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message 1: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) | 2234 comments Last night we watched a History Channel special - Decoding the Past: the Mysteries of the Garden of Eden. It is an attempt at finding some of the truth behind the story of the Garden of Eden that so many religions tout as a crux of the Creation story in Genesis.

What I found incredibly interesting was the research they are pursuing to find what facts may indeed lie within the myth. I see it as an important story that is shared by so many cultures & beliefs, and perhaps it has both parts myth and historical truth as well. Personally, I find this new search for a melding of science & religion fascinating.

What do you think about the new 'fad' of finding hard facts (or at least strong theories) in the stories of the Bible, Koran &/or Torah, or other historical religious myths from other cultures? Do you think this is a valid pursuit of knowledge, a waste of time, or simply a tool to try to win people back to religious organizations?

Here is the link to the show on YouTube:

message 2: by Megan (new)

Megan Hmmm.. you raised some interesting questions. I think shows such as the one you mentioneed help deeply religious people to say "I told you so" to those who disbelieve Biblical myths. When deeply religious folks are confronted with scientific theory, they whip out the "faith" card. And you just can't argue with "faith" right? I mean, of course you can... but no matter how bizzare something sounds it can be backed up with "you have to have faith." Well, shows such as these put some substanance behind the old "faith" arguement.

Some fence-sitters may be swayed ~ but non-believers are more apt to view this sort of skeptically, assuming they watch them at all. I've always seen these shows as a way of validating a current belief. Not enough information or hard evidence is given to truly win anyone back.

I believe that any persuit of knowledge is valid, however I don't expect this sort of "fact-finding" mission to reveal any long hidden mysteries or truths.

message 3: by Kevin (last edited Apr 15, 2009 04:43AM) (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments interesting topic especially after sally inadvertently put the wrong link in a previous thread:


i have a tough time with science and my particular faith in that even those two words seem out of place together. i really don't need scientific facts to validate what i believe and in fact it usually clouds things up for me. i think people see the lack of evidence as evidence itself. there are many places where science and religion don't jive (please note that i for one am NOT religious, i consider myself a very active christian who is about loving God, and loving people NOT by a fanatical adherence to rigid rules and judgmental standards) for example the age of the earth. science and religion do NOT come together here (as noted in the video clip). do i think the world is 6000 years old? no. do i believe in the bible? yes? are there things in the bible that cannot be rectified with science? yes? does this change how i believe? no.

my beliefs are based on the unseen and not the tangible seen. i don't need to measure the blessings i receive daily that move me towards a greater faith. there is a great book out on this subject by Lee Strobel called Case For The Creator that addresses this type of discussion that is definitely worth the read.

message 4: by RandomAnthony (last edited Apr 15, 2009 05:53AM) (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments I don't think exploring the historical accuracy of religious texts is a "fad"; these explorations have been around as long as the faiths themselves.

I agree with the spirit of Kevin's post; let me move it away from Christianity to give the conversation another context. If I'm a devout Buddhist, and there's some controversy over some of the historical facts related to the life of the Buddha, that doesn't mean I don't embrace the ideas and theology of my faith. The way the stories related to a religion and how both the stories and the interpretations of those stories may change over time doesn't necessarily mean I'll stop embracing the faith.

That's a different issue than the "Science" one, though. I think the hegemonic approach of "proof" on both sides is the problem. In other words, rather than seeing scientific advances as adding to the conversation people sometimes try to jam the findings into "this proves there's no God" or "this proves God wants this" or whatever, as if they've already made up their mind and are looking for supporting facts.

And that's boring to me. Know what I mean? Those arguments wear me out. I embrace religion and its best as a genuine mindful desire and effort for people to live better lives. I know religion isn't always like that, but I do what I can to keep my own contributions to the conversation, however controversial, in that vein.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I don't remember seeing you here before Megan, so welcome thanks for sharing your thoughts.

message 6: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) The thing that occurs to me with this type of program is that they make it seem as though they might actually reveal some monumental discovery, while the truth is that the program was produced months before, and no such huge revelation has come to light in the mainstream media. So therefore, it's mostly speculative and not really "historical" in proportions. (It's probably crap. Sorry.)

Okay, so call me cynical.

I find that programs such as Nova are much more interesting, in that they tend to tell me stuff of greater value and interest -- information that just hasn't reached the mainstream media yet -- or that the common reader/viewer hasn't the patience to explore in depth.

Okay, so call me an intellectual elitist.

message 7: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony | 14536 comments Oh! Thanks for catching that, Jim. Yes, Welcome Megan...

message 8: by Megan (new)

Megan Thanks for the welcomes... up late & couldn't sleep... this group looked interesting :)

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Megan wrote: "Thanks for the welcomes... up late & couldn't sleep... this group looked interesting :)"

Interesting is one word we've been called.

Jackie "the Librarian" | 8993 comments These shows are interesting in a history buff way, but to me the point of Christianity is a philosophy of how to live, and behave toward one another, with love and respect.

In that respect, there is no conflict with what science and archaeology have discovered.

To me, the Bible is not a history book. It's a mix of folklore, historical accounts, record-keeping, letters, poetry, and parables, selected by various interests over the years. I don't expect it to be unbiased, objective truth.

Is any history book completely accurate, for that matter?

message 11: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments a very interesting way to look at it jackie. i am pondering that now...

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

The Bible was written by humans - there will be bias and more than likely errors, I think those are a given.

To me it is historical perspectives, a reference to the times, and like any other book is open to each persons interpretation.

message 13: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments this is a good thread. i am very interested in your views

message 14: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) | 2234 comments I agree with you on many of these points, and I for one don't think this is about science vs. religion anymore. I think it's about the stories themselves and the history behind them.

In the past, shows like this did attempt to spin it back to supporting the "Truth in the Bible" or similar agendas, and many still do to a large extent. But there are some, such as this one (and, yes of course, Nova is exceptional at this), that are actually sounding more like they are presenting the facts just to share the knowledge that is being found.

I don't think the purpose behind these kinds of "Peek into History" shows is as simple as 'To Prove for or against religion' anymore, nor are they supposed to unveil some mighty scientific discovery that wows us all and becomes the final word on that subject. For me it's all about learning from our history, finding those small but tangible clues to where the story came from and in whose words it was told, including their cultural, religious & societal biases which influenced it. I think the archeologists & scientists & historians are simply searching for the importance behind why these stories have existed for thousands of years and are asking the questions of "Why?" and "How?" and "What can we learn from this now?". For me that is so exciting.

I see the stories of the [Bible/Torah/Koran/Bhagwad Gita/Grimm's Tales/whathaveyou:] as history books that have certain themes & symbolism that are really important to humanity on a fundamental level. There is a reason why all cultures have specific creation stories, and it doesn't have to mean "God created the earth in 7 days" or whatever. What I get excited about is the possibility that there are scientific & historical reasons supporting what might have occured in the past that strengthened these myth, reasons which underline our need to hear these stories, not necessarily to prove the 'faithful'right.

This specific show talks about how the creation myth in Genesis is traced back to the Sumerians, who were a polytheistic religion with a lot of history (they are one of the earliest cultures with written language for us to study, and in archeology that is huge). It has so many similar elements but also several pieces that are completely different than the Judeo-Christian version. This underlines the fact that this story was strong enough to come through several thousands of years, albeit with different words & players. My question is always, "Why was it preserved? What is important for us to learn about it?"

I really believe that there is something to the stories themselves, something innately valuable to all of us, no matter our spiritual or scientific beliefs. I love that the shows that are being presented are about discovering what is the real history behind the stories, and leaving the interpretation open. Because, that is the point of stories - to open up your mind to think about them, but ultimately decide what you think it means to you.

(Okay, done with happy rant. I get totally geeked out with this kind of stuff and I just got really excited about this show) :D

message 15: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) | 2234 comments Oh and Welcome Megan! It's always cool to hear how another person views the world... and it brave enough to say it in a bizarre group like ours.

message 16: by Félix (new)

Félix (habitseven) I like it when you get geeked out about things, Sherrie. Your passion for knowledge is impressive to me.

message 17: by Kevin (new)

Kevin  (ksprink) | 11469 comments i just like you geeked

message 18: by Cosmic Sher (new)

Cosmic Sher (sherart) | 2234 comments LOL Well, it seems to be a common enough occurance around here. My passion for knowledge is prolly a bit more manic than Jared thinks is normal. (Poor guy)
Maybe I should be called Sherrie the Geeked. :)

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