Friday, September 28, 2012

Petrus Romanus, Part 3

This is from the most recent E-Block; as noted last time, I'm posting these now because of their limited "shelf life".

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The following represents, for now, our final installment on Petrus Romanus (“PR”). Not that there is very little left; however, much of what remains, from the point we last stopped, consists of tendentious anti-Catholic rants, which places the commentary outside my scope of expertise. I will only say that since they rely on popular writers like Dave Hunt and John MacArthur for much of their information (and barely interact with any Catholic scholarship) I would be disinclined to trust Horn and Putnam, even if they happened to be right.

Mayan Mess

Starting on page 157, the authors appeal to the work of another fringe theorist, David Flynn. Flynn, it so happens, died in January 2012, so we won’t see any new material from him, which is just as well. His own specialized lunacy relates to the alleged “face” on Mars, and he was also into the usual Roswell conspiracy nonsense.

In PR, though, he is used for reference to alleged satellite images which found “a vast network of patterns that surround Lake Titicaca in Bolivia…”. Appeal is also made to “the megalithic ruins of Tiahuanaco”, which are alleged to exhibit “technological skill that exceeds modern feats of building.” Both of these are used in service of a notion that these things were built by Nephilim (i.e., giants).

How much is all of this worth…really, nothing. Horn’s website features airborne images of the “patterns” and Flynn’s analysis, but doesn’t mention that someone else more qualified decided that these were not what Flynn thought them to be. The patterns were determined by a scientist to be the remnants of an enormous agricultural project – one pursued by normal, everyday farmers (see link below). Flynn was aware of this interpretation, and while he admitted that some of the patterns are related to agriculture, he assured us that:

The raised farming fields (viewed above) are distinctly labyrinth in design and though extensive, constitute a small portion of the patterns that appear more ‘ritualistic’ in design.

We are also assured that one particular feature “is not consistent with any Inca farming technique,” though what qualifications Flynn has to assess and report on such a specialized topic is not explained.

What then of the ruins of Tiahuanaco? On this, it seems clear that Flynn and Horn are simply uncritically repeating folklore. One example will suffice: It is said that one of the larger stones was about 400 tons, and was moved to the site from over 200 miles away. Multiple sources (including David Browman’s Advances in Andean Archaeology) indicate that the heaviest stone at the site weighs 131 tons – and was taken from a site a mere 6 miles away. If this simple fact is gotten wrong by Flynn, what more needs to be said of the rest of his analysis, which attributes this feat to a race of giants?

Mis-Ex-Communication

Again, I won’t say much about the anti-Catholic rants in PR, but there are a couple of points worthy of note. One is the complaint that the Catholic Church excommunicated Martin Luther, but not Hitler or Mussolini. Thus it is said, “Rome’s record of spiritual fornication is unparalleled.”

There is, although, a big problem here; namely, this PR position is incorrect. Of Hitler, Margherita Marchione says in Pope Pius XII: Architect for Peace:

Because of their apostasy and violent actions against German clergy, Hitler and the other Nazi leaders, who were born Catholic, incurred automatic excommunication under Canons 2332 and 2343, which state, in part: “Those who, either directly or indirectly, impede the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction…persons who lay violent hands on the person of a Patriarch, Archbishop or Bishop…incur excommunication….

Of course, it is important to note that Hitler, as an adult, had long since abandoned Catholicism, so in a way, there was no basis on which to “excommunicate” him. One may as well try to excommunicate Farrell Till, from the Church of Christ, decades after his apostasy.

By the same token, just how relevant an excommunication would have been to Mussolini is open to question. Multiple academic sources report that Mussolini was an avowed atheist, and a fan of Nietzsche. This is a simple matter to discover, which says volumes about the lack of competence of Horn and Putnam as researchers.

2012: Later Additions

In Ticker posts we explored some claims of Horn from Apollyon Rising that in 2012 was predicted as an end by certain factors. To this he now adds that Jonathan Edwards – using Harold Camping-like mathematical shenanigans – predicted 2016 as an end date, and since this is 3 ½ years after 2012, it could fit in with a Tribulation period. As the authors unwittingly admit, though, Edwards' prognostication was based on shaky premises; namely, that he interpreted the 1260 days of Rev. 12:6 as years, and then counted up 1260 years from two dates he assigned significance to (i.e., the AD 606 recognition of the bishop of Rome, and the AD 756 acceding of temporal power to the Pope, the latter leading (+1260) to 2016). Though these are significant events, this is simply the same process used by Camping, in which he selected events and counted forward, merely picking the events randomly when others would do as well. Whatever virtues Edwards had as a preacher, he was clearly too creative when it came to eschatological exegesis. Although, and to Edwards’ credit, he also admits that his ideas were speculative (see link below for a copy of a letter reflecting his views).

The authors also managed to find a Presbyterian minister in 1878 who selected 2012 as an end date for the world, based on the same mathematical premises Edwards used, but selecting AD 752 as his start date, and so ending up +1260 at 2012. Unfortunately, the event he chose as his “start,” the Donation of Pepin, which organized the Papal States, didn’t occur in 752 (as the authors admit, but not clearly enough, when they refer to “a little disagreement” over the date). Instead, it consisted of two donations, in 754 and 756, but of course, the authors have the expedient for 756 of also using the 3.5 years of the alleged Tribulation.

Failure is already evident for PRs 2012 predictions by the authors’ use of rumors they heard in February 2012 that Pope Benedict would step down in April 2012. Rumors of Benedict’s resignation at that time, of course, proved false, and there is currently no sign of any resignation. The authors will be in for quite a time if Benedict remains pope as of 1/1/13, but we are sure that, like Harold Camping, Edgar Whisenant, and so many before them, that they will have excuses ready.
We also find a few new “2012” markers that have been added and, some others from Apollyon Rising, no longer present. Appeal is made to the Jewish Zohar, which is a forgery (link below), but which also contains this:

In the year seventy-three (5773 or 2012/2013) the kings of the world will assemble in the great city of Rome, and the Holy One will shower on them fire and hail and meteoric stones until they are all destroyed, with the exception of those who will not yet have arrived there.

Horn and Putnam were so excited about this one that they failed to notice a problem connecting it to their own ideas. They believe Petrus Romanus will destroy Rome, but here, it is not the city that is destroyed, it is the “kings of the world.” In addition, they fail to report the manifest failure of surrounding prophecies. If indeed, as they say, "73" is 2012-2013 (which is also far from clear, but we will leave it at that), then this prophecy should have been fulfilled in 2005/2006 -- and obviously has not been:

In the year sixty-six the Messiah will appear in the land of Galilee. A star in the east will swallow seven stars in the north, and a flame of black fire will hang in the Heaven for sixty days, and there shall be wars towards the north in which two kings shall perish. Then all the nations shall combine together against the daughter of Jacob in order to drive her from the world.

Another point, which I may have missed in Apollyon Rising, is a reference to the “Cherokee Indian calendar” and a set of prophecies that allegedly see an end coming in 2012. A problem arose at once when I could find no reliable academic sources that recorded these alleged prophecies. Eventually I dug out an astrology website (! – link below) that made these claims:

The Cherokee Rattlesnake Prophecy, also called the Chickamaugan Prophecy, is part of the Cherokee prophesies of 1811 made by “Charlie” and two women of the Cherokee tribe. They had visions in early February of 1811 near Rocky Mountain in Georgia. These prophesies are all over the internet, and from what I can gather, they were originally documented by missionaries and then finally published in 1993 in the American Indian Quarterly [1].

I ordered this magazine -- which surely ranks as the oddest thing I have ever ordered for the ministry -- and the article does not list any of these alleged prophecies reported by Horn and Putnam (see below). Thus I am now without even any proof that these prophecies they appeal to are authentic.

But what does it all mean, even if it did? Not much. The prophecies allegedly say, “In the year 2004 and 2012 an alignment will take place both on the Cherokee Calendar and in the heavens of the Rattlesnake Constellation both. It is the time of the doublehead serpent stick. It is the time of the Red of Orion and Jupiter against White Blue of Pleiades and Venus.” The astrology site connects this to a rare occurrence called the transit of Venus, in which Venus slides right in front of the sun (from our perspective). The rub of this: This isn’t a common phenomenon, but it does happen in a predictable cycle. Stargazers have been observing it for centuries, and the last instances occurred in 1761/1769 and 1874/1882. Quite frankly, it would not have been that hard for even an amateur stargazer to have calculated that the next one would be in 2004/2012.

Siri Thesis

As noted, we won’t comment extensively on issues related to Catholicism, but we would comment on the authors appeal to the so-called “Siri Thesis” – the idea that Cardinal Giuseppe Siri was elected as Pope in two conclaves, but refused the office because of some outside pressure. Horn and Putnam relate the pressure to “Masonic influences,” but are there any grounds for this “Siri Thesis”?

No, none at all. This is yet another fanciful conspiracy theory, and you can find it debunked in several places (links below), which also connect the alleged refusal of Siri to potential pressure from the Communist bloc (Siri was anti-Communist). One of the links also deals with the one scrap of real evidence Horn and Putnam allude to for this thesis, which is a quote from Siri in which he says he cannot reveal any secrets.

Horn and Putnam also appeal to rather questionable evidence by Malachi Martin, who claimed to have been an eyewitness to the conclave and seen this happen. However, apart from Martin’s questionable reputation as a conspiracy-monger (see earlier entry in this series), Horn and Putnam quote Martin as saying that there was influence by an “emissary of an internationally based organization” and then add in parentheses after the quote, “the Freemasons.” Martin himself does not name the Freemasons as the “organization” and there is no argument given for why they should be. It should also be noted that their chief source is one “Dr. William G. von Peters,” of whom nothing is said (in the online document) in terms of qualifications, or what that doctorate is in, and the only person by that name I can find is a doctor of alternative medicine.

Finally, a shameful note: Horn and Putnam incredibly buy into the proposition that the Spanish Inquisition killed around five million people, saying: “the death toll of the inquisition is difficult to ascertain largely because of Rome’s penchant for revisionist history.” Not surprisingly, they do not use a real scholarly source, like Kamen, for this claim; rather, their source is a horrifying-looking KJV Onlyist website (jesus-is-lord.com) which in turn cites J. A. Wylie, a 19th century Scottish Protestant commentator with no relevant credentials.

Our present interactions with Petrus Romanus conclude here, with the ultimate disproof being only a few weeks hence.

Links:
  • 42 months
  • Andean references: one, two
  • Siri thesis, one, two
  • Zohar
  • Cherokee references here

  • And while we're at it, here's the rest of the E-Block's contents:


    • The Gospel According to Chick, Part 2 -- a series looking at Chick tracts and their theology.
    • Target Bart -- a look at Earl Doherty's replies to Bart Ehrman, Part 3.
    • Near Death Checks, Part 3 -- a series evaluating near death experiences.
    • Is This Not Appalling Scholarship? -- a detailed look at Is This Not the Carpenter? 

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