In 1995, German archeologists made an eye-popping discovery in southern Turkey. At a site whose Turkish name means “Potbelly Hill,” scientists are digging up what they claim is the oldest temple in the world. You can see many pictures of it here.
How old is it? Scientists estimate it was built around 10,000 B.C. Some Creationists will object to that, but I’ve become agnostic about prehistoric dates. After all, God has not told us how long Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, or what He was doing with the rest of the planet during that time. Anyhow, 10,000 B.C. is only a guess, based on the style of the site’s monoliths and artwork.
Suffice it to say they’re convinced it’s really, really old—older than Stonehenge, older than Mesopotamia’s oldest cities, older than the pyramids of Egypt: way older than any of these.
Look at the pictures on the Internet. The big T-shaped monoliths weigh from 40 to 60 metric tonnes each, and may represent standing human figures. Carvings abound, ranging from bas-reliefs to fully 3-D sculpture in the round. It’s not shabby artwork, either, but rather the work of skilled and experienced artists. Everything is beautifully preserved, because at some unknown time in prehistory, the people who were using the temple buried the whole site—without a backhoe!—protecting it from erosion.
Potbelly Hill is a huge site, and diggers have tons more work to do. Most of it has not yet been uncovered. Who knows what else they’ll turn up?
So far, though, they haven’t turned up any of the ancient builders’ tools, no samples of any kind of writing, no evidence of agricultural activity, and no traces of living quarters. There are lots of animal bones scattered around the temple’s finished, ground-limestone floors, suggesting that perhaps animals were sacrificed there. Many kinds of animals, as well as human beings, are represented in the artwork.
Now let’s turn to a rather silly statement by scientists who ought to know better. It’s from the same website cited above.
“Each T-shaped pillar varies between 40 to 60 tonnes, leaving us scratching our heads as to how on earth they [the ancient builders] accomplished such a monumental feat. In a time when even simple hand tools were hard to come by, how did they get these stone blocks there, and how did they erect them? With no settlement or society to speak of, with farming still a far cry away, in a world of only roaming hunter-gatherers, the complexity and developed blueprints of these temples represented another enigma for archeologists…”
Pillars of stone meet heads of stone.
The ossified preconceptions of these scientists are a wonder. Confronted by the testimony of their own eyes that the ancients did in fact accomplish a monumental feat, they perplex themselves with foolish questions.
One would think the existence of the temple would necessarily imply the availability of all the tools needed to build it. But no: “even simple hand tools were hard to come by.” Would they expect to find hammers and saw-horses cluttering up the Vatican? Gee, how did they manage to build St. Peter’s without tools? The temple exists: therefore the tools needed to build it must have existed, too.
The ancient people are presumed to have had “no settlement or society to speak of.” Well, then, what’s the blooming temple doing there? Its presence necessarily implies an organized society! Instead, scientists cling to their evolution-inspired vision of “farming still a far cry away, in a world of only roaming hunter-gatherers.” Don’t change a cherished preconception just because a great enormous temple is standing there.
In the Bible narrative, the true narrative, God created Adam and Eve as mature and perfect human beings, not yet subject to death or disease, more than able to get civilization started after being evicted from the Garden. But the evolutionary mind-set demands “primitive” people who can’t do much of anything, who took tens of thousands of years just to figure out how to set one stone on top of another. Never mind that the earliest preserved examples of cave painting display advanced, sophisticated technique that some artists today would find hard to match.
The temple complex at Potbelly Hill suggests that the long “primitive” stage of human history was never anything more than a product of modern man’s imagination. There is much evidence that does not survive the centuries, much that is perishable and gets lost forever. Maybe the tools, writings, and houses of these ancient people have not survived. Or maybe we just haven’t found them yet.
Maybe it’s time some scientists learned to believe their eyes over their preconceptions.