The knowledge of natives versus the latest technology

A distinguished biblical archaeologist in the first group of Americans to view NAMI’s evidence studied the structure of finished and unfinished timbers lying beneath massive amounts of volcanic rock and ice. He compared what he was seeing to ships that archaeologists have found beneath the Egyptian Pyramids that may date from the same era. But what most impressed him that evening was learning of NAMI’s methodology: their having been led to the discovery by investigating and recording native traditions.

That has not been the method of recent American Ark searchers who prefer to be guided by the latest technology: satellite photographs, GPS, and ground searching radar. Technology greatly assists with archaeology, but so does local knowledge. I learned that NAMI had been forced to choose between trusting the locals versus Americans with the latest technology. They chose to believe the locals, and were rewarded by this discovery.

There was a time when Americans esteemed the value of local traditions. The American scholar Edward Robinson (1794-1863), often regarded as the founder of biblical archaeology, used what he learned from local natives to identify the ancient cities of the Bible. The majority of his identifications have withstood the test of time. In Robinson’s day, Americans were known in Europe for their leveling tendencies: treating the low and high born with the same respect. Many Americans abroad were from missionary families and more inclined than colonial Europeans to value what they learned from natives.

The idea that one should look down on the knowledge possessed by non-Europeans and trust the latest scientific learning stems from the Enlightenment, also the time when learned Europeans ceased wanting to believe in the Flood. Some version of the Flood is attested not only by the Bible but by almost every native people. These traditions cannot be attributed to Christian missionaries because they date to antiquity.  Against such diverse and massive cases of human testimony, moderns have preferred to trust their scientific knowledge. Time and again, the latter has proven to be false or misleading.

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