Friday, March 14, 2014

Evidence of an Ancient Global Civilization, pt6

Anyone who has actually read the book will notice that my overview of this particular chapter is particularly thorough - there's very little material that has been omitted. This is justified in part because of the sheer frequency of errors in it - the error rate is not far from one per paragraph, possibly even more than that. This will be the last running commentary on the text. I will wrap the review up in a separate post that gives a shorter overview of the problems facing this particular chapter.

Of the global culture, Keel says:
It probably reached its zenith before the Ice Age ten thousand years ago, then deteriorated in the wake of the geological calamities. That early culture mapped the whole planet, and fragments of those maps were handed down over the centuries until they reached Columbus. [1, p. 401]
This ascribes a weird knowledge to Columbus that we can be fairly certain he actually lacked. Columbus sailed westward to reach India, in the belief that the world was smaller than it in fact is. He was convinced, for the rest of his life, that he had, indeed, reached East Asia. Had he seen maps indicating there was a continent in the way, he would probably have picked a different course or made different claims about his accomplishments. Keel really loves him some conjecture, speculation and baseless assertion.
Of the global culture, Keel says:
The giants, who once tossed huge blocks of stone around and built the puzzling monoliths that still stand on every continent, gradually reverted to a fierce, uncivilized state, driven by the urgent requirements of survival. 
[1, p. 402] 
Here we have reached some kind of zenith of weirdness: all the baseless conjecture adds up to giants. Murdock should understand that authors who believe in the existence of giants are as credible as authors who believe in fairies. She was willing to ridicule believers in alien life ("X-philes"), now she uncritically accepts beliefs that are just as zany.
Regarding these “Maps of the Sea Kings” made famous by Charles Hapgood, Zecharia Sitchin adds: 
Indeed, by now a surprisingly large number of maps from pre-Columbian times have been found; some (as the Medicean map of 1351, the Pizingi map of 1367, and others) show Japan as a large island in the western Atlantic and, significantly, an island named “Brasil” midway to Japan. Others contain outlines of the Americas as well as of Antarctica—a continent whose features have been obscured by the ice covering it, suggesting that, incredibly, these maps were drawn based on data available when the icecap was gone—a state of affairs that existed right after the Deluge circa 11,000 B.C. and for a while thereafter.
 [1, p. 402]
Hy Brasil was an Irish myth - an island in the Atlantic that intermittently disappeared and reappeared. It is not South America/Brazil, nor do the similarities in names really signify anything, as Brazil was named a while after its discovery (for information on the name Brazil, see [2]),. Also, the Deluge now? When did Murdock start pandering to the interests of the Creation Institute?

In general, I recommend reading up on these ancient maps from a more reasonable source [3]. An important reason why the "ancient maps theorists" succeed at finding America and Antarctica in ancient maps is their method: they feel free to claim there is distortions, mistakes in scale, mistakes in orientation, mistakes in location, etc and thus permit themselves to correct pre-modern maps freely. This is of course a problem for their hypothesis - that an ancient advanced civilization accurately mapped the world. They have a simple yet so fantastically fanciful solution to it that anyone should realize the problem: the copies we have of their maps have gone through generations of copyists, who all have introduced errors. They do not keep to one map at a time either - they mix and match bits of one map and another (and there are any number of premodern maps full of imaginary islets, continents and land bridges), reorient and readjust bits from each until they get something that resembles the real world. Turns out you could take a map of any coastline, and using these kinds of transformations turn it into a map of any other coastline.
Evidence of Cataclysm
Throughout this demonstration of a global civilization has persisted a recurring theme, found in fact and in legend: cataclysm. The ruins scattered about the planet serve as evidence enough of a variety of catastrophes, such as flood, fire, earthquake, vulcanism, mountain-building, pole shifts, crustal displacement, and comet or meteor strikes. In fact, altogether these calamities have struck innumerable times throughout the history of the planet. During the Quaternary Period (2.5 million to 10,000 years ago), when man allegedly made his appearance, one-fourth of the land’s surface was purportedly under ice, which certainly would have destroyed nearly all traces of any number of advanced cultures. [1, p. 402]
Pole shifts (also known as Crustal Displacement, although both terms are somewhat ambiguous in that they can refer to a different set of real phenomena as well) is a catastrophy-theorist mainstay of the last century. It is not the same as geomagnetic reversal, a phenomenon whereby the magnetic poles interchange every million years or so, nor is it the same as plate tectonics. Geologists have pretty good evidence that magnetic reversals do occur, and these days we even measure continental movement with GPS. The phenomenon to which Murdock is referring is rather less scientifically established, and in fact essentially rejected. Hapgood and a few other theorists believed that as ice amassed on the polar caps, the increased weight destabilized Earth's axis. Instead of the entire Earth getting into a weird orbit due to the destabilized axis, the ice was pushed towards the equator by the rotation, bringing the crust with it, while other parts of the crust were pressed towards the poles. This theory has been entirely discredited, and Murdock should probably have learned not to trust discredited theories, at least not without remarkable evidence in their favour. Genuine plate tectonics happens at the staggering rates of meters per millennium. Sure, even with these rates, earthquakes and tsunamis occur, but the kind of worldwide cataclysm that Hapgood's theory would have indicated probably is pretty far from the truth.

The end of the paragraph - the part that I've italicized - is essentially true, but it is also an excuse for wild, unfettered speculation! The fact that little evidence remains does not make every claim about what went on before the glaciations true, something Murdock seems not to understand.
Quaternary brought tremendous upheavals, with enormous floods produced by the melting of the glaciers, such glaciers and floods carving the earth’s face like a clay sculpture and crushing life around the world. [...]
Berlitz relates the words of oceanographer Dr. Bruce Heezen regarding this tumultuous period:
Eleven thousand years ago the ocean level all around the world was perhaps three hundred feet lower than it is today. The eastern coastline of our United States, for instance, was some one hundred miles farther out in the Atlantic Ocean in that bygone era.
Then, suddenly, above eleven thousand years ago, the Ice Age was over . . . billions of gallons of ice and snow poured into the sea. The result was a dramatic, sudden, and terrifying rising of the sea level all around the  world—an inundation which we have verified by half a dozen different types of research available to us today.
The rise undoubtedly caused the flooding of many low-level seaside communities where primitive man had chosen to build his early towns and cities. [1, p. 402]
This is indeed very possible, but even when the surfaces rose the fastest - during meltwater pulses - it still was on an order of just a few cm per year. Meltwater pulse 1A is estimated at most 6.5 cm ( 2.5 inch) per year, during a 200 year span. That particular pulse may have lasted over a 500 year period instead in which case less than 3cm per year would have been the rate of sea level rise - and it is by far the strongest of the geologically recent (last 20kys) meltwater pulses. The rise was not entirely uniform around the world, and therefore it may have varied from place to place and year to year by a millimetre or two for some short durations within that timespan.

Having looked at what differences 10 or 20 meters does at the application available here [4] within the span of [-120, 0] or so meters (which is roughly what the sea levels have changed since the last glaciation) it is fairly clear that even a ten meter rise does not shift the coast lines significantly - certainly tens of miles in places, though. Even ancient people could have outwalked it without any hurry. This is not to say that sea level rises are not worrisome, but rather that an ancient advanced culture should have been able to outrun it without any significant problems. The quotes overstate the "dramatic, sudden and terrifying" aspect of it - yes, coastal flatlands would turn into brackish marshes, and within years into shallow littoral. But it would not have been an overnight calamity. These cultures would have had decades to move out, and they would have seen what was coming ahead of time.

Some places might be hit quickly due to increase in erosion or sudden bursts, but if these cultures were capable of mapping entire oceans, you would expect them to have more than just one or a few towns along some coast somewhere - their civilization would probably stretch a fair bit inland.

We would be justified in expecting more evidence of their existence if they existed.
Another aspect of the mythos seems to record a “derangement of the heavens,” as in Hebrew mythology the god El is both the sun and the planet Saturn (the “Father on High”), a fact demonstrating that there were two “suns” in the ancient world’s mythologies: The day orb and the “eternal” or unmoving pole star, around which all other celestial bodies appear to rotate. [1, p. 403]
Hold your horses! Throughout the book, all the evidence for the contention that El is both the sun and the planet Saturn is assertion without sources or even any argument in the favor, or alternatively in one case a rather tenuous etymology. Further, even if Murdock's arguments were sound - they aren't - this would only demonstrate it as far as a subset of Semitic mythologies go - far from this holding true for the ancient world's mythologies in general.

The planet Saturn was considered “the Heavenly Father” because it was the most remote of the inner planets and was thus viewed as being the overseer or parent. Velikovskian David Talbott says Isaiah “locates the throne of El in the farthest reaches north,” i.e., El/Saturn is the pole star. When Saturn was no longer the “central sun,” “El” became the daytime solar orb; hence, El/Saturn was both the planet and the sun. This change in the heavens could reflect a pole or axial shift.[1, p. 403]
For Saturn to have been anything like a pole star, the solar system has to have been entirely different from what it now is. Such a solar system is even quite likely impossible - you'd have to have a static Saturn somewhere above the sun - or orbiting an empty spot in a plane parallel to Earth's orbit. Alternatively, Earth's orbit would have to be convoluted and weird, in a way that I also find fairly impossible - Earth being in a sort of weirdly locked orbit - continuously orienting its north pole towards Saturn is just an inconceivable thing.
As to the possible age of human culture, Albert Churchward makes this surprising assertion:
The Solar Cult lasted about 100,000 years and the Lunar before this about 50,000 years. The Stellar Cult was anterior to these, and lasted at least 300,000 years; how much longer it is impossible to say, but from remains found of the Stellar Cult people in Pliocene Strata formations they were in existence at least 600,000 years ago.
 [1, p. 404]
It is well worth noting that Churchward's claim is an unfounded assertion - he goes to no effort whatsoever in demonstrating any evidence for this claim, except vaguely mentioning "remains found of the Stellar Cult people in Pliocene Strata". For a fuller evaluation of Churchward's claim, let us look up what he actually says (note: Google's scan partially cuts off some words at the right-hand edge of the page, any interpolation is marked by italicized letters):
"The height of the pyramid multiplied by 10^9 (1,000 millions) equals the distance of the Sun or 91,837,3?? miles, which is apparently the mean of all the measurements that Astronomers have arrived at after numerous expeditions to observe the transit of Venus, and is probably the true distance. The estimated weight of the Pyramid is just one billionth the estimated weight of the Earth, roughly 6,000,000 tons." Colonel Green gives "the time of building from these observations as 2170 B.C."
But he must go back many thousand years before  this; as I read the evidence, it was built during the Astronomical, or Stellar Cult.
The Solar Cult lasted about 100,000 years and the Lunar before this for about 50,000 years.
The Stellar Cult was anterior to these, and lasted at least 300,000 years; how much longer it is impossible to say, but from remains found of the Stellar Cult pople in Pliocene Strata formations they were in existence at least 600,000 years ago." [5, p. 148-149]
In this, Churchward does not provide any sources for these finds in Pliocene Strata formations; nor were radiometric dating used when he wrote it. Simply put, these claims are impossible to evaluate, except that we can be pretty sure they are not based on any evidence. That strongly implies they are unreliable and unlikely to be accurate.
Based on archaeological, anthropological, astrological and mythological evidence, A. Churchward claimed that modern humans must have existed at least 2.8 million years ago. While Churchward wrote several decades ago, and would thus seem to be outdated in the face of so many scientific discoveries and conclusions since then, his arguments are compelling.
Presenting Churchward's arguments as compelling is pretty much a distortion of the facts. His argument is as follows:
[...] The same imagery was carried across to America. In the Chimalpopoca MS. it states that the Creator produced his work in successive epochs, man being made from the dust of the earth on the seventh day.
Here again man is created, or comes into existence, on the last of the seven periods, which is one day in the Book of Genesis, and 3,690 in the Astronomical or Stellar Cult, or 25,827 years as the one Great Day. In all versions of the seven creations, the creation of man was last; and this is repeated in the seven stations of the celestial heptanomis, because the first seven "ending of times" were totemic, or of zootype forms, and therefore pre-human man had not been imaged until the compounding of the seven into one, which in the Egyptian was the eighth. How many cycles of 25,827 years had elapsed before the one when man was "created" is impossible to calculate. It may have been observed through seven cycles first, and as we know that the Stellar Cult was in existence 600,000 years ago, it is possible that the date would be about 800,000 years ago, when the old Stellar Cult people commenced to reckon time by the observing and recording the precession of the Pole Stars. Man must have been in existence 2,000,000 years before that to attain the evolution that we find. Two cycles of 25,827 years at least must have been observed and recorded before the old Urshi could formulate and blend all the powers of the divinized totemic souls into one of "Man." [5, p. 343]
The flaws in Churchward's reasoning are fairly obvious. However, an explicit listing can do no harm:

  1. He assumes that the seven days in the creation narrative in Genesis actually encodes some relevant information about mankind's early history.
  2. The claim regarding Codex Chimalpopoca stating that creation lasted seven periods is wrong. According to Codex Chimalpopoca, mankind was created during the fifth sun out of five this far, as previously established. The suns' length is not uniform, and the function of the concept is quite different in Mesoamerican cultures.
  3. Some of it really looks like word-salad. "this is repeated in the seven stations of the celestial heptanomis, because the first seven "ending of times" were totemic, or of zootype forms, and therefore pre-human man had not been imaged until the compounding of the seven into one, which in the Egyptian was the eighth." Heptanomis or "seven nomes" (a nome being an administrative subdivisions of Egypt) was the designation of one of the regions of Egypt. Thus, in the celestial version of this region this creation in seven days is repeated (I guess he means this is a reflection of it), and the first seven "ending of times" somehow were in the forms of animal (how's an ending of a time an animal?) and must therefore somehow have been pre-human? Compounding of the seven into one? This is all very fanciful YET MEANINGLESS. No matter how I try to read this in a way that would assign some reasonable meaning to it, I fail. 
  4. By what evidence can we know the Stellar Cult had been counting for at least seven cycles? This is entirely unjustified in the text, yet it does seem as though Churchward believed it logically followed from something he already had presented, yet it seems no such evidence is forthcoming, and his way of writing really does not lend itself to following his argument with any ease whatsoever. 
  5. By what ratio of evolution does he conclude two million years must have passed to "attain the evolution that we find"? From what starting point does he count? This kind of also admits that homo sapiens must have evolved quite a bit during these two million years. From what I can see here, it seems Churchward did not understand evolution.
  6. Why did the "Urshi" have to observe two cycles of 25,827 years to mumbojumbo into "Man"? Goddammit, where's any evidence that isn't just far-flung conjecture regarding the existence of these "Urshi" - Mystery Teachers, Watchers (p. 90, Churchward) in the deep past?
Other weird, downright stupid claims appear in the book - just by casually browsing, I found the claim that writing goes back to the Stellar Cult (thus at least 150 000 years old!) [Churchward, p. 90]. A wider sample would probably quite convincingly display just how out of touch with reality Churchward was.
This estimation may not be so farfetched, in any case. In fact, in seeming accord with the Hindu chronology, which goes back millions of years, Keel reports that, “Human footprints and man-made objects were repeatedly turning up in coal mines and geological strata dating back millions of years.” [1, p. 404]
Now, during the rather early days of this review-blog, two fans of Murdock's contended that Murdock does not express sympathy with Churchward's claim. It should be pretty clear from what Murdock says here that she indeed supports Churchward's claim and does not just report them.
Keel also states, “Our planet is at least three billion years old and there is growing evidence that great civilizations existed here while our ancestors were still climbing trees.”
According to the current paradigm, the modern human only came into being 100,000 years ago, a figure that keeps being pushed back; however, for some reason, humans did not develop significantly for 70,000 years, when they began to paint beautiful images in caves, among other things. Nevertheless, if the human species can progress as far as it has in the past five hundred years, there is no reason it could not have done so tens of thousands of years ago. In fact, it makes no sense at all, if homo sapiens appeared 100,000 years ago, that it only reached an advanced degree of culture in the past 6-8,000 years.[1, p. 404]
Actually, there are good reasons to think it makes sense. Initially, populations were smaller and food production had little surplus. Thus, the number of people who could devote time and effort into developing cultural innovations was smaller. Further, the small number of people means actual geniuses would be few and far between, and the chance that several of them would ever be able to collaborate, or even have their ideas passed from one genius to the next was infinitesimal. As populations grew and as an increasing number of ideas made lasting impacts, population growth finally got rather fast roughly from the times of the neolithic revolutions in Mesomerica, Peru and the Middle East. From then, chances stacked increasingly in favor of progressive development of technology, culture and philosophy. It very much makes sense that homo sapiens has had advanced culture for less than a tenth of its existence.
The Evolution of Religion
However old it is or came to be here, the human species has a common culture going back many thousands of years. This culture included a religious and spiritual tradition that was simple and uniform, although highly detailed, because it was based on the complexities of nature.[1, p. 404]
It would seem some aspects of human culture do go so far back into the past that they may in fact originate when mankind still could maintain some kind of relatively similar customs over its entire area - headgears as a sign of authority may be such a thing. However, some of these may be examples of convergent evolution as well. We do know contact between the two hemispheres was limited in extent until the Columbian contact - and we may even be pretty sure the Kamtchatkans were likewise isolated for quite a while. The main evidence of this is immunological - the diseases the colonists and conquistadors brought with them decimated the population of the Americas more so than guns.[1491]
Had there been more contact, disease almost certainly would have decimated the population earlier, or if the contact had happened early enough and been maintained, there would be immunity - the diseases would have hit much less hard after the Columbian contact. Our cultures may have a few really ancient shared traits, but most similarities probably have appeared through the cultural analogy to convergent evolution or by diffusion in modern times.

It was not, however, founded on the complexities of human beings, i.e., racism, sexism, general bigotry, warfare, etc., until humans brought themselves into it and imposed themselves on it. The proto-religion focused its attention not on any person, prophet, savior or saint of a particular ethnicity or gender but upon the “Architecture” of the Grand Architect, the Vault of Heavens and the Pillars of Earth. The Grand Architect was not only Father but the “Great Mother . . . the primeval waters and source of creation,” a common theme in mythologies and cosmogonies worldwide, as is the idea of a self-generated male/female entity that separates itself into “the heavens and the earth.” [1, p. 404]
Although we probably can be fairly certain that early religion was based on nature, there are multiple ways in which any natural phenomenon can be interpreted. Ancient Finnic peoples interpreted lightning as the sky god having intercourse with the ground goddess; consequently, the stones used to light fires were given a vulva shape, in order to imitate nature: a vulva would attract the firey power of the god's penis. It is easy to conceive of other, drastically different interpretations of lightning - the thunder god riding over the sky being one example.

Even these interpretations ascribed human behaviours and desires to the gods, thus making it hard to imagine a time when "the complexities of human beings" were not part of such a religion. We also know warfare occurs among some of the great primates, so it is not unlikely early man had it with him from the onset.

Since the proto-religion, even if based in nature, still was a human construct, it's difficult to see how it could exist without humans bringing themselves into it and imposing themselves on it. If they did not, it is hard to imagine the religion being understandable for them. And since humans were involved with human religion from the very get-go - anything else is clearly preposterous - this religion was not an idealized platonic perfect religion, it was a human religion with all the flaws religions have.

Murdock's description of the proto-religion is excessively idealizing.

Essentially this entire chapter is mostly a restatement of similar catastrophist pseudohistory, with a few quirks to separate it from other similar theories.

[1] Murdock, The Christ Conspiracy
[3], but see also

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