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dave talbott - one story, many myths


"Alien Sky" - Questioning the Myths in our Religions
by David Talbott

December 17, 2009
We had no doubt that the DVD "Symbols of an Alien Sky" would inspire controversy, and it has. But it’s been gratifying to receive letters and personal comments on religious or spiritual belief in relation to the message of the DVD. I include two such letters below, along with my own responses.

Letter from Colleen Thomas:

I have to say that I had to watch the DVD several times and in the end take careful notes because I could hardly believe that so many details were already familiar to me. The mythic themes were all too familiar in fact. As a student of the Bible this DVD was experienced like an earthquake of 10.0 on the Richter scale. That those mythic themes lead us to details of the cosmology observed by early man rather than fantastical miracles that only God could perform is rattling to ones foundations, that is why it took so many viewings to absorb. In the final analysis the information is gratifying intellectually.

Every person who is a student of the Bible needs to see this film! All of us deserve to know what it was that inspired worldwide myths that give us themes like Paradise, Dragon/Serpent/Devil, Jacobs ladder, David, Saturday/Sabbath, the Saturnalia/Christmas and so on.

For those of us who have accepted seemingly impossible tales in the Bible, in order to believe that every word in there was God's word, this film will cause a visceral reaction. You will either arrive at peace having fought tooth and nail to resist the implications, or you will have to bury this data in the deep recesses of your mind so as to protect your long held beliefs. Either way this affects you; you deserve to see the facts and allow yourself to react one way or the other. As for me, I allowed the facts to rock my foundations. As a result I feel more spiritually mature and connected to God than I ever have in the past.

As for the aesthetics and flow of the film, it was a delight to behold. I'm glad it was presented by a voice that engenders trust with a peaceable tone and was graphically represented in beautiful imagery. Had it been otherwise I may not have watched it again and again to arrive where I am now.

May I suggest you buy more than one DVD. We all know many others who will want to see it, but none of us will want to risk losing track of our own copy, it really is that important.

- Colleen Thomas
BSN, RN DPCS, Executive Administrator
Colleen, thank you for these inspiring comments.

Your personal experience can be a lesson for others. The archetypal myths and symbols arose long before the institutionalized religions active today. At their roots, the myths are not spiritual truth. They are not the word of God. And they are not fragments of nearly forgotten or unspeakable mystic wisdom, as so many have supposed. They are the explosive outpouring of human imagination in response to the most awe-inspiring and terrifying events in human history. Seen in this light, they are the key to a new understanding of the past and to a freedom from irrational beliefs. In the light of day, we can see that the ancient fears were spawned by nothing more than human interpretations of misunderstood cosmic events.

The deep mythic themes persisted across the millennia. Though the archetypal source was morally and spiritually neutral, the manner in which human beings interpreted and expressed the experiences, in fear and in collective violence, produced unimaginable suffering. In later millennia, as if to answer this oppressive force, visionaries arose to speak for something more, something deeper than mythology, magic, and superstition. Even in their use of myth, the "teachings of Buddha" transcended myth. The message of Jesus constituted a cultural shock, it was so remarkably free of myth. Still unknown to many people in the west, the teachings of the prophet Mohammed were guided by a spirit of wisdom, charity, and forgiveness. These were not mythic concepts — and this is the truth that will place myth in its proper perspective. Only a liberation of religious practices from institutionalized mythology can reconnect humanity at the level of universal spiritual awareness.

The greatest of the visionaries challenged codes and cultural conduct held in place by irrational acts of repetition and by the fear of the gods. Through internal vision, the wisest of men either set the myths aside or reinterpreted them to give them spiritual content. In this they helped to clear a space within human consciousness, giving room for the inner voice, for the sense of human equality and the kinship of life. Simply recognize myth for what it is and what remains within the great religions is the spark alive in every human being, the innate awareness that knows empathy and compassion, forgiveness, charity, and every virtue toward which the better portion of the religions always struggled, and from which the lesser sought to hide.

Colleen, though I've generally asked people to follow their own path of discovery, I do think your courage and insight should be acknowledged here.

David Talbott

Letter from Reverend Nicholas Sykes:

Let me say, first off the bat, that I serve as Rector of the Church of England in the Cayman Islands and am a Christian believer according to the Anglican manner of receiving the Faith. And yes, it could be said that in a sense I hold to a special "theory of everything"; but because of this I have a great latitude in examining the positions of honest thinkers and investigators in all fields of human endeavour.

David Talbott and Wal Thornhill, to speak of two out of many, seem to me to be the quintessential honest investigators, who will "open the horse's mouth and count the teeth", rather than be content only to cite science’s lauded and funded authorities on the matter. In "Symbols of an Alien Sky", a catastrophist understanding of our common past not only becomes illuminated by the mythical narratives of our ancestors from so many parts of the world, but suggests a specific planetary scenario that can be justified on electrical grounds – grounds that have already in many instances been verified by small-scale experiments in the physics or engineering laboratory.

"Symbols of an Alien Sky" is a divider, separating scientific persons that are committed to the true scientific spirit of "opening the horse’s mouth" from scientific persons that are committed to the consensus of the lauded and the funded.

"Symbols of an Alien Sky" is a divider, separating theologically learned individuals that are committed to honing and perfecting their belief-structure from theologically learned individuals that are unwilling to adapt their systems to the reality and the implications of this illumination of our mythical narratives.

"Symbols of an Alien Sky", however, is a uniter, because (whatever the thoughts may be of the current investigators) it provides the possibility of a better synthesis of theological and natural philosophy than has been achieved in the last 1000 years.

So "Symbols of an Alien Sky", the electric universe theory, planetary catastrophism and the illumination of mythical narratives make a great and exciting and essential contribution to human knowledge, culture, language, and religious structure. But, I will insist, if we make it a "Theory of Everything", it will not satisfy our ultimate quest.

- Reverend Nicholas J G Sykes
That last sentence in Reverend Sykes observation above is the heart of a message I hope all viewers will consider, both before and after watching the DVD. Neither the Electric Universe nor Symbols of an Alien Sky is a theory of everything. Neither offers a full and sufficient world view; neither informs us as to what it means to be human.

The historical reconstruction WILL explain the archetypal myths and symbols that defined the early cultures. But it cannot explain the innumerable local transformations of myth over time. It will not explain the diverse expressions of technical and literary skill, philosophical insight, and spiritual vision that transmuted the myths into a thousand analogies, both rational and irrational, constructive and destructive, guiding the evolution of local communities and cultures.

Consider as an example the emergence of the great religions. The awe-inspiring and terrifying events described in Alien Sky provoked a flowering of the archaic civilizations, including an explosion of monumental construction. On any reasonable chronology this occurred long before the appearance of any of today's major religions. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism are separated from the prehistoric events by AT LEAST a thousand years. In every instance the new religions reveal something more than the pure mythology that defined civilization in its infancy. And just as one can reconstruct things seen in the sky by working with the points of cross-cultural agreement, one can find in the shared spiritual content of the great religions the universal principles of a new vision. In their own terms, the two layers of human experience have almost nothing in common.

Not long ago, I remember a friend declaring, in effect (if not in these very words), “all religion is just a reification of the Saturn myth.” Perhaps the best antidote to this misperception is a very simple book by Jeffrey Moses, titled ONENESS. In it the author chronicles, in the words of the major religious scriptures, over 60 points of broad agreement — from the Golden Rule, to "judge not" and "give without thought of reward."

What stands out is a radical contrast to the content of the myth-making epoch. Of course overlap and confusion occurred! That's because every religion emerged within cultures wholly immersed in myth. From the mythic "age of the gods" onward, the stories that passed from generation to generation meant the "truth." Indeed, the momentum of myth within the religions held much of humanity captive for millennia, despite the fact that the myths themselves could never touch the deeper insights and principles shared by all of the religions.

In this sense, one might envision an alliance of sorts between proponents of the historical reconstruction and all who consciously honor the underlying spirit of a devotional practice, either within or outside a particular institution. The reconstruction enables us to say once and for all that the myths were not the word of God. The image of God as an angry man in the sky was a human projection in response to cosmic catastrophe. Acknowledge the obvious here, and a radically new vantage point emerges. To see myth as myth is to liberate oneself from the inertia of irrational, age-old beliefs that far outlasted any conscious memories of the celestial provocation itself.

What will remain, then, are the universal principles that require no myths for their validity, leaving sufficient internal space for human discernment and for deeper reconciliation. That potential is excluded when human beings cling desperately to the myths as if the meaning of life depends on them. In the same way we exclude that potential when we translate a hypothesis about the physical world or about human history into an all-encompassing "theory of everything."

David Talbott

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David Talbott
David Talbott is the founder of the Thunderbolts Project, a Comparative Mythologist and Executive Editor of the Thunderblogs.

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