Sunday, August 03, 2008

Conservapedia: Liberals lie about history, but we agree with them!

In Conservapedia's news today, there was a posting trying to solicit the services of their home schooling American History course. Since Conservapedia is wrong in so many ways on a variety of subjects, it's difficult to think that they would get American History right.

We were all taught it, but it's just another false liberal myth: that the non-Christian Vikings (Leif Ericson) reached North America before the devoutly Christian Christopher Columbus did. This is yet another attempt to deny and downplay Christian achievement by distorting history. See American History Lecture One, which will teach students what is true and false about American history.

So if Conservapedia is supposed to be used as reference for students that doesn't include these liberal myths and falsehoods, and Conservapedia's course on American History will teach the truth, why does Conservapedia's entry on Leif Ericson (the very entry linked in the news posting) say:

Encouraged by the constant need of land to farm, Leif organized a voyage and bought Bjarni's ship and headed west in about A.D. 990. He followed Bjarni's route in reverse, making three landfalls after about 4 1/2 days.

The first of these he named Helluland or Flat-Stone Land which is now Labrador.

There is strong evidence that he established a Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. From the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, there was a controversy about whether or not the Norse reached North American before Columbus. The issue was finally laid to rest in 1960, when artifacts of Scandinavian origin, dating to about 1000 AD were discovered in Newfoundland.

According to some sources, Erikson was a Christian convert, and spread his new religion to his colonies. . . .

(Excerpted for "Norwegian Explorers on the ODIN website, produced for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.) Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, 1995 ed. "Leif Ericson."

The article cites five sources for Leif reaching North America. One, two, three, four and five. None of these mentions any Christian persuasion in the famous Norse explorer.

Yet the article doesn't cite these "some sources" as to Leif's Christianity. In fact, the article's source, the excerpted part, written by Linn Ryne, reads like this:

In 986 Norwegian-born Eirik Thorvaldsson, known as Eirik the Red, explored and colonized the southwestern part of Greenland. It was his son, Leiv Eiriksson, who became the first European to set foot on the shores of North America, and the first explorer of Norwegian extraction now accorded worldwide recognition.

The date and place of Leiv Eiriksson's birth has not been definitely established, but it is believed that he grew up on Greenland. The Saga of Eric the Red relates that he set sail for Norway in 999, served King Olav Trygvasson for a term, and was sent back to Greenland one year later to bring Christianity to its people.

There are two schools of thought as to the subsequent course of events. One of these is that Eiriksson, en route for Greenland, came off course, and quite by chance came to the shores of northwestern America in the year 1000, thus preceding Columbus by nearly 500 years. However, according to the Greenland Saga, generally believed to be trustworthy, Eiriksson's discovery was no mere chance. The saga tells that he fitted out an expedition and sailed west, in an attempt to gather proof of the claims made by the Icelandic trader Bjarni Herjulfsson. In 986 Herjulfsson, driven far off course by a fierce storm between Iceland and Greenland, had reported sighting hilly, heavily forested land far to the west. Herjulfsson, though believably the first European to see the continent of North America, never set foot on its shores. Leiv Eiriksson, encouraged by the current talk of potential discoveries, and the constant need of land to farm, bought Bjarni's ship and set off on his quest of discovery.

He appears to have followed Bjarni's route in reverse, making three landfalls. The first of these he named Helluland, or Flat-Stone Land, now generally regarded as having been Labrador. The second was Markland, or Wood Land, possibly Newfoundland. The exact location of the third, which was named Vinland, is a matter of scholastic controversy, but it could have been as far north as northern Newfoundland or as far south as Cape Cod or even beyond this.

Eiriksson and his men spent the winter in Vinland, at a place they named Leifsbud-ir, returning to Greenland the following year, 1001.

It was left to Eiriksson's brother, Thorvald to make the next voyage to the new-found territory, for strange as it may seem, Leiv Eiriksson never returned there. Subsequent attempts at settlement of Vinland were unsuccessful, due to strong friction between the Viking settlers and the native North Americans.

Though many still regard Christopher Columbus as the discoverer of the New World, Eiriksson's right to this title received the stamp of official approval in the USA when in 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson, backed by a unanimous Congress, proclaimed October 9th "Leif Ericson Day" in commemoration of the first arrival of a European on North American soil.

[Again, no mention of Leif's Christianity. Conservapedia seems to have included that somehow, without citing its source.]--[Incorrectly read the part of the Erik the Red tale. Confusing in the first few readings, but it appears that the saga of Erik the Red refers to Leif; or at least, it could. Likely my misinterpretation, my mistake. But below, I relate how this is shaky.] It also fails to mention that the United States has acknowledged that Vikings were the first Europeans to land in North America, not Christopher Columbus and the Spanish.

Looking at the history of the page, it seemed as though the Christian myth was pushed from the very beginning. According to the history page, the original incarnation of the page included:

Leif Eriksson (or Leifur EirĂ­ksson) was born in Iceland 970 and died 1020. He was son of Erik the Red who was an outlaw from Norway, living in Iceland. He founded two colonies in Greenland and it is generaly believed that he was the first European to arrive in Northamerica which he called Wineland.

* 999 Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red travels to Norway, to serve king Olaf Trygvasson's. Leif becomes christian.
* 1000 Leif Eriksson sails back to Greenland and brings christianity with him.

Sources I've found, including MSN's Encarta encyclopedia, say that the Christian story comes from a tale about Leif's family written more than two hundred years after his death. As recorded history in the 10th and 11th centuries were kept mostly by religious sources, and the tales were written generations after Leif died, the details are shaky at best.

There is physical evidence of Leif's voyage to Newfoundland. There are details of Norway's king, for whom Leif worked around the start of the eleventh century, was Christian and not pagan. It is likely Leif could be Christian. It is also likely he remained pagan throughout his life. Regardless, his religion has no impact on whether or not he set foot on North American shores almost five hundred years before the Spanish.

So why would Conservapedia state that liberals lie about "non-Christian Vikings" finding North America first, all while linking to and promoting this lie? Another wonderful example of "The Trustworth Encyclopedia."


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