Eric Describes the Funniest Story From His New Book 'Is Atheism Dead?'


There are a lot of funny stories in the book. And usually when I do interviews, I don't get to tell these stories. I've got a glance over the top. But you just asked me about one of my favorites. I mean, I can't tell you how much joy I just laugh every time I think about it. But this was the discovery in 1979 of what's called the silver ketef scrolls. And what that means is these are incredibly tiny silver scrolls that were so tiny they were worn as amulets. And they had the priestly blessing the ironic blessing where the priests would say the lord bless you and keep you the lord make his countenance to shine upon you and give you peace. I mean, this holy thing from the scripture of written in silver in really Proto hebraic because this is from 6 50 BC. Anyway, but how was it found? Yes. I, if you read books and archeology, it'll sort of tell you, oh, this was discovered here here by so and so and so and so I was okay. But somehow, in my research, because I have fun doing the research, I discovered this weird backstory. And the more I dug the funnier it became. Yeah. Okay, here's the story. The guy whose last name, oh gosh, what is it? It's Barack. I can never say his name. It's the book here. But anyway, it's not Jacobs. No, it's a 28 year old. It's a 28 year old guy studying archeology in a Tel Aviv, or Jerusalem. So he's a nobody. He's 6 years from his PhD, but he gets this idea in his head that below Saint Andrew's church outside just right at the outset skirts of Jerusalem. There are some old caves and burial caves, whatever. They've all, they looked like they've been excavated. There's nothing there, but he has a hunch that there's more to be found there. But he doesn't have any credibility or anything to get real archeological students to help him. So he has to be really humble and say, you know, I'll take anybody who can help me. Gabriel barques Gabriel bark, I think it's barkai, barkey. He has to go and this is like a joke. So archeology club, 12 and 13 year olds. They volunteer the kids, the kids can help you. So how'd you like 12 and 13 year olds annoying 12 and 13 year olds to help you on this big dig? So they do the dig, they find nothing. He's disappointed, and he says, well, you know what? At least to we've got a photograph, all these chambers, even though we found nothing, there was one kid that was so annoying to this barkai that barkey was like ripping his hair out and he says, I can't take another minute of this annoying 12 year old named Nathan. So here's what I'm going to do. All of these caves need to be photographed. The most distant one or one of the distant ones and over cave 25, he sends Nathan there, and he's really stern with him, like angry, like, hey, I've had enough out of you. I want you to clean that chamber. It's gonna be photographed. I want it to be so clean that your mother could use it as a kitchen. Like you really threatens the kid because this kid was very annoying. So Nathan trundles off to this distant place. And the joy, of course, is that it's far away, and we're not going to hear from this kid for two or three hours while he's doing what we do. But he takes a hammer with them, which is a weird thing, nobody knows. But the kid is so annoying that to go clean the cave, he just happens to hide a hammer on his person. And when he's bored in this sacred chamber, okay? There's nothing there. It's got a stone floor, whatever. He takes the hammer out. Nobody knows this, okay? He's all alone and starts smashing the floor with the hammer. Now this alone, I find it funny. The only reason he's there is because he was so annoying, they sent him as far away as possible. But if he wasn't annoying enough, he had a hammer with him and decides to use the hammer to smash the floor. The board Nathan smashes the floor with the hammer so hard that it cracks. It wasn't supposed to crack. And he finds a hidden chamber. He sticks his hand in the hidden chamber and is dragged into the bowels of hell itself. Just kidding. He puts his hand into hidden chamber and he pulls out some stuff, some like little ceramics. He now is like, hey, this is what I'm here for. I'm not here to clean. I found treasure. So he runs to barkai and tugs on his shirt. He's like, hey hey, look what I found. You could see bark. I could picture his hair standing on end, like what is going on? The annoying kid is back with some ancient treasure. So they run back to the place, barkai sees that, what do you assumed was an empty place was in fact hiding this stuff and the annoying kid was so annoying that he smashed the floor open or whatever. So he sends the kid home and they spend days now excavating the secret whole and they pull out treasure after treasure and the greatest treasure is what we described. And unbelievably tiny silver scroll so delicate that they couldn't unwrap it for three years. They didn't know how to have the technology without destroying it. But they could read the words inscribed in silver. Now if it's inscribed on anything but silver, it doesn't last. So the Dead Sea scrolls, which are amazingly old, they're not this old. This is even older. So this is the first extant writing from the Hebrew scriptures ever discovered thanks to the annoying 12 year old Nathan. He's probably in his mid 50s right now and he doesn't know. And when he's

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