When Legends Ring True
Seashells Aren’t Always Found by the Seashore
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
Legends can be based in history, even affirmed through personal experience, though many “experts” often insist otherwise. What if, for example, a particular legend occurs in dozens, even hundreds, of cultures around the world telling more or less the same story, having been passed down generation to generation from some long forgotten epoch? Such corroboration would be similar to a multitude of witnesses testifying that they had incriminating knowledge about a suspect committing a crime. It could not be dismissed and would represent convincing proof.
One such legend has indeed arisen from cultures worldwide, whose antecedents either witnessed or were privy to the basis for the legend itself. The Blackfeet Indians, for example, believed that long ago the sea washed over all the land, and that only one man and his family survived, in a boat, and that that man became the progenitor of native peoples. Sound familiar?
Fanny Kelly, taken captive by the Sioux in 1864, and whose first hand account has been featured in these pages monthly, wrote of having found seashells on high sandy hills (in present day Wyoming). The Blackfeet Indians then told her their Great Flood legend that had been passed down from the far distant past (see page 12).
The Choctaw Indian tribe, who once populated the area now encompassing the Southeastern United States (Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi) recount that long ago men became so evil that the Great Spirit destroyed them by means of a flood. One man though was spared. He was a prophet to the people who had warned of dire consequences, but was ignored. The Great Spirit then had him construct a raft of sassafras logs, that he rode for many weeks over the flood waters, guided by a bird to an island. There, the bird became a beautiful woman (by the power of the Great Spirit) and the prophet’s wife. The offspring of their union became the people of world.
These are but two Great Flood legends of hundreds worldwide, including one from a remote tribe of Australian aborigines recorded by anthropologists before the arrival of western missionaries, that goes like this. —In the earliest times, the children of the Supreme One tormented the Winking Owl, the legends says. Being deeply sorrowful, the Supreme One told Gajara to take his wife, his sons, and their wives on a double raft with stores of food. I will send rain and a flood from the sea, he said, and the legend continues in great detail.
Flood legends spring from Asia, South America, North America Scandinavia, and, the Middle East, whence derives the legend of Noah and the Great Flood.
Belief in the Great Flood was universally accepted in western civilization, in Europe and America, at the dawn of the scientific age, and early geologists of that time found troves of supportive evidence in the geological record that they easily attributed to the Flood, the Deluge, the event recorded in the Bible with which we are all familiar.
In a deliberate manner though, with the onset of Darwinism, such notions had to be revised, in that biblical beliefs had to be countered with “science,” a compromised science though that imposed a priori assumptions upon itself excluding a catastrophic (and therefore biblical) agent as the cause of just about anything. If the Bible was right about the Flood, after all, would it not be credible on other matters, specifically those related to human origins and the origin of life.
Geologists and Darwinists soon developed their own doctrines to displace the legends that had been handed down since before recorded history, espousing extremely gradual and uniform prehistoric processes on earth (over billions of years) referred to as gradualism and uniformitarianism (both of which sound like Protestant religions themselves) as opposed to Catastrophism, the theory that says changes in the earth's crust during geological history resulted chiefly from sudden violent and unusual events—events that, if too prolific, would throw off timelines necessary for other things, like evolution, although catastrophe has more recently become an acceptable word within scientific orthodoxy, an asteroid having struck the Yucatan and wiped out the dinosaurs being the prime (and perhaps sole) significant example.
In recorded legends (legends are often records) from around the world, the “violent and unusual events” associated with catastrophism include a great flood, celestial objects hurtling to earth, and conflagration—great fires that would probably be the result of vulcanism related to massive earthquakes—with all of the above often involved in one magnificent prehistoric event.
The Zuni Indians in particular have passed down a stunning version of the latter, telling of, it seems, a vulcanized rupturing of the earth that destroyed everything in sight (see page 22). It is a tale told with awe, terror, and a sense of renewal in the aftermath. What’s more, such jarring and charring of the earth, especially in North America, is supported by a Black Mat in the geological record, a strata of deposits across the continent believed to have resulted from a cosmic collision, and asteroid hitting Earth, fires from which caused massive melting of an ancient ice sheet and flooding.
Delving into literature that recognizes the similarities between legends and heretical science, one more easily entertains alternative views regarding the unexplained Great Extinction (when untold animal species suffered sudden death in recent prehistory, perhaps 13,000 years ago) and the attribution of so many geological features (boulders, striation, fjords, etc.) to extremely slow moving glaciers (slow moving in accordance with that neo scientific Protestant belief system) as opposed to having been lifted and moved by torrents of water. The Noah theory.
Having bought a Pennsylvania farmhouse in the 1980s, this same topic accosted this observer close to home (literally). Unexpectedly, a housing subdivision erupted at the border of my backyard. Heavy equipment dug an embankment into the virgin earth to create a road about 18 feet below. Scaling that embankment, after the earth was cut away, I stood on the inclined cross section, playing in the dirt like a child. That dirt, perhaps 8 feet down, all along the incline, was loaded with something perplexing and unforgettable —a five-foot deep strata of broken sea shells, hundreds of miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
How did that get there?
One might as soon ask the Blackfeet, or an Australian Aborigine, as a credentialed geologist.
Both have their legends.