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Saturday, June 14, 2014

How Dogma Trumps Science Part 1

The Bering Strait

(Snipits of 5 page article below)

So in 1998, Dennis Stanford, director of the Paleoindian program at the Smithsonian Institution, coined the term “Clovis Police” to refer to those “die-hard archaeologists who insist upon Clovis as representing the earliest culture in the New World.”

As recent scientific discoveries have undercut the Bering Strait Theory, a new hypothesis has emerged, the “Beringian Standstill Theory.” The Standstill hypothesis, which proposes that Paleoindians lived isolated in the land bridge area for almost 20,000 years before migrating to the Americas, is also a controversial conjecture that has questionable scientific merit.

When genetic studies that proposed an ancient contact between Polynesians and American Indians – not in conformity with the Bering Strait Theory – were published by University of Hawaii geneticist Rebecca Cann, they were met with a swift and fierce rebuttal. Cann is a pioneer among geneticists, her research having developed the concept of the “Mitochondrial Eve” and the currently accepted “Out of Africa” theory of modern human origins.  But open exploration of the debate is not going to happen, because the debate itself is moderated by ideologues, who determine the evidence that may be used, and ignore the evidence that does not fit the theory. In order to understand why this is, one must look at the history of the Bering Strait Theory, which will only shed a little light on the development of science, but offers important lessons on how and why a dogma is created.

In those days, the study of science was still a subset of theology so virtually all of the early theories of Indian origins were based on the Bible. Typical of these early scientists was the keen-eyed Jesuit observer Friar Joseph de Acosta, whose book The Natural and Moral History of the Indies (as America was then known), published in 1590, is among the first in the nascent field of anthropology. For Acosta, the evidence was clear.

The reason why we are forced to admit that the men of the Indies came from Europe or Asia is so as not to contradict the sacred Scriptures, which clearly teaches that all men descend from Adam; and thus we cannot assign any other origin for the men of the Indies.
Similarly, the colonization was believed to have taken place only in the past few thousand years. The scientific consensus at that time, held by the foremost chronologists of the Bible, such as Jesuit philosopher Benedict Pereira, Irish archbishop James Ussher, the astronomer Johannes Kepler and the physicist Isaac Newton, was that humans were created around 4,000 BC and the Flood unleashed around 2,400 BC. The most enduring origin theory based on the Bible was that Indians were the descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, a belief still held today by devout Mormons. It was proposed in 1567 by both French Benedictine scholar Gilbert Genebrard in Chronicle in Two Volumes and Dutch priest Joannes Fredericus Lumnius in his book De Extremo dei Judicio et Indorum Vocatione. As evidence they produced the apocryphal Second Book of Esdras, which tells the story of how the Lost Tribes escaped their Assyrian captors and fled “to a far away country where mankind had never lived,” a region called Arsareth, or in their view, America.