Ben Carson Examined: A Ludicrous Idea of History with a Smattering of Separationism
A lack of critical thinking can lead to Ben Carson becoming the Fuckublican party’s lead candidate for the most powerful elected office on the planet
Beloved neurosurgeon-cum media whore Benjamin Solomon “Ben” Carson, Sr is — as of November 10, 2015 — pretty much the leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for U.S. President. His ideas, understandings of reality, and views on his personal superstitions’ place in our daily lives (a.k.a. his views on state/church separation) deserve a little scrutiny, as do any of his stated ideas regarding historical inquiry.
Born in my own origin town of Detroit, Carson has often spoken of the “mean streets” of his childhood. Carson attended, for 2 years, the same middle school I attended, Woodrow Wilson Jr High1. However Carson — being 64 years of age — grew up in a very different Detroit, when Springwells Village was part of the middle class, relatively stable landscape of the late 50s and early 60s urban prosperity Motown would later fall from, hard. I dare him to trade a single day of my own childhood on the mean-ass streets of SouthWest Detroit during the 1970s. Since this could never happen, let’s move on. Luckily, we have several works by Ben in book form and a plethora of interviews, Prayer Breakfast speeches, commencement addresses and more, all of which can be combed through to give us an indication of his (mental) readiness for the most powerful elected office on the globe. And what they give us is heartburn. Since this surfeit corpus leads me to realize I could write a full tome on the Carson Creation, I’ll whittle this to a 2-pronged pointed tip: his knowledge of history and of state/church separation.
Joseph’s Egyptian Grain Store
By 1998, having released 2 books, Carson addressed a graduating class at Andrews University in Michigan, a theological college tied to the Seventh-day Adventist Church (David Koresh’s church), of which Carson is a lifelong member. During the speech, he gives the world a clue as to what type of historically-grounded education he absorbed in his life.
My own personal theory, is that Joseph built the pyramids, in order to store grain. Now all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaoh’s graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big, if you stop and think about it, and I don’t think it would just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain. And when you look at the way the pyramids are made, with many chambers that are hermetically sealed, they would have to be that way for a reason, and uh, you know various scientists have said “well, you know, there were alien beings that came down, and they had special knowledge and that’s how they was . . ” Y’know it doesn’t require an alien being when god is with you.
Wow. Wherethefuck do I begin? This absurdist display of gross ignorance deserves a word and phrase dissection.
>> “personal” First, during the word ‘personal’, he raises his tone, and at the very same second points upward toward his Lord. Are we supposed to give more import to his upcoming words because the idea he is about to discuss is his (or belongs to his invisible friend)? He is in a position of authority2, speaking to a susceptible audience from a Conservative school not very well known for being a great teaching institution of history, science or critical thinking. I’m sure more than a few uncritical minds brought into his “personal” idea, as ludicrous as we consider it to be, as Biblical literalists aren’t exactly going to check reliable literature to double check the historic validity of such a statement. Carson should be ashamed. SMMFH.
>> “theory” This is a peasant use of the word ‘theory’, which more properly should have been the word “hypothesis” or even “guess”. Unless he were to make a very strong case and professes to have looked at all of the evidence to the contrary, his use of the word takes his statement which follows farther into the realm of absurdity. If he is speaking about history, that profession is properly grounded in science, and since science and evidence are the 2 bread slices in the sandwich of history, “theory” is in an improper manner. If he’s going to just make shit up, he should have used “I know I’m pulling this out of my ass, but . . .”
>> “Joseph built the pyramids” Starting with a timeframe point of view, the back-dated stories of Joseph end with his death roughly dating to about 1800 BCE. Since Carson speaks of the utter size of the pyramids, we can safely assume he is discussing the largest of them, especially the 2 most massive ones, on the Giza Plateau, just south of modern Cairo. The Pyramid of Khafre, the second largest of the Egyptian pyramids, was built during the 4th Dynasty. The reign of Khafre was from c. 2558 BCE to c. 2532 BCE. The slightly larger Pyramid of Khufu (a.k.a. the Great Pyramid) was finished c. 2560 BCE. Since the mythology of Joseph records that he lived to be 110 years of age, this leaves, at a minimum, 650 years between the construction of Khufu’s tomb and the birth of Joseph. By the time Joseph is supposed to have lived (he didn’t, but that’s beside the point to Biblical Literalists), pyramid construction was a fading form, and of the few built anywhere near Joseph’s time, nearly half have crumbled into amorphous forms, contradicting Carson’s later statement about the preservation of the pyramidal silos.
>> “Joseph” Let’s forget the claim that Joseph built the pyramids. Joseph, related in several important Old Testament stories, is not known to have actually existed. The stories relating to the life and death of Joseph, as with the Biblical Moses3, are later literary compositions4 formed during the post-Captivity period, a time of re-forming national mythologies to create a unified Jewish identity after Cyrus’ release of Babylonian captives. There is no reason to suggest Joseph actually existed5.
>> “in order to store grain” An assertion without a single shred of evidence. Certainly the pyramids are not entirely solid, however the tombs within are not large enough to store any substantial amount of grain. Despite being some of the most studied relics of the human past, no evidence supports any of the pyramids as silos. There simply are no hollow caverns within designed to support such a use.
>> “all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaoh’s graves“. That is probably because archeologists are well trained to utilize the tools of critical inquiry for their assertions, and since something called ‘evidence’ is entirely foundational to proper archaeology, evidence dictates the pyramids were made as tombs for the pharaohs. How do we know this? Because the fucking pyramids were made as tombs for the pharaohs. The inscriptions (a.k.a. Pyramid Texts) inside the chambers in the pyramids describe the reason for their construction. Cities built around the pyramids during their construction have been excavated, and even the graffiti found in those towns testify to the common purpose. Herodotus states so, as do other authors from antiquity.
All of this goes far in explaining just why “all the archaeologists think that they were made for the pharaoh’s graves”. Because they were, you fucking idiot savant. The evidence is just too overwhelming to spend another second on this ludicrous point.
>> “it would have to be something awfully big“. Yes, grain silos are usually moderately large structures. The base of hundreds have been found by archaeologists. None are in the shape of a pyramid base.
>> “I don’t think it would just disappear over the course of time“. I just do not know WTF he is referring to here. Does he equate size with decay and disappearance of historical structures? Just what does he think? Many tens of thousands of structures from the ancient world exist to this day, many of which were just excavated within the last century.
Consider Göbekli Tepe in modern day Turkey, dated to c. 9200 BCE, considered to be one of the oldest known temple structures. It is nearly 6 millennium older than the vast majority of Egypt’s pyramid tombs, and it is being excavated currently with an incredible amount of detail and material surviving to this day. Consider another of Antipater of Sidon’s Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, of which only the Great Pyramid survives to this day intact. Does Carson hold that the Pharos of Alexandria didn’t exist because it does not survive to this day? No, the bricks from the fallen lighthouse, which most likely fell to ruins due to a devastating series of earthquakes, were reused for a medieval fort. Carson’s unspecificity here tells us of an incomplete thought. Damn, and some people actually think he should be prez.
WTF. WTF. WTF.
>> “many chambers that are hermetically sealed” A hermetic seal is airtight. Not one of the tombs or chambers in any of the Egyptian pyramids are known to have been airtight. The doors and seals were in most cases very good and very tight, however they also had air holes leading to the outside, so that even if a passage were well sealed, the chamber behind the seal still had airflow.
And this guy’s a fucking doctor? I wouldn’t want him popping a pimple on someone I love.
>> “various scientists have said ‘well, you know, there were alien beings that came down, and they had special knowledge and that’s how they was . . ‘” Was what? Built (or ‘were’ built, to use proper English)? No, not one single scientist holds that the pyramids of Egypt were built by aliens. Nor were they built by slaves. However let’s test one idea on Carson; Satan told the ancient inhabitants of the Nile Valley to build the pyramids. Satan apparently did this to drive paganism, and “draw men away from Jehovah and his service.”
Such is a staple of beliefs about Egypt in the Jehovah’s Witness sub-cult of Christianity, and the “The Altar in Egypt”, published in the August 1, 2009 issue of The Watchtower, is part of their belief system to this day6. Would Carson hold that this idea is false while his is still valid? Fuck, I wish I could ask him. “To hell with their stupid ideas,” I see Ben saying in my fantasy discussion about these issues, “but mine is fine!”
> ” Y’know it doesn’t require an alien being when god is with you” I have no idea what this means, as the builders of the pyramids, the workers, considered that they were building a tomb for god, as the pharaohs were held in esteem as gods in the temple-based theocracy of pharaonic Egypt. This non-thought doesn’t deserve another second of our time.
There will be people who defend his statements. Here are some of their arguments:
“open spaces” Yes, there are a few voids and open spaces in some of the pyramids. However there is no evidence they have or have ever contained grain, and none of the voids are even large enough to be useful in storing grain. It’s like stating you are going to build a 5 bedroom house and the storage space will be the glove box of the car in the garage.
“we don’t know how the pyramids are built” Uh . . . Yes we do, almost 100%. Okay, maybe 85%, as there are still some minor, minor disputes. This has nothing to do with whether they were built with the primary, secondary or even the tertiary purpose of grain storage.
On Nov. 2, 2015, Carson, at a book signing, defended his remarks:
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 . . . The secular progressives try to ridicule it every time it comes up and they’re welcome to do that.
Well, gee, thank you for allowing us to rebuke your stupid remarks. But our attempt (including myself as a secular progressive) is not about whether or not you believe in the Bible — which is fine and not a point of contention — but should it cloud your ideas about anything, WE (meaning the press, historians, archaeologists, lay people, anyone who knows how to determine facts from ‘alternative facts’ pulled from your ass) have a civic and cultural duty to stand by truth. Especially if you are running for prez.
So let’s also conveniently forget about the pyramids of China and Mexico (for a cool interactive graphic, go here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/Comparison_of_pyramids_SMIL.svg). None of them were for the storage of grain, either.
“The Good Doctor”
Ben Carson has been, throughout his career, subject to many malpractice lawsuits7. I would tend to agree with some Republican presidential candidates that the Lamestream Media isn’t focusing on the issues, however my main concern here is that he is not being questioned about his career of negligence.
And despite having not one single reason (other than misguided Biblical Literalism) for thinking the pyramids were built by a person who most likely did not exist, on November 5, 2015, he reiterated his current “belief” in the claim.
Carson also wants to hold the office of Presidency, yet many of his claims must make one wonder if he understands the Constitution of the United States. He has repeatedly disputed State/Church Separation, written into Article 6, as well as the First Amendment, calling the issue “schizophrenia, a form of craziness.”8
Carson also holds that the Supreme Court’s decision in the Roe v. Wade case, which made safe abortions accessible, should be overturned. Despite the obvious violation(s) of law this would engender, and the destruction unsafe abortions mean for society, he wants his narrow view established into law. He also equates abortion rights with slavery. First Amendment, indeed.
He does not seem to understand that many of the props he cites in support of melding state and church together — such as In God We Trust on our coins and paper currency — were later inventions, each of which individually violate both Constitutional law and precedent.
He cites, for instance, the phrase “under god” in the Pledge of Allegiance. First, we shouldn’t be having children pledge fealty to the state in the first place. That is a clear form of Statism, used by communist countries to induce loyalty. Secondly, since anyone under 18 cannot be legally held to verbal or written contracts, their giving of a pledge should not concern us.
Besides, it was added in the late ’50s, and makes the sentence “one nation, under god, indivisible” into an absolutely ridiculous claim. “[o]ne nation, indivisible”, is an artfully crafted part of the Pledge. Adding a religious statement into this sentence negates the beautiful term “indivisible”, as nothing separates and divides people like religion.
He also cites the motto In God We Trust. The de facto national motto “E Pluribus Unum” was replaced by Congress in 1956, during the tense Cold War Theocracy vs. Ttatism standoff between the planet’s 2 largest military superpowers.
Of course, questioning his ideas of separationism lead to the statement broadly stroked over anyone who disagrees with him or presents alternate evidence: he calls it “schizophrenia, a form of craziness.” A fine article by Rosanna Marcel sums up the question about Carson’s delusional ideas righteously: “I can actually see the form of craziness he refers to, but he is the one that is delusional. Isn’t there a name for someone who is mentally-ill but cannot see it?”
“Yes”, she writes, “Republican.”9
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©2015 PAUL R PEARSON
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- Now called the Phoenix Academy. ↵
- For more information on what I mean by Authority Worship, especially as a detriment to critical inquiry, see
- See Arthur Frederick Ide, Moses: Making of Myth & Law; The Influence of Egyptian Sex, Religion and Law on the Writing of the Torah. Monument Press, 1992. Available here. Art’s blog can be found here. ↵
- See de Hoop, Raymond, Genesis 49 in its literary and historical context. Oudtestamentische studiën, Oudtestamentisch Werkgezelschap in Nederland. E. J. Brill, 1999. ↵
- Even a work published by Eerdman’s (Christian) Publishing house throws strong structural evidence into the nonexistence of Joseph. See Megan Bishop Moore and Brad E Kelle, Biblical History and Israel’s Past: The Changing Study of the Bible and History. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2011. ↵
- More on this disjointed Literalism can be found here:
http://www.sixscreensofthewatchtower.com/3pyramidology.html and here:
http://pastorrussell.blogspot.com/2008/08/great-pyramid-of-giza-product-of-true_30.html and here:
For reliable information on Egyptian history, there is a compilation listed at
- http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/04/ben-carson-malpractice-claims-doctor-for-president. ↵
- http://aattp.org/ben-carson-separation-of-church-and-state-is-schizophrenia-a-form-of-craziness/. ↵
- For information on the misuse of information in the formation of political forms, see the excellent article