The reliability of historical evidence

“Recently, a Jewish scholar, in seeking to establish the accuracy of the Old Testament, claimed that the last Great Flood occurred only about 11,000 years ago. Although the last ice age ended about then, the two events could not be related. Why? Because the end of an ice age is gradual, whereas a near-universal deluge would have to be very, very sudden, like a major tsunami. Human society may have had to re-boot itself. That our current civilisation apparently began only about 8,000 years ago would fit this scenario.

This scholar, after a lifetime of intensive research, offers us a challenging vista of pre-history, a subject which has interested me for decades. He claims that giants ruled Earth for more than 435,000 years, having arrived to look for gold, an element essential for the survival of their planet; and that they created ‘the Adam’ (to wit, human beings) who were to do the necessary manual work of mining. The congruence of Genesis in the Old Testament and Sumerian clay tablets, especially the Biblical reference to God creating ‘the Adam’ (note the identical phrase), is cited as validating this interpretation of ancient history. The author concedes that both the Sumerian tablets and the Old Testament may have relied on a common source from an earlier period.

The academic world is not likely to accept such a thesis. Why? Because it takes a long battle to convince the existing stakeholders in each discipline to concede that their current operating paradigms may need major modification. For example (as I read recently), Israel has two schools of historical studies in its universities. The historiography in one school is no different from that of the academic world in other nations. The focus of study of the other history school is limited to the Old Testament. Could there be any middle ground?

Then, reportedly, certain senior academics in science in Britain have recently agreed that their work is necessarily concentrated on the borders of existing explanatory theories or findings. This is apparently because it would take longer than the lifetime of a researcher to follow up lines of research on major counter-intuitive or contradictory theories or approaches.

This seems to be consistent with the alleged approach by researchers, irrespective of the academic discipline involved, to follow the simplest of the alternative hypotheses available from any finding to be tested. What alternative conclusions could they be missing?”

(The search for what happened in the dim past on Earth cannot be easy. Can anything written ever be acceptable as unchallengeable truth? Is Sitchin credible when he ignores the reality that the Sumerian texts pre-date the Bible by thousands of years? Of course, there is the oral tradition; how reflective are they of actual events? Are myths any more reliable?

In the event, the story about the creation of ‘the Adam’ may have no relevance for us, any more than the theory of evolution (the best possible explanation available). The lack of reliable evidence, the defence of prevailing paradigms, the methodologies used, and other aspects of human nature would suggest that it may be nigh impossible to obtain an agreed position about what may have happened.

However, since Man is a thinking animal, why not allow freedom of thought and speculation to produce scenarios which could exist side by side until further illumination arrives – without rancour and prejudice?)

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