During the latter part of the 19th century, a considerable brouhaha was going on in Europe, and perhaps the U.S., as well.
Science was on the move with new and often startling discoveries that were radically different from those held for millennia. Clerical forces opposed the new ideas and ultimately were discredited.
An archeologist began digging in a tell (a hill thought to contain artifacts of former occupants of the area).
Tools, pottery, buildings – all of it told fascinating things about former inhabitants of the area. And the work opposed the idea that the earth had been created entire and not changed any part of itself over time. One could see the changes, and so the older concepts were discredited.
But now came these discoveries about former inhabitants and earlier life forms. The biblical accounts were discredited.
And then …
The archeologists unearthed tools, pottery, even buildings, showing how earlier peoples had lived. And as the excavators went deeper, they found rich stores of former occupants, their lives and their works.
Abruptly the excavators came into a deposit of clay. As they went deeper and deeper – up to eight feet deeper – the wonder is that they continued instead of giving it up as leading nowhere.
At eight feet, the clay abruptly ended, and the diggers were back in the remnant of a civilization of older artifacts, tools, and the remnants of how people had lived. These provided a rich lode of information about former peoples and how they had lived. And then there dawned the recognition: Noah’s flood! The biblical story and science were flowing down the same channel.
Clay tablets and old tools told the story of an earlier civilization, and material was hustled off to libraries and museums of the day, there to be preserved and studied. And with the advent of moveable type and the camera, the information could be spread. It is still spreading.
My information on this comes from a book titled “Gods, Graves and Scholars.” And the inquiring tools still are probing ancient sites seeking information on just about everything under the sun. And now, through the computer and the Internet, it is available to anyone who has the interest.
It’s a long way from a worker sweating in the Mediterranean sun as he probes the lives of people of the past – or of the earth of the past, for now we know that it was not created whole and entire and then left as a job done but that it is constantly changing, as is our information about it.
England’s Stonehenge, a tremendous piece of work by men working with little more than their bare hands and a pry, had a religious orientation. So did similar works in the U.S. Southwest, although we have heard rather less about those forms.
And have we learned, from any of this, not to scoff at a new idea as unobtainable?
Probably not. But the flow of new ideas continues as we explore not only “this not-hearted planet on which we ride,” but all kinds of other things. And new ideas, in science and elsewhere, keep working.
A bit of poetry somewhere includes the words “Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again …” It will.
Elizabeth Widel is a columnist for
The Chronicle. This is the 2,886th column in a series. She may be reached at 509-826-1110.