Monday, August 6, 2012

Apollyon Falling 2012: Or, Tom's Clown Horn, Part 1

As part of our continuing effort to expose the academically deficient work Petrus Romanus, I’ve ordered a couple of earlier books by conspiracy theorist Thomas Horn to report on. One of these, Apollyon Rising 2012, was published in 2009, and we may suppose right away that Horn has Camping-like pressure on him to make sure he was right – save that unlike Camping, Horn doesn’t seem to have much of a following.

This particular book offers a Chapter (#12) in which Horn gives reasons why 2012 will be “it” for eschatology – his own 88 Reasons, as it were.  Over several of the next Ticker entries, we’ll look at the various “2012s” Horn offers.

Regrettably, the first reason is an appeal to the “Mayan Long Count” calendar many have been using to predict the end of the world on 12/21/2012 – and it doesn’t get much better after that. This Mayan appeal wasn’t much to start with and was from the very beginning a case of reading too much into too little. Indeed it seems wackos have been reading things into it for a while now (see links below). I think an extended quote from the link is worth posting here:

There is no clear "prophecy" in the records of the ancient Maya.  There is only one known ancient inscription, Monument 6 from the ruined site of Tortuguero (Chiapas, Mexico), that makes reference to the date of 4 Ajaw 3 K'ank'in, but the text is not very clear because the monument has been damaged.  Epigraphers Sven Groenmeyer and Barbara MacLeod think it refers to a future ceremony in which a specific deity would be honored by dressing him in special clothes and perhaps carrying him in a procession.  However, this remains a subject of debate.  The other Maya "doomsday" prophecies that do exist in documents such as the 18th century Books of Chilam Balam, are difficult to interpret and do not specify 2012.  These accounts, as well as the Popol Vuh ("Council Book"), a traditional Creation story of the Maya that refers to the destruction of subsequent worlds, were collected after the Spanish Conquest and may have been influenced by the end-of-the-world beliefs of Franciscan missionaries to the Maya.  That is, the "2012 doomsday" beliefs attributed to the Maya are actually Western ideas, not ones that come from ancient Maya beliefs.  When the Maya of the Colonial period were referring to catastrophes and devastation, it seems likely that they were referring to their own culture's destruction at the hands of Spanish invaders.

Some people have emphasized the fact that the special date on the Maya calendar--calculated over 2000 years ago--falls on a winter solstice (December 21).  They think that the skills and precision of the ancient Maya daykeepers indicate that they had the ability to predict many things about the future.  However, academic scholars disagree on whether the correct date is December 21, December 23, or something else.  Many feel that the correspondence to a winter solstice is a coincidence.  (They also dismiss notions about a "galactic alignment"-the position of the Sun in a special place relative to the Milky Way galaxy on that date-as a fantasy based on inaccurate, non-traditional astrology.)

Promoters of the 2012 mythology tend to ignore current academic scholarship and the opinions of professional Mayanists (archaeologists, epigraphers, art historians, linguists, etc.) about what ancient Maya people actually believed.  Their interpretations are based on outdated and antiquated ideas of the late 19th and early 20th century, ideas that are useful for the construction of mythology and ideology but do not reflect contemporary academic knowledge. Mainstream scholars and scientists also view this movement as the source of a great deal of pseudoscience, ignorance, credulousness, and incorrect thinking because it privileges subjective over objective knowledge.

This will do for a lot of the nonsense Horn spews in this chapter about the Long Count.  He also appeals to that fantasy of a galactic alignment, saying this refers to an event that happens only every 13,000 years. On this, see second link below, and note this quote:

There’s been much hoopla about the winter solstice sun aligning with galactic plane on December 21, 2012. You, however, now know the reality that, as seen from Earth, the sun crosses the galactic equator twice a year. And the galactic equator on our sky’s imaginary astronomical coordinate system more or less corresponds with the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. So, in this sense, the sun crosses the plane of the Milky Way twice a year (as seen from Earth). 

It’s also simple to debunk the notion of 2012 as an “end” for the Maya, and Horn’s use of Monument 6 at Tortuguero. On this, here’s a quote from an expert on the subject of that monument:

Whatever Monument 6 has to tell us pertains to the dedication of the building associated with the sculpture. It has nothing to do with prophecy or the supposed, dread events that await us in AD 2012. About that the Maya are notably silent…or, truth be told, a bit boring.

That should do for Horn’s vacuous appeal to the Mayan calendar – it will take him at least until 2014 to untangle the rebuttals below, assuming he notices 2012 is over before then. (Given that his tendency is to use fellow conspiracy theorists as sources, it ought to all be over his head, too.) 

We’ll also note something else in this section of the chapter. He says that the Hindu calendar “also predicts global earth changes around the year 2012” at the end of what is called the “Kali Yuga.” Unfortunately, this one appears to come from Hindu commentators pulling a Harold Camping – making calculations based on selected data in the past in order to reach a date in the present. There’s enough back and forth about the exact nature of this Kali Yuga epoch, and its nature and length (the most common reading is that it is 432,000 years long, and we are nowhere near the end of it!) that Horn will have to offer more than a sentence or two as he does here to make a case.

In closing, we’d like to divert a bit to something that seems unconnected but is not.

Norman Geisler, apparently afflicted with Mike Licona Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (MLOCD), has just put out yet another item on the usual you know what, apparently in observance of a scholarly conclave Licona took part in. No, there’s nothing new to address in it: It’s just the same old “great man speaking” routine, with the same bad arguments, and the same horrendous mistakes (including STILL saying Nick Peters “produced” Geisler’s Christmas Carol).

Licona, of course, has been anathematized by one of Geisler’s pet organizations, the International Society of Christian Apologetics (ISCA). That’s one reason I no longer associate with that organization any more, but now they have given me another.

Horn’s co-author of Petrus Romanus, Cris Putnam, was also a speaker at the last ISCA conference I went to in Raleigh in 2011. At the time, I had no idea Putnam was involved in such lunacy, and indeed, that is what it is. Sitting on my table right now is another book by Horn which connects UFOs, prophecy, and genetic engineering to the idea of the “Watchers” in Genesis 6 – with the premise apparently being that we can expect the Watchers to make a return somehow involving all these elements. Just how loony this will get remains to be seen for when I read the book in whole.

Beyond that, Petrus Romanus and Apollyon Rising 2012 both include lunacy about Freemason conspiracies, and ideas that America was founded as a sort of occult Freemason paradise. Yes, you heard me. This is loonier than even Acharya S could come up with.

In light of all that, Geisler is faced with a conundrum, one I expect he will ignore.

He, and his pet organization, have publicly condemned Mike Licona for his adherence to credible scholarly methodology.

Yet his organization has also welcomed, and accepted papers from, someone who teaches, and cooperates with someone who teaches, UFO/Freemason/conspiracy theory lunacy.

Isn’t there something wrong here?

Expert on Mayan inscriptions: One, two
PDF of scholarly conclave with Mike Licona

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