So, Republican candidate for President Ben Carson has a very unusual idea about the Egyptian pyramids. What should Americans think about that?
The website Buzzfeed publicized that, in a 1998 speech at Andrews University, a religiously-affiliated college, Ben Carson said, “My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain.”
He also mentioned aliens. “And various of scientists [sic] have said, ‘Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that’s how, you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.'”
Let’s try and unpack this a bit. Mmmkay?
First, NO credible scientist has ever said anything about aliens with special knowledge involved in ancient cultures. It’s not clear where Carson got that stinker from. (Ancient Aliens didn’t debut until 2009. Maybe von Daniken?)
The Forbes piece by bioarchaeologist, Kristina Killgrove, calls out Carson as anti-science – noting his “profound, willful ignorance of science” – and disrespectful of the rich history of the Egyptian people.
Carson is a biblical literalist, which is extremely problematic in many respects, least of which is it makes ZERO sense in terms of history and science. It also lacks internal consistency. Carson isn’t embarrassed by that, but he should be.
“Some people believe in the Bible like I do and don’t find that to be silly at all, and believe that God created the earth and don’t find that to be silly at all,” Carson said. “The secular progressives try to ridicule it every time it comes up and they’re welcome to do that.”
Hmm, maybe he needs to study the Bible a bit more.
Carson thinks that because the chambers were hermetically sealed, that they would be good to store grain. But they WEREN’T hermetically sealed, for a start. They are kind of awful for storing anything in bulk, really. They aren’t hollow. Check out this piece by Jason Colavito who explains how Carson’s ideas are “medieval“.
DN contacted our “consulting” archeologist, Jeb Card who says that non-Egyptians like the Greeks through to the Renaissance had an obsession with Egypt as origin of ancient wisdom. With the Enlightenment and the beginning of actual archaeological investigation at the end of the eighteenth century, many of the legends that had built up around Egypt began to fall apart. Those legends became symbols of resistance to the Enlightenment and materialism, which is why Egypt featured so heavily in occult ideas in the 19th century, and subsequently were seen associated with paranormal ideas in the 20th and 21st centuries.
“Because Egypt is in the Bible,” he continues, “and because Biblical literalism rejects the Enlightenment, we’ve had the continued obsession with Egypt as imagined by medieval Europeans.”
Even though actual archaeological research was conducted to get at the real history, these unorthodox ideas didn’t disappear.
“This is the archaeological equivalent of Creationism, a rejection of modernity.” Card notes that the pyramids serve a similar purpose as a symbol of the ancient past to the European/Christian perspective as the dinosaurs do to Creationists. Controlling the narrative of those symbols is critical to that particular worldview.
Card concludes that Carson really does believe this and willingly promotes it because the idea appeals to evangelicals who make up an important part of the GOP primary voting base. Note how he attacked “secular progressives” in his reaffirmation of this stance. That was deliberate.
All experts dismiss Carson’s view as absurd. In that light, the Guardian has a great piece that suggests maybe the mummies were there to act as scarecrows to protect the grain. Yeah, it’s ludicrous, just like many pseudo-archeological ideas.
This should really not be an argument about the Bible or religion, but in taking those concepts to an extreme view, making them totally absurd.
In conclusion, there is almost no alternative to reply to this claim except with derision — although you can try reason, it likely won’t work. Pyramids as silos has NO support, just wishful, fantastical thinking, and it is deliberately ignorant. I guess some people are OK voting for a person to be President who is willfully ignorant of facts and will not change his mind in the face of evidence. We’ve been through that before – it cost thousands of lives. Care to go there again?
Being an idiot should not be a quality that we look upon favorably in our leaders.