This article is from
Creation 15(3):24–25, June 1993

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Editor’s note: As Creation magazine has been continuously published since 1978, we are publishing some of the articles from the archives for historical interest, such as this. For teaching and sharing purposes, readers are advised to supplement these historic articles with more up-to-date ones suggested in the Related Articles and Further Reading below.

Ripley’s ‘Believe it—or not!’


Robert LeRoy Ripley was an American who spent most of his life collecting an assortment of odd, interesting, unusual and sometimes downright amazing facts about this complex world and the even more complex people who inhabit it.

The Ripley's display

He became world-famous for his regular syndicated newspaper feature, ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’. And also, according to promoters, for the fact that not one of his items was ever shown to be in error, despite many attempts by sceptics to do so.

Even well after his death, his vast array of compiled curiosities still features in special displays and auditoriums, ensuring that the information will not be lost to future generations.

One such display is on Australia’s Gold Coast in south-east Queensland. It is aptly named Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not Odditorium. Wandering through the oddities on offer, one is confronted with one display panel, partially shown in the photograph at right. It concerns what the manager of this display described to us as ‘an amazing coincidence’—that the Greek alphabet happens to be the same as a known epic poem in the Mayan language.

Let’s assume that this is correct. We have no way of checking it at present, except for the decades-old reputation of Ripley himself, who exposed his findings to the scrutiny of literally hundreds of millions of people.

Imagine coming across what you thought was a long-lost tribe in the jungle, who had a written language, and finding that their alphabet, when pronounced in sequence, was recognizable as the first three stanzas of Longfellow’s poem ‘Hiawatha’. Would you honestly be able to believe that this was merely a ‘fluke’? I think that would be hard, but the only alternative is that it was deliberate.

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Was the Greek alphabet influenced by an epic poem of the Mayans of pre-European America?

In Ripley’s ‘alphabet’ case it would indicate a Mayan influence on the establishment of the Greek alphabet, possibly through a common cultural origin.

But according to the evolutionary belief system, the common origins of these two peoples lie shrouded in the mists of a distant Stone Age or still earlier; their cultures developed quite independently.

The biblical account of the history of man, however, indicates that all cultures had a common origin a few thousand years ago—at Babel, shortly after the Flood. While the exact nature of any possible connection between the Greek alphabet and the Mayan language remains enigmatic, even to a creationist, one thing can be said—the nature of the explanation would have to date back several thousand years.

At such a time, the cultural memory of that incredible Flood catastrophe would have been still quite firmly etched on the consciousness of all cultures.

It is thus intriguing that the epic poem in question concerns a great flood of water, which covers ‘all that lives or moves’, and is associated with volcanic eruptions and the tops of the mountains being visible.

Notice also that the land which is submerged is called ‘Mu’. This word is used in some mythological writings to describe the lost culture and drowned continent elsewhere called Atlantis. It is not hard to see how the Atlantis legend itself probably represents just one more corrupted memory of the Flood event (out of hundreds around the world). The hero of the Flood in some ancient legends is called ‘Nu’ (Noah). Elsewhere it is ‘Manu’. Both of these words may be etymologically linked to ‘Mu’.

Believers in evolution are also forced to write off (as, once again, ‘amazing coincidence’) the fact (irrespective of whether this one Ripley’s item is ever verified or not) that there are hundreds of such Flood stories, found in virtually every tribe and nation across the world, with many remarkable parallels to Genesis.1

That such corrupted Flood stories should exist is of course exactly what one would expect, as the Bible’s account of man’s history is indeed true, whether we believe it—or not.


  1. For example, Funk & Wagnall’s Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, New York, 1950, acknowledges that a ‘world cataclysm’ with the whole earth covered in water, sent by a god(s) as punishment is ‘a concept found in almost every mythology of the world’. They acknowledge that it was once assumed to be evidence that there was such a flood. They even tell of the fact that the survivors often send out bird scouts, often end on a mountain, and frequently offer a sacrifice afterwards. They are quick to reassure their readers, however, that an actual global flood ‘finds no place in the geological history of the earth’. Meaning, of course, no place in the evolutionary/uniformitarian geological system of interpretation, which was specifically based, historically, on denial of such a catastrophe in favour of slow and gradual processes. (Compare 2 Peter 3:3-6.) Return to text.

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