Been awhile since I've been in here, but apalehorse told me there were a few interesting developments in the thread, so I decided to jump in.
First of all, I'm glad to see that the debate is still raging. Nothing is more fun than a great debate!
Secondly, I think I'd better clarify my position on a couple of issues.
I *don't* necessarily see Indy as reluctantly going after Eden. The idea of chasing after a student or following somebody elses dream was somebody elses idea (I don't recall who.)
That's not to say that I expect Indy to go chasing after Eden. As apalehorse stated, Indy searches for Fact, not truth.
Other great points have been made:
"This is what we got into archeaology for in the first place" is a quote that stands out in my head.
I think having Indy go after Eden for the immortality angle is a bit too cliched. As I've stated before, Indy to me always questions what has happened to him before. "Naah...things COULDN'T have happened the way I remember them."
In the course of each movie, he decides to take a leap of faith, and believe in the mystical nature of whatever artifact that he finds. This is where Indys truth comes from.
But the one thing that Indy is consistent about is his Fortune and Glory. (Last Crusade is a bit of an exception to this rule, but we all know Indy was really seeking his Father, right?)
apalehorse was absolutely right to point out that in the case of the Sankara Stones and the Holy Grail, that Indy ended up searching for the artifacts almost as a byproduct of the situation that he's in.
In those situations, he's initially reluctant to go after the artifacts, but grows more and more excited as the chase goes on. Before long, he's an enthusiastic participant in the search.
I dont' think Indy will believe in the mystical powers of the Tree of Life, or even that it necessarily exists.
Here's how I see things playing out:
Remember, this movie takes place in the 50's. Archaeological methods will have changed quite a bit in the last 20 years. While Indys adventurous/graverobbing ways may've gotten the job done in the past, the museum would probably be much less willing to turn a blind eye to Indys methods.
International Agreements for the treatments of antiquities will probably be taken MUCH more seriously.
While Indy has brought back relics for the museums, he always brings back small pieces - never the historical pieces that he seeks. I figure that by the 50's, he'll probably be a director of his department at the college, and one of the senior fellows at the museum. He'll probably have taken over Marcus' position after his death.
However, he probably hasn't returned with any significant finds in some time. He's well respected, but also perhaps a bit of a joke at this point in time. His methods no longer apply, and he may be something of an embarassment to the museum at this point. How funny would it be to have Indy lecturing his students about taking unncessary risks? Remember "X Never, ever marks the spot?"
I figure that at this point in his life, what Indy wants is not so much fortune...but he would want a little glory to be attached to his name. Something that will let him be rememberd as something more than "That professor at the college, who tells the great stories." He wants to be somebody who BRINGS A SIGNIFICANT ARTIFACT HOME.
This is where I think the plaque at Babylon comes in. The plaque itself is a real artifact, that supposedly talks of the Garden and Tree located in Iraq.
This alone is a very interesting artifact...and finding such an artifact could spur Indy into trying to locate the place referenced.
He's not after mysticism...he's after artifacts and knowledge of the Cradle of Civilization, in the hopes of having a legacy that will live after him, and give him a kind of immortality. Of course, if he finds the Tree of Life itself, he could gain the literal kind.