Entrevista com o escritor Gore Vidal

Três expressivos intelectuais norte-americanos ousaram enfrentar, após o 11 de Setembro, a “Junta Bush-Cheney”: o lingüista Noam Chomsky, a ensaísta Susan Sontag (falecida em 2004) e o escritor Gore Vidal.

Leia abaixo a entrevista de Gore Vidal à Folha.

Com Bush, perdemos a Constituição, diz Vidal (Folha Online: 12/02/2007 – 09h51)

Soberba acirra ódio dos rivais conservadores de Gore Vidal (Folha Online: 12/02/2007 – 09h57)

Arqueologia da Palestina e sistema de crenças

Ontem, Duane Smith comentou o post de Christopher O’Brien em A Note on an Abnormal Interest, com fortes elogios a este arqueólogo que ousa desafiar as “certezas” de determinados grupos.

Chamo a atenção dos interessados no debate sobre a arqueologia da Palestina e a História de Israel para as suas considerações. Tem muita gente precisando parar e refletir sobre o que ele diz.

No seu post, ele procura classificar e explicar a postura das pessoas quando confrontadas com os resultados da arqueologia da Síria-Palestina.

Ele reflete sobre algo muito sério: há arqueólogos que tratam o assunto com profissionalismo e há um pequeno grupo de pessoas que, embora leigas no assunto, têm uma visão esclarecida sobre a arqueologia e seus resultados. Mas a maior parte das pessoas – talvez por não terem uma visão mais ampla do mundo do Antigo Oriente Médio e da história da pesquisa na região – falam do assunto com outras perspectivas, visões, objetivos. E é isso: apenas “falam”. Falam muito mais para confirmar a si mesmas – na verdade, seu sistema de crenças – do que para entender o tema. São pessoas com vista curta e boca grande. Em bom português: não enxergam além do próprio nariz. Como poderão entender a perspectiva da pesquisa científica?

Em certo ponto ele diz que

Myriads of folks who deeply desire that the conclusions of the archaeologists support either their religious or their political perspectives, sometimes both, make up the larger of the other two groups. Perhaps they need to have their religious or political beliefs confirmed; perhaps they hope that archaeology will provide a “scientific” basis for evangelism. Perhaps they fear the loss of faith in themselves or others if archaeology does not support their beliefs. Many identify this group with Biblical fundamentalism and while it includes most fundamentalists, it is in reality much larger than that. One of the hallmarks of this group is their almost universal failure to acknowledge controversy among experts and to suppress or more commonly massage evidence that is not supporting of their position.

Duane Smith está dizendo que há milhares de pessoas que desejam ardentemente que as conclusões dos arqueólogos ofereçam suporte para suas visões religiosas ou políticas, ou para as duas simultaneamente. Talvez essas pessoas tenham necessidade de ver suas crenças religiosas ou políticas confirmadas, talvez elas acreditem que a arqueologia possa oferecer uma base ‘científica para seu evangelismo, ou ainda, talvez elas tenham medo de perder a fé em si mesmas ou nos outros se a arqueologia não confirmar suas crenças… Muitos identificam este grupo com os fundamentalistas bíblicos, mas, além de incluir muitos fundamentalistas, na verdade, ele é muito maior (cont.)

Ou:

I will note that classical archaeologists occasionally debate their finding and their hypotheses in strong and sometimes derisive tones. But in general, none of them thinks their immortal soul or anyone else’s depends on the outcome of these debates. Their honor or prestige may be on the line but not their religious beliefs. It is on the issue of religious belief that much of the talk, but little of the real archaeology, rests.

Quer dizer: os arqueólogos profissionais, quando se confrontam, debatem seus achados e suas hipóteses de maneira bastante dura. Mas, em geral, nenhum deles acredita que a salvação de sua alma dependa do resultado de seus debates. Sua honra e prestígio podem estar em jogo, não suas crenças religiosas. Mas é no campo das crenças religiosas que muito se bate boca, deixando a verdadeira arqueologia de fora, reflete Duane Smith.

O post completo diz:

A Note on an Abnormal Interest

February 11, 2007 Duane Smith

Chris O’Brien at Northstate Science has a second post on “apologetics archaeology” in which he offers further reflections on Syro-Palestinian archaeology. He again makes several important points and tells of a couple of his own experiences in a very instructive way. I am very sympathetic to Chris’ points in this recent post. I guess I need to write something meaningful on this topic too, but right now I’m just too worn out from bringing our library back into the house from the garage where it was being stored while our new carpet was installed, to be very coherent. What a pain.

One thing that I will note is that, except for those who work directly in the field (and not all of them) plus a very small group of interested laypersons, a high percentage of the talk in this area is just that, “talk,” with not the slightest reference to the real issues in all of their complexity. Today I will contribute a little to that “talk.” Discounting those whose main interest is selling magazines, the world of Syro-Palestinian archaeology seems to divide into two larger camps of unequal size and one much smaller camp. The smaller camp contains those professionals who struggle with the difficult evidence and develop interesting and useful, even testable, hypotheses that advance the field. Dever, Mazar, Gitin, Finkelstein, and Herzog, as well as many other professional archaeologists and a very few laypersons, are part of this group. In what follows, I write in generalities. One can find exceptional cases everywhere.

Myriads of folks who deeply desire that the conclusions of the archaeologists support either their religious or their political perspectives, sometimes both, make up the larger of the other two groups. Perhaps they need to have their religious or political beliefs confirmed; perhaps they hope that archaeology will provide a “scientific” basis for evangelism. Perhaps they fear the loss of faith in themselves or others if archaeology does not support their beliefs. Many identify this group with Biblical fundamentalism and while it includes most fundamentalists, it is in reality much larger than that. One of the hallmarks of this group is their almost universal failure to acknowledge controversy among experts and to suppress or more commonly massage evidence that is not supporting of their position.

The second of the two larger groups hopes that archaeology does not confirm the historicity of the Bible. There are many differing and often opposing motivations for this view: fear of some form of idolatry; fear of misuse of archaeological evidence to support political agendas; hope that archaeology will prove the Bible wrong with sufficient authority to also prove all or some religious beliefs wrong; a desire to separate western theology from its historical roots. I find all of these positions as equally wrong headed as fundamentalist religious positions. Members of this group will often acknowledge legitimate controversy but tend to fixate on evidence or individual archaeologists that seem most supportive of their own non-archaeological positions. They also often promote low probability explanations of evidence where the highest probability explanation does not suit the cause. Neither this group nor the one outlined in the previous paragraph seems much interested in proposing testable hypotheses or in having their own hypothesis tested.

I will note that classical archaeologists occasionally debate their finding and their hypotheses in strong and sometimes derisive tones. But in general, none of them thinks their immortal soul or anyone else’s depends on the outcome of these debates. Their honor or prestige may be on the line but not their religious beliefs. It is on the issue of religious belief that much of the talk, but little of the real archaeology, rests. My goal as a secularist with a strong (abnormal) interest in the field of Syro-Palestinian archaeology is to discuss the issues as if little or nothing were at stake. Shocking little really is. I think that a dedicated interest in this area of human inquiry should be as abnormal as is the same level of interest in any other branch of archaeology. I’m not claiming that the larger public shouldn’t have an interest in Syro-Palestinian archaeology. I am claiming that they shouldn’t have an opinion.

PS One subject that needs to be discussed more than it is, is how archaeological research of all kinds is funded. There are dragons and monsters in these waters.