01/11/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Prometheus Books. 217 page illustrated indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 21.99 (UK), $25.98 (US). ISBN: 0-87975-285-8.
check out website: www.prometheusbooks.com
The title goes a little beyond the bit I showed above, adding ‘And Other Popular Theories About Man’s Past: Atlantis...Pyramids...Norah’s Ark’ which makes it more of a mouthful. It does, however give the perimeters and the nature of this book, not propagating these ideas but telling you where they’re not only wrong but misleading. They became popular, mostly because the scientific community thought them frivolous and ignored them but caught the public imagination. Had they been hit in the knees from the beginning, they would be a forgotten fad today.
If you live your life using rose-tinted glasses and accept such things as a matter of course then this book is probably not for you. If you want ammunition to attack those beliefs in a compact size, then this book is undoubtedly for you.
Writer William Stiebling starts off with a relatively straightforward discussion of the biblical flood, pointing out contradictions in the Noah story, let alone the evidence of where the ark finally docked. He doesn’t actually latch onto the problems of genetic diversity if we all hailed from Noah’s married children but he doesn’t have to. There’s enough evidence to show such a major world flood didn’t happen and that the myth was propagated only over some countries. Egypt, for instance, didn’t have anything like it, but then they were a beach property.
Now the Atlantic myth really is that and it looks like Plato was the culprit and looks possibly as the earliest Science Fiction writer. Reading Stiebling where he says that Plato wrote tales to promote ethics in the Greeks brings to me an interesting comparison to how it was done with the Bible as well. More so, how the boundary between myth and fact start blending, people couldn’t tell the difference. With Plato, the Atlantis tale was something that could be verified if there was evidence there. After all, it’s about the sinking of an apparent continent of an advanced culture. Not something you can easily hide.
If the opening chapters don’t prepare you to not trust anything then you’re not really committed to this book.
There are some interesting similarities between Immanuel Velikovsky and Erich von Däniken when reading their chapters in succession. The former thought the Earth had had extensive meteorite and comet damage, more than the ones we do know about, although there would be more evidence if that had been true. Like losing a continent, it’s not something you could miss and we have plenty of recognised meteor craters around the world. von Däniken was more well-known for placing alien astronauts on Earth and probably the more well-known of the two. What Stiebling does show is how their evidence is used to match their theories rather than take everything into consideration and making both of them totally unreliable and with von Däniken also inaccurate. Any scientific theory has to stand up to scrutiny by others and neither of them get off the starting block. Back in the 70s, scientists were less prone to get involved with proving von Däniken was wrong which allowed the press a field day exploiting it. These days, I would hope that showing such people are wrong from the start would then free up media space (sic) for projects that deserve better attention.
The building of the pyramids in Egypt is always deemed a fantastic feat by humans although I’ve often wondered about the use of mummification of their rulers. Considering how the Egyptians treated their rulers as gods on Earth, reading this chapter did make me wonder why they build a pyramid tomb for the hereafter. Yes, I can see it as a means to ensure the particular ruler’s treasures weren’t stolen but no explanation about resurrection. It would have been a bit weird being resurrected and then find your early remains were in pots and you really had no brain. Don’t think they thought this through properly but then anatomy was primitive in those days.
If anything, the penultimate chapter devoted to who found America first seems out of place. Stiebling isn’t writing about the residents already there but who got there first and it wasn’t Christopher Columbus but the Norsemen, even if they were driven off or killed by the natives. Although I found the opening of this chapter dry, the latter section fills in a lot on the attempted colonisation.
This is a very credible enlightening book that if you ever want to get some clarification between fantasy and reality then this is a good place to start.
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