Friday, July 25, 2014

The Christ Conspiracy, Chapter 23: Pygmies Everywhere (pt 6)

The chapter goes on to posit that pygmies, in fact, are the root of all culture:
There is yet another mystery to be addressed, as, it will be recalled, in the caves of India have been found figures of Buddhas not only black in color but in feature, demonstrating that the black race had at some early point reached an advanced state of civilization. As Higgins said over a century and a half ago, [...]:
It was the opinion of Sir William Jones that a great nation of Blacks formerly possessed the dominion of Asia, and held the seat of empire at Sidon. These must have been the people called by Mr. Maurice Cushites or Cuthites, described in Genesis; and the opinion that they were Blacks is corroborated by the translators of the Pentateuch, called the Seventy, constantly rendering the word Cush by Ethiopia. . . . The religion of Buddha, of India, is well known to have been very ancient. In the most ancient temples scattered throughout Asia, where his worship is yet continued, he is found black as jet, with the flat face, thick lips, and curly hair of the Negro.
[1, p. 387] 
No source is given for the claim about Buddha figures with black features and colors - thus making it essentially unfalsifiable, beyond the general and unspecific statement of Higgins. Also, how the presence of such figurines "demonstrate" that "the black race" had reached an advanced state of civilization at some early point eludes me. It would be interesting to know which particular temples throughout Asia Mr Higgins was referring to, since he did not provide such a list himself. In the absence of verifiable claims - particular temples, particular caves, particular figures of Buddha, etc - this claim is nothing but unfounded assertion.
And Jackson relates:
A splendid era of Blacks seems to have preceded all the later races. There must once have been a tremendous Negro expansion, since the original masters of the lands between Iberia and the Cape of Good Hope and East India were primitive and probably dwarfed Black men.
[1, p. 387] 
We do know homo sapiens expanded out of Africa, where the climate does favour black skin. We also have dark-skinned groups in Asia and Australia. This does suggest that mankind originally had a rather dark skin, and that lighter skin colour indeed is a more recent development. What Jackson means by 'splendid' in this context is somewhat unclear, and why these 'original masters of the lands ...' should have been dwarfed is not stated. Any evidence forthcoming?
We have long had proof that a primitive Negroid race of Pygmies once lived around the Mediterranean. Blacks were the first to plow the mud of the Nile; they were the dark-skinned, curly-haired Kushites. [1, p. 388; Jackson, quoted by Murdock]
If, by 'Kushites' Jackson means 'ethiopians', it would be interesting to know what proof he has for the contention that the Ethiopians were also Pygmies. A pygmy tribe does seem to live in Ethiopia, but it is hard to find information on it. However, it is not my responsibility to do Jackson's, Higgins's, Churchward's and Murdock's research for them.

Blacks were masters of Sumeria and Babylon before it became the country of the four tongues.[Jackson, quoted by Murdock]
Indeed, into any fair analysis must be factored an overlooked people who, if the theory of evolution is correct, must constitute one of the oldest races on the planet: the Pygmies. In reality, the Pygmies provide a key piece of the puzzle, as many of their ancient traditions are basically the same as those of the cultures that succeeded them.[1, p. 388]

It is quite unclear what exactly Murdock tries to say here. I have, alas, come across many examples of people not quite understanding evolution, and this might colour my guesses as to what she means by this statement - I might be too willing to ascribe odd mistaken understandings of evolution to her, based on her statements regarding it being somewhat unclear (on the other hand, other comments of hers throughout her works do seem to indicate she is not a fan of current understanding of evolution). On the other hand, no matter how hard I try I do not find any sensible way of parsing what she is saying . When scientists say the Pygmies are an old race (nowadays not so much using the word 'race', obviously), they mean the most recent common ancestor of both the pygmies and the remainder of mankind lived long ago. We know there is one group whose divergence goes back even further, the San people.

It turns out Murdock does not quite understand the consequences of what it means that the Pygmies are an 'old race', as later on she states:
In the Pygmies can be found not only very ancient origins of human culture and
religion but evidently a “missing link” between the black and white races as well.[1, p. 389]
If the pygmies are among the earliest groups to diverge, it would be mighty strange if they also were an intermediate group between blacks and whites - as thus they would have to have given rise to a group within another branch of mankind after having diverged from that very branch thousands of years earlier (which means they basically would have had to diverge later than the black races, but earlier than the white ones, which contradicts the previous claim, which we by genetic research also know to be true). It appears to me that Murdock does not understand what age signifies when describing populations. (At least if she uses the term "missing link" in anything like the usual meaning; if she does not, she must purposefully be misleading us.)

When scientists say the pygmies are an "old race", they don't mean to say they are an ancestral race (so not like your grandfather is an earlier human than you are), they mean their divergence occurred previously to later divergences in the family tree of human races. Naturally, the pygmies may have retained archaic traits - but so could the other branch as well! Both sides have probably had mutations occur that have introduced new traits (further diminished stature for pygmies and pygmoids, white skin for some of us, epicanthic folds for others, lactose tolerance for some, ...) Shared innovations are often seen as indications that some number of populations have diverged from shared ancestors, shared retentions not so much.

We have already seen that they were pre-Christian monotheists who revered the cross. Belgian anthropologist Jean-Pierre Hallet, who has lived much of his life among the Pygmies, elaborates:
My Pygmy friends have an Adam story of their own . . . It is the story of a god, a garden paradise, a sacred tree, a noble Pygmy man, who was molded from the dust of the earth, and a wicked Pygmy woman who led him into sin . . . The legend tells of the ban placed by God upon a single fruit, the woman’s urging, the man’s reluctance, the original sin, the discovery by God, and the awful punishment he laid upon the ancient Pygmy sinners; the loss of immortality and paradise, the pangs of childbirth, and the curse of hard work. 
Jackson reveals another surprise concerning the Pygmies that we may have expected: 
The Pygmies believed in a Father-God who was murdered, and a Virgin Mother, who gave birth to a Savior-God Son, who in turn avenged the death of his father. These later on became the Osiris, Isis and Horus of Egypt. The Pygmy Christ was born of a virgin, died for the salvation of his people, arose from the dead, and finally ascended to heaven. Certainly this looks like Christianity before Christ.
[1, p. 388] 
Jackson is a fairly unreliable source even on the best of days. He did not conduct original research, so this is stuff he has synthesized from earlier sources - largely Higgins and Churchward being the sources he relies on. Murdock would do better to actually look up those sources and their reliability before stating something as remarkable as this claim. (Obviously, she has read those sources too as she herself relies on them - but she cannot have treated them with any criticism whatsoever.)

And the mystery continues, as the Pygmies claimed to have spread throughout the world thousands of years ago: Hallet’s Pygmy friends told him that in the distant past they developed a highly technical and advanced type of material culture and that they built boats and traveled widely around the world, but that this technical excellence brought them nothing but bad luck, so, preferring happiness to misery, they finally gave up this high material civilization. There may be a lot of truth in these traditions, for Pygmy fossils have been found in all parts of the world.
[1, p. 388]  
There are good reasons why pygmy fossils could be found worldwide, if accurate: certain circumstances tend to lead to advantages for relatively smaller individuals, leading to what is known as "island dwarfism". The opposite, in rare cases, also occurs, and is then known as "island giantism". However, "island" is a bit of a misnomer here, as any isolated group with limited resources may go down that road. Indeed, Pygmy fossils have been found in various places, but Murdock could provide some references! Does she think they all stem from pygmies in the Congo? If so we now know, by genetics, that this is not the case. If not, which ones does she think are related to the Congo pygmies? Why would she maintain such a claim in stark contrast to existing evidence? As it stands, in order to falsify Murdock's claim, the critic would have to check whether each and every pygmy fossil from around the world has a similar genome as the Congo pygmies have. This is well-nigh unfalsifiable, and thus bad science.

As stated above, genetics show that not all pygmies come from the same 'stock': it has been shown that Asian and African pygmies are not related, despite certain shared traits. This indicates that they are examples of convergent evolution. We also know the African pygmies have an internal divergence about 20 kyears ago, forming the Eastern and Western pygmy groups.

Finally, if the pygmies had a global culture, they either practiced very strict endogamy or we would find traces of pygmy genomes all over the world; attempts to map the genes of the world have not found any widespread pygmy substrate. Is this really what we would expect from a technologically advanced culture? Any other expectation would basically amount to claiming that they are not quite human.

Thus, Pygmy remains and culture are found around the globe, including from Egypt to India. In fact, according to Higgins, “The numerous circles which are found in India are said by the inhabitants to have been erected by a race of people called Chaeones or Chaons, who are said to have been pigmies.”
[1, p. 389] 
What Higgins - who is given as the source here - says, directly quoted from his work, is:

The numerous circles which are found in India are said by the inhabitants to have been erected by a race of people called Chaeones or Chaons, who are said to have been pigmies. Why they are supposed to be pigmies I cannot imagine; but the word Chaeon is only the aspirated Æon or the Greek Αηων, and has the meaning of cycle as well as emanation from the sun, and is thus a cyclop, one of the Piclo or of the Cyclops.[2, p. 135]
Higgins gives no source for such a claim, and even he himself admits doubt as to their being pygmies. His etymological reasoning at the end is such unsound linguistics that Murdock should have realized that the entire utterance is iffy. Tracing this statement down to any earlier source has been challenging, and not turned up any results no matter how many stones I have turned. At times, I am left to wonder if Higgins relied on some informant who took pleasure in feeding him fabrications.
The Pygmies, in reality, were revered in ancient cultures, especially by the Egyptians, as A. Churchward relates:
So closely were the facts of nature observed and registered by the Egyptians that the earliest divine men in their Mythology are portrayed as Pygmies, and the earliest form of the Human Mother was depicted with the characteristics of the Pygmy woman.
[1, p. 389] 
Higgins believed mankind has 'advanced' from an inferior, primitive pygmy stage; he essentially is here presenting the idea that the Egyptians had understood evolution, and that in doing so they had also understood that the pygmys were a primitive, ancient and inferior group. Churchward went on to develop this, and added a really curious racist twist (in order that what Churchward perceived as wisdom from India wouldn't originate with darker races, but rather with white inhabitants of a prehistoric lost civilization).

Churchward further says:
Ptah is represented in the form of a Pygmy, and his Ari are seven little Pygmies, the Egyptians having taken the type from the primordial, or first human evolved from the Anthropoid Ape in Africa.
Although they may be the oldest race, the Pygmies are in fact true human beings and evidently reached an advanced state long before the “giants” existed in large numbers. 
[1, p. 389]
Indeed, the pygmies being true human beings is quite well agreed on by every serious anthropologist. However, Murdock, by using sources that don't quite agree with this to us obvious truth, is put in a position where she has to explicitly state this obvious truth not to be associated with the racist stupidity of her sources. Churchward thought the pygmies closer to the (non-human) apes than to the rest of mankind.

Murdock further posits that the proto-Berbers were pygmies, and that remnants of ancient Egyptians are pygmy-sized - claims she provides no worthwhile sources for.
In the Pygmies can be found not only very ancient origins of human culture and religion but evidently a “missing link” between the black and white races as well. [...]
It is obvious that no resolution can be made as to the origins of human culture in India or Egypt, or even Europe, as waves of immigrants and invaders moved between these areas over a period of millennia. In reality, the Pygmies, for one, represent an even older culture that contains the mythos and ritual. Indeed, in our quest as to the ultimate source of Christianity, we are led to conclude that claims made by the Pygmies and others as to a previous global civilization are true. [1, p. 389]
The fallacies it takes Murdock to reach this conclusion - the shoddy evidence, the weak reasoning, the impressively nutty sources - is impressive.

[1] D.M. Murdock, The Christ Conspiracy
[2] Higgins, Anacalypsis, vol II.