Victoria NeuroNotes

Into the Gray

Misled By Beauty

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What a Wisteria Vine and Authoritarian Religions Have In Common

 

Facts about the wisteria vine.

“Wisteria is an extremely hardy plant that is considered an invasive species in many parts of the U.S., especially the Southeast, due to its ability to overtake and choke out other native plant species.

Wisteria can become immensely strong with heavy wrist-thick trunks and stems.  These will certainly rend latticework, crush thin wooden posts, and can even strangle large trees.

Wisteria vines climb by twining their stems either clockwise or counterclockwise round any available support. They can climb as high as 20 m (67 ft) above the ground and spread out 10 m (33 ft) laterally. The world’s largest known Wisteria vine is in Sierra Madre, California, measuring more than 1 acre (0.40 ha) in size and weighing 250 tons, planted in 1894 of the Chinese lavender variety.”

 

 

Chinese_Wisteria_Blütentrauben

“Climbing walls of an endless circle
Walking paths you never heard of
Struggling in an endless battle
Searching far for a higher purpose

Drowning in betrayal’s river
The freezing cold will make you shiver
Join the world of greater learning
Crown me king and be my servants

Misled by beauty, one you rarely find
So loving and friendly, it’s one of a kind
Their arms wide open, willing to take me in
No doubts in choosing a world free from sin

All the dreams I had, all my future wishes
Put aside for a greater journey”

Lyrics by Evergrey  – A Touch of Blessing <—

 

 

Going through a deconversion several years back was excruciatingly painful and lonely.  It took a heavy toll on me.  But the feeling of betrayal and deceptions was all too familiar.  I studied fervently.  I was having a lot of questions about my religion, Christianity.  Questions none of the pastors or elders wanted to answer.  Nervously, they gave me pat answers — usually quoting scriptures, e.g., “Lean not on your own understanding” and “For my thoughts are not your thoughts; neither are my your ways my ways” — love, God.

I made a lot of sacrifices as a believer.  Although I was widowed in my twenties, with an infant, I was never offered a helping hand or financial support from churches.  That’s because of 1 Timothy 5 regarding widows, elders and slaves. According to scripture, young widows don’t qualify for help from the church, even when they have children.   However, they expected me to give tithes and offerings and volunteer my services.  I served on mainstream church boards for a couple of years.  I saw where the money went.  It went towards padded pews, carpet, toilet paper, administration, and of course, proselytizing.  Proselytizing took a big chuck out of the generous offerings by well-meaning members.  Less than 10% went towards helping the downtrodden, charities, and those in poverty.

When my husband passed away, the Roman Catholic Church convinced coerced my grandparents, on my dad’s side, to give money to them rather than send it to me to buy diapers, and other necessities.  $500.00 went to the church, where priests lit a candle and prayed for my deceased husband.  Yes, you read that right.  $500.00.  I got a certificate from the RCC telling me that they were praying for my late husband’s soul.  I’m touched.

The Roman Catholic Church has enough wealth to eliminate hunger, globally, and wipe out preventable diseases for every child, woman and man.  But, instead, they build more churches, extravagant cathedrals, and send missionaries all over the world to bring more into their fold. $$$ They forbid contraception and undermine family planning in an over-populated world.  Yes — “every sperm is sacred.”

It’s disconcerting knowing that they continue to promote a belief system that has been debunked for decades now.

 

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“It’s been decades since we’ve known – what’s the hold up?” asked Israel Finkelstein, the chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University. “The period of the patriarchs, exodus, conquest, or judges as devised by the writers of Scriptures never existed,” asserted Robert Coote, Senior Research Professor of Hebrew Exegesis at San Francisco’s Theological Seminary. “The Genesis and Exodus accounts are a fiction,” noted the biblical scholar Niels Peter Lemche of the University of Copenhagen.

“The actual evidence concerning the Exodus resembles the evidence for the unicorn,” concluded Baruch Halpern, Professor of Jewish Studies of Pennsylvania State University. “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories, we did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, we did not conquer the land.

Those who take an interest have known these facts for years,” declared famed Israeli archeologist, Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University. “Scholars have known these things for a long time, but we’ve broken the news very gently,” explained one of America’s preeminent archaeologists, Professor William Dever of the University of Arizona… an admission which then inspired Christianity Today’s Kevin D. Miller to concede: “The fact is that not one shred of direct archaeological evidence has been found for Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob or the 400-plus years the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt. The same is true for their miraculous exodus from slavery.”

Excerpts above are from: “Well, This Is A Little Embarrassing, Isn’t It?” by John Zande

shame-on-you-fingersIf Moses and Abraham are myths, mentioned by Jesus and Paul in the New Testament, then that affects the credibility of Jesus the divine and Paul the apostle.  Read here and here about the lack of credibility with the N.T.

 

Here are more quotes from reputable biblical scholars, archeologists and rabbis, highlighted by John Zande during discourse on Violetwisp’s blog post Simple Explanations.

The world’s leading biblical archaeologist is Prof. Ze’ev Herzog. This is what he says:

“The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories… The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Most of those who are engaged in scientific work in the interlocking spheres of the Bible, archaeology and the history of the Jewish people and who once went into the field looking for proof to corroborate the Bible story now agree that the historic events relating to the stages of the Jewish people’s emergence are radically different from what that story tells.”

This is Professor Magen Broshi, head Archaeologist at the Israel Museum:

“I think there is no serious scholar in Israel or in the world who does not accept this position. Herzog represents a large group of Israeli scholars, and he stands squarely within the consensus. Twenty years ago even I wrote of the same matters and I was not an innovator. Archaeologists simply do not take the trouble of bringing their discoveries to public attention.”

This is Rabbi David Wolpe:

“The rejection of the Bible as literally true is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis.”

This is from a recent article in Israel’s oldest leading daily Newspaper:

“Currently there is broad agreement among archaeologists and Bible scholars that there is no historical basis for the narratives of the patriarchs, the exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan, nor any archaeological evidence to make them think otherwise.”

 *****

 

My grievance is not with individual, personal belief in God(s), and I understand the importance of community.  I take issue with the fact that people are being deceived by the traditions of men, authoritarians in powerful positions, who are doing their damnedest to make laws and rob people of their rights based on archaic religious (fictional) books, in the name of religious liberty, and their hypocritical “sincere religious beliefs”.

To all highly stratified, authoritarian religions:

Wisteria

You are like the wisteria vine.  Invasive.

You methodically deceived and misled by beauty.

You did it for power, for control  — for filthy lucre’s sake.

Significant evidence shows you’ve done more harm than good;

Robbing people of their dignity, human rights and well-being.

You devalued woman and children for centuries;

You condemned the very “sins” you practiced in secret.

We  entrusted you with our children and regretted it.

We made untold sacrifices and gave to you generously.

The Dark ages are behind us – the vines are being uprooted.

Change your ways or your days are numbered!

 

Religion:  It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.”  ~ Jon Stewart


 

 

Wisteria photos from Wiki Commons.  Credits:

Fjkelfeimvvn
3268zauber
Graham Bould

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Author: NeuroNotes

Victoria predominately blogs about religion, and the brain's role in religious type experiences.

77 thoughts on “Misled By Beauty

  1. The amazing creator of all, the god God loves you and even gave his life for you! (And he thinks you’re essentially evil and will see to that you suffer eternally if you don’t please him.) Misled by beauty indeed. I love wisteria but I’ll never look at it in the same light again.

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  2. And slowly, but surely, popular culture is catching-up and learning these things which have been known for decades. The churches will maneuver around it. They’ll invent new excuses and rationales, but ultimately the rot will be too much. New flesh will easily disregard the proclamations of the Yahwehists, and then it is just a matter of natural attrition.

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    • “The churches will maneuver around it.”

      Yep — they’ve had centuries upon centuries to master their craft. I wonder what they’ll pull out of their hat next. Perhaps their next step is to put great restrictions on Internet access and the information we can obtain. It’s already happening. Education is their enemy, and generally the main strategy in war is to disable communication.

      According to a recent study by Michael Green, executive director of the Social Progress Imperative, the U.S. ranked 23rd in access to the Internet. He further states: “It’s astonishing that for a country that has Silicon Valley, lack of access to information is a red flag,.”

      A red flag indeed.

      “but ultimately the rot will be too much.”

      I hope your right, John. Thanks for everything you do to spread awareness. Its wrong to mislead and deceive people — especially when they take advantage of our innate characteristics — bonding, love and trust.

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  3. “Every sperm is sacred.” Thanks, now that song will be stuck in my head all day.

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  4. Every sperm is sacred

    Reminds me of no child left behind. Maybe we could say no sperm left behind.
    How many believers have time to read archaeological findings? They are not in the bible and as such they can’t be right. I thought you knew this by now!

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  5. Victoria, besides an academic vote (which I know is a perfectly scientific method for determining truth), what is the best argument that there is no historical core in the exodus and conquest stories?

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    • Hi Brandon,

      Well, here we are again as though we haven’t already been round and round with this already. 😉

      As Rabbi David Wolpe states: “A tradition cannot make an historical claim and then refuse to have it evaluated by history.”

      I am not sure I fully understand your question, but I’ll give it a shot. What is the best argument (besides what you mention) that there is no historical core in the exodus and conquest stories?

      That to believe that they actually occurred requires faith.

      Rabbi Wolpe (who believes by faith — in his heart — that the Exodus occurred) states that it wasn’t the wandering, but the arrival that alerts us to the fact that the biblical Exodus is not a literal depiction. Rabbi Wolpe further states that it’s not piety but timidity that keeps many rabbis from expressing what they have long understood to be true.

      Studies of ancient settlement patterns in Israel, e.g., pottery remains, reveal that there was no great influx of people, zero evidence of a population explosion, and if they arrived suddenly after 100’s of years in Egypt, there would be a sudden change in the kind of pottery being made, such as dishes, cups, etc. Archeologist conclude that the Israelites lived largely in Cannan over generations, and there appears to be no evidence of them leaving and then immigrating back to Cannan.

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      • Victoria you said:

        Studies of ancient settlement patterns in Israel, e.g., pottery remains, reveal that there was no great influx of people. . .

        Why would you expect a population explosion? It could have been much more gradual than the stories record. There are literary devices such as telescoping effect that can easily account for this. And, it doesn’t necessarily matter that a historical person named Joshua was involved in the entire conquest, we have no reason to expect the ancients to write history how we would want them to write history. For this you need a more developed notion of historiography. So, what matters is the historical core. A different rate of invasion than the text suggests is not evidence against a historical core.

        . . . there appears to be no evidence of [the Israelites] leaving and then immigrating back to Canaan.

        The text explicitly says that only 70 people came from Canaan to Egypt (Genesis 46:27), what kind of evidence did you expect to find of 70 immigrants? It’s laughable that anyone would expect physical evidence to remain.

        Wow, is there nothing better than this? I request again, what is the best argument that is convincing all these smart unbiased people that there is no historical core to the exodus and the conquest? It simply can’t be what you’ve given so far.
        -B

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        • Brandon, if I may jump in here. Population data and settlement patterns (published over a decade ago now) were just the final nail in the Pentateuch’s coffin. In the Canaanite hills there were just 11 villages (50,000 *maximum* population, probably less) which were *first* settled in the 11th Century BCE. Before then only shepherds inhabited the hills. If we’re to believe the Exodus/Conquest narrative then there should have been 2 million Egyptian arrivals, plus whatever number was already there in the hills 300 to 400 years earlier than the actual first settlements. It’s fantasy, pure and simple… not to mention nothing in the slavery/exodus/conquest narrative matches actual historical/archaeological evidence. The authors blundered terribly in numerous places, not least of all by pitching Joshua’s Conquest at a time when Canaan was, in fact, under Egyptian military rule, yet the author/s make no mention of this. Egyptian garrisons were stationed at strategic points across Canaan including Jerusalem and Megiddo, and administrative centers were located in Gaza, Yaffo and Beit She’an, as well on both sides of the Jordon River which the Israelites supposedly crossed en masse before launching their assault on Canaan. We even have detailed correspondence of local Canaanite chieftains requesting Egyptian soldiers at the time to see off neighbouring threats.

          In a sentence: where the Jewish foundation narrative doesn’t flatly contradict the archaeology (the excavations, the cross-textual analysis, settlement patterns, population maps, steles, reliefs, amulets and diplomatic correspondences) it’s been found to be simple mythology superimposed over a dream landscape using descriptions of places and events that were present and unraveling in the 7th and 6th Century BCE; not the 14th Century, and certainly not 1,800 BCE. It’s also now known the authors borrowed heavily from far older mythology such as the Babylonian tale of King Sargon of Agade around which they invented the character Moses, then simply fashioned a heroic origin tale using contemporary reference points to make that tale sound historically plausible. In total, the profound inconsistencies have left even conservative biblical advocates no option but to concede that the entire Masoretic text and Deuteronomic history of the Hebrew Bible – the first and only document to mention a god named Yahweh – to be nothing but an inventive 7th Century geopolitical myth, with positively nothing on the horizon which even remotely hints at threatening this consensus position.

          Regarding settlement, the consensus (and it is complete) is this: The Philistines landed on the coastal plains of the Levant (in cities like Tel Dor) between 1150 and 1200 BCE (although Genesis has them annoying Abraham, about 1,000 years too early!). This invasion resulted in economic chaos and forced refugees up into the hills. This is the known “settlement period.” These refugees would go onto unify themselves as the Israelites. Interestingly, excavations have revealed that the Philistines loved pork, and this has been determined to be the reason why the proto-Israelites banned it. In none of the 11 villages has a single pig bone been found. Lots of lamb, but no pig. They hated “them” down there on the coast (the Philistines) so much that they differentiated themselves (now up in the hills) by not eating the same things.

          What you have to understand is that’s its the total collage of contradictory evidence that has lead both Maximialists and Minimalists alike to conclude the entire Jewish foundation narrative is inventive 7th century geopolitical fiction.

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          • John, thanks for jumping in. This is a barrage of information that’s difficult to process, so do you mind giving me the top three arguments? The top three findings? I mean the evidence that dismantle any possible historical core. Needless to say, I’m skeptical, so it’s needs to be good data lacking any interpretive gloss and leaving no room for literary mobility.

            Keep in mind that I flat out reject the documentary hypothesis which came out of the imagination of scholars.

            Also, since you are well-read on the subject, what are the top three arguments for historicity?

            I’m aware of the limitations of finding and interpreting forensic evidence because I’ve worked in medical examiners offices doing autopsies and looking at crime scene photos, etc. So, please make it the very best evidence to persuade me.
            -B

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            • Hi Brandon,

              I’m sorry, but there’s not a single valid or coherent argument for historicity to name, let alone three. Amateur archaeologists (who’re all evangelical Christians) have nothing physical to point to, they do no real work, rather play with dates to try and make the narrative fit, pushing the Exodus back, for example, to as late as the 1,700BCE so to try and get the destruction of Jericho into the picture. That’s it. Kitchen is famous for this, but he is an evangelical (red flag) and not even an archaeologist, rather an Egyptologist who has never even led a dig in Egypt, let alone Israel. He “interprets” texts. The literal truth there is no evidence whatsoever that validates the narrative. Read Dever on this. The only area in serious archaeology that is still open to debate (with active excavations on-going) is in answering the question of whether Judah had an urban society in the 9th century BCE. This question relates directly to notions of the Grand United Kingdom. The Patriarchs, Egypt, Moses, Exodus, and Conquest are closed (dead) subjects in the eyes of all reputable biblical archaeologists.

              You might have missed it, but I’ve already identified the major areas of finds. These include excavations, cross-textual analysis, settlement patterns, population maps, steles, reliefs and diplomatic correspondences. Cross-textual analysis (especially Egyptian) pretty much shot the narrative between the eyes first, but 100 years of exhaustive excavations at sites such as Cades Barnea (Kadesh-Barnea) have revealed nothing of the two million Jews who were supposedly encamped there for decades before allegedly entering Canaan. If there was going to be a site where the Exodus was going to be verified it was Cades Barnea, and that was exactly where the first “bible in one hand, spade in the other” field work was done, and didn’t stop for over 70 years. Nothing was found. Further, many of the stations named in the Exodus narrative (Etham, Pi-hahiriroth and Baal-zephon to name just three) simply weren’t in existence in the 14th Century, but were well-establish (and well-known) in the 7th Century BCE… precisely when it’s now known the story was first knitted together. A city even more out-of-place is Pithom which the Israelites were apparently forced to build (Exodus 1:11), yet this site has been discovered to of in fact been a project of Egyptian King Necho II, placing its date of construction no earlier than 605 BCE. Settlement patterns and population maps I have already detailed, but suffice to say, there is positively no evidence of any “arrival” of people; especially two-million who would’ve come with a lexicon of new words, new building techniques, unique pottery, and the like. The settlement of the Canaanite hills (totaling 11 villages with a total population of no more than 50,000) began in the 11th century, which coincides with the arrival of the Philistines on the Levant. As I also detailed, the authors of the Conquest narrative blundered terribly in not knowing the geopolitical reality of the day in which they set their drama; principally that Canaan was under Egyptian military rule. Many of the cities the marauding Joshua (according to Biblical chronology, Joshua lived between 1355-1245 BCE) was said to have conquered were also either abandoned, or simply non-existent at the time. As stated, Jericho fell in 1,700 BCE, not 1,300 or 1,200 when it was, in fact, uninhabited.

              The simple fact is this: there is nothing in the foundation narrative which actually matches the historical reality. Nothing. We’re not talking here about a few out-of-place details. No. We’re talking nothing at all, not even camels. There are plenty of camel bones around the Levant, absolutely, but none of those bones date any earlier than 900 BCE. As I said earlier, it’s the total collage of data that has painted a picture so complete that the majority of Jewish Rabbis today openly concede it’s all myth. If you’re looking for a good read, a read that’ll give you a great insight into present studied Jewish thinking on the matter, try the Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary. It’s the first authorised commentary on the Torah since 1936. Published in 2001 by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (in collaboration with the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Publication Society) the 1,559 page long Etz Hayim concludes with 41 essays written by prominent rabbis and scholars who admit the Pentateuch is little more than a self-serving myth rife with anachronisms and un-ignorable archeological inconsistencies, and rather than triumphant conquest, Israel instead emerged slowly and relatively peacefully out of the general Canaanite population; refugees from the coastal states.

              Think on this. Think hard. These are people, the Rabbis, who have more invested in the Jewish foundation narrative than you could ever even fathom in a thousand lifetimes. Their admission, their conclusions, carry enormous weight.

              Now, you say you flatly dismiss the Documentary Hypothesis. Interesting. So you believe Moses was real? Are you aware of the 1,000 year older Babylonian tale of King Sargon of Agade? It begins:

              “My humble mother bore me secretly. She put me in a basket of rushes and sealed me in with asphalt. Then she put me into the river…. The river held me up, and carried me to Akki, the irrigator who drew water from the river for the people. As he dipped his jug into the river, Akki carried me out. He raised me as his own son.”

              Sound familiar? So definitive is the evidence against a historical Moses (and the Exodus he supposedly led) that the second edition Encyclopaedia Judaica (the newest edition) concludes that the entire narrative was “dramatically woven out of various strands of tradition… he [Moses] wasn’t a historical character.”

              Are you suggesting the scholars who collate all the data and write the Encyclopaedia Judaica have gotten it all wrong? I heard recently that even the newest Catholic edition of the bible states quite clearly in its notes that Moses was not a real person. That’s the Vatican now openly admitting it.

              That said, I’d be very interested to hear what evidence you have for dismissing the Documentary Hypothesis, particular considering even Orthodox Jewish Rabbis are beginning to admit it’s the only valid explanation. See Orthodox Rabbi Norman Solomon’s 2012 book, Torah from Heaven: The Reconstruction of Faith, in which he concedes the concept of Torah Mi Sinai (the claim that the Five Books of Moses were dictated by the god Yahweh to Moses on Sinai) was not rooted in reality but was rather a “foundation myth;” an origin dream, not a descriptive historical fact.

              A final thought:

              “Defending a rabbi in the 21st century for saying the Exodus story isn’t factual is like defending him for saying the Earth isn’t flat. It’s neither new nor shocking to most of us that the Earth is round or that the Torah isn’t a history book dictated to Moses by God on Mount Sinai.”
              -Conservative Rabbi, Steven Leder

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              • John, thank you for this wealth of information. The fact that you are well read on this subject, and have actually spoken several times with the archaeologist (Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef) who produced the latest study, your contribution here is quite valuable. 🙂

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                • Cheers, Victoria, and thanks for the link to the study. It’s good for everyone to see it. I quote Erez directly in my post, “A Jewish Obligation?” We’d been chatting back and forth, then i posed the question about “educating” the public (meaning, the religious) on the archaeological findings. The passage reads:

                  “For contrast I then posed the same question to some of the leading Israeli biblical archaeologists whose very work continues to further debunk the Torah and large sections of the Nevi’im. All, without exception, expressed the certain need for the archaeological findings to be made more transparent so as to “reduce popular ignorance and gullibility,” as stated by Professor Rafi Greenberg, but all stopped short of also accepting any responsibility to lead any public dialogue on the matter. Of particular note here was a brilliant young archaeologist, Dr Erez Ben-Yosef, who while confirming that he stands squarely within the consensus and that “archaeologists should make their knowledge accessible to the public and correct misinterpretations, especially when they appear to represent the scientific (or religion-neutral) understandings of things,” surprising went on to say that he did not “think it is the time for the public to know better or that a dialogue is relevant. It’s not,” he said, “belief is not meant to be based on facts – these are two disparate systems of thinking not compatible for mutual discourse.”

                  I find the statement, “beliefs are not meant to be based on facts,” to be quite interesting.

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                  • “I find the statement, “beliefs are not meant to be based on facts,” to be quite interesting.”

                    And quite telling. I was reading an article by Rabbi David Wolpe on Beliefnet.com and this is what he said:

                    “As a scholar who took me to task in print told me privately over lunch, “Of course what you say is true, but we should not say it publicly.” In other words, tell the truth, but not when too many people will be listening.”
                    ———
                    What I find interesting is that there are so many who believe that humans can’t be moral/ethical without belief in ‘God’. That is simply pure indoctrination, and I’ve read several peer-reviewed studies, both neurological and infant child development, that show prosocial behavior is intrinsic.

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                  • John,
                    I’m posting the article you wrote and noted in your last comment — “A Jewish Obligation?” and excerpts.

                    “Now, granted, the JN-25 analogy is perhaps too harsh. The archaeological information is after all freely available, has been for decades, and the point that Christians and Muslims are broadly ignorant to the fact that their religions are built on a tremendous historical misunderstanding is more a failing of popular culture and their own limited curiosity than of rabbis keeping a secret.

                    A better and perhaps more accurate analogy therefore might be that of a major vehicle recall where the manufacturer issues a notice informing owners of a fatal defect in their product. The question though remains the same: As heirs to, and stewards of the narrative, do Jews have a social responsibility to step outside of Judaism and lead a dialogue in which the truth is laid bare?”

                    “Rabbi Irwin Kula (President of The National Jewish Centre for Learning and Leadership), for example, expressed to me that “I am actually kind of simple about this. I don’t worry that much about how people misinterpret the bible or get the historicity wrong. I only worry about their actions. If they use the Bible – whether as fact or fiction, or history or myth – in ways that hurt people then it’s a problem, but if they use their misinterpretations and historical inaccuracies to help people and make the world a better place then I am okay and maybe fiction is better than fact for some things.”

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              • John,
                Here’s one of the problems I am seeing. You are saying that there is not even a single argument in favor of some grain of historicity and that it is all fabricated. This is beyond minimalism, going to extremist minimalism. I’m not asking you to buy Ron Wyatt! What about serious and respected Egyptologist/archeologists like James Hoffmeier? I understand that anyone who is religious must be an ideologue. However, this argument cuts both ways. Finkelstein and Dever are also ideologues. It’s the hard data and reasonable reconstructions that win the day.

                That’s important to note, archeology and redaction criticism are not in position to either prove or disprove how the Pentateuch came into existence. It’s all reconstructions of what we think is reasonable in light of the fact that we simply cannot know. And, it pains me that intellectual tyranny has taken hold of Conservative Judaism, but then again it’s not surprising. This sort of thing has been done in history even by the Catholic Church saying the earth is the center of the universe.

                So, I’m here fully willing to believe either way, but I need a most excellent reconstruction to reject all possible historical cores. I crave hard data. Arguments from silence are not intellectually acceptable. I will avoid these like a steaming pile of feces.

                So, let’s just start somewhere simple, Kadesh-Barnea. Israeli archeologist, Rudolph Cohen, excavated what is thought to be Kadesh-Barnea and wrote:
                “Thus far our excavations have yielded nothing earlier than the tenth century B.C. – the time of King Solomon. How can we explain this? First of all, the identification of the site is not absolutely certain. The strategic location of the fortress is certainly what we could expect if it is Kadesh-Barnea, the border settlement described in Joshua 15:1-3. On the other hand, we have no written evidence, such as ostraca, establishing that this was the border settlement referred to in Joshua. The tell at Ein el-Qudeirat has not yet revealed all that is hidden beneath its surface. The excavations have reached virgin soil in only a very few restricted places on the tell. Earlier remains may not extend over the full area of the tell occupied by the later fortresses. The premonarchical remains may be there, but we may not have excavated in those areas where they exist. Another possibility is that these earlier habitations occurred but left no remains. A final possibility, which some scholars urge, is that the Biblical references are not historical, that they are aetiological stories to explain later events and where in fact composed during the period of the Israelite monarchy.” (emphasis added, source: Did I Excavate Kadesh-Barnea? Difficulty of site identification and absence of Exodus remains poses problem. Rudolph Cohen, Biblical Archeological Review, May/Jun 1981). Notice that based on excavations concluding either way is not permitted.

                Next, Pithom looks like a case of multiple sites with the same name just like Springfield in the USA:
                “More recent analyses have demonstrated that the designation for the temple of Atum, pr-itm, can be found in inscriptions at both sites – both at Tell er-Retaba and at Tell el-Maskhuta. This seems to demonstrate that the name ‘Pithom’ was used originally for the earlier site, Tell er-Retaba, before it was abandoned. And when the newer city of Tell el-Maskhuta was built, the same name was applied to it as well – as the temple of Atum was moved to el-Makhuta. Thus, in effect, ‘Pithom’ was moved to a new location, [and this] phenomenon is attested with some other cities as well, such as Migdol.” (Wikipedia citing James Hoffmeier’s “Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition, 2005).

                You said: “[There] is positively no evidence of any “arrival” of people; especially two-million who would’ve come with a lexicon of new words, new building techniques, unique pottery, and the like.”
                How do you know what exactly to expect? This is an argument from silence, as good as anyone’s speculation.

                You said: “. . . Jericho fell in 1,700 BCE, not 1,300 or 1,200 when it was, in fact, uninhabited.”
                I don’t think biblical chronology gives hard dates for Joshua. I’ve read about the Jericho controversy and at the moment I have concluded on the side of Bryant G Wood. His article “Did the Israelites conquer Jericho? A new look at the archeological evidence” (which can be accessed for free online) provides a detailed analysis from Garstang to Kenyon. Here are some excerpts:
                “. . .Kenyon based her conclusions on a very limited excavation area – two 26-foot by 26-foot squares. An argument from silence is always problematic, but Kenyon’s argument is especially poorly founded. She based her dating on the fact that she failed to find expensive, imported pottery in a small excavation area in an impoverished part of a city located far from major trade routes!”
                “Let us look at the evidence that supports Garstang’s conclusion that City IV was destroyed in about 1400 B.C.E., at the end of what archaeologists call Late Bronze I. Four lines of evidence converge to support this conclusion: First and foremost is the ceramic data; second, stratigraphical considerations; third, scarab evidence; and fourth, a radiocarbon date.”
                “Ironically, Garstang found a considerable quantity of pottery decorated with red and black paint which appears to be imported Cypriot bichrome ware, the type of pottery Kenyon was looking for and did not find! Cypriot bichrome ware is one of the major diagnostic indicators for occupation in the Late Bronze I period. At the time of Garstang’s excavation, the significance of this type of pottery was not recognized. . .”
                There’s plenty more I could add from Dr. Wood including a discussion of the C14 dating results.

                You said: “There are plenty of camel bones around the Levant, absolutely, but none of those bones date any earlier than 900 BCE.”
                Have they tested all the camel bones in the Levant? What if these camels were rare before then? Here’s an article that disrupts your claim: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2014/02/17/the-date-of-camel-domestication-in-the-ancient-near-east.aspx.

                You said: “So you believe Moses was real? Are you aware of the 1,000 year older Babylonian tale of King Sargon of Agade?”
                Yes I am. If this story was lifted from Babylon, why are there no echoes of Babylon in the text? Why are there Egyptian echoes in the text? For example, in Hebrew the word for reed is suph which is also the word for reed in Egyptian. Same goes for words for Nile, riverbank, bulrushes, and Moses. As far as I know there is not one iota of evidence to suggest this story has any influence from ancient Babylon. The connection is coincidental.

                You said: “. . . I’d be very interested to hear what evidence you have for dismissing the Documentary Hypothesis”
                There is NO evidence for it, that’s the problem! If you want to prove something was redacted as significantly as JEDP, you need extraordinary evidence. I think you at least need documents before and after redaction. That is the only sufficient evidence.

                One final thought:
                I’m begging you to free yourself from the arguments from silence that hold sway over you by intellectual tyranny. Give us something more than an argument from silence. Anything at all. Anything will do. Remember the Hittites!

                Your friend, Brandon

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                • Hi Brandon,

                  I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about. Dever was a maximalist. He was once even a Christian seminary student. And calling Finkelstein, a Professor and head of Department, an ideologue is just ridiculous, but a typical Christian tactic. Do you classify the dozens of archaeologists at both Tel Aviv University and The Hebrew University who fully fall within the consensus “ideologues,” too?

                  Please, such banality and cheap, pedestrian shots serves no purpose.

                  Yes, I see you’re rolling out the usual names. Hoffmeier is from the Trinity Evangelical School. He is an evangelical Christian who has never led a single dig in his life, and is a perfect example of what i described earlier. He, like the other person Christians always roll out, Kitchen, isn’t doing any actual work, just moving the dates around to fit the narrative into archaeological facts. This isn’t archaeology; its apologetics.

                  Now, consider this: the Jewish slaves were said to have also built Pi-Ramses, yet the first Ramses was 1,290 BCE, meaning the Exodus could not have possibly taken place any time earlier. Not possible, yet evangelicals like Hoffmeier and Kitchen just ignore awkward details like this, which is why no one takes them seriously. This goes for Pithom. As the city was such a blazing problem for the narrative, evangelicals presented a thesis that it *wasn’t actually* the city, it must have been *moved.* And again, you’re simply quoting an evangelical Christian from Trinity Evangelical School. Hardly a reputable source.

                  Are you just going to ignore the stations that simply weren’t in existence at the alleged time of the Exodus, but were in existence in the 7th century, when the story was conceived of? What about the total absence of any Egyptian documentation of half their population suddenly leaving, which would have caused total economic and political chaos? What about Canaan being under Egyptian military rule when Joshua was said to have been causing everyone headaches? I remind you, Egyptian garrisons were stationed at strategic points, including Jerusalem and Megiddo, and administrative centers were located in Gaza, Yaffo and Beit She’an, as well on both sides of the Jordon River. In my post on this I said:

                  “Here the biblical authors bungled so dreadfully that it can only be compared in absurdity to a storyteller 500 years from today writing a “European history” where Luxembourg invades, defeats and then occupies France in 1942 without mentioning the Nazis.”

                  Your quote from Cohen says nothing but enforce exactly what I said. Nothing was found at Cades Barnea. Brandon, I don’t think you fully understand the history of that particular site. Finding the encampment was considered so vital to confirming the Exodus story that archaeologist poured into the region. They dug in many places; this was a massive undertaking that lasted over 70 years before everyone reluctantly conceded it was myth.

                  You say: “How do you know what exactly to expect? This is an argument from silence.”

                  -Are you serious? Simply ignoring the population maps and settlement patterns doesn’t lend any credence to your claim of an argument from silence. The evidence is plain to see: there was no arrival of two-million people, let alone two-million people who’d spent 500 years in a foreign country. By your apparent understanding of an “argument from silence” I can safely say that by virtue that Cecilia Payne didn’t mention unicorns in her 1925 paper, Stellar Atmospheres, A Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars, then that is proof unicorns are real.

                  Now you turn to Bryant G. Wood. Again, he is the “Research Director” of the inerrantist Associates for Biblical Research. An Evangelical Christian. Honestly, Brandon, you have to start presenting some reputable experts here; people who have tenure at *real* universities, not just employees at evangelical bible colleges.

                  As expected, like all evangelicals he throws a knife at Kenyon; the lady Christians love to hate. It’s funny how far some Christians will actually go here. I’m not sure how vitriolic Wood’s is, but I’ve read an essay where an amateur archaeologist (a Christian evangelical, of course) spends pages focusing on 4 wobbly radiocarbon dating returns from Kenyon’s earlier work. What this person failed (purposefully) to actually mention was that there have been over 900 separate radiocarbon dating’s performed in and around Jericho, from Kenyon to Herzog, and the picture is remarkably in-tact. Simply put, Wood’s *proposed* date is dead wrong (see the paper linked below). Let us, however, ignore the actual evidence and give Woods idea some time in the sun. OK, for arguments sake let us say for a second that Jericho was last destroyed in 1,400 BCE. Fine, except we have the Israelites being forced to build Pi-Ramses, which means the Exodus could not have occurred at any time earlier than 1,290, but probably closer to 1,210 to fit in with Ramses II who is believed to have commissioned the city. You see, moving the dates around just doesn’t work… But this doesn’t stop the evangelicals from their bible colleges doing it. Again, it’s why none of them are taken seriously. They write this nonsense because they know people like you will eat it up.

                  https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/radiocarbon/article/view/1666

                  Camels: Yes, biblicalarchaeology.org publishes only articles that fit the evangelical mindset and worldview. I’ve seen that article before. In fact, I’ve read most of the essays on that site. If you want to learn about the camels read the paper Victoria linked to.

                  Regarding tale of King Sargon of Agade, I won’t even comment on your statement, “The connection is coincidental.” With handwaves like that you worry me, sometimes, Brandon. You *claim* to be open to information, but that seems highly unlikely.

                  Now, what I did ask for was for you to present what evidence you have for Moses being real, and the Documentary Hypothesis being wrong. You failed to present anything. You seem at ease asking me for evidence, yet not too keen to reciprocate. Simply saying, “there is no evidence” sounds terribly like your “argument from silence” above, which you seemed to imply wasn’t acceptable to you. I presented evidence, a lot of evidence, even entries from the learned folk at the Encyclopaedia Judaica, and the studied position of just about every Jewish Rabbi today… People who have more invested in the narrative being true than you could ever hope to have.

                  Can you produce anything to back up your claim?

                  You say in your final thought, “remember the Hittites.” I will answer by reminding you of the Philistines. They arrived on the Levant in 1,150, yet the authors of the tale have them harassing Abraham (1,800 BCE), and god even warned Moses not to travel up the coast for fear of warring with them. Are you suggesting the age of the Patriarchs was after 1,150 BCE, and Moses led the Jews out of Egypt somewhere around about the time they were in fact being taken into Babylonian captivity?

                  Like

                  • *I should note, I’m no expert on the Documentary Hypothesis. Who the actual authors of the narrative were isn’t a concern of mine, and I’ve only read briefly over the linguistic/stylistic arguments presented. My interest is in the archaeology and geopolitical realities of the day which paint a clear picture of when the story was written, and when it wasn’t.

                    If, however, anyone is interested, i was pointed to this book by Joel S. Baden, which i’m told is brilliant. http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300152630

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                    • John,
                      From my end I’m going to try to slow down a little and stop using provocative language (tyranny, ideologues, feces, etc.). I think this probably does not aid in what I hope to be a mutually beneficial dialogue. Anyhow, I considered a point-for-point reply, but I think some of the underlying issues are more important since they encapsulate and determine the outcome of the details. I tried to organize this into sections and address these underlying issues with some added detail as well.

                      My current position
                      John, I don’t want you to think that I am arguing for historicity. Like I said, I’m skeptical that we have access to evidence capable of adjudicating the question of historicity from either archaeology or biblical criticism. So, why am I having this discussion with you? Two reasons. First, I want to engage in a mutually beneficial dialogue. Two, if the arguments really can’t hold up (in either direction), then I hope to move the state of things towards agnosticism, back to admitting that a historical core is a possibility. Now, if I found a real clincher, I would have to reject the possibility of a historical core. Would my theology collapse? I don’t think so, it would basically work out. So, my incentive is to find the best possible arguments in the search for truth.

                      Bible and spade
                      I understand and share your concern that a scholar’s religious belief can prejudice them. This deserves attention. Let me first talk about Hoffmeier. He is a native Egyptian living there until age 16 who was trained under Donald Redford (who ended up siding with the majority of academia). Hoffmeier, indeed, directed excavations at an important site called Tell el-Borg from 1998-2008 (source: http://divinity.tiu.edu/academics/faculty/james-k-hoffmeier-phd/). Hoffmeier’s primary argument is that the exodus story is merely consistent with what we know about Egypt. This is a rather modest. It’s not trying to prove any sort of historical core, actually Hoffmeier thinks this is highly improbable if not impossible, and I agree.

                      Now let’s talk about Bryant G Wood. He does seem to be an inerrantist, and unfortunately I think he is YEC. I’ve heard him give a lecture, and his rhetoric does not clearly separate out religious convictions from his academic pursuit (unlike Hoffmeier who seems to lecture as an academic). So, I agree with you that this is a concern. However, as far as academic credentials, Wood has a PhD in Syro-Palestinian archaeology from the University of Toronto (1985) and has served as co-director of a survey of three reservoir areas in northern Jordan, area supervisor for the Wadi Tumilat Project (Tell el-Maskhuta) for several years, and is a specialist in Canaanite pottery of the Late Bronze Age. (source: http://www.dbts.edu/pdf/rls/WoodBio.pdf). Unfortunately, some of Wood’s positions (I’m mostly referring to creationism) and the way he lectures works to discredit him among our crowd.

                      Now, let’s talk about Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR). Yes, BAR is friendly to scholars who are confessing Christians, and it also publishes some review articles with minimized technical detail aimed at an educated lay audience. I really do think it’s important that we read BAR and judge it’s academic productions on a case by case basis by its own merit. Even if disagree with the conclusion of some of the authors or are highly suspicious of them because of their religion, I think it’s wise to give all views of a subject some consideration and even reconsideration. It’s a healthy intellectual endeavor. Actually, the academic work I’ve read of Wood’s on BAR has been surprisingly well-argued and well-written. So, should I discredit his argument because he’s YEC? No, I think this is the wrong way to go about searching for truth. I don’t care where it came from, so long as it’s a good argument.

                      Similarly with Dever, it’s fascinating that he shifted from maximalist to thinking it was all fictional, but this personal change does not affect how I weigh his arguments.

                      The current state of academia
                      As far as academia favoring the exodus/conquest story being fictional, my brief study of this position suggests that it is rooted primarily in two scholarly arguments. The first and probably the initial spark is the pressure from the biblical scholars as noted by Cohen. It’s not necessarily the documentary hypothesis (I’ll get into this later). Second, there is a reliance on arguments from silence which is not inherently a bad thing. I’ll go into more detail about the validity of arguments from silence later. My point here is to say that these are the driving forces behind this academic movement and the loci that need to be criticized the heaviest.

                      Analysis of arguments from silence: a matter of validity
                      Here is my main modification from before. Arguments from silence can be powerful when appropriately executed. The problem comes in validating the argument. There are certain conditions that need to be met in order to validate an argument from silence. For example, if I argue, “I did not see any toilet paper in the bathroom, therefore there is no toilet paper in the bathroom” without checking the cabinet below the sink, then I have not validated my argument from silence. If I’m going to validate this argument, I need to check in all possible locations of the bathroom including the cabinet below the sink.

                      It gets worse. Consider this argument: “I did not see any toilet paper in the car after searching every compartment, therefore there was never any toilet paper in the car.” This is not a valid argument because it’s possible at one time the car had toilet paper in it in order to transport it from the store to the house. But, toilet paper, by its nature, does not leave evidence of its being temporarily in the car.

                      Going along with these silly analogies, I think much of what is being argued by academia is simply not valid. The fictional exodus arguments say something like, “We know toilet paper would have left some kind of evidence if it had been in the car, but there is none, therefore it was never there.”

                      More specifically applied, you said: “What about the total absence of any Egyptian documentation of half their population suddenly leaving, which would have caused total economic and political chaos?”
                      First, the Egyptians need a reason to document this and the documentation needs to be such that it survives into history (i.e., no papyrus survived in the delta). Are these conditions met with any degree of certainty? Second, what if the Israelites were primarily builders and did not pose a significant threat to food production for the Egyptian population? It seems that there are simply too many plausible scenarios which have not been ruled out. Either 1) we have not looked in the right place for the evidence (we have not looked in the cabinet below the sink), or 2) we are falsely assuming something in history would leave evidence (we think toilet paper would leave evidence in the car). These conditions need to be met in order to validate the argument from silence.

                      Regarding Kadesh-Barnea, it seems that Cohen soberly admits that any argument from silence from his excavations is invalid because he only excavated the Tell, and the ancient tribe might have not built or occupied a fortress. They might have lived in tents as nomads and carefully conserved all of their belongings and only left items that would naturally disappear in millennia or be very difficult to find. Note that the tabernacle was a tent, so the nomadic tent-dwelling idea is not far off.

                      The problem with the documentary hypothesis
                      My qualm with the documentary hypothesis is not that it identifies different conceptions of deity which came from different sources and were woven together to form a coherent picture. I actually think that’s historically plausible. My problem is what you alluded to about authorship and also timeline. You might say that JEDP have separate sources, but that does not necessitate that a series of priests starting from the Exile began recording this and redacting it.

                      I don’t know of any evidence for large redactions such that J existed in a document and E was interwoven by another author and so on. Like I said, I think maybe the only sufficient evidence for this weighty of a claim would be a source document that predated a specific redaction. Or, maybe a clear case of plagiarism (i.e., Noah seems to fit this category but not in a pejorative sense). Also, if large redactions occurred like this, why did it stop all of the sudden? Why is there a so-called “final redactor”? It would make more sense for redactions to continue with new conjured imaginations of deity rather than suddenly stop.

                      With that said, I do think there is evidence of minor redactions. For example, updating the name of geographical regions seems to be a phenomenon that occurred.

                      Some brief points and key questions
                      Destruction of Jericho – I think Garstang (the original excavator) and subsequently Wood’s reanalysis of ceramics, scarab, and several of the C14 dating results support ~1400 BCE date, the observed destruction is consistent with the biblical account
                      Pi-Ramesses (built ~1270 BCE) – not consistent with account as far as Jericho and difficult to reconcile with Merneptah Stele
                      Merneptah Stele (1208 BCE) – evidence that a political entity named Israel was in Canaan

                      Questions:
                      1) Is it possible to make a chronology of exodus/conquest before 1400 BCE so as to account for Jericho?
                      2) Are there any validated arguments from silence for a fictional exodus?
                      3) Is there any evidence for large redactions in the exodus/conquest/judges or is this just scholarly imagination?

                      -B

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                    • Hi Brandon.

                      I stand corrected on Hoffmeier, although I see the other name attached to the Tell el-Borg excavation (the Gate of the Ramesside Fort) is the other (notorious) evangelical Christian, Kitchen. That aside, I don’t see how confirming an Egyptian military road has anything to do with the biblical narrative. Do remember, no one is saying the story is entirely fiction, rather a work of “historical fiction.” Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October is a work of historical fiction; many place names and even technologies are real, but the story itself is fictional.

                      Now, Brandon, your take on an argument from silence (and your analogy) is completely baffling. Let me give you a better analogy. If someone (a friend) tells you a stolen Abraham’s battle tank drove through houses and over dozens of cars on Myrtle Street this morning, just around the corner from you, you’d rightly believe there would be evidence of this event. Correct? Interested, you leave your house to investigate and walk down to Myrtle Street. The tank is, of course, long gone, but what you’re expecting to see is not there. All the houses are intact. The lawns all seem well-manicured and free of deep track marks. All the cars are parked and undamaged. There is no sign of any 60 ton metal beast going on a rampage. How would you explain this discrepancy other than your friend was mistaken, lying, or just pulling your leg?

                      The same applies here. We are dealing with physicality’s. Here is the claim:

                      1) Jews were enslaved in Egypt for 500 years and forced to build many cities.
                      2) After a series of civilisation-wrecking disasters and plagues, two-million+ foreign people fled Egypt (which would be either half, or more than half of the total Egyptian population),
                      3) Those two-million+ people spent decades at one site, Kadesh-Barnea.
                      4) Those two-million+ people flooded into Canaan and waged a successful war, conquering 31 cities before joining other Jews and established, principally, the Grand United Kingdom.

                      If half (or more) of the Egyptian population suddenly left, the kingdom’s economy would have collapsed and the political/military reality of the day would have been turned on its head. As noted by Donald B. Redford: Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1992):

                      “On the morrow of the Exodus Israel numbered approximately 2.5 million (extrapolated from Num. 1:46); yet the entire population of Egypt at the time was only 3 to 4.5 million! The effect on Egypt must have been cataclysmic – loss of a servile population, pillaging of gold and silver (Exod. 3:21-22, 12:31-36), destruction of an army – yet at no point in the history of the country during the New Kingdom is there the slightest hint of the traumatic impact such an event would have had on economics or society.”

                      You see, it’s not a case of an “argument from silence,” rather the case of an entirely alternative history happily unfolding, and being recorded, which flatly contradicts the biblical narrative. Take the most obvious point that Canaan was under Egyptian military rule at precisely the time when Exodus/Conquest was allegedly taking place. Look up the famous Amarna letters, particularly the one where Biridiya, the chieftain of Meggido, is practically groveling for the help of king Amenhotep IV. It reads:

                      “To the king, my Lord and my God and Sun, thus speaks Biridiya, the loyal servant of the king: At the feet of the king, my Lord and my God and Sun, seven times and seven times I prostrate myself.
                      May the king know that since the archers have gone back, Labayu [chieftain of Shechem/ biblical town of Jacob and where Joseph is allegedly buried] carries out acts of hostility against me, and that we cannot shear the wool and that we cannot pass through the gate in the presence of Labayu, since he knows that you have not given (me) archers; and now he intends to take Meggido, but the king will protect his city so that Labayu does not seize her. In truth, the city is destroyed by death as a result of pestilence and disease. Grant me one hundred garrison troops to guard the city, lest Labayu take it. Certainly, Labayu has no another intentions. He tries to destroy Meggido.”

                      Also remember, Egyptian administrative centers were located in Gaza, Yaffo and Beit She’an, as well as on both sides of the Jordan River, and garrisons were stationed at strategic points, including Jerusalem. This striking presence of the days Superpower is, however, seemingly unknown to the narratives authors which, as I pointed out in another comment, is like someone talking about tiny Luxembourg invading and conquering France in 1942 without mentioning the 100 armoured Nazi divisions occupying the country. This is not an argument from silence, rather a blaring siren. At Beit She’an houses were built according to Egyptian style, complete with door lintel inscriptions in hieroglyphics. Egyptian architectural structures, square-shaped houses made of mud-brick, occur at Aphek, Ashdod, Beit She’an, Gaza, Hesi, Jemmeh, Joppa, Tell el-Farah S (Sharuhen) and Tell Masos and Tell esh- Sharia (Ziklag). It’s also believed the Timna copper mines continued to be controlled by the Egyptians until as late as Ramses VI.

                      Another slice of actual history unfolding which was also entirely unknown to the authors of the narrative is the real history of the Philistines arrival. Before taking the Levant the Philistines, of course, warred with Ramses III, who defeated them in two land and sea battle in 1178 BCE, yet the biblical authors have them (rather oddly) on the Levant and in Egypt in 1800 BCE. The details of these battles are however meticulously recorded on the walls of the mortuary temple of king Ramesses III at Thebes. At Medinet Habu, Ramses III displayed the names of his defeated enemies along with the major political players in Canaan, who were either defeated or tempted to join the sea people’s incursion on Egyptian borders. These included the Hittites, Amorites, Tjekker, Bedouins (Shasu), Teresh, and Philistines. If, however, we’re to believe the biblical narrative Joshua had at this time already conquered all of Canaan and the Israelites were already on their way to establishing the Grand United Kingdom.

                      I’d imagine Ramesses III would be quite shocked to hear of this alternative “history.”

                      Now, to your points at the end.

                      • You are wrong regarding Jericho. It was late 16th, 17th century BCE when it last fell. And even if 1400 were true (which it is not) then its 200 to 300 years too early for Joshua. So, no, it is not consistent with the biblical chronology, and you are also ignoring the 30 other cities Joshua apparently conquered which either 1) weren’t in existence, 2) were abandoned at the time (like Jericho), or 3) showed signs of violence, but this did not correlate with the biblical dates.

                      • Pi-Ramesses is later than 1270. Ramesses II died 1210, meaning the city was constructed closer to that date. You do the math.

                      In answer to your questions
                      1. 17th century BCE, not 1400. You tell me. Bear in mind, pushing the date back adds 400 to 600 years to Judges, which means extensive interaction with kingdoms which only came into existence much later. Also bear in mind, according to the biblical chronology, Solomon built the (first) Temple 480 years after the exodus from Egypt (1 Kings 6:1). The temple was built (apparently) in 832 BCE, although no evidence of it has ever been found.

                      2. I don’t understand what you’re asking here.

                      3. You tell me.

                      Like

                    • Brandon, hi

                      Just re-reading my last comment and see that it might have come across as a tad tardy. Wasn’t my intention. Was limited for time and perhaps getting a little frustrated with your insistence that there is some sort of argument from silence here. There isn’t. Well, actually there is, a huge argument from silence, and its entirely valid, but the stronger case is made by the fact that the geopolitical reality of the day continued as was, with not a blip hitting on the Hebrew narrative. So you have the silence, and the noise.

                      That just made me think of a better ending to my Abrahams tank analogy. You arrive in Myrtle Street looking for the evidence of the carnage you were told had unfolded, but not only is there no sign of destruction but a carnival street fair is in full swing, with hundreds of people, and stalls, and an elephant… It’d been going on happily since the early morning.

                      Deafening silence, and thunderous noise.

                      Like

                    • John,
                      I don’t think arguments from silence are bad. We use them frequently in medicine, for example. But, they need to be validated.

                      The tank analogy is good, but I would give it a slightly different analysis. The bible might say a tank drove through Myrtle street causing mayhem, but this happened thousands of years ago and the neighborhood cleaned it up and forgot about it. In fact, the neighborhood never recorded this traumatic event because they were propagandists who could care less about history. So, if the tank did the damage, where would you know with 100% certainty where to look and find lasting forensic evidence for it? That’s the question you should answer before anything else because this is the only way to validate this particular argument from silence. I will come back to this question repeatedly because it is so central.

                      You said: “Jews were enslaved in Egypt for 500 years and forced to build many cities.”
                      At least two pieces of evidence are consistent with this, but not specific proof of Israelite slaves. First, we have Egyptian reliefs showing foreign slaves. Second, there is ancient Semitic graffiti in a turquoise mine in Sinai. The site is called Serabit el-Khadim. This is evidence for Semitic peoples being in Egypt before Hebrew was developed, and that even some lowly quarry workers could write! This makes for a plausible means to pass down written tradition through Semitic scribes.

                      You said: “Those two-million+ people spent decades at one site, Kadesh-Barnea.”
                      Again, Cohen is sober about the limitations of only excavating the fortresses that produced a single Tell. In order to validate an argument from silence saying the Israelites were never at this site, you need to dig way more than just a single Tell. And, if the Israelites had mobile settlements (i.e., tents), you may find very little evidence.

                      You said: “If half (or more) of the Egyptian population suddenly left, the kingdom’s economy would have collapsed and the political/military reality of the day would have been turned on its head.”
                      Then, what specific piece of evidence would this leave (according to you or Redford)? Can you justify with 100% certainty that we should have this evidence?

                      You said: “Look up the famous Amarna letters, particular the one where Biridiya, the chieftain of Meggido, is practically groveling for the help of king Amenhotep IV.”
                      There are lots of Amarna tablets like this. It’s almost as if these Canaanites think Egypt had more economic resources than it actually did. Almost like Egypt was not as powerful as it once was. 😀

                      Also, some scholars think that the Amarna tablets mentioning of the ‘Apiru who were conquering Canaan were actually the Hebrews conquering the land. I have not looked extensively at all the arguments. Another fascinating thing is that the names of the cities in the Amarna tablets line up very well with the biblical names.

                      You said: “Also remember, Egyptian administrative centers were located in [Canaan]. . . however, seemingly unknown to the narratives authors. . .”
                      First, from my study it seems that Egyptian rule was mainly the lowlands and not the hill country during this period. Second, why should the biblical author mention this? Can you justify with 100% certainty that the biblical author should have said something about this if they were writing at this time? Why can’t they be selective like every other historian? Like the Egyptian propagandists?

                      You said: “Another slice of actual history unfolding which was also entirely unknown to the authors of the narrative is the real history of the Philistines arrival. . .”
                      This is one of the worst arguments in the anti-historical arsenal. There are so many ways to resolve this, it’s just ridiculous. For one, how certain are we that the Sea People were the Philistines? For two, just because this is the entrance into recorded and surviving history, does this mean that they didn’t exist prior to this recorded and surviving history? It’s like me saying, “John didn’t exist before his first ever blog post.”

                      You said: “You are wrong regarding Jericho.”
                      You must not have looked at all the evidence for the 1400 BCE date. Wood’s article is objectively and powerfully argued towards this date, so it seems that the preponderance of evidence supports it. Secondly, the use of certain geopolitical names like the city Ramses (i.e., in Genesis) appears to be proleptic (also called prochronism) which is a very minor redaction. There are good arguments for this being the case. So, we can still easily have a biblical chronology before 1400 BCE. I have not found a single argument that refutes this, and I’m searching and asking.

                      You said: “. . . you are also ignoring the 30 other cities Joshua apparently conquered which either 1) weren’t in existence, 2) were abandoned at the time (like Jericho), or 3) showed signs of violence, but this did not correlate with biblical dates.”
                      Which cities did not exist? I’m curious because the Amarna tablets corroborate the existence of a whole sleuth of cities named in the bible. Secondly, what evidence do you have that Jericho was abandoned? All we know is that the physical city was destroyed: the walls fell and it was burned which is perfectly consistent with what is recorded in Joshua. For your third point, can you specify what case you’re talking about so I can read about it?

                      Like

                    • Hi Brandon

                      First up, I’ve never said Semites weren’t in Egypt. The Egyptians, being the fantastic record keepers that they were, produced a sort of fashion catalogue where they noted the various styles of dress of many people who lived peacefully inside Egypt. One of those styles is unquestionably Semitic. If, however, the Semites were slaves, and had grown to such a point (as scripture says) that they were over half of Egypt’s total population, then a single fashion note wouldn’t really reflect the Egyptian penchant for accurate record keeping. We also know of the philistines arrival because 1) the Egyptians were such great record keepers, and 2) archaeological digs at cities like Tel Dor which support that documentation.

                      Jericho: Bryant Wood, the Young Earth Creationist from the inerrantist Associates for Biblical Research, can spin it whichever way he wants. Real archaeologists, from real universities are in full agreement on the dating. “The final destruction of MBA Jericho occurred during the late 17th or the 16th century BC.” But you see, this is a perfect example of the MO of Christian fundamentalists. All this effort to try and make Jericho fit, while simply ignoring the overall, larger picture, including the biblical chronology itself. As it stands, there is just one city which actually matches the conquest period, Hazor, if i remember correctly. What about Ai? It was abandoned, as was Hebron. What about the Edomite and Moabite kingdoms? They were not believed to have been in existence at the time of Conquest, by biblical chronology that is, and certainly not in existence if we use the *revised* earlier dates thrown out by fundamentalist Christians.

                      Now, like the other Christians (remember, it’s only Christians who think this subject is still alive), you are also ignoring the population data and settlement maps. The hills began to be settled in the 11th Century; following the landings of the Philistines (sea people) and Egypt’s withdrawal from Canaan. There simply wasn’t anyone else except nomadic herdsmen up there before this time, yet the narrative says two-million+ people arrived and settled the region some 200 to 300 years earlier. And Brandon, two-million+ people entering Canaan, picking fights with everyone and slaughtering entire cities would draw the attention of the Egyptian garrisons and administrative centers.

                      Cherry-picking what information you want to present does not lend itself to a good argument. We can keep going back and forth, but it’s boring. Either the hard archaeological pattern fits the narrative in some way (even if its an awkward way), or it doesn’t. It doesn’t, not even in an awkward way. What it does, however, fit, is the 7th and 6th century BCE geopolitical needs of Judah, and 6th and 7th Century BCE understanding of the geopolitical map. Are there some kernels of truth in the narrative? More than likely, yes. No story emerges in complete isolation, but as for the narrative matching the actual early history of the Hebrews, nothing fits. Maximalists and Minimalists are in agreement here. Only fundamentalist evangelical Christians disagree. That in itself speaks volumes.

                      Redford (Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, Donald B. Redford, Princeton:1992):

                      “A detailed comparison of this version of the Hebrew takeover of Palestine with the extra-Biblical evidence totally discredits the former. Not only is there a complete absence, as we have seen, in the records of the Egyptian empire of any mention or allusion to such a whirlwind of annihilation [1], but also Egyptian control over Canaan and the very cities Joshua is supposed to have taken scarcely wavered during the entire period of the Late Bronze Age [2]. Far more damaging, however, than this argument from silence [3] is the archaeological record. Sites such as Hormah, Arad, Jericho, ‘Ai, and Jarmuth had indeed suffered violent destruction, but this had been during the Early Bronze Age or at the end of Middle Bronze and during the Late Bronze Age they had lain unoccupied (save for squatters) [4]; others such as Kadesh Barnea, Heshbon, and Gibeon were not to be settled until the Iron Age [5]. Those sites that do show massive destruction at the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age, about 1200 B.C., can as easily be explained as victims of the movement of the Sea Peoples [6]. The regions of Edom and Moab, represented in Numbers as sedentary states [7], supported only a few cities in the Late Bronze Age maintaining the north- south trade route to Damascus; the Edomite and Moabite kingdoms, which Numbers wrongly understands to be already in existence, did not put in an appearance before the ninth century b.c. [8] Finally, the overall archaeological survey of settlement patterns in the final two centuries of the second millennium B.C. does not show destruction at a single point in time, but rather a gradual settlement of pastoralists (not completed until the tenth century) [9] first in the hill country and then in regions densely populated by sedentary inhabitants.”

                      But here is the moderate Mazar saying pretty much the same thing (The Archeology of Ancient Israel, Amnon ben-Tor (ed.), Yale:1992):

                      “Systematic surveys and excavations at Kadesh Barnea and in the Beersheba and Arad valleys have not produced any archaeological evidence of the Late Bronze Age, the period to which the exodus is commonly assigned. At Kadesh Barnea, a third-millennium settlement was followed by a long gap in occupation lasting until the tenth century, when an oval fortress was erected as part of a network of such fortresses throughout the Negev. Not one Late Bronze Age or Iron Age I sherd was found in the surveys, which combed the oasis of Kadesh Barnea and its vicinity, or in the systematic excavations of the mound. Neither did the extensive studies of Y. Aharoni and his associates in the Arad valley and in the Beersheba region produce any hint of Late Bronze Age occupation. Arad itself, after the destruction of an Early Bronze Age II town, remained unoccupied until the tenth century, when the Israelite settlement there was founded. There is thus no evidence for the existence of a Canaanite “king of Arad” at Arad itself. Aharoni attempted to explain the discrepancy by suggesting that Canaanite Arad was at a different site in the region, but systematic excavations in all the mounds of the Beersheba valley, particularly at Tel Malhata and Tel Masos, found no Late Bronze Age settlement. (p.282)

                      In Transjordan, the meager archaeological data shed little light on the biblical tradition of battles and conquests. Numbers 21:21-32 tells of the war of the Israelites with Sihon, king of the Amorites, ending in the capture of Heshbon. Extensive excavations at Tell Hesban have shown that the site was first occupied only in the Iron Age I. The poor remains of this period cannot qualify as the Amorite city taken and destroyed by the Israelites. (p.282)

                      There is no evidence of a second-millennium Canaanite city at this spot [note: AI] or at any other site in the region. This constitutes unequivocal archaeological evidence for the lack of correlation between the story in Joshua 8, with all its topographic and tactical details, and a historical reality corresponding to the period of the conquest.(p283)

                      In contrast, excavations at Tell Rumeideh [note: Hebron] have revealed no evidence of Late Bronze Age occupation, and there seems to have been a gap between the Middle Bronze Age town and the Iron Age I settlement. (p.283)

                      At other sites, however, the picture is more complex. For example, at Ta’anach there is no continuity, and the Canaanite presence seems to have ended with the destruction of the town at the end of the Late Bronze Age. (p.284)”

                      Brandon, notice the dates of these two books. Early 90’s. It was known then, 25 years ago, after the previous 70 years of extensive and exhaustive excavations, that the narrative did not match the actual history. It’s important to emphasise that since that time nothing, absolutely nothing, has been unearthed by reputable archaeologists and biblical scholars to contradict this consensus position. It’s why Israel’s oldest daily Newspaper, Hareetz, recently ran an article that stated:

                      “Currently there is broad agreement among archaeologists and Bible scholars that there is no basis for the narratives of the Patriarchs, the Exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan, nor any archaeological evidence which makes them think otherwise.”

                      That last line again: “nor any archaeological evidence which makes them think otherwise”

                      There is no conspiracy.

                      Like

                • “Yes I am. If this story was lifted from Babylon, why are there no echoes of Babylon in the text? Why are there Egyptian echoes in the text? For example, in Hebrew the word for reed is suph which is also the word for reed in Egyptian. Same goes for words for Nile, riverbank, bulrushes, and Moses. As far as I know there is not one iota of evidence to suggest this story has any influence from ancient Babylon. The connection is coincidental.”

                  John described the timing of the Egyptian military occupation of what we now call Palestine. With that, and the fact that there were later (much later) documented Jewish settlements in Egypt including a synagogue at Elephantine Island in the Nile as well as the Cleopatran era settlements in Alexandria, why would you be surprised at the presence of Egyptian words and usages in the Jewish language? Also, take a good look at Egyptian religion, you will find the roots of Christianity there, much more so than in Jewish theology. As for Babylonian leftovers, there may well be some truth to the connection between the nomadic pastoral peoples that settled in Canaan under a patriarch with religious ideas (Abraham) and stories such as Noah and Moses. Noah comes out of Babylonian mythology albeit heavily edited and re-written.

                  In the end, like some of the more recent inventions, Judaism and Christianity are tales told and retold, edited, doctored, and tweaked to fit the political needs of their times.

                  Written on the Wind

                  Like

  6. “My grievance is not with individual, personal belief in God(s), and I understand the importance of community. I take issue with the fact that people are being deceived by the traditions of men, authoritarians in powerful positions, who are doing their damnedest to make laws and rob people of their rights based on archaic religious (fictional) books, in the name of religious liberty, and their hypocritical “sincere religious beliefs”.

    I can relate Victoria. I have friends down my street who just can’t imagine not believing in God, and I have met other people at UU churches who believe in all sorts of other fancy ideas. But all of these people treat these beliefs as personal and always show respect for the fact that I see things differently. I also don’t grieve over this. In fact I love and enjoy talking with these people about their beliefs, but I stand against others who try and push their uncertain metaphysical beliefs on others in an authoritarian way. Great post and looks like some interesting comments.

    Like

    • Thanks for your feedback, Howie. I not only have people “down my street who just can’t imagine not believing in God”, they are everywhere in my region of the country, the Bible Belt. I live in a Christian fundamental state. I’ve read several peer-reviewed studies showing that conservatives tend to have increased gray matter volume in their right amygdala, which is the area associated with fear.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3092984/

      I can remember that fear all too well, myself. Fear of questioning was a biggie. Any doubt meant you lacked faith, and faith is the cornerstone of Christianity. I also had fear of unbelievers as I’d been indoctrinated to see them as untrustworthy, consumed by the ‘desires of the flesh’, and the enemy of the Christian god. But I bit the bullet, and took a chance and here I am today, having no regrets and a greater appreciation of life and Earth. I prayed a lot during this time of questioning. If there is a god God, as Violet would say, this god God intended for me to find out that the bible, and Christianity had some serious credibility issues.

      My parents, for the most part, were benign Christians, except for the fact that they allowed the RCC to indoctrinate me and my siblings, and they believed in corporal punishment on children, as promoted by the ‘good’ book. Now, my dad has become very conservative and religious since he’s gotten older, and watches Fox News all the time. Oy. I can’t believe I came from his loins, lol. My mom has become much more liberal and doesn’t believer the bible is the word of God, but she still believes. No surprise that my parents divorced.

      Anyway, I generally don’t have any problems with benign Christians. I do, however, have to deal a lot with the ones who feel an obligation to gang save me, and legislate laws that align with their interpretation of the bible. This behavior is not unusual in my neck of the woods.

      Like

      • Yeah Victoria, we’ve got the conservatives everywhere here too – the people down the street I was trying to make a distinction about were not even Christian but very liberal and open minded people who just couldn’t imagine how there couldn’t be a God because they just can’t fathom how the stuff we see all around us could just exist without something creating it all. They don’t even try to put attributes on or define the “God” they believe exists. It’s these kind of people that I’ve got zero problems with, and discussions with them about religion are invigorating and enjoyable.

        I also can’t stand all the mind games that you are mentioning here in your comment. I’m very familiar with all of them and they are frustrating. It is so true that if there really is a god that represents all goodness then questioning and doubting what we are told by others should be a more than acceptable way to go about an honest search for truth. After all, questioning and doubting is exactly what the conservative Christians expect of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, etc.

        Like

        • “After all, questioning and doubting is exactly what the conservative Christians expect of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, etc.”

          Well said and spot on, Howie.

          “…but very liberal and open minded people who just couldn’t imagine how there couldn’t be a God because they just can’t fathom how the stuff we see all around us could just exist without something creating it all.”

          Not sure if you’ve seen this, but your comment reminded me of this video by Phil Hellenes “Dust that Sings” (one of my all-time favorites), which keeps me humble and still gives me goosebumps each time I watch it. I look at it this way — if there is a God, it wasn’t in any hurry to bring humans into existence, and neither does this god appear to show favoritism. In other words, we are pretty much insignificant in the grand scheme of things. While having the desire to be acknowledged is part of human nature, it’s also part of nature, itself. All organisms seek feedback from their environment. However, fundamentalists takes it to the level of narcissism.

          Best to watch it full screen.

          Like

  7. oops, not sure why my blockquote didn’t work – that first paragraph was a quote from your post. 🙂

    Like

  8. Dear Victoria (and Howie for your additional comments),
    I want to say thank you for this. I found my way here this morning from Paul’s blog and just read this post. I’m new in recovery, and I have moved from believer to atheist to agnostic, then back to questioning agnostic. I feel like my entire life I’ve been carrying a package of beliefs wrapped in paper, and I have to keep stopping on my travels because the paper is full of holes and the tape keeps coming unstuck, so the contents keep spilling out on the ground. So I keep stopping to pick it all up and put it back in the package and fold it back together so I can continue on. For the first time in my life I feel like to can finally put the package down and move on without it. My eyes are burning and I’m pretty sure they are tears of relief.
    Big fan here—thank you again.
    Leslie

    Like

    • Hi Leslie,
      Your comment moved me. It makes the time I invest in these posts so worth while when I get comments such as yours; and I am indebted to those (commenters/bloggers) who also contribute their time and expertise on subjects like this. I can relate to questioning agnostic. I went from believer to agnostic and stayed there for several years. It’s only been this past year that I became a full-fledged atheist/humanist. And if there is an all-knowing god, then this god knows my ‘heart’, and the long journey I took to get to this point. If such a god wants to send me to hell for years of diligent study that brought me to this point, I’ll willingly go. Morally, I wouldn’t want to worship such a god that is depicted in the ‘holy’ books that man has written. I counted the cost of my decision to deconvert and I’ve paid the price dearly for it, but I have never felt more alive. I also came to realize that I got myself through all my trials on my own — my own inner strength.

      ” For the first time in my life I feel like to can finally put the package down and move on without it. My eyes are burning and I’m pretty sure they are tears of relief.

      I am so happy for you, Leslie. I can relate to that feeling of relief. It’s so freeing. Deconversion is not for the faint at heart. You are strong — you should be proud of that. You’ve done what most haven’t. You dared to look into the abyss. I wish you all the best in your journey of recovery, and I thank you for your gift in words. Oh, and regarding Paul — he has become dear to me and he inspired me to keep blogging. His willingness to be vulnerable and honest has helped so many people. I’m glad you found your way here through his blog.

      It is a pleasure to meet you and I look forward to getting to know you better. 🙂

      Victoria

      Like

    • Hi Leslie – I just knew that people would find Victoria’s posts helpful ! And I’m glad that my comments were helpful as well. I can totally relate to the way you described your journey. My last couple of years as a Christian and the year or so after I realized I was no longer Christian was a very difficult period for me. I’m glad it has been a long time that I’ve realized that worrying myself over these kinds of things has no worth – in fact it only hurts. As far as my beliefs now, atheist does describe me because I don’t claim belief in any gods and I’m doubtful than any exist, but I can’t know that for sure so agnostic applies as well. Possibilian probably best describes me (although most people don’t know what that is). I just see the deep or “ultimate” questions about reality as very interesting and worthwhile to think about and ponder but have dealt with the fact that the answers to these kind of questions are too uncertain to give much worry to them. As Victoria said, if good gods do exist then they are very well aware of my strengths, weaknesses as well as my desire to be good.

      A lot of the hoopla concerning questions about religion or gods seems to revolve around the whole issue of morality. I tried for several posts on my blog to describe my thoughts on morality and in the end what I began to realize was that deep meta-ethical questions are actually irrelevant to how I am going to live my life. For example, before I became a Chrisitian, while I was a Christian, and even now that I am no longer a Christian I have always thought slavery to be detestable. So where my beliefs stood about gods or the objectivity of morality didn’t change my humanistic values. In fact I never learned that slavery was detestable from the bible at all, it’s just something I hate no matter what. So in a practical sense a lot of these questions do seem irrelevant.

      By the way, where is Paul’s blog?

      Like

  9. Hi Victoria- I liked your analogy a lot – and nice picture too – also – I agree that religion is bad, choking, and that religion will kill you. But religion is not the same thing as faith – and I think it comes down to semantics many times – because the “religious order” and “religious institutes” have always been “off” (money focused) and are in such error that they not only hurt others – but they keep people FROM God – instead of drawing them to him.
    And that is why I like this term: “Spiritual but not religious” (SBNR).
    ~

    Like

    • “But religion is not the same thing as faith.”

      I agree, Yvette. Authoritarian religions take advantage of people’s faith and uses it against believers, and for their advantage; though initially (misled by beauty) it doesn’t appear that way.

      Like

      • Strange, because the whole concept of “faith” was a major part of why I left organized religion (mine is usually described as unorganized, or better yet, disorganized: can’t even get a good potluck going). Faith is accepting something ridiculous as real. OK, Quantum Mechanics don’t count, it’s all that other stuff. You had to have this faith thing which even the Bible calls transitional (Paul, Corinthians) in order to follow the rest of it. For all the emphasis on faith, Paul says the greatest of these (faith, hope and love) is love. Boy did that get forgotten! When I finally made a complete break, not even faking it for family peace (easy since I lived 500 miles from everyone else) it was the problem of faith. I just could not believe all the Son of God, Passion and Resurrection stuff or even the Fall story. How idiotic to blame the rest of humanity because two people did something? Couldn’t force myself to try to act like any of it was real. Then the whole “blame it all on the woman” junk. Obviously phony. The feminist in me was more likely to think, Mother Eve was the true savior of humanity.

        That being said, Spiritual but not religious is not a bad way to go. If you want to get really spiritual (and not at all religious), go visit Ark’s blog and enjoy his great wildlife photos! There’s a good place to be, brainly and mentally, in the feeling of awe that this world and all that we can see around it can bring. It doesn’t need any faith at all, just watch!

        Like

  10. Pingback: Today’s free offer: a female slave and cashback too | Clouds moving in

  11. Great analogy with the Wisteria, Victoria. (is it Victoria?) I’m sorry to hear of the loss and pain suffered at the hands of your oppressors. Yes, when the really serious questions are asked, there are no answers, or the answers are vague, or we are told, to have faith or that we have none leading to the guilt trip again. I ran into that many times.

    Like

  12. Oh me, oh my. So many thoughts. Wisteria is a great analogy, all that beauty hiding all that destruction.
    I remember watching the episode where John Stewart said that, so very apt.

    I wasn’t familiar with the scripture from Timothy. I just…what? I know the Bible rarely makes sense, but the lack of fucking logic.
    Fuck, fuck, fuck.

    A few weeks (months?) ago I was having this conversation with the hubster. When does an everyday believer that makes his way up through the Church become culpable? At what point does one transform from blameless believer to dangerous corrupter? I don’t doubt that there are many at the top that doubt or disbelieve and do it solely for the power. But still, for those that truly believe, are they any different than the random person in the pews? I’m not sure they are.

    If anything, I’m likely to place blame on everyone from the top down. Those on the thrones can do nothing without their followers. Everyone is complicit to some degree. What scares me is that they do seem to be changing, adding numbers to their days. The religions that last are the ones that secularize, however slowly. Bit by bit, they give up their most severe doctrines until most (if not all) of the violence is gone. The problem is that the dogma remains, the tribalism continues, and distrust of science and reason go on.

    Another excellent post, my dear. 🙂

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    • “I wasn’t familiar with the scripture from Timothy. I just…what? I know the Bible rarely makes sense, but the lack of fucking logic.
      Fuck, fuck, fuck.

      Hehe. 😀 No one will get this. I love it!

      I didn’t know that Jon Stewart had used this analogy before. It struck me one day back in 2008 or ’09 when a wisteria was trying to bring down the deck and had already killed some hardy bushes. Then I had an epiphany. *wink* I’ve shared my ‘epiphany’ on another forum right afterwords.

      “If anything, I’m likely to place blame on everyone from the top down. Those on the thrones can do nothing without their followers.”

      I agree. The problem I see is that, at least hear in America, they don’t teach critical thinking in school, and they also put the fear of god in you if you question authority. But I look at it this way, Madalyn, we have this information about the corruption of these authoritarian religions at our fingertips. And it’s been all over the news. And I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would ever donate to a church or denomination after the horrific scandals, abuse of power, and funds, sexual abuse of children, the bloody history, the inferior position of women, etc. I’m not just talking about the RCC, either. It just goes to show you that these authoritarians feel confident that they can continue to dupe the masses. Put up a pretty stain glassed window, sprinkle some holy water, organize potlucks and harvest festivals, and they fall for it. Sad, sad, sad. And people think that humans are the most advanced species. 🙄

      Thanks for the kudos.

      Like

      • Hehehe.

        I meant the Stewart quote, though I admit I wasn’t at all clear there. Oops. 😛

        I agree, I do. I just don’t think the churchgoers should get a pass. Not only do we know an astounding amount of religious dirty laundry, followers doubt. I have yet to speak to a single believer that doesn’t admit to doubting at one time or another. They can think, they do think, they just choose to stop. I understand why they do, but it is still a choice. On their heads be it. Still, it is more complex than that. I know it, I just hate it.

        Like

  13. “They can think, they do think, they just choose to stop. I understand why they do, but it is still a choice.”

    Madalyn, I agree. Children get a free pass. But in this age of information, there’s no excuse unless they have brain damage, mental illness and/or a neurological disorder.

    I’ve shared this quote with you before sometime in the past, but I think it’s quite appropriate here:

    “For men tied fast to the absolute, bled of their differences, drained of their dreams by authoritarian leeches until nothing but pulp is left, become a massive, sick Thing whose sheer weight is used ruthlessly by ambitious men. Here is the real enemy of the people: our own selves dehumanized into ”the masses.” And where is the David who can slay this giant?” ~Lillian Smith

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    • I did it (Christianity) for so long because I never knew that being an atheist was an alternative for me. I know that sounds strange. I spent most of my three dozen years as a Christian trying to convince myself that there was a God, Jesus and Holy Spirit and that they all loved me. I kept praying, going to Church, tithing and reading the Bible continually and all I begat was more doubt, not wisdom. I also felt that I should believe in God because that’s what a good girl does. She always trusts and obeys. If I were to walk away then my faith was weak and I was an awful person. My Christian world was like one big spiritual/mental/emotional slut shaming. In spite of all of my surrendering and seeking, so many pressed on to make sure that I felt guilty and incomplete all the time. That’s why I get a little rowdy when I feel as though someone is trying to reconvert me, especially a man. The Bible does not affect grown men to the degree it victimizes women and children. They can’t tell me that God loves me and has a plan for me without expecting it to sting my sensitivities. The plans that I’ve read of this supposed God are strategies to destroy me and keep me down. And that’s coming straight from his so called “love letters”, the Bible.

      Like

      • Ha — so true what you say. I’m not sure I’d ever met an atheist when I started questioning, but I do recall having a fear of them — as though some how they would magically influence me to become “depraved” — you know, we were to “avoid the appearance of evil” kind of bullshit that was fed to us. But yeah, it’s quite clear that authoritarian religions were invented by men. They have nothing to lose, or at least they think they don’t. It’s quite telling. I mean — who are they accountable to? An invisible sky daddy? They also conveniently made themselves in the image of god, and women the image of men. Oh the irony. I’d say there’s some very, very insecure dudes back then and still today. Gotta keep the woman down. How mighty humane of them. How effing haughty.

        Like

        • I’d say there’s some very, very insecure dudes back then and still today. Gotta keep the woman down.

          Patriarchy is grand, isn’t it. :/

          Like

          • Oh indeed. Reminded me of something I read a while back by Adam Lee, who is a contributing writer for Big Think. He writes:

            “It is tragic, but understandable, why so many men throughout history have supported these sexist and patriarchal belief systems. More incredible is how many women have willingly taken part in their own subjugation by joining and participating in religions that have done their utmost to deny them the full equality and equal rights which they deserve.”

            “The reality is that sincere religious beliefs and legitimate interpretations of scripture can, and very often do, cause immense evil and harm. And when a more enlightened future age arrives to tote up the harms done by religion, I am certain that the systematic oppression and denial of basic rights to one-half of the human race will rank near the top.”

            ————–

            I’d say it pretty much ranks at the top.

            Like

        • “They also conveniently made themselves in the image of god, and women the image of men. Oh the irony.”

          Pretty much sums up Abrahamic religions doesn’t it?

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          • Indeed it does. 😦

            Hopefully, their days are numbered. Not so sure it will be in our lifetime — that is if they don’t first destroy the planet and all its inhabitants — because you know — their god gave them, da men, dominion over all the earth and its inhabitants.

            Like

  14. OH MY FRICKIN JIGGIDY GODS….is it any wonder why I LOVE you Victoria and your delicious stories, metaphors, and wit! 😉

    Once again, EXCELLENT writing and research Dear! Thank you! LOVE the Jon Stewart quote! LOL

    Like

    • Professor, I’m incredibly touched by your comment, and especially because it comes from someone who has a huge heart and profound compassion for humanity — especially towards children. I’m sorta at a loss for words right now. Imagine that? 😀

      As trite as it may sound — thank you so much!

      Like

  15. I think one of the great tragedies of all humankind has been the “literalist” movement among both the Judeo-Christian and the Islam movements respectively.

    They take what was written literally.

    Consequently on both sides of the globe cultural ideology and ignorance of one specific culture of two to three thousand years ago are forced upon even seemingly advanced cultures.

    When literalists assume these antiquated and ignorant ways of thinking, and when they assume the moral values and social practices of the Bible, they reference a book whose God drowned babies; references as “righteous” a man who offered his daughters to be gangraped in order to protect two perfect male strangers (Gen 19), whose hero Joshua advocated slaughterering children, babies, and innocent animals with the sword for no more than being where you want to be and possessing what you want (Joshua 6:21); whose hero Moses allowed the Israeli Army to take as sex slaves virgin girls whose parents and brothers they had just slaughtered (Numbers 31:17-18), and so forth and so on.

    When people assume the values of a book that advocated infanticide, genocide, the exploitation of human servitude, murder, militarism, national imperialism, sex slavery, misogyny, and homophobia; then there is not much that they cannot justify in the name of their god.

    I am an Atheist.

    I guage what is right and wrong for me by whether I hurt anyone in the process. I believe that it is wrong for me to cause anyone to suffer, and I believe it is wrong for me to neglect the suffering of any other sentient being.

    I figure I will stick to my principles, and leave it to biblical literalists to figure out their value system as best they can.

    My advice: Go with your gut, say no to any god who tells you otherwise, and just live like a decent human being.

    Thats all I got.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave, I know of many believers who say we have no right to question or judge the god of the Bible or his crimes against humanity — that he can do what ever he pleases because he’s the creator. I think when people get to that point they have lost their humanity and are really a threat to the well being and survival of our species.

      “I guage what is right and wrong for me by whether I hurt anyone in the process. I believe that it is wrong for me to cause anyone to suffer, and I believe it is wrong for me to neglect the suffering of any other sentient being.”

      If people have to continue to go to church every single week to be reminded over and over about the precepts of the Golden Rule, and applying it, then I think they’ve got something neurological going on.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Like

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