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That Bible's a good read, isn't it? There are some great, wholesome stories nestling in between the pages of that bad boy. And that God, ha! He's a right laugh, isn't he? What a guy. He's in all the best Bible stories.
Like, remember that one when he ordered the Israelites to brutally slaughter every Canaanite man, woman, child and beast, not leaving so much as a hamster alive? That was a good one, wasn't it? I believe his exact words were: "You shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them." Ha ha! What a character.
As lovely as that tale may be, it's not exactly breaking news that the Holy Bible might not be 100 percent, completely and utterly historically accurate, but now a new scientific discovery has cast even greater doubt on the book's validity.
As it turns out, God might not actually be the - as Richard Dawkins put it - 'vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser' (his words, not ours) he appears as in this particular story. Or, if he is, he did a pretty half-arsed job of murdering everybody properly.
Richard Dawkins. Credit: PA
How do we know? Well, because scientists conducting a genetic study have found that some modern Lebanese people share around 90 percent of their genetics with the race that God supposedly wiped off the face of the Earth. A pretty tall order if the Canaanites had all been killed.
Scientists leading the study were able to extract enough DNA from the remains of five people, found in the former Canaanite city state of Sidon and compared it to 99 people from modern Lebanon to get their results.
A paper about the study in the American Journal of Human Genetics claimed that there had been 'uncertainties' about the fate of the Canaanites.
"The Bible reports the destruction of the Canaanite cities and the annihilation of its people; if true, the Canaanites could not have directly contributed genetically to present-day populations," the researchers wrote.
"However, no archaeological evidence has so far been found to support widespread destruction of Canaanite cities between the Bronze and Iron Ages: cities on the Levant coast such as Sidon and Tyre show continuity of occupation until the present day.
"We show that present-day Lebanese derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population, which therefore implies substantial genetic continuity in the Levant since at least the Bronze Age."
DNA testing. Credit: PA
So, there you have it, religious texts should perhaps not be taken verbatim. Who'd have thought, eh?
Dr Claude Doumet-Serhal, a co-author of the paper, said: "For the first time we have genetic evidence for substantial continuity in the region, from the Bronze Age Canaanite population through to the present day.
"These results agree with the continuity seen by archaeologists. Collaborations between archaeologists and geneticists greatly enrich both fields of study and can answer questions about ancestry in ways that experts in neither field can answer alone."
Words: Paddy Maddison
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