Journal of Heresies

My search for truth in a world of deceit.

Location: United States

I have what is probably an insatiable desire to search out the answers to what may be impossible questions.

Friday, March 16, 2007

So I've read Stitchin

I have had at least five people tell me that I should read "The 12th Planet" by Zechariah Stitchin. So, I have read the book. The 12th Planet is the first in a series of books by Stitchin which he calls the Earth Chronicles. I believe the book was recommended to me because in it, Stitchin delves into the ancient texts and attempts to explain what it all means.

In the beginning of the book, Stitchin makes several claims which I was expecting him to support during the course of his book. Some of these claims equated the gods of various near-eastern pantheons as the same gods. While I am compelled to agree that there is crossover between pantheons, I'd like to see how his specific conclusions are made. He does not provide explanations for these claims, nor directly references other resources which might do so. I was disappointed to find that he was making this and other statements as if they were well known, and was making the statements as a starting point for his theories. Written in 1976, Stitchin uses some of the then popular scientific theories to support his theories. Unfortunately for Stitchin, some of these are now debatable. For instance, it is now known that neandarthal man posessed physical attributes that suggest he had a higher potential for intellegence than modern man, that neanderthal also had a culture, used weapons, practiced medicine, burial and other "advanced" behaviors, and co-existed at least for a time with both homo-sapien and homo-erectus. The more recent discoveries have caused those older theories on mans evolution, to which Stitchin refers, to be re-thought. Because the "facts" on which Stitchin builds his argument are shaky, so are the theories based on those "facts". I have to wonder what Stitchin (if he is still alive) thinks of the recent debates about how to classify a planet as a planet and how he fits the theory he once presented regarding the 12th planet together with the latest astronomical discoveries. Stitchin also presents mostly hand drawn copies and a few photo-like copies of various ancient artifacts which he says depict the gods wearing attire which would be necessary for air, water and/or interstellar travel. Personally, I have to do some serious mental acrobatics to agree with his interpretation of these images.

The single most annoying thing that Stitchin does however is also something employed by most Christians. Many Christians, including myself at one time, look at the Bible as one big book where details from Matthew are directly connected to details from Genesis, and to Revelations and to Romans, and to Isaiah, and so on, and so forth. Basically, most Christians don't look at verses in their historical and cultural context. They don't consider who the writer was (because its all really from one source right?) and they don't consider who the words were written to, or what it would have meant to those people in their own time. Nor, do they consider that the writings of past generations were used and misused by succeeding generations just as is done by our own generation. Verses are intermixed and thrown together to say "This is what we believe, and see, God says we are right, so you'd better believe it the way we do." This is backwards logic, and dangerous logic. Instead of inquiring for the mind of God, Christianity presumes to be the single almighty authority which alone can speak for God. Unlike Christianity, Stitchin does not presume to speak as if he is God. He does however, use all ancient texts in this same manner, irregardless of time, place and culture, he carves out a quote here and a quote there and pastes them together to prove his point. He takes the words and images of the past and forces them together into his worldview.

Although I have great difficulties with Stitchin's assertions and methods, I did find a couple of his statements interesting, and worth considering while I continue to learn about the ancient Near East. The one most intriguing to me is the idea that the area of Egypt and Nubia may have been the domain of Enki/Ea, and the northern areas, those of Sumer and Akkad, may have been the domain of Enlil. This idea if true also has some interesting implications for understanding the meaning of texts which describe the interactions between Enki and Enlil.

Given the enthusiasm with which this book was promoted to me, I am very disappointed in it. Zecharia Stitchin fails to effectively present enough solid evidence of his theories to convince me of his postulations. I hope that those who made the recommendation only thought that I would find something interesting in his writings; this I did. However, there isn't enough in it for me to recommend the book to others.

Labels: , ,