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If I had a billion dollars . . .

I'd hire one respectable scientist to explain the mystery of Coral Castle.

by James Leroy Wilson
December 4, 2008

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If I had a billion dollars . . .

In the early 1920's Ed Leedskalnin, a 5-foot, 100-pound Latvian immigrant with a 4th-grade education, began his work on what he called "Rock Gate Park" and is now known as Coral Castle, in Florida.  You may have seen it on television. It is made out of 1,100 tons of coral that he quarried, moved, and sculpted all by himself. Then, in the late 1930's, he moved the whole thing to a new location ten miles from the original location.

Almost no credible witness saw him build it. He worked at night by lantern, with no help. No one knows how he moved stone blocks of many tons from one place to another, or how he placed one on top of another. The chains, levers, and pulleys, that photographs suggest he used, could not support the weight.

Leedskalnin himself wouldn't explain his engineering achievement, though he claims no magical powers. But he did claim that he knew the secrets of the ancient wonders such as the pyramids of Egypt. He said that modern science is wrong and that nature is quite simple to understand. He also published pamphlets on magnetism, which suggested a perpetual-motion device could be constructed.

The Amazing Randi has for years offered $1,000,000 "to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power."

If I had a billion dollars, I'd propose a more interesting offer: all expenses paid, and $10,000,000, to any person who, using no more than tools and technology available in the 1920s-30s, can reconstruct even a portion of Coral Castle by him- or herself. Applicants would have to explain their theory and method, and the one with the best explanation will receive a good salary, all expenses paid, and ten million dollars upon successful completion within a reasonable deadline. But I'd reserve the offer only to professors and other members of the respected Scientific Community.  Lone eccentrics, fired professors, and "pseudo-scientists" would be disqualified. I would, instead, give just them a $5 million-dollar prize, because they would have no reputation to lose.

And then I would dare respectable scientists and scholars to come up with a convincing theory for these ten archeological anomalies that challenge the accepted time-table of history. I'd give a prize to the best scientific/historical explanation from academics, and an equal prize to the best "alternative" theory from pseudo-scientists and supposed cranks, and release them both to the public to let the people decide which is most convincing.

Now let's say I earn my billion and attempt to follow through on these plans. Would anyone wanna bet that "men in black" will appear at my door and "persuade" me to cancel these offers?

If I were a member of Congress and proposed legislation to offer these prizes - with a total cost of no more than a hundred million dollars and which could increase our understanding of the universe by several magnitudes - would anyone wanna bet the bill would never get out of committee?

Corporations would oppose the bill, because the theories offered may have interesting implications for propulsion technology and health. After all, marijuana and industrial hemp have near-infinite practical uses, yet the government suppresses cannabis because, unlike oil and complex pharmaceuticals, corporations can't control its distribution. A persuasive theory that changes the way we understand energy and the universe will have technological implications that the Corporations and the State can't control.

But I suspect that Church would also oppose the bill. The Church, of course, isn't as monolithic as it was 600 years ago. But influential individuals throughout the denominations of Christianity have an awful lot riding on the status quo. Some thrive on the evolution/creation debate, or atheism/Christianity, and any theory that threatens the contemporary Christian worldview is better ignored than acknowledged. Others focus on "social justice" issues, and enlarging the power and scope of the State is essential to their agenda. In any case, if someone could duplicate Leedskalnin's technology and cause stones to levitate (if that is indeed what the technology involved), maybe he could learn to walk on water. If even Jesus's miracles have a scientific explanation, that could be an even greater threat to the faith than those who doubt God's existence. Better to ignore the issue and accept things on faith.

Academia would also oppose it. The eccentrics like Leedskalnin are best left ignored, as are any artifacts or theories that challenge that status quo. After all, universities are beholden to State funding. And this causes faculty to make conclusions that are in line with State interests. For example, most university economists are from schools of thought that imagine what the State can do for the economy, while economists who explain what the State can't do are in the minority. So if someone comes along with a theory that disproves all the respectable assumptions regarding the natural world, and proves that scarcity can be abolished with the appropriate technology, modern science would be discredited and the State would be exposed as unnecessary.

Those who have power and prestige can't imagine life without them. There are signs - not proofs, but signs - that the natural world and history as they really are, are not what we've been taught. And a new understanding may alter human consciousness, if it is determined that what passed for "human nature" was really perceptions and desires based on myths instead of reality.

If Leedskalnin and/or others really did have the an understanding of the universe that made a perpetual-motion machine possible, by all means we should try to discover it. The reason we don't is that too many self-interested parties fear what the discoveries might lead to. And that's one reason to distrust offices of power and those who hold them.

Comments (3)

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Jonathan Wilson from Illinois writes:
December 5, 2008
While author Dan Brown might agree with your assessment of the motives of the Church, I can tell you that the most honest searches for the truth in my experience have been among the scholars of the faith. At one lecture I attended while in seminary, a visiting professor held forth that the unique claim of the Christian Faith is falsifiable: Produce the remains of Jesus and the whole thing collapses. (No one has been able to do that, not even when the corpse was fresh and in the power of those who had crucified him.) While, in my opinion, the 6 24-hour day creation model has been falsified, what has not been falsified is the actual story of Genesis 1 taken on its own terms. Instead, of all ancient descriptions of reality Genesis 1 most closely affirms the claims of modern scientific understanding: chaos, light, elemental distinction, then life in ascending orders of complexity.

What your Latvian immigrant has demonstrated, meanwhile, is that the Biblical statement that "Cain built a city and called it Irad" is a valid statement; apparently ONE man with primitive tools actually can build a city out of stone. My my. Hmm. But I digress.

Even so, your archaeological anomalies are explainable in a "catastrophic" model of change, the dynamic believed among the Young Earth believers to account for these things by a global flood as the Bible describes. So even though I am not a young earther, I see nothing threatening from keeping an open mind.

I would say that a man holding a magnetic manipulator available to the ancients and then walking on water is one thing. Speaking a command to calm wind and waves is quite something else, but I have an open mind. Witnesses to Jesus don't identify that he held or used tools to manipulate elements according to an alternative science, not even a staff which, interestingly, Moses used. (Moses, a prince of Egypt for forty years, and a priest of the LORD for forty years. Hmm.) But I see no reason to prohibit the search for explaining the miracles of Moses or of Jesus. The more we search, the more we validate the events as the Bible reports them (see Cain, above). I don't see how that becomes a bad thing for the Church or anyone else. If the ultimate result is that my faith is found to be false, then I will bless the discoveries for advancing knowledge and enlightenment and move on. That does not seem to be the direction of things, though, does it, what with Cain building cities all by himself just like our Latvian friend, and metal tools and human hand-prints found in dinosaur layers.

James Leroy Wilson from Indepedent Country writes:
December 5, 2008
Look at the bigger picture, and remember my cannabis illustration.

1) The Bible does not, anywhere, suggest criminal penalties for insobriety, yet pot smokers fill America's prisons while politicians voted in by Christian voters take credit for this.

2) The government's prohibition of industrial hemp makes even less sense, morally and economically: it could make everything from paper to energy dirt cheap, benefiting the poor.

Yet it appears that "Christian leaders" of both Left and Right tacitly or expressly support these insane prohibitions, or at most dodge the issues. They seem focused on issues that will lead to more State control, and they persuade Christian voters to do the same.

I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that many prominent religious figures, from James Dobson to Jim Wallis are beholden to the State. They'll talk about morality and/or the poor, but will remain silent on issues that will threaten the State and their own clout. So even if they won't condemn "alternative" scientific exploration, they will marginalize it by ignoring it.

elm from 98801 writes:
December 17, 2008
If I had a million dollars I would offer it to anyone who could prove the Bible to be true. Forget about inspired, begin with true!! 1700-2000 years ago, when the texts were being assembled into a 'new testament', the vast majority of humanity was illiterate. Science was not known. Anything could be put forth and said to be 'absolute truth' when it was in fact, completely fraudulent. These texts were not written in first person. For example, the four canonized gospel tales were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. That has been a well known fact for about 200 years. And to this day, no one knows who the gospel stories were written by. These texts are perfect examples of pious fraud and the foundation pf the deception used by translators to form their own newly forged religion known as Christanity that continues to this day. The Hebrew culture, at the time of these writings, was not monotheistic, but rather, polytheistic Example: The Hebrew word for God is el; the plural is elohim, gods. This makes the first sentence in the Bible, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1), a fraud. Here is Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew (transliterated into the Latin alphabet, of course): "Bere****h bara elohim," meaning - "In-beginning created (the) gods (the) heavens and (the) earth." Those powers-that-be crafting the deceptions and twisting translations created a fraud. Well aware of the riddled errors, inconsistencies and flat-out lies they perpetuated, for their protection, they made it punishable by death for common man to read the Bible during the Middle Ages. If the common man discovered the deceptions, it could have been the death of the Church's authority, power and control over the masses. And since the original languages are rarely, if ever, used by those who read the Bible, the fraud is perpetuated.

Thomas Paine examained the old testament and proved that it was a malicious fraud and said, " it has often been said that anything maybe proved from the Bible but before anything can be admitted as proof by Bible the Bible itself must be proved to be true for if the Bible is not true or the truth of it be doubtfull it ceases to have any authority and cannot be admitted as proof of anything."

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