Judgments About Fact and Fiction

Adam’s Bridge (Tamil: ātām pālam), also known as Rama’s Bridge or Rama Setu (Tamil: Irāmar pālam, Sanskrit: rāmasetu),[1] is a chain of limestone shoals, between Pamban Island, also known as Rameswaram Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu,India, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka. Geological evidence suggests that this bridge is a former land connection between India and Sri Lanka.[2]

The bridge is 30 miles (48 km) long and separates the Gulf of Mannar (southwest) from the Palk Strait (northeast).[2] Some of the sandbanks are dry and the sea in the area is very shallow, being only 1 to 10 metres (3 to 30 ft) deep in places, which hinders navigation.[2] It was reportedly passable on foot up to the 15th century until storms deepened the channel: temple records seem to say that Adam’s Bridge was completely above sea level until it broke in a cyclone in 1480.[3]

Certain historical inscriptions, old travel guides, old dictionary references and some old maps have been said to reinforce a religious and geographical belief that this is an ancient bridge. In the Hindu epic, Ramayana, the bridge was created by Rama and Lakshmana with the assistance of Hanuman and the Vanara army to reach Lanka in order to find Rama’s wife Sita who had been kidnapped by Ravana. In 2007, the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority sought to promote religious tourism from Hindu pilgrims in India by including the phenomenon as one of the points on its “Ramayana Trail”, celebrating the legend of Prince Rama. Some Sri Lankan historians have condemned the undertaking as “a gross distortion of Sri Lankan history”.[45] Vaishnava News Network and some other U.S.-based news services suggested that they had discovered the remains of the bridge built by Rama and his Vanara army that is referred to in the Ramayana, and that it was not a natural formation, basing their claim on 2002 NASA satellite footage.[46] NASA distanced itself from the claims saying that what had been captured was nothing more than a 30-km-long, naturally occurring chain of sandbanks.[47] It also clarified that, “The images reproduced on the websites may well be ours, but their interpretation is certainly not ours. […] Remote sensing images or photographs from orbit cannot provide direct information about the origin or age of a chain of islands, and certainly cannot determine whether humans were involved in producing any of the patterns seen.”[47]

A team from the Centre for Remote Sensing (CRS) of Bharathidasan University, Tiruchi led by Professor S.M. Ramasamy in 2003 said “the land/beaches were formed between Ramanathapuram and Pamban because of the long shore drifting currents which moved in an anti-clockwise direction in the north and clockwise direction in the south of Rameswaram and Talaimannar about 3,500 years ago,” and, “as the carbon dating of the beaches roughly matches the dates of Ramayana, its link to the epic needs to be explored”.[48] A former director of the Geological Survey of India, S. Badrinarayanan, claims that such a natural formation would be impossible. He justifies the same by the presence of a loose sand layer under corals for the entire stretch. Corals normally form above rocks.[49][50] He feels that a thorough analysis was not conducted by the Geological Survey of India before undertaking the SSCP project. The Government of India, in an affidavit in the Supreme Court of India, said that there is no historical proof of the bridge being built by Rama.[51] In connection with the canal project, the Madras High Court in its verdict stated that theRama Sethu is a man-made structure.[52]

A 2007 publication of the National Remote Sensing Agency said that the structure “may be man-made”, contradicting the report from the Archaeological Survey of India which found no evidence for it being man-made.[53][54] In a 2008 court case, a spokesman for the government stated “So where is the Setu? We are not destroying any bridge. There is no bridge. It was not a man-made structure. It may be a superman-made structure, but the same superman had destroyed it. That is why for centuries nobody mentioned anything about it. It [Ram Setu] has become an object of worship only recently.”[55]

Judgments About Fact and Fiction by Children From Religious and Nonreligious Backgrounds
Kathleen H. Corriveaua, Eva E. Chenb, Paul L. Harrisc

School of Education, Boston University
Division of Social Science, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology c
Graduate School of Education, Harvard University
5 November 2013

Abstract
In two studies, 5- and 6-year-old children were questioned about the status of the protagonist embedded in three different types of stories. In realistic stories that only included ordinary events, all children, irrespective of family background and schooling, claimed that the protagonist was a real person. In religious stories that included ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention, claims about the status of the protagonist varied sharply with exposure to religion. Children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school, or both, judged the protagonist in religious stories to be a real person, whereas secular children with no such exposure to religion judged the protagonist in religious stories to be fictional. Children’s upbringing was also related to
their judgment about the protagonist in fantastical stories that included ordinarily impossible events whether brought about by magic (Study 1) or without reference to magic (Study 2). Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional. The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children’s differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories.
Keywords: Religion; Fantasy; Impossibility; Testimony

About arnulfo

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