Based on 16th-century accounts of the Spanish conquistadors being "greeted as gods" by the peoples of the New World, certain modern authors have expanded the concept beyond what is historically verifiable, spreading it to the genre of pseudoarchaeological literature and fringe theorists, such as writers on ancient astronauts or Atlantis, in some instances (such as Christian Identity) even acquiring quasi-religious or racialist (white supremacist) connotations.
It is claimed by some authors that white missionaries or "gods" visited America before Christopher Columbus. Authors usually quote from mythology and legends which discuss ancient gods such as Quetzalcoatl to conclude that the legends were actually based on Caucasians visiting those areas, and that the caucasians were really the gods.
Spanish chroniclers from the 16th century claimed that when the conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro first encountered the Incas they were greeted as gods, "Viracochas", because their lighter skin resembled their God Viracocha. This story was first reported by Pedro Cieza de León (1553) and later by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa. Similar accounts by Spanish chroniclers (e.g. Juan de Betanzos) describe Viracocha as a "White God", often with a beard.
Colonel A. Braghine in his 1940 book The Shadow of Atlantis claimed that the Carib people have reports and legends of a white bearded man who they called Tamu or Zune who had come from the East and taught the people agriculture, he later disappeared in an "easterly direction". Braghine also claimed Manco Cápac was a white bearded man. The Atlantis author Gerd von Hassler linked the "White gods" to the biblical flood.
The British writer Harold T. Wilkins took the concept of the white gods the furthest, writing that a vanished white race had occupied the whole of South America in ancient times. Wilkins also claimed that Quetzalcoatl was from Atlantis.
The occultist James H. Madole influenced by Aryanism and Hinduism wrote that the Aryan race was of great antiquity and had been worshipped worldwide by lower races as "white gods". Madole also wrote that the Aryans originated in the Garden of Eden located in North America.
Some Mormons believe that Quetzalcoatl, a figure described as white and bearded, who came from the sky and promised to return, was likely Jesus Christ. According to the scriptural account recorded in the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ visited and taught natives of the Americas following his resurrection, and regarded them as the "other sheep," he had referenced during his mortal ministry. The Book of Mormon also claims that Jesus Christ appeared to others, following his resurrection, even to the inhabitants on the "isles of the sea." This latter reference, may offer additional consideration of certain Polynesian accounts. With regard to the Mexican legend, LDS Church President John Taylor wrote:
- "The story of the life of the Mexican divinity, Quetzalcoatl, closely resembles that of the Savior; so closely, indeed, that we can come to no other conclusion than that Quetzalcoatl and Christ are the same being."
Some Ancient astronaut and UFO writers have claimed the "white gods" were actually extraterrestrials. Peter Kolosimo believed that the legends of Quetzalcoatl had a basis in fact. He claimed that the legends actually describe a race of white men who were born in spaceships and migrated to Atlantis; then, after Atlantis was destroyed, they moved to the Americas to be treated as "white gods" by the "primitive earth-dwellers".
- Magelssen, S. (2016). "White-Skinned Gods: Thor Heyerdahl, the Kon-Tiki Museum, and the Racial Theory of Polynesian Origins". TDR/The Drama Review, 60(1), 25–49.
- Myths of Pre-Columbian America – Donald A. MacKenzie – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- Thirty Thousand Gods Before Jehovah – Henry Binkley Stein – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- Colonial Spanish America: a documentary history, Kenneth R. Mills, Rowman & Littlefield, 1998, p. 39.
- Pre-Columbian America: Myths and Legends, Donald. A. Mackenzie, Senate, 1996, p.268-270
- Rupert Furneaux, Ancient Mysteries, Ballantine Books, 1987, p. 154
- The Shadow of Atlantis 1940 – A. Braghine – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- Braghine, The Shadow of Atlantis, p. 34
- Gerd Von Hassler, Lost Survivors of the Deluge, 1980 pp. 63 – 81 ISBN 0-451-08365-2
- Pierre Honoré, In quest of the white god: the mysterious heritage of South American civilization, Futura Publications (1962). In 2007, the book was reprinted as In Search of Quetzalcoatl: The Mysterious Heritage of American Civilization. The 2007 edition can be found online at google books.
- Jonathan Kirsch (1992-01-22). "BOOK REVIEW : Memoir Masquerades as History in 'Quest of Great White Gods' : IN QUEST OF THE GREAT WHITE GODS, Contact Between the Old and New World From the Dawn of History by Robert F. Marx with Jenifer G. Marx". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- Robert Marx, In quest of the great white gods: contact between the Old and New World from the dawn of history, Crown, 1992
- The Pan American, Volume 7, Famous Features Syndicate, 1946, p. 11 "Harold T. Wilkins Legend of a Fabulous Empire" discusses Wilkins belief about a "strange white race living in lost cities, amidst the crumbling ruins of once splendid palaces and temples in South America"
- Lost Cities of North & Central America – David Hatcher Childress – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- Mysteries of Ancient South America – Harold T. Wilkins – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
- Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity, 2003 p. 81
- The Skeptic: encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, "white god legends", Michael Shermer, ABC-CLIO, 2002, p. 578.
- Mills, 1998, p. 40.
- Wirth, Diane E. (2002), "Quetzalcoatl, the Maya maize god and Jesus Christ", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 11 (1): 4–15
- Taylor, John (1892) , An Examination into and an Elucidation of the Great Principle of the Mediation and Atonement of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Deseret News, p. 201
- Peter Kolosimo, Timeless Earth, 1977 pp. 153 – 154 ISBN 0-7221-5329-5