|INTRODUCTION TO CREATION, ARCHEOLOGY, AND EVOLUTION|
|The study in Genesis is really the study of the Beginnings, a "coming into being". To believers in the Bible, as written, this is the story of God creating the universe and everything in the universe. Some 'believers' still believe that God created the universe, but, God USED evolution to create. Evolutionists do not believe in a supernatural creation because they do not believe in a supernatural God. This study of Genesis chapters 1 through 11 will examine the Biblical introduction of Creation. However, as appropriate, other theories will be introduced to give the reader a minimal understanding of various ideals.
It is interesting that most ministers and pastors hold the chapters 12 and on as being somewhat true. Chapter 12 starts the life of Abraham. Most believe the Hebrews and Christians descended from Abraham as the first major Patriarch through Isaac. Even the religion of Islam believes they descended from Abraham through Ishmael. So, for some reason that is the "start" of the true Bible. Many leaders do not accept the first eleven chapters as true. They are generally accepted as a study of the relationship of mankind (mankind will be used in this study to mean all men and women and children) to God and God to Man. So, is the Biblical version a series of myths, just a group of stories, actual history, real truths, or just plain jokes? Some consider these stories the most controversial stories in the Bible, even more than some strong books such as Daniel and Revelation. There is a constant battle between the Creationist and the Evolutionist.
The physics of creation is based on the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics. The good Creation apologists don't even mention the Bible much when discussing creation. There is no need to mention the Bible when the discussions with evolutionists can be challenged directly with science. This study is not going to even try to enter the physics of the two laws. They are far too complex. However, we will break them down to somewhat understand the arguments. The paraphrases of the laws are:
All human beings in all societies have always been concerned about their past. They could not even exist without having an idea about from what heritage they came. As a matter of fact, it is said by non-believers that humans could not stand an abrupt end (death). So humans invented a God with an everlasting life. Humans developed stories and myths which carried from generation to generation to explain history and heritage. This is true even today.
A biblical example was Nabonidus, the last national king of Babylon (mid 6th century B.C.). We studied this king, and many other kings, when we studied the book of Daniel (Chapter 5 commentary). Nabonidus was very interested in antiquities. He found a stone foundation under the ground which he said dated back 2200 years before him (2700-2800 B.C.) From that time on, when he found items, primarily of rock formation, he put them in a type of museum.
During the Renaissance Period (14th to 17th centuries) rich people formed groupings to study their history. They used curios, artifacts, and other similar small items. During this time, classical antiquity (like Rome and Greece) was beginning to be studied. Then more studies of the northern lands (north and west of Rome and Greece) began. Many stone sites were discovered such as: Stonehenge and Carnac of Brittany.
In the 18th century, William Stukeley (1687-1765) started systematic methods of studying these monuments to antiquity. Up until now, archeological studies were very disorganized; also, almost no documentation was generated.
One of the finest examples of ruins, which have been in major interest, is Pompey. In 79 A.D., Pompey and Herculaneum were buried under several yards of volcanic ash and mud from the massive eruption of Mount Vesuvius in the Bay of Naples in Italy. The Younger Pliny described the event for history. In the 18th century (1710) the Prince of Elboeuf heard of special 'worked' (affected by heat) marble. By digging shafts and tunnels, he discovered Herculaneum, a nearby town to Pompey. His first major discovery was the first complete Roman theater. In 1748, Pompey was discovered. About 1860, Giuseppe Fiorelli started a well recorded excavation of Pompey. The cities were uncovered. Libraries were found with carbonized papyri.
Fiorelli found a brilliant way of dealing with cavities he found in the ash. These cavities were known to have been living beings (humans and animals) because of the bones in the cavities. He back filled the cavities with plaster of Paris. When it hardened, they had an replica of the being(s) in the exact position they were when the eruption occurred. This told the archeologists how terrible it was; were they alone (adults were found holding their children); in what position were they; etc. This has turned out to be one of the most beautiful study of ancient bodies. This excavation is one of the most complete to date.
Many people do not know the first major credit given to a person for conducting the first really scientific excavation goes to Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the third president of the United States. In 1784 he dug a trench across a burial ground. There were many mounds east of the Mississippi River built by American Indians. He used the scientific method in excavating them. He was extremely careful because many human remains were found in layers. This meant, the grounds were used over and over.
It would seem logical to follow these, now proven, scientific procedures. But, his successors did not take the better information, gained by Jefferson's methods, to heart. In Europe, excavations of mounds were more crudely performed and therefore yielded no added information.
Much interpretation was directed with a biblical framework of ideas. This was forcing a short time in years (i.e. to "evolve") for the human species.
The disciplining of archeology started in the mid 19th century. James Hutton (1726-1797) had studied rock strata and established principles which were used as the foundations information for all of archeology. He developed the principle of "uniformitarianism". Charles Lyell (1797-1875) published the principle in 1833. This idea established the foundation of studying the antiquity or aging of humankind for many years.
A French customs inspector, Jacques Boucher de Perthes (1788-1867), was working in the Somme River and had published about artifacts (such as axes) he found which had to be used by humans and some bones of now extinct animals. This led him to believe humans were in existence long before they had originally thought, even before the Flood. Although this was not widely accepted at first, after two very well known scientists, John Evans and Joseph Prestwich, 'blessed' the data, this became one of the primary concepts of study and argument: mankind was much, much older than originally thought. It became widely agreed upon by the scientific community: the biblical account, which put the modern human being into existence by God approximately 6000 to 10,000 years ago, could not be true.
Enter the concept of Evolution.
The ideas of longer earth and human life ages fit fairly well with the ideas of one of the most influential scientist of the times (even modern times). This man Charles Darwin (1809-1882) wrote a fundamental work called The Origin of Species (1859). At that time, after the latest ideas of uniformitarianism, there was no question of whether changes occurred through the ages; just how did the changes occur. Darwin tried to tell how the changes in the past occurred. The key to Darwin's theory was 'natural selection'. The term "survival of the fittest" is saying the same thing. The strongest would survive its changes and environment; the weakest would die off. Further, the traits which allowed the strongest to survive would be passed on to their offspring.
Darwin wrote another greatly accepted book, The Descent of Man (1871). The important thing to understand about this theory is human beings also evolved through the same process.
So the scientists could put some order into their findings, they developed the concept of the Three Age System: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.
They later subdivided the Stone Age into the Paleolithic (Old Stone) and Neolithic (New Stone). Now, as the archeologists found items (bones and other artifacts), they could place them in an 'age" which would inherently classify them by number of years ago the item originated.
These philosophies of origination/evolution supported the published ideas of Edward Tylor (1832-1917) and Henry Morgan (1818-1881). The books and papers of these ideas strongly influenced Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. They drew on the ideas for their writings and pre-capitalist societies.
The splendors of ancient Egypt civilization already affected the archeologists and other scientists. One of the greatest finds of modern time was the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. A soldier of Napoleon's army discovered the Stone during Napoleon's Egyptian campaign (1798-1800). This stone had enough information on it to permit Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832) to break the hieroglyphics codes (1822). Champollion is known as the 'Father of Archeology'. The Rosetta Stone will be studied in more detail later. In summary, the stone had several identical tests written in cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and Greek scripts. By comparison, the bases for hieroglyphics was now known. Now some of the greatest record keepers of all time, the Egyptians, could help in the study and under-standing of history.
Another unlocked secret was the coding of cuneiform writing. The two famous specialists who broke the codes were Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson (1810-1895) and Georg Friedrich Grotefend (1775-1853). This was the language probably invented by the Sumerians. It was used extensively in ancient Mesopotamia about 3500 B.C. For a long time, the language was used over the ancient world. The characters are a series of wedge-like strokes. This language may be as old as 5000 B.C.
There were many inspirations for the scientists of archeology. Homer's Iliad described the Trojan wars. The German banker Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890) went in search of Troy and found it in western Turkey around 1875. He also started a dig in one of the greatest of all ancient civilizations and archeological excavations: the ancient city of Mycenae. Until then, Mycenae had been an unknown prehistoric civilization.
Many other scientists received their reputations in other parts of the world such as South America and Mexico. We will concentrate our efforts on the direct biblically related areas.
Schliemann demonstrated the 'stratification' techniques into archeology. He tried to reconstruct the past by the study of stratified (layered) mound sites.
Until now, the archeologists were very sloppy in their record keeping. Sites were excavated (essentially destroyed) by persons not keeping very records on the finds. One must remember, on occasion, irreversible actions and operations must be taken to 'look' at the next step. With careful records, the steps are understood by future scientists. Without careful records, no person knows what was done, how it was done, when it was done, etc. During the years from the late 19th century and on, the field techniques changed in a positive direction in relation to documentation. Major contributors were:
Later, other issues in addition to just the finds were becoming important. Gordon Childe (1892-1957) made major headway into the 'Why' things happened or changed in the past. Most contemporaries were only interested in what they found in relationship to chronology.
The anthropologist Julian Steward (1902-1972) brought to science the ideas of how living cultures worked in the past. Cultures reacted to environment as will as with other cultures. This study type was coined 'cultural ecology'. Steward had many followers such as Gordon Willey (Viru Valley, Peru).
A British archeologist Grahame Clark also developed the idea of studying human populations and how they adapted to their environment. For example, by his collaboration with others, a determination of general life-style including the foods the people ate; how they hunted; with what; type of farming; etc., could be established with some accuracy.
Around the mid to late 1900's, scientific aids were becoming much more available, were definitely faster, and were supposed to be more accurate. The most significant contribution was radiocarbon dating (14C). Willard Libby, a chemist, made the announcement in 1949. Here, at last, dating could be performed more easily and more accurately (or was it?).
Around 1960, major changes started which would change the face of archeology. The usual interest in dating and the way archeologists explained and understood was still there. That was part of their problem: the way conclusions were made on the findings.
Another problem was the archeologists conclusions never seemed to explain anything. Some archeologists started pressing others for greater emphases on the social aspect and the general processes at work in the cultures.
Lewis Binford led a group of younger archeologists to develop a 'New Archeology". They maintained there was much, much more information available through the study of the findings than was being used. In the past, conclusions were greatly accepted or rejected biased on the reputation of the archeologist. That was not entirely unacceptable, but, there needed to be a more logical frame on which to build conclusions.
"Old" archeology described findings; 'New" archeology talked about cultures and their effects on one another. 'New" archeology wanted to look at the culture as a system and break that down into subsystems.
What did all of this mean?
The system would be broken down into items such as the individual cultures, subsistence, technologies, trade, demographics, etc. Less emphasis was placed on artifact locations and classifications. More sophisticated quantitative measuring was to be used maybe even Computer Aided Design (CAD) and using other disciplines such as geography. Some of this work was will described by David Clarke (1937-1976) in his book Analytical Archeology (1968). In summary, the following table describes the "Old" and "New":
With the "New" archeology in force, there was a demand for explicit and quantitative procedures.
Archeology by continents was now being examined. Desmond Clarke made a great start in Africa. Data back to the Iron Age was said to exist. John Mulvaney studied Australia excavations in the 1960s. Through radio-carbon dating, it appeared there was occupancy into the Ice Age.
It was thought to understand old societies, one had to understand living societies. A new name, ethnoarchaeology, was generated. Studying cultures like the American Indians and the Australian Aborigines have been in force for sometime.
A major issue associated with any find or finding at any time was who owned it. Who has the rights to whatever was found: the finder of the possessor of the area? In other words, do the Aborigines 'own" their heritage and therefore control the archeology work on their past (even back thousands of years); or does the information belong to all of mankind? The bulldozer has caused many a possible find to be totally destroyed. The middle east even today has very strict rules. Turkey is said to have Noah's Ark. However, the Turks have stopped further archeological studies. There are findings in the Sinai possibly related to Moses' travels. We cannot get in to examine the data. This is becoming more and more of a problem because of the lack of sensitivity archeologist have had in the past.
So controls are changing. At one time, archeology was in the hands of the wealthy; then scholars; now countries. Most countries have their own governmental organizations to handle the complexities of archeological findings and the history.
Because of many outside influences (politics) it is not certain sometimes who is working for whom or what. Feelings and opinions still rage strong. The Dead Sea Scrolls is a good example of "ownership', politics, and private opinions.
Now the New World Archeological Congress is supposed to iron out difficulties. Still, because of prejudices, all countries are not invited. This really makes the concept of the Congress useless. In 1994, the Congress met and ended in fisticuffs. One Indian faction (from India) wanted to prevent any mention of the destruction in 1992 of the historic mosque a Ayodhya in Uftar Pradesh Province by Hindu fundamentalists.
It is obvious archeology cannot help but be caught up in the modern problems of the days: social, political, and intellectual.
'Ethnic cleansing" is sought by some in the world to eliminate ALL remnants of a past society.
Even the importance of women in history is being attacked by women. Marya Gimbutas (1921-1994) was pushing the belief in a Great Mother Goddess figure. Not many people, even women, agree with Gimbutas but she started a feminist movement in archeology. In 1984, Margaret Conkey and Janet Spector drew attention to 'male bias' in archeology.
Now a 'Postprocessual' archeology is out which is said to avoid the positivist philosophy and the scientific outlook. One might see 'interpretive archeologies' in place of 'postprocessual' in other writings. The powerful influences for this new archeology are Neo-Marxizm (neo means new). It involves a strong, committal to social awareness. It involves not only knowing what happened in the past but also to use that information to change the present and future world.
The positivistic approach by Marxism, is hostile to the individual which allows capitalism to exert its influence. The interpretive view rejects generalization (of processual archeology). It goes back to the uniqueness of each society and culture. There is no single correct interpretation: everyone has a right to own opinion. Within this framework in the feminist perspective in archeology as mentioned above. Another feature is there is no single correct way to undertake research!
The above historical summary gives one an idea of the history and present problems in archeology. There is no end in sight as with almost any controversial subject on the earth.
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