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Friday, November 11, 2005

Extending the reach of bad science

Posted by: Hammer / 8:50 AM

In an effort to prove that fundamentalists can be bad at all kinds of science, we have this AP story:

Archaeologists digging at the purported biblical home of Goliath have unearthed a shard of pottery bearing an inscription of the Philistine's name, a find they claimed lends historical credence to the Bible's tale of David's battle with the giant.

...Some scholars assert the story of David slaying the giant Goliath is a myth written down hundreds of years later. [Dr. Aren Maeir] said finding the scraps lends historical credence to the biblical story.

I don't know if this is bad science or bad reporting, but it's clearly bad something. If I find records of a license for Berkowitz's dog, that doesn't prove the dog was talking to him. Just because the city of Troy actually existed doesn't prove the Iliad's claim that Thetis the sea-nymph was the mother of Achilles who provided him with armor forged by Hephaestus, god of fire. I'm guessing Thetis bought off the rack. Maybe Hephaestus did some alterations, but nothing more.

David is an historical figure. He walked, talked, wrote lyrical poems, and crushed his enemies, just like you and me. But what is "historical credence"? This vague term seems purposefully used to imply proof beyond what evidence exists. Whether there was a Goliath neither proves nor disproves whether Yahweh came to the aid of young David in a battle against a giant, elevated him to king, or aborted Bathsheba's child because of David's murderous infidelity.

Bad science? Bad reporting? Bad blogging? You decide.


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