Arkeology

2011-02-15

in Psychology, Rants, Science

One thing I find a bit perplexing is that there are actual archeological expeditions that set out to find Noah’s Ark. The fact that these expeditions are assembled and deployed suggests that there is a very unusual class of people out there: those who (a) have the knowledge and experience required to assemble an archeological expedition and (b) actually believe that there was a physical boat that carried all the world’s terrestrial species to save them from a global flood.

I find it difficult to understand how someone with the knowledge and practicality required for (a) could simultaneously be willing to believe (b). Perhaps there are no such people, but rather there are archeologist who are willing to investigate the fancies of others, in exchange for funding or other benefits.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt February 15, 2011 at 9:30 pm

I find it hard to believe there are religious medical doctors or really scientists of any sort, but there are. By extension it’s not hard to think there are religious archaeologists. Also, churches are often extremely wealthy.

I know what you mean, though. Someone who thinks that 2 examples of each of the world’s species could fit on a boat is either a child or (sorry, but it’s true) an idiot.

Milan February 15, 2011 at 9:54 pm

It’s also a matter of specific skillsets.

If you are someone who is going to plan an archeological expedition, you need to know something about logistics. You need to know how to ship crates of heavy gear, and how to provide people in the field with food, water, and shelter.

To have all those skills – and also believe that all the world’s land animals fit on a boat 300 cubits long – seems astonishing. That’s to say nothing of the bizarre consequences of entire species being reconstituted from two individuals.

Also, you cannot fall back on the excuse that the story is just an illuminating legend. If you are out looking for a real, physical ark, you cannot believe that it was just a story.

EK February 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I’m currently taking a course in my History of Science programme on science and religion, since Darwin. It is interesting to see archaeologists looking for Noah’s Ark, however, I don’t agree that being a scientist means you can’t also be a religious person. You can practice methodological atheism without being an atheist.

Antonia February 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

You’re underestimating the human mind again. As well as the amazing general ability to accept a number of contradictory things (in a single notion, or compartmentalised) at once, even minds in some areas entirely delusional or otherwise suspect can show remarkable practicality and organisational skills in others – otherwise homicidal psychopaths wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous. Undamaged minds can be trained – either out of thought or into particular styles of thinking in some areas of life while retaining conventional logic in others. Distinguishing the reality from the traps, even just for direct sensory information, is an ongoing process of human investigation. Our beliefs can affect how medication works and our mind can override our senses in many different ways – the (patchy but interesting in parts) BBC Horizon programme ‘Is seeing believing’ shows our thinking often overrides even what hits our optical system – even when we know that we ought to be seeing something different http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vhw1d

On archaeology. I can’t find the links I know I had looking this up a while back.
There’s a decent page on the history of arkeology here http://ed5015.tripod.com/ReligCreationismArkSightings55.htm
As Cummings comments on the 1975 expedition illustrate, you can have the some of the skills to get out there but it doesn’t mean that you’ll have all the nous for an expedition.

2010 article here (illustrated) is better than the headline would lead you to suppose http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1269165/Noahs-Ark-remains-discovered-mountain-Turkey.html

‘The story was widely seen as fact until the 19th century, when scientists began to question the evidence for a worldwide flood.’ So there was pre-20th Century archaeology

Props to comment from Michael, United States, 01/5/2010 pointing out the contemporary and visible conflict between the biblical narrative of 40k ‘kinds’ in the ark and the number of species around today (and those lost since proposed ark dates). Unfortunately looking at that led me to the discovery of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baraminology – reclassifying the world as it is to fit the world as you think it ought to be seen. Subsequent digression to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenetics more interesting.

Milan February 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Antonia,

Thanks a lot for the detailed and informative comment.

EK,

Science and a certain kind of religion can co-exist: basically, a religion where you think god created the universe and has done nothing since. But if you believe that, you might as well be an atheist.

Milan February 17, 2011 at 6:31 pm
EK February 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Milan – I definitely don’t agree, but we can agree to disagree, I suppose.

Milan February 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

If there is a deity active in the universe, why is there no evidence of that?

If all the evidence can also be explained in terms of purely natural phenomena (physics caused the hurricane, not divine wrath) then how can they be taken as evidence for the existence of a deity?

And if there is evidence of divine intervention that is unambiguous, where is it?

BuddyRich February 19, 2011 at 10:50 am

I like to imagine that “God” was/is as an alien… its more palpable to my sense of reason, if equally as ludicrous.

He may have only been a transitory visitor 2000 or 3000 years ago. Perhaps he is off working in some far flung corner of the galaxy, maybe he is dead? I don’t know. The galaxy is vast and our ability to really look is still in its infancy.

I think if you take the supernatural out of it, the whole thing then becomes something that *could* at least be possible (if highly improbable) to something that could never be proven.

Of course that doesn’t mean that I believe that what is written in the bible or other holy texts of the world happened either.

Could there have been a local (rather than worldwide) flood some 4000 years ago? Yes.

Could someone named Noah have built a boat and taken along pairs of animals? Sure.

Was the flood divine? That’s the part that is not provable either way given the definition of “supernatural” but that doesn’t mean a boat doesn’t exist on the top of the mountain.

R.K. February 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm

True, there could have been a real boat, real flood, and a real man that are described inaccurately in the bible.

paintball barrel February 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I feel the same way, but about other areas of science.. such as the grand delusion of climate change being caused by man, or the widescale acceptance that species have evolved magically from nothing. And then there is the quest to replace all our energy sources with alternative ones, even though it is mathmatically impossible. And yet simple things – things like curing or preventing cancer etc – seem to be so far from being solved? I really think science is still in it’s infancy, and subject to many delusions.

Milan February 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Cancer is hard. It’s a whole collection of really complicated genetic and biological phenomena, and a lot of people are working hard on it. Because of the complex dynamic systems involved, experiments only let you move very incrementally in fields like medicine.

I don’t think the state of cancer research reflects poorly on the state of science overall. Indeed, just as cancer research work has contributed new techniques and equipment to other disciplines, there have been horizontal transfers of knowledge between non-cancer fields and cancer research.

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