Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The legend of Sargon

EVAN SAID:

“I think the story of Sargon being floated in a basket of reeds down the river as an infant is a myth (that predates the Moses myth).”

This comparison is more impressive the less you know about it:

1.Evan disregards the intertextual parallels between Noah and Moses: both are placed in an “ark” (tebah) waterproofed with bitumen.

2.”While certainly a folklore theme, the practice of placing a child in the river may have been a widely practiced form of abandonment, similar to the more modern practice of leaving a child on the doorstep of a house,” T. Longman, Fictional Akkadian Autobiography, 56.

3.Apropos (2), both Egypt and Mesopotamia were riverine civilizations.

4.Papyrus was a natural, Egyptian building material for rafts (cf. Isa 18:1-2). Wood was costly.

5.Evan confuses the date of Sargon with the date of the legend.

“Although set in the life of King Sargon of Akkad (2371-2316BC), the surviving fragments of the tale are Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian in date (7C-6C BC)…A further problem for those wishing to find a correlation between the Sargon legend and the Moses birth story is, as noted above, that the earliest surviving copies of the Sargon text date from Neo-Assyrian or later times. This factor, along with others, suggests that the legend may have been recorded by (or for) the late 8C Assyrian king, Sargon II, who took the name of his great Akkadian forebear and identified himself with that monarch. This possibility diminishes the case for the Sargon legend influencing Exodus because if we allow that J or E (usually dated to the 10C and 8C respective) is the source behind Exodus 2:1-10, and follow the traditional dating for these sources, both would predate the reign of Sargon II (721-705),” J. Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt, 136-37.

And that’s predicated on the late dating scheme of the Documentary Hypothesis. If we accept Mosaic authorship, the account antedates the legend of Sargon by many centuries.

6.”Exodus 2:3 contains the central elements of the Moses birth narrative that are so commonly compared with the Sargon legend. Yet we see [138-39] that this verse contains no less than six words used in Egypt during the New Kingdom…How is the presence of Egyptian terms in the narrative to be explained, especially if the motif was borrowed from Mesopotamia? This significant concentration of Egyptian terms militates against the Mesopotamian connection…Furthermore, it seems unlikely that a scribe during the late Judaean monarchy or the exilic period (or later) would have been familiar with these Egyptian terms,” Hoffmeier, ibid., 140.

The alternative would be for Evan to accept the Mosaic authorship of Exodus. I doubt he considers that an attractive fallback position.

89 comments:

  1. So is it your position that Sargon's legend is based on that of Moses? I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make.

    If you're suggesting Mosaic authorship of the pentateuch you're certainly in a tiny minority of scholars and I'm curious how you glibly throw at dates for J and E and then suggest Mosaic authorship (up until the time he writes about his death I assume).

    Or are you suggesting that the Assyrians were so jealous of a good story the Hebrews had that they expropriated it for one of their heroes ... but that it ACTUALLY happened in the case of the Hebrews?

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  2. Evan said:
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    So is it your position that Sargon's legend is based on that of Moses?
    ---

    It's obvious Evan still hasn't gotten past the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Just because something happens after another thing doesn't imply that the second thing was based on the first thing or cause by the first thing.

    However, assuming causality, unless Evan has a time machine hiding somewhere then obviously if Exodus predates the legend of Sargon then Exodus cannot be based upon Sargon...

    Evan said:
    ---
    If you're suggesting Mosaic authorship of the pentateuch you're certainly in a tiny minority of scholars
    ---

    So?

    Evan continued:
    ---
    and I'm curious how you glibly throw at dates for J and E and then suggest Mosaic authorship (up until the time he writes about his death I assume).
    ---

    Steve's point, which you would be able to get if you actually read what he wrote, is that even if Exodus wasn't penned by Moses, the J & E theories both pre-date the legend of Sargon.

    Evan said:
    ---
    Or are you suggesting that the Assyrians were so jealous of a good story the Hebrews had that they expropriated it for one of their heroes ... but that it ACTUALLY happened in the case of the Hebrews?
    ---

    And once again, Evan displays his ignorance and complete lack of reading comprehension as this point was addressed in the second portion of Steve's post. Further, it demonstrates Evan still cannot grasp the post hoc fallacy.

    If "the practice of placing a child in the river may have been a widely practiced form of abandonment" (that's a quote Steve provided, mind you, so one that Evan ought to have actually read) then the fact that this story appears in two different stories doesn't imply either one of them is based on the other. Or should we assume that because Steven King wrote a book with a character who drove a car in Maine and because John Steinbeck wrote a book about a person who drove a car in the Midwest obviously Salem's Lot is based on The Grapes of Wrath?

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  3. Of course I meant "Stephen King" instead of "Steven King." But this is obviously part of the conspiracy.

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  4. Evan,

    Given that your burden is to show that the Sargon tale predates Moses (setting aside problems that this wouldn't entail dependancy), I am wondering how you demonstrate the early date given just one of the things in Hays's post:

    "Although set in the life of King Sargon of Akkad (2371-2316BC), the surviving fragments of the tale are Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian in date (7C-6C BC)…A further problem for those wishing to find a correlation between the Sargon legend and the Moses birth story is, as noted above, that the earliest surviving copies of the Sargon text date from Neo-Assyrian or later times."

    ?

    On what basis do you argue that the tale predates the Moses story? What reason is there, evidentiary-wise, to believe the Sargon legend predates the Moses story? Are you warranted to believe it? How? Do you have any textual evidence of that story being around before the penning of Exodus?

    Seems to me if you have no good reason to believe that your tale predates the story of Moses' birth, you shouldn't believe it. Unless, of course, you already know where you want to go before you view any evidence?

    This is the first step. You need to establish this belief of yours. If you can, which I don't see how you can, there are still other arguments that undercut the basing claim.

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  5. EVAN SAID:

    “So is it your position that Sargon's legend is based on that of Moses?”

    No.

    “I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make.”

    That you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    “If you're suggesting Mosaic authorship of the pentateuch you're certainly in a tiny minority of scholars.”

    Irrelevant. Consensus is no barometer of truth. If a “tiny minority of scholars” has the better of the argument, then so much the worse for the majority.

    “And I'm curious how you glibly throw at dates for J and E and then suggest Mosaic authorship (up until the time he writes about his death I assume).”

    Because your claim of literary dependence is deeply problematic on either the liberal (late) dating scheme or the traditional (early) dating scheme.

    “Or are you suggesting that the Assyrians were so jealous of a good story the Hebrews had that they expropriated it for one of their heroes.”

    No.

    “But that it ACTUALLY happened in the case of the Hebrews?”

    True.

    Given that exposing newborns was an extremely widespread practice in the ancient world, it comes as no surprise that this gives rise to a literary abandoned-child motif.

    That doesn’t mean it never happened. To the contrary, it’s because it happened quite often that it becomes a stock literary motif. That’s hardly prejudicial to the historicity of any particular account.

    Sargon’s legend and the Exodus account share a riverine motif because both Egypt and Mesopotamia were riverine civilizations. Geography dictates the setting. Once again, that’s hardly prejudicial to the historicity of any particular account.

    Some of the other commonalities are purely coincidental because the literary parallels are not between Exodus and the Sargon legend, but between Exodus and Genesis. The Exodus account is, in part, a literary allusion to the flood account.

    And, as Hoffmeier points out, the terminology in the Exodus account reflects an Egyptian background, not a Mesopotamian background.

    So what we have is a specious literary parallel which falls apart as soon as we examine the details.

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  6. I mean this is just a hoot.

    You guys are a blast. I should have found this blog months ago.

    OK ... I wanna get this all straight in my head before I go further.

    Moses was set adrift in a river as an infant. So was Sargon.

    Sargon is a historical figure who is written about in Sumerian. There are surviving if incomplete copies of his story in Sumerian which died out as a language in the Ancient Near East in approximately 2000 BCE. So he has primacy without question as a historical figure when compared to Moses.

    This figure who we have archeological evidence from several sources for and about whom stories are still told from a very dominant civilization is related to have been put in a river as a child in Neo-Assyrian tablets dating from the 7th century BCE. These tablets exist today and they are the ones that were originally inscribed in the 7th century.

    They have never been edited. We are reading the words directly from the 7th century BCE.

    There is certainly every reason to imagine they are not the first tablets to include this story as Sargon appears to have become a pretty important mythical figure for a conquering Mesopotamian empire. But let's assume they are.

    We still have them. We can read them as they were written in the 7th century BCE.

    So I ask you. What's the oldest extant copy of Exodus?

    No, seriously, what's the oldest extant copy? Do we have a 7th century BCE manuscript?

    Seriously I wanna know. Cuz I think that would really settle a lot of disputes.

    I'm waiting. Let me know if you find a copy of Exodus dating from the 7th century BCE.

    Now ... let's assume that we KNOW the story of Sargon on the river was in existence throughout the ancient Near East at least by the 7th century BCE ... and we have NO idea what the book of Exodus looked like in the 7th Century BCE ... that it's possible that Exodus might have been edited between the 9th and 6th centuries BCE.

    Wait ... we DO have evidence that it was edited in that time frame. In fact the Priestly document wasn't finalized until that time.

    Now if you all wanna dispute Graf and Wellhausen you can take that up with biblical scholars. Suffice it to say I'm quite convinced of the documentary hypothesis. If Moses wrote the Torah he is the world's worst writer. He keeps telling the same story over and over in slightly different ways, really bad form. He also describes his own death in the past tense ... which is odd.

    But I'm really pleased you guys have such esoteric knowledge here. I never knew we had a complete copy of Exodus dating from the 8th or 9th century BCE in its unedited form ... that would totally rock. Let me know where it's at.

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  7. EVAN SAID:

    “Moses was set adrift in a river as an infant.”

    True

    “So was Sargon.”

    According to the legend.

    “Sargon is a historical figure who is written about in Sumerian.”

    Moses is a historical figure who is written about in Hebrew.

    “So he has primacy without question as a historical figure when compared to Moses.”

    Irrelevant. The question at issue is literary primacy, not chronological priority. Are you too dim to appreciate the distinction?

    “This figure who we have archeological evidence from several sources for and about whom stories are still told from a very dominant civilization is related to have been put in a river as a child in Neo-Assyrian tablets dating from the 7th century BCE. These tablets exist today and they are the ones that were originally inscribed in the 7th century. __They have never been edited. We are reading the words directly from the 7th century BCE.”

    Sargon is a 24C BC historical figure. Our earliest documentary evidence for the legend dates to the 7C BC. That’s quite a spread.

    “There is certainly every reason to imagine they are not the first tablets to include this story.”

    If that’s your assumption, then you’re in no position to say they haven’t been edited, now are you?

    Anyway, Hoffmeier’s argument isn’t predicated on the originality of the 7C copies. Rather, he thinks the legend arose in conjunction with the reign of Sargon II.

    “We still have them. We can read them as they were written in the 7th century BCE.”

    Which is irrelevant to the claim of chronological priority. And even that is only a necessary condition for literary dependence. It’s far from being a sufficient condition.

    “What's the oldest extant copy of Exodus?… Cuz I think that would really settle a lot of disputes.”

    What disputes would that settle?

    “Now ... let's assume that we KNOW the story of Sargon on the river was in existence throughout the ancient Near East at least by the 7th century BCE ... and we have NO idea what the book of Exodus looked like in the 7th Century BCE ... that it's possible that Exodus might have been edited between the 9th and 6th centuries BCE.”

    If you want to play that game, then it cuts both ways. In that event, you don’t know that the Urtext of Exodus contained a story (allegedly) parallel to the legend of Sargon. Maybe that was added by the Massoretes. A scribal interpolation. Hence, you’ve just torpedoed your own case for literary dependence. Nice work!

    “Wait ... we DO have evidence that it was edited in that time frame. In fact the Priestly document wasn't finalized until that time.”

    According to the documentary hypothesis, the source for Exod 2 would be J or E, not P. P is not an edition of the Pentateuch. Rather, it’s a hypothetical source for one strand of the Pentateuch.

    “Now if you all wanna dispute Graf and Wellhausen you can take that up with biblical scholars.”

    Be careful what you ask for:

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_pentateuch_wenham.html

    “Suffice it to say I'm quite convinced of the documentary hypothesis.”

    If you’re going to float the conjecture that our extant copies of Exodus have been subjected to elaborate scribal revision, then you can’t infer the time and place of their composition, in which case the documentary hypothesis goes out the window. You’re not very bright.

    “If Moses wrote the Torah he is the world's worst writer. He keeps telling the same story over and over in slightly different ways, really bad form.”

    Literary critics like Robert Alter demur. But you’re welcome to your self-imposed ignorance.

    “He also describes his own death in the past tense ... which is odd.”

    No one is arguing that Moses penned Deut 34. Have you always been this dense? Did you fall on your head as a baby?

    “But I'm really pleased you guys have such esoteric knowledge here. I never knew we had a complete copy of Exodus dating from the 8th or 9th century BCE in its unedited form ... that would totally rock. Let me know where it's at.”

    Questioning the integrity of our MSS does nothing to establish literary dependence.

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  8. I guess I'll have to spell it out for you since you really can't see what I'm getting at.

    You don't have a text of Exodus that exists until the 1st century BCE. All other inferences about what Exodus said in the 9th or 8th centuries BCE are based on textual criticism and style analysis.

    We have texts in SUMERIAN (a dead language after 2k BCE) that refer to Sargon, but he himself was SEMITIC and spoke a SEMITIC language that became Akkadian. We have a text in Neo-Assyrian (a semitic language) from the 7th century BCE that refers to him as well and tells the story of him being set adrift. He was a very powerful man and founded the first broad empire in the Ancient Near East.

    So given that the Hebrew language didn't solidify until 1 millenium after Sargon's death, you're arguing (if I see your argument properly) that an extant text from the 7th century CE in a language related to that of the figure it describes is inadequate to prove the legend actually describes the figure it claims to ... BUT ... an extant text from the 1st century BCE is MORE than adequate to prove an identically weak claim.

    I think it's highly unlikely either Sargon or Moses were put in a basket on the river. It's a story, a myth, a legend ... an archetype if you will.

    It's extremely unlikely anyone named Moses ever existed and there's zero archeological evidence for a conquest of Canaan as described in the Tanakh (see Israeli archeologist Israel Finkelstein for more about this). But you guys want to have it both ways.

    In the case of your Torah you want to use textual analysis to establish primacy, but you won't allow textual analysis of the Neo-Assyrian document to have any validity.

    What did Joshua say about hypocrites?

    Are you saying that using textual analysis to fit a story to a given time is useful when it comes to the Bible, but useless when it comes to Neo-Assyrian and Sumerian legends? Because that seems to be your argument.

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  9. Evan said:
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    I guess I'll have to spell it out for you since you really can't see what I'm getting at.
    ---

    Apparently, you'll need to spell it out for historians and archeologists. I wonder how they've ever gotten on without your wisdom to guide them.

    Evan said:
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    You don't have a text of Exodus that exists until the 1st century BCE. All other inferences about what Exodus said in the 9th or 8th centuries BCE are based on textual criticism and style analysis.
    ---

    Assume you are correct. So? Are you saying textual criticism and style analysis are not relevant and cannot provide knowledge to give accurate dating?

    And where are you getting your information as to the age of the first text of Exodus? You are once again making a lot of unsubstantiated claims. In fact, nothing you've written has yet been documented; we're supposed to just take your word for it. Not even scholars with degrees in their field do that.

    Evan said:
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    So given that the Hebrew language didn't solidify
    ---

    What's that supposed to mean? How do languages "solidify"?

    Evan said:
    ---
    So given that the Hebrew language didn't solidify until 1 millenium after Sargon's death, you're arguing (if I see your argument properly) that an extant text from the 7th century CE in a language related to that of the figure it describes is inadequate to prove the legend actually describes the figure it claims to ... BUT ... an extant text from the 1st century BCE is MORE than adequate to prove an identically weak claim.
    ---

    No, that's not at all what the argument being advanced is. Firstly, you're still stuck in your post hoc mode. You really need to pay attention to what we're actually saying if you want to make a relevant comment.

    1) The practice of abandoning unwanted babies in rivers predates both Exodus and Sargon, regardless of what dates you assign to either of them.

    2) Therefore, the actual practice of putting children in baskets on the river is a much more likely source for having the same event in two different stories than having one story copied from another, especially given how Sargon getting put in a river is the ONLY link you've claimed between the legend of Sargon and Moses.

    3) If the actual practice was going on, it would not be unlikely at all for both Sargon and Moses to have actually been put into a river at some point.

    As you ought to be able to see from the above, this is true regardless of the dates assigned to the various texts.

    This is the main argument. Only tangental to that (and more evidence against your position) is the fact that virtually all scholars acknowledge that Exodus was written before the legend of Sargon was written. But the date of the texts ultimately doesn't matter, because two texts talking about the same event need not be based on each other if the event itself is widespread. This is why I made my point about Salem's Lot and The Grapes of Wrath. There are similar events in both books only because people do similar things in different locations; Salem's Lot was not inspired by The Grapes of Wrath no matter how many of these coincidences you find.

    Again, bone up on the post hoc fallacy and avoid yourself some embarrassment.

    Evan said:
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    I think it's highly unlikely either Sargon or Moses were put in a basket on the river. It's a story, a myth, a legend ... an archetype if you will.
    ---

    1) I don't care what you think is likely.

    2) It's a historical practice that occured often in river cultures. This makes it far more likely that you think.

    3) In two thousand years, someone will be saying, "I find it highly unlikely that someone would just leave their baby at a police station" and think that proves their case too...

    Evan said:
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    It's extremely unlikely anyone named Moses ever existed
    ---

    That's interesting. I know more than one person named Moses....

    Even so, I still could care less what you think is likely. You need to provide evidence. How is it unlikely that Moses existed?

    Evan said:
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    and there's zero archeological evidence for a conquest of Canaan as described in the Tanakh (see Israeli archeologist Israel Finkelstein for more about this). But you guys want to have it both ways.
    ---

    There's zero evidence of any intermediate species in the fossil record. But I guess you want to have it both ways....

    Evan said:
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    In the case of your Torah you want to use textual analysis to establish primacy, but you won't allow textual analysis of the Neo-Assyrian document to have any validity.
    ---

    How so? What have we said about Neo-Assyrian documents and their validity at all? You're making wild assertions again. I really think you need to boost your medication because your current dosage ain't working.

    Evan said:
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    What did Joshua say about hypocrites?
    ---

    What DID Joshua say about hypocrites?

    Evan said:
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    Are you saying that using textual analysis to fit a story to a given time is useful when it comes to the Bible, but useless when it comes to Neo-Assyrian and Sumerian legends? Because that seems to be your argument.
    ---

    It's obvious that you don't know what you're talking about here. Read Steve's comment again, and you'll see that it is based on those same analyses of both texts that scholars believe Exodus pre-dates Sargon. If you would but read before you respond you'd not look so dumb.

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  10. User "I", I want to thank you for your contributions in the past couple of threads. I have enjoyed them as much as I enjoy the other posts at Triablogue.

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  11. This is really quite simple guys.

    The first account of Sargon that we have extant predates the first account of Moses that we have extant.

    Obviously the first account we have extant of Moses is not the first time the story was told and nobody on this discussion thread believes such.

    However, to believe that Moses has priority over Sargon's story, you have to believe that the extant copies of the Sargon story are the very FIRST time it was told.

    In addition ... even if babies being put in baskets was the Sumerian/Egyptian equivalent of after-birth abortion ... there's no way that the story could be verified by anyone by the time it was being told.

    Moses wasn't able to remember being put in a basket ... neither was Sargon. Both stories are myths ...

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  12. Evan said:
    ---
    However, to believe that Moses has priority over Sargon's story, you have to believe that the extant copies of the Sargon story are the very FIRST time it was told.
    ---

    Where do you get this notion of "priority"? I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. Are you saying that we believe Moses to be a real person but we don't believe Sargon to be a real person? Or are you saying that we believe Moses was put in a basket but Sargon wasn't? Neither of those questions is accurate.

    You're still bound to your post hoc fallacy. You're still stuck thinking that because both talk about the same event then one had to be copied from the other.

    Since you haven't paid any attention yet, I will repeat myself. The reason they both talk about the same event is because the event was fairly common in those times.

    Again: THE REASON THEY BOTH TALK ABOUT THE SAME EVENT IS BECAUSE THE EVENT WAS FAIRLY COMMON IN THOSE TIMES.

    Will you PLEASE read that this time? Will you please get off your post hoc fallacy and interact with what's been said? Is that too much to ask?

    Evan said:
    ---
    In addition ... even if babies being put in baskets was the Sumerian/Egyptian equivalent of after-birth abortion ... there's no way that the story could be verified by anyone by the time it was being told.
    ---

    It doesn't matter if they were the equivalent of after-birht abortions. It only matters that the practice occured. It doesn't matter why it occured, only that it occured, because if the action occured and it was frequent then there's no reason to assume causality from one text to the other.

    This is substantiated by the fact that you've still provided no other similarities between Sargon and Moses. Why would the author copy a legend and only include this? What's the point of copying anything in that case?

    Evan said:
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    Moses wasn't able to remember being put in a basket ... neither was Sargon. Both stories are myths ...
    ---

    You don't remember what your parents were doing when you were created. OMG! You're immaculately conceived!!!! Oh wait, you're just a myth.

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  13. EVAN SAID:

    “I guess I'll have to spell it out for you since you really can't see what I'm getting at.”

    I guess I’ll have to spell it out for you since you’re too obtuse to appreciate the rule of evidence or the burden of proof.

    You may an implicit claim about the literary dependence of Exod 2 on the legend of Sargon. At a minimum, literary dependence presupposes the chronological priority of the source.

    As a preliminary step, therefore, you assume the burden of proof to establish the chronological priority of the legend of Sargon. You have presented no evidence to substantiate that claim.

    “You don't have a text of Exodus that exists until the 1st century BCE. All other inferences about what Exodus said in the 9th or 8th centuries BCE are based on textual criticism and style analysis.”

    i) MSS evidence is not the only evidence we have regarding the prior existence of Exodus. For example, we also have literary allusions to Exodus in later books of the OT.

    ii) Moreover, as I pointed out before, for you to question whether our extant copies of Exodus are faithful to the Urtext actually undermines your thesis. If you’re going to cast doubt on the fidelity of our copies, then you can’t claim that Exod 2, in our extant copies, reproduces Exod 2 in the Urtext. And, in that event, you can’t even begin to claim that the Urtext of Exod 2 is literarily indebted to the legend of Sargon.

    You’re undercutting your own thesis, which is fine with me. Your thesis depends on a parallel between the legend of Sargon and Exod 2 in the Urtext. If the parallel is, in fact, a later scribal interpolation, then that wouldn’t be a case of literary dependence vis-à-vis the composition of Exod 2. Sorry if that’s too subtle for you to follow.

    “We have texts in SUMERIAN (a dead language after 2k BCE) that refer to Sargon, but he himself was SEMITIC and spoke a SEMITIC language that became Akkadian.”

    Irrelevant. The point at issue is not the general claim regarding the historicity of Sargon, but a specific claim regarding his exposure as a child.

    “We have a text in Neo-Assyrian (a semitic language) from the 7th century BCE that refers to him as well and tells the story of him being set adrift.”

    And what relationship, if any, does that very late text have to do with the historical Sargon?

    “He was a very powerful man and founded the first broad empire in the Ancient Near East.”

    Which is irrelevant to the point at issue.

    “So given that the Hebrew language didn't solidify until 1 millenium after Sargon's death.”

    Even if, ex hypothesi, Exodus was originally written in proto-Hebrew and later updated, updating the language doesn’t introduce a new story into the text—any more than a modern language version of Shakespeare changes the plot.

    “You’re arguing (if I see your argument properly) that an extant text from the 7th century CE in a language related to that of the figure it describes is inadequate to prove the legend actually describes the figure it claims to.”

    Obviously.

    “BUT ... an extant text from the 1st century BCE is MORE than adequate to prove an identically weak claim.”

    You’re obfuscating two distinct issues—perhaps because you’re too ignorant or obtuse to know the difference.

    We have many witnesses to the prior existence and content of Exodus which antedate our extant Hebrew MSS, viz. the Talmud, church fathers, Philo, Josephus, ancient lectionaries, NT allusions, LXX, DDS, Vulgate, Samaritan Pentateuch, Targumim, OT allusions (in later OT books), &c.

    We have nothing comparable for the legend of Sargon.

    “I think it's highly unlikely either Sargon or Moses were put in a basket on the river.”

    That’s an assertion, not an argument. If you live near a river, and you want to get rid of your child, a river would be a natural way of disposing of the child.

    Of course, Moses’ mother isn’t even attempting to kill her child. So that’s another point at which the parallel breaks down.

    Rather, she couldn’t keep him because the Egyptian authorities were intent on killing Jewish babies.

    “It's a story, a myth, a legend ... an archetype if you will.”

    As usual, you’re confusing two different issues. Exposing children was a reality in the ancient world. This, in turn, gives rises to a literary motif or folkloric genre.

    As such, a “story” might be factual, fictitious, or semi-legendary (a factual core with legendary embellishment).

    Exod 2 is factual. I have no firm opinion about the story of Sargon.

    “It's extremely unlikely anyone named Moses ever existed and there's zero archeological evidence for a conquest of Canaan as described in the Tanakh (see Israeli archeologist Israel Finkelstein for more about this). But you guys want to have it both ways.”

    You simply betray your ignorance of the evidence. You also abuse the argument from silence. For a few correctives:

    J. Currid, Exodus, vols 1-2
    V. Long et al. eds. Windows into Old Testament History.
    R. Hess, Joshua
    J. Hoffmeier, Israel in Egypt
    J. Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Sinai
    K. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, chaps. 5-6
    J. Hoffmeier and A. Millard, eds. The Future of Biblical Archaeology
    I. Provan et al. A Biblical History of Israel.
    D. Stuart, Exodus
    K. Younger, Judges/Ruth

    “In the case of your Torah you want to use textual analysis to establish primacy, but you won't allow textual analysis of the Neo-Assyrian document to have any validity.”

    To the contrary, Hoffmeier applied the same evidentiary standards to both.

    Moreover, I never limited my argument to textual analysis alone. Do you suffer from short-term memory loss?

    There is also the linguistic evidence, which points to the Egyptian provenance of Exod 2—which undermines literary dependence on a Mesopotamian source.

    “Are you saying that using textual analysis to fit a story to a given time is useful when it comes to the Bible, but useless when it comes to Neo-Assyrian and Sumerian legends? Because that seems to be your argument.”

    We don’t have the same evidence for both.

    “This is really quite simple guys.__The first account of Sargon that we have extant predates the first account of Moses that we have extant.”

    You’re equivocating between an account of X and a copy of an account of X. We have multiple lines of evidence that the Book of Exodus antedates our extant Hebrew MSS. We have nothing comparable for the legend of Sargon.

    “Obviously the first account we have extant of Moses is not the first time the story was told and nobody on this discussion thread believes such.”

    Because we have evidence for that proposition.

    “However, to believe that Moses has priority over Sargon's story, you have to believe that the extant copies of the Sargon story are the very FIRST time it was told.”

    Not at all. Suppose it was told for the very first time in the 10C BC. That wouldn’t antedate Exodus. I mention the dating of the documentary hypothesis for the sake of argument.

    And chronological priority doesn’t establish literary dependence. For example, you continue to ignore the fact that the true parallel is not between Sargon and Moses, but between Noah and Moses. That’s a deliberate intertextual parallel.

    “In addition ... even if babies being put in baskets was the Sumerian/Egyptian equivalent of after-birth abortion ... there's no way that the story could be verified by anyone by the time it was being told.”

    I don’t care whether we can verify the legend of Sargon. My belief-system doesn’t rely on that.

    “Moses wasn't able to remember being put in a basket ... neither was Sargon. Both stories are myths ...”

    That’s a stupid statement. Did grow-ups never tell you things that happened to you when you were too young to remember them for yourself?

    Moses’ mother remembered. The Egyptian princess remembered. Her handmaids remembered.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love it. Exodus is factual because you believe it.

    Sargon's story may or may not be factual because it's not in the Bible.

    That's what you're left with.

    Archeologically the greater evidence lies with Sargon. Egyptian records record nothing remotely like the Exodus and there is no evidence of the Exodus in the Sinai, even though we can find evidence of much smaller travels o groups of people over time (for example the silk road).

    Realistically from the point of view of a normal, intelligent person, both of these stories are myths and it is highly probable that the greater civilization (using military prowess and area as measures) influences the lesser.

    There's no such thing as proof in a case like this and you would be at least honest if you admitted that.

    But here you are asserting with certainty that Moses could accurately write about his infancy. Who is to say that his nursemaid didn't make the whole story up? It's not like they had DNA tests then to prove lineage. You must admit that the story MUST be hearsay if Moses wrote it.

    So you accept hearsay evidence written by someone who could not possibly have first hand knowledge in this case ... do you accept hearsay evidence that is more than 2000 years old in other cases?

    Oh. Yes. You do.

    I can see that you have a different standard of evidence than I do.

    Mine makes a lot more sense but yours must comfort you on those cold nights when the wind blows and you feel your own mortality creeping up on you.

    I hope its worth it to be so credulous for such small amounts of comfort.

    ReplyDelete
  15. If Evan applied his skepticism consistently he wouldn't believe in anything.

    Almost everything we learn comes to us from hearsay. We trust our teachers who in turn trust their textbooks who in turn trust the writings of other people who supposedly did whatever the textbook is claiming.

    Just because something is hearsay doesn't make it uncertain. There are other factors that are involved. The quality of the source, etc.

    When it comes to historical texts we can trust the texts to a higher or lesser degree based on several things. Naturally, what one person accepts and another person does not accept is colored by their worldview. You've already stated you reject everything supernatural; but that's a position you have to prove not just assert. Christians have no problem accepting something that contains supernatural references. That is not an automatic disqualifier for us. Other things can lead us to believe a text is not trustworthy, but that itself is not one of them.

    Simply because you disagree on this point doesn't make you right. You have a burden of proof to meet too. You weren't there, so you don't know that supernatural events did not occur as claimed. You believe that the world is the same now as then, but you don't know it. If that disqualifies our view, it does so to your view too.

    So your argument from ignorance kills your view too.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Evan is remarkably careless and dishonest. He rarely offers documentation for claims that ought to be documented, he frequently changes his arguments in the middle of a discussion, and he ignores much of what's written in response to him, often imputing to his opponents a position that's ridiculously distant from what they actually believe.

    He writes:

    "Exodus is factual because you believe it."

    Did Steve say that? No. Did he imply it? No. Has Evan cited even half as many sources as Steve has cited in support of his view of Exodus? No. Has Evan posted any material here that's comparable to Steve's material in the archives on subjects like the factuality of Exodus? No.

    Evan writes:

    "Archeologically the greater evidence lies with Sargon."

    Why would anybody limit the comparison to archeology? Why is Evan ignoring so much of the other evidence Steve cited?

    He goes on:

    "But here you are asserting with certainty that Moses could accurately write about his infancy. Who is to say that his nursemaid didn't make the whole story up? It's not like they had DNA tests then to prove lineage. You must admit that the story MUST be hearsay if Moses wrote it."

    There are multiple reasons why Christians accept the testimony about Moses' childhood in Exodus: evidence for the inspiration of scripture generally, evidence for the inspiration of Exodus in particular, evidence for the reliability of an apostle or other historical figure who advocated a particular view of the book, etc. If Evan is ignorant of such arguments, he can consult the archives of this blog and other relevant sources.

    ReplyDelete
  17. EVAN SAID:

    “Exodus is factual because you believe it.”

    No, Exodus is factual because Exodus is true, and there are many reasons for believing in Exodus.

    “Sargon's story may or may not be factual because it's not in the Bible. That's what you're left with.”

    Many extrabiblical stories may be true—including some stories about supernatural events. You simply make a fool of yourself when you impute positions to me which are contrary to my stated positions. I have quite a paper trail at Tblog. It would be prudent of you not to stick your neck out so often. The chopping block is getting very bloody.

    “Archeologically the greater evidence lies with Sargon.”

    i) To begin with, you forfeit the right to cite archaeological evidence. That’s “hearsay” evidence.

    ii) Waiving (i), you’re also confounding evidence for the general historicity of Sargon with specific evidence for the legend of his exposure, &c.

    “Egyptian records record nothing remotely like the Exodus and there is no evidence of the Exodus in the Sinai, even though we can find evidence of much smaller travels o groups of people over time (for example the silk road).”

    Notice how Evan simply blows past the literature I cited.

    “Realistically from the point of view of a normal, intelligent person, both of these stories are myths and it is highly probable that the greater civilization (using military prowess and area as measures) influences the lesser.”

    Another dumb statement:

    i) The fortunes of Mesopotamian regimes waxed and waned over the centuries. You would need to establish that a Mesopotamian regime was a military powerhouse at the time of the putative influence.

    ii) And, assuming for the sake of argument, that it did exert such an influence, then we’d expect the Hebrew canon to adopt the Mesopotamian pantheon, &c.

    To the contrary, the OT contains many indictments of Mesopotamian morality and piety—which would not be the case of Israel were a client state that had assimilated to the dominant culture of its suzerain. Try not to make so any demonstrably stupid statements.

    “There's no such thing as proof in a case like this and you would be at least honest if you admitted that.”

    I see you’re too obtuse to follow your own argument. I never said that archeological evidence was the only reason to believe the Bible. You were the one who made a claim about the legend of Sargon—a claim which, in the nature of the case, drew us into a debate over the archeological evidence. I’m merely responding to you on your own grounds.

    “Who is to say that his nursemaid didn't make the whole story up?”

    Who is to say that Finkelstein didn’t make the whole story up? You referred me to Finkelstein. But that’s hearsay evidence, right?

    “So you accept hearsay evidence written by someone who could not possibly have first hand knowledge in this case.”

    Yes, I accept inspired hearsay evidence.

    Anyway, you’re dissembling. As you already make clear, you’d reject eyewitness testimonial evidence to a miracle. You don’t care whether the evidence is firsthand or second hand.

    “I can see that you have a different standard of evidence than I do.”

    True. I have standards and you don’t.

    Notice how much of the evidence Evan has chosen to pass over in silence. He ignores the intertextual parallels between Noah and Moses. He ignores the linguistic evidence for the Egyptian background of Exod 2. He ignores the evidence for infant exposure in the ancient world. He indulges in special pleading over the dates of his sources. And so on and so forth.

    “Mine makes a lot more sense but yours must comfort you on those cold nights when the wind blows and you feel your own mortality creeping up on you.__I hope its worth it to be so credulous for such small amounts of comfort.”

    Now he’s trying to shame me into submission. If he could defend his position by reason and evidence, he wouldn’t feel the need to resort to emotive appeals.

    And why, given his secular outlook, would it matter whether or not I’m credulous? “Normal, intelligent” people will share the same fate as “credulous” people.

    When he and I are lying in the morgue, what difference does it make, from his standpoint, which corpse was right and which corpse was wrong?

    Unbelievers don’t live by their creed.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Steve,

    Of course, Evan will reject any scholars that you put forward, because they take positions contrary to his, and well, he is the best thing to hit biblical studies since Robert Price. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Steve,

    I was wondering if you could apply your analytic skills to my theory and see if it withstands your sharp eye for historical error and fallacious reasoning:

    I'm personally of the opinion that "Evan" is a myth. One needs only study history to see the "village atheist" motif. The story of the country bumpkin atheist, proudly displaying his dusted-off arguments from days of yore, predates our "Evan."

    Thousands of years from now there may be some "Evanites." But aevanists of the future will not believe in the existence of an all-wise Evan. "He was invented," they'll argue, "by emotionally depleted atheists looking for victory over an oppressive Christian system." But his "story" is quite familiar to anyone with a grasp of archeology, they'll point out. When times get "rough" a messianic village atheist comes out from the wilderness, prepared to do battle with his sworn enemy.

    In fact, to use one scholarly source, Wiki, we read this about the origin of the name "Evan":

    "Celtic, meaning "young warrior"

    Irish, meaning "young fighter"

    In Welsh, it is said to mean "young warrior"

    The name Evan has been on the U.S. Social Security Administration's 1,000 most popular boys' name since they started keeping such records in 1880, when it was ranked at number 364.

    http://wiki.name.com/en/Evan

    And speaking of myths and fantasy associated with the name "Evan" we see that:

    Major Evan Lorne was a character played by Kavan Smith, who appeared on 20 episodes of the science fiction series "Stargate: Atlantis".

    And,

    "Evan Baxter, was a main character in the 2003 comedy "Bruce Almighty" and in its 2007 sequel "Evan Almighty".

    So we can see the "Evan" motif running throughout many myths and legends.

    I therefore conclude that "Evan" is probably a "myth" and his "warrior" role at this blog is predated by the name and the "warrior" motif inherent in village atheist lore.

    What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Evan, I just came back to see what's up and you are single-handedly handling these guys!

    You are awesome!

    Maybe I should link to this obnoxious site for no other reason but to send in more like you!

    I will.

    LOL

    ReplyDelete
  21. "I"

    The seminal monograph on this subject is Joseph Campbell's unpublished essay, "The Evan of a Thousand Faces," in which he traced the folkloric Evan motif back through Sanskrit, Ugaritic, and Sumerian sources to the Eblaite Ur-Evan archetype. Bill Moyers was planning to do a special, but Campbell kicked the bucket before Moyers could interview him.

    ReplyDelete
  22. If it's solipsism and hyper-skepticism to doubt that a common myth in the ancient near east is good history than you all are in the same boat.

    I'm assuming that Christians doubt, for example, in the existence of Enkidu and Humbaba as real historical figures. I'm also assuming they doubt the existence of Asherah or Tammuz.

    I'm willing to bet Christians don't believe in mythical creatures like Leviathan ...

    Oh. Wait.

    Do you guys believe the mythical creature called Leviathan actually existed? I'm not sure. Do you believe a man could survive for 3 days in the belly of a fish? I'm not sure. Do you believe that an onager could speak a semitic language?

    See, I'm sure you discount fantasies if they're not in the Bible, just as you discount the legend of Sargon, but I can't tell exactly what you do with fantasies that are in the Bible.

    Me, with my solipsistic hyperskepticism, I only believe that things happened when there is actual, non-mythically structured historical or archeological evidence for it. And even then, I am not betting all my chips on anything. All history is to some degree lost. We have little idea what the ancients viewed as humor, for example. I'm sure that makes things a bit challenging for us. So when someone is asking to verify a historical truth, you can give probabilistic assessments but there is no certainty by the nature of the evidence. If that's hyperskepticism and solipsism you guys better get a lot more credulous about other stories from 2 - 5 millenia ago.

    So lemme know if you believe there was a sea monster named Leviathan and then I can figure out what standards you have.

    I just hope that whatever skepticism you have is applied equally and across the board. See, there's just as much evidence for Humbaba as there is for Leviathan and there's no reason to doubt the existence of one if you doubt the existence of the other.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Evan said:
    ---
    Me, with my solipsistic hyperskepticism, I only believe that things happened when there is actual, non-mythically structured historical or archeological evidence for it.
    ---

    A) How do you determine which is which?

    B) What reason do you have for making this your rule?

    Evan, if you are trying to present an argument you have to provide the footwork for it. You don't get to assume everything up front. That's called begging the question and it's circular reasoning. Logical fallacies, buddy. So if you want to be rational, a great first step would be for you to actually be logical.

    All that your last comment demonstrates is what we already know: you're a secular naturalist. And you're right by fiat.

    The fact of the matter is that you don't want evidence. Your views are controlled by your worldview. In point of fact, if you saw a miracle occur right in front of your eyes, rather than believing because of that miracle you would immediately doubt your emperical senses. You would think, "It's more likely that I mistook what I saw than that it actually happened." You would rationalize it away.

    That's why in an ultimate sense none of these issues about Sargon are relevant. We've shown you that it's not illogical for a Christian to believe in Exodus, but to convince you would require you to have a different worldview.

    (For others reading, it's for this reason that I'm a presuppositionalist rather than an evidentialist. Evidence is a great psychological confirmer, but in the end what we'll accept as proof is determined by our presuppositions.)

    Now we can discuss things at the level of the evidence itself assuming our presuppositions are sufficiently close on those particular subjects; but you've made it clear that you're not looking for an honest discussion. You have your world in your box and no evidence to the contrary will impact that.

    So if you actually want to make headway, you're going to have to argue for your naturalistic worldview. That's the only place where this discussion will be fruitful between you and me (although our secondary discussions may yet benefit others, which is the only reason I continue in them--see, it's not all about you at all Evan).

    ReplyDelete
  24. EVAN SAID:

    “I'm willing to bet Christians don't believe in mythical creatures like Leviathan ...__Oh. Wait.__Do you guys believe the mythical creature called Leviathan actually existed?”

    Here’s a novel idea for you, Evan. Why don’t you exegete the relevant passages before you pose your question?

    Some commentators think that Leviathan may denote a crocodile. But even if it refers to a mythical sea-monster, conservative scholars don’t deny that Bible writers sometimes employ mythopoetic imagery.

    Your self-reinforcing ignorance keeps tripping you up. Your health insurance premiums must be going through the roof when you keep falling flat on your face. Reconstructive surgery is pricey. At this point you must have had more nose jobs than Wacko Jacko.

    “Do you believe a man could survive for 3 days in the belly of a fish?”

    Naturally? No. If God preserved him? Yes.

    BTW, notice that Evan is changing the subject. Having lost the argument about Exod 2, he now needs a decoy while he tries to make his escape. So he throws Leviathan over the back of the sled. And he throws Jonah over the back of the sled. Sorry, Evan, but this won’t keep us from nipping at your heals as you retreat from the battlefield.

    “See, I'm sure you discount fantasies if they're not in the Bible, just as you discount the legend of Sargon.”

    Try not to be so thickheaded, will you? Did I discount the legend of Sargon? No. I indicated that it could be factual, fictional, or semi-legendary. What part of that don’t you understand? Is English your second language?

    “Me, with my solipsistic hyperskepticism, I only believe that things happened when there is actual, non-mythically structured historical or archeological evidence for it.”

    Are you senile, Evan? Not only are you incompetent to grasp the ramifications of your own position, but even after someone points that out to you, you keep repeating the same mistake.

    Let’s walk you through your own argument one more time. If you rely on historical or archeological evidence for your knowledge of the past, then that’s secondhand knowledge—which you dismiss as hearsay evidence. Remember? Do I need to quote your own words back to you?

    Therefore, by your own rules of evidence, you forfeit the right to cite historical or archeological evidence. Get it? Or do I need to take it slower for you?

    BTW, notice that Evan’s ideal of historical or archaeological evidence is a Wikipedia article. Yes, Evan has such daunting evidentiary standards.

    “And even then, I am not betting all my chips on anything. All history is to some degree lost. We have little idea what the ancients viewed as humor, for example. I'm sure that makes things a bit challenging for us.”

    Once again, Evan, I realize that thinking is a novel and painful experience for you, but let’s assist you in your first baby steps towards rationality. It hurts at first, but with a little practice everyday, you may achieve a cognitive breakthrough.

    When you claim that Exod 2 is literarily indebted to the legend of Sargon, you’re lodging a claim that involves you in sifting historical evidence. If, however, you’re going to play the sceptic about the possibility of historical knowledge, then you resign the right to claim that Exod 2 is dependent on the legend of Sargon.

    “So when someone is asking to verify a historical truth, you can give probabilistic assessments but there is no certainty by the nature of the evidence.”

    Actually, I rely on eyewitness testimony for my knowledge of Bible history. God was there. God has 20/20 vision. God inspired the prophets.

    “So lemme know if you believe there was a sea monster named Leviathan and then I can figure out what standards you have.”

    Lemme know when you’re going to read a commentary on Isaiah or Job or the Psalter instead of Wikipedia articles and then I can figure out what standards you have.

    “I just hope that whatever skepticism you have is applied equally and across the board.”

    Your hope will not be disappointed. I’m quite sceptical of your intelligence.

    You see, Evan, if you’re going to tout the intellectual superiority of atheism, then you need to demonstrate that point through the level of your performance.

    Here’s a tip for the future, Evan. Try to do a modicum of serious research. And try to observe a modicum of logical consistency.

    ReplyDelete
  25. You guys really don't have much in your quiver but ad hominem and ridicule.

    It's getting boring.

    You have no method for determining something is true except your presuppositions, Peter. Therefore you can simply pick what you want to believe with no method whatsoever as determined by your imagination. And that is fine, but it shuts down debate nicely and I'm sort of relieved of that.

    As for you Steve, seriously ... you can attack and giggle and chuckle and demean all you want. It's not very nice of you, but Jesus did plenty of ridicule and ad hominem attacks too so in that sense you are following your leader.

    I have made some very reasonable assertions and admitted that nobody can know what happened exactly to a given infant over 3 millenia ago in the ancient near east.

    This really is an amazingly easy position to take if you understand the nature of infant memory.

    See, infants have none. They simply don't remember what happened to them. You know this from your own life ... but don't seem to be able to generalize it.

    Stories of powerful men in the ancient world frequently discussed signs, wonders and special events associated with their infancy, birth and childhood that seem fantastic to us. For instance, I doubt that Julius Caesar was ever captured by pirates and I doubt that Augustus Caesar was hailed as the ruler of the world by a Greek soothsayer. They are legends.

    It's a really easy method to use.

    Do you guys think that a soothsayer in Greece told the young Augustus that he would be the ruler of the world?

    Do you believe Humbaba existed?

    Do you believe that an onager could talk?

    Do you believe that 2 bears ripped 40 children in half?

    Your answers to these questions really help flesh out what you believe.

    I don't believe any of the above things actually happened in history because I believe the present is the key to the past.

    We can study present phenomena in great detail and can use that evidence to determine what is more and less likely in the past.

    At least Peter has the courage of his convictions and admits that there is zero evidence that could convince him he's wrong.

    That's in intellectually honest position. It's the equivalent of closing your eyes, sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "Nyah nyah" but it's understandable.

    I, on the other hand, would accept evidence that had some basis in objectively verifiable facts. For instance, if there were a story on a contemporaneous 13th century BCE Egyptian stele somewhere that had hieroglyphics that told about an adopted Habiru prince who killed an Egyptian and fled after being raised by a Habiru woman for his princess mother ... that would be some pretty strong evidence for the veracity of the Moses story, it would be even better if it mentioned that later on every single male first born child in all of Egypt died.

    That would be some evidence there and pretty hard to dismiss assuming that it's authenticity and dating were verifiable.

    Too bad there has yet been none discovered. If you guys dig one up let me know.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Evan said:
    ---
    You have no method for determining something is true except your presuppositions, Peter. Therefore you can simply pick what you want to believe with no method whatsoever as determined by your imagination.
    ---

    I'm already convinced you're an idiot, you don't need to pile on more evidence.

    Evan said:
    ---
    And that is fine, but it shuts down debate nicely and I'm sort of relieved of that.
    ---

    You haven't "debated" anything so far, so why are you relieved?

    Evan said:
    ---
    I have made some very reasonable assertions and admitted that nobody can know what happened exactly to a given infant over 3 millenia ago in the ancient near east.
    ---

    No one can know what happened exactly to a given infant less than 3 minutes ago either. It's in the past. The past that you can't examine because it's gone. You have to rely on hearsay.

    That you can't be consistent demonstrates all we need to know about the strength of your argument.

    Evan said:
    ---
    This really is an amazingly easy position to take if you understand the nature of infant memory.

    See, infants have none. They simply don't remember what happened to them. You know this from your own life ... but don't seem to be able to generalize it.
    ---

    Again, your stupidity is astonishing. I know the hospital I was born in. I know when and where it happened. How is this possible if I don't remember it?

    Because I was told what it was.

    If you are going to be consistent, Evan, you have to throw out all knowledge. Everything you know is based on teachings from other people.

    Evan said:
    ---
    For instance, I doubt that Julius Caesar was ever captured by pirates and I doubt that Augustus Caesar was hailed as the ruler of the world by a Greek soothsayer. They are legends.
    ---

    If we're just dealing with personal feelings, I doubt you've ever read a book in your life, and I doubt that you've ever had an original thought either.

    Works wonders for argumentation, don't it!

    Evan said:
    ---
    I don't believe any of the above things actually happened in history because I believe the present is the key to the past.
    ---

    But this is impossible to verify unless you know the past. You cannot on the one hand say that it is impossible for us to know the past and on the other hand say that the past was exactly like the present. That you can't grasp this shows more about your intellectual prowess than you may care for.

    And who said miracles stopped in the past anyway?

    Evan said:
    ---
    At least Peter has the courage of his convictions and admits that there is zero evidence that could convince him he's wrong.
    ---

    No, I said there's zero evidence that could convince YOU you're wrong. With reading comprehension like this....

    Evan said:
    ---
    I, on the other hand, would accept evidence that had some basis in objectively verifiable facts.
    ---

    And what is an "objectively verifiable fact"? I think it's just words you use to make yourself think you know what you're talking about when you're clueless.

    Evan said:
    ---
    For instance, if there were a story on a contemporaneous 13th century BCE Egyptian stele somewhere that had hieroglyphics that told about an adopted Habiru prince who killed an Egyptian and fled after being raised by a Habiru woman for his princess mother ... that would be some pretty strong evidence for the veracity of the Moses story, it would be even better if it mentioned that later on every single male first born child in all of Egypt died.
    ---

    Yet if a vague text on a stone might possible reference a resurrection, that's proof that Christians copied the concept.

    You can't have it both ways. Everyone here knows exactly what you'd do if they found the Egyptian rock like you said. You'd immediately say, "Well, guess the Jews stole that story like they stole Sargon." Gimme a break, I'm not as dumb as you.

    Evan said:
    ---
    That would be some evidence there and pretty hard to dismiss assuming that it's authenticity and dating were verifiable.
    ---

    It would only be evidence to those willing to see it. You would explain it away, as you do everything else. You need the world to fit your worldview and therefore you will force it to.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Peter you are a presuppositionalist as you mentioned in a previous post and not an evidentialist. That pretty much states that you presuppose facts and then fit evidence to meet them. If I'm wrong about that please let me know where I'm wrong. Otherwise, if I'm right we have no reason to argue. You don't accept evidence as primary and that's that.

    So there's no reason for you to engage in more name-calling and arm-waving.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi all,
    it seems unlikely that a scribe during the late Judaean monarchy or the exilic period (or later) would have been familiar with these Egyptian terms

    Its hard to believe that anyone would say this with a straight face since egypt was the superpower in that region for thousands of years, the semites, canaanites and palestinian and even the judaens traded with them and fought against them at times and with them against assyria . Egypt is full of lebanese cedar, and royal egyptian announcements pepper the near east.

    Scribes should have known conversational egyptian, enough to get by at least, if not multi-lingual. In fact, a couple of egyptian princesses went to Judeah to get married didn't they, and wasn't moses wife a kushite?

    ReplyDelete
  29. Eavn,

    You wrote:
    "You guys really don't have much in your quiver but ad hominem and ridicule."

    I thought I already went over this with you? No ad hominem fallacies were used. There are actual arguments and counters to your claims. You could quote the relevant portion and then subject it to critique. That's how you answer arguments, Evan.

    You wrote:
    "You have no method for determining something is true except your presuppositions, Peter."

    Does one need a "method" to determine of "something" is true, Evan? I though "methodism" went the way of the dinosaur? Perhaps an analogy will help: Say someone wanted to make a machine that sorted the good apples from the bad. Good idea. All one needs to do is put an apple through the machine (method) and it will "determine" if the apple is good (claim is true). Sounds great! One problem, don't you sort of need to know the difference between a good and bad apple (truth and falsity) in the first place?

    You wrote:
    "you can attack and giggle and chuckle and demean all you want. It's not very nice of you, but Jesus did plenty of ridicule and ad hominem attacks too so in that sense you are following your leader."

    You can assert, and posture, and thump chest all you want. It's not very nice of you, but Loftus does plenty of it too so in that sense you are following your leader.

    Oh, and I assume a request for you to demonstrate a evolutionary and naturalistic account of ethics is out of the question?

    You wrote:
    "I have made some very reasonable assertions..."

    Yeah, that's part of the problem. That's why there is a distinction between argument and assertion. We're waiting for the former.

    And, if you didn't notice, I mimicked your "style" and showed that "Evan" was a myth. If you have a problem with the arguments for the "Evan myth," you should have a problem with your own myth arguments.

    You wrote:
    "This really is an amazingly easy position to take if you understand the nature of infant memory. See, infants have none. They simply don't remember what happened to them. You know this from your own life ... but don't seem to be able to generalize it."

    I've read autobiographies where the author recounts events surrounding his birth; indeed, even events surrounding what led up to his birth! They must be false.

    You wrote:
    "It's a really easy method to use."

    Let me get this straight. Are you claiming that the way you can "determine" whether an event in the past is true or not is if there are remotely similar stories of events taken as myth?

    So, for example, when you tell me the evolution story I should dismiss it because people in the past repeatedly told stories about disorder resulting in order and the many forms of life coming from one form, and the many is really just variations on the one. People in the past also believed that things turned into their opposites. Greek philosophers and alchemists taught those things.

    Wow, "It's a really easy method to use."

    You wrote:
    "Do you believe that 2 bears ripped 40 children in half?"

    Care to exegete that reading from the text, or is "the Skeptics Annotated Bible" the scholarly resource you're using? Have you ever read the Bible? Or does all your knowledge come from pop village atheist books?

    You wrote:
    "I don't believe any of the above things actually happened in history because I believe the present is the key to the past."

    I don't get it. Are you saying that to study ancient Jews we need to study modern ones? To know about Persians we need to study modern Iranians? Or, if something doesn't happen today then it didn't happen then? I'm not clear on the logical structure of your thought here.

    You wrote:
    "We can study present phenomena in great detail and can use that evidence to determine what is more and less likely in the past."

    How so? How would the probability calculus look here? What counts as "present phenomena?" What "present phenomena" tells us that past peoples were "stupid" and "gullible?" What "present phenomena" tells us that ancient peoples thought literally about the claims or statues we link to them? Is an evolutionary bias assumed? That is, since we did evolve then people must have been stupider back then. Have you thought through any of this? Or is it a convenient club to make a mess of things? Grunting and swinging wildly, with no care for details?

    You wrote:
    "I, on the other hand, would accept evidence that had some basis in objectively verifiable facts."

    If the Bible is reliable, then it is based in objectively verifiable fact.

    You wrote:
    "That would be some evidence there and pretty hard to dismiss assuming that it's authenticity and dating were verifiable."

    How would "present phenomena" determine that the event actually happened?

    And would it really matter? Would you believe all the supernatural events surrounding the story as told in Exodus? You would still deny major key elements of Exodus. So it's disingenuous to act as if the lack of "13th century BCE Egyptian stele somewhere that had hieroglyphics that told about an adopted Habiru prince who killed an Egyptian and fled after being raised by a Habiru woman for his princess mother" is what's keeping you from believing the biblical stories.

    You wrote:
    "Too bad there has yet been none discovered. If you guys dig one up let me know."

    Yeah, people said the same thing about the Hittites, they mocked and ridiculed the Bible, but the Bible was vindicated. In fact, the Bible is repeatedly vindicated by archeology. Similar to Metaphysical Naturalist arguments from the progress of science, the same could be said of the Bible. The critic is always forced to hide and defend increasingly smaller "gaps."

    Be that as it may, why would I tell you if said findings were found? If I were an atheist, I'd simply say, "Oh, big deal. None of that shows that some 'God' delivered his people and sent plagues and parted the Red sea. None of that proves Moses was 'God's anointed.' That was commissioned during a talk with 'God' through some 'burning bush.'" So, take your pretentious B.S. back over to "Debunking Christianity," no one's buying today.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Evan,

    You wrote:
    "That pretty much states that you presuppose facts and then fit evidence to meet them. If I'm wrong about that please let me know where I'm wrong."

    Yes, you are wrong about that. Par for the course with Evan, though. Not even many contemporary evidentialists deny that they have presuppositions by which they interpret evidence. For example, Evan, I'm sure you presuppose the existence of the past (but perhaps it was brought into existence 5 seconds ago, with all your memory already there?). You presuppose that your senses are reliable (or do you sense that they are reliable?). You presuppose that people in the past had minds and so intentions can be ascribed to them. You presuppose that the world is rational. Above you said that the future is a reliable guide to the past. This only works if the past was like the future. But that presupposes certain nomonological regularities or necessities that you don't believe based on "evidence."

    I assume Peter is just self-conscious about this and not some naive, benighted fundy like you. All people have presuppositions or belief policies that they interpet and make sense of evidence with. Imagine if you lost your presupposition that the future resembles the past, or that your senses were reliable? How would assess evidence minus those presuppositions?

    So, Peter is just self-conscious about his set of presuppositions. He doesn't make the evidence "fit" them, they "interpret" evidence. And this must be so; unless, of course, you think "facts" have little mouths on them and they interpret themselves for you?

    ReplyDelete
  31. Evan said:
    ---
    Peter you are a presuppositionalist as you mentioned in a previous post and not an evidentialist. That pretty much states that you presuppose facts and then fit evidence to meet them.
    ---

    No. Presuppositions have nothing to do with presupposing facts. Presuppositions are our control philosophy (which everyone has) that we use to interpret facts. Consider yourself corrected.

    Again.

    No, I don't expect it to be any different from any of the other times you've been corrected.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Lee said:
    ---
    Its hard to believe that anyone would say this with a straight face since egypt was the superpower in that region for thousands of years
    ---

    Except they weren't during the time frame that Steve mentioned. You've heard what Assyria said regarding Egypt, haven't you. To paraphrase, it was basically: "Would you lean against the bruised reed of Egypt? It will only pierce your hand."

    And you don't know much Egyptology either. Egypt was a superpower during the golden eras of its dynasties, but in the intermediate times it was one of the weakest countries out there. It's powers waxed and waned over the thousands of years we're talking about.

    It's quite likely that if a scribe was making up events that occured a millenium earlier he wouldn't know the correct Egyptian words. That's the point.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Notice also that Lee's argument relies on their being widespread literacy among the ancient "stupid" and "uneducated" people.

    ReplyDelete
  34. you missed the point. Egypt had and established influence. Undoubtedly, the scribes, whom the kings depended on, should have been able to speak some egyptian, especially since egypt plays such a large role weak or not even in the bible.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I se the premise "The present is the key to the past" is not accepted by the believers here and they support this by saying "but this is impossible to verify unless you know the past." I find this hilarious because if the present is not the key to the past we cannot even prove yesterday exists. If the speed of light of TODAY is not the key to the speed of light of YESTERDAY than we can't calculate the distance between 2 objects, we can't state if the universe started a few billion years ago or... 2 days ago.

    Of course the premise i'm talking about is part of a naturalistic philosophy while obviously the beliver adheres to a supernaturalistic one. That's why these kind of debates won't lead anywhere. An argument that takes place between 2 parts that support different claims must start from the same assumptions, each part supporting its case by presenting different evidence and making the inferences.

    So let's tackle epistemology a little bit and analyse a simple scenario.
    Our society has people we call psichologists that go to college and learn from books written by other people some of them called Jung and Freud. If the present is not the key to the past why do these people go to college? The fact that people who write books now containing their knowledge doesn't mean that previous books contain knowledge of previous books (the present is not the key to the past). Why do we consider Fred to be a great figure of psichology? The fact that NOW people writting good books get the authorship doesn't mean this is how it was done in the past (the present is not the key to the past).

    If that doesn't make you reconsider your position think about forensic science. All forensic science is based on the assumption that the present is the key to the past: DNA matching, finger prints, witness testemony. I hope none of you supernaturalists will be part of a jury on o murder trial. All forensic evidence will mean nothing to you. After all, for you, the present is not the key to the past. Or is it? ;)

    ReplyDelete
  36. When you're losing an argument it's probably fun to try to engage in a debate on philosophy or history or on the validity of archeology or even on Egyptology.

    It's also probably fun to try to demean the education, personality, or style of the person making an argument that contradicts yours.

    But the simple facts here are pretty easy to delineate and I'll bring it around again to the beginning, since none of you seem able to come out with a yes or no answer on my questions about whether you believe in Humbaba or that an onager could talk or if Augustus were told by a soothsayer that he'd rule the world.

    Civilizations have controlling myths.

    Let's assume that in Bill Clinton's autobiography he tells a story from his youth. He says that he chopped down a cherry tree with an axe, and then his stepddad asked him if he did it and he replied "I cannot tell a lie, I did it." You guys would all believe that it really happened.

    After all, children often have axes, they often engage in mischief, and some children are honest to their parents.

    You would never think to imagine that it was a legendary updating of the George Washington story, of that I'm certain, given the arguments you have here.

    Now, when I bring up the fact that the first copies we have of that story are in regard to George Washington, and that those stories are not the first telling of the story, and that it probably didn't happen the way Bill Clinton is relating it. You guys would have no leg to stand on. You'd have to accept Bill Clinton's word for it.

    By your arguments here you certainly couldn't assume that Clinton was using a myth to embellish his reputation.

    See how much trouble bad thinking can get you in?

    ReplyDelete
  37. Logossferra said:
    ---
    I se the premise "The present is the key to the past" is not accepted by the believers here and they support this by saying "but this is impossible to verify unless you know the past."
    ---

    No, rather the "It is impossible to verify unless you know the past" is EVAN'S claim. I am merely trying to force Evan to be consistent.

    Thanks for playing.

    P.S.: it's "Psychologists".

    ReplyDelete
  38. Evan said:
    ---
    But the simple facts here are pretty easy to delineate and I'll bring it around again to the beginning, since none of you seem able to come out with a yes or no answer on my questions about whether you believe in Humbaba or that an onager could talk or if Augustus were told by a soothsayer that he'd rule the world.
    ---

    I'll answer that when you demonstrate their relevant.

    In the meantime, perhaps you could enlighten me as to your favorite shade of purple, the thickness of a dream, and whether or not you think Rugy should be banned. I'm sure those will be just as relevant to the discussion of Sargon.

    Evan said:
    ---
    Let's assume that in Bill Clinton's autobiography he tells a story from his youth. He says that he chopped down a cherry tree with an axe, and then his stepddad asked him if he did it and he replied "I cannot tell a lie, I did it." You guys would all believe that it really happened.
    ---

    Again, your inability to follow a simple argument is astonishing. FWIW, I don't believe much of anything Bill Clinton says.

    Your analogy also fails because it doesn't take into account the fact that textual analysis demonstrates Exodus precedes Sargon even if the oldest extant copies are reversed. And note that you STILL have not provided us with a source as to where you get any of your dates (because there is no source but Wiki, and Evan is his mouthpiece).

    You haven't dealt with any of the counter arguments offered you. You simply reassert your original debunked claims over and over again and think you've accomplished something. Have at it. Just keep telling yourself the laughter you hear is the world laughing with you....

    ReplyDelete
  39. Puce, depends on whether you are asking the internal psychic dimensions or the neuro-anatomic dimensions but the first would be theoretically infinite and the second would be on the order of 10-12 mm, no.

    There, I answered your questions without a worry. What's so scary about mine?

    ReplyDelete
  40. LEE RANDOLPH SAID:

    “Its hard to believe that anyone would say this with a straight face since egypt was the superpower in that region for thousands of years.”

    Several problems:

    i) Hoffmeier’s evidence was more specific than that: “this verse contains no less that six words used in Egypt during the New Kingdom.”

    So the date of the terminology matches the date of the setting.

    ii) There was no continuous superpower in the ANE.

    iii) Randolph’s argument and Evan’s argument are tugging in opposite directions:

    Lee appeals to the dominant influence of Egypt to explain away the Egyptian terminology in Exodus 2.

    Evan appeals to the dominant influence of Mesopotamia to establish the literary priority of the Mesopotamian story.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Evan,

    I didn't hinge my answering your questions on whether you answered mine. I said:
    ---
    I'll answer that when you demonstrate [they're] relevant.
    ---

    You haven't demonstrated they're relevant. My own questions were just to show you how pointless your questions are. That you couldn't grasp this is not my fault.

    ReplyDelete
  42. evan said...

    “This really is an amazingly easy position to take if you understand the nature of infant memory.__See, infants have none. They simply don't remember what happened to them. You know this from your own life ... but don't seem to be able to generalize it.”

    You really need to see a neurologist about the blackouts you’re suffering from. Did I attribute Exod 2 to Moses’ personal memory of the events? No. You brought that up, not me.

    And when you raised that issue, what did I say? I suggested that it would have been a simple matter for him to learn about such events from other parties involved (e.g. his mother, the princess, her handmaidens).

    So my argument wasn’t based on infant memory, now was it?

    At this point, the problem isn’t with infant memory, but with your memory.

    “Stories of powerful men in the ancient world frequently discussed signs, wonders and special events associated with their infancy, birth and childhood that seem fantastic to us.”

    That depends on who-all we’re talking about. If it’s someone whom God has raised up to perform a special mission, then I wouldn’t be surprised if God flagged that individual with signs and wonders.

    “For instance, I doubt that Julius Caesar was ever captured by pirates and I doubt that Augustus Caesar was hailed as the ruler of the world by a Greek soothsayer…Do you guys think that a soothsayer in Greece told the young Augustus that he would be the ruler of the world?”

    To the contrary, it would be very expedient for a citizen of a lesser power to predict the success of a rising star of a rising power. That’s a way of ingratiating yourself with a potential overlord.

    At the same time, Delphic oracles preserved a face-saving ambiguity.

    “Do you believe that an onager could talk?”

    A better question is whether we believe everything we read in Wikipedia.

    “Do you believe that 2 bears ripped 40 children in half?”

    Try reading Wiseman’s commentary. There you’ll find my answer.

    “I don't believe any of the above things actually happened in history because I believe the present is the key to the past.”

    That’s a very intriguing criterion—especially considering the fact that the present is person-variable. Your present is Abraham’s future. Your past is Abraham’s present.

    So, by your brilliant standards, someone living 100 years from now could reasonably say: “I don't believe 9/11 actually happened in history because I believe the present is the key to the past.”

    After all, his present is your past.

    “We can study present phenomena in great detail and can use that evidence to determine what is more and less likely in the past.”

    Since the present is simply an instant between the past and the future, we can never study the present qua present—since study takes time, during which time the momentary object of our study now lies in the past.

    Perhaps what you meant to say, in your bungling manner, is that the recent past is the key to the distant past.

    If so, then we’d amend your disclaimer along the following lines: “I don't believe that dinosaurs actually existed because I believe the present is the key to the past, and dinosaurs don’t exist in the present or the recent past.”

    Is that better?

    “At least Peter has the courage of his convictions and admits that there is zero evidence that could convince him he's wrong.”

    Without God you lose the truth-conditions to know anything.

    “When you're losing an argument it's probably fun to try to engage in a debate on philosophy or history or on the validity of archeology or even on Egyptology.”

    Whatever possessed us to engage in a debate about archeology or Egyptology? Hmm. Maybe it had a little something to do with your claim that Exod 2 is indebted to the legend of Sargon. Hard to either prove or disprove that claim without getting into archeology or even Egyptology.

    Really, Evan, you should have you back X-rayed to make sure there isn’t a break in the spinal column connecting the brain to the fingers.

    “As for you Steve, seriously ... you can attack and giggle and chuckle and demean all you want.”

    When there’s such a huge gap between the intellectual pretensions of your atheism and the level of your intellectual performance, I point that out.

    ReplyDelete
  43. This is a great debate! I'm sure that throwing my ignorant two-cents in will get me a heaping dose of criticism, but here goes.

    According to the "Oh-so-scientific infallibility of a wiki site, Moses lived around 1392BC. After reading everything posted here, it appears that we actually have extant copies of Exodus 1-2 dating to as early as 200BC (approx.) So, there is a 1100-1200 year gap.

    Question: Are there any earlier texts that mention Moses prior to this 200BC date? I think I understand that it is argued that copies existed prior to this date, but that we don't have said copies.

    Bief analysis: This is my understanding of Evan's opposing view(s). (1) There is more evidence for Sargon, than there is evidence for Moses. He seems to be basing this argument on the belief that there are multiple sources that refer to Sargon as being King around 2300BC AND that these sources are dated around that timeframe(unknown citation). For me to by into that I think we need a refernce to those sources that refer to Sargon around 2400BC.

    Secondly, he seems to be implying that the oldest extant copy we have of a text telling the story of Sargon being sent down the river is dated around 700-800BC. So, here is a 1300-1400 year gap. Notice the gap is not too disimilar from the gap between when Moses existed and from when we have an actual hardcopy of his story.

    (2)Evan's second criticism seems to be that the writers of Exodus may have borrowed the "being sent down the river" story from Sargon or elsewhere. Given that this was a popular motif of the day, it is hard to substaniate the claim without substantial evidence of plagarism/copying. Given that the stories are told in two different languages, plagarism would be harder to prove. I have read the story of Moses, but not Sargon, so I guess I don't even know how similar they might be. In the end, it seems the plagarism/copying claim can only be speculation.

    3. A third claim, seems to be that there is more evidence to believe is Sargon because there are more ancient writings making reference to him. I have found a possible credible citation to support this claim, but I need to go pick up a hardcopy of this to read it for myself before posting it. Anyway, it partially does not make a difference because, just because no extrabiblical sources between 1392BC - 200BC exist does not invalidate the story of Moses. It just means that there are is more evidence for Sargon than there is Moses. Just like there is more evidence for George Bush JR, than for my neighbor George Potter. Both still exist, but nobody cares about George Potter (too bad his first name wasn't Harry), so no body writes about him. I also don't know if there may have been significant calamities to befall the historical record of Moses that the historical record of Sargon was not subject to.

    (4) The most interesting, or at least controversial claim asserted by Evan is that Moses and Sargon, or at least the story of Sargon floating down a river, are myths/legend. This is getting into the area of how much evidence is enough. Clearly, any historical record can be subjected to various degrees of criticism. But I agree with both sides that this seems to be getting into a "I believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God versus I believe the Bible is fallible" debate.

    Personally, I would advocate that we leave that as a separate debate and keep this one to Sargon and Moses debate. Though I do love that debate. Also, what is with the insults? That is childish and you should apologize.

    As for the Sargon versus Moses debate, I would like to see a clear reference that accuses copying/plagarism that is from a scholarly and/or credible source.

    Ty

    ReplyDelete
  44. I think Evan won this discussion.

    And if Steve is arguing from a Christian position, he is severely undermining it with rude and disrespectful comments about anyone stating a contrary opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Don said:

    "I think Evan won this discussion."

    Based on what?

    "And if Steve is arguing from a Christian position, he is severely undermining it with rude and disrespectful comments about anyone stating a contrary opinion."

    I'm sure the scribes and Pharisees felt the same way about Mt 23. Christ was so unchristian, ya know.

    And, no, it's not about "anyone" stating a contrary opinion. Rather, it's about a disputant like Evan who constantly contradicts himself and misrepresents the position of his opponents.

    ReplyDelete
  46. There sure seems to be a lot of snark and handwaving coming from the Bible apologists on this thread. Is that perhaps because they know that their arguments are weak and unconvincing?

    A preacher's wife proof-read his Sunday sermon and wrote next to one paragraph: "Weak point -- shout loud."

    "When you don't have the facts on your side -- or the law, I was taught in law school -- shout louder." - Chuck Colson

    Steve wrote: "Randolph’s argument and Evan’s argument are tugging in opposite directions: Lee appeals to the dominant influence of Egypt to explain away the Egyptian terminology in Exodus 2.
    Evan appeals to the dominant influence of Mesopotamia to establish the literary priority of the Mesopotamian story."

    What's so strange about the idea that ancient Israel was heavily influenced by both cultures?

    We here in Australia have borrowed many cultural influences from both England and America, these being the two most culturally dominant Western nations with which we have interacted during the course of our history. We play both Cricket AND Baseball. We drink both Twinings Tea AND Coca Cola. The older and more powerful culture will almost always tend to influence the younger and weaker one. So to assert the opposite when it comes to attributing the priority of the 'babe in the bullrushes' motif to the later and weaker Hebrew culture, is almost laughable. On top of that, as Evan has repeatedly pointed out, the documentation available to us clearly grants priority to the Sargon legend, rather than the Moses legend. In virtually any other context, I doubt that any of the apologists on this thread would even dream of trying to defend such nonsense.

    Evan wrote: - "I love it. Exodus is factual because you believe it. Sargon's story may or may not be factual because it's not in the Bible."

    Touche'. That just about sums up their whole argument.

    Steve wrote: -“Exodus is factual because you believe it.” No, Exodus is factual because Exodus is true..."

    : D

    "...and there are many reasons for believing in Exodus."

    Name one.

    -"Yes, I accept inspired hearsay evidence."

    : D (munches popcorn and guffaws)
    Why? Because the hearsay evidence says that it's inspired? Ha Ha Ha! And just when I thought that it couldn't get any better.

    -"Some commentators think that Leviathan may denote a crocodile. But even if it refers to a mythical sea-monster, conservative scholars don’t deny that Bible writers sometimes employ mythopoetic imagery."

    Which was itself borrowed from Babylonian and Canaanite mythology. : D (continues to munch popcorn and chuckle)

    -"Do you believe a man could survive for 3 days in the belly of a fish?” Naturally? No. If God preserved him? Yes."

    : O (chokes on popcorn)

    -"Once again, Evan, I realize that thinking is a novel and painful experience for you, but let’s assist you in your first baby steps towards rationality."

    : O (accidentally spits popcorn onto computer screen) The irony is palpable.

    -"Actually, I rely on eyewitness testimony for my knowledge of Bible history. God was there. God has 20/20 vision."

    God didn't write one word of the Bible, a bunch of ancient Hebrews did.

    -"Try to do a modicum of serious research. And try to observe a modicum of logical consistency."

    Now that's rich! You guys must have all had an irony-bypass operation.

    i wrote: - "If the Bible is reliable, then it is based in objectively verifiable fact."

    Masterful display of circular reasoning there i. Been practicing for long?

    Steve wrote: -"So, by your brilliant standards, someone living 100 years from now could reasonably say: “I don't believe 9/11 actually happened in history because I believe the present is the key to the past.”

    WTF??? : / That would only be possible if we no longer had Muslims, jet aircraft, skyscrapers, and if everyone in the civilised world was suffering from some form of profound amnesia. You guys really are too much. : D (finishes popcorn and goes to do something more worthwhile than read to this kind of rubbish)

    Thanks for the entertainment fellas, it's been quite an experience.

    Evan, I think that you've just wasted several hours of your life doing this, but thanks anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Evan writes:

    "But the simple facts here are pretty easy to delineate and I'll bring it around again to the beginning, since none of you seem able to come out with a yes or no answer on my questions about whether you believe in Humbaba or that an onager could talk or if Augustus were told by a soothsayer that he'd rule the world."

    Given how often you've ignored our responses to you and our questions to you, you're not in much of a position to expect others to respond to you and answer your questions. We've explained to you why we accept Biblical accounts of the supernatural, and we've given you examples of how we evaluate claims of the supernatural in other sources (miracles attributed to Vespasian, etc.). The archives of this blog address such issues as well. Changing the examples you cite, such as asking about Augustus rather than Vespasian, doesn't do much to advance the discussion. Since you've ignored what we said in response to your previous examples, why are you bringing up different examples for us to address? We've addressed previous examples, and we've explained the principles involved. You keep ignoring much of what your opponents write while expecting your opponents to keep responding to whatever you want to discuss, which frequently changes from post to post. As I said earlier, you're remarkably careless and dishonest.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Dingbat said:
    ---
    Is that perhaps because they know that their arguments are weak and unconvincing?
    ---

    If they're so weak and unconvincing, perhaps you'd like to demonstrate it rather than "Ha-ha"ing and "choking" on popcorn.

    But that would be too difficult for you since it would require thinking. So by all means carry on. You're merely proving that atheists are the most gullible people on Earth.

    ReplyDelete
  49. DingoDave writes:

    "There sure seems to be a lot of snark and handwaving coming from the Bible apologists on this thread. Is that perhaps because they know that their arguments are weak and unconvincing?"

    Then Dave goes on to make a lot of unsupported assertions and engage in a lot of "snark and handwaving" himself. He's done the same in other recent discussions. Yet, he acts as if he disapproves of such behavior. He should stop doing it himself, then.

    Anybody can go back to the beginning of this thread and note what the topic was, what arguments were made, and which side offered more documentation. Evan made some assertions he wasn't able to support, as he's done in other threads, and he's tried to change the subject as the discussion has progressed. He thinks he can ignore what Steve and others have said while expecting his opponents to address whatever changing topics he wants to discuss from post to post. He misrepresents his opponents' positions in such a way as to suggest that he's highly careless and highly dishonest. What is one to conclude about somebody who could see the documentation Steve has offered for his position, and see how Steve has argued for his beliefs elsewhere on this blog, yet characterize Steve's position as "Exodus is factual because I believe it."?

    ReplyDelete
  50. Dingbat said:
    ---
    Why? Because the hearsay evidence says that it's inspired?
    ---

    By the way, name one person who believes the Bible is true because it says it's true. This is a stupid canard you keep jumping on, as if there weren't reasons to believe in the Bible. You don't think there are, therefore there aren't, therefore people only believe the Bible 'cuz the Bible says it's true.

    That doesn't describe me. I don't believe the Bible because it says it's true. I believe it for a host of reasons. It is trustworthy on every aspect I can verify; it accurately pegs human nature (including my own); it provides the grounds for which I can reason in the first place. All of these things bolster our trust in the Scripture so that we can believe what it says on areas that we don't have immediate proof for.

    This is no different than you believing your parents when they tell you running into the street is dangerous. You never ran into the street and got run over by a car; you took their word for it until you were able to adjudicate the evidence yourself and saw they were right all along.

    But I'm sure your parents at one point said, "Because I said so" when you questioned them. Must be that the only reason you ever believed anything they said was because they said they were telling you "I'm right"....

    You just keep that retarded argument rolling, Dingbat.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Dingo Dave,

    "i wrote: - "If the Bible is reliable, then it is based in objectively verifiable fact."

    You wrote:
    Masterful display of circular reasoning there i. Been practicing for long?"

    How was it circular? A circular argument rests the truth of a premise on the truth of another premise. A is true. How do you know? B is true?" How do you know? Because A.

    Did my sentence have that structure? Furthermore, it was simply a conditional claim.

    And, it was simply a species of a more general claim, e.g.,: If some historical claim is true, then it is based on objective fact.

    So, I have no clue how you think my sentence was a circular argument? In fact, Evan was reasoning circular.

    He said, "I, on the other hand, would accept evidence that had some basis in objectively verifiable facts."

    My point was to draw out his implicit assumption that the Bible was not reliable, because, if it were, it would be based on objective, verifiable facts."

    So, if you are an honest thinker, you'll be bound to agree that you need to condemn Evan for his circular reasoning.

    Oh, and apparently you don't practice your logic skills much since you didn't know what an instance of circular reasoning was.

    ReplyDelete
  52. There's a definitive, scholarly response posted to this thread here.

    As for me constantly changing the topic ... wow you guys really are a hoot. When I try to refine my argument about something, you say I keep repeating arguments you have rejected.

    When I try to use other examples of similar thinking, you accuse me of changing the subject.

    I guess the only form of argument you guys is accept is unconditional surrender ... which makes sense since that is what your religion teaches you to do even in the face of logic and reason.

    For example Paul says:

    God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

    That text suggests that God is enjoying the gullibility of the believers. It's one of my favorites.

    I'm sure you guys will go all ape on me for quoting it, but it's inspired and the word of God ... so you sort of have to accept it.

    Luckily I just think it's something cool someone wrote down.

    ReplyDelete
  53. How come some of you are just being jerks? I understand poking fun and jesting... but this is just plain "assholishness."

    1.You’re not very bright.- Steve
    2. Have you always been this dense? - Steve
    3. Did you fall on your head as a baby? - Steve
    4. If you’d read before you respond you’d not look so dumb. – Peter Pike

    These are just a few of the remarks. What is interesting, is that while I agree that Evan should have substantiated his claims with references, why call him names because he voices a disagreement with you?

    As for what Evan is saying, I am going to post Dr. Avalos' response which substaniate many of the claims Steve and Peter have so rudely dismissed as nonsense.
    _________Dr. Avalos Critique_______
    Unfortunately, I don’t see any evidence that the authors of Triablogue are familiar with cuneiform literature, or can verify any information for themselves outside of secondary sources such as those found in Hoffmeier, Hess, and other conservative scholars. I know the work of these conservative scholars well.

    I am trained in cuneiform literature and I also studied the Dead Sea Scrolls under John Strugnell at Harvard (and under F. M. Cross who is still regarded as perhaps the foremost expert on the DSS).

    I see no reference yet to perhaps the most important study of the Sargon legend— Brian Lewis, The Sargon Legend: A Study of the Akkadian Text and The Tale of the Hero Who Was Exposed at Birth (American Schools of Oriental Research: Cambridge, MA, 1980).

    The authors of Triablogue make many factual errors and facile assumptions, but let me concentrate on three (in the post by Steve, 7-9-08 and Peter Pike):

    A. There is also the linguistic evidence, which points to the Egyptian provenance of Exod 2—which undermines literary dependence on a Mesopotamian source.

    Without the specifics of this linguistic evidence, this really does not mean very much. Mesopotamian and Hittite texts can have Egyptian words, but that alone does not render those texts of Egyptian provenance.

    In the case of the Moses story, there are no stories with parallels as close as that of the legend of Sargon. The story of Horus has been suggested, but the parallels are not very good.

    In contrast, there are numerous more exact parallels with Mesopotamian literature. For example, the idea of handing over a foundling to a wet nurse who raises him until he is weaned finds a more exact legal parallel in the Sumerian-Akkadian lexical series known as ana ittishu, which was edited by B. Landsberger in Materialien zum sumerischen Lexicon I, p. 112, especially column iii.

    B. You’re equivocating between an account of X and a copy of an account of X. We have multiple lines of evidence that the Book of Exodus antedates our extant Hebrew MSS. We have nothing comparable for the legend of Sargon.

    Actually, we have more for Sargon. We can trace Sargon stories and references from about the time of his reign (late third millennium BCE) down to the seventh century. We have evidence that Sargon was a real king because of multiple sources from HIS time. References to Sargon continue fairly consistently between the late third millennium and the seventh century BCE.

    We also can see the potential development of some motifs rather early. For example, we have an Old Babylonian fragmentary manuscript published by A. Clay (Babylonian Records in the Library of J. Pierpont Morgan, Vol. IV, no. 4. p. 11), has a first line that reads (See also Lewis, p. 133).:

    “I (am) Sargon, the beloved of Ishtar, who roams the entire world.”

    This shows that the motif of Sargon being beloved of Ishtar, is already present hundreds of years before the Neo-Assyrian texts which contain the fuller account of the Legend of Sargon.

    We have nothing from Moses’ supposed lifetime that mentions him or any of his features. Not even close. Indeed, where do we have anything similar about Moses hundreds of years before the oldest Exodus manuscripts?

    C. Peter Pike said: Are you saying textual criticism and style analysis are not relevant and cannot provide knowledge to give accurate dating?

    We can talk all day long about textual or literary criticism supposedly helps us reach earlier or to “original” compositions, but I think I have addressed this issue in great detail in The End of Biblical Studies (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Press, 2007), pp. 65-108.

    Textual criticism won’t help you much here in proving that Exodus 1-2 is written before the Sargon legend. If I am wrong, give me one text critical detail that does.

    Moreover, textual criticism and literary criticism would still favor the Sargon legends being earlier compositions. Lewis (The Sargon Legend, p. 265) himself says:

    It would appear more likely that the Vorlage of the Moses story be sought in the direction of Mesopotamia or Western Asia.
    We have four major manuscripts for the Legend of Sargon, and so we can do textual criticism. Motifs and other elements found in earlier omens, and inscriptions related to Sargon can help us conduct much better literary analysis than is possible for Moses.

    In addition, we now have a fragment of the Gilgamesh epic from Palestine, and so we know that this story was there. In contrast, we don’t have any biblical texts in Mesopotamian dating from the time of the Gilgamesh epic.

    We have mountains of Akkadian stories and others types of texts. In comparison, Israel was very poor in textual materials before the Dead Sea Scrolls. So, the OVERWHELMING weight of the evidence suggests that, if there were any copying, the Hebrews copied from earlier Mesopotamian literature, and not the other way around.

    CONCLUSION

    Good history begins with the extant sources. The Sargon legend is in actual manuscripts from the seventh century BCE. We can trace crucial elements of this legend hundreds (or even thousands) of years before that. The Moses story appears in manuscripts no earlier than the 2nd-3rd centuries BCE. We have NOTHING about Moses before this. Any textual or literary criticism we can apply will still result in Sargon stories being attested far longer and better than those of Moses.

    Questions for Steve and/or Peter Pike:

    1. How do you explain the parallels between the Moses story and the Sumerian ana ittishu legal directives?

    2. What pattern of parallels from an Egyptian story is closer than the one from Sargon for the Moses story?

    3. Could you provide ONE text critical detail that would help you
    date the Moses story before the Sargon story.

    4. Are you able to read: A. Assyro-Babylonian; B. Hebrew?

    Dr. Hector Avalos
    Professor of Religious Studies
    Iowa State University
    Ames, IA

    ReplyDelete
  54. Steve,
    I suspect that if you knew your history better you wouldn't make such black and white statements.

    Strong civilizations in a region are not mutually exclusive. Did I really need to point that out?

    ReplyDelete
  55. Peter Pike said:
    ------------
    No, rather the "It is impossible to verify unless you know the past" is EVAN'S claim. I am merely trying to force Evan to be consistent.
    ------------
    Also Peter Pike said:
    ------------
    But this is impossible to verify unless you know the past.
    ------------

    It's not Evan's claim, it's yours. Evan said he BELIEVES that not that he KNOWS. It doesn't take too long to show christians lie (in case you know you said that) or put words in other peoples mouth (in case you translated evan's "i believe" with your's "evan knows"). But I would not expect less from the guys who praise such a despicable being (yes I'm talking about Yaweh)

    ReplyDelete
  56. There were a few points made here that could also be addressed:http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/sargon.html

    ReplyDelete
  57. Ty said:
    ---
    What is interesting, is that while I agree that Evan should have substantiated his claims with references, why call him names because he voices a disagreement with you?
    ---

    I'm not "calling him names" because he disagrees with me; I'm rightly calling him a stupid fool because he has demonstrated himself to be a stupid fool. He has no ability to reason, he cannot follow his own arguments, he has no interest in actually discussing anything intellectually. He is a freaking moron.

    But that's just my opinion. Hey, if he can say it, so can I.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Peter you're a peach. I notice that none of you have taken up your swords and tried to discuss Dr. Avalos' critique of your position though. You'd rather call people names.

    That says a lot about your faith in the strength and quality of your arguments.

    One day, hopefully, you will start to realize that blustering and calling people names is not really argument, it's just contradiction.

    Suffice it to say that all of you would doubt Bill Clinton's claim to have chopped down a cherry tree for very good reasons and those same reasons should cause you to doubt the story of Moses. The only problem is that you can't doubt the story of Moses for reasons that have nothing at all to do with the evidence and everything to do with your presuppositions.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Evan said:
    ---
    Peter you're a peach. I notice that none of you have taken up your swords and tried to discuss Dr. Avalos' critique of your position though.
    ---

    Nice try, but I mentioned him in another comment already.

    I noticed you haven't addressed the post hoc fallacy that you continually engage in. And I've been pointing that out for far longer than Avalos's post was out there.

    Evan said:
    ---
    Suffice it to say that all of you would doubt Bill Clinton's claim to have chopped down a cherry tree for very good reasons and those same reasons should cause you to doubt the story of Moses.
    ---

    So the same reason I should doubt Bill Clinton is the same reason I should doubt you. This is wonderful logic.

    Evan said:
    ---
    The only problem is that you can't doubt the story of Moses for reasons that have nothing at all to do with the evidence and everything to do with your presuppositions.
    ---

    You've provided no reason to make me doubt it. Even if your Sargon dating is true, it's still a post hoc fallacy.

    And since Loftus likes to engage in arguments of silence, I'll ask you one:

    What's your proof that anyone in Israel knew the legend of Sargon before Exodus was written?

    ReplyDelete
  60. Peter - You think Evan is a "freaking Moron." For the majority of yesterday, he was the only person who defended his position against many attackers. His verbal skills strongly indicate that he is well educated, and his seemingly large knowledge of obsecure historical knowledge would also suggest he is well read in that area. To criticize his arguments or inability to effectively argue is one thing, but to demonstrate such hostility and attacking him is childish. Take the rebuff and knock it off. Please don't respond with some hateful rant. This debate I really don't think you want to win. Afterall what would it prove? That Ty is too girly and cant take a punch? That Evan's IQ might be lower than yours. No, in fact, if you are a Christain, then read 1 Cor. 13 about what Paul thinks of acting on knowledge but not having love. If you're a Christain, you've only proved that you acting like a jerk and cannot follow the most enlightened part of your own belief system.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Avalos appeals to Lewis as the standard monograph. Lewis says the story was written in the reign of Sargon II. Lewis also says that Sargon and Exodus are both drawing on a common motif, not that Exodus is dependant Sargon.

    Steve mentioned Noah. That might have been the genesis of this motif.

    The Moses story has major dissimilarities with the Sargon story.

    From the mere fact that we have "placed in a river in a basket" Evan draws the conclusion that Moses was dependant on Sargon?

    This is especially dubious since this kind of abandonment was common. Any infant exposure was.

    I'm not seeing the logic of the argument, premise to conclusion, of Evan's case.

    Since everyone has bragged about Evan (and I think I have quite a few posts above that he has not bothered to respond to), perhaps he can do us the simply task of laying out his argument, premise to conclusion.

    So far:

    [1] Sargon was written before Moses (grant for argument sake).

    [2] Sargon was placed in a river in a basket.

    [3] Moses was placed in a river in a basket.

    [4] Therefore, Moses is simply a myth based on the Sargon legend.

    Anyone with a smattering of logical intuition can see how that doesn't follow -- even Dr. Avalos would agree that [1] - [4] is invalid as its conclusion goes beyond the information contained in the premises -- and so I want evan to offer the argument.

    So, ball's in your court, Evan.

    (BTW, can Avalos weigh in on my argument for the "Evan" myth?)

    ReplyDelete
  62. Oh, and if you're worried about the tone I was using in the previous post, it's the same that I use when my neighbor's three-inch tall yapper dog comes out the door barking. Read it with that in mind, lest you be offended by something I didn't mean.

    ReplyDelete
  63. You've already stated you reject everything supernatural; but that's a position you have to prove not just assert.

    I'm curious as to how you've come to this conclusion. We know the natural world exists. It's all around us. But you're claiming there is an additional, completely different realm or dimension for which there is no explicit support in nature.

    It's as if our inability to explain exactly why X occurs naturally is somehow proof that some other dimension exists. But, in pointing to the fact that we don't exactly know why X occurs, you undermine your argument as you have no basis to decide if X could be caused naturally or not.

    It's purely conjecture based on an argument from ignorance.

    Christians have no problem accepting something that contains supernatural references. That is not an automatic disqualifier for us. Other things can lead us to believe a text is not trustworthy, but that itself is not one of them.

    So, if I understand you correctly, Christians have no problems accepting supernatural claims, just as long as they are found in the Bible or support it's conclusions?

    Of all the depictions of supernatural drought, famine and disasters - virgin births, healing the sick, saviors and resurrections - only the those depictions that support the Christian God are accurate? Because, as Evan has illustrated, there appears to be at least, if not more, "evidence" for other supernatural depictions which you shrug off as myths or conveniently claim "you have no position" on.

    Simply because you disagree on this point doesn't make you right. You have a burden of proof to meet too. You weren't there, so you don't know that supernatural events did not occur as claimed.

    Are you suggesting that the nature of the world or the laws of physics was different than it is now? Or has the Christian God simply stopped making personal appearances and decided to limit his actions to those which are statistically equivalent to random events?

    And, unless you're suggesting that the Christian God was behind all supernatural occurrences that were reported, the fact that we've see an equal drop in reports of all supernatural activity strongly indicates it's a human phenomenon, not an actual occurrence.

    You believe that the world is the same now as then, but you don't know it. If that disqualifies our view, it does so to your view too.

    What we do know is that our perception of the world changed. Drastically. When we encounter a storm as sea, we no longer draw lots to determine who's God is behind it, so we can throw them overboard. This is a fact.

    The idea that the very same force that causes a rock to drop when you released it, also caused the moon to move across the night sky was completely unheard of. As such, nearly everything was assumed to have occurred by fiat. Unseen forces of nature were personified as Gods and Goddesses. Again, this is not just conjecture, but fact. And we see indications of this in nearly all early religious texts, including the Bible.

    So, the question becomes, on what basis do you accept one supernatural claim over another when there is just as much "evidence" that supports them both?

    Because one has a better backstory than the other? Because one gained more traction than another? Because it's stores were "shot" on what appears to be real locations? Because the Christian God "changed" from a being that walked in the garden with man to a being who's face one could not see and live? (Surely, the failing of such a God to appear to us is a blessing not a sign of his non-existence!)

    ReplyDelete
  64. Evan said:

    "I notice that none of you have taken up your swords and tried to discuss Dr. Avalos' critique of your position though. You'd rather call people names. That says a lot about your faith in the strength and quality of your arguments."

    What are we to conclude when you ignore so much of what people write in response to you? Steve and Peter have responded to Avalos. When are you going to respond to the many replies to you that you've ignored so far?

    I wonder, also, would you apply your reasoning to John Loftus' failure to interact with so much of what's written in response to him, such as Steve Hays' review of his book?

    ReplyDelete
  65. Scott,

    You make a lot of highly questionable assertions that you don't even attempt to document. And you've ignored much of what we've already written in this thread and elsewhere. See our recent responses to Evan and John Loftus, where we repeatedly discuss or link to previous discussions about the alleged gullibility of ancient people, how we evaluate miracles attributed to somebody like Vespasian or Benny Hinn, why we believe in the resurrection of Christ and other evidence for the Bible, etc.

    It's remarkable that some of the non-Christians who post here keep asking how we would argue for the Bible's miracles, as if the archives of this blog don't exist or as if our recent discussions with Evan and John Loftus haven't repeatedly described and cited many of our arguments for the Bible. Some of you don't seem to be making much of an effort to remember or think about what you're reading.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Jason said of Scott:

    You make a lot of highly questionable assertions that you don't even attempt to document.

    But I re-read Scott's post, and I only found one assertion, and it could hardly be considered "highly questionable" -- especially since we would all agree with its claim:

    "We know the natural world exists."

    So rather than address his point, you dismissed it by falsely claiming it to be riddled with assertions. Further, you lambaste him by apparently suggesting he read the volumes of archives, in which you assert the answers to all of his questions lie.

    I'm new to this blog, and no, I haven't read all of the archives, and no, I'm not going to. I may selectively review some of them, but if the comment section for every topic is as long as this one, your expectation that new visitors read the whole litany is absurd. If you have so thoroughly addressed these apparently repetitious arguments, it should be trivial to produce an exhaustive list of the definitive topics/comments.

    I'm sure that Scott is more than capable of defending himself, but to observe such blithe dismissal coupled with preposterous expectations to find answers of obviously questionable merit amidst a veritable plethora of posts, topped off with the lie that his comment included "a lot of highly questionable assertions"...

    It is always remarkable to me that self-proclaiming Christians are always so blatantly dishonest.

    --
    Stan

    ReplyDelete
  67. Peter Pike said:
    "Ty, Shut up."

    Snappy comeback Peter. Very intellectual. I stand in awe of your talents. : D

    Yet another 'thug for Jesus'.
    Is your motto, "if you can't join em, then beat em"? Because it certainly appears to be.

    ReplyDelete
  68. Stan, The Half-Truth Teller writes:

    "But I re-read Scott's post, and I only found one assertion, and it could hardly be considered 'highly questionable' -- especially since we would all agree with its claim"

    Here are some examples of other assertions in his post:

    "Because, as Evan has illustrated, there appears to be at least, if not more, 'evidence' for other supernatural depictions which you shrug off as myths or conveniently claim 'you have no position' on."

    "And, unless you're suggesting that the Christian God was behind all supernatural occurrences that were reported, the fact that we've see an equal drop in reports of all supernatural activity strongly indicates it's a human phenomenon, not an actual occurrence."

    "What we do know is that our perception of the world changed. Drastically. When we encounter a storm as sea, we no longer draw lots to determine who's God is behind it, so we can throw them overboard. This is a fact."

    "As such, nearly everything was assumed to have occurred by fiat. Unseen forces of nature were personified as Gods and Goddesses. Again, this is not just conjecture, but fact."

    It doesn't seem that you made much of an effort to be accurate in your analysis of his post.

    You write:

    "Further, you lambaste him by apparently suggesting he read the volumes of archives, in which you assert the answers to all of his questions lie."

    No, I suggested that he consult the archives on the issues he was discussing. He might not be so ignorant of what we believe on such issues if he would make more of an effort to read what we've said in the past, including in multiple recent threads that have had content relevant to what he asked about.

    You write:

    "I'm new to this blog, and no, I haven't read all of the archives, and no, I'm not going to. I may selectively review some of them, but if the comment section for every topic is as long as this one, your expectation that new visitors read the whole litany is absurd."

    I haven't suggested that people read "all of the archives". But to come away with an impression of our views as inaccurate as what some of the non-Christians posting here have presented, you have to not only ignore large portions of our archives, but also ignore much of what we've been posting in the most recent threads. I don't think it's unreasonable for me to expect people like Evan and Scott to make more of an effort to read what we've already written and not expect us to reinvent the wheel so often.

    You write:

    "If you have so thoroughly addressed these apparently repetitious arguments, it should be trivial to produce an exhaustive list of the definitive topics/comments."

    Some of the archives are already arranged by topic. And we've provided links to some posts from the archives for Evan and other non-Christians posting here. You don't need an "exhaustive" list in order to have a more accurate idea of what we believe than what's attributed to us in the posts of people like Evan and Scott. Take, for example, Evan's comment in this thread that Steve's position on the factuality of the book of Exodus is "I believe it, therefore it's true". Evan would have to ignore not only a lot of our archived material, but also many of Steve's comments in recent threads in order to come away with such a conclusion.

    You write:

    "I'm sure that Scott is more than capable of defending himself, but to observe such blithe dismissal coupled with preposterous expectations to find answers of obviously questionable merit amidst a veritable plethora of posts, topped off with the lie that his comment included 'a lot of highly questionable assertions'...It is always remarkable to me that self-proclaiming Christians are always so blatantly dishonest."

    Since you were wrong about the number of assertions in Scott's post, should we conclude that you were "lying"?

    If Christians are "always so blatantly dishonest" (a claim you document about as well as you document your other assertions), do you think they lie when they tell you their name? Their age? Where they work? They're "always" dishonest?

    ReplyDelete
  69. Oh, Jason, I'm so sorry. I didn't realize you had such difficulty with English as a second language, or with your reading comprehension in general...

    [/sarcasm]

    That which you claim to be an assertion is instead a statement of fact:

    Because, as Evan has illustrated, there appears to be at least, if not more, 'evidence' for other supernatural depictions which you shrug off as myths or conveniently claim 'you have no position' on.

    Shall I reword this so you can more clearly see?

    Evan has illustrated evidence for other supernatural depictions, which you consider myths, or to which you are indifferent.

    Scott hasn't made an assertion here -- perhaps Evan has in his 'illustrations', and you are free to argue that point, but Scott is assertion-free here.

    And, unless you're suggesting that the Christian God was behind all supernatural occurrences that were reported, the fact that we've see an equal drop in reports of all supernatural activity strongly indicates it's a human phenomenon, not an actual occurrence.

    Once again, Scott has noted a fact -- that we've seen a drop in reports of supernatural activity; or do you dispute this fact? He has also noted that this fact strongly indicates a human phenomenon, which I will grant you, is a very minor assertion, but if you wish to be extremely nit-picky, well...

    What we do know is that our perception of the world changed. Drastically. When we encounter a storm as sea, we no longer draw lots to determine who's God is behind it, so we can throw them overboard. This is a fact.

    What do you think is an assertion here? That the human perception of the world has changed over time? That we no longer consider storms at sea as supernatural events? That the statements are factual?

    Will you accept no statement of fact unless it includes a source? Stop being petty.

    As such, nearly everything was assumed to have occurred by fiat. Unseen forces of nature were personified as Gods and Goddesses. Again, this is not just conjecture, but fact.

    I really don't know what aspects of this segment you would consider to be assertions -- it's pretty straightforward, unless you're intentionally being a jackass. No part of this statement could possibly be disputed by a rational, sane person, with even an elementary school education.

    So... that's two assertions total, one with which all agree, and one which is so minor (I suspect most everyone would agree with it as well) as to be acceptable.

    If Christians are "always so blatantly dishonest" (a claim you document about as well as you document your other assertions), do you think they lie when they tell you their name? Their age? Where they work? They're "always" dishonest?

    1) This was the only assertion I made.

    2) You're intentionally being an ass.

    I should think it pretty obvious that the constant dishonesty I observe in professing Christians is of the intellectual variety, specific to defending their faith. If you would like examples of this, you are welcome to peruse the discussions I've had with "Jason" (a Christadelphian; his readerless blog can be found here) on his blog, or with "Dan" (a Ken Hamm fan; his new blog can be found here) on his blog. These are but two representative examples of Christian dishonesty when debating the nuances of their religion versus the reality that science reveals.

    Some of you don't seem to be making much of an effort to remember or think about what you're reading.

    You're right, of course -- your assertions are all valid, and only you are qualified to identify the assertions made by others, and dismiss them as such.

    [/sarcasm again]

    So yeah, whenever you want to quit crying "assertion", and start addressing Scott's points, I'll take note.

    --
    Stan

    ReplyDelete
  70. Oh this is absolutely priceless. I must admit I enjoy every word. I love how all the "Christians" are the ones who are acting the very least Christ like by resorting to name calling in damn near every post they make. Religion at its finest, my friends. Hypocrisy as far as the eye can see.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Stan, The Half-Truth Teller writes:

    "That which you claim to be an assertion is instead a statement of fact"

    Claiming that something you assert is a fact doesn't prevent it from being an assertion. Scott made a lot of assertions in his post, not just one, and even his questions included assumptions that would need to be argued, not just assumed.

    You write:

    "He has also noted that this fact strongly indicates a human phenomenon, which I will grant you, is a very minor assertion, but if you wish to be extremely nit-picky, well"

    In other words, even if we accept your redefinition of what an assertion is, your previous claim was wrong by your own standards. But it's "extremely nit-picky" for me to point that out.

    You made an issue of the number of assertions in Scott's post. You said that you counted how many were in his post, and that my comment about his assertions was inaccurate in light of what you counted. If you're going to criticize me on the basis of your (erroneous) count, then don't complain when I demonstrate that you miscounted.

    You write:

    "What do you think is an assertion here? That the human perception of the world has changed over time? That we no longer consider storms at sea as supernatural events? That the statements are factual?"

    How people viewed a storm at sea in the past has to be demonstrated, not just asserted. Why are we supposed to believe that Scott's characterization is true of ancient people in general and how they viewed storms in general, that those ancient people were mistaken, and that modern people in general don't hold such views? The large majority of modern people are supernaturalists (Muslims, Hindus, Christians, etc.). And supernaturalists can believe in a natural order in which supernatural beings sometimes intervene without thereby believing that every event, such as a storm at sea, is "a supernatural event" that doesn't involve what we commonly call natural occurrences. Similarly, natural events can be attributed to a supernatural agency in the sense that the agent created the natural order, or in the sense that the agent works through what we call natural processes, without thereby intending to deny that there's a natural order. Whether ancient people believed the things being attributed to them, whether they were wrong, and whether modern people hold such views depends on how the terms are being defined.

    We've addressed issues like these many times. I cited some examples in our recent discussions with John Loftus. I linked to a few threads where Glenn Miller's work on the alleged gullibility of ancient people was discussed. We've argued at length for our position on such issues, whereas you and Scott haven't done so for yours.

    You write:

    "I should think it pretty obvious that the constant dishonesty I observe in professing Christians is of the intellectual variety, specific to defending their faith."

    You suggested that I was "lying" because I allegedly miscounted the number of assertions in Scott's post. Supposedly, there was only one assertion. Now you acknowledge that there were two assertions. Should I conclude that you were "lying"? What about the further errors in your most recent post? Should I conclude that those, too, are "lies"? Should I conclude that skeptics are "always" being "blatantly" dishonest on the basis of such errors?

    ReplyDelete
  72. I see. So your standard procedure on this blog is merely to be an ass, and to cry that every statement (whether factual or not) by your opponent is an assertion.

    I suppose, then, that you've succeeded in arguing that the biblical account is more than mere assertion? If it is, then surely you will have no trouble demonstrating that an axe head can float, that fire can come down from the sky to burn a water-soaked offering, that a man can heal blindness by spitting into some mud, that water can become wine...

    Are they assertions or are they demonstrable facts?

    As to lying, yes, you lied. You asserted that Scott had included many assertions in his post, and when my critique yielded one initially, and a second upon further review (you notice how I corrected myself, admitting a second assertion?), you still failed to show these many assertions, and you still avoid addressing any of his points.

    Is that all you do here, huff, puff, and bluster? Scott didn't say that all ancient peoples viewed all storms as supernatural events all throughout time -- he merely noted that at at least one point in human history, severe storms at sea were considered supernatural. The example wasn't even that specific -- it was merely an anectotal reference to the historical viewpoints of primitive humans.

    Again, if you can dry your tears, and stop crying "assertion" long enough to address his points, we can perhaps move on. If not, then give me your address and I'll send you a box of Kleenex.

    --
    Stan

    ReplyDelete
  73. Another thing, Jason, if we are to accept your assertion, that ancient peoples were not "gullible", then how do you square that with your other assertion, that the account in Exodus is accurate?

    Were the Israelites so gullible that they could collect enough metal (with a higher melting point than gold) and enough gold to construct a caste, pour the gold, and build a golden calf, which they then saw fit to worship?

    Were they gullible, superstitious, or just retarded?

    --
    Stan

    ReplyDelete
  74. Stan, The Half-Truth Teller wrote:

    “So your standard procedure on this blog is merely to be an ass, and to cry that every statement (whether factual or not) by your opponent is an assertion.”

    Dictionary.com defines an assertion as “a positive statement or declaration, often without support or reason”. I don’t know where you’re getting your definition of assertion, but I neither stated nor implied that something has to be non-factual in order to be an assertion. You’re misdefining the term and criticizing me for not using it according to your misdefinition.

    You write:

    “I suppose, then, that you've succeeded in arguing that the biblical account is more than mere assertion?”

    We haven’t gone through every passage of the Bible, but we have addressed many of them, and we’ve discussed why we believe that the Bible is Divinely inspired. Consult the archives.

    You write:

    “If it is, then surely you will have no trouble demonstrating that an axe head can float, that fire can come down from the sky to burn a water-soaked offering, that a man can heal blindness by spitting into some mud, that water can become wine”

    You’re repeating a bad argument that’s already been refuted in a recent thread. See my discussion with DingoDave at:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/07/level-of-argumentation-at-debunking.html

    I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but you can search web pages for a particular word by holding down the Ctrl key on your keyboard while hitting the F key. In the thread linked above, you can search for a term like “DingoDave” or “donkey” in order to find some relevant sections of the discussion.

    To sum it up, Christians don’t maintain that donkeys have a natural ability to speak, nor do we maintain that axe heads have a natural ability to float, that water naturally becomes wine, etc. Rather, such acts are portrayed as miraculous by the Biblical authors and are understood as such by Christians. Thus, to point out that axe heads don’t float today, that water doesn’t become wine today, etc. is to miss the point. Asking whether “water can become wine” leaves out the agent in scripture who brings about the transformation, Jesus. Christians don’t believe that water becomes wine without any outside influence.

    You write:

    “Are they assertions or are they demonstrable facts?”

    Those two categories aren’t mutually exclusive.

    When you refer to “demonstrable facts”, in what sense are you using the term “demonstrable”? In the sense of reproducing the miracle whenever somebody requests that it be reproduced? No, the miracles aren’t demonstrable in that sense. But we do have evidence for the historical reliability of some individual miracle accounts and evidence for the Divine inspiration of the Bible in general, for example.

    You write:

    “As to lying, yes, you lied. You asserted that Scott had included many assertions in his post, and when my critique yielded one initially, and a second upon further review (you notice how I corrected myself, admitting a second assertion?), you still failed to show these many assertions, and you still avoid addressing any of his points.”

    I quoted some of his assertions for you, and I explained that you were misdefining what an assertion is. My response “failed” only if your definition of an assertion is correct, which you haven’t demonstrated.

    Even if I had been misdefining what an assertion is, that mistake wouldn’t have been a “lie” as that term is usually used. If you want to define any incorrect statement as a lie, then your incorrect statement about Scott’s post allegedly only containing one assertion was a lie.

    As far as “addressing any of Scott’s points” is concerned, I still don’t know how he’s defining some of his terms. He hasn’t offered any clarifications. And his post wasn’t directed at me. Have you addressed the points in posts we’ve written that weren’t addressed to you? Should we expect you to?

    I have, however, referenced some of the material in our archives that’s relevant to some of the issues raised by Scott. Your failure to consult the archives isn’t my problem.

    You write:

    “Scott didn't say that all ancient peoples viewed all storms as supernatural events all throughout time -- he merely noted that at at least one point in human history, severe storms at sea were considered supernatural.”

    You’re misrepresenting what I said about Scott’s comments. I didn’t use the “all’s” that you’re using.

    You write:

    “Another thing, Jason, if we are to accept your assertion, that ancient peoples were not ‘gullible’, then how do you square that with your other assertion, that the account in Exodus is accurate? Were the Israelites so gullible that they could collect enough metal (with a higher melting point than gold) and enough gold to construct a caste, pour the gold, and build a golden calf, which they then saw fit to worship?”

    Reasonable people can exist among others who are unreasonable, and people who are unreasonable in one context can be reasonable in another. I don’t claim that all ancient people were always reasonable.

    Since you don’t seem to understand what I believe about the alleged gullibility of ancient people, here’s the article by Glenn Miller that I was referring to:

    http://www.christian-thinktank.com/mqfx.html

    And here are some threads where the issue is discussed further:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/05/testing-gullibility-claims.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-did-early-christians-claim-virgin.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/07/significance-of-eyewitness-testimony.html

    I participated in all three threads, so you can read my position in my own words.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Thanks for the links; I'll look into them as soon as I can figure out how to copy and paste them into my browser's address bar...

    [In case you didn't know, you can create clickable links in blogspot comments by typing '<a href="http://somelink.tld/section/page.ext?arg=value">Title of Link<a>'. It's a lot kinder for a couple reasons -- first, ignorant users needn't copy/paste, and second, many links exceed the width limitations for a comment sections colums, resulting in an incomplete link. The name you provide can be any descriptor you like, short, long, or even misleading (I'm not suggesting, I'm just saying it's an option).]

    Glenn Miller's link

    Gullibility link (Triablogue)

    Joseph wasn't gullible, he just believed his fiancé was impregnated by god

    Eyewitness testimony is historically accurate, and hearsay regarding eyewitness testimony is admissable

    [Ahem] So you see, you can provide whatever descriptor you like...

    :)

    I'll see what those have to say.

    --
    Stan

    ReplyDelete
  76. Oops -- I missed a pretty important forward slash (and a semicolon) in my example of a clickable link. The correct version would appear as follows:

    <a href="http://somelink.tld/section/page.ext?arg=value">Title of Link</a>

    ReplyDelete
  77. SCOTT SAID:

    “I'm curious as to how you've come to this conclusion. We know the natural world exists. It's all around us. But you're claiming there is an additional, completely different realm or dimension for which there is no explicit support in nature.”

    Abstract objects (e.g. numbers, possible worlds) belong to a different domain, with no “explicit support in nature.” So what?

    “It's as if our inability to explain exactly why X occurs naturally is somehow proof that some other dimension exists.”

    The evidence for dualism isn’t limited to “our inability to explain exactly why X occurs naturally.”

    “It's purely conjecture based on an argument from ignorance.”

    Your fideistic confidence that there will always be a naturalistic explanation for an otherwise inexplicable event is, itself, an argument from ignorance.

    And not every appeal to the supernatural is a fallback argument in the absence of a naturalistic explanation. There can be positive evidence for a supernatural cause.

    “So, if I understand you correctly, Christians have no problems accepting supernatural claims, just as long as they are found in the Bible or support it's conclusions?”

    What supernatural claims do you think oppose Christianity?

    And if someone thinks his position is true, then he will naturally regard a counterclaim as false. That’s hardly distinctive to Christianity.

    “Of all the depictions of supernatural drought, famine and disasters - virgin births, healing the sick, saviors and resurrections - only the those depictions that support the Christian God are accurate? Because, as Evan has illustrated, there appears to be at least, if not more, ‘evidence’ for other supernatural depictions which you shrug off as myths or conveniently claim ‘you have no position’ on.”

    You’re hiding behind vague generalities. We evaluate claims on a case-by-case basis. If you want a specific answer, cite a specific example.

    “Are you suggesting that the nature of the world or the laws of physics was different than it is now? Or has the Christian God simply stopped making personal appearances and decided to limit his actions to those which are statistically equivalent to random events?”

    You’re assuming, without benefit of argument, that miracles don’t happen today.

    “And, unless you're suggesting that the Christian God was behind all supernatural occurrences that were reported, the fact that we've see an equal drop in reports of all supernatural activity strongly indicates it's a human phenomenon, not an actual occurrence.”

    That’s a sweeping claim. Where’s your evidence?

    “What we do know is that our perception of the world changed. Drastically. When we encounter a storm as sea, we no longer draw lots to determine who's God is behind it, so we can throw them overboard. This is a fact.”

    Even if that were true, it wouldn’t be a fact about the world, but a fact about shifting opinion about the world.

    But most of the world’s population today still believes in the supernatural. So your “fact” is not a fact, but a clearly erroneous factoid.

    “The idea that the very same force that causes a rock to drop when you released it, also caused the moon to move across the night sky was completely unheard of. As such, nearly everything was assumed to have occurred by fiat.”

    The Bible has a doctrine of providential second causes. You should acquaint yourself with the opposing position before you level ignorant objections.

    “Unseen forces of nature were personified as Gods and Goddesses. Again, this is not just conjecture, but fact. And we see indications of this in nearly all early religious texts, including the Bible.”

    The Bible doesn’t personify the forces of nature. So your “fact” is not a fact, but a clearly erroneous factoid.

    Also, in your self-reinforcing ignorance, it doesn’t occur to you that the Bible itself characterizes the heathen as sunk in superstition. For you to point out that the pagan world was superstitious is not an argument against the Bible. The Bible itself makes that very point repeatedly.

    “So, the question becomes, on what basis do you accept one supernatural claim over another when there is just as much ‘evidence’ that supports them both?”

    i) Show us that there’s just as much evidence for both.

    ii) Show us that the supernatural claims in question are in competition with each another.

    “Because the Christian God ‘changed’ from a being that walked in the garden with man to a being who's face one could not see and live?”

    Simple distinction between God in himself and a theophany. That doesn’t change from one part of the Bible to another.

    “(Surely, the failing of such a God to appear to us is a blessing not a sign of his non-existence!)”

    You mean he doesn’t appear to *you*.

    STAN, THE HALF-TRUTH TELLER SAID:

    “But I re-read Scott's post, and I only found one assertion… It is always remarkable to me that self-proclaiming Christians are always so blatantly dishonest.”

    Here are some of Scott’s assertions:

    “But you're claiming there is an additional, completely different realm or dimension for which there is no explicit support in nature.”

    “It's purely conjecture based on an argument from ignorance.”

    “Or has the Christian God simply stopped making personal appearances and decided to limit his actions to those which are statistically equivalent to random events?”

    “the fact that we've see an equal drop in reports of all supernatural activity strongly indicates it's a human phenomenon, not an actual occurrence.”

    “What we do know is that our perception of the world changed. Drastically.”

    “As such, nearly everything was assumed to have occurred by fiat.”

    “Unseen forces of nature were personified as Gods and Goddesses. Again, this is not just conjecture, but fact. And we see indications of this in nearly all early religious texts, including the Bible.”

    “So, the question becomes, on what basis do you accept one supernatural claim over another when there is just as much ‘evidence’ that supports them both?”

    “Because the Christian God ‘changed’ from a being that walked in the garden with man to a being who's face one could not see and live?”

    “(Surely, the failing of such a God to appear to us is a blessing not a sign of his non-existence!).”

    Not only are these assertions, but they are bare assertions.

    It is always unremarkable to me that unbelievers like Stan are so blatantly dishonest.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Stan,

    I've often thought about looking into how to include clickable links in my posts in these comment boxes, but I keep putting it off or forgetting about it. I'll make an effort to try to memorize the procedure for doing it.

    ReplyDelete
  79. lee randolph said...

    “Steve,_I suspect that if you knew your history better you wouldn't make such black and white statements.__Strong civilizations in a region are not mutually exclusive. Did I really need to point that out? “

    You’re backpedaling from your initial argument. You originally said: “egypt was the superpower in that region for thousands of years.”

    As if Egypt was a continuous superpower. You’ve now scaled back your original claim to a more modest formulation: “strong civilizations in the region.”

    In addition, you’ve rendered your claim unverifiable by immunizing it against possible falsification. If Exod 2 is too Egyptian to be Mesopotamian, you attribute that to Egyptian influence—but if Exod 2 is too Mesopotamian to be Egyptian, you attribute that Mesopotamian influence.

    So your claim is now consistent with any line of evidence or counterevidence, which renders the claim vacuous.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Scott said...

    "I'm curious as to how you've come to this conclusion. We know the natural world exists. It's all around us. But you're claiming there is an additional, completely different realm or dimension for which there is no explicit support in nature."

    You’re also confusing the real world with the phenomenal world. There’s far more to the reality than what we ordinarily perceive. For one thing, what we perceive is limited to our senses, and sensory perception varies. In addition, in certain altered states of consciousness we can become aware of aspects of reality which are filtered out by sensory perception. Are senses are as much a screen as they are a window.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Jason: You make a lot of highly questionable assertions that you don't even attempt to document.

    Have I?

    First, I asked a question that remains unanswered. Why do I need to prove the supernatural does not exist?

    We see no explicit evidence that suggests any phenomena is actually caused by supernatural forces. In addition, a significant number of phenomena thought to be significantly influenced by supernatural forces have been found to be influenced by complex natural processes instead. Although it seems obvious what phenomena I'm referring to, I'll list a few examples in hope that you'll actually answer my question, instead of complaining that I've making an assertion.

    The sun was thought to be pulled through the sky by Apollo. Storms and natural disasters were thought to be manifestations of supernatural beings. A woman's womb was "opened" by God. Instead, the indeterminate or mysterious aspects of these phenomenon were found to be caused by complex natural processes that were unknown of at the time.

    Whether a woman conceived or not was actually due to a number of natural factors that interacted in a complex way. However, this process could not be observed because it occurred internally and the biological processes were beyond our understanding at the time. When faced with indeterminate outcomes, the decision of a supernatural being was thought to be the dominate factor. Specifically, God "opened" a woman's womb. While modern Christians may believe that God can perform miracles in specific cases or subtly influence this complex process one way or another, God is no longer thought to be the dominate factor.

    Examples of God's perceived dominate influence in conception includes Genesis 30.

    1 When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I'll die!"

    2 Jacob became angry with her and said, "Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?"


    Here Jacob, in a matter of fact tone, clearly indicates the dominate factor in Rachel's failure to conceive is God, and that he is not responsible. We see no other indication of illness or biological natural causes.

    In Genesis 20:17 God is described as 'healing' Abimelech's wife and slave girls so they can have children again, but this was to counter act God's intentional closing of their wombs due to the abduction of Sara. Again, God is the primary factor involved.

    This is but one example of how the influence of the supernatural has been eroded by natural processes.

    And you've ignored much of what we've already written in this thread...

    Have I? If I didn't know any better, It appears that you've just made an assertion. I had read the entire thread, but intentionally decided to respond to these particular points.

    ...and elsewhere.

    The act of ignoring something requires one being aware of it's existence. Since I was unaware of these particular posts existed at the time, I was not ignoring them. However, since you've pointed them out, I have read them and the related references they contained.

    Moving on to my "assertions"...

    "Because, as Evan has illustrated, there appears to be at least, if not more, 'evidence' for other supernatural depictions which you shrug off as myths or conveniently claim 'you have no position' on."

    My point of contention here is what you conceder 'evidence', and why. Here we see the story of a man who was placed adrift in a river as a child, adopted and who obtained great status by being "loved" by a Goddess. If supernatural events did and can occur, which appears to be you position, then on what grounds to you reject it as being accurate? Why is this story mythical, but specific biblical stories are not?

    While you might object that this is off topic, it appears that the primary reason for rejecting the influence of Sargon is because you think the story of Moses is true. Being factual, it would be without earlier influence. But this is dependent on your classification of the story of Moses as factual, which depends on the assumption that the supernatural realm actually exists.

    Could Sargon have risen to power without the supernatural "love" and influence of Ishtar? Could Mosses have risen to power without God's supernatural influence? How do we decide what parts of these stories are real, if any at all, or embellishments added and passed down from generation to generation?

    And, more specifically, what would the addition of a supernatural aspect attempt to project or imply about such a person's position?

    "And, unless you're suggesting that the Christian God was behind all supernatural occurrences that were reported, the fact that we've see an equal drop in reports of all supernatural activity strongly indicates it's a human phenomenon, not an actual occurrence."

    Again, it's clear that the level of supernatural influence has been eroded by natural explanations. While God may retain a foot-hold in gaps that remain, the day to day mechanics of the world are known to be caused by complex natural processes. Some farmers still might pray for God to give them a good harvest, but they rely on evolutionary biology to create crops with specific traits and counteract strains of insects that become resistant to insecticides by natural selection.

    As such, it's factual that the "undecisive nature" of these unknown processes was indeed incorrectly identified as "decisions" made by God. You still might think God has influence, but that influence occurs in a vastly different and less direct way.

    The discovery of such natural systems has impacted nearly all supernatural claims in that they share specific foundational beliefs. Again, they still have a foot-hold, but this influence is not explicit nor does it appear to vary statistically from other phenomenon. This happens to such as extent that Christians have made the ad-hoc claim that God intentionally acts in a way that he cannot be clearly identified.

    "What we do know is that our perception of the world changed. Drastically. When we encounter a storm as sea, we no longer draw lots to determine who's God is behind it, so we can throw them overboard. This is a fact."

    While it might be true that, in some places in the world, people still exhibit this behavior, they do so because their culture has yet to integrate the knowledge of known natural processes into their world view. They consider options that would be eliminated by factual workings of the situation.

    In regards to claims that Christians were the least superstitious of their time, I would ask in exactly what way were they less superstitious? Francis Collins, who played a major role in sequencing the human genome, described his conversion story as seeing a waterfall that froze into three discrete streams while hiking. Here we have a man who was skeptical enough to believe in the theory of evolution, yet somehow saw the Trinity in those three frozen streams and assumed God was giving him a sign of his existence.

    It simply does not follow that skepticism in one area excludes superstitious behavior or beliefs in others.

    "As such, nearly everything was assumed to have occurred by fiat. Unseen forces of nature were personified as Gods and Goddesses. Again, this is not just conjecture, but fact."

    When I say fiat, I'm referring to the absence of a uniform, yet complex, processes behind the uniformity of nature. While specific things might have appeared to occur consistently, the specific reason why they occurred had yet to be discovered. As such, ancient people lived in an opaque world where things occurred because Gods decided they should occur that way. In a purely hypothetical example, one day God might pull the sun across the sky, however, he could just as easily assign the task to the angel Gabriel. There was no underlying rational system other than what the Gods supposedly put in place.

    Now, you might claim that God is behind these complex natural laws, but you live in a vastly different universe, compared to the world of the ancients.

    This doesn't include the vast number of studies that reveal flaws in human perception, particularly in times of adverse conditions or extenuating situations. It's not a question of if people make mistakes, it's how often and to what extent. Hume's POI and position on miracles clearly illustrates the problem of identifying supernatural events.

    In regards to your reference to Glenn Miller's piece on apparent critical natural of Christians, it's not clear what standard they use for judging events.

    For example, the case of Athenagorus discounting credulity, is not nearly as cut and dried as it's made out to be. One could just as easily attribute his skepticism of a brass statue's healing ability to the apparent lack of supernatural merit of the individuals of which the status were formed.

    both the sepulchre and the statue of Alexander are still in the forum.

    Alexander was dead and his body was buried a few feet way.

    "But of the statues of Alexander and Proteus (the latter, you are aware, threw himself into the fire near Olympia), that of Proteus is likewise said to utter oracles; and to that of Alexander…sacrifices are offered and festivals are held at the public cost, as to a god who can hear."

    Here he asks, why should statues of a man who committed suicide by throwing himself into a fire or a man who is dead and buried in the forum exhibit miraculous healing? He does not expect them to hear simply because they do not meet his particular definition of Godhood.

    Is it, then, Neryllinus, and Proteus, and Alexander who exert these energies in connection with the statues, or is it the nature of the matter itself? But the matter is brass. And what can brass do of itself, which may be made again into a different form, as Amasis treated the footpan, as told by Herodotus? And Neryllinus, and Proteus, and Alexander, what good are they to the sick? For what the image is said now to effect, it effected when Neryllinus was alive and sick."

    Without being formed in the likeness of what Athenagorus considers his flavor of God, brass is just brass. How can an image of Neryllinus heal the sick when Neryllinus himself was sick while he was alive?

    In addition, this example seems to imply that Athenagorus thought brass was of a class of materials which he did not expect to exhibit supernatural behavior. This is not due to a deep understanding of the composition of brass in relationship to other materials, but merely because it was malleable my men. This is in contrast to snakes, storms, crops or disasters, which could be only "formed" by Gods. In other words, Athenagorus appears to discredit the statues because they fall "below" the standard of materials that he thinks supernatural being would use.

    Just because one has a particular set of "standards" for their superstitious views, doesn't necessarily mean they are critical or skeptical.

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  82. Steve wrote: There’s far more to the reality than what we ordinarily perceive. For one thing, what we perceive is limited to our senses, and sensory perception varies. In addition, in certain altered states of consciousness we can become aware of aspects of reality which are filtered out by sensory perception. Are senses are as much a screen as they are a window.

    How exactly does this support the supernatural?

    Not only are you claiming there are things that are undetectable by us, but you've gone significantly further by claiming they are of a completely different realm. This simply does not follow.

    Humans are unable to see infrared light without assistance. Does this mean that infrared light was supernatural before we discovered it? What about x-rays or gama-rays? Because, before we created the necessary instruments to detect them, our senses were limited to a very small part of the entire the electromagnetic spectrum.

    The same could be said about atoms and the quantum world. The word 'atom' comes from the the Greek 'atomos', which means indivisible. Yet we now know that atoms can indeed be split. Does this mean that protons, electrons and neutrons were supernatural?

    ReplyDelete
  83. Abstract objects (e.g. numbers, possible worlds) belong to a different domain, with no “explicit support in nature.” So what?

    Unless you can show that abstract "objects" are causal agents, this is a category error. In addition, numbers are based on natural objects.

    The evidence for dualism isn’t limited to “our inability to explain exactly why X occurs naturally.”

    Perhaps you'd like to elaborate? My guess is that divine revelation is part of your 'evidence' and it was accurate because it came from God?

    Your fideistic confidence that there will always be a naturalistic explanation for an otherwise inexplicable event is, itself, an argument from ignorance.

    Given the two choices between simply not knowing and God did it, which makes the larger assumption? Which depends more on faith. Which depend on revelation at all?

    And not every appeal to the supernatural is a fallback argument in the absence of a naturalistic explanation. There can be positive evidence for a supernatural cause.

    But you must interpret this "evidence" in a non-explicit fashion. You must construct some kind of elaborate series of events which supports some unfinished goal that nature does not collaborate on in any concrete way. If God exists and God is good and God's nature is X, then Y and Z could theoretically be interpreted as support for his existence. But God's existence and his nature are not obviously or explicitly implied. You must assume that this positive evidence can only be the result of supernatural means or is backed up by "inspired" testimony.

    You must do this in spite of known gaps in our ability to fully understand specific aspects of nature. For example, the human brain consists of 100 billion neurons and a trillion synapses. The resulting network is so complex, we're unable to simulate but a mere thousand connections using existing technology. But even without hardware limitations, such a simulation is extremely difficult to create because it requires mapping the patterns of living brain cells in living human beings using a non-destructie process. Such opportunities are rare and provide a limited amount of information.

    It's not that there is missing data that we cannot find, it's that we have so much data that we cannot extract it and view it as a coherent whole using existing technology. When we do have the capacity to analyze this information and if such capacity is not found, then you'll have grounds for making claims that material brains cannot support consciousness. But until then, it's an argument from ignorance.

    What supernatural claims do you think oppose Christianity?

    I'm not saying that supernatural claims oppose Christianly. I'm asking that, out of all the supernatural claims that exist, what is your basis for excluding some eye witness testimony and not others? What about all of the other "evidence" that you dismiss as myths?

    You’re hiding behind vague generalities. We evaluate claims on a case-by-case basis. If you want a specific answer, cite a specific example.

    You mean you only attempt to harmonize on a case-by-case basis? It's pretty clear as to what your "evaluation" system consists of. You seem unwilling to admit it.

    You’re assuming, without benefit of argument, that miracles don’t happen today.

    I'm assuming? On what basis do you assume that miracle really do happen? Because you ask God to help you safely cross the street and this actually occurs more often than not?

    Again, unless the laws of nature have changed, it's clear that a significant amount of natural activity was falsely thought to be 'determined' by the supernatural.

    Scott: “And, unless you're suggesting that the Christian God was behind all supernatural occurrences that were reported, the fact that we've see an equal drop in reports of all supernatural activity strongly indicates it's a human phenomenon, not an actual occurrence.”

    Steve: That’s a sweeping claim. Where’s your evidence?

    Why do believers claim God must have a "good reason" for limited his actions to those which cannot be clearly identified? Why is this sort of reasoning even necessary? It's a response to an erosion of supernatural presence.

    Even if that were true, it wouldn’t be a fact about the world, but a fact about shifting opinion about the world.

    And how one interprets what is fact is based on their option on the world.

    But most of the world’s population today still believes in the supernatural. So your “fact” is not a fact, but a clearly erroneous factoid.

    As I mentioned in my earlier comment, the effect of the supernatural has eroded significantly due to the discovery of natural processes. The best you can do is claim God rarely steps in for these processes in ways that cannot be verified or that he regularly makes microscopic adjustments to complex natural processes to bring about some mysterious plan or fulfill a prayer that statistically could have occurred anyway. God caused me to leave a minute earlier or later to avoid a car accident. God caused me to fall in the 20% of people who recover from a particular disease. God caused me to choose a seat which resulted in my survival of a car / train / aircraft crash. Etc. While one can't prove that God wasn't involved, you clearly can't prove he was. Nor can you disprove that aliens living among us, disused as humans, weren't responsible.

    The Bible has a doctrine of providential second causes. You should acquaint yourself with the opposing position before you level ignorant objections.

    "God set the world in motion" is not the same as a uniform universe based on a series of interrelated, complex natural processes and natural laws. Saying God make it that way is merely another way of saying something is opaque. This is in contrast to the significantly more transparent universe you and I live in today.

    The Bible doesn’t personify the forces of nature. So your “fact” is not a fact, but a clearly erroneous factoid.

    Presenting a world where God manipulated the weather, heath, disasters and crops to meet his objectives, implies that their presence or lack of presence was intentional and planned. Unless God was continually involved in mimicking natural processes we see today, some events were misconstrued as supernatural.

    Also, in your self-reinforcing ignorance, it doesn’t occur to you that the Bible itself characterizes the heathen as sunk in superstition. For you to point out that the pagan world was superstitious is not an argument against the Bible. The Bible itself makes that very point repeatedly.

    It occurs to me that the Bible characterizes the heathen as being suppressions when they think the Gods THEY worship could negatively influence the health, weather, crops and fortunes of those who do not obey them.

    But what does God turn around and say? He beats his chest and, in a shocking case of originality, threatens to - you guessed it - negatively influence the health, weather, crops and fortunes of the people who do not obey HIM.

    i) Show us that there’s just as much evidence for both.

    Show me the evidence so I can harmonize it.

    ii) Show us that the supernatural claims in question are in competition with each another.

    Unless it doesn't conflict with Christianity, in which I won't even bother.

    Simple distinction between God in himself and a theophany. That doesn’t change from one part of the Bible to another.

    If you were superstitious, the claim that merely seeing God's face would kill you was an sure-fire way to prevent complaints about God's failure to present himself to someone in person. It's was a pretty good strategy at the time, don't you think?

    Of course, now that we have aircraft and orbiting space stations, the idea that God appears on the tops of mountains or sits on the circle of the earth was simply bad for business. So, someone in PR decided that God should retreat once again to being an immaterial being that exists in some other dimension, which cannot be detected.

    However, based on the eye witness description of Jesus' assignation into heaven (and the visions of his second coming in revelation) the way in which supernatural beings travel between this immaterial dimension and our material dimension is by passing though some kind of portal in the earth's atmosphere.

    I guess God wouldn't budge on this point as he has a flair for the dramatic?

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  84. SCOTT SAID:

    “How exactly does this support the supernatural?”

    When you said, “We know the natural world exists. It's all around us,” you’re implicitly appealing to the senses. To our empirical knowledge of the sensible world.

    By the same token, altered states of consciousness would be another way of accessing reality—a slice of reality which might be inaccessible to the senses. I’m merely answering you on your own grounds.

    “Not only are you claiming there are things that are undetectable by us.”

    You have a problem following an argument. I didn’t say they were indetectable. I indicated that some things which are indetectable via the senses are detectable via altered states of consciousness.

    On a related note, there are well-documented cases of paranormal knowledge.

    “But you've gone significantly further by claiming they are of a completely different realm.”

    You’re the one who chose to cast the issue in those terms. Actually, dualism is a pervasive feature of human experience. Our minds our indetectable using the senses. You can’t sense what I’m thinking. Even I can’t sense what I’m thinking. But it’s real.

    If I form an image in my mind, you can’t see the image in my mind, either using your unaided vision or scanning technology.

    “Humans are unable to see infrared light without assistance. Does this mean that infrared light was supernatural before we discovered it?”

    Once again, I was answering you on your own terms. This is an elementary principle of argumentation which you need to master.

    The question at issue is not whether infrared light is supernatural, but you’re epistemology, whereby you restrict the real to what is detectable. Try to keep track of your own argument.

    “Because, before we created the necessary instruments to detect them, our senses were limited to a very small part of the entire the electromagnetic spectrum.”

    And by your standards, a prescientific version of y0u (say, a 13C AD version of Scott) would be justified in denying the existence of x-rays since they are indetectable to you.

    “The same could be said about atoms and the quantum world. The word 'atom' comes from the the Greek 'atomos', which means indivisible. Yet we now know that atoms can indeed be split. Does this mean that protons, electrons and neutrons were supernatural?”

    You simply multiply examples of your confusion. Try to follow the argument.

    “Unless you can show that abstract ‘objects’ are causal agents, this is a category error.”

    Once again, you’re unable to follow the argument. Was I drawing a causal analogy? No. Pay attention.

    I was discussing epistemology. The fact that abstract objects exist and can be known to exist either though they belong to a different domain and are indetectable to the senses. Try to follow the argument.

    “In addition, numbers are based on natural objects. “

    Is that a fact? Where’s your argument for that?

    Numbers are universals. So how can numbers be based on concrete particulars?

    And how would our knowledge of numbers derive from natural objects? Unless you already have the concept of two, you can’t register that one cat and another cat are two cats. All you perceive is one cat and another cat. The relation of two-ness isn’t given in the sense datum.

    “Perhaps you'd like to elaborate? My guess is that divine revelation is part of your 'evidence' and it was accurate because it came from God?”

    I see that you’re completely ignorant of the philosophical literature on dualism. No, this doesn’t rely on divine revelation. Mental properties are not reducible to physical properties. Many secular philosophers like Searle and Nagel admit that consciousness is an irreducible property. It’s not equatable with brain states. That’s an example of dualism.

    “Given the two choices between simply not knowing and God did it, which makes the larger assumption?”

    Naturalism makes many larger assumptions. You treat a naturalistic explanation, or nonexplanation, as involving fewer assumptions because you artificially limit it to explanations of discrete phenomena. But that’s the wrong level at which to make the comparison. We’re comparing rival worldviews.

    “But you must interpret this "evidence" in a non-explicit fashion.”

    You’re very fond of the word ‘explicit.’ You brandish that as if it were your master criterion.

    Keep in mind that we have no “explicit” knowledge of the natural world. Our knowledge of the natural world is indirect. Convoluted. Filtered through an elaborate process of sensory transmission. Even our analysis of sensation is filtered through sensation. So you never perceive the world as it is, and using modern technology to enhance the senses merely adds another filter.

    “You must construct some kind of elaborate series of events which supports some unfinished goal that nature does not collaborate on in any concrete way. If God exists and God is good and God's nature is X, then Y and Z could theoretically be interpreted as support for his existence. But God's existence and his nature are not obviously or explicitly implied. You must assume that this positive evidence can only be the result of supernatural means or is backed up by ‘inspired’ testimony.”

    Everything you said here is completely false. I don’t have to construct a “series” of events. And it doesn’t have to be backed up by “inspired” testimony.

    Take a miraculous answer to prayer. That’s a one-off event. I don’t need to construct an elaborate series of events for the best evidence to point to divine intervention in this particular case.

    “You must do this in spite of known gaps in our ability to fully understand specific aspects of nature.”

    You yourself don’t believe this. You wouldn’t believe in various Biblical miracles if you could give them a naturalistic explanation, because you don’t think most of them are even subject to a naturalistic explanation.

    It’s not as if you accept the event, but reject the supernatural interpretation of the event. Rather, you reject any event that you can’t interpret naturalistically.

    “When we do have the capacity to analyze this information and if such capacity is not found, then you'll have grounds for making claims that material brains cannot support consciousness. But until then, it's an argument from ignorance.”

    Wrong. Even if we had an exhaustive roadmap of the brain, that wouldn’t go any distance to reducing mental states to brain states. It’s a difference in kind, not degree.

    “I'm not saying that supernatural claims oppose Christianly. I'm asking that, out of all the supernatural claims that exist, what is your basis for excluding some eye witness testimony and not others? What about all of the other ‘evidence’ that you dismiss as myths?”

    It’s not possible to answer such a vague question. You need to spell out exactly what you have in mind.

    “You mean you only attempt to harmonize on a case-by-case basis? It's pretty clear as to what your ‘evaluation’ system consists of. You seem unwilling to admit it.”

    You seem to be unwilling to offer any concrete examples. You will never get a specific answer if you refuse to pose a specific question.

    “I'm assuming? On what basis do you assume that miracle really do happen?”

    Attempting to shift the burden of proof does nothing to absolve you of your own burden of proof. If you’re going to claim that miracles don’t happen today, then you need to give your reasons. Cite your sources of information.

    “Because you ask God to help you safely cross the street and this actually occurs more often than not?”

    Since that wouldn’t be a miracle, your example is nonsensical.

    “Again, unless the laws of nature have changed, it's clear that a significant amount of natural activity was falsely thought to be 'determined' by the supernatural.”

    i) That’s a big fat assertion devoid of any supporting argument.

    ii) And I’d add that one doesn’t need to point to something out of the ordinary to establish the supernatural. Traditional theistic proofs like various versions of the cosmological and teleological arguments begin with nature, begin with ordinary events.

    iii) Likewise, natural “laws” don’t do anything. The very concept of a natural “law” is just an anthropomorphic metaphor.

    iv) Natural “laws” are descriptive (rather than prescriptive) of certain natural processes. It’s simply based on observational regularities. That in no way precludes divine agency to the contrary.

    v) And the natural order itself needs to be accounted for.

    “Why do believers claim God must have a ‘good reason’ for limited his actions to those which cannot be clearly identified? Why is this sort of reasoning even necessary? It's a response to an erosion of supernatural presence.”

    God’s miraculous action was already “limited” in Bible times. Ordinary providence was the norm.

    And you’re not furnishing any statistical evidence for erosion of supernatural presence.

    “As I mentioned in my earlier comment, the effect of the supernatural has eroded significantly due to the discovery of natural processes.”

    You *say* it, but you don’t *show* it. Where’s your statistical evidence.

    “The best you can do is claim God rarely steps in for these processes in ways that cannot be verified or that he regularly makes microscopic adjustments to complex natural processes to bring about some mysterious plan.”

    Your problem is that you’re conditioned by a God-of-the-gaps model of supernatural agency which you picked up from reading atheistic tracts on the Christian faith, and you’re unable to think outside your box.

    Filling causal or explanatory gaps was never the function of Biblical miracles. But you’re not beginning with the primary data. Instead, you’re beginning with your thirdhand knowledge of Christian theism, which you’ve cribbed from hostile caricatures of the faith.

    You then superimpose that extraneous framework on the issue at hand. The entire exercise is a straw man argument.

    “Or fulfill a prayer that statistically could have occurred anyway.”

    That’s an assertion, not an argument.

    “God caused me to leave a minute earlier or later to avoid a car accident. God caused me to fall in the 20% of people who recover from a particular disease. God caused me to choose a seat which resulted in my survival of a car / train / aircraft crash. Etc. While one can't prove that God wasn't involved, you clearly can't prove he was.”

    All you’ve done is to cite ambiguous hypothetical cases. You’re conclusion is an artifact of your hypotheticals. That does nothing to address cases which to not suffer from the same ambiguities.

    “’God set the world in motion’ is not the same as a uniform universe based on a series of interrelated, complex natural processes and natural laws.”

    True. Providence is not the same thing as a closed causal continuum. And you’re not giving us any reason to take your alternative seriously.

    “Saying God make it that way is merely another way of saying something is opaque.”

    No, it’s just saying that some events are inexplicable by natural means. There is a “clear” alternative.

    “This is in contrast to the significantly more transparent universe you and I live in today.”

    “Transparent” in what sense? That we have a deeper and wider knowledge of second causes? That’s entirely consistent with the Biblical worldview.

    “Presenting a world where God manipulated the weather, heath, disasters and crops to meet his objectives, implies that their presence or lack of presence was intentional and planned. Unless God was continually involved in mimicking natural processes we see today, some events were misconstrued as supernatural.”

    You’re resorting to a fallacious all-or-nothing argument. Jason Engwer already responded to your claims.

    At one level, God is behind every natural event. God is the Creator of natural forces and periodic processes. And, yes, he uses natural forces to further his plan for the world. So what?

    At another level, God sometimes “manipulates” natural conditions contrary to the ordinary course of nature, if left to its own devices. It isn’t all one or the other.

    The world was never meant to be nothing more than a machine. And while the world has some quasi-mechanical properties, a machine is not an end it itself, but a means to an end.

    “It occurs to me that the Bible characterizes the heathen as being suppressions when they think the Gods THEY worship could negatively influence the health, weather, crops and fortunes of those who do not obey them.__But what does God turn around and say? He beats his chest and, in a shocking case of originality, threatens to - you guessed it - negatively influence the health, weather, crops and fortunes of the people who do not obey HIM.”

    Scripture doesn’t deny the existence of malign spiritual agents who can effect physical outcomes. You keep advertising your ignorance of the opposing position.

    “Show me the evidence so I can harmonize it.”

    No, this was *your* challenge. You were raising this objection. You persistently avoid giving concrete examples to illustrate your claims.

    And I’d expect that from someone who gets all his information about the opposing position from hostile, thirdhand sources. You don’t have enough direct knowledge of Christian theology to illustrate your claims. So when I ask you for examples, you keep stalling. But if you can’t come up with concrete examples, then there’s nothing for me to respond to.

    “Unless it doesn't conflict with Christianity, in which I won't even bother.”

    Once again, you evade the question. But if you can’t illustrate your allegations, then there’s nothing to respond to. You’re suffering from your ignorance of Christian theism.

    You started this debate. Trying to bluff your way through the debate is a losing strategy.

    “If you were superstitious, the claim that merely seeing God's face would kill you was an sure-fire way to prevent complaints about God's failure to present himself to someone in person. It's was a pretty good strategy at the time, don't you think?”

    You’re running away from your own argument. You originally insinuated an erosion of the supernatural as we progress through Scripture. When I point out that there is no such trend in Scripture, you shift ground and change the argument.

    That’s a backdoor admission that you lost the argument. So you need to candidly retract your initial objection.

    You seem to think that you can wing it without a detailed knowledge of the Bible or Christian theism. You’re paper-thin knowledge of the opposing position leaves you in the lurch time and again.

    “Of course, now that we have aircraft and orbiting space stations, the idea that God appears on the tops of mountains or sits on the circle of the earth was simply bad for business. So, someone in PR decided that God should retreat once again to being an immaterial being that exists in some other dimension, which cannot be detected.”

    You’re self-reinforcing ignorance of Scripture continues to let you down. Aside from the fact that you interpret the Bible as woodenly as a backwoods snake-handler, there is no progression or evolution in Scripture from a tangible God to an intangible God. The essential invisibility of God is already taught in the Pentateuch. That’s the basis of Israel’s aniconic piety. God cannot be physically represented. And that’s alongside Pentateuchal theophanies.

    The interplay between divine invisibility and various theophanies is a running theme in the Pentateuch. There is not trend or trajectory towards divine invisibility.

    Try not to be such an ignoramus. Make a minimal effort to acquaint yourself with the primary sources before you presume to attack what you do not know.

    “However, based on the eye witness description of Jesus' assignation into heaven (and the visions of his second coming in revelation) the way in which supernatural beings travel between this immaterial dimension and our material dimension is by passing though some kind of portal in the earth's atmosphere.”

    The Ascension has reference to the Shekinah.

    Try not to interpret the Bible through some grossly anachronistic, Stargate analogy.

    “I guess God wouldn't budge on this point as he has a flair for the dramatic?”

    I guess you substitute rhetorical flair for a competent grasp of the opposing position.

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  85. Scott said:

    "As such, it's factual that the 'undecisive nature' of these unknown processes was indeed incorrectly identified as 'decisions' made by God."

    How do you know that decisions of God weren't involved? You don't. The fact that ancient people didn't know all of the factors involved in some physical processes, as we don't know all of the factors today, doesn't prove that God didn't have a role in cases in which He was thought to have had a role. If God were to alter a physical process in somebody's body so as to change an outcome, then both Divine intervention and a physical process with some details unknown to ancient people would be involved. One doesn't exclude the other.

    Apparently, you're assuming that a woman whose womb is thought to have been opened by God, for example, would have become pregnant through the normal course of physical processes without any intervention of God. How could you possibly know that? Even a pregnancy not involving any intervention of God surrounding the time of conception could be thought of as something given by God in the sense of God's sovereignty or how He created the woman.

    Nothing in the Biblical texts you've cited denies that there are physical processes involved that ancient people were unaware of. You're assuming an error where the text neither states nor implies it.

    And, as Steve has noted, you'll need to cite far more evidence to support your assertions about the alleged contrasts between ancient people and modern people. Citing a handful of examples isn't enough. You haven't gone into anywhere near the level of detail that my sources have gone into (Glenn Miller, etc.).

    You write:

    "The discovery of such natural systems has impacted nearly all supernatural claims in that they share specific foundational beliefs. Again, they still have a foot-hold, but this influence is not explicit nor does it appear to vary statistically from other phenomenon."

    Those are more assertions that you don't even attempt to support. Why are we to believe that "this influence is not explicit"? What "other phenomenon" are you referring to?

    You write:

    "It simply does not follow that skepticism in one area excludes superstitious behavior or beliefs in others."

    And the reverse is true as well. That's why you need to go into more detail, as I and my sources have already done, instead of so often relying on vague assertions and a handful of examples.

    You write:

    "When I say fiat, I'm referring to the absence of a uniform, yet complex, processes behind the uniformity of nature. While specific things might have appeared to occur consistently, the specific reason why they occurred had yet to be discovered. As such, ancient people lived in an opaque world where things occurred because Gods decided they should occur that way. In a purely hypothetical example, one day God might pull the sun across the sky, however, he could just as easily assign the task to the angel Gabriel. There was no underlying rational system other than what the Gods supposedly put in place."

    You're expanding on your earlier unsupported assertions by making more unsupported assertions. Why are we supposed to believe that having a system put in place by a supernatural being or beings is unacceptable? A person can believe in a natural order, with what we call natural laws, that was put into place by God. Nothing in science disproves that view, and it doesn't require having God or Gabriel "pull the sun across the sky" in the sense you're suggesting. (And whether a given ancient source meant something in the sense in which you're interpreting it would need to be argued, not just assumed.) Even if a person would assert that some such thing occurs (Gabriel's pulling the sun, etc.), an affirmation that a supernatural being is involved wouldn't be equivalent to a denial that other factors are involved.

    You write:

    "Now, you might claim that God is behind these complex natural laws, but you live in a vastly different universe, compared to the world of the ancients."

    In what sense? In terms of an increase in knowledge? Some ancient generations knew more than others. And future generations will know more than we do. Who denies that knowledge increases with time? Ancient sources don't need to have been as knowledgeable as today's most knowledgeable sources in order for Christianity to be credible.

    You write:

    "Without being formed in the likeness of what Athenagorus considers his flavor of God, brass is just brass."

    That's not what Athenagoras says. You're putting words in his mouth. You go on to make other assertions about Athenagoras that you don't document, and Glenn Miller's article discusses far more than the little you've decided to interact with.

    You write:

    "God caused me to fall in the 20% of people who recover from a particular disease. God caused me to choose a seat which resulted in my survival of a car / train / aircraft crash. Etc. While one can't prove that God wasn't involved, you clearly can't prove he was."

    We can argue that God was involved in something if we have evidence for it, such as evidence for the Divine inspiration of scripture, if scripture refers to God's involvement in something. We've discussed such evidence at length in the archives of this blog and elsewhere.

    But if "one can't prove that God wasn't involved", as you note, why did you say earlier:

    "Again, unless the laws of nature have changed, it's clear that a significant amount of natural activity was falsely thought to be 'determined' by the supernatural."

    Why do you say that it's "clear" that such beliefs were "false" if "one can't prove that God wasn't involved"?

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  86. I've quite enjoyed this post. History has always been a favorite of mine. I would love to return and view more, but...the owners/authors of this site have put me off.

    While reading through the back and forth "debate", I quickly noticed one side of it was quite rude and obviously has some ego issues.

    I'll break it down:

    List of rude or demeaning statements by poster.

    Evan -

    Peter Pike -

    "And once again, Evan displays his ignorance and complete lack of reading comprehension"

    "I'm already convinced you're an idiot, you don't need to pile on more evidence."

    "Again, your stupidity is astonishing"

    "and I doubt that you've ever had an original thought either."

    "Gimme a break, I'm not as dumb as you."

    "When there’s such a huge gap between the intellectual pretensions of your atheism and the level of your intellectual performance, I point that out."

    "He is a freaking moron."



    Steve -

    "Are you too dim to appreciate the distinction?"

    "But you’re welcome to your self-imposed ignorance."

    "Have you always been this dense? Did you fall on your head as a baby?"

    "I really think you need to boost your medication because your current dosage ain't working."

    "perhaps because you’re too ignorant or obtuse to know the difference."

    "Do you suffer from short-term memory loss?"

    "That’s a stupid statement."

    "Try not to make so any demonstrably stupid statements."

    "Your self-reinforcing ignorance keeps tripping you up"

    "Is English your second language?"

    "Are you senile, Evan?"

    "Once again, Evan, I realize that thinking is a novel and painful experience for you, but let’s assist you in your first baby steps towards rationality. It hurts at first, but with a little practice everyday, you may achieve a cognitive breakthrough."


    Remind me again which ones are Christian?

    Quite telling that when more posters showed up and called you on it, you stopped your petty attacks. Typical bully mentality.

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