With the first of three Hobbit documentaries being released this year, it seems an appropriate time to announce the new revolution in the study of origins: Tolkien Science. Though evolution, with all its associated irony may well be the more appropriate word…
Tolkien Science has been brewing in the firey Mount Doom of scientific enquiry for decades and is now as indestructible as the One Ring itself. Yet it is still untaught in our schools, dismissed as mere science fiction, when it is in fact fantasy of the old sort: an imaginative conceptualization. Like Einstein who imagined himself riding on a beam of light and so discovered relativity, JRR Tolkien – an Oxford Professor and founder of our field – imagined himself on a quest to Mordor and, in doing so, discovered the origins of the universe. Between 1937 and 1955 he published a series of monographs synthesising knowledge from many fields into a coherent and, as I shall show, accurate account of the origins of the world. His his papers took the form of epic fantasy novels – befitting a man of such penetrating and creative intellect – but they were appended by detailed notes providing the data underlying the theory, much of which was only published after his death. It is a cause of celebration that his monographs are more widely read than either Darwin or Dawkins, and in the early years of the 21st century were made into a trilogy of powerful documentary films by the renowned New Zealand Tolkien Scientist Peter Jackson, which brought to the world’s attention this exciting new paradigm.
Unlike Darwin, whose theories were invented during the luxury of a round the world cruise, Tolkien’s quest to understand the history of the universe began on the battlefields of World War One. In the same way that humanity’s ego had rent Flanders’ Fields apart, Tolkien surmised that the world was once flat, but that the arrogance of men had caused it to have become round. The evidence for this came from the discoveries of German scientist Albert Einstein – that, when events of such gravity as the Doom of Numenor occurred, space could actually become curved. The stories of Atlantis, Mu and Hy-Brasil – all island nations flooded in a great cataclysm – passed down unchanged over the generations, give the theory that nice, convincing human element that allows it to transcend the Popperian planes to the level of scientific truth. Bearing in mind that geologists have never actually been under the earth’s crust to see if their tectonic plates really do float, the idea that the all-powerful Valar simply caused the shape of the world to change is a far more convincing explanation of continental drift.
Tolkien’s theories, which emphasize the effect of Valinor-based Powers, let us throw out the implausible geological yarns of mainstream science. Ice-ages in the Northern Hemisphere are more parsimoniously explained by the evil wrought by the cold-hearted Morgoth in the First Age and by the Witch King of Angmar in the Third. Nonetheless, like all true sciences, Tolkien science has its controversies. Another hypothesis claims Ice Ages are a figment of geologist imagination. Erratics are rocks found far away from home, usually said to have got there by hitching a lift on a passing glacier. Some Tolkien scientists, however blame erratics on trolls getting caught out in the sunlight. The strength of the theory is in its predictions: trolls are social creatures – as evidenced by Tom, Bert and Bill Huggins, who turned to stone together around a campfire. We would therefore expect to find tall rocks scattered in clusters around the landscape where trolls have frozen together. A visit to Stonehenge should suffice to convert the world’s geologists.