Each year, the unsuspecting public is confronted with more and more unsubstantiated religious/scientific claims; Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, Sodom and Gomorrah, bogus lead codices, fraudulent scrolls and now the DNA of Jesus, his wife Mary and their son ‘miraculously’ discovered by American and Canadian ‘academics’ often posing as archaeologists. Just when the public believes they have seen it all, these ‘academics’ suddenly ‘discover’ Atlantis, the iron nails used to crucify Jesus of Nazareth, appearing on American television during Easter week. While New and Old World archaeologists have dedicated their entire lives for the advancement of science; these so-called ‘scholars’ along with a film maker whose documentaries and books have been aptly described by rather descriptive terms as , archaeo-porn, ‘press conference archaeology’ or ‘archaeology for losers’. Their often absurd ideas, with no serious academic support, are never submitted for peer review, (an almost sacred responsibility in the world of science), but are presented before a closed press conference a day or two before the book or film premieres, under the pretext of science. Scholars, scientists, religious and non religious who dare criticize are threatened with legal action or, in this specific case, a near one million dollar libel suit. Now is the time for a Landmark decision against this abuse of science, Jerusalem archaeology and religion.
As an Israeli biblical archaeologist/anthropologist for the past four decades, Joe Zias has been one of the professions’ most outspoken critics of self -styled preachers, ‘ark-eologists’, film makers, authors -- all posing as archaeologists, seeking fame and fortune at the expense of both science and religion.
Zias’ interest in these scams began in Jerusalem in the late 1970’s while unexpectedly being visited by three Kansas ministers inquiring about the absurd and preposterous ideas of a self- styled American ‘ark-eologist’ claiming to have found Noah’s Ark, the ‘real’ Mt. Sinai, the site of Sodom and Gomorrah, the wheels of the Egyptian chariots from the Red Sea along with the blood of Jesus in Jerusalem. While the general public would laugh at these ‘made for TV’ and supermarket tabloid claims, it was only when these ministers related to Zias that money which had formerly gone to their communities, used to provide care for the ‘blind, the lame and the halt’ was now being funneled into the pockets of these self- styled ‘archaeologists’ and film makers providing ‘signs and wonders’ on an unprecedented scale.
It was then that Zias realized, as an academic educated by tax payers public funding that one is obligated to be, in the words of the Roman philosopher Seneca, ‘a lawyer for the masses,’ irrespective of one’s religious views when confronting issues of public interest.
Due to the unrelenting worldwide criticism of their work within the academic community in which virtually every film/book has failed, they retaliated by filing a major (nearly $1,000,000 lawsuit) in Israeli courts against the Israeli archaeologist/anthropologist, Joe Zias, in hopes of silencing and censoring him and other colleagues critical remarks. These well-known and respected scholarly critics who have dared to challenge these false scientific claims, (i.e. DNA of Jesus and Mary, four tombs of Jesus the last ten years, Jesus Nails, all marketed under the pretext of science) have been labeled as anti-Semitic, threatened with legal action or, in this specific case, sued for libel and slander. If the academic community and others caring about science and religion fail to react and support Zias and his colleagues vigorously, the world of science in general and biblical archaeology in particular, can and will be affected.
Scholars must be free to criticize those who willfully manipulate, distort, invent, and only occasionally tell some truth. This is a landmark case. Academic freedom is as stake. Your contributions are needed to support this effort. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details in order to contribute to this worthy cause.