Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2011, 11:27:02 am »
EGreg wrote: ....If the exodus happened, and all the nations heard about it and were afraid, then someone outside the Jewish nation would have written about it. But instead, we don't find any corroboration. Jews say Egyptians didn't want to record their defeats. But their enemies certainly would have wanted to.


Assuming those documents existed, how do you know they would have survived until the present day?  As a comparison, as far as I can tell, not a single primary or contemporary document survives dealing with the construction of the Giza Pyramid Complex, surely not a minor undertaking in Egyptian history.  Also, in the New World, the writings of the Aztecs and Mayans have been 99% lost or destroyed.  It's plausible the documents were destroyed, lost, or may yet be unearthed.  I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that 90% of everything ever written by the Egyptians and Hitites did not survive.

EGreg wrote: If the exodus happened, then Egypt would be devastated and its army decimated. But history shows that Egypt carried on a war with the Hittites for another 50 years after that, and they came to a mutual peace treaty. Why didn't the hittites utterly come and subjugate the devastated empire? The Talmud says that the Egyptian army was unable to recover for a long time.


The Talmud, correct me if I'm wrong, would not be considered a primary source for trying to gauge the military situation of the Egyptians after the exodus.  For all we know, perhaps the Hitites had troubles of their own and were unable to take advantage of the Egyptian situation.

I can't really respond to your other comments, which have merit, in my opinion.

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brent arnesen

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #31 on: July 22, 2011, 04:11:16 pm »
I think the OP alludes to a very interesting question.

If Jesus had been aware of the scientific evidence against the historical claims in the Bible he probably wouldn't have become a prophet of Yahweh.

The whole basis of Christianity is that Jesus believed the truth of the Bible in a way that is simply not accepted anymore.

Jesus was wrong to believe OT was a reliable document, as was Paul and the other authors.

That is what is so ironic.  They were so utterly wrong, but the Christian Apologist must believe all of it is true because it would make Jesus and others look like typical religious nuts.

As they do.

God is not maximally powerful if he lacks the ability to provide the proper evidence of His existence to me.  If I, a mere mortal, can overcome His desire to know me, then He is not God. God the Father? He's not apparent to me!

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #32 on: July 22, 2011, 06:25:16 pm »

ooberman wrote: I think the OP alludes to a very interesting question.

If Jesus had been aware of the scientific evidence against the historical claims in the Bible he probably wouldn't have become a prophet of Yahweh.

The whole basis of Christianity is that Jesus believed the truth of the Bible in a way that is simply not accepted anymore.

Jesus was wrong to believe OT was a reliable document, as was Paul and the other authors.

That is what is so ironic.  They were so utterly wrong, but the Christian Apologist must believe all of it is true because it would make Jesus and others look like typical religious nuts.

As they do.

Okay.  Let's take one event in the OT, which others have mentioned on here, and with whch I am most familiar, because of my background in history, the Exodus story.  Do you think it was a real event, a corrupted story with a core of historical data, or what exactly?
Also, my only credential is a degree in history.  How about you?  Do you have any training in history or a related field?


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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #33 on: July 23, 2011, 08:02:50 pm »
Okay let's take it one by one.

According to the Exodus story, 600 thousand male adult Jews left Egypt. If we estimate one wife and two children for each of them, we get 2.5 million people.

What does history tell you was the population fo Egypt around 1400 - 1000 BCE ? Wouldn't there be major changes in Egypt and its history before and after the exodus?

Furthermore, how do we interpret Deuteronomy 7 verse 7 -- is it just hyperbole? What is the purpose of it?

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« Reply #34 on: July 23, 2011, 08:22:05 pm »
EGreg wrote: Okay let's take it one by one.

According to the Exodus story, 600 thousand male adult Jews left Egypt. If we estimate one wife and two children for each of them, we get 2.5 million people.

What does history tell you was the population fo Egypt around 1400 - 1000 BCE ? Wouldn't there be major changes in Egypt and its history before and after the exodus?
When you say what does "history" tell us about the Egyptian population at the time. my guess is we don't have a surviving accurate census, at least as far as I know.  Thus, the history would be based, in part, on an educated guess.  It wouldn't be as accurate as say, a present day US census.  And even then, the error bar, one way or the oither, would be in the thousands.  As for the major changes in Egyptian history, given the loss of 2.5 million people, what do you think those changes might have been?  Good, bad, or somewhere in bewteen?

EGreg wrote: Furthermore, how do we interpret Deuteronomy 7 verse 7 -- is it just hyperbole? What is the purpose of it?

I don't know.  What's your opinion?


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« Reply #35 on: July 23, 2011, 08:38:06 pm »
Errors in the thousands are fine, we are talking about millions of people.

http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/people/index.html#rem2

Would you expect such a major population change to be reflected in e.g. the history of Egypt or maybe contribute to its decline as a major power?

By the way, if you are well versed in history, then how do you square this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt#Ancient_Egypt

with Genesis 11, and Jewish tradition, that says a flood killed everyone around 2104 BC?

Shouldn't that convince you that the flood story couldn't possibly be true?

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« Reply #36 on: July 23, 2011, 08:38:11 pm »
This is an interesting thread and I enjoyed reading in it.

I'm new here, just joined today. I really appreciate Reasonable Faith (the site) and Dr. Craig's book Reasonable Faith which I bought a few weeks ago and am devouring with great pleasure.

Hope to get to know some of you good folks in the coming weeks.

John

Cheers.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. __Romans 5:1-2

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #37 on: July 23, 2011, 08:58:36 pm »
EGreg wrote:  Errors in the thousands are fine, we are talking about millions of people.  http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/people/index.html#rem2
Would you expect such a major population change to be reflected in e.g. the history of Egypt or maybe contribute to its decline as a major power?
By the way, if you are well versed in history, then how do you square this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt#Ancient_Egypt  [/quote]
"[2] Egyptologists tend to dodge the issue of population numbers, as there are no statistics available and all such numbers are based on more or less educated guesswork:"

The above was taken from the second link you provided and agrees fully with my earlier statement.  When you say "reflected in the history of Egypt", what type of history are you referring to?  If you mean written records, how many of the contemporary records from that era survive?  I'm guessing very little.  Of course written records are merely one way in which to evaluate the question.

EGreg wrote: with Genesis 11, and Jewish tradition, that says a flood killed everyone around 2104 BC?  Shouldn't that convince you that the flood story couldn't possibly be true?

There are many problems with the flood story, as I and others on here have freely admitted.  But I understand what you're saying and it's a good point.


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« Reply #38 on: July 24, 2011, 09:40:27 am »
I also take your point. The population argument isn't airtight.

Let's move on to other arguments against the exodus that I've seen ... the argument from archaeology

* if 2.5 million people wandered in the desert around Sinai and subsequently all died without entering Israel, shouldn't we find the remains of this activity? Bones from people, goats, sheep and other livestock, tools they used, and so on?

* shouldn't we find the egyptian chariots and other corroded things at the bottom of the red sea?

* Jericho and other cities mentioned in the book of Joshua as having big walls were found to be no more than villages, with no evidence of ever having had big walls

Israel Finkelstein is an archaeologist that gained notoriety in the last decade, for his findings regarding Biblical archaeology. His theory was that Judaism was the result of a national history put together sometime during the time of King Solomon and later. His book "The Bible Unearthed" talks about this theory in light of the evidence, and how Solomon's kingdom, far from being the richest in the entire earth, was more like a village. This is where he claims that the monotheism pushed out the polytheistic Caananite culture and became the dominant religion, with its own national history legend.

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damien

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« Reply #39 on: July 24, 2011, 11:12:23 am »
Gleaner- Canaan was a province of Egypt at the time of the Exodus.

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« Reply #40 on: July 24, 2011, 07:39:47 pm »

EGreg wrote: ...* if 2.5 million people wandered in the desert around Sinai and subsequently all died without entering Israel, shouldn't we find the remains of this activity? Bones from people, goats, sheep and other livestock, tools they used, and so on?

I would have to agree, there should be some evidence of that.


EGreg wrote: * shouldn't we find the egyptian chariots and other corroded things at the bottom of the red sea?
Seems reasonable to me.  The amount of material to be found there, after 2000 years, would depend on a number of factors, the greatest of which would be the type of metal the Egyptians used for their weapons and chariots.

EGreg wrote: * Jericho and other cities mentioned in the book of Joshua as having big walls were found to be no more than villages, with no evidence of ever having had big walls
Certainly a problem.

EGreg wrote: Israel Finkelstein is an archaeologist that gained notoriety in the last decade, for his findings regarding Biblical archaeology. His theory was that Judaism was the result of a national history put together sometime during the time of King Solomon and later. His book "The Bible Unearthed" talks about this theory in light of the evidence, and how Solomon's kingdom, far from being the richest in the entire earth, was more like a village. This is where he claims that the monotheism pushed out the polytheistic Caananite culture and became the dominant religion, with its own national history legend.
I've heard of Israel Finklestein mostly through the pages of Biblical Archaeology Review, and I'm aware of what you are saying.  I would agree that, if what Finklestein is saying is true, the Exodus story and it's surrounding narrative, while probably containing an historical core, are greatly embellished.

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #41 on: July 29, 2011, 08:27:42 pm »
Okay so what does this mean for Christianity?

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #42 on: July 30, 2011, 03:22:47 am »

EGreg wrote: Okay so what does this mean for Christianity?

Most Christians, and Christian apologists, as far as I'm aware, believe the "whole basis" of Christianity rests on the resurrection story, and not on the Flood or Exodus accounts.  Christianity might be able to survive the mistranslation or corruption of the OT stories, but certainly couldn't survive the demise of the resurrection event.  One possible objection to that scenario, as I believe you have suggested, is the assertion that Christianity's central event isn't open to ordinary historical inquiry.
   On the other hand, those OT stories also contain supernatural elements, including the gathereing of all of the animals on the ark, which surely couldn't have been accomplished without God's intervention.  In the case of the Exodus, there are also supernatural elements involved, most notably the parting of the Red Sea.  So, those OT events can't be investigated entirely via historical methods either, as would for example, the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.
   As for what it means for Christianity, I cannot ultimately say, of course.  Perhaps some others can give us their opinion.

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brent arnesen

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« Reply #43 on: August 02, 2011, 10:05:39 am »
gleaner63 wrote: Hi EGreg,

   You asked some interesting questions and I'd like to attempt to answer just a portion of one of them.  I have an undergraduate degree in history and so I think I can shed some light on the issue of historical claims and if, in fact, they are open to "ultimate proof".  In my opinion, they are not.
   In your reference to the alledged historical events of the OT, including that of a universal, or local flood, even if we had geological proof of such an event, it would not convice the ardent atheist.  Why?  They would simply have a fallback position and say somehting like this;  "...floods...*any* flood, is a *natural* event, and so does not require divine intervention.  So even IF there was a universal flood, that would in no way prove that a diety was invovlved or that said diety actually exists...".  And, I think they would be right.
   I once talked with an atheist and asked that if Noah's Ark was discovered, would he then become a believer?  His response was "no, all you would have discovered was a boat.  Period."
   Let's look at another widely disputed event from the OT, that of the Exodus.  The lack of evidence for this event, especially in the Egyptian records, leads many to say it didn't happen.  But even if it could be proven, the "fall back" position for the atheist would be "...so what?  Does the migration of hundreds of thousands of slaves require a diety?".
   The "unbelief" of the average atheist is not really about evidence at all, it's really about a built in bias, one that they want to protect at all costs.  I have had these conversations with atheists all to many times to believe that the verification of the historical events of the OT would make *any* difference at all.  If you don't believe me, just go to any atheist blog and pose the question.  The Red Sea may have parted, but surely it wasn't GOd that did it.  That would be a typical aresponse.
   Let me use two modern examples that will help illustrate this.  Show a skeptic a flight log by a military pilot that he visually spotted and chased a UFO.  The invariable first query will always be "...did they pick the UFO up on radar...?".  If you respond no, they will retort, "...see, if it was a solid, mechanical object, they would have picked it up on their radar...".  Now, when you point out a similar case, of a pilot who made a vivual ID and painted the target on radar, the response then becomes "...radar is unreliable...".  Tell them the UFO was "painted" by *five* seperate radar systems, including gound and air.  The response now becomes "...so what...".  But do you see what is happening here?
   I asked an atheist on another blog what proof he required for the ressurection and he said "...a time machine...".  Another said he would "...have to see it with his own eyes...".  Another said "...when God comes down from heaven and introduces himself to me then I will believe he exists...".
   No proof will be enough for the hardcore atheist....and *they* know this, they just refuse to admit it.




I think this highlights a real problem for the Apologist.

1. This is kind of a Red Herring.  The basic question is "is there evidence for a global flood?".

Gleaner doesn't answer (there isn't), but tries to show that even if there was (there isn't) it wouldn't convince the atheist.

That's true.  But how does that help the apologists argument?

For example, if there was evidence for the global flood, the apologist could at least say that the Bible doesn't contradict the facts, but gleaner can't offer this - because no global flood ever happened.

2. gleaner is saying the evidence that is in the Bible isn't even good enough to convince someone that it is true (it isn't), AND, in fact, there is no evidence that it is true (it isn't).

Yet, the apologist wants to convince the atheist that they have a reason to believe the Bible is true?

It's like saying:

I was born on the moon in 1767.

There is no evidence that I was, but you wouldn't believe me even if I found some evidence.  So, the fact that there is no evidence, and no contradictory evidence, then it makes sense to believe me.


So, gleaner, and other apologists, are saying "sure, the evidence is contrary to the claim, but even if we had that evidence, it wouldn't be good evidence."


That's right, the apologist doesn't even have BAD evidence that the Bible is trustworthy.
God is not maximally powerful if he lacks the ability to provide the proper evidence of His existence to me.  If I, a mere mortal, can overcome His desire to know me, then He is not God. God the Father? He's not apparent to me!

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Atheists are debating the wrong thing.
« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2011, 01:06:16 pm »
oobermann wrote: I think this highlights a real problem for the Apologist.

1. This is kind of a Red Herring.  The basic question is "is there evidence for a global flood?".  Gleaner doesn't answer (there isn't), but tries to show that even if there was (there isn't) it wouldn't convince the atheist.  That's true.


Thanks for the admission about your real motives.  That was the first point I made in this thread.