In the year 2000, Chicago University commemorated Jesuit Fr Athanasius Kircher by publishing a catalogue
of his works. But a mere 1,750 copies were printed in paperback, and they will
last only for a few years. They testify to a great scientific mind which never
achieved its full potential because of the crippling effects of the Jesuit
with an exhibition in 1989 at Brigham Young University in Salt
Lake City, Utah, the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whom
we call the Mormons. Their catalogue of Kircher’s works was produced by a fine
books publisher, in hardback, on acid free paper, to last at least three
centuries. And it is now in its third edition.
The Book of Mormon
The Mormons have
split up, as sects do, but they all follow the Book of Mormon. The Utah
Mormons are the large wealthy group. Most of us have come across their
missionaries who obviously pose a significant threat to the Gospel.
To the Mormons,
the Book of Mormon is, “a literal history of the inhabitants of the
ancient Americas”. Joseph
Smith, the founder and first prophet of the Mormon church, claimed to have
translated the book in the late 1820’s from a set of golden plates which he
found buried in a hill near his home in upstate New
York. It was probably just as well for the Mormon
Church that when Joseph Smith had completed his translation he had the good
manners to return the plates to the angel who had entrusted them to him.
There was of
course no Mormon movement at this stage. The Book purported to be a history of
the Americas. It was condemned
at once by the fine Reformed Baptist preacher Alexander Campbell as containing,
“every error and almost every truth discussed in New
York for the last 10 years…”.
is a lot of matter in the Book of Mormon which we would not expect to
come from the mind of a backwoods lad. This mystery seemed to have been solved
in 1834 when evidence appeared that Smith and an accomplice called Rigdon had
stolen a manuscript off one Simon Spalding who died in 1816.
theory is now discredited. It was an altogether too convenient way of
disposing of Mormonism. Mormonism was clearly a complex cultural phenomenon
born out of the adventurous spirit and deprivations of the age of the wagon
train and the westward migration.
tend to argue that Joseph Smith held the worldview of his time – “every error
and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last 10 years,” as Campbell put it. This anchors the Book of Mormon in that decade. It
is a history of the primitive American people, it is an amalgam of all the
known thoughts and theories about the native Americans held at that point in
time and funnelled through the psyche of Joseph Smith – a psyche which had
already been moulded by a Bible-based upbringing.
We now know that
in the decade 1820-1830, Joseph Smith could have been aware of mounds in which
were buried stone boxes containing metal plates. But he would have believed
that Christian white men had buried them which was the theory current at the
time. We now know that they were the work of American Indians.
What the Mormons
at Brigham Young University really need in order to corroborate their weird theories of past
civilisations, is to produce some source of knowledge of ancient tribes
independent of the findings of modern archaeology. This is where Kircher comes
in, as we shall see in a moment. Joseph Smith would then be a true prophet,
though hampered by the religious beliefs of his day.
Brigham Young University is attempting the impossible.
Biblical archaeology only confirms the truth of the Bible. Even when the Bible
and archaeology appear to contradict one other, later discoveries clarify the
discrepancies. The Hittite controversy is a good example. The Bible is
confirmed by archaeology. And archaeologists of necessity have to use the
Bible to guide them in their searches. The mounds of the near east have filled
the whole museums with artefacts which corroborate Scripture. The British
museum is a stunning witness to the veracity of the Bible. The same cannot be
said of the Book of Mormon.
The Angel Moroni
We are told that
Angel Moroni, the heavenly messenger who first visited the Prophet
Joseph Smith in 1823, was:
“the resurrected son of an ancient
prophet historian named Mormon who had written on golden plates quotations and
abridgements of earlier writers such as Neph Jacob Enos, (and) before dying as
the last of the Nephite people in AD 421 buried the gold plates in a stone
vault on Hill Cumorah in W. New York State”.
were said to have grown from 600 BC onwards into a great nation like Israel. If this was so, there would
clearly be an abundance of archaeological evidence. Suffice it to say that
the final authority, the Smithsonian Institute, says there is none. Further,
the Institute confirms that there is no evidence of cereals such as wheat,
barley, oats and rice, or of iron, steel, wagons with large wheels, and animals
such as chickens, pigs, camels and elephants, all of which happily appear as
part of the daily life of the people described in the Book of Mormon.
So why does
Brigham Young University make so much of Athanasius Kircher? The answer is
that it seems that the majority of the golden plates were inscribed in
“reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphics which Smith translated with special
eyeglasses, Urim and Thummim, provided by the angel. In the Mormon
Essentials of Church History by Joseph Fielding Smith there is no
illustration of an early poster ‘Stock of Joseph’ advertising the Book of
Mormon. The hieroglyphics are plainly visible. They would have sent Kircher
Joseph Smith let down his guard after the initial opposition had subsided, as
confidence tricksters often do. The title page of the first edition, Palmyra 1830, reads: “By Joseph Smith,
Junior. Author and Proprietor”. That at least we will not question!
tells us, “The Brigham Young University has one of the most significant
collections of Kircheriana in
the country … Although now superseded by modern scholarship, Kircher’s work in
fields such a Egyptology and religion still hold a gold mine of curiosities and
information not found in other
sources … The acquisition of Kircher’s Egyptian works is the result of the
University’s long standing interest in Egyptology … Kircher’s works are
especially pertinent to religious studies, because they record the conflict
between the age of orthodoxy (that is the Aristotelian world view) and the
emerging age of science, a conflict not only between men but within men …”.
What they are
saying is that we know the Book of Mormon is correct, all we need is
someone with sufficient mystical insight into ancient civilisations to prove it
and Kircher could be the man.
Brigham Young University currently hopes to show that
there was migration from Egypt
to Mexico, but apart from a few
Norse runes in Greenland, their
quest has so far been futile. So with all conventional science against like
Kircher, who could move seamlessly from pure science into the fanciful and
mystical and who is not yet widely known, is just what they need. No wonder Brigham Young University sates
that it is poised to play a significant role in “his re-evaluation”.
all Jesuits, was multilingual. Hebrew and Coptic and Syrian were three of the
12 languages he spoke. But above all he appeared to understand the
inscriptions on Egyptian obelisks. Nowadays we can read hieroglyphics,
following the pioneering work of Jean Champollion who showed that they were ideaographs with phonetic
signs. But in Kircher’s time they were shrouded in mystery and often thought
to have magical meanings. During his Jesuit training Kircher came across a
book of engravings, Mercati’s The Obelisks of Rome, which led to a
lifelong obsession to understand their meaning. Pope Sixtus V was also
besotted with the mystical symbolism of obelisks. He re-erected many of those
that the Romans had imported and arranged them in a sinister geometrical
pattern, still to be seen today. Mercati had faithfully copied them in his
the Bible, men craved this secret knowledge to empower them. The Jesuits with
their plans for world domination, were no exception. Once in Rome, Kircher filled the Collegio Romano
with minor obelisks and studied the public ones. He also gathered all the
ancient writings of their meaning from the orient. Over a period of 20 years
this “most sweet rack” puzzled and tormented him deep into the night.
He wrote a
number of books on Egyptology. Amongst them was his 1643 Lingua Aegyptiaca Restituta – The
Language of Egypt Restored. Then followed a massive four volume Oedipus
Aegyptiacus 1652-1654, because his Jesuit masters prevented him from doing
anything more profitable in mainstream science lest he upset their Aristotelian
explanation of the universe. The Oedipus volumes are splendid examples
of early printing with special, spectacular fonts commissioned especially for
them. But they only further confounded his earlier guesses as to the meaning
of the hieroglyphics and led Kircher into mystical flights of fancy.
As his fame grew
he was asked by the pope to fill in broken portions of a public obelisk. Of
course he only succeeded in defacing an ancient monument. A modern Jesuit
biographer admits, “He has been described as a retarder rather than an advancer
of Egyptian studies. Indeed his errors, coupled with the esteem in which he
was held … did, most probably lead many who tried to follow in his footsteps
into dead ends.”
Spell of the Jesuits
Brigham Young University, despite all their wealth,
faces an impossible task in trying to make the Book of Mormon stand up
to archaeological scrutiny. Yet they have clearly fallen under the spell of
the Society of Jesus and they hope that the Jesuit Kircher will yet save them.
When Kircher’s Jesuit contemporary, Adam Schall and his followers went to China, Kircher immediately began to ruminate on an Egyptian basis for
Chinese culture and writing. This erroneous theory persisted into the 19th
century. The writer of their catalogue clings to the hope that, “the
contributions of Kircher to a startling variety of fields will perhaps prove
more significant than scholars of the past two centuries have thought”. Or
Egyptology, Kircher, in his desperation to have a realm of academic freedom
beyond the scrutiny of his superiors, passed from the scientific into the
mystical in many disciplines. His ten part 1650 Musurgia Universalis, Dictionary
of Music, ranged from accepted theory and instruments that he had himself
invented to part 10, The Symphony of all Nature. This describes the
“natural harmony of plant, animal and human worlds all in tune with the music
of the planetary spheres, the angelic choirs and The Great Divine harmony”,
which comes close to the area of universal sounds and harmonies of all time.
This lead to the Jesuit inhabiting the borders of science and mysticism
creating the climate for clever but misguided minds to explore bizarre notions
such as the Vatican Time Machine (BCN 19 September 2003)
Sacred Science Institute
Likewise he passed effortlessly from
Chemistry to Alchemy, Geology to the lost continent of Atlantis, Magnetism to
the World of unseen Spiritual forces, to name but a few of the topics covered
in his vast 42-volume output.
writer noticed that Kircher is now included in the recommended reading for the
Sacred Science Institute which aims to beat the stock market by mystical means.
No doubt Kircher’s writings which might
have been a cornucopia of scientific discovery, will instead be a fount of
strong delusion for all who desire to partake until the Lord returns. Such is
the effect of Jesuitry on the minds of men.