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There is a movie, made in the 1960's I think, called The Gods Must Be Crazy. In this movie, someone flying over Australia or someplace, throws an empty Coke bottle out of a plane and it lands at the feet of an aboriginal tribesman who believes, as referenced within his culture and experience, that it is a gift from the gods. It is a very charming movie, if I recall, and very funny. I got to thinking about it the other day because I got into a conversation with someone that made me think of how, in the absence of information, people will make things up.
The person with whom I was speaking made a statement to the effect that the ancient Egyptians couldn't possibly have figured out how to build the pyramids all by themselves, thereby proving that they probably had help from aliens.
"Aliens," I asked. "Like little green guys with giant heads and big eyes? Or do you mean people from out of town?"
The speaker looked at me with disgust. "That is the Hollywood version of aliens," he scoffed. "The aliens who helped the Egyptians probably looked a lot like us."
"I see." I answered. "And what makes you think that the ancient Egyptians required the engineering assistance of aliens?"
"It's simple," he responded. "Because the Egyptians were too primitive to have come up with the design and figured out how to do the construction. They just didn't have anything like real technology. They didn't even have the wheel."
I was finding it difficult to believe that this guy was serious, but I was willing to play along.
"Let me get this straight." I said carefully. "The Egyptians were too stupid to have digital clocks and toasters so they were also too stupid to build the pyramids, is that right?"
"Exactly," he said triumphantly.
I was both flabbergasted and amused. "I don't suppose that it is possible that there were, among the Egyptians, individuals with remarkable and complex understanding of mathematics and physics who might have been able to use their brilliant and innovative brains to figure it out all by themselves?" I asked.
"Nope," he said. "If they had been brilliant they would have figured out how to build a wheel and other practical stuff."
"I see." I said. "But, if these aliens with the ability to travel faster than the speed of light in spaceships able to cross vast regions of space visited ancient cultures on earth just to be all helpful and everything, how come they didn't show the Egyptians how to build a wheel, create electricity with turbines driven by water power, and teach them how to make toasters?"
This stopped him for a minute or two but he recovered quickly.
"Because," he said, "they knew that the Egyptians were too primitive to handle stuff like that so they gave them information to build giant structures to honor them as their gods."
So, the aliens were giant egomaniacs who demanded worship from the planets they visited; like intergalactic Hollywood movie stars." I said. "And they were willing to wait 20 years or more for the projects to be finished because they weren't punching any kind of alien clock or anything and had plenty of time on their hands."
The speaker was starting to look a little huffy. "Maybe they had the ability to travel through time."
"Or,” I suggested, “ maybe you know absolutely nothing about ancient cultures or history and have no sense about the remarkable brilliance of individuals throughout the ages or any idea whatsoever of the many mind boggling accomplishments of a variety of ancient cultures and societies and couldn't wrap your mind around the mathematics used by the Egyptians or anyone else if your life depended upon it, despite the fact that you can talk on your cellphone, send email, drive a car, and make toast. So instead of being intrigued and in awe of ancient cultures and finding out more about them, you decide that the easiest thing to do is just make something up that explains why a people who lived 5000 years ago could be so much smarter than you are"
In the end I won the argument and discouraged yet another person from joining my fan club, but I just could not sit there one more minute and listen to anymore nonsense about aliens. Besides, if aliens like to visit our planet just to help us drag ourselves out of our appalling, primitive ignorance, where the heck are they right now when we could really use them? They had better hurry up or we may destroy the planet with our horrifying stupidity and there won't be any place left for them to visit and start a building project.
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