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Essay: Immortality? Perhaps

By: Patricia Daly-Lipe

The Flood

At times I wonder – what
Just wonder what is meant
By the wonders that I’ve wondered
In times long past and spent.  (Daly Highleyman, author’s father)


Belief in God does not lead to a linear or one dimensional view of life. Rather it may lead to the concept of immortality, but not in the sense we normally equate with Heaven and humans.

God, I believe, encompasses the entire universe, not solely our small, insignificant world for the benefit of mankind. To say God is just for us comes, I feel, from a mindlimited by immediate need.

Why have we been so fearful of exploring the past completely, openly, scientifically and without fear? Have we simply been  afraid of upsetting some of our convenient and complacent ideas…ideas we were taught to accept without question and without proof ?

Let’s ponder possibilities and begin by exploring a few avenues of the past. Consider the Piri Reis map. This was a pre-modern world map compiled in 1513 from military intelligence by the Ottoman-Turkish admiral and cartographer Piri Reis. It clearly shows the contours of North and South America and Antarctica in correct relation toEurope and Africa to such an extent that, when placed side by side with a modern space image, they are virtually identical, even to the distortion caused by the fact that our earth is round. Charles Hapgood (1904-1982) wrote three books including Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings (1966). Research resulted in his belief that the Piri Reis map supported his theory of global exploration by a pre-classical undiscovered civilization. The reason? His analysis of the mathematics of ancient maps and of their accuracy led the professor to determine the Piri Reis map surpassed instrumentation available at the time of its drafting. This opens a few doors beyond what we have been taught. Does it not?

Let’s look further back in the history of civilization. The Old Testament of the Bible, for one, takes us to the beginning of human history and the ancient world through myths, legends and saga. (As an aside, note that myth is, by its own definition, true and not-true. According to Neitzsche, “Myth can itself only be defined in terms of the constant elimination of definition.” The object of myth is the unknown. Myth is irrational, beyond time and space. And ultimate reality is also irrational. It is cyclical, as opposed to linear.)

 One example from the Old Testament is the story of  The Flood. God tells Noah to build an Ark. God is going to cause a flood that will destroy all living creatures, but He makes a covenant with Noah. Along with his family (including his extended family), Noah is to bring two of every species of animal as well as a supply of food. Then, except for Noah and all with him on the Ark, the earth returns to the way it was before ‘Creation.’ God lets loose the waters of chaos. The story tells that God thought human violence had corrupted the earth. It had spoiled His creation. So God had to destroy not just humankind, but the earth as well. All, that is, except Noah and the Ark. Then God makes a wind blow and the waters begin to subside. Dry land reappears and the earth is repopulated with birds, animals, reptiles, and human beings, all descended from the Ark.

Similar events can be traced to Hindu scriptures written centuries before the Bible. Also the Babylonians who claimed that their God Cronus foretold the Flood to Sisithrus who built an Ark. At some point, Sisithrus sent out three birds to determine if the flood had subsided. The birds, passing over an unbounded sea, found no place to rest and returned. But on the third trial, the birds came back with mud on their feet leading Sisithrus to land his ark on the mountain Armenia.

Then there is the Epic of Gilgamesh. Written in Akkadian in the first centuries of the second millennium B.C.. It begins: “In those days the world teemed, the people multiplied, the world bellowed like a wild bull, and the great god was aroused by the clamour.So the gods agreed to terminate mankind.”  Ea (Oannes) advised Utnapishtim (who with his wife were the only mortals granted eternal life by the gods) to build an Ark and load it with every kind of living creature. Keep in mind this Epic dates from the preliterate age on the borderline of legend and history. According to the Epic:

The gods shook like beaten dogs, hiding in the far corners of heaven,
Ishtar screamed and wailed:
“The days of old have turned to stone:
We have decided evil things in our Assembly!
Why did we decide those evil things in our Assembly?
Why did we decide to destroy our people?
We have only just now created our beloved humans;
We now destroy them in the sea!”
All the gods wept and wailed along with her,
All the gods sat trembling, and wept.

The boat was at sea for seven days and seven nights. Finally Utnapishtim opens a window, looks out and sees the entire earth has been turned into a flat ocean and all humans have been turned to stone. Finally, Utnapishtim’s boat comes to rest on the top of Mount Nimush. It remains lodged there for another seven days. On the seventh day:

I [Utnapishtim] released a dove from the boat,
It flew off, but circled around and returned,
For it could find no perch.
I then released a swallow from the boat,
It flew off, but circled around and returned,
For it could find no perch.
I then released a raven from the boat,
It flew off, and the waters had receded:
It eats, it scratches the ground, but it does not circle around and return.
I then sent out all the living things in every direction and sacrificed a sheep on that very spot.

It was later, after the so-called deluge, that gods were replaced by mortals on the thrones of city-states.

Plato also gives an account of the Flood and the city of Atlantis in the dialogueCritias. According to Critias, in ancient times the Earth was divided among the gods by allotment. Atlantis was allotted to Poseidon, the god of the sea, storms, and earthquakes. Poseidon fell in love with a mortal girl who bore him a number of children, the first of whom was named Atlas. He inherited the kingdom and passed it onto his firstborn. This lasted for many generations.

For many generations, while the god’s strain in them was still vigorous, they gave obedience to the laws and affection to the divine whereto they were akin.

However, eventually the Atlanteans became corrupt.

…when the god’s part in them began to wax faint by constant crossing with much mortality, and the human temper to predominate, then they could no longer carry their fortunes, but began to behave themselves unseemly. To the seeing eye, they now began to seem foul, for they were loosing the fairest bloom from their most precious treasure; but to such as could not see the true happy life, to appear at last fair and blessed indeed, now they were taking the infection of wicked coveting and pride of power.

Then Zeus, the “god of gods”, “who governs  his kingdom by law”, seeing the corruption of the Atlanteans, determined to chastise them. He was “minded to lay a judgment on them, that the discipline might bring them back to tune.” So, gathering all the gods together in his “most honorable residence, even that that stands at the world’s center and overlooks all that has part in becoming, and when he had gathered them there, he said…” The rest of the text is lost. I am wondering what is meant by “all that has part in becoming” and where and what is “the world’s center”?  (Quotations from‘The Collected Dialogues of PLATO‘, Princeton University Press, Tenth printing, 1980)

On the North American continent, the Nez Percés Indian Tribe of the Palouse, an area southwest of what is now Spokane, Washington, also has a flood story in which the only humans who survived did so by climbing the mountain Yamustus (which means Holy Mountain) that is in Steptoe Butte. The rock, by the way, that forms the butte is over four hundred million years old.

The Ramayana, the Sumerians, Egyptians, ancient South Americans, evenEskimos all have a story of The Flood and the chastisement by the gods of a mankind turned corrupt. Which “flood” came first and who is copying from whom? (Keep in mind that in this early stage of civilization as we know it, science and legend were bedfellows. Natural disasters like volcanoes and earthquakes and tsunamis were not understood by the people who equated nature’s wrath with the gods’ revenge.)

Was Homer’s Odyssey inspired by The Epic of Gilgamesh mentioned above?Gilgamesh, described as “Two thirds they made him god and one third man”lived about 2700 BC. He was named in the Sumerian King List as the fifth King of the first Dynasty of Erech after the Flood. His reign was said to have lasted 126 years. (His son reigned a mere thirty years and thereafter, kings reigned in ordinary human terms.) Could it be that the “part-divine and part-human” means the possibility of an offspring from the mating of an earthling with an intelligence from outer space? After all, the primitive mind could only think of spacemen (or space-women) as being divine regardless of whether the extraterrestrials, if they actually came, intended it or not.

As for Moses, I do not recall reading anything about his being one of those “cross between the races.” However, just how many parallels are there to the story of Moses ascending Mt. Sinai and entering into a Covenant with God through the Ten Commandments carved in stone? Zoroaster’s mountain was bathed in fire when he heard the Revelation of God and was filled with mimic understanding as he descended to teach the Persians about Ahura-Mazda and his struggle with Augra Manyou – Good against Evil – and other mountain enlightenments (such as Hammurabi, Minos andMahomet). I do not know whether Moses, or anyone else, was the offspring of an earthling and an intelligence from outer space. Nor do I find it a challenge to my belief inGod as He encompasses the entire universe. Most countries have at least one sacred mountain associated with the manifestation of the Gods. The Hebrew “El Shaddai”(God Almighty) is reminiscent of the Syrian God Addu (Hadad) mentioned in the Armani Tablets. Ugaritic texts refer to El as sovereign, but another god ran things on earth for El as his vizier. That god’s name was Baal, a name quite familiar to anyone who has read the Old Testament. At Ugarit, Baal was known by several titles: “king of the gods,” “the Most High,” “Prince Baal” (baal zbl), and “the Rider on the Clouds” although the prophets would only give credit to Yahweh.

The Sumerians equated God with Enlil; the Babylonians with Marduk. The Covenant between God and Abraham was paralleled by similar divine protection between Athena and Odysseus; Aphrodite and Anchises; Ishtar and Hattusili. Most ancient countries, and too many modern lands, believe themselves to be God’s “Chosen People”. So how does one date precisely, for example, the events of Exodus?

The Book of Ezekiel was accepted early on by such men as Ben-Sira (c. 180 B.C., the last of Israel’s wise men and its first professional scribe) as part of sacred literature. Ezekiel whose name is translated as “God strengthens,” is not quoted directly in the New Testament, but his imagery is found in the Apocalypse and elsewhere. In the Old Testament, there are seven major bodies of law, or “codes” of law. There is an eighth code in Ezekiel 40-48, but this one (which is Ezekiel’s ideal of government after Israel’s return from exile) was never enacted. It is generally accepted that Ezekiel “received his call” in 593 B.C., the fifth year of the captivity of the exiles. For twenty-two years, he prophesized while exiled in Babylon. The kingdom of God that he writes about is seen in the context of morality. His is the first conception of a nation that is separate from all others and isolated as an abode of divine majesty. He says that Yahweh (God) “breathes”/puts His own spirit into the people. The message is that at the time the exiles were allowed return to Jerusalem, Yahweh would give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them. However, shame of their idolatry and sins would remain as their inheritance. When Ezekiel speaks of life being restored to the nation (the lands of Jerusalem), can we assume he is speaking of life after life? He tells of dry bones left in the land and their being reassembled and returned to life. According to Abd Allahibn Abbas (Arabic: عبد الله ابن عباس‎), a paternal cousin of the Islamic prophet Muhammad:

(In a place) called “Damardan”, (i)ts people were inflicted with plague, so they fled, while a group of them who remained in the village perished. The Angel of Death called to the survivors: “Die you all”, and they perished. After a long time a prophet called Ezekiel passed by them and stood wondering over them, twisting his jaw and fingers. Allah revealed to him: “Do you want Me to show you how I bring them back to life?” He said: “Yes.” His idea was to marvel at the power of Allah over them. A voice said to him: “Call: O you bones, Allah commands you to gather up.” The bones began to fly one to the other until they became skeletons. Then Allah revealed to him to say; “Call: O you bones, Allah commands you to put on flesh and blood and the clothes in which they had died.” And a voice said: “Allah commands you to call the bodies to rise.” And they rose. When they returned to life they said: “Blessed are You, O Lord, and all praises is Yours.”

Could it be that we are being told that the universal force can connect to the human? Would universal force be akin to the soul and thus indicate immortality of the soul? There is much controversy surrounding the Book of Ezekiel. (The major problem for Jewish scholars revolves around Ezekiel’s differing on a number of points from the Torah.)

 In 1974, Josef F. Blumrich, a NASA engineer, wrote a book about the Spaceships of Ezekiel. Blumrich began his research with the attitude that Ezekiel (read 1:4-28, ‘The Vision of the Chariot of YHWH’), was all silly science fiction. Then, to hisutter amazement, he found that Ezekiel’s descriptive powers were so exact and soaccurate that he not only was able to reproduce his conception of what the ship looked like but, from a practical side, was able to get a U.S. patent on the wheels used on the spaceship described by Ezekiel.

Until now, we have been referring to the Old Testament, other Religions, andLegends. What about the New Testament, written over a hundred years after Jesus Christ was crucified? Until the New Testament accounts, the story of Jesus was only by word of mouth. Try telling some of your friends a story about anything. Let it go around your circle for a few days and then get someone to tell you the story that you started. You may have a bit of trouble recognizing the original story with changes that have taken place as it was passed.

One last point. We are a three dimensional intelligence with a limited realization of a fourth, generally accepted as time, which we use descriptively but cannot move back and forth in at will. (Remember the series, The Twilight Zone, 1959-1964?) It seemslogical there is a fourth dimension of intelligence with a realization of a fifth. You can keep on progressing, ad infinitum, until our finite minds become completely dizzy trying to grasp and comprehend things that are far beyond our current limitations. However, God encompasses all and He and He alone is the One capable of comprehending His reason for existence. Personally, I feel inadequate and limited by being a mere human to question His judgment. So immortality? Perhaps.

Or, to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, The blazing evidence of immortality is our dissatisfaction with any other solution. 

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  1. Patricia has lead us to a thought provoking place of thought. Ancient writings combine with physical evidence creating wonder, speculation and the ever presence of hope. Not knowing all does not cancel truth or faith, both of which shine light on paths toward fulfillment and
    enlightenment. Very worthy read. Thanks you Patricia.

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