Beneath The Surface: Archaeology, Paleontology, Noah’s Flood And The Book Of Genesis -- By: Gary A. Byers

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 22:2 (Spring 2009)
Article: Beneath The Surface: Archaeology, Paleontology, Noah’s Flood And The Book Of Genesis
Author: Gary A. Byers

Beneath The Surface:
Archaeology, Paleontology, Noah’s Flood And The Book Of Genesis

Gary A. Byers

Archaeology and paleontology are sister fields of scientific investigation and both provide important data for an appropriate understanding of the book of Genesis. Dealing with different materials and time periods, the two disciplines offer valuable insights to different parts of the book.

Archaeology comes from two Greek words—archaeo meaning “ancient” and ology meaning “study.” Thus archaeology is simply the “study of ancient things.” Paleontology, on the other hand, comes from three Greek words—paleo meaning “old,” ontos meaning “thing” and ology meaning “study.” Paleontology is the “study of old things.”

While synonyms in English, these two terms represent similar, yet distinctly different, fields of research. I work in the field of archaeology1 and, basically, we dig in the dirt down to bedrock, looking for the remains of human civilizations.

Paleontologists actually start where archaeologists leave off. They dig in the bedrock, basically looking for fossils and dinosaur bones. They also work very closely with another field of scientific investigation—geology (“earth study”), which focuses on the earth’s rock layers themselves. So, both archaeologists and paleontologists dig into the earth’s surface for remains from earlier periods of history. But we dig in two very different mediums and are looking for very different materials from distinctly different periods of world history. When conducted with precision, good data collection and reporting, both fields accurately demonstrate the scientific method in practice.2

Admittedly, my explanation of the difference between the two fields might be considered an oversimplification. Like many archaeologists, I have found numerous fossils in the dirt while excavating on the hills of the West Bank in Israel. One the other side of the ledger, while not often discussed, paleontologists and geologists also find evidence of human civilization in bedrock along with fossils and dinosaur bones.

So, while many of my colleagues would howl in protest, I suggest the actual dividing line between these two fields of scientific investigation is the Biblical Flood of Noah. Even though there is general agreement that some sort of hydrological catastrophe created the earth’s fossilized rock layers, my evolutionary colleagues would not agree that Noah’s Flood was a true historical event and is the most reasonable explanation for their appearance.

Still, geology indicates a hydrologic catastrophe in antiquity and ...

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