Tuesday, October 18, 2011

If the ancients really knew so much, why didn't they just come right out and say it?

Readers of this blog or the Mathisen Corollary book might be asking themselves, "Why would the ancients hide advanced scientific knowledge in mythology? If they really knew all the things you claim that they knew, why didn't they just come right out and say so?"

Well, for the past several days we have been launching discussions from some of the excellent analysis of Robert Temple in his Sirius Mystery (as well as briefly discussing his latest contribution about the Sphinx of Giza). While not necessarily agreeing with all of his conclusions, it is clear that he has a lot to offer and deserves a lot of credit for advancing the knowledge available to us all in many ways with his work over the years.

When it comes to the question of why the ancients chose to pass down their knowledge inside of myths that had great literary merit in their own right and which were so full of human drama and intrinsic interest that they would be told for generations (right up to our own times!) without any knowledge that they might contain hidden messages about the paths of the stars and planets, Robert Temple provides some valuable insights. First, he articulates a theory that others have made before, which is that by doing so, the authors of these myths could "incentivize" others to pass them on -- because they were such irresistible stories, they would be passed right along in total ignorance of their true meaning.

Beyond this, however, he makes another very good point, which is that ancient cultures were often quite "totalitarian" in nature (my word, not his, with apologies for importing a not-entirely-appropriate modern word, but doing so in order to make a point), structured in such a way that a new regime could completely obliterate knowledge that had been passed down for ages, simply by killing off those who knew it, or by some slightly less violent but equally final form of censorship. In his "Author's Note" at the beginning of his book, Robert Temple says:
It is important that this strange material be placed before the public at large. Since learning was freed from the tyranny of the few and opened to the general public, through first the invention of printing and now the modern communications media and the mass proliferation of books and periodicals and more recently the 'paperback revolution,' any idea can go forth and plant the necessary seeds in intellects around the world without the mediation of any panel of approval or the filtering of a climate of opinion based on the currently accepted views of a set of obsolescent individual minds.

How difficult it is to keep in mind that this was not always the case. No wonder, then, that before such things were possible, there were secret traditions of priests which were handed down orally for centuries in unbroken chains and carefully guarded lest some censorship overtake them and the message be lost. In the modern age, for the first time secret traditions can be revealed without the danger that they will be extinguished in the process.
Robert Temple raises an excellent point in the above. The only point of disagreement might be his concluding sentence, which appears to presume that civilization and progress as we know it cannot possibly collapse into barbarism and backwardness -- an assumption that should be hard to maintain in light of the evidence he finds for extremely ancient and advanced knowledge that was later obliterated in almost every corner of the globe for many centuries (see discussions on this subject here and here).

John Anthony West has even more to say on the subject and adds yet another dimension in his indispensable book Serpent in the Sky, in which he argues that advanced knowledge of harmonics, resonance, and proportion (such as that apparently in use by the ancient Egyptians) can be used for evil and for reducing its targets to abject despair, and thus such information should not be scattered abroad lightly, even today. We discuss this angle in this previous blog post entitled "Mild but persistent torture." Mr. West's analysis suggests yet another reason why the ancients would want to encode their advanced knowledge and keep it from being understood by anyone but those carefully screened and allowed in to the circle of the initiated.

All of this may strike a familiar chord with readers familiar with the New Testament, particularly passages such as the parables of Christ, in which the disciples are given the explanation and told that the true meaning will not be given to all of the hearers. After hearing the famous parable of the sower in Luke 8, for instance, the disciples asked Christ, "What might this parable be?" In verse 10 we read: "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand."

The parallel event in Matthew 13 is even more explicit. This time, the disciples come and ask a slightly different question, "Why speakest thou unto them in parables?" In verses 11 and following, the answer given is: "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand."

These verses are strongly suggestive of the same approach that we have been discussing. This subject clearly bears careful consideration. I will leave it to the theologians to explain why these rather stark statements are given to the disciples after the parable of the sower.