I have in several blog posts discussed the Swedish New Ager/pseudoscientist Carl Johan Calleman’s ideas and distortions concerning the Long Count (and various other Maya associated topics). Calleman is not a Mayanist and very little of what he has to say has any connection to the ancient Maya. He continues to spread the myths and illusions prevalent within New Age and attempts to combine these with science. In his latest book The Purposeful Universe: How Quantum Theory and Mayan Cosmology Explain the Origin and Evolution of Life he launches what I believe he sees as his magnum opus. Too bad it is riddled with not only distortions of the Maya but also with evolutionary theory as well.
In this first of many posts on this book I will just give the reader an overview of what he tries to accomplish. It is important to note that “this material has not been published in peer-reviewed articles because the theory needs to be presented in its entirety for the sake of clarity. If parts of it are removed from the overall context, this theory would probably appear so completely outside the ruling paradigm of science that no peer reviewer would be able to understand it” (p xi). I doubt that this is the reason since his basic ideas could well fit within the length range for normal articles. The reason is probably that it would be smashed to pieces based on his twisting of empirical data. The last thing you as a scientist should do is to manipulate your data to fit your idealized model. This book is an invaluable source in how not to practice science.
According to Calleman Young Earth Creationists and Darwinists are both wrong (and right to some extent). There is an intelligent design behind evolution but this is not the Christian God but rather the realizations of a Platonic idea of the Cosmic Tree of Life. We are living in a universe that is “intelligently designed and fine-tuned for life” (p xv). Calleman’s Tree of Life is the so-called “axis of evil”, a Central Axis that emerged at Big Bang and it is the fundamental space-time organizer of the universe. According to Calleman this axis is what the ancient’s call the Tree of Life/World Tree, etc.
Calleman’s version of the Long Count holds that the ninth level of the calendar (actually the tenth level in the true Maya calendar) equals 16.4 billion years BC which is supposed to line up with the Big Bang and the emergence of the Cosmic Tree of Life when a three-dimensional coordinate system surrounded by a Halo emerged. This in turn created smaller spinning Trees of Life with Halos at lesser levels (such as galaxies, stars, and planets). Basically, in this fractal model everything is a replica of a Platonic essence. The human being itself is a replica of the Tree of Life. The lower levels are not identical replicas but provide an organization and characteristics that is provided by a larger framework. Evolution proceeds here in quantum leaps as well (on a macro level I may add). Since the Maya calendar periods are dividable by twenty, each quantum leap towards higher consciousness occurs at shifts that are twenty times shorter than the one before.
The most astonishing claims he makes (and I will return to this in another post) is that the evolution of life is discontinuous in the sense that a new species does not emerge from an earlier species. It is a novel creation. He argues that no transitional forms between for example fish and amphibian, reptile (or rather non-avian dinosaur) and bird, terrestrial mammal and whale, etc. exist. In order to change a terrestrial life form from living on land with legs to an aquatic life form living in the sea with fins you also need to change the whole respiratory system and other parts of the body. This cannot happen all at once since an imaginary terrestrial mammal that has fins is maladapted according to Darwinian theory and hence will succumb. I do agree that such cases are problematic in our overall understanding of the evolution of life but Calleman’s solution is way weirder. Unless the new species does not emerge out of the blue it must have parents. It must grow and emerge inside a womb or an egg. In the whale scenario we can just imagine how the terrestrial mammal mother would react if suddenly she gave birth to a small whale. Could she take care of it? Would she take care of it? No. That whale calf would die pretty soon and leave no offspring. Hence, Calleman must proclaim that matter in the form of new biological species emerge from out of nowhere. For Calleman each species has an essence that cannot change so for a new species to emerge it must be recreated by the Tree of Life itself. Does this sound scientific or religious to you? Not even Jesus is believed to have emerged out of nowhere, outside the womb (or egg if there ever have been a reptile Jesus).