Throughout history, people tend to believe in all kinds of mysteries. Belief gives people consolation in situations when they meet something unusual or unknown. In this case, belief replaces knowledge. Nowadays, numerous works and books are written that relate mystic beliefs to archeology and other sciences. Despite the vast number of such kind of writings, the scientific approach that is commonly implemented in archeology proves that there is no room for mystery in the history of humankind, showing the importance of epistemology and factual basis for knowledge.
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The authors of the pseudo-archeological writings have multiple reasons for the creation of their compositions: money, fame, nationalism, religious beliefs, or the realization of the romantic worldview (Feder 11). Although the reasons may be different, the lack of informational and factual basis is common for the majority of the pseudoscientific books.
The book “Chariots of the Gods” by Erich Von Daniken raises the questions of the extraterrestrial emergence of the humankind. To prove this point of view the author applies the description and analysis of the artifacts that were discovered worldwide: Egypt, Asia, North and South America. His approach is rather cultural than scientific, and it is very subjective. Through description and interpretation of the pictures on the ancient monoliths, he claims that there were the “unknown gods who visited the primeval earth in manned spaceships” (Daniken 10). It can be considered an example of interpretation according to a particular belief, preconception when the facts are misread according to the prejudiced point of view.
The epistemological approach is needed to avoid misinterpretation. Epistemology’s concern is the evaluation and consideration of the facts. It excludes belief as such and deals directly with the actual things of reality. Despite this, Erich Von Daniken manages to use the inconsistency of knowledge and lack of scientific ground for his purposes, creating the fascinating and improbable stories about the “incredible technical achievements existed in the past” (Daniken 10). Nowadays, some people believe in the existence of the ancient civilizations that were as developed as the present-day society, and that had a vast number of technological devices comparable to modern technology. All these ideas are flourishing on ignorance.
The propensity to believe in mystic and supernatural may also be explained by people’s dependence on others. People are prone to rely on those who, in their opinion, have more experience and influence. So, some authors write their books under the impressions caused by the works based on older sources, considering them sufficient proof for their beliefs. Often the pseudo-scholars approach to the facts described in the ancient sources without any rational analysis and put their own ideas into them.
The scientific approach supports the provision of the “knowledge that is reliable, truthful, and factual” (Feder 23). Science deals with the part of reality that is material and knowable, the part that can be researched, estimated, and analyzed. The ground for epistemological and scientific approaches is the factual reality, which can be questioned and understood through analysis. Scholars and scientists must constantly test the objectivity of their research. Science is absolutely objective, and on the contrary, the pseudoscientific works are primarily subjective.
Epistemology is crucial for archeology and other sciences. The epistemological method is the only right one because it creates reliable knowledge that in turn creates an adequate and objective worldview.
Daniken, Erich Von. Chariots of the Gods: Unsolved Mysteries of the Past, New York: Penguin, 1999. Print.
Feder, Kenneth. Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archeology, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.