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.
- Reading: Can we trust the Bible? – Charlie Campbell (part 2) (farahgarcia.wordpress.com)
- Archaeology: A Secret History (lovelyoldtree.wordpress.com)
- Archaeology: A Secret History; Alex Polizzi: The Fizer Returns – TV review (guardian.co.uk)