Class Warfare Blog

November 27, 2019

The Truth About Sodom and Gomorrah

Filed under: History,Religion,Technology — Steve Ruis @ 9:57 am
Tags: ,

I have seen other programs under the rubric of “Buried Secrets of the Bible,” and blogged upon episodes, but this new series stars Albert Lin, the likable new star for Nat Geo programming. The charming Mr. Lin has appeared in a series on the Maya, Lost Cities and a couple of others, I think. In any case, this series is using his tool set to investigate events in the Bible to see if there is any archaeological basis for the stories in the Bible. Very little time is spent on the theology involved. Mr. Lin’s tool set is to use LIDAR (from both plane and drone) and satellite imagery to identify hard to see from the ground archaeological sites, then he goes exploring.

These shows are, I suspect, a gold mine because if they avoid offending righteous believers, they pick up the “see everything in the Bible is true” crowd and at the other end are the curious science types looking to see what advances in archaeology are to be had. NatGeo, of course, blends in a soupcon of beautiful cinematography to make it very tasty to the eye.

Okay, so last night Episode 2 was on Sodom and Gomorrah. Was there any truth to be discovered about that story?

After some scene setting, the final segment was about an archaeologist who had discovered a site, or decided he could identify the site, as the ruins of the city of Sodom. The ruins were properly placed in time, they had the outward characteristics as described in the Bible and as were known to exist at the time. The site was quite near the Dead Sea. This city had been turned into a “pile of rubble” in some sort of catastrophic event, which involved the tumbling down of buildings, extensive fire and then 700 years of no further occupation after the event. Various possible causes were considered, but the archaeologist involved felt that the possibilities were quite limited because of some of the artifacts. These were pieces of clay pottery that had been exposed to extreme heat, to the point that the pottery melted. The only known sources of such temperatures were nuclear explosions or meteor strikes, so the working hypothesis was a meteor strike. Part of the meteor (they seldom are just a single object) could have exploded over the Dead Sea resulting in a giant wave of salt water flowing over the arable fields supporting the city, resulting in fields that no longer supported crops, which would explain the 700 year historical gap. Another part of the meteor, striking the ground or exploding above ground would account for the shock wave causing the tumbling buildings and fires.

Using LIDAR and satellite images, Mr. Lin’s team created a 3-D representation of the city site and using false colors, they picked up what appeared from the ground to be a giant cistern for water, but from above looked exactly like an impact crater from a small, but potent, meteor strike. Ta da. The cistern idea wasn’t very good unless it were underground as water exposed over that large of an area would evaporate too quickly. To confirm that it was indeed a meteor crater, an excavation study will have to be done. If confirmed then a story of massive destruction involving “fire and brimstone” from the heavens will have an historical event underneath it.

Very cool.

And, let’s entertain the idea, for the moment, that this scenario, or one like it, were true.

This is a tragic event. An entire city of thousands of people with their animals were wiped out by an “act of nature.” So, residents of that city who had been away on trading trips or nearby relatives of those living there would be faced with the horrible remains. People from safely far off would describe the fiery death of the city. The survivors would be left with tremendous losses and questions that couldn’t be answered, the primary one was “Why?”

The fact that the “why” question could not be answered didn’t stop some of the religiously minded. They connected dots that existed mostly in their minds, including: this was a horrible destruction rained from above, therefore it must be an act of their god, a godly punishment. And since the destruction was so vast, the reason for the destruction must have been heinous. But in the Old Testament, the only real sin is disobedience. People are punished for disobedience because, well . . . why, boys and girls? Because religions exist to control the masses to serve the interests of the secular and religious elites, that’s why. And obedience is always what they demand and disobedience is what they always punish.

So, the inhabitants of these cities are declared to be depraved because their punishment was so severe. Stories were invented to show how depraved they were including attempts at angel rape. (Which brought to mind Arlo Guthrie’s masterpiece “Alice’s Restaurant” and “. . . mother rapers and, and father rapers, sitting right there on the Group W bench . . .”) How it is that angels couldn’t protect themselves from puny, human angel rapists is beyond me. (Were I one of those angels, I would pull out a fiery sword and lop a few heads off and see if their mood changed at all.)

And, of course, the topper is the story of Lot’s family. Lot, son of Abraham, is the only righteous person in the entire city, so angels come and tell him to get his family the heck out of town and don’t look back. And as they are descending the hill of the city, the destruction began, and one of Lot’s family couldn’t resist the temptation to sneak a peak and got turned into a pillar of salt. (Another example of the punishment not fitting the crime, but that is the norm for the Bible.)

Now, who was selected to be the disobedient one? Ah, Lot’s wife. Silly woman. She might have been righteous and tight with god, but she also made a good object lesson and the topic of the lesson is? Disobedience! (Ah, you were paying attention!) Silly woman. Women are so flighty and undependable. Tsk, tsk. That will teach them to stifle their curiosity.

So, it wasn’t enough for the people of these cities to be destroyed by a random cosmological event, but in the aftermath, religious assholes smeared their city and all of the inhabitants and their families for ever and ever, Amen, with made up stories of their depravity. Well, I guess they just got what they deserved . . . not!

Oh, and if the narrative doesn’t hold up, then we are left with the prospect that the entire story is made up, aka fictional, which makes the religious who wrote it, thinking it a great teaching story, even bigger assholes.

18 Comments »

  1. As many historical, fantastical legends, myths, and ancient stories are categorized as “acts of God(s)” or the God’s punishment for disobedience to divine commandments/laws, etc, in time modern science almost always produces the Natural answers, the causations, and the flow of factual events. This puts the extraordinary tales and divine interventions to bed as naive imaginations of ignorance about the Natural world and Universe.

    In 2012 or 2013 I believe I read in one of the National Geographic Magazines that two British engineers (Alan Bond and Mark Hempsell) published their findings in a book called A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels’ Impact Event: A Monograph where the Köfels landslide in the Austrian Alps occurred 9800 years ago by an asteroid strike. Though their hypothesis has been largely rejected by cumulative scientific reviews, their work did indeed offer more rational explanations to ancient calamitous stories of Supernatural wrath. From my 2013 blog-post:

    Alan Bond and Mark Hempsell of Reaction Engines, Ltd and Bristol University respectively, created a computer program that could not only track the exact trajectory of objects in space, but can also reconstruct the exact position of stars thousands of years in the past. With this precise mathematical knowledge they were able to translate the 700 BCE Sumerian astronomer’s tablet-copy recording an event in the night sky of June 29, 3123 BCE. The tablet also notes that the object was large enough to be seen in space well before the event of June 29th further revealing the angle of approach into the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Coupled with historical geological data of asteroid impacts or airbursts of asteroids, and forensic science, many scholars find it very plausible that the debris field of the 3123 BCE asteroid blast – equivalent to ~ 20,000 times greater than the Hiroshima atomic bomb – sprayed burning sulfur and stone over the Mediterranean Sea and onto northern Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula and up to the Dead Sea (see diagram below). The Dead Sea area is generally agreed to be where the ancient towns of Sodom and Gomorrah are located.

    An event such as this certainly causes three things in the ancient world and hyper-imaginative minds of the religious: a) it was an asteroid impact, b) it inspired a lot of fantastical myths, and c) it was recorded on an ancient Sumerian clay tablet.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by Professor Taboo — November 27, 2019 @ 12:26 pm | Reply

    • Fascinating. The odds that an asteroid would hit a city or near a city are very, very low … and we have been around long enough for this to have happened. Apparently, though, blaming the victims was a popular then as it is now.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 27, 2019 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

      • The Blame Game is certainly well and good today as it was in 3123 BCE in Sodom-Gomorrah, 70 CE with the destruction of the Temple, 1347-1351 CE with the Black Plague in Eurasia and Europe, and with the debauchery and idol worshiping/human sacrificing by North, Central, and South American Indigenous Tribes being wiped-out by disease during the Age of Colonialism in the 1500’s. They’re all “God’s Indiscretionary Wrath”! 😄🙄 (facepalm)

        Like

        Comment by Professor Taboo — November 27, 2019 @ 2:40 pm | Reply

        • These are the same people who opposed lightning rods, and smallpox vaccinations as “opposing the will of god.” I wonder if they ever stop to consider than maybe they have the wrong god or maybe that god isn’t worth their reverence?

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — November 28, 2019 @ 8:46 am | Reply

          • …ever stop to consider” 🤔

            Probably not. That would go against the very spirit and definition of pure Faith in their “God,” or what is most often BLIND faith.

            Liked by 1 person

            Comment by Professor Taboo — November 28, 2019 @ 9:05 am | Reply

            • They could *feel *their way along, surely … :o)

              On Thu, Nov 28, 2019 at 9:05 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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              Liked by 1 person

              Comment by Steve Ruis — November 28, 2019 @ 10:21 am | Reply

              • Btw Steve, I am thoroughly enjoying Andrew Seidel’s The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American. Fantastic read and spot on with the legalities and essence of our Constitution, DoI, Bill of Rights, and landmark Supreme Court rulings that have protected our liberties and democracy, but are too often forgotten. Thank you again for sharing the author and book! 🙂

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                Comment by Professor Taboo — November 28, 2019 @ 1:15 pm | Reply

          • Or maybe consider the idea that if a wrath of God could be prevented by a metal stick with a wire, or a single vaccination, then maybe this god isn’t nearly as powerful as he is thought to be.

            Liked by 2 people

            Comment by List of X — November 29, 2019 @ 9:01 am | Reply

            • Gasp! Blasphemer! Stone him, stone him! (*Everbody must get stoned.* Rolling Stones)

              On Fri, Nov 29, 2019 at 9:01 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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              Liked by 1 person

              Comment by Steve Ruis — November 29, 2019 @ 10:59 am | Reply

  2. The blame game. So, the more things change, the more some stay the same. SSDD then? Same shit, different day.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — November 27, 2019 @ 4:25 pm | Reply

  3. What I always find fascinating is how eager some people are to attribute events to supernatural causes even when the claims are utterly ridiculous. According to some of the TBs, homosexuality causes hurricanes and apparently demonic possession causes people to vote Democrat. (I wish I was making that up, but I’m not)

    It’s also interesting with the case of Sodom and Gomorrah that they forget or somehow try to explain away the fact that the first thing the righteous and godly Lot did when he was all alone out in the mountains and hiding with his kids after the disaster was get both of his children pregnant. I have yet to have someone explain to me how god could punish the two cities but didn’t seem to have much of a problem with the drunken old pervert impregnating both of his daughters.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — November 27, 2019 @ 10:43 pm | Reply

    • Grouchy farmer,
      You nailed that one, big time. Thanks for that.
      As we said in my days in USMC, vice is nice, but keep it in the family. Sex is sweet, but incest is best. Now this was always said as a joke, but it seems the holly buy-bull was not meant as a joke, but reality. And yet we non-believers are always asked how we can be moral if we don’t accept (bow down in slavery) to the xtian god?
      Oh, but that old pervert was a holy man. Not his fault he got drunk and raped his daughters. No sir, the devil made him do that. LOLMAO!!!

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Walter Kronkat — November 28, 2019 @ 11:27 pm | Reply

      • Actually, he got drunk, passed out, and his daughters raped him. (A likely story ….)

        On Thu, Nov 28, 2019 at 11:27 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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        Like

        Comment by Steve Ruis — November 29, 2019 @ 7:20 am | Reply

  4. Did you like the show or not? Did you think it was BS or did you think it was interesting? I think the show is interesting. I love to see the remote locations, think about the ancient history and the lydar tech. I’m not a bible scholar but I think the bible holds many truths about history and bit by bit science is able to prove these things happened, even if not always interpretted correctly.

    Like

    Comment by J G Boesiger — February 9, 2020 @ 1:09 pm | Reply

    • Actually the Bible has very little history in it. Yes, it mentions historical people and historical places, but those are just settings, like using New York as a backdrop for a fictional murder mystery. When it was taken as literal history, “biblical archaeologists” descended on the Middle East looking for the remains of the events described. In most cases they came up dry with nada, zilch, nothing for their efforts. For example, the exodus story was placed in a time period in which Egypt had conquered Canaan and Syria and so on, so the 40 year journey to the Promised Land with a million men under arms was from Egypt … into Egypt. I can’t imagine that Egypt would have ignored that happening. And 40 years? There were so many Hebrews claimed to be on the march that a column of four abreast would have its head in Canaan while its tail hadn’t yet left Egypt. This was a trek of a couple of weeks at the most. Most Jewish scholars now acknowledge that the flight from Egypt and the conquest of the Promised Land were not historical events. They were part of an effort in the late sixth century BCE to write a glorious history to back the claims of King Josiah of Judah who wanted to establish his right to rule over Judah and Israel (even though Israel ceased to exist quite some time earlier). Also, many of the Hebrews were recent returnees form Babylon and they wanted to know why this particular monarch had the right to rule them. So they made up stories of their glorious past, blaming all of the deportations and destruction of the wonderful kingdoms (that didn’t exist) on the lack of faith of the people in Yahweh. (This was when Yahweh worship and monotheism really took off (to be used as a tool of suppression of the masses.)

      I can recommend “In Search of ‘Ancient Israel’: A Study in Biblical Origins” (T&T Clark Cornerstones) by Philip R. Davies if you would like to know more about who wrote the Bible (and why).

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — February 9, 2020 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

      • I admit I don’t know about much of what you said but I agree that in the bible the authors themselves add things that aren’t necessarily true. Many of the accounts are from the perspectives of primitive people with personal views and often limited knowledge.
        I am interested in the bible stories and consider the facts to be in there, but I try to filter everything that seems like added interpretation of events and then with the bits that are left I ponder what was really going on from an objective, more informed perspective. I also always question who wrote it and why!!!
        The book recommendation sounds interesting. I always love to know the background story as much as the story itself. Do you know of any documentaries I could watch about it or on youtube? I’m trying to learn about the oldest most ancient, prehistoric, antedelluvian first race(s) of people(s). So any bits of clues about the ancients I like to hear.

        Like

        Comment by J G Boesiger — February 10, 2020 @ 1:38 am | Reply

        • There are such documentaries but I have found almost all of them wanting, so I stick to books, mostly. Another book that will tell you quite a bit about the New Testament is “Jesus Wars.”

          On Mon, Feb 10, 2020 at 1:38 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — February 10, 2020 @ 11:00 am | Reply


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