A lot of talk is going on lately about the calendar of the Mayas, the “Tzolk’in”.
It seems to me that even though, yes, Hernán Cortés treated the Mayas very badly, that doesn´t mean the Mayas necessarily were wise people nor that their religions and philosophies would be superior to our scientific findings. I don´t see why the cruelties committed by the Spanish invader would mean that some calender based on superstition (i.e. irrational beliefs) would have any relationship with our real world.
If I would burn an ant hill down, would that mean that ants are right and as a matter of fact the whole universe is created by a gigantic insect? (Well, to be honest, I don´t know whether all ants believe that. Black ants do, but red ants are more divided on the matter.).
So, the Mayas could describe rather well the movement of a lot of planets and stars. They were good observers. However, to explain those various paths, i.e., the cogs and wheels that form the mechanism behind those movements, they came up with Gods and Spirits. Which is fair enough, although these beliefs in Gods and Spirits never lead them to develop anything remotely useful in any practical way. Not even the necessary strengths of a simple bridge over a river could be calculated correctly by using Gods and Spirits alone.
On the other hand, here in Europe, we developed some pretty accurate knowledge of the planets as well. At first, mostly the Arabs, the Indians and the Persians collected these data. Later, starting from the 16th century especially European scientists were able, not only to observe these movements themselves but also to deduce more abstract relationships between these movements: energy, accelerations, angular momentum. Indeed, rather like the Gods and Spirits of the Mayas: abstract words with no direct relationship to experienced reality.
However, using these abstract “ghosts”, we could then actually calculate strenghts of bridges over rivers. And later, using input from other observations, strengts of airplane wings. And later, noting some mathematical inconsistenties, proposing a mathematical model which was even more complex than the one originally proposed by Newton. This new mathematical model, proposed by Einstein, was called the General Theory of Relativity. And it predicted – among a lot of other things that later were all verified – a certain deviation in the path of the planet Mercury. A deviation that was 100% confirmed by observation. So, using mathematics to describe the paths of planets, actually lead us to improve our knowledge about these paths. Now, with all respect to Kinich Ahau and Itzamna, that is impressive!
Therefore. I can´t see how, besides for some unguided sympathy for the underdog that surely does not make anybody happier, anyone could believe that Mayan calendar is in any way closer to the truth than our scientifical knowledge about the physical laws of nature.