I was talking to a friend over lunch Friday about his interest in genealogy. He has traced his family history back to the mid-19th century. Knowing my interest in history leans more towards the big picture, he asked this intriguing question: if I had a time machine and could go back and witness—and only witness—an historical event, what would I choose?
A history buff I may be, but I do not think there are any historical events I want to witness personal. In some cases, the mystique would be destroyed. Meetings are meetings, whether it is the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the surrender of Imperial Japan. I would hate to think such events are more mundane in reality than in my mind's eye. I doubt I would like to bear witness to any famous battle, either. I am not certain what purpose seeing such a thing would serve.. So I was in a quandary. The honest answer was I would not care to see any event first hand.
Now any history buff out there must have a desire to hit me in the back of the head for not wanting to take advantage of such an opportunity. I was immediately bemused at m own refusal to indulge. It only took a couple minutes of discussing the idea further before I decided if I had use of a time machine, I would use it to solve some of history's mysteries. The answer suited me so well, I am surprised it did not occur to me immediately. I would rather know something new rather than see in person something I have already read about. I came up with three.
One, I want to know what the adult Jesus looked like. The bible never describes Jesus' appearance in any detail. We know he had beard, and that is about the extent of it. The generally accepted appearance of Jesus with long, dark hair and a full beard has been around since the 6h century, but there is no solid evidence for it. The question of whether Jesus was a classic hero type or ordinary would have interesting spiritual implication. I am not certain there is a specific event in Jesus' life I want to visit, but I would choose some point in the last three years of his life.
Two, some points in prehistory. Again, my purpose would be to settle many questions in the religion v. science battle that has raged for centuries. I am not certain even to begin, hence I say key point. What I would like to do is settle the evolution v. Intelligent Design debate. White I have spent much time studying apologetics, I have largely avoided this aspect of defending the Christian faith. I have done so because, quite frankly, I see no reason why theistic evolution would be a bad thing if true, and much evidence says it is true. Of course, biologists, anthropologists, and religious thinkers cannot agree on significant aspect of Creation. It would be amazing to see the truth with my own eye. Yes...eye. I only have one these days, remember.
Finally, I would like to know what happened to Amelia Earhart. Admittedly, this is a personal one with no religious consequences possibly echoing into eternity. A woman's body was discovered on Gardner island of the Phoenix Islands, Kiribati. The corpse was determined to be that of a white woman of northern European descent. Was she Earhart? Did Earhart live as a castaway for a time after her plane went down attempting to circumnavigate the globe in 1937? I would like to know, but the only way I could was to travel to Gardner Island when the mystery woman was still alive. The non-intervention aspect of serving only as a witness would cause a moral dilemma that would probably haunt me. Maybe the positive aspects of my first two sojourns into history would offset.
There are many other mysteries I would like to see solved. What happened to the Mary Celete? Where did the lost colony go? What is the fate of Josef Mengele? What real crashed at Roswell? But a top three is a good number to choose. Feel free to provide your own top three, five, ten, or what have you in whatever social media venue you like. HiIt would be interesting to see what historical events others are curious about.