Were the Egyptian mummies just scarecrows? Carson’s absurd claims about the pyramids.

So, Republican candidate for President Ben Carson has a very unusual idea about the Egyptian pyramids. What should Americans think about that?

Pyramids

It’s not debatable that the pyramids were built as tombs for the pharaohs. It’s not even a mystery of how they were built. Hint: NOT aliens, but good old manpower, lots of it.

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.'”

Pretty much all you can say about that idea is…
lowellWUT

We might give him a break on this since it was 17 years ago, but, as goes people who live by the one book, he isn’t about to change his mind. He confirmed he still believes this.

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.

  27 comments for “Were the Egyptian mummies just scarecrows? Carson’s absurd claims about the pyramids.

  1. November 5, 2015 at 5:57 PM

    Ben Carson’s ego is so big that he doesn’t think he is wrong about anything, and so he doesn’t even have the decency to check out any of his ideas or be just a bit embarrassed when he sees how stupid they look when analyzed by others.

    This is the man, after all, who marvels aloud that “God” knew he (Carson) was going to make a career out of separating babies and that’s how Carson got his middle name of Solomon. “God”, and not his parents, named him? He then, of course, implies that he is as wise as Solomon, too.

    I wonder if he has delusions of grandeur. He reminds me of patients I’ve treated on psych wards.

  2. fredthechemist
    November 5, 2015 at 6:35 PM

    Delusions of adequacy, maybe.

  3. November 5, 2015 at 6:48 PM

    FYI – point of order on the Guardian article. It’s a bit confusing since from the headline and format it appears to be verifying several of Carson’s bizarre claims. But a more careful reading reveals that it’s neither a satire or a verification of Carson — rather, the article is fact checking whether Carson actually made the bizarre claims and where he got the ideas.

    So when the article says “Verdict: Fact” it is actually verifying the source of Carson’s various bizarre delusions — of which the scarecrow theory seems to be drawn in part from Egyptologist Dr Wyatt Thom’s 1984 book Egypt Egypt Egypt.

    Having personally scrambled through the various Pyramids, I can verify that there’s not a lot of room in there for storage.

  4. November 5, 2015 at 7:15 PM

    Actually, no, he shouldn’t study the Bible either, not from his fundamentalist perspective.

    Since Joseph almost certainly didn’t exist and Israel didn’t “escape from slavery,” he’s still an idiot.

  5. Gary
    November 5, 2015 at 7:55 PM

    I wish that some smart journalist, if there are any, would ask him how many times he had to lie to get his medical degree, since he doesn’t believe in evolution, which is an integral part of biology.

  6. Ronald H. Pine
    November 5, 2015 at 9:37 PM

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that any mummies were ever found in any of the pyramids. This is not to say that I am disputing that the pyramids were intended to be tombs or that they may have had mummies in them at some time in the past.

  7. November 5, 2015 at 10:01 PM

    I did not know this!

  8. spookyparadigm
    November 5, 2015 at 11:03 PM

    That’s why this is such a thing for “alternatives”

    http://doubtfulnews.com/2013/12/rogue-amateur-archaeologists-stole-samples-to-prove-a-conspiracy-theory/

    http://doubtfulnews.com/2014/02/cheops-cartouche-affair-suspects-charged/

    There is of other documentation involving the pyramids, such as this

    http://www.eloquentpeasant.com/2014/11/19/the-oldest-papyri-ever-discovered/

    but that’s why there was such interest in that one direct piece of evidence tying Khufu to the pyramid (vs. later traditions as well as contemporary documents of all sorts)

    But it shouldn’t be surprising that the mummies aren’t there, given how much looting occurred. What we call the Book of the Dead was derived at first from secret writing in various pyramids (such as that of Unas) about the afterlife that was also “looted” after the central government broke down at the end of the Old Kingdom.

    There is a sarcophagus

    http://www.khufu.dk/article/sarcophagus.htm

  9. Tom
    November 6, 2015 at 1:16 AM

    There are no mentions of Pyramids in the bible. The writers also had very little knowledge of Egypt relying on legend and travelers tales to make up anti-Egyptian propaganda at a time when an ambitious Judea, trying to expand it’s reach, was under threat from that direction.

  10. Barry
    November 6, 2015 at 5:34 AM
  11. November 6, 2015 at 11:24 AM

    Good points, Tom. For a further, rather technical but fascinating examination of the so-called Exodus, I recommend John McDermott’s Reading the Pentateuch.

    McDermott reviews a broad range of scholarly opinions and comes to the conclusion that the most likely date for the Exodus, if it did occur, is a date between 1250 and 1050 BCE. “From the end of the 13th to the end of the 11th centuries, conditions in Canaan were favorable for a group of outsiders coming in.” (85).

    Whereas, the various Egyptian pyramids were constructed in the period of 2686 to 1750 BCE with the so-called “Step Pyramid of Djoser” (what I call a “starter” pyramid) in Saqqara dated c. 2667-2648 and the “Bent Pyramid” in Dahshur dated c. 2600. (I highly recommend visits to these sites.)

    Back to the exodus, McDermott continues: “It is not possible that the exodus event occurred on the scale or in all of the details of the biblical story, but it is possible that it is based on some historical event. An exodus tradition did develop in Israel, so the occurrence of some event is a reasonable explanation. . . A small group of Semitic slaves may have escaped from Egypt between 1250 and 1050 BCE, perhaps aided by natural phenomena. Eventually they made their way to Canaan and were able to find a place in which to settle…and developed a life similar to that of the other settlers in the hill country of Canaan.” (87).

    “The lack of any mention in Egyptian sources means that if the exodus story is based on historical events, it was an event much smaller than…the biblical story.” (87)

  12. MisterNeutron
    November 6, 2015 at 5:44 PM

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that Dr. Carson’s head is being used as a grain silo. There’s very little else going on in there.

    You can start with the nutty ideas like the pyramid nonsense and the fact that Carson has said that Satan made Darwin write The Origin of Species. Then there’s what is becoming a series of apparent fabrications about his background – unsubstantiated stories about violent outbursts in his youth, and about being present during a hold-up in a chicken restaurant (during which he bravely told the armed robber to leave him alone and go after the poor sod behind the counter).

    The latest revealed fib involves his claim that he was offered “a full scholarship to West Point.” Never mind that West Point charges no tuition, which makes the notion of a scholarship somewhat fanciful. It appears that as an outstanding ROTC student, it was suggested to him that he should apply to West Point. But offered admission? Pants on fire.

    There are also some suggestions that he didn’t “decide” to retire from his neurosurgery practice, but was, in fact, actively encouraged to leave. It’s not clear why that might be the case.

    Given his affect, I’ve concluded that whatever his background, he has become Chance the Gardener.

  13. Perry
    November 6, 2015 at 8:07 PM

    Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist, which helps explain why he says the crazy shit he does. On one of my blogs I quoted an excerpt from an article by Ray Garton, “Life Among the Sadventists: They’re Always Watching” on a blog that no longer exists.

    Here’s the link to my blog post and the excerpt I quoted. Many of the links in that excerpt are now dead too, but here’s one I think you will enjoy about the tall people on Jupiter. http://www.nonsda.org/egw/criticb.shtml

    http://chainthedogma.blogspot.ca/2011/05/folie-deux-insane-prophets-of-seventh.html

    The Seventh-day Adventist cult’s “prophet” and founder, the alcoholic, masturbation-obsessed habitual plagiarist Ellen G. White, was astonishingly fanatical and legalistic, and let’s face it, folks, crazier than a bag of wet cats. At the age of nine, Ellen was hit in the head with a rock, which resulted in her being comatose for three weeks. Many think this trauma damaged her brain in ways that could have caused her extreme zealotry — I prefer to call it religious lunacy — which involved what she claimed were visions shown her by god, visitations by angels, and even a trip to Jupiter. Others think she was a calculating, greedy, power-hungry fraud. Some think she was a combination of both. Then there are the Sadventists, who believe even today in 2011 — despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary, all of which is poorly explained away by the cult, although the explanations are good enough for the believers — that she was a true prophet of god whose writings were divinely inspired and remain an infallible supplement to the word of god. The cult holds Ellen in the same regard as the biblical prophets (something else they deny vehemently to outsiders but acknowledge within the invisible walls that surround the cult). Over the years, there have been endless revisions and changes made in Ellen’s writings by the Sadventist Powers That Be to cover up some of her more embarrassing statements or obvious errors, which seems odd if her infallible writings are divinely inspired. Nevertheless, nearly a century after her death, Ellen’s writings are still the arbiter of doctrine and scriptural interpretation in the cult.

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy
    November 7, 2015 at 3:02 AM

    Ben Carson’s ego is so big that he doesn’t think he is wrong about anything, and so he doesn’t even have the decency to check out any of his ideas or be just a bit embarrassed when he sees how stupid they look when analyzed by others.

    Combination of “Missionary Man He Got GAWD On His Side” and “Proud I’m a Holy Nincompoop”.

    Re the latter, it’s probably re-interpreting “God sends foolish things to confound the wise” into “The stupider I am, the more Godly I must be!” Like al-Ghazali’s Incoherence of the Philosophers completely separating Reason and Faith (exactly the opposite conclusion as his contemporary St Thomas Aquinas) and firewalling how Faith Faith Faith must prevail, Al’lah’u Akbar. (We’re seeing the results of al-Ghazali’s theology all over the Middle East today.)

    P.S. One Christian blog I frequent has picked up on Carson as well.
    http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/60726

    P.P.S. Carson is apparently Seventh-Day Adventist, and SDAs have their own unique take on things. Do they ever…

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy
    November 7, 2015 at 3:05 AM

    So when the article says “Verdict: Fact” it is actually verifying the source of Carson’s various bizarre delusions — of which the scarecrow theory seems to be drawn in part from Egyptologist Dr Wyatt Thom’s 1984 book Egypt Egypt Egypt.

    I remember something from a Science Digest back when I was a kid in the Sixties:

    “You don’t have to be crazy to be an Egyptologist, but it helps.”
    Apparently Egyptology attracts more crackpots than any other branch of archaeology.

  16. Headless Unicorn Guy
    November 7, 2015 at 3:08 AM

    It gets better than that.

    Modern Young Earth Creationism is based on the “Flood Geology” originated by the Seventh Day Adventists as an interpretation of a vision by SDA founder Ellen G White.

    The real kicker is that X-treme YEC’s current stronghold is among churches who denounce the SDAs as a CULT CULT CULT.

  17. Headless Unicorn Guy
    November 7, 2015 at 3:21 AM

    Here’s the link to my blog post and the excerpt I quoted. Many of the links in that excerpt are now dead too, but here’s one I think you will enjoy about the tall people on Jupiter. http://www.nonsda.org/egw/criticb.shtml

    Woo. I knew the SDAs could get pretty “off-beat”, but THAT…
    Reminds me of Joseph Smith’s claim the Moon was inhabited by a people “much like the Amish”.

    P.S. The number of moons when I was a kid was 11 for Jupiter, 9 for Saturn, 5 for Uranus, and 2 for Neptune.

    The Seventh-day Adventist cult’s “prophet” and founder, the alcoholic, masturbation-obsessed habitual plagiarist Ellen G. White, was astonishingly fanatical and legalistic, and let’s face it, folks, crazier than a bag of wet cats.

    Now THAT (and the term “Sadventist”) is letting them have both barrels. That excerpt reads like a kook rant from a rabid Net Drunk with a real hair up their ass about the SDAs.

    P.S. Have you tried to find a copy of the original Galton article/rant archived on Wayback Machine?

  18. Rook
    November 7, 2015 at 10:15 AM

    With over 100 pyramids in Egypt, there are some exceptions, such as:
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/01/090114-mummy-egypt-queen.html

    I’m not sure about complete mummies, but fragments of human mummies certainly have been found in several of the pyramids. And numerous animal mummies as well, many of those indeed intact.

  19. Headless Unicorn Guy
    November 7, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    You can start with the nutty ideas like the pyramid nonsense and the fact that Carson has said that Satan made Darwin write The Origin of Species.

    Well, that’ll probably get him the Christianese vote.
    A lotta those guys have a one-track mind.

    As for the rumors of fabrications, he wouldn’t be the first guy to edit and pad his resume.

  20. Perry
    November 7, 2015 at 1:40 PM

    Thanks for the tip. I entered the following url into the Wayback Machine and the blog post is archived there.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20120228181917/http://atheistoasis.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/life-among-the-sadventists-theyre-always-watching

    That article was a reaction to a video, which doesn’t play on the WM but does if you click on the YouTube logo.

  21. BobM
    November 7, 2015 at 4:43 PM

    Obviously, brain surgery is not rocket science.

  22. BobM
    November 7, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    They also do this, for anyone who hasn’t seen it – funnier IMO.

  23. Mac
    November 8, 2015 at 9:02 AM

    Actually, it’s quite common for surgeons to have god complexes. Ask any nurse who has sent time in an OR.

  24. November 8, 2015 at 7:38 PM

    The use of the term “scholarship” is forgivable. Politifact gave it a mostly true: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/nov/08/ben-carson/carson-defends-west-point-scholarship-story/ They found “two West Point recruitment ads targeted at African-Americans that contain the word ‘scholarship,’ including one from the 1960s, when he was a student… as well as some old recruiting advertisements.”

    Of all Carson’s nutty claims, this is one I could forgive him for for… if he’d admit the facts when presented with them. He apparently was in ROTC and it’s plausible a commander told him he could get into the academy… it could be he conflated a couple old memories together, repeated the story often to reinforcing acclaim.I could see that.

    Pyramids as silos is a whole ‘nuther thing.

  25. MisterNeutron
    November 8, 2015 at 7:58 PM

    Pyramids as silos is a whole ‘nuther thing.

    You spelled it wrong. The word you’re after is nutter. 😉

  26. MrsPeel
    November 13, 2015 at 8:01 PM

    I wont go into Carson’s issue as I haven’t got the wit or literacy to say anything that would add more value, but just wanted to say how amazing to find you guys…. I got here from a link on Bushman/area 51 stuff…and couldn’t be more pleased and refreshed reading some of your posts in the site, and, BobM, thanks So much for the late night laugh with Mitchell & Webb. I have been living in the UK for 25 years, but for some reason (maybe the fact that I don’t watch much TV) had never seen it….

  27. Denver
    November 18, 2015 at 11:05 AM

    Some cults believe god was a space alien and jesus was his alien son, others believe the pyramids are grain silos.

    Don’t believe in cults.

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