Two thousand years after the Great Pyramid was built, the Greek historian Herodotus, known as the “father of history,” revived the study of that Mighty Wonder. From that time to this, there was been controversy over its meaning and symbolism. In our day, opinions about the Pyramid fall into three schools, roughly sketched below.
- “Pyramidiots”. This is the unflattering name given to those who believe the Great Pyramid is a revelation from the Creator. Those in this school say the plans for its building came from prophets who were in touch with the Divine will. One of the most distinguished scholars in this group was the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, C. Piazzi Smyth, (with Newton, Darwin and Einstein) a member of the Royal Society. Smyth, in his book Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid (1864) claimed that the measurements he obtained from the Great Pyramid of Giza indicated a unit of length, the pyramid inch, equivalent to 1.001 British inches, that could have been the standard of measurement by the pyramid’s architects. Smyth claimed that the pyramid inch was a God-given measure handed down through the centuries from the time of Noah, and that the architects of the pyramid could only have been directed by the hand of God. Adam Rutherford, who directed the Institute of Pyramidology, and wrote a 4 volume set entitled “Pyramidology,” is another leading “pyramidiot.” Zahi Hawass regularly uses this term to dismiss any findings from this school. It is a generally undeserved ad hominem because of the serious and rational scholarship from many researchers in this group. But the Christian perspective of most of these authors dooms them to contempt from secular scholars.
- Esotericists or “Theosophists.” The centerfold of this school would be current authors of widely circulated books speculating on the meaning of the Sphinx, the pyramids, and related matters, especially Robert Bauval and Graham Hancock, authors Fingerprints of the Gods and The Message of the Sphinx. Students and scholars in the Esotericist School believe the wisdom built into the Great Pyramid came from an intelligence not now present, either from a fallen former super-civilization, like Atlantis, or from intelligent aliens, gods from outer space who visited earth in an ancient past. Bauval and Hancock work from the standpoint that a great intelligence from the past has been lost, but they never directly posit intelligent aliens. Hancock has championed But that implication is always there to be drawn by those millions who buy their books and follow their work.
- Egyptologists. This is the modern priesthood of pyramid knowledge, the small cadre of scholars holding doctorates in fields relating to ancient Egyptian history, language and religion. Modern Egyptologists believe the Great Pyramid was built by Egyptians in conventionally calculated historical times, and the Pyramid’s metrics, symbolism and meaning must all be interpreted from the religious beliefs of the Egyptians held at the time of the Pyramid’s construction. The most famous face of this group would be Dr. Zahi Hawass, who oversaw Egypt’s antiquities before the 2011 Egyptian revolution. While Hawass does not have an outstanding reputation as an honest scholar among many Egyptologists and Esotericists (Bauval regularly slams his scholarship and honesty), his enthusiasm for things Egyptian has captured the hearts of devoted followers around the world who see him on National Geographic specials, and in the news. I participated in two tours of the major Egyptian pyramids with Dr. Hawass, and appreciate his defense of the Egyptian authorship of these grand monuments.
The first group, the “Pyramidiots”, largely believe that the Pyramid is a divine revelation, the other two groups don’t. Egyptologists are largely empiricists. The one way they might be said to acknowledge God is when they write about the many gods the ancient Egyptians believed in, and analyze their religious systems. The Esotericists might be willing to conjecture that the apparent geometric marvels of the Pyramid are the result of knowledge lost with Atlantis2 or some other highly advanced but now destroyed civilization, but they would belittle the possibility that God used prophets to direct the building of the Great Pyramid in the way that God directed Noah to build the ark. They are willing to exercise their muscles of hope for unseen Atlanteans, but not unseen divine prophets.
While there have been a wide range of sympathizers to the idea of divine inspiration in the Great Pyramid, from a variety of slants, including Sir Isaac Newton (I have studied his Dissertation upon the Sacred Cubit… in the rare book room of the University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library, in which he deduced a sacred and profane cubit), it might be helpful to look at the man who could be said to have sparked its modern consideration, John Taylor. Taylor’s book entitled, The Great Pyramid: Why Was it Built and Who Built it? was published in 1859, the same year that Darwin published The Origin of Species. The similar timing of these two seminal works seems providential in that they propose singularly opposing views on the origin, and ultimately the purpose, character and destiny of the human race.
Given these gigantic stakes, what were Taylor’s findings and conclusions?