My overall argument w.r.t. mathematics is that it ought to be used to enlighten issues, and not darken them. It is with this objective that my essay The simple mathematics of Jesus investigates the origin of Christianity. Mathematics can be used for geometry and numbers, but also for patterns in general, and students may be interested in the application to gods, pyramids, lost civilisations, and, indeed, the Anunnaki. Mankind got evicted from paradise by a snake, and why could those not have been snakelike aliens ? It helps to see the potential cause for the story: paradise as the section of the sky around the North Pole where the stars never set (do not die), and the constellation of Draco as the snake who replaces the “polar star” due to precession. There are great stories to tell in this manner.
David Brin – aliens & addiction to rage (and perhaps other forms of not listening)
David Brin has a great science fiction book on contact with aliens, Existence. We should be fools to neglect that issue. Brin also discusses one alien species we might meet really soon: artificial intelligence …. Perhaps Google soon succeeds in its objective to create a God that can guide mankind in these troublesome years ?
Noteworthy is Brin’s: An Open Letter to Researchers of Addiction, Brain Chemistry, and Social Psychology.
His suggestion is that mental feedback can work like a hard drug. Gambling is an obvious example, but just look at a preacher in religious rage and it is hard to avoid the impression that we see an addict. It may be that religion can be a hard drug too, since it is designed to create similar processes of mental feedback.
An antidote is to sit down and walk through the logic of the argument. Indeed, do the mathematics.
Whether someone believes in a religion is up to that person, but we should be able to debunk delusions how such a belief should affect other people.
Eric Cline – collapse of civilisation in 1177 BC
Eric Cline’s book on a 1177 BC collapse of civilisation makes for fascinating reading, but is somewhat disappointing on the reliance on the “chaos theory” of a system collapse. This seems too much like a “deus ex machina” or like stating “it just happened”. Of course, if kingdoms rely on each other via trade routes, and people on the move disrupt things, it somewhat becomes something that you can imagine. But the reader would like to see more hard evidence and more causality. What about volcanic activity, from Iceland to the underwater volcano’s in the Mediterranean that we don’t hear about enough ? Books like this would enhance in strength if they would better indicate what questions need to be answered to arrive at a clearer picture.
Cline’s discussion (p89-96) of the exodus suggests at best a date of perhaps 1250 BC, and that locals benefitted from the downfall of civilisations around them, rather than really conquering it like the Bible suggests. This sceptical story presents a challenge to the story as Booysen sees it.
Riaan Booysen – wondering about antiquity
Booysen is an engineer and has a similar interest in the wonders of lost civilisations. Let me give my quick comments:
(1) His discussion on the Star of Bethlehem confirms my idea that mathematics should contribute to enlightenment. He answers one question that I had: how can one find one particular location (Bethlehem) within 15 m accuracy using only a star as guidance, in a world without GPS ? I didn’t check his formula’s, but his discussion seems sound and clear. Check the pictures. This is a discussion that I can give to students in a math class to show that mathematics can help to debunk religious claims. His major conclusion:
“Any attempt to identify a specific star, comet or conjunction of planets as the Star of Bethlehem is therefore a complete and utter waste of time.”
However, he doesn’t deal with Molnar’s approach that was topic of discussion at the Groningen conference last Autumn. This isn’t a real problem since Aaron Adair with his book on the SoB already had rejected Molnar’s approach too. See his Gilgamesh blog on the conference. The organisers of the Groningen conference hadn’t really looked at Adair’s book yet. Apparently to this day have a hard time accepting that also Molnar’s approach can’t be the answer. Perhaps they can include Booysen’s discussion in the book that they are writing on the issue (even though he wasn’t at the conference).
(2) His discussion of Thera and the exodus develops the link that everyone has been wondering about. The plagues of Egypt and the exodus so much remind of a volcanic eruption and a tsunami that there ought to be a link. My own tentative solution to the problem is that Thera caused a web of stories, and that the writers of the exodus pieced together a narrative from all of this. Canaan used to be Egyptian territory, but the ties were weakened and the locals started for their own: they might have presented a justification based upon Egyptian royal records. This might be written in the Babylonian period, so that the reference to Egypt would not upset the Babylonian rulers. But, this is mere speculation and quite vague.
Booysen presents a very specific scenario instead. Traditional dating of the eruption is around 1500 BC, with an olive branch between 1627 BC and 1600 BC. Booysen suggests that this was from an earlier eruption, and targets a date for the real big event during Amenhotep (1391-1353 BC). Good evidence seems to be Amenhotep scarabs found in sites of destruction at Jericho and Knossos. There is also a scarab of Tiye in Mycene (here its picture) but a point there is that it might be treasured over the ages. It is upon the research community to check his arguments and subsequent story. Booysen refers to more floods in Greek mythology, but those seem to be too vague to be of use, while some floods seem to refer to astrological events anyhow. Booysen also points to the accepted period of abandonment of Knossos. Wikipedia: “The palace was abandoned at some unknown time at the end of the Late Bronze Age, c. 1380–1100 BC.” Thus, how could it have survived the destruction of an early Thera ?
Booysen partly follows Ahmed Osman. The biblical Joseph would be Yuya, and here is his mummy. Wikipedia:
“It was also suggested that Yuya was the brother of queen Mutemwiya, who was the mother of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and may have had Mitannian royal origins. However, this hypothesis can not be substantiated, since nothing is known of Mutemwiya’s background.”
Wikipedia might have it wrong. See this Amarna letter quote: perhaps Mutemwiya was a Mitanni princess arter all. But an old claim is that Egyptian royalty didn’t marry foreigners … Overall, Booysen’s approach at least strengthen’s the idea there was Mitanni influence on the sun-worship of Akhenaten.
Amenhotep still is removed from 1177 BC, even when his big statue was toppled by an earthquake around 1200 BC. A more conventional story is that Thera around 1600-500 BC explains some plagues but that others are explained by the climate change that caused the Nile to dry up at the capital Pi-Ramesses of Ramses II (1279 – 1213 BC). It was Psusennes I (1047-1001 BC) who relocated the city with its monuments to Tanis (biblican Zoan).
(FYI: Earlier I had the wild suggestions that Psusennes is Solomon and Tanis is Zion and Thoth is David, but I just like to speculate at times. Booysen’s suggestion that crown prince Thutmose is Moses, might also lead to the suggestion that Thoth-MSS is split by authors of the bible into David and Moses. There is also the Cameron movie “The Exodus Decoded” that remains conventionally around 1500 BC, but adds other niceties, see this effort at debunking. One comment that I read somewhere is that “Mycene” might translate as “my Sinai”, with some interpretation, notwithstanding that Mukenai has rather a “k” than an “s”.)
The death of the first born is conventionally related to some fungus:
If the last plague indeed selectively tended to affect the firstborn, it could be due to food polluted during the time of darkness, either by locusts or by the black mold Cladosporium. When people emerged after the darkness, the firstborn would be given priority, as was usual, and would consequently be more likely to be affected by any toxin or disease carried by the food. Meanwhile, the Israelites ate food prepared and eaten very quickly which would have made it less likely to be contaminated. However, this does not explain how the firstborn cattle alone also would have perished.” (Wikipedia)
Booysen prefers an intended slaugher: “These children were executed as commanded by the king (and his high priest).” However, it might only be an exaggeration of an event only applying to the crown prince. As crown prince Thutmose apparently escaped as Moses (in Booysen’s take), to be succeeded by Akhenaten, we still see that Smenkhare ruled only short, and that Tutankhamun was murdered or at least died young. His death might be taken as a symbol for restauration of old Egyptian subborn polytheism. Still, it is not quite explained that Akhenaten embraced the sun while the Judaism of Moses deals with the moon, see the god Yah. Did their mother Tiye raise their two sons on a different god ?
(3) On ancient enigmas and anomalies, Booysen admirably collects various issues circulating on the internet, with telling pictures to make the point that there is something to explain. However, sometimes, or perhaps often, there are explanations. Let me point to the “Ancient Aliens Debunked” series on YouTube, starting with the Tolima Figher Planes. Another amazing title is “Ancient aliens caught lying“. It would be better if Booysen would reorder into those cases that he considers debunked and those that remain questionable.
(4) On Terra Australis Incognita and Atlantis, I have no comments yet.