Dilettantes Believe They Found Atlantis off Spain (Again!)

This is why dilettantes need to stay away from history.  The main paragraph reads:

A U.S.-led research team may have finally located the lost city of Atlantis, the legendary metropolis believed swamped by a tsunami thousands of years ago, in mud flats in southern Spain.

First, they didn’t find Atlantis.  Atlantis is a fictional creation of Plato used as a means to express his perfectly ideal Greek city and its possible, eventual downfall.  When you consider that Plato wrote dialogues, not histories, it is difficult to presume it trustworthy.  Indeed the very etymology of the ‘dialogue’ (διάλογος) means “through reason” or “through words” implicating the necessity of the language over the historicity of the accounts. The dialogue of Euthyphro, for example, begins with the sentence “On Holiness, a tentative work, in the artifice of a dialogue of Euthyphro and Socrates.” In the Greek, the phrase “in the artifice of” is πειραστικός, meaning “fictional pretense/tentative”.  Plato is thus entirely explicit about its (lack of) historicity. That appended title may have been added by later editors, but not likely later than antiquity, so either way it is what Plato said or his early readers understood. I imagine this is how all of his works were understood in one manner or another (it would be odd if he only meant that for one, would it not?).

They might have found some ruins, sure.  And there are plenty of examples of small settlements and even larger cities that fell victims to tsunamis and earthquakes along shorelines throughout the Mediterranean and Europe.

Freund’s discovery in central Spain of a strange series of “memorial cities,” built in Atlantis’ image by its refugees after the city’s likely destruction by a tsunami, gave researchers added proof and confidence, he said.

via Lost city of Atlantis believed found off Spain – Technology & science – Science – msnbc.com.

More dilettantism.  We don’t have any ancient depictions of Atlantis to which we might compare these “memorial sites”.  It has always surprised me how quick people will jump on any image of circles in antiquity as a reference to Atlantis.  This is not stable enough to be confident about and certainly isn’t ‘proof’.

This sort of crap is no different then these loons who claim that Aliens built Atlantis.  You take an ideal culture and try to historicize it, then go out in search of artifacts to prove your conclusion.  How is this any different than Biblical archaeology?  It’s nothing short of fundamentalism.  And it isn’t new.

Many people (loons/kooks/conspiracy theorists) throughout ancient and modern history have thought they located this city (off Cyprus, Africa, Cuba, India, in the Caribbean, etc…), but it’s all bunk.  You can’t find something that never existed.  You can claim a site is anything you want (like the five Troy’s that exist) so long as enough people (i.e. other dilettantes and nonexperts) believe you.  That doesn’t make it correct, however.

This is precisely why I am writing my new book; stories like this sensationalize history rather than preserve it for humanity.  Just imagine the implications of such a “find” (but nobody wants to think about these).  A western (i.e. “white”) city which was perfect in every way, the ideal democracy where everyone was beautiful and attractive; what message does that send?  Think of the cultural and historical implications to the history of the ancient Near East and the great African civilizations, the dynasties of Asia and the Kingdoms of Egypt?  It’s nothing short of ancient Greek idealism and to presume it is more is a dangerous path to take.  It is as dangerous as those claiming that Israeli history is the same as “Biblical history”.  Or that there was such a thing as ‘Biblical’ Israel.

How Not to Teach the Bible in Public Schools

There is an excellent article out there on AU’s official blog about why things are going so wrong in Arkansas.  I have always advocated the (critical and secular) teaching of religions in Public school, so long as they are not simply havens for proselytizing by Sunday School teachers and pastors.  If a student wants to learn about their faith, churches and synagogues and mosques provide an element that public schools, the bastions of our general education (not to mention it’s paid for by government funds, i.e. taxes), should not teach.  However, critical education about religion should be taught, since a great deal of what fundamentalists want to teach is not only anti-science, but anti-Bible, anti-scholarship, anti-archaeology…well, just about anti-everything (that doesn’t conflict with the faith of the fundamentalist in question).  Here is a snippet from the AU blog article:

Every year, you can count on state legislators coming along with proposals for public schools to teach “about” the Bible and its influence on art and literature.

It sounds good in theory. After all, the Supreme Court has never said that objective study about religion is unconstitutional.

In fact, in the landmark 1963 school prayer decision Abington v. Schempp, Justice Tom Clark observed, “[I]t might well be said that one’s education is not complete without a study of comparative religion or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization. It certainly may be said that the Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.”

But, they say, the devil is in the details. And some people who are promoting these classes seem to be trying to hide that devil.

via Awry In Arkansas: How Public School Classes ‘About’ The Bible Can Go Astray « The Wall of Separation.

I recommend it highly.

Joe Tyson: Biblical Studies and the Media

Joe Tyson has an excellent, yet short, article over at B&I on the recent CNN discussion of J. Dom Crossan and his perspectives of the figure of Jesus.  It’s a great piece (I won’t snippet it here because of the paper’s length, but its worth the second it takes going to the website and the two minutes it takes to read it).

This is a subject I have blogged about and written about and will receive a heavy treatment in a new book project I am undertaking now.

What Jim West Did as a Youth

More depravity from Jim West comes to light after years of being kept hidden:

GARY, Ind. — Northern Indiana police have arrested a 14-year-old boy who allegedly stole a church van and drove it to school because he didn’t want to walk from his nearby home.

A Gary police officer was driving behind the van Friday but didn’t notice that a boy was driving the vehicle until a school employee pointed it out to him. The officer says the West Side Leadership Academy student circled the school parking several times before parking.

The Times of Munster says the boy’s mother said her son most likely got the keys to the van while attending choir practice at Evening Star Missionary Baptist Church in Gary earlier in the week.

Police say charges are pending against the boy.

via Police: Boy steals van, drives to school – Local News – Indianapolis, IN – msnbc.com.

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