Mel Gibson’s film Apocalypto will introduce cinema audiences on both sides of the Atlantic to the ancient apostasy that flourished after the global flood. I am not suggesting that Gibson is aware of this.
He has made a violent and gory movie about the Mayans of Central America, including their cutting hearts out of living bodies. Christians should have no desire to watch such things.
However, the Mayans’ ghastly culture of death brought ancient pagan apostasy to the threshold of modern civilisation – bearing eloquent testimony to the dispersion from Babel recorded in Genesis 11:1-9. What happened so long ago at Babel has continuing worldwide implications.
The events at Babel
So, what did happen at Babel? Firstly, Noah’s descendants rebelled against God. They said, ‘let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth’ (emphasis added).
Of course, God had commanded Noah and his sons to ‘replenish the earth’ (Genesis 9:1) – which involved the very dispersion they now sought to avoid.
In response, ‘the Lord said … let us go down and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech’. Matthew Henry remarks, ‘They deserved death, but are only banished or transported; for the patience of God is very great towards a provoking world’.¹
The result, as God intended, was global dispersion – ‘the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth’ (Genesis 11:8-9). This dispersion has left its mark upon the subsequent development of the whole human race.
Tracing the impact
I have argued elsewhere² that the great apostasy and subsequent dispersion are traceable in archaeological discoveries all over the world. The relevant biblical and theological perspective includes the following facts.
After the flood, Ham showed his uncleanness, and through him a primeval Cushite apostasy was established in the post-flood world. There is evidence to suggest that he fathered the post-flood sun worship.³
Nimrod, the son of Cush, gave imperial expression to the apostasy. Nimrod receives disproportionate attention in the Table of Nations, which mentions his might, empire, building activities and apostasy (Genesis 10:8-10).
Additionally, Nimrod’s reputation as a mighty hunter persisted and became widespread – reflected in the ‘Master of the Animals’ who appears on various ancient artifacts as a powerful figure capable of controlling wild animals. He also acquired animal characteristics such as bull’s horns, legs and cloven hoofs. His cruelties included hunting men for human sacrifice.
Alexander Hislop³ maintains that the death of Nimrod gave new impetus to the apostasy through the myth that he was reincarnated as the divine saviour (the son of his own wife). This myth provided for the re-enactment of Nimrod’s death and resurrection in gory symbolism.
Tower technology was of great importance in connection with the myth and its rituals. From the Middle East to the Americas, we find massive structures that witness to advanced building technology in ancient time and that still defy explanation.
In Peru, building blocks were so huge that modern cranes would not move them!4 The Tower of Babel must have been the prototype for those built elsewhere, because it alone was constructed before the dispersion of the human race.
The preoccupation with reaching the heavens was not so much physical as theological. Having left off the knowledge of the true God, they turned to the celestial bodies as the objects of their base idolatry.
Archaeological research supports the Old Testament account of human sacrifice, including children walking through fire until burned to death. God warned Israel not to practise such degrading rituals (Deuteronomy 18:10).
Once the significance of the apostasy and its theological outlines are recognized, it is possible to trace its spread through many regions. The central core is retained but local variations appear.
However, the parallels in points of detail are too exact to be accidental and it becomes clear that the apostasy spread from Shinar to Egypt and was carried to remote regions at an early date (evidences of this in China, South Africa and Britain are outlined in Cosmic war survival²).
Our present interest, however, is that the apostasy reached Central America – as is evident from the archaeological remains of the Mayan civilization upon which Mel Gibson has based his movie.
The Babel apostasy and the Mayans
The advertisements for Apocalypto show the typical Mayan temple complex where their culture of death was practised. There is significant evidence linking the Central American ritual with Egypt, Mesopotamia, and thus Babel.
There are also evidences of the theology of Babel in the Mayan civilization. Recollections of pre-history are found among the Mayans, including stories of creation, paradise, the serpent, the temptation, two brothers, the flood and the Tower of Babel.
The importance of the tree is also clear. The Mayan universe was organized on a vertical axis resembling a tree. As in Mesopotamia and Egypt, kings were deified.6 The sacred rituals exhibit specific parallels with the ancient apostasy.
The symbols of power are identical to those associated with Nimrod and Egypt. The plumed head-dress, and vivid red colour characteristic of Mesopotamia, are evident in Mayan ritual.
The counterfeit knowledge underlying Mayan culture was based, like that of Mesopotamia and Egypt, upon astronomical observations and a complex astrology. Mayan temples provided the context for rituals in which the sacrifice of human blood and human hearts was thought to placate the gods. The sun and Venus were central to the worship.
The tyranny of Babel
Mayan civilization reflects Babel’s tower technology. The tower was the focal point of the city and the dwelling place of god. Mayan monuments provide a clearer idea of the rituals, as Stierlin explains:
‘The monuments of the Preclassic period were in the image of a cosmos whose movement and cycles they symbolized’.7 The Mayan pyramids like Mesopotamian ziggurats supported the sanctuary but, like the Egyptian pyramids, they also concealed a tomb at the base.
The remains of the deified king were laid to rest in the tomb, which served to preserve his powers among the people. As in Egypt, the Mayan king was identified with the sun and bore the name ‘Sun Lord’.
There are evidences of the tyranny of Babel in the Mayan civilization. Eventually the Toltecs dominated the Mayans, and ball-court remains provide some insight into the relationships between recollections of pre-history, Venus theology, and bloodthirsty rituals.
Carvings in these ball-courts illustrate the ritual re-enactment of the struggle between the legendary twins. Two groups of contenders are shown together with a ball – with a skull on it and blood spurting from its mouth.
A decapitated player is shown with snakes spurting from the neck in the place of blood. Beside the ball-court there is a stone repository for decapitated heads, decorated with rows of carved skulls.
Morton and Thomas comment, ‘both the timing of the game and the symbolic significance of what happened to the souls of the sacrificial victims were related not only to the movements of the sun but also the stars and planets, Venus in particular. It seems that the victims’ souls were seen as ascending into the highest heavens, just like the hero twins of the legend’.
Such horrific religious rites, depicted by Gibson in Apocalypto, witness to the worst excesses of the depravity of man in his apostasy from God.
The Mayan traditions may well date back to before 2000BC. Their religion and architecture, especially their pyramid-style tower technology, reveal key similarities with the Egyptians, whose sanctuaries and rites derived from Mesopotamia.
There is no reason to doubt that what we can trace in the monuments is, with local variations, the apostasy of Nimrod. If this is so, Mayan civilization witnesses to the accuracy of the biblical record of the Babel dispersion and the spread of its apostasy.
Being aware of the connection between Apocalypto and Babel will furnish the believer with a Christian and evangelical response to Mel Gibson’s visual orgy.
1. Matthew Henry, An Exposition of the Old and New Testament, Volume I – Genesis to Joshua (London; James Nisbet, undated).
2. Roy Mohon, Cosmic war survival: The True gospel distinguished from the global apostasy by reference to the early ages of man (Stockton-on-Tees; Truthzone, 2004).
3. Alexander Hislop, The two Babylons or the papal worship proved to be the worship of Nimrod and his wife (London; S.W. Partridge, 1989), footnote p.25.
4. See Donald E. Chittick, The puzzle of ancient man (Newberg, Oregon; Creation Compass, 1998), pp. 114-117.
5. Henri Stierlin, The Maya: palaces and pyramids of the rainforest (London; Taschen, 2001), p.101.
6. Ibid., p.17.
7. Ibid., p.15.
8. Chris Morton and Ceri Louise Thomas, The Mystery of the crystal skulls (London; Thorsons, 1998), p.