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Who’s transforming our society?

The amazing legacy of an ET populist

by , CMI–Australia

January 3, 2005

Do you remember Erich von Däniken? In 1968, while managing a hotel in Switzerland, he wrote a curious little book called Chariots of the Gods, subsequently made into a movie. His book promoted the idea that extraterrestrials visited the earth millennia ago to oversee man’s evolution.

Von Däniken claimed that aliens gave us the technology to build the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids, the Nazca lines in Peru, Stonehenge in England and other ancient artifacts. Von Däniken went on to become one of the largest-selling authors of all time (not just in science fiction), producing 26 books in 32 languages that sold over 60 million copies.1

While we buried our heads in the sand

Most Christians flippantly dismiss aliens, flying saucers and the search for extraterrestrial life. But we do so at the risk of losing touch with popular culture. Evidence is growing that the church needs a wake-up call. Even among the Christian youth of today, I repeatedly see how the idea of aliens has become widespread (spurred, in part, by science fiction).

Even though von Däniken spent time in prison for nonpayment of taxes and embezzlement—and fellow UFO believers dismissed his books as populist junk—many others, including some prominent scientists, have embraced his notion of “ancient astronauts” who helped create life on earth (see Designed by aliens?). Von Däniken's idea of technologically advanced aliens visiting the earth in its “primordial past” has become mainstream.

Why is this so? Because those who reject the biblical account of creation want answers to the “big question” about the origin of life. “How did life begin?” is the number one question in a New Scientist list of the top ten mysteries of life (“Is there life on other planets?” was number ten).2

Driving von Däniken's ideas are the concepts of evolution—the erroneous belief that if life evolved on the earth it easily must have evolved elsewhere in the universe. He was quoted as saying:

I think, thousands of years ago, some extraterrestrials created, by deliberate mutation, our intelligence. This does not contradict Darwin’s theory of evolution. But it’s just one step forward.3

He’s back … and with an enormous museum

So why am I writing about this? I’ll let von Däniken explain:

I have started something. There are 56 million copies of my books worldwide [at the time he said this]. But now it is not just Erich Von Däniken. It is others, many others, as well. You cannot kill the idea anymore, never.3

Sadly, he’s probably right. One purpose of this article is to create awareness of how popular UFO/ET beliefs are today, and how they threaten the established Christian worldview. But secondly, it is to share my grief at the way people are so eager to believe and promote such ideas, and the fact that Erich von Däniken is more popular than ever.

In America, he holds annual meetings of his Ancient Astronaut Society, which has over 10,000 members. He is a much-sought-after speaker and regularly visits America and many other countries lecturing. But the development that should cause all Bible-believing Christians to take notice and be concerned is the construction of his “Mysteries of the World” theme park, set amongst the beautiful Alps in Interlaken, Switzerland.

Mysteries of the World theme park

Erich von Däniken's $76 million (US) “Mysteries of the World” theme park has attracted 440,000 visitors in its phenomenally successful first year.

Many skeptics doubted the project would ever get off the ground, let alone be successful. Yet, at the end of May 2004 it attracted over 440,000 visitors in its first year, despite charging $40 per head entry fee. 4 The museum was estimated to have cost 60 million Euros (US $76 million), and future developments could exceed $150 million (US).

If you want more proof of how popular “all things alien” have become, consider some of the major sponsors of von Däniken’s museum: Coca Cola, Fujitsu/Siemens, and Sony. 5 Such large and prestigious businesses do not want to be associated with anything “flaky”, but they do know where to spend a buck to link their name with something popular. This stuff is big!

Why should Christians be grieved?

Von Däniken consciously rejected the traditional views of origins. On closer inspection, his writings have little to do with science or science fiction, but they squarely aim to undermine every long-held traditional belief, especially the Bible accounts. For example, he says that “the sons of God” in Genesis 6 are advanced aliens; and space beings destroyed the city of Sodom with nuclear weapons (Genesis 19:1–28).

Similarly, the story about the Hebrews under Egyptian slavery, recorded in the book of Exodus, was allegedly a human breeding experiment conducted by aliens, and man—in his ignorance—began to worship these beings. Däniken believes that the God/god(s) worshipped in the Bible and other religions drove a flying saucer, supposedly witnessed by Ezekiel during his vision in Ezekiel 1:1–28. Don’t laugh! This “Ezekiel’s wheel” interpretation is one of the most widely held views around today.

I am distraught at the enormous amounts of money that von Däniken was able to raise to fund a mammoth park project that discredits the God of the Bible with nonsense. The fact that major corporations are involved—whose products and advertising influence millions of people—demonstrates that such ideas have become mainstream. Von Däniken’s museum even has special children’s exhibits and programs to seduce young minds to “the way of the force” and to steer them even further away from the Bible’s true account of the Creator who became our Savior.

This worrisome transformation of “fantasy into fact” has occurred while we blindly assumed these “way out” ideas would fade away. I ask you to take action. There are all sorts of steps we can take to be informed and make a stand.


Gary Bates is the head of Ministry Development for CMI–Australia. Due to the ever-increasing amount of inquiries about UFOs and extraterrestrial life, he extensively researched the UFO phenomenon. His findings will form the basis of a landmark book called Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection due out in early 2005 [now available here]. His best-selling DVD, UFOs, Aliens and the Bible can be ordered securely online here.

References and notes

  1. Welcome to the world of mysteries of Erich von Däniken, <www.daniken.com>, 2 November 2003. Return to text.
  2. The mysteries of life, New Scientist, 4 September 2004. Return to text.
  3. Quoted in, Cox, Billy, Author sticks by ET theories—Interview with Erich von Däniken, <www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc139.htm>, 2 November 2004. Return to text.
  4. Mystery Park Media Release, <www.mysterypark.ch/index.html?&page_id=106&node=140&level=1&l=1> , 2 November 2004. Return to text.
  5. Main Partners, <www.mysterypark.ch/index.html?&page_id=48&node=57&level=0&l=1>, 2 November 2004. Return to text.

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