Sunday, October 10, 2010

Brains-optional infidelity


“Steve, You wrote, "The ancients had the means to know that a flat-earth/triple-decker cosmography was infeasible." But can you prove that they actually DID consider it infeasible, prior to 600 BCE?”

To make 600 BC the cut-off is arbitrary even on your own grounds. For just a few sentences later, in this very comment, you go on to say: “The ancients did not have your knowledge of modern physics, astronomy, geology, chemistry, biology, etc.”

But, of course, that objection applies with equal force to 1C AD Jews or 5C AD pagans. Yet as I documented in my excerpts from Basil and Augustine, even though pagan critics didn’t have our knowledge of modern physics, astronomy, geology, &c. they could still ask common sense questions about physical models of the world.

“Can you also prove that the Book of Enoch, composed centuries later (during the inter-testamental period), also considered a flat earth infeasible?”

I already addressed that objection in my 5/31/10 post on “Enochian cosmography.” Try again, Edski.

“Can you prove that any NT author found a flat earth infeasible?”

I already dealt with your NT spooftexts in my review of your chapter. Try something new for a change.

"Your points of hypothetical "feasibility" do not take precedence over the ancient's own words and drawings that we possess."

You’re just too dense to ever get the point. Merely quoting their words or pointing to drawings doesn’t tell us what that meant to them. All you’re proving is what it means to you.

Do you think that all ancient drawings were meant to be representational? Do you assume that Mayan iconography was meant to be a photorealistic depiction of the world? What about Salvador Dali? Or Dr. Seuss? Or Byzantine icons?

A picture doesn’t tell you what significance that had for the artist or his target audience. You wouldn’t know, just by gazing at Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” what, if anything, that represents. It takes a lot of background knowledge, which you must bring to the painting, to figure that out. And even then, art historians offer competing interpretations.

“They had their own ideas and related concerns and fears concerning the cosmos' structure and shape. I pointed such things out in my chapter. They left behind words and imagery outlining their beliefs about cosmic geography.”

I see. So the words and imagery of Alice in Wonderland outline Lewis Carroll’s beliefs about cosmic geography. Gotcha!

"Read them for yourself. Read the book, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography. Or I can email you sections. Othmar Keel's writings feature Egyptian and Babylonian images and iconography of the cosmos as they imagined it."

I already commented on your selective and deceptive citations of Horowitz and Keel in my 5/29/10 post entitled “Flat earth or flat head?” Try again, Edski.

“Therefore I doubt that they would be prone to imagining "implications" in the same fashion you might be prone to imagine they did.”

I gave you examples to the contrary.

"As I've said, the ancients didn't have everything about their world worked out, but Egyptians, Mesopotamians and Hebrews shared enough in common for us to understand what kinds of "pictures of the cosmos" they entertained."

To the extent that OT writers engage ANE conceptions of the world, there is also a polemical thrust to their engagement.

“You think they only thought in terms of metaphor…”

I never said anything of the kind. I simply make allowance for what they were in a position to know.

“…and their minds wouldn't do what minds usually do, which is to try and piece together what little they could see and know about the world to form some idea of the whole, including ideas about cosmic geography?”

Of course, filling the gaps would require them to consider the implications of one data-point in relation to another. Interpolation is an inferential process, Edski.

"Your discussion/debate, is not with "Babinski" it's with archeologists, translators, historians, and theologians who have uncovered the words and ideas of ancient civilizations."

You’re quite selective about what writers you cite, and even then you’re very selective about what you cite in their writings.

“When you read a few more different experts on ancient Near Eastern cosmologies, as outlined in my endnote number 2 let me know.”

Completely forgetting the fact that I already covered that ground in my critique of your precious chapter. Why can’t you remember anything, Edski? Did you fry your brains sniffing glue?


  1. Hi Steve, I left you several comments in your previous post, "Newton's Bucket," which address some points you raise in this post. Please view my comments there. Thanks.

  2. Steve, I also left comments in your 5/29/10 post entitled “Flat earth or flat head?” In which you claimed I employed "selective and deceptive citations of Horowitz and Keel."

    Chiding me for not mentioning exactly how many levels of heaven the Mesopotamians believed in (which varied) makes little sense. Even John Walton writes of the "three-tier" schema of the ancients. It's a generalization, covering heaven, earth and way may lay beneath the earth. All of those multiple heavens were regions where the gods lived. So the gods lived in heaven above, the highest tier.

    Secondly, your attempts to cite the "political" rise and fall of particular gods to try and explain away "Mesopotamian cosmic geography" makes as little sense as citing modern day politics to explain away modern day cosmologies.

    Third, If Noel Weeks really said that "a three-tiered cosmology isn’t even really identifiable within ancient near eastern creation myths" then he can argue that point with the Egyptian and Mesopotamian experts I mentioned, including John Walton.

    Do you honestly believe that one Young Earth creationist ancient historian, Noel Weeks, who writes for "Answers in Genesis" is on par with the scholars I mentioned in my blog reply (and in my chapter) whose specialties are ANE cosmologies?

    The three-tier view was held for thousands of years in both Egypt and Mesopotamia. It's visible in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian writings and the Bible, and visible in creation myths, creation-related passages, and implied in other passages that do not directly discuss cosmology.

    I grant that perhaps the author of the original blog post to which I was replying may have misunderstood Weeks as having said "a three-tiered cosmology isn’t even really identifiable within ancient near eastern creation myths." But assuming that is a correct summation of Weeks' view I'd like to know what Week means by "isn't really identifiable." It's clearly identifiable to ANE experts including Walton, Horowitz, Keel, etc.

    Oddly enough, your post on 1st Enoch and its association with the "Essene calendar" fits perfectly with something in my chapter on the way Enuma Elish fits with the sacred calendar of the Babylonians, and, how Genesis 1 fits with the sacred day of the week and sacred festivals of the ancient Hebrews.