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“But Mom, the Egyptians built the pyramids. Doesn’t everyone know that?” My nine-year-old daughter was reacting to a show I was watching as part of my research for this article. She heard the narrator mention that ancient astronaut theorists1 believe it was impossible for Egyptians to build the pyramids without extraterrestrial (ET) help. Confusion ensued, which led to a discussion with my daughter about conspiracies and truth. It’s not just children who are confused by things they watch and hear — adults are falling prey to false realities presented as fact, too. With news stories cropping up regarding potential coverups by military and government agencies about ETs,2 it makes sense that we examine the claims we encounter to determine their validity.
I recently wrote an article for the Christian Research Journal about the popular television show Ancient Aliens (History, 2019–).3 In it, I addressed the arguments that ETs appear in Scripture and were present at some of the major events chronicled in the Bible, such as the parting of the Red Sea and Moses’s experience on Mount Sinai. My research led me to realize that there are many claims made about ancient history and ETs by the show that may cause people to succumb to deceptive ideologies such as the New Age.4
This follow-up piece will consider the validity of assertions made on Ancient Aliens about pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza. Did ETs build the pyramids as a gateway to the universe for our ancestors? Do the pyramids and Sphinx transmit ET energy? The show and its experts propose yes to both questions, but archeologists and historians do not agree. This article will also offer Christians some ideas on how to pull truth out from among the weeds.
EGYPTOLOGY AND THE PYRAMIDS
Standing at nearly 500 feet and weighing approximately 6.5 million tons, the Great Pyramid in Giza is the last remaining wonder of the Seven Wonders of the World. Because it is such a spectacle, it is the subject of many conspiracy theories, some of which are presented frequently on Ancient Aliens. Egyptologists say that the Great Pyramid and the other 100 or so ancient Egyptian pyramids were likely built by humans5 as tombs for Egyptian pharaohs and their relatives; however, ancient astronaut theorists featured on Ancient Aliens have other ideas about their origin and purpose.
First, Ancient Aliens suggests that there is a mathematical code in the Great Pyramid’s design — one evincing “technological sophistication far in excess of anything that we have today,” according to David Wilcock.6 Much is made by Ancient Aliens about the measurements of the Great Pyramid and its alignment to the stars, particularly Orion’s Belt, and the equator7 — proving, at least in ancient astronaut theorists’ minds, that ETs were influential in its creation. David Childress, a frequent guest on Ancient Aliens, highlights the so-called “mathematical knowledge that is encoded into the Great Pyramid, the measurements that are used in it.”8 For example, the Great Pyramid’s alignment with true north is within 3/60th of a degree, which is, apparently, “a more accurate alignment than any other structure on earth.”9 Giorgio Tsoukalos, who has been featured on more than 200 episodes of Ancient Aliens and is also co-executive director of the show, claims that the measurements of the Great Pyramid’s location and size must have been planned intentionally by ETs. He says, “When you consider the vast amount of information about the earth that’s encoded into the Great Pyramid, you can’t just dismiss all of this as pure coincidence.”10 But astrophysicist Cornelius de Jager noted it is simple to find connection in numbers if we look hard enough. De Jager deduced that there was nothing special about the measurements of the Great Pyramid, drawing his conclusions from an experiment involving a bicycle in which he found apparent connections between the bike’s measurements and gravitational pull and the velocity of light. The connections were, according to de Jager, mere coincidences, just as the connections pseudoscientific researchers claim to have found between the Great Pyramid and the Earth. “Coincidences occur,” de Jager said, “regularly in numerical experiments, as in daily life. Those who do not realize that such coincidences are not ‘rare’ often incorrectly use them to imply paranormal events. Most people greatly underestimate the enormous amount of possible combinations between numbers. And that has helped make it easy for many pseudoscientific misconceptions to arise and grow and gain public appeal.”11
Another theory from Ancient Aliens about the Great Pyramid and other pyramids throughout the world is that they are power plants that create energy and electromagnetic vibrations. These vibrations from the pyramid permit “transmission of people, objects, or consciousness from dimension to dimension.”12 Not only that, but according to ancient astronaut theorists, the Great Pyramid is a time machine, capable of defying the laws of physics.13 The show emphasizes that pharaohs were seen as Egyptian gods and were in contact with the “guardians of the sky.”14 One such example is Ramesses II. Ancient Aliens implies that Ramesses was a descendant of the god of the afterlife, Osiris15, and was part human, part god. Then the show draws the ultimate conclusion: Ramesses II was in fact an ET, as were the other pharaohs.16
The Great Pyramid has been thoroughly explored, but there is no proof to show that it is a device that provides access to another time or place. Instead, scientists and archeologists have found evidence of burial equipment and mummies in many of the pyramids. Although no body was found in the sarcophagus discovered in the King’s Chamber within the Great Pyramid, historians believe that it was due to looting, not because the body of the pharaoh was transported to another dimension.17 Further, bodies of other pharaohs have been found in places like the Valley of the Kings, indicating that the pharaohs were simply men who died as men, not gods or ETs.
THE GREAT SPHINX OF GIZA
Ancient Aliens has some theories about the Great Sphinx, which is located about half a mile from the main pyramid complex in Giza. The first theory is that it is a communication device used to talk with ETs.18 The giant monolith contains no inscriptions, but there is an epigraphic stele called the Dream Stele, which is between the front paws of the structure. It is said that Thutmose IV had a dream where the Sphinx spoke to him, promising him that he would one day be pharaoh, even though he was not in the line of succession. Ancient Aliens homes in on some text that says, “I have been here since the first time,” which to ancient astronaut theorists means that the Sphinx is older than Egyptologists say it is. The show offers this as evidence that ETs had a hand in its creation.19
The show also theorizes that the Sphinx contains the historical records of the so-called lost city of Atlantis. Proof is provided in the form of testimony from American clairvoyant Edgar Cayce. Cayce said that he had a direct connection with Ra, the Egyptian sun god. During one of his readings, Cayce said Ra told him that he had built the Great Pyramid. Cayce also had a dream that there was a Hall of Records containing the written history of Atlantis hidden in the right paw of the Sphinx.20
Egyptologists believe the Sphinx, a human-headed lion, was built around 2500 B.C. but admit they do not know why it was built. Its purpose may have been to honor the pharaoh Khafre, who was likely the subject of the human head present on the monolith.21 It is possible it once also had a lion’s head but that it was changed into a human head either due to weathering, destruction, or by order from the pharaoh himself. That could explain why the head is proportionately so much smaller than the body.22 Despite various archeological excavations, nothing has ever been found within the Sphinx’s paws.
SIFTING THROUGH WEEDS TO FIND TRUTH
“If we meekly accept the neat package of knowledge that the Egyptologists serve up to us,” author Erich von Däniken says, we would be making a mistake.23 In his books Chariot of the Gods (Berkley Books, 1999) and The Eyes of the Sphinx (Berkley Books, 1996), he frequently questions the reliability of specialists like archeologists and historians even though they often have a master’s degree or PhD in their field of study; instead, he insists that conspiracy theories trump formal educational expertise. Von Däniken’s voice matters in this context because he is considered by Ancient Aliens to be the godfather of ancient astronaut theory, though he did not invent the pseudoscientific hypothesis. He is a regular presence on the show and consistently makes claims that professionals like Egyptologists are intentionally keeping people in the dark as to the reality of ETs and ancient ruins.
Because of the popularity of the show, some archeologists are worried. Perhaps for good reason considering Twitter owner and founder of SpaceX Elon Musk’s 2020 tweet that said, “Aliens built the pyramids obv[iously].”24 Archeologist Sarah Kurnick is concerned about “people getting history wrong on purpose.”25 In a TED Talk posted in 2021, Kurnick explains the impact of pseudoarcheology and shows like Ancient Aliens. She laments that pseudoarcheology is often racist and xenophobic — that is, it displays prejudice by proposing that ancient people groups could not have built the structures they did without ET assistance. Ultimately, Kurnick warns viewers to remain skeptical and to understand that “you don’t need aliens to make archaeology interesting.”26 Although Ancient Aliens is aired on History, investigate what the show exhibits as fact. Just because the hosts are excited about what they are saying and seem to fully believe the ideas they are presenting, examine the evidence for yourself.
From a Christian perspective, we should be careful about the media we consume. This applies to everything we allow into our mind. Entertainment can be just that, but entertainment can also begin to change our worldview. Beware of the illusory truth effect — the more a person hears a theory presented as fact, the more likely they will begin to believe the theory is true (even if there isn’t anything to prove it). Instead, fill your mind with the life-saving Word of God. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32, NIV). Do not simply consume what the media presents as entertainment. Abide in God’s Word. Know the truth. Let it set you free.
Lindsey Medenwaldt is Director of Ministry Operations at Mama Bear Apologetics and serves as a consulting editor for the Christian Research Journal. She holds a Master’s in Apologetics and Ethics from Denver Seminary, a JD from St. Mary’s School of Law, and a Master’s in Public Administration from Midwestern State University.
Ancient astronaut theory suggests that ETs gave humanity advanced technology and knowledge. It is widely regarded as pseudoscience.
See Matt Stieb, “Ex-Intelligence Official Says Government Is Hiding Alien Technology from Congress,” New York Magazine’s Intelligencer, updated June 7, 2023, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2023/06/ex-intel-official-government-hiding-alien-tech.html.
Lindsey Medenwaldt, “Ancient Aliens and the Bible: What the Popular Television Series Says about Extraterrestrials in Scripture,” Christian Research Journal, updated March 20, 2023, https://www.equip.org/articles/ancient-aliens-and-the-bible-what-the-popular-television-series-says-about-extraterrestrials-in-scripture/.
As I noted in a previous article and podcast, belief in extraterrestrials and ufology often coincides with a New Age worldview and belief in things like karma, reincarnation, and vibrations. Lindsey Medenwaldt, “Corey Goode: Time-Traveling Secret Space Program Whistleblower,” Christian Research Journal 45, no. 1 (2022): 50–53; and Postmodern Realities Podcast, “Episode 287 Corey Goode: Time-Traveling Secret Space Program Whistleblower,” Christian Research Institute, May 11, 2022, https://www.equip.org/postmodern-realities/episode-287-corey-goode-time-traveling-secret-space-program-whistleblower/.
There is some debate as to who built the pyramids, slaves or free skilled workmen. See “How Were the Pyramids Built?,” Veritasium, November 5, 2014, YouTube, 6:30, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lotbZQ55SgU; Joe Carter and Mark Shiffman, “Maybe the Egyptian Pyramids Weren’t Built Union Workers After All,” First Things, March 3, 2011, https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2011/03/maybe-the-egyptian-pyramids-werent-built-by-union-workers-after-all.
“Ancient Aliens: Egyptian Mysteries Hide Proof of UFOs,” History, April 6, 2023, YouTube, 16:23, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-RixrDfeDQ.
“Ancient Aliens: Mysterious Force Field Generates Pyramid Portal (Season 5),” History, February 18, 2021, YouTube, 5:25, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gslI7cu1C4M; “Ancient Aliens: Great Pyramid’s Shocking Precision (Season 12),” History, December 7, 2019, YouTube, 3:39, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDgr4uvet-g.
David Childress, “Ancient Aliens: Great Pyramid’s Shocking Precision (Season 12), History, December 7, 2019, YouTube, 3:39, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDgr4uvet-g.
“Ancient Aliens: Great Pyramid’s Shocking Precision (Season 12),” History, December 7, 2019, YouTube, 3:39, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDgr4uvet-g. More measurements are offered by the show to illustrate the Great Pyramid’s perfect placement on the Earth.
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, “Ancient Aliens: Great Pyramid’s Shocking Precision (Season 12), History, December 7, 2019, YouTube, 3:39, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDgr4uvet-g.
Cornelius de Jager, “Adventures in Science and Cyclosophy,” Skeptical Inquirer 16 (Winter 1992), 172.
Patrick Flanagan, “Ancient Aliens: Mysterious Force Field Generates Pyramid Portal (Season 5),” History, February 18, 2021, YouTube, 5:25, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gslI7cu1C4M.
See “How Were the Pyramids Built?,” Veritasium, November 5, 2014, YouTube, 6:30, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lotbZQ55SgU and “The Mystery of the Pyramids’ Construction,” Real Engineering, October 27, 2017, YouTube, 7:04, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAqZ44C0j5k.
“Ancient Aliens: Emperors, Kings and Pharaohs (S6, E7),” The UnXplained Zone, April 4, 2023, YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRT0-FpTikg.
Although there are parallels between the ancient myth of Osiris and the Jesus narrative found in Scripture, Christians can remain confident that they are not one and the same. See Nick Meader, “Are the Osiris and Jesus Stories Really That Similar?” Medium, January 19, 2022, https://medium.com/interfaith-now/are-the-osiris-and-jesus-stories-really-that-similar-2d3a2af3a192. See also “Was Christianity Influenced by Ancient Pagan Mystery Religions?” Christian Research Institute, updated May 24, 2023, https://www.equip.org/bible_answers/was-christianity-influenced-by-ancient-pagan-mystery-religions/.
“The Egyptian Pyramid,” Smithsonian, accessed June 7, 2023, https://www.si.edu/spotlight/ancient-egypt/pyramid.
Ancient Aliens, “Mysteries of the Sphinx,” Season 9, episode 2, aired November 7, 2014 on History, https://play.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/season-9/episode-2.
Ancient Aliens, “Mysteries of the Sphinx,” https://play.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/season-9/episode-2.
Ancient Aliens, “Mysteries of the Sphinx,” https://play.history.com/shows/ancient-aliens/season-9/episode-2. Interestingly, David Wilcock, a frequent guest on Ancient Aliens, claims to be reincarnated from Cayce and says his dream voice is Ra. See Lindsey Medenwaldt, “Humanity’s Ascension: Assessing the History Channel’s New Age, Time Travel Guru David Wilcock,” Christian Research Journal 43, no. 3 (2021), https://www.equip.org/articles/humanitys-ascension-assessing-the-history-channels-new-age-time-travel-guru-david-wilcock/.
Evan Hadingham, “Uncovering Secrets of the Sphinx,” Smithsonian Magazine, February 2010, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/uncovering-secrets-of-the-sphinx-5053442/.
“Secrets: The Sphinx,” Smithsonian Channel, November 25, 2020, YouTube, 46:06, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTkbi28ocBY.
Erich von Däniken, Chariots of the Gods (New York: Berkley Books, 1999), 91.
Elon Musk, @elonmusk, Twitter, July 31, 2020, https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1289051795763769345. His tweet garnered almost 473,000 Likes and almost 60,000 Retweets. A later tweet from him on July 31, 2020, providing what he called “a sensible summary” from the BBC about the Egyptian pyramids (which debunked ET involvement), received only 15,800 Likes. Musk, Twitter, https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1289408490205614080. In other words, it seems that conspiracy theories are sexy and sell.
Sarah Kurnick, “’Aliens Built the Pyramids’ and Other Absurdities of Pseudo-Archaeology,” August 2020, TEDxMileHigh, https://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kurnick_aliens_built_the_pyramids_and_other_absurdities_of_pseudo_archaeology?language=en.
Kurnick, “’Aliens Built the Pyramids’ and Other Absurdities of Pseudo-Archeology,” https://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kurnick_aliens_built_the_pyramids_and_other_absurdities_of_pseudo_archaeology?language=en.