I am not nearly as much of an historian as scar_tissue, but being a part of this little group (which has the most interesting stuff on the vine, for me – and I am an “old timer”) has made me think. So, I am going to throw out a few paragraphs and then provide links. There is no way I could summarize these, so you'll have to read them on your own if you are interested. Just as with my links to the Roslyn Cubes, it’s better if I just provide you with some interesting reading material.
The Oracle at Delphi fascinates me. It dates back to 1400 B.C. It was a shrine revered by the Greeks at that time and considered to be a very sacred spot. Even the “little people” could come there to ask questions of the Priestess of Apollo, known as the Pythia. And these people took her answers literally – what the oracle du jour said could determine whether a war was waged, or was avoided. It could determine whether you kept or lost your love.
There wasn’t one oracle, as those of us who have watched the Matrix might think. And the women who presided at the Oracle at Delphi were, to be honest, stoned out of their gourds. It really was an open secret – people such as Plato and Plutarch wrote about it. I think that’s what surprised me the most when they found proof of it a few years ago.
http://www.cyjack.com/cognition/Delphi%20Oracle.htm (this one is hard to read – seriously, green on black? You’ll need to cut and paste this into something if you want to get through it.) But it is so interesting – what led me to look this up was someone asking me whether, if scientific proof of the Exodus or the biblical flood was presented to me, I would believe in Jesus as the Savior. I said no, no more than the interesting findings about Troy and the Minoans make me worship Zeus or bulls. Then I thought about the Oracle and had to go find some links. I guess this makes me lose my faith in Apollo.
This is from the cyjack link above - well worth reading, if you cut and paste so your eyes don't fall out.
An Unexpected Inspiration Two thousand years ago Plutarch was interested in reconciling religion and science. As priest of Apollo, he had to respond to religious conservatives who objected to the notion that a god might use a fluctuating natural gas to perform a miracle. Why not enter the woman's body directly? Plutarch believed that the gods had to rely on the materials of this corrupt and transitory world to accomplish their works. God though he was, Apollo had to speak his prophecies through the voices of mortals, and he had to inspire them with stimuli that were part of the natural world. Plutarch's careful observations and reporting of data about the gaseous emissions at Delphi show that the ancients did not try to exclude scientific inquiry from religious understanding.
The primary lesson we took away from our Delphic oracle project is not the well-worn message that modern science can elucidate ancient curiosities. Perhaps more important is how much we have to gain if we approach problems with the same broad-minded and interdisciplinary attitude that the Greeks themselves displayed