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Anthropology/what kind of information do you have about biblical anthropology?


QUESTION: many evangelical Christians claim that four fields of anthropology (biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, archaeology and linguistics anthropology )all confirm the bible to be true.
they claim that linguistics anthropology confirm the tower of babel.
they claim that cultural anthropology confirm the tribes that are mentioned in the bible.
they claim that the biological anthropology confirm the biblical origin of human race.
they claim that the archeological anthropology confirm the Noah ark and other antiquity that date back to the biblical time.
how many of their information do you think are reliable and how many of their information are not reliable?
do you know any secular source(books or websites) that deal with biblical anthropology in four fields including biological anthropology, cultural anthropology, archaeological anthropology and linguistics anthropology?

ANSWER: Dear Pui,
All of these claims are demonstrably false, and have been proven false to the satisfaction of scientists for decades.  The evangelical Christians you cite are probably either (1) lying for propaganda purposes or (2) selectively citing findings from "fringe science", or both.

The account of human origins in Genesis enjoys no greater nor lesser support than the mythological accounts of human origins of the Ancient Egyptians,the Maya, the Romans, or anybody else. From a scientific standpoint, they are all equally wrong.  From a religious standpoint, in which claims of faith do not require evidence (see Jesus and the "doubting" Apostle Thomas), all are equally credible.

Where to send you to find a single authoritative summary is a bit more problematical, because there are a lot of popular books on the subject, but they vary widely in terms of how much scientific background they assume the reader possesses.
I'm going to suggest you look at the website of the Skeptical Society (  Somewhere among their many offerings, you will find references (either books or shorter articles) that take on these challenges one by one.
John Shea

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: did some cities that are mentioned in the bible really exist?
did the battles or political struggles that are mentioned in the bible really happened?

did some cities that are mentioned in the bible really exist?
Yes, though indentifications become less certain the further back in time one is investigating.
So, Biblical Jerusalem = modern day Jerusalem = 100% certain.
Ur of the Chaldees = Ur in Iraq, not so certain.

did the battles or political struggles that are mentioned in the bible really happened?
This is hard to tell.  Some big inter-empire battles like Megiddo are independently verifiable from non-Biblical sources.
A lot of the battles described in the Old Testament were small scale local and regional conflicts that are documented only in Biblical sources.  That a lot of these accounts have a moral tone to them (basically -"Do what Yahweh says, or else!") suggest there is a mixture of history and metaphor involved in them.
John Shea


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John Shea


Questions about Old World prehistoric archaeology (especially Stone Age) of Europe, Africa, and Western Asia, prehistoric human and hominid behavior, primitive technology, origin of modern humans, extinction of the Neandertals. IMPORTANT: Between February 14 and September 01, 2014, I will be on sabbatical leave. During this time I will have limited access to email. This means that there may be very long periods (i.e., weeks) between your posting a question and my having time to answer it.


>20 years as a professional anthropologist based at a research university.

Journal of Field Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, Lithic Technology, Evolutionary Anthropology, Current Anthropology, Mitekufat HaEven (Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society), Paléorient, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, American Anthropologist, Geoarchaeology.

Ph.D (Anthropology) Harvard University, 1991.
BA (Archaeology) Boston University, 1982.

Awards and Honors
Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer 2012-2014

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