7.2.4. When science and religion collide: pyramidology
No other preceding century did achieve as many discoveries and inventions as the 19th century. From William Whewell who coined the term “scientist,” Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, the discovery of the vaccine by Louis Pasteur to Thomas Edison’s light bulb, this century had the merit of transforming science into a profession. The world began to wake up from the nightmare of superstition and it headed toward an age of knowledge. But for theologians this was not a cause for celebration; they had the difficult task of providing religious answers to the new questions regarding the mechanics of the Universe, the history of mankind and the role of divinity in everyday life. The new discoveries came into conflict with millenary religious traditions. Thus, in a desperate effort to incorporate them into an all-embracing theological scheme, religious scholars gave birth to ideological monstrosities, one of these being pyramidology.
From a historical point of view, the megastructures created by ancient civilizations were a declaration of power and a symbol of the godlike status of the leaders. Height signals dominance. So, by making the subjects feel small and insignificant, large buildings had the purpose of maintaining order and control. But there is a pattern in the ancient ruins: from Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China to Central America, man’s first megastructures are pyramidal in shape. This is due to the fact that the tallest things on Earth, the mountains, are natural pyramids, their shape being dictated by the forces of gravity and friction. Hence, ancient people were inspired by nature’s lesson: if you want to defy gravity and build tall, but you have only rudimentary materials and little expertise, then you have to build a mountain-like structure. This is how civilizations, with no direct contact, separated by oceans, continents and sometimes thousands of years, created similar megastructures. Indeed, pyramids fascinate, but this happens not because pyramids themselves, of any kind, have something special, but because of the primordial relation between the human species and mountains. Nevertheless, many people have found this explanation unsatisfactory and they have refused to accept that the ancient megastructures were nothing more than a colossal waste of materials, time, lives and toil. Instead, they have preferred to think that there is something more, suprarational or supernatural, related to their shape and their purpose.
Pyramidology is a term used, sometimes flouting, to refer to different pseudo-scientific speculations regarding the manner in which the pyramids of Giza were built, the purpose for which they were built, the messages and information these structures contain, and the connection between the geometrical pyramidal structure in general and the mechanics of the Universe. Currently, pyramidology is divided into three distinct branches:
(1) Pseudoarchaeological – comprises theories and fantastic explanations which deny the fact that the pyramids were built by the Egyptians to serve only as tombs for pharaohs; instead, the pyramids were built by groups other than the Egyptians (Jews, Atlanteans or aliens) using unknown and advanced technologies.
(2) Numerological – comprises theories which affirm that the dimensions of the Great Pyramid of Giza contain coded messages of scientific or prophetic nature.
(3) Pyramidal power – comprises ideas about how pyramidal geometrical figures, allegedly, influence unknown energies of the Universe.
Pyramidology came into being in the 17th century, when the English exegetes tried to unlock the architectural secrets of the Holy Temple and other important biblical edifices. John Greaves, a professor of astronomy, was the initiator of “metrological pyramidology.” In Pyramidographia, or a description of the pyramids in Ægypt from 1646 he speculated that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built using the unit of measurement of the geometrical cubit, which he named the “Memphis cubit.”
Isaac Newton discussed Greaves’s measurements in A dissertation upon the sacred cubit and he made a connection between the Memphis cubit and the hypothetical sacred cubit of the Hebrews mentioned in the Bible.896 The cubit was the unit of measurement used in the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon. In all cases, the measurements were made according to God’s command. In 1737, ten years after Newton’s death, the pyramidological studies of Greaves and Newton were united and published in two volumes by the English historian Thomas Birch.897
Napoleon Bonaparte’s expeditions in Egypt brought in Europe a new wave of information regarding Egyptian culture. This aspect revived the research of the sacred architecture and inflamed the imagination of the followers of British Israelism. For more than 200 years the Hebraists exaggerated the features of the Israelites, portraying them as the most gifted people from a genetic and intellectual point of view. Furthermore, in the biblical Book of Exodus the Israelite nation is kept in slavery by the Egyptians and used to build various edifices (Exodus 1). Hence, Newton’s inopportune connection between the biblical cubit and pyramidal cubit allowed the followers of British Israelism to make a direct connection between the magnificent construction of the Great Pyramid and the magnificent people of Israel.
The modern pyramidology was shaped in 1859, when John Taylor – a retired English essayist who was not an engineer or Egyptologist and never visited the Great Pyramid – published The Great Pyramid: why was it built? & who built it?. According to Taylor, the Great Pyramid was built not by the Egyptians, but by the Jews, who acted according to divine commandments. Alongside Noah’s Ark or the Temple of Solomon, the structure is part of the series of the magnificent Israelite constructions. And the Bible, apparently, even mentions it:898
In that day shall there be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to Jehovah. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto Jehovah of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they shall cry unto Jehovah because of oppressors, and he will send them a saviour, and a defender, and he will deliver them (Isaiah 19:19-20).899
In practice, the false relation between the Bible and the Great Pyramid transformed this monument into a puzzle of stone that has been patiently waiting for millennia for its secrets to be unfolded.900 But, since there were no indications about how the numerical values of the pyramid should be calculated or interpreted, any number could have been calculated to match any possible aspect. As a result, many important biblical events have been “miraculously” found in the structure of the Great Pyramid through this process of divination. For example, Taylor believed that …
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