Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Mystery of Gobekli Tepe

After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, what happened to them? We know that sin, having entered the world, spread quickly and the first murder occurred in a fit of jealousy. Adam and Eve's son Cain killed Abel when God preferred Abel's offering over Cain's. (Gen 4:3-5)

People who are unsaved and therefore an enemy of God say it's "not fair" that God didn't accept Cain's offering. However, Adam and Eve knew God and continued to worship Him after being expelled from the Garden. When Eve bore Cain she praised the LORD. (Gen 4:1). They taught their sons how to worship. If they hadn't, Abel would not have known God, would not have known that he should make an offering, and not have known that offering should be a blood sacrifice. The problem was that Cain did not offer his sacrifice in faith. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts: and through it he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4)." If you're not offering to God by faith, it is by self, or by sight, and therefore is from your own presumption. That never pleases God.

After Cain killed Adam, God sent Cain away. "So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden." (Genesis 4:16) Soon, Seth was born to Adam and Eve. So here we have a split, the believers dwelling somewhere presumably close to where Eden was, and Cain going east, marrying and having children away from the LORD'S presence. But where were they? It is believed the Garden of Eden was somewhere in Turkey. Are there any other remnants of those earliest people? Didn't they leave anything behind?

In 1994, a Kurdish shepherd stumbled over a stone. German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt was called in and an extraordinary site was slowly uncovered over the decade. The world's first temple, 11,000 years old. It is more enigmatic than Easter Island and more mysterious and complex than Stonehenge. It is universally agreed that it is one of the most important sites in the world. It is seven thousand years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza. "As Reading University professor Steve Mithen says: 'Gobekli Tepe is too extraordinary for my mind to understand.' If this place they unearthed is as old as they say, it survived the Flood.


UK Daily Mail says the temple stones at Gobekli Tepe might be the greatest archaeological discovery ever, "a site that has revolutionised the way we look at human history, the origin of religion - and perhaps even the truth behind the Garden of Eden. Nat Geo says, "We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities and later to writing, art, and religion. Now the world’s oldest temple suggests the urge to worship sparked civilization."

Previously every archaeological and sociological construct  was predicated on the assumption that agriculture came first, then worship. Gobekli Tempe shows that assumption to be wrong: worship came first, and a lot earlier than they thought. Then agriculture was born  in that very area. We know that wheat was the oldest and likely first domesticated grain, and it happened in that area of Turkey. "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;" (Genesis 3:17-18). And agriculture was born.

As for worship versus agriculture, Christians know worship came first. Our loving God created humans, who in turn worshiped Him in perfection and without sin was among the very first acts of humankind. Christians know that 'civilization' was created by God. He made the world, made humans and animals. He structured the world through a hierarchy of relational commands: worship of Him, hierarchy between man and woman, and of man over the animals. He gave them jobs to do. He recreated with them. Food was abundant and available. From the sixth day, all the elements of civilization existed: worship, employment, leisure, the foundational structure of the world: family unit, were all set in one day. It did not evolve and it did not progress. It simply was. (Gen 2:15-25).

Yes, but the urge to worship who? The God of Creation? Adam and Eve and their progeny worshiped God personally. Cain was away from the LORD'S presence, but perhaps he worshiped the serpent now. Were he and his people beginning to worship but worship something other than God, using advanced skills learned from the fallen angels to build a blasphemous temple?  The UK Daily Mail article says "It's as if the gods came down from heaven and built Gobekli for themselves." Ah! Perhaps that is a clue.

Here is another tantalizing clue: ""Nat Geo: "Bewilderingly, the people at Göbekli Tepe got steadily worse at temple building. The earliest rings are the biggest and most sophisticated, technically and artistically. As time went by, the pillars became smaller, simpler, and were mounted with less and less care. Finally the effort seems to have petered out altogether by 8200 B.C." Just as sin corrupts steadily downward, perhaps the skills, interest, and conditions at Gobekli Tepe caused the downward spiral in the worship there, just as sin causes a downward spiral in everything.

We may never know more about why Gobekli Tepe was built, or exactly where the Garden of Eden lay. As the Nat Geo article concludes, they quote the archaeologist. "Today less than a tenth of the 22-acre site is open to the sky. Schmidt emphasizes that further research on Göbekli Tepe may change his current understanding of the site's importance. Even its age is not clear—Schmidt is not certain he has reached the bottom layer. "We come up with two new mysteries for every one that we solve," he says." 

Around 8,000 BC, the creators of Gobekli turned on their achievement and entombed their glorious temple under thousands of tons of earth, creating the artificial hills on which that Kurdish shepherd walked in 1994. We don't know why. Perhaps the flood buried it. Or perhaps it was because another, 'better' city was being built, this time, by Nimrod. Its name is Babylon.
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Below, stunning photos from National Geographic--

The elegant bas-reliefs of vultures, scorpions, and other creatures found on the T-shaped pillars had to have been created by skilled artisans, evidence that hunter-gatherers were capable of a complex social structure.
Pillars at the temple of Göbekli Tepe—11,600 years old and up to 18 feet tall—may represent priestly dancers at a gathering. Note the hands above the loincloth-draped belt on the figure in the foreground.
Another common icon of the world's first organized religion was snakes. This example was found on the back of a human head from Nevalı Çori.Artifact photographed at Şanliurfa Museum, Turkey.
Images of vultures, like this stone carving, have been found at Göbekli Tepe. Because the birds are traditionally associated with mortality, these depictions suggest that Göbekli Tepe may have been a place for rituals related to the spiritual power of the ancestral dead.

7 comments:

  1. I'm wondering two things, do you believe the earth is 6,000 years old like some bible scholars and christians believe? (I personally don't think it matters because I believe only God knows that) and can we assume that this temple was built to worship Yahweh? I guess the carvings of serpents threw me off. I know that those that had faith in God before Christ's death were seen as righteous but what about people on earth that did not know about Yahweh?

    If (possibly) like the people who erected and worshiped at this temple if they just had faith that there was an all sovereign God and somehow lived by that faith, does that mean God also saw them as righteous?

    I'm just throwing these questions out there and they have been on my mind a bit. I know even during the age of grace that before any of the apostles could reach beyond the scope of the roman empire that people died without knowing about Christ. I do know that God has said He is just and I trust in His infinite, all seeing wisdom. I hope it's not somehow rebelling or sinning against God to ponder on these sorts of questions.

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    1. if they just had faith that there was an all sovereign God and somehow lived by that faith, does that mean God also saw them as righteous?

      just had faith in an all sovereign god...

      just

      I happen to believe in an indefinably perfect omniscient creator. I also believe it's wrong to equate our creator with any defined gods.

      is that "just" the faith you mean?
      if so, let me ask you this friend.

      if I expend all my faith in our creator, and religionists prance their faith over to prophets, scriptures, rites, rituals, superstitions personifications of evil, demons and satan... how much of their faith is left to offer their creator?

      Muslims, jews, and christians, and all other religionists must first elevate a superstitious belief to bear eternal truth, this is done by devotion, and required by the religion. They must acknowledge the existence of satan and demonic forces of evil, and since there is no proof they exist, this is done by faith. Faith plus devotion = worship.

      Religionists may not worship their creator/gods, until the firstfruits of their faith are expended on satan, demons, rituals, rites, scriptures, prophets, and anything but their indefinably perfect creator.

      All religions require the focus of faith to be distracted from the indefinably perfect omniscience.

      Words are just words, uttered by men, and the creative force that has its trademark on every verified instance of existence needs no messenger for me to build my faith by seeking an understanding of my creator without the need to define the indefineable.

      Indefinable absolute characterizations -like omniscient, perfect, eternal, can be derived using deductive reasoning, and need not be held as truth only on the carnal words in some ancient scripture...
      for instance
      The intelligence of the Creator

      It could be zero or infinite, because these are undefined absolutes. Any value between zero and infinite would be invaled by defining the creator.

      So.. we know we have some intelligence...but we don't have enough to initiate a reality like our own... hence, as part of our undefined creator paradigm we can attribute a reasonable characterization of infinite intelligence as a likely truth. Infinite intelligence equates with omniscience :)

      I can't prove what I just said, I have to have faith that it's true, and, if I am to believe our Creator is also perfect, then I must also believe that every creation is perfectly created to be what it will be, and do what it will do.

      A simple proof of this can be demonstrated mathematically.

      There is only one you. 1/1 = 100% and that's what we normally deem perfection.

      All instance of existence are subject to this formula, there can be no error in the plan of a perfect Creator.

      So, while the religionists spend their time looking for defined gods and their "eternal plan" in books written in human vocabularies by the human authors of religions, they fail to notice the eternal plan unfold around them.

      When they've read all the scriptures, and understand them all, we are to believe they know the eternal plan.
      I've read the scriptures of a few religions, and it only served to confuse me and confound my faith in my fellow man, that they should give up their faith in omniscience and drink from the placebo of the religious gods in bottles.

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    2. Hello Anonymous,

      I admit, you're a study in contrasts. Or perhaps inconsistencies. You believe in an omniscient creator, but don't believe He has revealed Himself to us. You believe in worship, but don't know Whom you are worshiping. You equate all scriptures to THE Holy scriptures, but then say they are all just the word of man. You acknowledge we worship that omniscient creator but refuse to do so through religion.

      I will say this: the bible doesn't make sense to you because you are not saved by the blood of Jesus. And, you will never get to know the Creator unless you have faith that Jesus is the sacrifice of that Creator to pay the wrathful penalty for our sins, resurrected on the third day and now reigns in heaven, soon to come again. He delivered the religion to us, Christianity, through His inspired word. But first comes the faith in Jesus, and that comes from acknowledging your own sins and the impossibility, due to those sins, of ever reaching heaven on your own.

      You can't get to know God through your own doings becauase of our sinful filter that prevents us from seeing Him as he is- HOLY.

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  2. Hi Anonymous,

    I think it's good to ask these questions. We need to know what we believe but we also need to know why we believe it. There is a difference in asking for the purpose of learning more of Him and His ways, and asking because of academic gamesmanship. John Piper's book "Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God" offers 'wise advice on the importance of Christian thinking as a way of loving God with our minds and as part of delighting in God above all things.'

    I think the earth is 6000-70000 years old. I think it matters because the earth is not millions of years old. Believing in an old earth negates Genesis 1-2 and makes true faith impossible.

    As for the early believers: Adam and Eve believed. She credited the LORD for the birth of Seth. She & Adam taught Abel to sacrifice to the LORD. And from them thru the generations, there were righteous believers all the way to Noah, and also afterward. People who didn't believe, didn't WANT to believe, they certainly knew of God though. Like Cain.

    Cain chose to NOT believe. He "left the presence of the LORD."

    Here is a well-written essay about the question of "those who have not heard."
    http://www.gotquestions.org/never-heard.html

    and another one here:
    http://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/what-happened-to-people-who-died-before-the-cross/

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    1. it's always good to ask questions, but you have to look at the answers you give yourself. if the answers are based on 'what you believe" you might as well just forgo the whole exercise. Beliefs are not facts. Beliefs cannot further the cause of learning, Beliefs, when used as answers to questions, are are a dead end.

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    2. Hi Anonymous,

      how can beleif be a dead end when the belief in the resurrected Jesus Christ leads to eternal life? It is the opposite of a dead end. Once a person repents and believes, He shows us Himself by depositing the Holy Spirit in us as a guarantee of the eternality of life with Him. But first you have to believe. It is the first building block of faith.

      Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

      Delete
  3. I have no problem believing in a young earth. If God made a fully matured Adam and Eve, then it's not a stretch to believe He made a fully matured earth.

    As for this post, it's fascinating. I think the stonework is beautiful, as artwork, and I am intrigued by it.

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