Hunger: Integrating Myth and Ritual into Daily Life.”
Diana Walsh Pasulka, “American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology.”
Paul Wallis, “Escaping from Eden.” And “The Scars of Eden.”