Alan Alford Interview -
'When The Gods Came Down'
From The Daily Grail
Interview with: Alan Alford <>
Books: Gods of the New Millennium, The Phoenix Solution,
When the Gods Came Down

TDG: Hi Alan, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Before we talk some about your third book 'When the Gods Came Down' could you provide an overview, for those readers not familiar with you or your work, on how you came to be a professional author on alternative history?
AA: Certainly. At around the age of 20, I read one of Erich Von Daniken's books in which he suggested that the 'gods' who came down from Heaven to Earth in ancient mythology were astronauts from another planet. Being open-minded and having no particular religious convictions, I was fascinated by this possibility - especially because the 'gods' were often depicted in human-like form.
I was thus inspired to take an interest in history and religion - subjects which had bored me to death at school - and I began to realise that there were numerous anomalies in the human past which had been overlooked by modern scholars; for example, the origins of Homo sapiens, the origin of ancient civilisations and their amazing scientific knowledge; and above all the legends of the gods who came down to Earth, created mankind and granted it the gifts of civilisation. Von Daniken's theory seemed to supply a unique explanation for all of these anomalies.
Later, in 1989, I went to a conference in America and discovered the works of an American writer Zecharia Sitchin. Sitchin had taken the ancient astronaut theory further than Von Daniken and his thesis - written in a more scholarly style - totally captivated me. During the next few years, I became well acquainted with the Sitchin material and began to see how his thesis might be updated and improved in certain aspects. In addition I felt that Sitchin's work had been unfairly overlooked in the 'alternative history' boom which had hit the UK in the early 1990s and I was motivated to try and redress the balance and bring Sitchin's work to the attention of the UK public (the UK public had been starved of ancient astronaut books since the early 1980s).
In 1995, I began working in my spare time on a book entitled Gods of the New Millennium: Scientific Proof of Flesh and Blood Gods, which I self-published in 1996 (I had taken the view that the subject matter was far too sensitive for a mainstream publisher). But then, to my great surprise, I was approached by Hodder & Stoughton Publishers who made me an offer for the sales rights to Gods, along with an advance which would cover the research and writing of two further books. It was at this point that I decided to turn my back permanently on the chartered accountancy profession and become a full-time researcher and writer.
The rest, as they say, is history - or should that be 'alternative history'?! In 1998 Hodders published my sequel, specifically on ancient Egypt, entitled The Phoenix Solution: Secrets of a Lost Civilisation. It was in this book that I began to realise that the theory of the gods advanced in my first book was seriously flawed.
During the last two years, further research has convinced me that the 'gods' who came down from Heaven to Earth were definitely not ancient astronauts but meteorite-and-flood gods from an exploded planet (whether real or mythical). The results of this study are written up in my new book, published April 2000, entitled When The Gods Came Down: The Catastrophic Roots of Religion Revealed.
TDG: I have to say I enjoyed the book and I think in the future it will be seen to have made a contribution to advancing our knowledge of ourselves. There is no doubt that you are also quite original in your research. In looking at the fundamental approach of 'WTGCD' you have clearly separated science from mythology. Since, perhaps, 'Hamlet's Mill' to your own last work 'The Phoenix Solution' the approach has been to marry science and mythology together to demonstrate how advanced ancient civilisations were. In 'WTGCD' you see this as inappropriate. What value do you see in taking the science out of tackling the mythology of the ancients?
AA: The originality of my work began with The Phoenix Solution in which I suggested that the ancient Egyptian religion was an 'exploded planet cult', with the Sun being only a visible symbol for the invisible (by definition) exploded planet. This was - both literally and metaphorically - a groundbreaking development.
The problem with The Phoenix Solution was that I followed the time-honoured custom of mixing up mythology with science. Thus I fell into the trap of suggesting that if the ancient Egyptians had believed in exploded planets, then planets must have exploded and the ancients must have had a fantastic scientific capability - equivalent to 20th century technology - in order to derive this conclusion (incidentally I never suggested that the ancients had actually witnessed a planetary explosion).
This caused a problem because my revolutionary decoding of the ancient Egyptian religion (an extremely strong part of the book, especially in view of my subsequent work) was seen to be intertwined with an equally revolutionary theory of science - Dr Tom Van Flandern's 'exploded planets hypothesis'.
The problem here was not that Van Flandern's thesis was demonstrably wrong (far from it), but that his scientific thesis was - and still is - unproven. Many readers (prejudiced against the book which threatened to upset a whole lot of applecarts) used this 'dubious science' as an excuse to treat the whole book with disdain.
Nevertheless, the mixture of science and mythology which appeared in The Phoenix Solution has served a useful purpose in highlighting a very real problem faced by all ancient wisdom researchers, namely how should one judge the level of ancient science when modern scientific knowledge of the Earth and the solar system is in a constant state of flux? In other words, today's scientific knowledge will not be the same as tomorrow's scientific knowledge, so how can we possibly stand in judgement of the ancient science?
There is, of course, a much wider problem here, namely a tendency for researchers to impose modern preconceptions on ancient art, architecture and literature. A classic example is the Von Danikenite tendency to interpret flying gods as pilots of aeronautical vehicles, and to interpret gods creating men and women 'in their own image' as astronaut-scientists using the technology of genetic engineering (I know the problem well having fallen into the same trap myself).
Mainstream scholars are also guilty of making similar mistakes. Early Egyptologists such as J.H. Breasted and E.A. Wallis Budge imposed their modern Judaeo-Christian beliefs upon Egyptian Pyramid Texts dating from the era 2350 BC. Similarly, scholars from the 19th and early 20th centuries overlooked clear references to falling meteorites in ancient texts because they were uncomfortable with the concept of rocks falling out of the sky (one has only to think of the famous comment ascribed to Thomas Jefferson: "I would sooner believe that two Yankee professors lied, than that stones fell from the sky".
Today, 21st century scholars are making the same mistakes all over again. The eminent astrophysicist Victor Clube, for example, has great difficulties with my proposal that 'God' was an exploded planet, but he is more than happy to suggest that 'God' was an exploding comet. This is because an exploding comet falls within the bounds of the science acceptable to Clube, whereas an exploding planet does not (at least not at the present time).
What is important, however, in the study of ancient mythology is not the current state of scientific knowledge - be it aeronautics, genetics or astrophysics - but rather the religious beliefs which were expressed by the ancients themselves. It is time, I suggest, that we listened to the ancients rather than listening to ourselves.
It is for precisely this reason that I have adopted the approach in When The Gods Came Down of taking modern science out of the equation as far as possible. To this end, I have avoided making any claim that planets really did explode and that the ancients knew all about it, and have instead explained how the ancients might have derived their exploded planet hypothesis via a perfectly logical and intuitive cognitive process - based on their experiences with meteorites - regardless of whether a planet did or did not explode in actuality.
The value of taking this approach is that I can (and do) delve into all aspects of ancient and modern religious beliefs without falling foul of the hurdles erected by the modern astronomical consensus. Consequently, the 'exploded planet cult' theory which I presented in 'The Phoenix Solution' can now be recognised for what it is - a revolutionary breakthrough which opens up an entirely new vista on the origins of both ancient and modern religion.
TDG: You suggest that these prehistoric catastrophes need NOT have been observed first hand but could well have been deduced much later by the ancients and then embellished into sophisticated, imaginative metaphysical constructs of birth, death and rebirth of the soul. Can you explain the process here of how you move from unobserved events to their later incorporation into a metaphysical belief system?
AA: Certainly. This is all explained in the book, but I will attempt to summarise it for you. Basically, Homo sapiens has experienced numerous catastrophic events during his tenure on the Earth. These events probably do not include an exploding planet (which according to Van Flandern's theory would have happened millions of years ago, before the appearance of Homo sapiens), but they would certainly have included experiences of supernova, comets, fireballs in the sky and meteorites falling to the Earth.
To me it seems eminently plausible that celestial events such as these were the catalysts which caused man to contemplate his place in the universe and his origins upon the Earth. Meteorites, I suggest, were particularly important because they were the only objects which fell physically to Earth from the heavens. This would inevitably have caused meteorites to be closely scrutinised by the ancients.
The question which must have naturally occurred to the ancients is "how can such heavy objects fall out of the sky?" The answer - we know from mythology - was the idea of a battle of the gods and the destruction/disintegration of their heavenly bodies (referred to in the texts metaphorically as 'mountains'). Hence meteorites were known as 'the efflux' of God or 'the flesh of the gods'.
The belief that meteorites came from an exploded planet seems an entirely reasonable conclusion for the ancients to come to. After all, meteorites are composed of minerals not dissimilar to those found in the Earth (which is a planet).
The most crucial step in the ancient thinking was to assume that the exploded planet (the Planet of Heaven) was a mirror image of the Earth, i.e. it was a living, thriving planet which contained all the seeds of life.
It is clear from the ancient myths that the ancients did not claim to have witnessed the planet exploding, because they asserted that the explosion led directly to the creation of mankind in the image of the gods. QED no man (in the conventional sense of the word) could have been around to witness the explosion.
Now, according to ancient metaphysics, a planet was a living organism (compare the modern Gaia theory) which was composed of a body and a soul. Therefore the death of the planetary body was not the end of the story, but simply released the soul of the exploded planet into a metaphysical existence.
Initially the soul of God fell to Earth along with his physical dismembered body (compare Genesis 1 'the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters'). But a key feature of ancient Egyptian and Sumerian religion is the idea that the fallen God then resurrected himself to the heavens metaphysically, to the place where he had previously been. The resurrected planetary soul - invisible, supernatural and metaphysical - was known as 'God' or 'Heaven' (the two terms meant one-and-the-same thing).
This death and resurrection of God was the founding archetype for the human belief in life after death. Put simply, ancient man believed that he too had a soul which could leave his body behind and ascend to Heaven. Crucially, many ancient pagan peoples believed that their souls belonged on the Planet of Heaven, and the Egyptians actually believed that man had a body-double on the Planet of Heaven into which he could reincarnate. Such beliefs were driven by the belief that man had once lived on the heavenly planet - prior to its explosion.
From this brief summary, it can be seen that the ancients were indeed able to construct a complex and imaginative metaphysical belief system based on an unobserved 'First Time' event. It must be appreciated, however, that their beliefs were inspired by their very real first-hand experiences of catastrophic events, in particular the fall of meteorites to the Earth. As for the meteorite, it must be emphasised that it can be the key to this complex metaphysical system because the ancients did not see it as we do today. To them the meteorite was not a dead lump of rock but a fragment of a once living planet. This makes a world of difference.
As for the enigmatic depictions of the gods in human-like form, these were not ancient astronauts but simply personifications of the celestial powers.
TDG: Just as a supplementary. What you are suggesting is attractive because it takes the human ego out of the equation and suggests that ancient man was sophisticated enough to know that events of enormous significance occurred around him but had nothing to do with him. However, it seems we don't perceive the past in this way. Ancient man is generally perceived as being egocentric, believing that events in his environment are wholly related to him. Why would cataclysmic events not be perceived of as a threat to them? Are you giving ancient man too much credit for his mental abilities in metaphysics over his scientific thinking?
AA: I am not sure that I am really taking the human ego out of the equation. After all, the exploded planet cults of the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians were deemed important because mankind itself was held to be the outcome of the catastrophic seeding of the Earth.
The important point perhaps, is that at some point in the past ancient man had the wisdom to see that contemporary celestial events were of secondary importance to a 'Big Bang' which occurred at the beginning of time. This is not at all dissimilar from our modern scientific perspective on the universe. (Note, however, that the imagined 'Big Bang' of the ancients was a 'little, local bang' in comparison to the imagined 'Big Bang' of modern astrophysics.)
Another important point to appreciate is that ancient man regarded the catastrophic acts of his Gods as both creative and destructive simultaneously. Thus the original act of creation was said to have destroyed life in Heaven but in the process created new life on Earth.
As regards contemporary catastrophic events, these would of course have been a threat to the established institutions of ancient man, both economically and psychologically.
TDG: Just to bridge the last two questions, what perceptions do you have on the scientific thinking and capabilities of the ancients?
AA: There is no doubt that the ancients were far more advanced scientifically than modern scholars would generally admit - although the modern picture of the ancients does seem to be changing rapidly. My impression is that the ancients did their 'science' using very different methods from those generally used today. I would suggest in particular that the ancients placed greater store in intuitive mental processes, allied in all likelihood with various metaphysical methods of data capture.
At the end of the day, we should not be dogmatic about whether the ancients were more or less advanced than ourselves. In some areas they might have been more advanced and in other areas less advanced. We must always remember that there is no law which says that the ancients had to be right about everything. And this is why we must treat their 'knowledge' of exploded planets with all due caution.
TDG: You assert that the ancients saw meteorites as the 'seed of mankind' and you present this idea quite strongly but there is no follow through on how they thought mankind might have been seeded by meteorites. What is the follow through here? Did the ancients see a logical, progression from meteoritic impacts to the creation of man?
AA There was indeed a logical progression from meteoric impacts to the creation of man, in the minds of the ancients, although their reasoning might be seen by some as rather simplistic.
It worked like this. The ancients believed that in days of yore, before mankind had appeared on the Earth, there had been a 'sacred marriage' of the gods. The idea is more complex than I shall relate here, but to keep things simple let's just say that the female half of the equation was Mother Earth, the Virgin, whilst the male half of the equation was Father Heaven, the Seed. It was the fall of Father Heaven to Mother Earth which caused the seed to enter the womb of Mother Earth and impregnate her with the beginnings of life. In due course this life emerged from the womb of the Earth to appear upon the surface of our planet in various forms which included that of mankind itself.
No doubt this belief system was inspired by the fact that meteorites did indeed penetrate the surface of the Earth when they fell (meteorites will commonly penetrate more than a metre deep into the ground).
As to why meteorites should be seen as seeds of life, this would have flowed from the belief that they came from a living planet (see earlier answer).
On a speculative note, one wonders whether the ancients might have studied meteorites and found evidence therein for water (compare the recent discoveries of water in the Monahans and Zag meteorites...) or even of micro-organisms...
TDG: You suggest that this cataclysmic knowledge existed in the early mystery schools but that it was guarded closely and available only to most senior initiates. It makes sense (your claim) that Christian-biased Victorian scholars would not want to release such knowledge because of the possible consequences but it makes less sense to me why early societies would control such information so strongly. Can you shed some light on why meteoric origins for man would have required such secrecy in early society and indeed through history and do you think this knowledge has been passed down to today?
AA You are referring to tablets such as the Assyrian legend of 'Ulligarra and Zalgarra' (probably 8th century BC), which contains a column of 'secret writing' and whose legible portion ends with the words "Let the wise teach the mystery to the wise." (see chapter 1 of When The Gods Came Down)
I think that we are probably dealing here with a classic case of trade secrets. In every trade and craft, the practitioners have always guarded their secrets carefully in order to protect their livelihood. And make no mistake, the business of religion was an extremely lucrative one, especially after the priests promoted the idea of the death and rebirth of the Sun-god which necessitated offerings to be made at the temples on a daily basis.
Knowledge is power, and what made religious knowledge all the more powerful in ancient times was the fact that kingships were legitimised by it. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that this religious knowledge was supposedly the key to accessing the afterlife - for it was said that no man could pass through the underworld and return to the heavenly Source unless he had understanding of the journey which he was about to undertake. If we accept the proposition that ancient priests and kings took this quest for the afterlife seriously, then it follows that the knowledge of human origins (via the exploded planet) would indeed have been closely safeguarded so that only an elite could have materialised successfully into the 'other world'.
It is impossible to say whether knowledge of these 'exploded planet cults' has survived to the 21st century, but there is plentiful evidence of an esoteric belief system flowing down through secret societies during the last two thousand years. Many of the themes picked up in my book are, for example, evident in certain Renaissance paintings, causing me to suspect that certain artists were initiated into exactly the same secrets which I am now sharing in my book.
TDG: Does your research indicate whether the catastrophic approach may be a universally occulted belief system? Thinking about commonalities world-wide in mythology - such as flood myths - I suspect your template could be successfully applied more widely. Does your research suggest a wider spread of the cataclysmic origins of man as a belief system - you did cite the Navajo for example?
AA: I am very aware of commonalities between the ancient Near East and other cultures of the ancient world, and I hope to explore these further in future books. I must be careful, however, not to jump to conclusions without a thorough study of the ancient culture under consideration. Having said that, I must say that the commonalities are not only wide ranging but also far more detailed than one might reasonably expect. I see trouble ahead...
TDG: If I could just get into a couple of specifics of the book and engage in a little polemic:
You make a controversial claim as to how the 'Genesis' knowledge was obscured in the bible. One of your illustrations of this is with Adam & Eve and how you suggest that Adam was in fact born of Eve, according to your mythological interpretation.
A second controversial claim is that the Jews occulted the real Genesis story replacing it with what you call the 'Beta Cosmogony' where you suggest that 'aleph' has been omitted in the first line of Genesis changing the interpretation fundamentally from 'In the beginning..' to 'When the father-of-beginning created the gods (elohim) of Heaven-and-Earth...'
There are actually a lot of issues when you look more finely at the research. Occam's razor springs to mind since if the original version did have Adam being born of Eve the Jews are more likely to change this because they are a patrilineal culture therefore it would not be culturally or theologically acceptable for the Jews to have Eve as the original being. So maybe chauvinism has more to do with it than anything. With the 'Beta' Cosmogony there is the mystery of elohim being plural but only one God appearing in translation. If this was being occulted though it looks a pretty botched job. Shouldn't we put that down to stupidity over malice?
Perhaps the bigger picture here though is what as seen as the fundamental problem of 'alternative history' books which is the presentation of speculation as proof and then to use that 'proof' for logical progression of an argument. Where do you see the strengths in the evidence you present since there are areas where it is speculation but which you use as a logical base? At a wider level, what sort level of proof do you think we should expect to be able to attain when looking at the ancient mysteries?
AA: I would not necessarily agree that all 'alternative history' books suffer from the problem you mention. But I do think it applies particularly when the author is advancing 'a grand scheme'. A classic case, which perhaps set the trend, was Donnelly's Atlantis: The Antediluvian World.
In my opinion, When The Gods Came Down is the first such grand scheme to avoid falling into the trap of building conclusions based upon tentative speculations or assumptions. If you disagree, please cite the offending passages.
The approach taken in the book is to begin with the world's oldest known religious texts (i.e. those of ancient Egypt and Sumer) and to establish that the religions of the ancient Near East were 'exploded planet cults'. Here, the chapters in the book should be sufficient to convince most people, though they are in actuality only the tip of an iceberg of research which I have at my disposal. In my opinion the burden of proof is more than adequately discharged and I find it difficult to see what kind of argumentation can possibly be advanced against it (should we return to the ideas that the gods who came down were ancient astronauts or mere weather-gods from the troposphere? Should we prefer to think that the ancient Egyptian kings sought to spend their afterlife upon a comet?!).
From this base, which does not rest on any unproven assumptions or speculations, I move forwards in time to study the religions of Judaism and Christianity respectively. Here, I am conscious of the fact that no-one has ever before studied these Biblical legends from the ancient perspective of 'exploded planet cults'. On the contrary, scholars have always studied the Bible from a modern-day Biblocentric perspective and it is therefore not surprising that they have made such little headway in understanding myths such as the creation of mankind, the Garden of Eden, the Deluge and the Exodus.
Your reference to my 'Genesis' theories as 'controversial' is interesting. As I see it, my theories may indeed be 'controversial' when viewed from a Biblocentric perspective, but when viewed in the context of the pagan exploded planet cults - in which God created the other gods by physical emanation from his own body - it is actually counter-intuitive to suppose that my interpretation is wrong.
As you point out, chauvinism would have been a factor in the decision to have Eve come out of Adam rather than Adam (the first man) out of Eve (Mother Earth), but I can't help thinking that this goes deeper - to the need to eclipse the Earth-Goddess who was a powerful rival to the Sky-God Yahweh during the 1st millennium BC.
Your point concerning the term 'Elohim' raises an interesting issue. It is well known that the word Elohim is plural and many of us today have been conditioned to think that this plurality refers simply to the magnificence of God. On the other hand, the exploded planet 'emanation' hypothesis would suggest that God was once a single physical being (El) which disintegrated into a plurality of gods (elohim). And from a metaphysical perspective the singular resurrected God would have been a collective entity, made up of a myriad of plural 'gods' (a.k.a. 'angels' - a parallel to the Mesopotamian 'Igigi').
Was the occultation of Genesis 1 'a botched job'? From a modern perspective certainly not, for no-one until now has seriously questioned it. However, the only people who could truly say whether it was 'a botched job' are the common Israelites at whom the occultation was aimed three thousand years ago. Did they see straight through the change or did they just go along with it? We will, of course, never know the answer.
To return to your final question, there are indeed some 'speculations' in my book - e.g. the suggestion that Jesus Christ of two thousand years ago was an actor in an ancient Passion play - but these 'speculations' are outcomes of the study and are not themselves used for the purpose of building an argument toward any further conclusion.
The strength of my study is that it goes back to the earliest pre-Biblical texts and uses one set of texts (those of ancient Sumer) as a 'control study' to validate the other set (those of ancient Egypt). The resulting decoding of these early religions is not only well-documented but also passes the common sense test. From there on, the book uses a very straightforward pagan template to shed light on numerous Biblical passages which otherwise remain quite obscure and mysterious. The conclusion that Judaeo-Christian religion is an occulted form of the pagan 'exploded planet cults' also passes the common sense test for it stands to reason that Judaeo-Christian religion did not develop in isolation from what went before. Finally, I would say that a further strength of my study is that it offers an entirely plausible explanation as to why the Israelite priests would have occulted the ex-physicality of their God (i.e. to put their common people off the trail of the quest for the afterlife in Heaven).
The question of proof is a difficult one where it comes to interpretation of mythological material. In my book I cite some criteria which were suggested by the Egyptologist Lanny Bell in 1997:
"The success of a hypothesis must be measured by its internal consistency, its experiential probability, and its ability to account for all the relevant data and to identify and integrate related phenomena."
At the end of the day, proof exists very much in the eye of the beholder. As far as this beholder is concerned, I cannot prove what happened in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, but I do consider that I have proven what ancient religions were all about, namely the imagined death and resurrection of a planet at the mythical beginning of time.
I do recognise, however, that this is a subjective 'proof' and will be vehemently denied by those who do not have the ears to hear it. At the end of the day everyone is entitled to their opinion and I will be intrigued to see whether anyone can pick any holes in my argumentation or come up with a more common sense explanation of the day when the gods came down from Heaven to Earth.
TDG: Another interesting issue is your interpretation of the pyramid, particularly at Giza, as a 'bond heaven-earth'. If you now see that as the symbolic value of the pyramid(s), do you have any thoughts on the implications of this for the internal structures of the pyramids and their function; or whether their location is important; and also whether the Sphinx has a role in this interpretation?
AA: I would prefer not to comment further on this at the present time.
TDG: Alan, this is a tricky area but is something that needs to be explored: WTGCD backtracks to say the least from your last work 'The Phoenix Solution' and 'Gods of the New Millennium' - about which you are positively dismissive. I suppose my first reaction would be to ask you how you have come to produce what could be seen, essentially, as a third interpretation of the same material?
AA: Three interpretations? Good grief no! There are essentially two interpretations here, the first being that the gods who came down from Heaven to Earth were ancient astronauts (as suggested in my first book), and the second being that the gods who came down from Heaven to Earth were meteorite-and-flood gods from an exploded planet.
I am now absolutely certain that large parts of Gods of the New Millennium are wrong, although I must emphasise that I am not rejecting the ancient astronaut theory per se. What I am trying to do is to urge some discrimination between the evidence which does support the ancient astronaut theory and the evidence which does not. And I am suggesting that the legends of the gods coming down from Heaven to Earth fall into the latter category. But this does not rule out the possibility that some kind of extraterrestrial intervention did occur, perhaps far back in the human past in a dark age from which no textual record has survived.
The differences between the The Phoenix Solution and When The Gods Came Down are much more subtle. Basically, When The Gods Came Down follows on from The Phoenix Solution in asserting that ancient religions were 'exploded planet cults' and it develops this thesis substantially. But there was a perceived problem with The Phoenix Solution which needed to be addressed with some urgency, namely the problem of confusing mythology with science - as discussed earlier.
My position is this. The Phoenix Solution is a complex book which contains several provocative and controversial theses, none of which is demonstrably wrong. I admit that some of the suggestions in Phoenix are speculative, but at the same time there are grounds which justify the making of those speculations - e.g. the remarkable correspondences between the positions of Egyptian cities along the Nile and the positions of certain ex-planets in the solar system according to Dr Tom Van Flandern's 'exploded planets hypothesis' (see the update on this matter on my website). I have not abandoned these speculations, but simply laid them to one side pending the data which will prove Van Flandern's hypothesis right or wrong (and new data should allow us to make a call on this within the next 10 years). If Van Flandern is proved right, that will be the time to return to the speculations which I have made in 'The Phoenix Solution' and ask with all due seriousness whether ancient beings had a far-reaching scientific knowledge of our solar system.
TDG: I am inclined to think that whether you are right or not (about religions being exploded planet cults) will actually be completely obscured by arguments over your credibility as a researcher because of such a volte face. How do you intend to overcome this?
AA: I am certain that such arguments will indeed be advanced, but really one wonders whether question marks over credibility should be assigned to those researchers who have not changed their mind on their pet theory, even after many years of follow-up study. Unfortunately all authors face peer pressures and financial pressures not to revise their theories and there are very few authors who have the courage to abandon their theories especially when they have invested considerable time and ego in defending them. I was lucky perhaps in that (a) I had published only one book on the ancient astronaut theory (which was largely ignored by the media); (b) I still had an open mind - evidently; and (c) I was not deterred from changing my mind by the prospect of financial loss.
As I see it, opinion is already dividing into two camps. In the one camp are the 'ancient astronaut' fanatics and Sitchin fundamentalists who, because of their preconceptions, are vehemently opposed to my new point of view. In the other camp are those people who have not made up their minds, who are now approaching me in increasing numbers and complimenting me on having had the nous and honesty to have deconstructed my previous way of thinking. In answer to your question, I have no particular strategy for defending my right to change my mind. The way I see it is that I will be attacked almost exclusively by those people whose belief systems are challenged by my revolutionary ideas. These people will inevitably be arguing from a position of preconception and engaging almost exclusively in 'ad hominem' attack rather than discussing the real issues. Frankly, I feel that these days we all recognise 'ad hominem' when we see it and we lend no credence to it. Discriminating folk will be able to see straight through such nonsense and judge the issues for themselves based on the evidence of what the ancients themselves said about their gods of Heaven and Earth.
TDG: Do you think you should withdraw 'Gods of the New Millenium' from sale if you see it as blatantly wrong?
AA: Many of the theories and speculations in GOTNM (especially from chapter 6 on) cause me no little embarrassment today and in many ways I would feel happier if the book was withdrawn from sale.
I indeed approached my publishers with such a request in late 1999 but unfortunately they were not very keen on the idea and they suggested instead that I write a New Foreword to GOTNM setting out my concerns.
The situation is unusual and there are certain legalities which cannot be avoided. For example, Hodder & Stoughton Publishers have a legally binding agreement with me (from 1997) by which they can publish and distribute the book, and clearly they have every right to continue making a return on their investment.
I therefore acceded to their suggestion and wrote a new foreword to GOTNM, albeit in a way which might very well kill sales of that book stone dead.
To have withdrawn the book totally from sale (or to have rewritten some of the chapters) would also have invited criticism, since it would have appeared as if I was attempting to 'cover up' my mistakes. Arguably it is better to preserve one's past mistakes and it strikes me that one of the values of GOTNM, ironically, is that it exposes some of the flaws in the 'ancient astronaut' theory by taking that theory to its utmost logical limits.
The issue is further complicated by the fact that not everything I wrote in GOTNM is wrong. The book contains, for example, a very perceptive discussion of the anomalies in the Darwinian explanation of human origins - an issue which has a major bearing on the ancient astronauts theory. It would be a great shame if this 'baby' was thrown out with the 'bathwater'.
Finally, I recognise that many people are attracted to the study of mythology by the Von Daniken theory of 'flesh and blood gods' (just as I was back in 1980) and it may be no bad thing to capture some of these truthseekers and take them step by step through my own 'enlightenment' as to the meaning of the ancient myths.
As I write in the new foreword to GOTNM:
"I hope that readers will be intrigued by the legends of the gods recited in this book, and will thus continue their research into this ultimate Mystery of mysteries. As I see it, my later U-turn concerning the gods, and the reasons for my U-turn, are an important part of the story which must unfold. Intriguingly, we begin our quest in this book with a congenial idea, namely that the gods were ancient astronauts1, and we proceed in later books towards a revelation which will overturn both this idea and all of our other preconceptions. In so doing, we will tread a path which was once trod by all initiates in the great Mystery traditions of the ancient world."
TDG: You have been quite openly critical of the work of other authors in the past (e.g. Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval). Why did you take it upon yourself to criticise their work and will you continue to express an opinion on the work of others?
AA: In my opinion, all researchers face a common enemy in the form of 'dogmatism'. A dogma, once formed, has the tendency to obscure all other paths forward to the truth, whatever that truth might be. It is therefore absolutely vital that the theories of Bauval, Gilbert, Hancock and others are subjected to all due criticism especially in areas where they fail to pass 'the common sense test'.
Perhaps your question should be turned around. Perhaps we should be asking: "why are my criticisms of Bauval, Gilbert and Hancock the exception and not the norm"? It seems to me that the relationships between the various researchers in the 'alternative' camp are far too cosy and that there is a culture whereby one must promote one's own ideas but must never criticise the ideas of others. To me, this is an unhealthy culture. It makes one wonder what these researchers are afraid of. Mutual self-destruction perhaps?
As far as my own work goes, I positively welcome criticism - as can be seen from the FAQs section of my website. I would like nothing better than for someone to audit the citations and reasoning in When The Gods Came Down and try to prove my theory wrong. As it is written in the Book of Proverbs, "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another". This is surely the ideal way for a researcher to progress - to improve himself or herself by fighting for his/her ideas in debate with his/her intellectual equals and, furthermore, having the courage to admit defeat or amend the theory if the argument is ultimately lost.
So yes I will indeed continue to express an opinion on the work of others - not in a negative way but as a service to them and to their readers. If this makes me unpopular with the 'alternative' crowd - as has proven to be the case so far - then so be it.
TDG: Finally Alan, you have suggested that you might slow down your output now. What are your future research and publication plans?
AA: Yes, I would like to get a life back. The last few years have seen me working virtually non-stop, six days a week, 12 hours a day, as revelation followed revelation and it became clear to me that I was onto something of monumental importance.
My plans now are to peel back some further layers of the mysteries and expand the scope of my studies to various other cultures of the ancient world. Initially, my plan is to write a book which will nail once and for all the mystery of Plato's 'Atlantis'. If I can find a publisher, that book should appear in 2001.
Beyond that I have maybe a dozen research projects which are already well in hand - all related to the idea of 'exploded planet cults' - and I need to invest a good ten years or so in bringing these various projects to fruition. Rest assured that there is plenty more to be said about exploded planets and I will continue to keep an open mind as I proceed with my investigations. In ten years' time we should have a pretty good idea whether this religion was a worldwide phenomenon. There are some interesting times ahead...
(Editor's Note: This interview with Alan Alford was prepared and conducted by Brian Holmes. My sincere thanks to him for his hard work, as well as a big thanks to Alan for his time and intelligent answers. Additionally, Alan would like readers to know that his books are available from the Eridu website, where you can even pick up signed copies.)
(Note by Alan Alford: the full title of my new book is 'WHEN THE GODS CAME DOWN: THE CATASTROPHIC ROOTS OF RELIGION REVEALED'. It was published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton in April 2000 and is currently on sale in UK bookshops but not in bookshops elsewhere. Overseas customers may purchase the book by mail order via the 'Eridu Books' section of my Official Website Signed copies are available at no extra charge.)


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