Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creationism, Hidden Codes, Reptilian UFOs, and the Texas School Standards

One of the major players in the recent and ongoing Texas educational standards saga is Don McLeroy, the outgoing Chair of the Texas State Board of Education. He endorses this book

Sowing Atheism: The National Academy of Sciences’ Sinister Scheme to Teach Our Children They’re Descended from Reptiles, by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr.

You can download the book here

McElroy endorses the book here

In this book, Johnson lays out his belief that Greek myth and art are intertwined with the Book of Genesis, and in fact, require (as stated in this article), Genesis in order to understand them. And that all of this is encoded in the sculptures of the Parthenon and other Greek Art, to the point that Johnson specifically contrasts The DaVinci Code (fictional) and The Bible Code (bogus) with his The Parthenon Code.

I'm not the only one to notice the obsession with reptiles (an evolutionary biologist doesn't see what's so bad about reptiles, see also several of the comments at Dispatches from the Culture Wars). This mention of reptiles and serpents again and again got me wondering if there was any tie here to Reptilian UFO beliefs, such as David Icke's ideas about shapeshifting lizard people who secretly rule the Earth. While Mr. Johnson has done interviews on paranormal radio shows including Coast to Coast AM (August 11, 2004), I see nothing in Mr. Johnson's writings to suggest he is interested in or supports UFO Reptilian beliefs.

This has not stopped Reptilian believers from embracing these ideas, however.

This isn't surprising. As Michael Barkun in his excellent A Culture of Conspiracy, or Christopher Partridge in his article "Alien demonology: the Christian roots of the malevolent extraterrestrial in UFO religions and abduction spiritualities" (available here), point out, even though the Reptilian has its roots in the weird fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, this figure has flowed through both more "occult" writings as well as some versions of Christian theology, with the obvious parallels to the Garden of Eden and the Serpent. Barkun calls this improvisational millennialism, a theme throughout his book that fringe ideas cross-pollinate and show up in the most unexpected places, including regular fact-fiction boundary transgressions, where ideas from fiction become evidence for conspiracy theories or even the theories themselves.

There is no direct tie between any of these beliefs. Alternative art history need not be tied in with religious or conspiracy or UFO beliefs (despite von Daniken). Creationism is a widely held belief, whereas belief in Reptilian aliens or demons is not. And as Barkun notes in his book, while David Icke does court some from the extreme right in his writings and presentations, his larger spiritual message would probably not be very well-received by many Creationist Christians. But by being outside the mainstream (either in general numbers or in terms of institutions), we can see how these ideas flow from one genre to the next, often in less than predictable ways.

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