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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

"The evolutionist stands staring in the painted cavern at the things that are too large to be seen and too simply to be understood. He tries to deduce all sort of other indirect and doubtful things from the details of the pictures, because he cannot see the primary significance of the whole; thin and theoretical deductions about the absence of religion or the presence of superstition; about tribal government and hunting and human sacrifice and heaven knows what." - G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

Chesterton makes the point that who he calls the evolutionist, and who we might more precisely call the anthropologist, is frequently inclined towards the most extravagant claims about what prehistorical evidence proves. Chesterton's example is of the prehistoric cave drawings that prove nothing more than that prehistoric men (or women or children) liked watching animals and drawing pictures of them.

A recent archaeological discovery reminded me of Chesterton's point. The 5,000 year old skeletons of a man and a woman in what appears to be an embrace were found recently in Mantua. The article also mentions that both the skeletons have an arrowhead in them. With these brief facts, the person in charge of the dig thinks that it is possible "the man died first and then the woman was killed in sacrifice to accompany his soul." Now, I won't deny that there have been and perhaps still are cultures where such sacrifices occur, but there is nothing in regard to this couple to suggest such a ritual at work.

First, both skeletons have an arrowhead in them. Second, they are in an embrace - not laid out (like is common in graves the world over). Third, nothing in the article gives any indication that they were buried (and you frequently can determine this). Keeping in mind these facts, the more obvious conclusion is that they were both shot with arrowheads and died in each others arms. Now, I will grant that this new theory does not have the flair of human sacrifice, but it has the advantage of more closely corresponding with both common sense and the facts that we actually have. As Chesterton continually reminds us, people are human and will generally act in accordance with normal human behavior. I think Chesterton would find it particularly humorous that it is the anthropologist who lacks an appreciation for human nature.