Richard Miles – Archaeology: A Secret History

The description of this program on iPlayer is “Archaeologist Richard Miles presents a series charting the history of the breakthroughs and watersheds in our long quest to understand our ancient past. He begins by going back 2,000 years to explore how archaeology began by trying to prove a biblical truth – a quest that soon got archaeologists into dangerous water.”

Unfortunately the tone and style of presentation of the program was similar to the description.  The program frequently asserts that there is conflict between Archaeology and Biblical truth, and implies that Archaeology has proved the Bible to be wrong.  The church is presented as a dogma bound institution that can only consider that everything in the Bible is to be taken literally.  The church’s only contact with scientific methods was to use them to show that the world was created a few thousand years ago.  Isn’t he aware that different parts of the Bible are written in different genre’s?  Would he think that if archaeology could prove that there wasn’t a good Samaritan then that must show that Jesus was lying when he told the parable?  Does he think that Christians really believe that the Genesis account is to be taken literally?  As far back as the early fifth century St Augustine was forthright in his criticism of literal interpretation of Genesis.

The presenter, Dr Miles, frequently implies that archaeologists were ‘in dangerous water’ by thinking – thinking is something that is presumably not allowed by the church.  Doesn’t he know that many of the greatest minds have been and continue to be Christians?  Even the greatest secular scientists realize that questions of God are not trivial.

Dr Miles  appears dismissive of the approach of looking for evidence to support a theory (Empress Helena seeking for evidence of Jesus’ crucifixion) – isn’t he aware that this is precisely the scientific method – build a large Hadron collider to look for a Higgs bosun for instance?  

Dr Miles seems far happier to find something and then simply guess what it might mean.  He appeared disappointed that the speculations of John Frayre (sp?) who ‘instinctively knew’ that the triangular objects had been made by human hand were not immediately adopted.

So for me, the undercurrent of generating a false conflict between God and Archaeology/Science, and the implied rejection of ‘belief’ spoilt what could otherwise have been an interesting and enjoyable program.  I am disappointed that the BBC feel the need to generate some sort of conflict or controversy in so much of their programming.

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About Minimalist Christian

Phil Hemsley is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK. He works for a multinational company in the power industry, has presented technical papers at international conferences and holds many patents. He has published two books, the most recent is "The Big Picture, an Honest Examination of God Science and Purpose". He has lived on both sides of the faith fence. He is married, with two daughters.
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6 Responses to Richard Miles – Archaeology: A Secret History

  1. unkleE says:

    Haven’t seen the program, and don’t get BBC direct here in Australia, though our stations buy some BBC programs, but I agree – it is a pain when people take one particular (generally extreme) christian view and present it as if all christians think the same. Makes an easy target and polarisation probably helps the ratings, but it’s not good journalism.


  2. Cassie says:

    I saw the program and liked it. “The presenter, Dr Miles, frequently implies that archaeologists were ‘in dangerous water’ by thinking – thinking is something that is presumably not allowed by the church.” They were in dangerous water. At best their possibility to study could be stopped. At worse they could be imprisoned or murdered for heresy as many dissenting voices were.
    And sadly there are still many Christians (the ones with the loudest and most powerful voices) who do take the bible literally.


  3. Antonio Ciceronis says:

    I am always confused. God was created only 2013 years ago. Oh I mean the Jewish god. Doesn’t make sense. What about all the people and religions before. They can’t be discounted. Even Ralph Waldo Emerson saw this and left the church. Eventually, in another time, something else will come and sweep this one away too. Dionysus was the son of a God (Zeus) and a human woman (Semele), walked the earth, and was not believed to be a God. Herakles (Hercules) was born of a virgin woman, had super powers ( I mean could perform miracles), and was deified and rose to heaven after putting (sacrificing himself) onto a pyre. Let us face it. People left “paganism” because it was sold to them with this, by the Jew, Paul – “There is a Heaven so you don’t have to go to Hades.” Hades was like a hell for “pagans” but slightly different, everyone went there, even if you were a good person. Thus, who wouldn’t convert?

    Immortality of the soul comes from Plato the Greek Philosopher (~470-350 BC) who wrote about Socrates (executed 399 BC). Aristotle (300’s BC) was his student and Alexander the Great (323 BC) was Aristotle’s student (to put into perspective). Stop believing in a Jewish sect. That is what it is: The source of all problems and wars in this world and how people are controlled. Start looking at Nature, see what Nature tells you. Be good for good itself not because someone will punish you. Do good for good itself for the sake of humanity not because it will help you get into heaven. Read ancient literature and see what I am talking about. I was brought up Christian/Catholic and know the ancient literature very well. We are living a lie beyond belief from the source of all problems in this world, the middle east, and I DON’T mean the Islamic countries (they are the most peaceful ones).

    Philosophy should be your religion, period. You are going to be very reactive I know. You think I am some heretic or I am a senseless person with no emotions or I am bad. No I am not. I am just like you. Do you know ancient literature? Have you read it? Have you read the bible? Do you know there are 3 to 4 flood stories? Do you know that the Epic of Gilgamesh describes the first flood story 2000 years before the Jewish Torah? And it has nothing to do with Noah. It even has an Ark and animals 2 x 2. The Jews borrowed this story for their own use while in Babylon ~500 BC because they did not have a story of their people’s origins. Did you know that the Jews borrowed a lot from the Epic of Gilgamesh to write other parts of their book too? Did you know that the Ancient Greeks have a creation story too. Yes, just like Adam and Eve but instead called Deucalion and Phyrrha. So it seems before you get too reactive go read your history and see for yourself. We have NEVER been taught these things so that religion can triumph and we can blindly follow the priests whomever they are.

    Leave Dr. Miles alone.


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