I think it was Chesterton who said something like, when people stop believing in God the problem becomes not that they believe nothing … but that they’ll believe anything. Enter “Ancient Aliens” on the History Channel.

The History Channel has fallen hard from the esteem it held when they ran countless documentaries about World War II and the rise and thankful fall of Nazism. Now, they put just about anything up on their schedule and any similarity between this programming and history is strictly accidental.

Case in point: “Ancient Aliens.” In this series we learn all kinds of things. Apparently human beings are nothing but some sixth-grade science project from PS 23 in the Horsehead Nebula and pyramids and other ancient structures are either the result of gravity defying hand-held ray guns or primitive man’s drawing from memory of the ancient astronaut’s space ship from which “myths” of angels and fiery chariots all originated.

I wish I was making this stuff up.

In one episode of this show, the “experts” show us an ancient Hindu temple, which is somewhat cone shaped, and then put a drawing of an Apollo spacecraft next to it, demonstrating obviously beyond a reasonable doubt that the Hindu temple was really a representation of an ancient space ship.

But the Apollo spacecraft, remarkable as it was, could only do about 25,000 miles an hour on its best day. The closest star system to earth is 75 million light years away. That means traveling at 186,000 miles per second for 75 years before reaching that destination. So I would imagine ancient aliens who would have to come from at least that far away, would have technology that would look nothing like mid-20th century manned space flight.

There is really nothing very scientific, let alone historic about the “Ancient Aliens” show. It is the inversion of the Church as enemy to science argument, instead presenting a nuanced, and I have to admit, rather creative model of pseudo-science as the enemy of science.

The Bible tells us about Pharaohs, Roman governors and ancient cities like Ur. Archeology, Egyptology and the study of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire give us barges full of primary sources backing up all those people, places and things. Contrary to the “eyewitness” accounts of individuals who claim they were whisked aboard a spaceship and violated by some big-headed, big-eyed creature from another planet, there is not a scintilla of scientific evidence that points to extra-terrestrials.

At this point I’m almost wishing for a History Channel return to its Titanic fetish with its seemingly innumerable Titanic specials covering every imaginable theory as to how and why, careful, spoiler alert here, the boat sinks.

The godfather of this alien pseudo-science, Dutch author Erich von Daniken, who made a fortune with his runaway bestseller “Chariots of the Gods?” made a guest appearance in the episode of “Ancient Aliens” I watched. He is most famous for claiming it was impossible for such a backward and ancient human civilization as Egypt to build anything as complex as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Unfortunately, multiple real science shows, like NOVA on PBS, blew that “theory” out of the sand years ago when they demonstrated how cutting limestone from a massive limestone quarry next to the Great Pyramids while using only the simple tools available to ancient Egyptian pyramid builders resulted in almost perfectly shaped blocks just like the ones that were employed for the structure of the ancient pyramids.  

In short, the pyramids are not evidence of extraterrestrial visitation, but a rather harsh and not so joyful example of what you can get done with a limitless supply of slaves and a lot of incentive at the end of a spear.

Seriously, and this is kind of serious, one true scientist who is not part of any episode of “Ancient Aliens” I have seen does play a revelatory role in the way science can be twisted to serve an agenda. Francis Crick is a Nobel Prize winning chemist who unlocked the secret of the double helix structure of DNA. As solid a scientific bona fide as you are ever going to get, on this planet at least.

Professor Crick is also a dyed in the wool atheist and that’s where he has a problem. His scientific mind informs him that no action takes place without an actor, whether it is a chemical reaction or a rock rolling down a hill.

But his absolute refusal to entertain the notion of a Prime Mover in the form of the Almighty has caused him to develop a “scientific” theory called Panspermia. Again, I don’t make this stuff up, but in essence, Nobel Prize winning Dr. Crick believes that the best explanation for life developing on Earth is from “seeding” done by beings from another planet.

“Crick posed that small grains containing DNA, or the building blocks of life, could be loaded on a brace of rockets and fired randomly in all directions. Crick estimated that a payload of one metric ton could contain 1017 micro-organisms organized in ten or a hundred separate samples. This would be the best, most cost effective strategy for seeding life on a compatible planet at some time in the future.”  

And people say atheists don’t have faith.