Religion of 2013-12-03

Noah’s Flood: Exposing The Biblical Myths II

Folks, As a follow up to whether we Africans are also descendants of Noah (or Jews), I hereby submit another article in three series for those who seek the truth and, equally, those who believe in the biblical myths because they have never been exposed to the materials debunking such myths. I posted Series II and III on Okyeame in the 90s under the title "Noah! O! Noah! The Flood Waters Are Coming!". Article IV is the first of my promised exposition on the topic, pointing out indepth some of the issues mentioned the series. It examines the relevant biblical passages in Genesis. Of all the myths of the bible, one of the most intriguing is that of Noah and the flood which supposedly destroyed all life on earth except those saved on the ark constructed by Noah, at the behest of God. That centuries of learning have shown this to be a mere myth and cannot be scientifically substantiated has not stopped some from trying to do so. This article, divided into two Sections II and III, is a rebuttal of one such attempt by the brand of Christians known as "scientific" creationists. Their main objective is to prove by logic and science that the earth was created about 6000 years ago (as the biblical account of the Jews will have it; Muslims put creation 50,000 years back), and not evolved over several billion years, as genuine scientists claim. By asserting the inerrancy of the biblical accounts, you'd find a strong resemblance between them and our brand of zealots we call "Chrife" or the "born-again" Christians, most first generation converts, or off-springs of “christo-paganists” - apologies to Rev. Prof. Baeta who coined that phrase to describe the brand of syncretic African churches that include a very strong dose of African traditional beliefs in their dogmas and practice. They are better known as “charismatic” churches these days, which have now taken over our societies with their own brand of abject superstition. The article speaks for itself, debunking completely the attempt to foist a new hoax on the American people. We Africans must also not be hoodwinked by these myths any longer. I therefore call upon all those who still have their wits about them to begin to search for the truth about these things for themselves by looking up the references mentioned. Of course, as we had earlier said, there are 1000s of books on the Bible, (and the Qur'an too; after all, this series started as an attempt to focus on violence in the name of Islam), with many exposing the myths behind the Bible. I can't quote all, not to say in one article! Just as I said before, this is a process in the mental liberation of myself which I'm sharing with those who care (it's a free world!). For clarity sake, as I've always said, no insults WITHOUT REASONED ARGUMENTS to justify the insults will be tolerated. By all means, call me a BIG FOOL, but in your superior wisdom and knowledge, explain to me why I am foolish. If not, I'll insult you back, if it pleases me. And don't threaten me with inquisitorial jargons like you are committing "blasphemy", etc. You won't get me to burn on any stakes, nor will I allow myself to be fried in any cauldron! Enjoy yourselves. Andy C.Y. Kwawukume cyandyk@ymail.com _____________________________________________________________ 'The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark': An Archaeological Quest? By Richard A. Fox Culled from the "Free Enquiry", Summer 1993:43-48 _______________________________________________________________ (Richard A. Fox specializes in historical archaeology and the prehistory of the Great Plains. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Dakota.) ________________________________________________________________ In February 20, 1993, CBS television aired "The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark," an independently produced program purchased by the network. The ambitious goal was to determine if the great ship was "truth or fable" but the program title announced that conclusion straightaway. The producer billed the two-hour episode as an archaeological question for the "real truth." "New" archaeological explorations on Mt. Ararat, using new technology, would settle the issue. Use of the word "new" immediately puzzled me. I knew of no archaeological expeditions to recover Noah's ark. I thought it was a myth. As it turned out, "Incredible" offered nothing to alter that perception, nor could I discern evidence of any fresh archaeological explorations. Indeed, I did not see a single archaeologist among the "experts" interviewed, except Philip Hammond of the University of Utah. A genuine archaeologist, he was one of a handful of token sceptics. The program limited the sceptics to cameo appearances intended overtly to convey impartiality but otherwise designed to set them up as straw men. Doubtless much of their commentary never made the show. Not surprisingly, Hammond is listed in the American Anthropological Association directory. On-screen ID-supers displayed profession and credentials as each "expert" testified. A Dr. Don Shockey, labeled a "professor of anthropology, explained gopher wood, the material of choice for arks in those days. Not shockingly, Shockey is not in the anthropology directory, nor is "Dr." Carl Baugh who, as a "paleoanthropologist," curiously talked only about his photo of the ark. Baugh's "science degrees," or rather lack: of them, are well known (see Kuban 1989), as are his childish efforts to prove that dinosaurs and humans once strolled together in Texas (e.g., Hastings 1987). Evidently the Texas "research" qualifies Baugh as a paleoanthropologist. A Dr. Elfred Lee (also not listed) was the "archaeological illustrator." There is no such title in archaeology. Lee used "eyewitness testimony" to draw the ark, necessary because no one has ever produced the vessel. Larry Williams, who publishes a treasure-hunter newsletter, evidently lacks academic credentials, otherwise they would have been ballyhooed. He had been, we were told, around the world visiting archaeological sites. He was identified as a "publisher-archaeologist." That is it for the archaeological "expertise." The program did mention that "thousands" had combed Mt. Ararat, trotting out an assortment of ark-hunters of every persuasion except archaeology. Nothing they were up to even remotely resembled archaeology. This is certainly startling. After all, the narrator declared an "archaeological quest." Why no archaelogists and no archaeology? It's simple. There would have been no story. Just what was "Incredible" then? Not a religious mission, or so said the narrator. If not, why was so much more time devoted to global flood issues than to an archaeological quest? Numerous "experts" explained global flood "theory" details from astronomy to zoology. Now and then these segments were reinforced with amateurish skits portraying pre-flood wickedness, Noah, his family, and their odyssey. The narrator repeatedly referred to the biblical flood, claiming, for example, that "...the Bible is suddenly emerging as an uncanny historical document...." Certainly Noah's ark implies a biblical flood, but archaeology does not deal with catastrophes. Even if archaeology could, the program's objective was to find an ark. So we might have expected "Incredible" to stick to "arkeology." But it did not. What possible connection, then, is there between archaeology and global flood theory punctuated with Noachian reenactment? The answer is singularly obvious. "Incredible" (and CBS) promoted a religious mission, and a peculiar soteriological one at that. CBS should have known better. The religious link is important. Soteriology posits the following: (l) souls exist; (2) humans have (or are) souls; (3) souls survive corporeal death; and (4) at death, souls go to heaven or hell. Most Christians rely on faith in Christ for salvation, embracing the Bible as [as]a moral and spiritual aid, not as a scientific document. Not so the peculiar soteriologists - "creationists" as they are called. They insist on a fifth requirement for salvation: you must accept scripture literally as the inerrant word of the Bible-deity. Of the several creationist varieties, "scientific" creationism is by far the most virulent (see McKown 1993). Despite the name, Scientific" creationists' motives are hardly scientific. Rather, they are singularly selfish. Indeed, anything that jeopardizes their salvation is false, even demonically inspired. So, challenges must be eradicated, especially the evolutionary sciences (but also competing theologies). Thus, as "scientific" creationists would have it, the scientific knowledge accumulated worldwide over two centuries by thousands of dedicated biologists, zoologists, atmospheric scientists, physicists, geologists, astronomers, paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, and more is bogus. All of it. What are the odds? They approach certainty according to the experts on "Incredible." There is, however, a caveat. The "experts" were largely, if not exclusively, "scientific" creationists. But the audience had no way of knowing that. The producer rarely identified their institutions, except for those, like NASA and the Defense Department, which tend to appeal to authority. Affiliations that might have invited suspicion were conspicuously absent, especially the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). ICR connections that I noticed included the Institute's founder Henry Morris ("professor of hydraulics"); his son John ("professor of geology"); John Whitcomb ("professor of Old Testament Studies"); and Tim LaHaye (a fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist preacher). These men have spent decades trying to impart their dogma into our schools under the guise of science. Thanks to the courts and the Constitution, their plans have been repeatedly scuttled, though failures have not deterred them. Today they infiltrate school boards and pressure textbook publishers. Now it appears "scientific" creationists, abetted by CBS, have adopted another strategy - infiltrating our homes! What about the "facts"? The program had plenty of them. More notably, much was ignored. This approach is often acceptable in science, but as a privilege, not a right. In this case, "Incredible" abrogated its privilege, and here is why. Scientists understand that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proofs. The claims made in "Incredible" flatly contradicted the theory and hard-earned knowledge of a dozen or so disciplines, not to mention Old Testament scholarship. Now this is exceedingly extraordinary, even incredible, so much so that the producer was obligated to show the inadequacies of prevailing wisdom. Needless to say, that never happened. Now to some claims, beginning with archaeology. Remember, for "scientific" creationists the issue is really not science. It's salvation, and nothing more. "Incredible" made much of hand-hewn timbers reportedly carted off Mt. Ararat over the years. Of these, only Fernand Navarra's have been available for analysis. We learned that three laboratories dated Navarra's wood. The date, "Incredible" announced, was five thousand years ago, a time, said the narrator, when "the Bible indicates a world-wide flood occurred" (cf. Whitcomb and Morris 1961:398; Morns 1974: 247). Now, here is what we did not learn. The date came from color and density calculations made about 1955 at a Madrid forestry lab. Another lab, estimating the degree of lignitization, decided on a date of "remote antiquity." The third assigned an age of 4,500 years ago without commenting on method. Archaeologists have no confidence in such methods. They do, however, routinely use radiocarbon dating, which is quite dependable. Perhaps that is why "Incredible" did not reveal that six labs have independently dated Navarra's "five thousand" year-old wood. Six uncorrected mean data range from 260 C.E. to 760 C.E. (sigmas average +/-90). The oldest date is from a sample of insufficient size. Otherwise, five means average nearly 700 C.E. All five are statistically identical at one sigma (Taylor and Berger 1980:35). Calibration curve corrections indicate each date is actually younger. Bristlecone pine data suggest a sixth through ninth century provenance (Taylor and Berger 1980:35-36; Bailey 1989:95-98). Evidently the flood was much later than heretofore suspected. Much was also made of Near Eastern flood stories. Dr. Charles Berlitz ("renowned linguist" and author of "The Bermuda Triangle"), claimed "stories of Noah" are "practically identical" in different "languages" (Babylonian, Persian, Sanskrit, and Egyptian). The only element that changes occasionally is the name of Noah. These accounts "certainly help support the Noah legend," insisted the narrator, but we were not told anything about them. Later, the focus fell on Mesopotamia, specifically the Gilgamesh epic. We learned that the epic "paralleled exactly the story of Noah in the Bible, suggesting the biblical account is far more than a fictional legend." Berlitz and the scriptwriters are egregiously wrong, this time by commission. They are not stories of Noah." No flood story anywhere is "practically identical" to or parallels "exactly" the Genesis account(s) (e.g., see Dundes 1988). In fact, there is no evidence that ancient Egyptians had a deluge myth. Mesopotamian flood stories resemble Genesis structurally, yet they exhibit numerous and detailed differences (e.g., Speiser 1968:8-13; Dundes 1988). Furthermore, Mesopotamian accounts do not in any way suggest or support biblical accuracy. "Incredible" wanted viewers to believe that all flood stories derived from the Genesis deluge (through Noah's descendants). The program implied that the Gilgamesh epic dates to the sixth century B.C.E. The tablets referred to are evidently those from the library of King Ashurbanipal (668-626 B.CE.). These tablets are probably younger than the oldest of two flood stories in Genesis (Yahwist, or "J" strand), likely set down between 962 B.C.E. and 848 B.C.E. (e.g., Bailey 1989:135; Friedman 1987:87). But the implication that Mesopotamian flood traditions postdate Genesis is almost certainly false. We did not learn, for example, that the Gilgamesh epic has Sumerian roots. Sumerian myth includes a deluge, but the clay tablets so far recovered present only a fragmentary account. This much we do know: Xiusudra (Ziusudra) found favor with the gods. He was spared, therefore, along with at least some animals, via a ship that survived a week-long flood that wiped out humankind. The sun god greeted Xiusudra as he opened the hatch. Xiusudra then sacrificed some animals, whereupon the gods made him immortal. Tablet fragments bearing this story are difficult to date. Sumerians, however, divided their history into two periods - ante-diluvial and post-diluvial. The Sumerian King list details ante- and post-flood events. King list tablets date between about 2120 B.C.E. and 2065 B.C.E. (Dundes 1988:57), suggesting that the written record of Xiusudra's flood is at least that old. Tablets relating the first (ca. 1844 1505 B.C.E.) and second (ca. 1702-1682 B.C.E., or ca 1582-1562 B.C.E.) Babylonian traditions are only a slightly younger (Dundes 1988:54-55). The best scholarship indicates that the earliest Mesopotamian flood myth writings pre-date Genesis, some by over one thousand years. There is widespread agreement among authentic archaeologists and biblical scholars - almost certainly the biblical flood accounts derived from Mesopotamian mythology (independent origins or a common source are not ruled out). Indeed, as the Bible records, the proto-Hebrews (Abraham) allegedly immigrated from Mesopotamia (Ur of the Chaldees), and later some Israelites spent time in Babylonian captivity. "Incredible" also dwelled on the worldwide distribution of flood myths - proof, they claim, of biblical accuracy. Hundreds of traditional societies do (did) have flood stories. But, after displaying a world map showing the distribution, the program did not examine any. To do so would have exposed a glaring discrepancy. Those left uninfluenced by Christian missionaries stray widely from the biblical account. Some are so disparate that the only resemblance is a flood, and not always a global one (see, e.g., Dundes 1989; Bailey 1989:5-10). Also, flood myths in a region are often similar (e.g., the Near East), indicating multi-regional origins. Moreover, The Flood was the ultimate cataclysmic event. Surely most Noachian descendants would have preserved some recognizable trace of it. But hundreds of societies do (did) not have flood myths of any kind. What are we to make of this? Absence, regional similarities, and diversity lean heavily toward independent origins. Contrary to "Incredible," a single historical event cannot account for world flood myths. If historical roots are suspected, local catastrophic flooding provides the most plausible alternative (e.g., Bailey 1989). Various "experts" touted (in little detail) ancient documents that supposedly corroborate Noah's flood. I will discuss one; Bailey (1989) dispenses with the others. A Dr. Rodney Vleit ("professor of cultural studies") claimed that Berosus, a Babylonian chronicler, "visited the site about 475 B.C.E., where he wrote that the ark was quite visible." Vleit avoided identifying the "site" as Mt. Ararat - the program had by now conditioned the audience to make that connection - no doubt because Berosus did not write that he visited Mt. Ararat, or any place near it. And there is more. Continued in Section III