Mythical Faith – Someone Convince Me To It’s Merits

So…just curious. If someone were to give you conclusive proof that the Exodus never took place but that we Jews instead just descended from a group of breakaway Canaanite slaves, that would be a deal breaker for you?” (Yael)

If there was proof it did not happen – then yes – i would have to relate to all this is a mythical story and we need not worry about a single piece of it. If someone wants to use it for direction – by all means go ahead – I would make sure they knew it was not connected historically to anything that really happened. Kind of like the Mormons stories of the Lamanites and Nephites in America (which is why I will never convert to Mormonism – but I can respect people of the faith – they are genuinely nice).

To me, as I related earlier, each myth has aspects of historical integrity to them. I am aware of this from my own faith, studies of Islam, First Nations traditions, etc. Every religion I can think of has aspects of historicity to them. Something, somewhere happened with an indidvual(s) in some encounter with an entity as recounted by some actual person.

It’s no different than me talking about my personal experiences with God. I can relate some interesting stories that people would say either happened or did not happen – and not everything would be absolutely accurate (dates, places, numbers, etc). Yet it would be a story of an actual person’s experience with an entity and faith – and what that in turn meant. I am real, the places existed, and the stories are related as actual events – there are aspects of historicity involved.

But everyone, in the Tanakh, and further – seem to relate the stories and people as real (unless there is some huge mythical aspect to the faith I am unaware of that is passed from generation to generation and we today are missing). I could be wrong – maybe there is nothing historical in the accounts of Torah – but if so – then I stand to be enlightened.

My big problem is simple – if it is not factual then why should anything after Torah – as nice as the intentions were – be counted on? Prophets, Kings, Judges, Wisdom lit, etc – are all based on teachings/myth and not anything remotely ‘real’. With all proofs conclusively pointing away from the reality of Torah – then Torah itself ceases to exist the way it does today. There was no God handing down teachings (but merely men), no Exodus – thus no reasons for the festivals, and no reason for Israel to truly care about Palestine or some temple (which instructions apparently came from a God that does not exist). After saying all that – it’s a lonely place to be.

No one seeking for God would search where a sticker ‘Ichabod’ could be placed. The stories would not be outright lies (or maybe they would be) – but they would not be factual. Why would anyone remain with a myth with no connection to reality? It’s like an adopted child finding out his lifelong search for his parents was in vain – he was cloned – there is no mommy and daddy at the end of the mysterious rainbow – some new technology made his life possible. We were our own parents all along.

If this is all true – many things change – and what makes Torah credible at all? The strength of it’s teachings…they are teachings of men…I am a man also…what makes these writers any wiser than my own search?

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63 thoughts on “Mythical Faith – Someone Convince Me To It’s Merits

  1. There’s no proof that Exodus did not take place. If there was incontrovertible proof that it was a myth, then we would have to rethink the authenticity of the Bible. Paul said something very similar about the resurrection. If it’s fake, then our faith is in vain. We are more than skunked, you could say.

    I think there is a tendency today to say “What if?” and then brace yourself as if it were. Of course, that would make no sense, though, would it?

  2. There was no God handing down teachings (but merely men), no Exodus – thus no reasons for the festivals, and no reason for Israel to truly care about Palestine or some temple (which instructions apparently came from a God that does not exist). After saying all that – it’s a lonely place to be.

    There you go, my friend. Only when you allow yourself to go there without artificial props such as the supposed historicity of bronze age stories about bronze age deities can you open yourself to what it means to be human.

    You said it yourself:

    …they are teachings of men…I am a man also…what makes these writers any wiser than my own search?

    Nothing makes these writers any wiser. But it is always wise to read widely!

  3. I have a couple more questions for you, Society, if you don’t mind. Let’s back up even further from Exodus. Do the stories of Abraham have to be factual as well? Noach? the seven day creation? You have mentioned Exodus several times, but never the stories prior to them so I’m curious is you would be OK with them being fictional accounts or if you require all stories in Torah to be factual?

  4. **The strength of it’s teachings…they are teachings of men…I am a man also…what makes these writers any wiser than my own search?**

    Are the strengths of the teachings reliant on the historical accuracy, or the wisdom itself? Does wisdom require an event to literally happen in order to be wise? I can think of several stories that can be categorized as myths of fables. Yet there is wisdom in them.

    However, the wisdom would have to be categorized. If the wisdom says that it is wise to love one’s neighbor as yourself, you don’t need a historical story to teach that. If the story involves a manner of interacting with a deity that is said to exist, then some can be needed, depending on the person.

  5. what makes these writers any wiser than my own search?

    Because they are closer to the events. Are we discussing whether Exodus was wisely written or truthfully written?

    John— But it is always wise to read widely!

    Good point. I find having read both John Shelby Spong and John Piper gives me a more informed perspective.

  6. Jason

    Isnt the purpose of a Myth to convey a truth. The story is the vehicle for introducing us to a reality of our lives and how to live them better. The myth goes beyond our everyday existence to point to a deeper essence. In may not be factual in the physical sense, but completely accurate in the emotional, psychological and spiritual sense. Its all about perception.

  7. “My big problem is simple – if it is not factual then why should anything after Torah – as nice as the intentions were – be counted on? Prophets, Kings, Judges, Wisdom lit, etc – are all based on teachings/myth and not anything remotely ‘real’. With all proofs conclusively pointing away from the reality of Torah – then Torah itself ceases to exist the way it does today. ” -SVS

    just wrote a sermon on this today!

    What we’re seeing here in a reading like this is what Rob Bell calls “Brickianity.” Bell says that the best faith works like a trampoline. The springs are our doctrines of the faith but they aren’t the point. The point is that we take joy in God’s grace and creation and invite others to join us. The opposite of this faith is the “brick wall” version. Here the doctrines are individual, hard and inflexible bricks and they are stacked on top of each other. The problem with this is that when one brick crumbles, the whole wall is affected. That is why we have so many people saying things like “If Genesis isn’t factually true, then that negates the whole thing! Without a six-day creation there can be no cross.” (which is very similar to what Jim J. said, “If it’s fake, then our faith is in vain. We are more than skunked, you could say.”

    When Christians announced the way of Jesus as “Good news” they announced it to everyone, Jew and Gentile. However, announcing this caused them to be kicked out of the Jewish community and uninvited to the synagogue. How traumatic that must have been. That is where this parable comes from. So here’s the early Church’s struggle with God’s will and we get into trouble when we think that this excludes any particular person. Brick walls keep more people out than in… think about it. Even the greatest wall, the Great Wall of China has more people OUTSIDE of it than inside.

    Jesus talks about this “in and out” in a lot of his teachings. He keeps insisting that the people who assume they are in may not be in and the ones who everyone thinks are out for whatever reason may in fact be in.
    Jesus invites everyone to jump. The sinners and the prostitutes, even the scribes and priests!

    Here is the most important thing to remember, I can jump and still have questions and doubts. No one has it all figured out.

    ****************************
    From a Jungian standpoint you can say that EVERYTHING is a symbol. for example, the word APPLE isn’t the little round thing that you give to teacher. it’s a group of things we call “letters” that we teach other people to recall that little red thing… Truth is not codependent on fact. So the exodus tells us the story of people freed from bondage because of God. this happens everyday. The resurrection then becomes a small group of followers of a murdered subversive rabbi finding the courage to finally live up to what their leader was teaching. the teaching was resurrected and they feel like their teacher is alive again and standing with them. that’s powerful stuff! not as dramatic as the dude actually coming back… but powerful none-the-less.

  8. “Do the stories of Abraham have to be factual as well? Noach? the seven day creation? You have mentioned Exodus several times, but never the stories prior to them so I’m curious is you would be OK with them being fictional accounts or if you require all stories in Torah to be factual?” (Yael)

    The reason I mention the Moses incident more widely than those – is that this is the centrifical point where I see God giving teachings to a human community. To me this is central to the idea – ‘God spoke’. If the story is not factual – or somewhat historical – then God never really spoke. It would be no different than the Joseph Smith accounts of meeting with God – where there is claims of God speaking – a whole new book – complete with something very similar to Torah. Joseph Smith would be as much a prophet to me as Moses. For me the only qualitative difference is the claim to some actual historicity.

    I think all the stories, including Adam and Eve, have nuggets of historicity tied to them while some aspects of them contain mythology. Abraham is circumcised for example – a practice (if mythical) would not have come down the line to the next generations. Noah relates the story of a flood – which likely did happen (maybe not worldwide but definitely in a certain region). I am not saying aspects of these stories do not contain myth – they likely do – but they also just as likely contain that nugget of historicity – based in some episode of fact.

    “Does wisdom require an event to literally happen in order to be wise?” (OSS)

    No, you are right about this…the wisdom is still wisdom…I agree. As I mentioned if someone wants to use that for guidance – albeit a book defined as a myth (like Zeus) – then I see no problem with it (for them).

    The problem for me is I am someone seeking the ‘truth’ and in seeking that – reality must also accompany it. The myths must not be altogether false – or they are based in something not relating anything of use to us – just stories like Aesop’s fables or comic books (also not based in fact). If they do not contain even a nugget of ‘truth’ then I cannot in good conscience follow them as ‘truth’ – I would be lying to myself.

    It’s like the comparison I made about the First Nation myths – which are called myths because some of the are based on actual realities. It’s not like these myths are relating stories of morality alone – some of them relate how humans came about, how First Nations people came to the land, how the rituals began, etc. One might see only a story where I can see the historicity inherent in it also. These myths are tied to actual realities – why should I think anything less would come from the bible’s stories?

    “In may not be factual in the physical sense, but completely accurate in the emotional, psychological and spiritual sense. Its all about perception.” (John)

    You are right – I can see both sides of the fence on this one. But a myth telling us a wise moral truth and being founded in nothing – is comparable to a comic book. Comic books can teach us a lot too. Or are comic books hieroglyphics? LOL

    If these stories, or any myths for that matter, are not founded in even a nugget of truth/historicty – then I do not see their actual merit. People founded religions on nothing? Maybe ComicCon should become a human religious festival also? It just makes no sense.

    “What we’re seeing here in a reading like this is what Rob Bell calls “Brickianity”” (Luke)

    Why cannot there be a middle ground on this issue – not one side here and the other side there – blocked by some brick wall of determinism. I think the stories can be mythical (ie: Adam and Eve) and yet contain some aspect of historicity (even if it is very small). It’s not an all or nothing game for me – there are not 2 sides here. There is many – and I just want to get closer to the truth (which includes me accepting the best evidence on said scenarios from the bible). Seeking truth is all about finding the best proof (in my opinion). At current, it makes no sense to follow something not based in any historicity – it’s like following the Unidactyl (your creation – yet teaches smart things).

    Remember, the question asked is “If someone were to give you conclusive proof that the Exodus never took place”. Yael asked me if something was not based in any historicity at all – would I still follow it. I am relating from a very logical viewpoint here when I say the things I do – no. Most myths contain aspects of historicity/reality in them – some don’t I am aware of that – and if this one does not – then it is not a myth anymore (depending on how we define myth).

    Wikipedia

    (a) “Use of the term by scholars implies neither the truth nor the falseness of the narrative. To the source culture, however, a myth by definition is “true,” in that it embodies beliefs, concepts, and ways of questioning and making sense of the world.”

    (b) “In popular use, a myth can also be a collectively held belief that has no basis in fact according to the speaker”

    If the bible is collection of stories with no actual reality to them – tied to no reality in that sense – then they are no longer myths to me…they have become “legend, fiction, fairy tale, folklore, fable” (Wikipedia). Then let’s define them as such.

    I would ask, do any faiths that use the bible as a foundational document, act as if they are myths they are using? I would say they tend to see the historicity inherent in the stories (even if some is embellished) and how they tie to God. This is the reason any of these faiths have stood the test of time – they knew their claims had some reality to them (ie: God spoke to humans – in reality – not on some other earth). Thus they can have a religion that teaches thusly. If they were not based on anything – these religions would fade like the leaves on the Fall trees…and new ones would replace them next year.

  9. One of the fascinating aspects of study surrounding Exodus is the change of methodology.

    What methodology do we normally use to determine a claimed historical event? I suggest we normally use a “what is more likely” method. If we see a claim, and it is not likely to be true, in gauging our own observations, we declare it is not likely true.

    The Mormons claim an extremely advance civilization formed in Mesoamerica—including coins, roads, etc. We normally anticipate that such civilizations leave archeological clues of their existence. Why? Because we find Roman coins in the Roman Empire. Judean coins in the Judean empire. We find roads, and pots and buildings and wells and tools—all demonstrating the capabilities of the people at a certain time.

    We have dug and dug in America. And found nothing. Mormons have spent millions of dollars searching for clues for this existence—none have been found.

    So what do we say? In applying our normal method; what is “more likely”—since there are no clues, and the only proof of this existence is a book written by a human? That it didn’t happen.

    But come to the Exodus, where we have an equal lack of archeological clues, and equal solitary proof of existence being a book written by humans—and what happens to our methodology?

    It changes! All of a sudden, instead of “what is more likely”—it becomes “You have to prove it didn’t happen with incontrovertible proof!” Wait a minute—there is no “incontrovertible proof” a civilized nation did not exist in Mesoamerica. (Sorry for the double negative.) Do we believe that is possible as well? No “incontrovertible proof” aliens are not snatching humans. Using the same method, we would have to believe that is true as well!

    It is not so much the existence, or non-existence of Exodus, as the demonstration of our own subjective method of holding on to cherished beliefs. If we want to believe Exodus happened—we will believe it. We hold the standard of disproof so high that we are safe in assuming no one can reach it.

    Yet do we grant the same method to others? Do we use the same method in other areas of our life? Since we cannot disprove Bigfoot—do we equally hold to this belief using the same standard? Of course not!

    What is bothersome is that when it comes to religious beliefs, and particularly the facts of the Bible, what is never granted in any other belief or religion can be vehemently embraced in our own.

    Jim J: There’s no proof that Exodus did not take place.

    Nope. Just thousands of pieces of evidence it did not. And millions of pieces of evidence that should have appeared if it did.

    Jim J: Because they are closer to the events.

    This is a horrible methodology which could never be consistently applied. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas was written closer to the events it alleges to have happened. Does that make it historical or wise? The Acts of Paul, 1 Clement, Gospel of Peter were written closer to the events alleged to happen. Does that make them wise or historical?

    The tales of King Arthur—closer to the events alleged. Make them any more wise or historical? The tales of Paul Bunyan—closer. Historical or wiser?

    Out of curiosity, how “close” do you think the Book of Exodus was written as compared to the events described therein?

    Wisdom does NOT necessarily come from being “closer” to the events.

  10. SocietyVs,

    I have two questions for you:

    1) Since our last discussion, did you ever narrow down a century in which you think Exodus happened?

    2) With most scholars in agreement (even the conservative Christian ones) the events as recorded in Exodus could not have occurred exactly as stated—there was some exaggeration—how much would be sufficient for you to continue to consider the Tanakh credible?

    For example, many scholars state that rather than 1.8 Million, there were only 20-30,000 that escaped Egypt. Perhaps less. Would 20-30,000 be sufficient for you? While not the complete story—a substantial kernel of truth.

    What about 5,000? Or 1,000? Or 100? Or 10? Is there a number which is enough for you to consider the Tanakh credible? Exaggerated, sure—but credible?

    What would the Ten Plagues consist of? A bad year of hail? A epidemic of flu? How long would the Exodus have to be? 40 days? 20 years? Would the persons have to actually “invade” Canaan, or could they move in peaceably?

    I always wonder how much is sufficient for a person to be satisfied there is a kernel of truth to Exodus. If you can quantify it at all….

  11. …Exodus, where we have an equal lack of archeological clues. (DagoodS)

    I am wondering what kind of archeological clues would one be looking for in this case? The two main groups in the story are Egyptians and the Jews both would have a considerable amount of evidence to prove their existence. So I think that is a given.

    But, would one look for a path, campgrounds, fossilized frogs or lice, blood traces in the water, a mass burial site or sites, and other such elements as contained in the account?

    “The Mormons claim an extremely advance civilization formed in Mesoamerica—including coins, roads, etc”

    Man, what are those Mormons looking for? Seems to me they would have found tons of evidence of roads, pottery, trading goods, etc… In fact “the graverobbers” have all of these stored and on display in musuems in the Native American sections. 8)

    As for Bigfoot, me and him are on quest to rid the world of personality disorders.

  12. “But a myth telling us a wise moral truth and being founded in nothing – is comparable to a comic book. (societyvs)”

    This is the point Im trying to make, its foundation isnt “nothing”, its actual foundation is the truth. The point is that its relayed to us through a Myth, the purpose is to get at the “truth” of what the myth is saying not whether the Myth is “true”

  13. A few months ago I read a book by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman titled “David and Solomon”. The book, using archaeological evidence, argued that quite a bit of the history of the united kingdom and the history of David and Solomon as presented in the Bible was not particularly accurate and reflected certain political agendas. Whether they are absolutely correct in their assessment is not something I can judge, but it does raise an important point that no sacred history or sacred text ever comes unfiltered directly from God, but rather reflects the values, culture, traditions, and agendas of the people who wrote those texts. I don’t see how it could be otherwise. The point, though, in my mind, is not whether those historical stories are factual, but rather what truths those stories point to.

    Another example from the Christian tradition comes into play here. The Gospels do not give us unfiltered accounts of Jesus’s life and death (and “resurrection”, whatever you take that word to mean.) Instead, they represent interpretations of the life of Jesus, given what he meant to those who wrote about him. This expresses what Marcus Borg calls the “post-Easter” Jesus. We don’t have direct access to the pre-Easter Jesus, only the accounts of him that come from those who were affected by the post-Easter understanding. Easter, in this context, means the belief that Jesus was in some way exalted after his death, and does not specifically have to mean a physical resurrection.

    This is one reason why there are different religions in the world. Different cultures don’t only provide different lenses through which the Ultimate and the Sacred are viewed; but these lenses also can affect the way sacred traditions (and thus their histories) are described.

    To me, if a religion depends on the historical accuracy of a specific set of events having taken place, the religion becomes contingent on something that might later be refuted by new findings or evidence. That is a precarious place to put a faith. To me, faith is not about belief that certain events in history took place, but rather it is about an interpretive framework about the Sacred that can be responded to via stories, myth, and legends, many of which purport to describe historical events.

  14. “Why cannot there be a middle ground on this issue – not one side here and the other side there – blocked by some brick wall of determinism. ” -SVS

    yup! that’s what i was trying to say with Bell’s example. to put it another way, when you jump on a trampoline, do you have time to argue the merits of it? no! you’re just enjoying jumping on it! can’t to that with a brick wall. too much work. the middle ground here is to say “yeah, this could have happened” but yet realize that it may not have happened EXACTLY as the story says it did. ancient manuscripts are less concerned with fact (there were exactly 148 people who escaped from egypt) and more concerned with the emotion of the event (there must have been like a MILLION of us that got out of egypt!).

    “Seeking truth is all about finding the best proof (in my opinion). At current, it makes no sense to follow something not based in any historicity – it’s like following the Unidactyl (your creation – yet teaches smart things). ” -SVS

    exactly! but there is still merit in the unidactyl and it is based in historicity. there are marshmellows… that’s where it ends. now the bible has a little more historicity than that on many stories…. however, some stories have more than others… Genesis is largely folk-lore, esp the first 3 chapters… that is unidactyl stuff…. Gen 1-3 states “we were created! see? here we are!” that’s here the historicity ends in those stories… no garden, no adam and eve (at least as singular people, a group, sure!).

    clear as mud?

  15. “To me, if a religion depends on the historical accuracy of a specific set of events having taken place, the religion becomes contingent on something that might later be refuted by new findings or evidence. That is a precarious place to put a faith. ” -M.S.

    Mystical! how very Jungian of you! RAWK!

  16. “One of the fascinating aspects of study surrounding Exodus is the change of methodology” (Dagoods)

    I don’t think there is a change – to be honest – just we are dealing with 2 different scenarios.

    The one with Joseph Smith came about in the 1800’s and is very suspect. He is making a claim that cannot be established – Jewish people came across the seas in 300-400 BC. There is no claim from that side or this side of the world to even so much as corroborate that idea. Plus Smith’s book comes out so recently as to wonder – where was all this previous study on the topic he is talking about in this book? It seems fanicful compared to what archeaology has revealed in the America’s.

    The Exodus happened many years ago – and is from a time yet to be verified (and dug up) – but could be as late as 2500 years BC. I am not sure how much work has been done concerning excavation on the possible path (which is another conundrum in and of itself – which path?). To me, it seems there is still a lot of work left in the excavation of such an event – and some of this may be in Saudi territory – so the excavation might take…well forever.

    I think there are stark differences between the 2 episodes – one is a book working re-writing history and the other is very possibly history still uncovered…that has to mean the methodology must be different.

    “If we want to believe Exodus happened—we will believe it. We hold the standard of disproof so high that we are safe in assuming no one can reach it.” (Dagoods)

    I agree (a bit). I think I hold out hope the actual evidence for that time period will come forth and decide this once and for all. I think there is very little evidence of an exodus at all…I can agree there. But I am aware that excavation of said event is not something being looked into with any real depth. Israel is being excavated all the time – and they seem to find proofs of other stories as related (at least the people, cities, and cultures involved). I tend to think Exodus might also find similar proofs (again this is total guesswork by me).

    “Since our last discussion, did you ever narrow down a century in which you think Exodus happened?” (Dagoods)

    No clue. I would like to lean towards an older date but that just may not be true. I would say – I am nor sure of the date due to lack of current evidence.

    “how much would be sufficient for you to continue to consider the Tanakh credible?” (Dagoods)

    All I need to know is if the myth (if that is what it is) is historically tied to some reality. If it is a story re-ittirating something that happened. I am not someone that think the stories need to be error-less or whatever – just that they need to be based in some reality – since they read like historical accounts of people/communities. If none of it is actually true – then I am willing to accept that writing as I accept the writing of the Mormons (which would basically be the same thing).

    If the history is an exaggeration of the facts – then I can accept that. If none of these cities existed, there was no exodus, there is no wilderness experience, there is no handing of Torah from God to Moses, there are no 12 tribes, there is no Mt Sinai, there is no Moses or Midianite connection, there is no Egyptian king, there is no Red Sea, then I cannot really accept the story as ‘the word of God’ but the ‘word of creative man’. I just do not see the point of the religion after that (if there is not a shred of historical reality to even a myth).

  17. I just do not see the point of the religion after that (if there is not a shred of historical reality to even a myth).(socieyvs)

    Exactly, no point to the religion, but great reasons for the truths behind the religions. The essence is what we search for because the “truth” is we cant have anything else, at least not in this physical world that we inhabit.

  18. “Exactly, no point to the religion, but great reasons for the truths behind the religions” (John)

    It’s a funny thing – because there are aspects of that sentence I agree with and aspects I don’t.

    I can respect people that follow any religion and get a better morality system out of it – however this is usually predicated on the idea there is something more to the religion (ie: a God for example or some afterlife). Religion would die if there is no God. The teachings would remain – like how Greek mythology still exists – but now it’s relegated to something fun to read – but not to live by.

    I follow faith because I think it is predicated on the existence of communication with God – in some way, shape, or form. This could include inspiration from God or stories of people that seem to have had some communication with Him. If that is all mythical – then I am not sure there is a God speaking to anyone. Which makes all the laws/moral codes pretty much with no authority (except that of someone’s imagination or someones code of thinking). I can admit – I didn’t sign up for that in my original committment to this faith. If the foundational document loses it’s appeal to being something ‘real’ – then I will also have to lose my original committment.

    I guess I would be on the path with the deconverts if this is all true – if the bible contains no basis in reality. What makes any of the stories wise? Is there not more wisdom in philosophy? Politics? Business? All things being equal – ie: all man made documentation – I should head for the one that makes the most sense – for me. Basically, in the end, humans are subject to other humans. This is a 100% fact…based on countries and laws.

  19. I follow faith because I think it is predicated on the existence of communication with God – in some way, shape, or form. (Societyvs)

    Whats wrong with the communication being expressed in a Myth. Your idea to me seems to be that if you cant have tangible evidence that God has communicated with someone, then you wont believe. The essence of the story is what should point you to the “truth” of it. You know what is real when you hear it, at least I do. That doesnt mean I dont go against what I know to be true lol. Let me give you an example. “One morning Im out golfing alone and I come to a beautiful par 3, I hit my shot and watch as it descends towards the hole, as it nears I realize its going to be close and sure enough it lands square in the hole. Im totally psyched, exhilirated, but nobody is there to share my experience. I now have a dilemma, do I tell my friends and others what I did in hopes that they believe me, or do I leave it to my own experience. I have to trust that they would believe me, but if they dont, it doesnt take away from the “TRUTH” that i got a hole in one.” Almost all stories that cant be verified have to be taken on faith or trust in the story. I think someone said this earlier, the problem is if your story is based on a tangible fact and that is proved to be wrong, then you have cause for concern.

  20. Oh by the way….. a little voice in my head said that this guy may be on the road to De Con land. And lo and behold you made a similar comment….hmmmmm.

  21. “Almost all stories that cant be verified have to be taken on faith or trust in the story. I think someone said this earlier, the problem is if your story is based on a tangible fact and that is proved to be wrong, then you have cause for concern” (John)

    I agree – we have to take those stories on a level of faith – for sure. However, concerning what level of myth we are dealing with – changes what i will think of the story. If we are talking a myth with some historicity in it – that may be relating an actual event with some teachings around it – okay I can dig that. If we are talking Aesop’s fables – based in some fairy tale – then I am not going to build my life around something with no connection to the human experience.

    I don’t agree with Mystical’s claim about tangible fact – since when is getting a tangible fact a bad thing? If the facts lead to a re-working of what happened – that can’t neccesarily hurt (in my opinion). If it is Exodus does not exist at all – then I can wait for the evidence to prove this also.

    For example, the city of Jericho was found in an archeological dig. They even found the walls of Jericho. To me, it proves something happened there with Joshua and his crew – what exactly – that’s debateable. But if Joshua’s conquests are being found – who is the successor of Moses’ position – it might also make sense Moses existed in some capacity. I am not asking for the whole story to be verified exactly – just that what is related in story like language has at least some substance that gives the story a tinge of credibility.

    Wasn’t Sodom/Gommorah also found? Nineveh? Many of the prophets stories have been verified as to conquest, exile, and city. These places mentioned in the stories were not fables – they really existed – I have to make an assumption more of the story may have also existed….and that’s the tricky part.

    “a little voice in my head said that this guy may be on the road to De Con land. And lo and behold you made a similar comment” (John)

    I won’t de-convert – unless as stated – the stories show to have no connection to God or human reality. As of yet, I am yet to hear why or how they are not connected to human reality in some way (there are aspects of historicity). There may be myth mingled in – I am not going to even try refute that – but the stories are colored in language about actual people and places (should I pretend they never existed also?).

    I am also yet to find people from that era or within 1000 years of them – that claim most of this was mythical. Does someone have a link to something like that? A rabbi that saw the stories as clearly mythical and none of this was realistic?

  22. I’m just going to repeat my question: Are we discussing whether Exodus was wisely written or truthfully written?

    IMO, it must be the latter. Can we really say one way or the other? A large group of people did figure eights through the desert for 40 years. Not finding archaeological evidence in abundance about them is different than a supposedly long-established nation that lived in the same general area. Add to that the contemporary evidence of the Book of Mormon as a book of fiction by evangelist Solomon Spaulding and Smith, the documented conman nature of Joseph Smith, and the clear contradictions between the Mormon Doctrines and Covenants and those of Christianity, of which it claims to be a continuation. Mormonism has problems. The Exodus doesn’t.

    And dagoods, attacking a methodology does little to nothing in regard to an event’s veracity.

  23. “The strength of it’s teachings…they are teachings of men…I am a man also…what makes these writers any wiser than my own search?”

    Their not……………………

  24. “The strength of it’s teachings…they are teachings of men…I am a man also…what makes these writers any wiser than my own search?”

    Their not……………………

    Yep, you guys are wiser. Perhaps you could start your own wiser search and show their not is not as wise as yours. :-0

  25. “Yep, you guys are wiser. Perhaps you could start your own wiser search and show their not is not as wise as yours. :-0″(anon)

    Who said we are wiser??

  26. Jason,

    First off I’ll put up a history link you might enjoy looking at: History of Judaism.

    I don’t know of any sages who considered all of Torah to be fiction. I imagine there are some today, however, but I don’t know any names offhand. I would have to look around, ask around. But, not right now. It’s Friday, I’m thoroughly exhausted as always and what little energy I have is going to be spent bringing in Shabbat with my sons.

    The month of Elul begins on Monday, a time of introspection. Not a good time to be commenting on blogs. After Elul comes Tishrei, a month filled with holidays. So….I’m going to take a couple months away from here starting today.

    Everyone,
    It has been an interesting year interacting with many people here on this blog. For the times I have lost patience, been rude and offensive, I ask your forgiveness.

    Be well. Enjoy your discussions. Life is good.

  27. the just1,

    Were you interested in what archeological clues we would expect, or was that more rhetorical?

    SocietyVs,

    I realize it is two different scenarios—that is the point of creating a methodology—so that we can look at two (or three or four) scenarios with the same objective eye.

    What method do you use in life to determine if an event happens? Think of how many times you are confronted with this—you walk into a room where there is a broken lamp, a child with a bat, and a ball still rolling on the floor. Despite the child’s instance “Nothing happened”—what method do you use to make that determination? I submit it is “more likely than not”—given ALL the evidence available (including both favorable and unfavorable)—what is more likely to have occurred?

    A police person comes on the scene of an automobile accident, and hears 2 or 3 different stories. A historian is given some archeological items, some writings, and general knowledge.

    You are correct, there is no other claim, outside Smith’s, regarding a Jewish crossing of the Atlantic to Mesoamerica in 300-400 BCE. But there is no other claim, outside the book of Exodus, of the Ten Plagues, the Jewish crossing of the Reed Sea, the Exodus, or Joshua’s genocide.

    No other nation recorded it in their history. No consistent archeological evidential chain can be established. (We have discussed this before.)

    You are also correct Smith’s claim seems fanciful in light of the complete lack of archeological evidence in America. Yet we have the same lack of archeological evidence regarding Exodus.

    While the stories are different, with different people, with different places—if we look at the underlying premise and utilized the same methodology regarding the Mormon claim; we come to the same conclusion regarding Exodus.

    If we use the method of “more likely than not”—neither is very probable.

    And just because the stories use familiar places or names does not make them any more or less true.

    “Paul Bunyan, in his trek toward the Pacific Ocean, became tired. When he dragged his axe, he created the Grand Canyon.”

    Look at all the familiar and possible truths within those few sentences. “Paul Bunyan” is a real name. People “trek” and “get tired” and drag heavy items. Axes are real. The Pacific Ocean and the Grand Canyon are real places. Dragging items create gouges in the ground.

    So do we think the story must be true because it uses so many “true” items? Of course not! We recognize it for the myth that it is.

    Simply because the story of Exodus mentions real places (Egypt, Jericho) and real people (Hittites, Canaanites) in an extremely broad sense, does not make the story any more real. What we need to evaluate is what the story is saying about these places and people in light of the knowledge we have now.

    If you are hoping that someday we will find something to confirm what you already believe—that need for such a hope is argument enough for why you think the evidence is insufficient now. For if it WAS sufficient, you would not need such hope…

  28. Jim J: A large group of people did figure eights through the desert for 40 years. Not finding archaeological evidence in abundance about them is different than a supposedly long-established nation that lived in the same general area.

    Not sure you understand all of the implications of the story surrounding Exodus. We are not talking solely about a singular 40 year period. That is only the middle. We have the beginning (Plagues), the Middle (Exodus) and the Ending. (Joshua’s genocide.) ALL of these present archeological problems. (As well as language issues. I noticed you didn’t answer my question regarding when the story was written. Hmmm….)

    The Beginning

    We have a nation (Hebrews) immense in size which has completely and entirely developed within Egypt’s borders. At some point it has become a subject nation to Egypt. Yet the culture arising out of this developing nationality has no Egyptian influence! Not in its art, not in its pottery, not in its religion, and far more significantly, not in its language.

    The Hebrew language developed from Phoenician—a county north of Canaan. This is like a subject nation developing in Mexico whose language is SOLELY Canadian, without ANY Spanish influence, other than what Canadians use.

    While Egyptian archeology indicates slavery, of course—it is not on the scale of this magnitude for a separate nation.

    We don’t have any archeological proof of the Ten Plagues. We do not have the collapse of Egypt which would be necessitated by these plagues.*

    *I would note the 2500 BCE date would possibly give us such a collapse at the end of the Old Kingdom, but this creates problems with the complete lack of evidence of an invasion of Canaan at that time, as well as a silence from Joshua to the period of the Judges. Not to mention the story would have been written more than 1500 years after its occurrence.

    We have nothing except this written claim.

    The Middle

    While we have archeological digs revealing campsites of Bedouins in the Sinai peninsula, we have nothing regarding this large group of people “doing figure 8’s” for 40 years. We can find a camp of a few dozen, but somehow have missed a camp which would be miles and miles across, leaving tons of refuse daily!

    [sarcasm] Sure Christians are treating the evidence of Mormonism as objectively as Exodus [/sarcasm]

    No battle scenes. Not a single broken shard. No Egyptian goods. Nothing.

    Is it possible 200 people passed through Sinai for a week or so in 2500 BCE, leaving no archeological trace? Absolutely! But this then raises the question of how much one needs as the kernel of truth at the core of the story.

    The End

    While we can find destruction of cities within Canaan, there is no consistent dating which conforms with any of the possible dates to align with either the Beginning or the Middle. We find a few Egyptian items in Southern Canaan—unsurprising considering Egyptian influence and trading on the border. But we do NOT see a large influx of Egyptian items coming in from the east into Jericho.

    We can’t coordinate the destruction of Jericho and Ai within a short time frame. Nor the destruction of the other cities. We do not see a “new” culture, religion, art form, or language suddenly bursting on the scene.

    It is almost as if the Hebrew nation developed within Canaan. Which fits with the lack of evidence of Egyptian influence, the formation of the language from the country bordering to the north, the lack of invasion archeology…Hmmm…

    Jim J: And dagoods, attacking a methodology does little to nothing in regard to an event’s veracity.

    Of course it does! How do you think we determine whether an event occurred or not? There is ALWAYS a methodology. It may not be consistent. It may not be sufficient. It may be the worst methodology in the world. But if the methodology is poor—we will get poor results. It lessens the possibility of an event’s veracity.

    If the only way to claim an event is true is to use an ad hoc or after-the-fact methodology—then I submit demonstrating the methodology is flawed IS a demonstration an event did not occur.

  29. “I come to a beautiful par 3, I hit my shot and watch as it descends towards the hole, as it nears I realize its going to be close and sure enough it lands square in the hole. Im totally psyched, exhilirated, but nobody is there to share my experience. I now have a dilemma, do I tell my friends and others what I did in hopes that they believe me, or do I leave it to my own experience. I have to trust that they would believe me, but if they dont, it doesnt take away from the “TRUTH” that i got a hole in one.”” – John T

    Every time I go out golfing, I hope this happens to me!

    I have read most posts on what is being said about evidence for Exodus. I agree the event happened, but I also agree that there was some exaggeration. My only reason why is: Where are the miracles or supernatural events of G-d today?

    In my opinion, there is none. If there are none today, it seems logical they never existed.

    But that doesn’t mean I do not believe the exodus account. The Jews were delivered at the hand of Moses. Moses grew up with Egyptian Schooling, he was probably a very bright guy. He knew the people needed guidance and laws. Does it make the faith less valid? No, just human. like all of us. I need a human Moses, not a supernaturally charged one. Just one I can talk to and get straight answers from. One that can relate to my struggling getting out of my own Egypt.

  30. Jason,
    I forgot to finish my last post. The site I linked is quite traditional, I also wanted to include Mordecai Kaplan and Reconstructionist Judaism, Humanistic Judaism, Renewal must have something on this site somewhere about their views on Torah…..and this one that does an overview of the views of the big three.

    (In Judaism there are three main groups, Reform and Conservative are the biggest, Othodox is about 10%, (2% where I live). There are also three really small groups, Reconstructionist, Renewal and Humanistic.)

    OK. I’ve finished putting some different views up there so I can leave for awhile as planned. Hope you enjoy the sites.

  31. Were you interested in what archeological clues we would expect, or was that more rhetorical? (DagoodS)

    My question was asked more in a general sense of all involved in the discussion. Not really a rhetorical question either, since I do have a genuine interest, even if it is tiny one at best. Because if one was looking for evidence I would think that archeologists would look for certain things (campgrounds, evidence of the plagues,…) that have been recorded in the Exodus account.

    I suspect that neither of us would have the means to launch an archeological expedition into finding proof. Even if we did have the resources where would we begin? And it seems like a colossal waste of time anyways.

    I don’t know if there are people actually searching or not. But if they are, the very fact that they are searching does not necessarily mean or demonstrate a lack of “belief” in Judaism or Christianity. It seems that they are just trying to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what they hold to be true has credible evidence. Very similar to what a police officer, detective, or prosecutor would need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an individual committed a crime.

    The defense lawyer has it easier, all he or she has to do is create a reasonable doubt, which is pretty simple in the case of the Exodus account.

  32. Wilfred

    I did hit the pin this year and ended up 40 feet away and preceded to 4 putt. Fortunately I had a chance to personally call on Jesus several times ;)….Though the foursome behind me took cover for fear of a lightning strike 🙂

  33. “I did hit the pin this year and ended up 40 feet away and preceded to 4 putt.” John T

    That is the worst! I feel your pain.

  34. “But there is no other claim, outside the book of Exodus, of the Ten Plagues, the Jewish crossing of the Reed Sea, the Exodus, or Joshua’s genocide.” (Dagoods)

    That’s debateable on some levels. Wasn’t there some Egyptian document that outlined some things that happened in Egypt that kind of line up with the plages (not word for word of course). Secondly, not everyone is sure it was the Reed Sea that they crossed.

    I know there was likely some liberty taking in the re-telling of the stories – of this much I am pretty sure. But this does not mean something did not happen in Egypt – an exodus into Canaan. The problem, as I have aformentioned, the path of that walk is covered over and likely will never be excavated (it’s in Egypt and Saudi Arabia – not exactly Israel’s best friends). But that does not mean the evidence is not somewhere to be found – archaeology is a process of finding the past…this past is yet to be dug up.

    As for the methods, they are different in my head.

    Let’s say, and this is true, I never met my grandpa. Then 2 scenarios happen and I need to decide what path is the best:

    (a) A friend of my uncle tells me about my grandpa based on second hand stories they heard about him – and this is re-ittirated to me 3 months ago (it’s fresh and new).

    (b) Another uncle tells me about my grandpa (based on stories from my grandma and his dad) but they were re-ittirated to me 20+ years ago.

    Which is more credible? For me, the story based on something closer to the events is more credible – and within the same family lineage (possibly it would be more accurate). There will be some exaggeration and fudging of the facts – but the stories will be based in something that happened.

    I view story (a) as the Mormons – although Joseph Smith liked the Jewish story (enough to copy it) – his story comes way after the fact or what is already out there and known. His story comes off as ‘second hand’ news and had time to develop such an astounding idea for the America’s.

    I view story (b) as the actual account of the Exodus. Although this was likely not penned by Moses – it was penned by someone afterwards based on oral tradition of the culture (which cared enough to pass this story down in detail). Now the stories may not come to us as totally factual incidents – but they have to be based on some reality – since they are coming from the culture it effected.

    “No other nation recorded it in their history. No consistent archeological evidential chain can be established. (We have discussed this before.)” (Dagoods)

    True, then again no one thought we would find the idea of a Jewish messiah being connected to resurrection either – than all of a sudden archaeologists pull out a doozy a few months back in Israel. Anything is possible when we are digging for the past – your side or mine – I am open to being proven wrong here by the archaeological evidence – which as it stands – is in your favor.

    “Simply because the story of Exodus mentions real places (Egypt, Jericho) and real people (Hittites, Canaanites) in an extremely broad sense, does not make the story any more real” (Dagoods)

    Oddly enough, it helps your case (and mine). Exodus is tied to real places (and a historical time). It does not mean the story is ‘more real’ but it does assure this is based in reality and not fiction (thus can be excavated). Which was my point the whole time – these stories were based in real places in Israel and Egypt. As of now, the evidence for an Exodus is slim to nil – I agree there.

    Yet – it is still under review because we are ‘digging for the past’ – and not everything has been uncovered. If I say ‘no’ the Exodus did not happen and next year they find proof – then I am back to this position I stand at today. I figure, I will stay in this position (it did happen) until the proof determines otherwise. It’s no different than your position (it did not happen) which is the easy stand – as Just1 said – “The defense lawyer has it easier, all he or she has to do is create a reasonable doubt, which is pretty simple in the case of the Exodus account”

  35. Thank you yaelbatsarah. Great links. That last one was bookmark-worthy.

    thejust1,

    You are right, I do not have the resources to launch an archeological dig.

    thejust1: I don’t know if there are people actually searching or not.

    There have been billions of dollars expended in attempting to find archeological proof of the Exodus. (and more than a little fraud on the way, unfortunately.) As much as the value would be astronomical for the Christian side, it is a matter of intense pride for the nation of Israel. It is THE reason the Hebrews are justified in claiming Palestine for land—because of a land-grant by God.

    What Christianity has invested in attempting to prove Exodus happened, the Jews have invested ten-fold. The area we are discussing is a little larger than the state of Massachusetts, consisting of mountains, rock, limestone. I understand with thermal imaging capability from satellites, they have mapped trade routes and other archeological items within the Peninsula.

    Further, the cities claimed destroyed in the region are readily observable. While questions may come up (since we have no 1500 BCE maps. *wink*) as to which city was being identified—we do have the cities themselves.

    thejust1: But if they are, the very fact that they are searching does not necessarily mean or demonstrate a lack of “belief” in Judaism or Christianity.

    I agree—I did not mean to imply that. What I am saying, though is if the ONLY proof you have of an event is the hope of someday finding proof of an event—then the hope itself is demonstration you believe the evidence is insufficient. And that is what I constantly see in this regard.

    “We haven’t found a single solitary thing to support a consistent timeline of the Exodus account, but it is true because we hope to find some support in the future. Those silly Mormons—don’t they see there is not a single solitary thing to support their stories, and all they are doing is hoping to find something in the future?”

    I contemplate when the disconnect will cease.

    thejust1: The defense lawyer has it easier, all he or she has to do is create a reasonable doubt, which is pretty simple in the case of the Exodus account.

    He he. Having been both a defense lawyer attempting to create reasonable doubt AND a skeptic attempting to convince Christians to see how they change their methodology when discussing events recorded in the Bible—I can assure you neither is “pretty simple.” *grin*

  36. Hi Jason,
    Don’t forget your premise at the top of the page: If there was proof it did not happen – then yes – i would have to relate to all this is a mythical story and we need not worry about a single piece of it.

    There’s no proof that the Exodus did not happen, period. There is some evidence that it did happen: the oral histories themselves, the Merneptah Stele among other evidences.

    Now you’re title, “Mythical Faith, Someone convince me of its merits”, was supposed to give a challenge to those who say Exodus is important, but not historical. This inexplicable concession makes no sense in light of the facts:

    1) Exodus is presented unequivocally as an historical account.
    After the arrival of Abraham on the scene, the best interpretation becomes the linear historical rather than any figurative points of view. IOW, Historical but not literal changes to historical and literal as the best nterpretation.
    2) There is NO evidence that Exodus never happened.
    3) There is some evidence that the Exodus happened.

    So why would you believe it didn’t happen? You shouldn’t read something as figurative if you have no reason to. Another problem I have with liberal folks is that they like to say, Oh, this didn’t necessarily happen, but it’s important. Bollocks, as the British say. If it didn’t happen, why believe it? I might as well use Stephen King’s The Green Mile as my Bible study guide; the Gospel is explained there, too. Yet if I replace the fictional John Coffey with Jesus Christ, my faith becomes an aesthetic, no different than choosing Monet over Van Gogh.

    So, in answer to your challenge, no one will convince you to support “mythical faith” without a great deal of corruption, alcohol, or drugs.

    Just1 on Dagoods—“The defense lawyer has it easier, all he or she has to do is create a reasonable doubt, which is pretty simple in the case of the Exodus account”

    Very true. I’d only add: reasonable doubt is pretty easy to create in any case! Why do you think there are so many lawyers? 🙂 But it’s the wrong show: Law and Order when the topic is better handled by CSI. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell Dagoods for some time now. Cross-examination and reasonable doubt only confuse. You need forensic science if you want to disprove the Bible.

  37. SocietyVS: That’s debateable on some levels. Wasn’t there some Egyptian document that outlined some things that happened in Egypt that kind of line up with the plages (not word for word of course).

    Only debatable by desperation. There is the Ipuwer Papyrus some believers attempt to shoehorn into claiming it is describing some of the Plagues. But in order to do so, they have to skip words, ignore lines, obliterate context.

    How honest is that?

    SocietyVs: …the path of that walk is covered over and likely will never be excavated (it’s in Egypt and Saudi Arabia – not exactly Israel’s best friends)

    But we have found other settlement within the Sinai peninsula. (Which was in Jewish hands for a long time, by-the-way.) We have satellites doing imagery. The Beginning (Plagues) is in Egypt—one of the most excavated lands. The Ending is in Israel—probably THE most excavated land. Why do we keep ignoring those items as well?

    SocietyVs: For me, the story based on something closer to the events is more credible – and within the same family lineage (possibly it would be more accurate).

    Yikes! So you use the method of “whatever story is closer to the event”? Really? So you think Mark is more accurate than Matthew? And Matthew more accurate than Luke? And Luke more accurate than John? (When it comes to the Gospels.) Do you believe Irving’s biography of Columbus is more accurate because it was closer to Columbus? Even though we know it is wrong?

    I agree that time provides an opportunity for modification—no question about that. But “closer to the event” is not a consistent method. A principle difference, too, is that you used people actively involved, whereas we are talking about history long recorded after.

    (By the way, I think you are still using an underlying method of “which is more likely true.” The preferred method. You weigh one factor (timing) along with ability to perceive (family member) and thus determine closer is “more likely” to be true than farther. )

    Now let’s look at similar factors you use in the Mormons vs. Exodus.

    Closeness to event

    Joseph Smith wrote in the early 1800’s. The Book of Mormon primarily covers a period from 600 BCE to some time in the First Century CE. (There is some reference to a previous people in 2500 BCE). Using a broad range, he is writing from 2400 to 1800 years after the event.

    Now let’s look at Exodus. Part of a set of books allegedly penned by Moses, but more likely penned by a set of unknown authors at an unknown time. We don’t know when it was written, it could be as earlier than 800 BCE, but to bend over the farthest backward we can, we shall place it as one of the earliest written books of the Hebrew language. Since the language has only been recorded back to 1000 BCE – I will use that date. These books primarily cover a period from creation (say 4500 BCE) to invasion, which you think is probably in the 2500 BCE range. Using a broad range, we have 3500 – 1500 years after the event. Focusing on Exodus, and giving them 400 years in Egypt, we can limit it to 1900 – 1500 years.

    While we can be more precise with Smith, this is our comparison:

    Mormons: 2,400 – 1,800 years after the event.
    Exodus: 1,900 – 1,500 years after the event.

    Do you really think 1,500 years compared to 1,800 years makes 1,500 “more likely” as compared to the other? That makes Geoffrey’s accounts of King Arthur (600 years difference) a dead certainty on this scale!

    Transmission of the Story

    Joseph Smith’s story came from Golden Plates hidden by God, and then translated through miraculous means.

    Wait—you don’t believe that? Why not? Oh, you don’t use the story itself as proof for the story’s veracity. Right. Actually makes sense. Otherwise I could say, “Aliens told me by infrared rays you need to send me all you money?” Don’t believe it? Of course it’s true—Aliens must be true, ‘cause they are mentioned in the story.

    The story of Exodus came down through oral transmission. The oral transmission was accurate and based on historical events. How do you know that? Because the story says so.

    Er…wait a minute. In the Mormon’s case you don’t accept the account of the transmission of the story simply by virtue of the story, but in the Exodus case…you do?

    Same Culture

    Certainly Joseph Smith was not in the same culture as the persons in the story.

    But neither were the people in Exodus. SocietyVs, we don’t HAVE a separate Jewish culture evident until well after the separated kingdom. (Unfortunately, moving the story back closer to our 1,800 range of Mormonism. If it turns out Exodus was not written until 700 BCE, would you stay consistent with your method of “closer is better” and claim Mormonism is more likely?)

    They weren’t in the same culture either.

    Again, you are using the story itself to prove the story. If we stayed consistent in that method—the Mormon story proves itself as well.

    SocietyVs: True, then again no one thought we would find the idea of a Jewish messiah being connected to resurrection either – than all of a sudden archaeologists pull out a doozy a few months back in Israel.

    Actually one person surmised that a missing word could possibly be a mis-spelled version of a word, and therefore it could possibly refer to resurrection. As much as I would love to verify the idea of a resurrected Messiah was prevalent in the First Century—this find was not it.

    Why is it, when people search for examples of “We once thought this; and archeology demonstrated differently” they come up with the worst examples? Normally it is the blasted Hittites.

    Try this one for the future. We thought the Masoretic Texts were more accurate, but the Dead Sea Scrolls surprisingly conform in many parts to the Septuagint, causing us to re-consider the accuracy of both.

    Again, if your only hope is that archeology has proven what everyone suspected wrong, then this is demonstration enough you do not think the evidence is currently compelling enough.

    SocietyVs: If I say ‘no’ the Exodus did not happen and next year they find proof – then I am back to this position I stand at today. I figure, I will stay in this position (it did happen) until the proof determines otherwise.

    Then you would not be surprised if the Mormon did likewise?

    Understand SocietyVs, I am not trying to debate you. I am giving you some food for thought. How do we objectively make determinations about claims within our own beliefs as compared to others? How are we able to set aside our own prejudices and desires, and come up with a way to say, “Even though I want to believe this; I understand my desire is not enough.”

    Good talking with you, of course.

  38. Anon,

    Your link has the wrong years. SocietyVs puts it as more likely in the 2500 BCE range. The Merneptah Stele (1213-1202 BCE) says, “Israel lies waste; its seed no long exists.” First of all, it wasn’t true (obviously). Secondly, it is an account of military conquests, apparently listed from south to north. Placing a person or people named “Israel” in Canaan.

    How this is proof God turned water into blood, or caused darkness for three days, or killed the cattle, or killed the crops, or killed the first-borns, or Moses crossed the Reed Sea, or the Jews wandered for 40 years, or the Jews attacking the Midianites, the Moabites, or the Jews being attacked by the Amalekites or manna, or Moses striking the rock, or the Jews invading Canaan, or marching around Jericho, or the Genocide as record in Joshua or the division of land…is all beyond me.

    P.S., there is plenty of evidence Exodus did not happen. While it may not convince you, the evidence exists. Technically there is evidence Exodus DID happen—that being the book of Exodus itself.

    To say, “there is no evidence” is a failure to understand what evidence is. To say it is not proven is a discussion of methodology. To require “incontrovertible evidence” proving it wrong is a demonstration of fear.

  39. He he. Having been both a defense lawyer attempting to create reasonable doubt AND a skeptic attempting to convince Christians to see how they change their methodology when discussing events recorded in the Bible—I can assure you neither is “pretty simple.” *grin* (Dagoods)

    I didn’t think it was as simple as I made it sound. Because I know that it comes down to the judge’s decision anyways. In the Exodus case each and every person that is interested is the judge. They can weigh the evidence for themselves, which they already do.

    Anyways, try being a First Nations trying to convince evangelical christians that; (1) there is value in the spirituality of the First Nations people and (2) that the evangelical church ways are not so inspired, but are probably a just result of culture of the day. Man, that will get you shunned real fast 8)

    So you were (are) a defense lawyer. Awesome. I once considered taking law and making it a profession. I got side-tracked and ended up taking economics and have used very little of that training. Should have taken psychology, since I have been working mostly in the “social work” field for the past 20 years, trying to assist individuals improve their lot in life. However, I did manage to help one of my clients create enough reasonable doubt ,so that he got his charges “stayed” today. Woo!!!!

  40. Dagoods

    Im curious, I understand youre a Lawyer, Husband and Father, how the heck do you find time to learn all this stuff? If theres a formula I want a copy 😉

  41. “Are we discussing whether Exodus was wisely written or truthfully written?

    IMO, it must be the latter. ” -JJ

    this is what drives me nuts about reading the bible… the assumption that the writer’s verion of truth exactly equals our own.

    to state it again: ancient manuscripts are less concerned with fact (there were exactly 148 people who escaped from egypt) and more concerned with the emotion of the event (there must have been like a MILLION of us that got out of egypt!).

  42. Hola Luke,

    Did it happen? is the question.
    Everyone who studies the Bible extensively should know numbers are not always meant journalistically in ancient texts. Dagoods is saying there were ZERO people coming out of Egypt. He needs to prove that in order to make a point here.

    Put another way, he needs not to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Exodus did happen, he needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it did NOT happen.

    Dagoods, hate to be the messenger of bad news, again, but you’re at another dead end here. And Mormonism is not a comparison to Judaism. Joseph Smith convicts himself of fraud by corrupting the message of the gospel in the first place. The evidence is against him. That does not compare to discrepancies in ancient historical chronologies where many of the names of governors and kings are represented by a ??? As I said, it’s another dead end.

  43. Dagoods,

    Where is the proof the Exodus did not happen? is there a link or something I can check out? I am taking you at your word here (which I am guessing is well studied) – and I would also like to check the information out (for personal reference sake).

    I think I will also ask a rabbi for a counter on the evidence you give – just to see where this all lands.

  44. I sent off an e-mail to a rabbi – Rabbi Maroof to be exact (apparently he has a blog on blogger.com). Figured I’d try him out and see if he will answer me back.

  45. Everyone,

    I am only just seeing this discussion, but Ken Kitchen is an acclaimed Egyptologist who has written a book called “On the Reliability of the Old Testament” looking at the archaeological evidence (pretty much all of it) that has been discovered that relates to all of the Old Testament/Tanakh material. His evaluation of the material is fair and scholarly. I recommend the read for anyone interested.

  46. Perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is can we conclude that the events in Exodus occured based soley on non-Biblical sources? If we took sources from Egypt back in that timeframe, as well as the archeological evidence, would we come anywhere close to believing that all the plagues happened, that there was a massive evacuation of Hebrews from Egypt, that they wandered for 40 years and so forth?

  47. Thank you, Jim.

    Again you completely misrepresent my position. I never said “Zero people left Egypt.” I never asked for the methodology of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In fact, if you read my posts I have stated over and over and over the method of “more likely than not.”

    It would appear you have been reduced to only being able to misrepresent my position in some sort of hyperbole caricature, and then ridicule this strawperson position that only exists in your mind.

    Thank you. Since your only argument is to lie (there can be no other word) this gives more credence to my position. If it requires a lie to support your argument—it has no value.

    I am certain you feel at a dead end—you are only left with dishonesty to work with. The rest of us may continue the discussion.

  48. SocietyVS,

    I apologize. I have a long weekend of soccer and other activities before me. I will not be able to address your question of providing evidence against Exodus until Monday. I appreciate your patience.

    In the meantime, I would ask you to contemplate this puzzle.

    I claim the Statute of Liberty was stolen by aliens on March 17, 2008 at 3:03:17 a.m., and replaced with an exact duplicate on the same date at 3:03:18 a.m. For a total of one (1) second the Statute was missing.

    I now demand you provide evidence this didn’t happen.

    I would hope you understand the complication here. Really, the proof should be on the person making the claim. If I am the one making this extraordinary claim of the Statute disappearing for one (1) second—should I be the one bringing forth the proof as to how it happened? Some eyewitness, perhaps? Or something?

    Frankly, the proof should be on those claiming Exodus happened.

    HOWEVER, I am more than happy to use what evidence we have regarding the events, and proceed forward with showing all the evidence against the Exodus as claimed by the Bible. Since you desire the 3rd Millennium BCE we shall use the date of 2150 BCE for our Exodus.

    Agreed? (I hope you understand my reluctance to write a full dissertation against the 1450 BCE date, and the 1300 BCE date, if you aren’t using those dates.)

    If you desire a different date, just tell me. Hint: Try and match up the change from the Old Kingdom to the First Intermediate period in Egyptian history, and the Destruction of Jericho and Ai.

    But in the meantime, Here is a pretty good site that gives a balanced view (in my opinion) with the benefits and problems of the 1450 and 13th Century BCE dates.

  49. Thank you. Since your only argument is to lie (there can be no other word) this gives more credence to my position. If it requires a lie to support your argument—it has no value.

    Dagoods,
    You sound like Flycandler. Is that you? 🙂

  50. Dagoods—Frankly, the proof should be on those claiming Exodus happened.

    Why do we have to prove it happened? There are Israelites in Israel . They say God led them out of slavery in Egypt. There were a lot of slaves in Egypt at the time. There are a lot of Israelites in Israel. Americans came from Europe. We have proof of that, but then that was merely 400 years ago.

    Israelites living in Israel could very well have come out of Egypt 3500-4000 years ago. It’s reasonable to think that possible just as it’s reasonable to think that you or one of your ancestors moved to Michigan….from somewhere else.

    I’m not winning any argument here. I’m just stating the truth that your argument, at least by what we know now, is weak. You would only be presenting it here as “convincing” out of some desire to cause others to stumble.

  51. exodus happened… as to how, we don’t know. plagues and parting of the sea? prolly not? sneaking off at night, more than likely.

    now the book of Joshua on the other hand… that’s complete fiction from an archeologist standpoint.

  52. Pingback: I was most likely NOT born in Baltimore… | The Moral Science Club

  53. Jason,
    This isn’t a comment…..OK. Well it is but, I slept most of a whole day so I’m not so tired, and Elul doesn’t start until tomorrow evening so…I’m going to comment.

    It seems to me a bit harsh to say that if someone could provide proof the Exodus never happened, all of Judaism and Christianity would be rendered meaningless.

    From my POV: If the Exodus literally took place that is wonderful. If it is only a folktale, that is wonderful. We Jews have lived for thousands of years since then, learning about what it means to be a community; learning about God, each other and the world.

    It doesn’t matter where we came from, it matters who we have become.

    It doesn’t matter how we first encountered God, it only matters that we have.

    It doesn’t matter the soil in which our roots began. They have been transplanted many times now. It only matters that we have roots which we don’t deny.

    It doesn’t matter that we don’t have all the answers to everyone’s questions, it matters that we allow questions.

    You have spoken often of your admiration of Heschel. He had no proof of the Exodus. Was all he stood for meaningless? Heschel writes beautifully of the divine waters, but was he deluded in thinking he was swimming in them, floating in them, immersing in them, splashing in them, drenching himself in them. Was it all merely a mirage? Go find out. Step your foot into the same water. Is it really water or is it just concrete? Only you can answer that question.

    As far as proofs go, what constitutes proof is in the eyes of the beholder as well. One archaeologist claimed what he found was proof of the biblical stories, another archaeologist came along some years later, an anti-Zionist hired by the Jordanian government and guess what? She claims her findings refute the biblical stories! Archaeologists are just people, too, with all the failings of other human beings. We’d like to think they are unbiased in their work, but they can have their agendas just as much as the next person. I don’t believe the man who found confirming proof, nor do I believe the woman who found denying proof. Archaeological finds are subject to interpretation just as much as written words are subject to interpretation. I’m not able to make those interpretations myself but would have to rely on others. Since they can’t get their stories straight I will remain where I am. Maybe the Exodus was based on fact, maybe it wasn’t. I go on with my life the same either way.

    I don’t agree with Jim that Dagoods is trying to make you stumble. Judaism teaches a person is led down the path he desires to follow. No one can make you ‘stumble’, you make the choice of the path you walk. To say anything less is to treat you as a gullible child.

    Dagoods is an interesting person. He made no attempt to dispute my faith. Perhaps he feels pity for us poor abused saps? Perhaps he respects that steel is forged in the hottest of fires? He is a lawyer, half the people in my shul are lawyers, the good half, BTW. All those doctors and professors? Boring….Anyway, some of them probably believe in God, some don’t. Dagoods would fit right in with us. In reading some of his writings I’ve had the thought it’s too bad he came through Christianity rather than Judaism. Personally, I think he has too active a mind for atheism. All the answers, everything fitting so neatly just seems really boring. I prefer ambiguity and contradictions. They so much more realistically mirror life. IMO of course.

    One of my favorite authors writes extensively on Jewish law even teaching classes on it in law school, something I was surprised to read. He wrote a book, Knowing God: Jewish Journeys to the Unknowable, which speaks to some of the questions you have One section I thought especially relevant to the discussion at hand:

    Our choice, then, is either to see a theistic or an atheistic pattern in our experiences, even with its rough edges, or to affirm that no pattern exists until and unless every piece of evidence fits neatly into it. The latter option – i.e. agnosticism – is not, however, risk-free. It comes at the price of requiring us to ignore pieces of our experience because we cannot make them fit into a totally coherent pattern. It also robs us of the life experiences which follow upon adopting such a pattern – in this case, the actions and emotions of a religious life.

    The central mistake of agnosticism is its lack of confidence in the human ability to know – to the point of assuming that human beings must either know fully, or they cannot know at all. As our examples above demonstrate, this is simply not true. Some elements of a given case may support a verdict of guilty, and some an acquittal; such cases are precisely the ones that usually go to court. The jury must then weigh the evidence, with all its imponderables, and it must try to see a pattern in the thicket of evidence, even if it is not an altogether clear one. Juries in fact do this every day and with conviction.”beyond a reasonable doubt.” In civil cases, they need only decide what conclusion “a preponderance of the evidence” supports, that is, even further doubt is permitted in reaching their conclusion. Despite the lack of as much evidence as we would like, then, and even in the presence of contradictory evidence, we make judgments with serious consequences and we do so with reasonable assurance that we have discovered the truth about the matter and have therefore judged justly.

    Atheism makes the opposite mistake. It asserts that if some evidence contradicts a pattern, the pattern must be denied, even if it is supported by much other evidence. We can and do see patterns in our experience, however, even when the evidence is not conclusive, and even when some elements of our experience contradict them. In scientific practice, in fact, a forty or fifty percent corroboration of a theory is considered to be very good evidence for it – even though that means that much of the evidence argues against it! Atheism’s fallacy is , ironically, the exact opposite of that embedded in the ontological argument: while those who posit the ontological argument assume that whatever the human mind can contemplate must exist, atheists believe that whatever the human mind cannot integrate must not exist. Both are based on a false assessment of the power and scope of human knowledge.

    These arguments do not, in and of themselves, prove theism. They merely point out that human knowledge is based upon seeing patterns in our experience; that, because of the limits of the human ability to know, the patterns are often not fully or unambiguously substantiated; but that refusing to see a pattern in experience bears a price just as much as seeing a pattern does. The choice of whether or not to see a given pattern depends, in part, on our detached, objective analysis of the evidence at hand – and on what we choose to consider as evidence in the first place. It also, however, depends crucially upon our will and our emotions – that is, on our choice to accept the costs of believing in the pattern or the risks of denying it.

    This was one of the first books Rabbi gave me to read when studying for conversion. What struck me was that in the end, I’ve only be taught about ways through which I might come to understand God, rather than what the author considered God to be. I liked that. J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, which I was required to read in the Christian seminary I attended, was all about God is this, God is that. I didn’t care much for speaking so authoritatively about what God is or isn’t. The intro to this books quotes the verse in Proverbs, “Know God in all your ways” and that’s what Rabbi Dorff sets out to help us do, through reason, human and divine actions, human and divine words. It’s a fascinating book.

    Anyway, Rabbi Dorff taught several classes at our shul a couple years ago and has written many teshuvot. I’m not a lawyer, although I once considered applying to law school. I’d rather study rabbinic law and become a rabbi. Rabbis are judges as well as teachers. Why do we need judges? Because there aren’t always easy answers to questions and the evidence isn’t always so clear. And that’s what draws me in over and over again. I find it all quite fascinating. And fun.

  54. SocietyVs,

    Thanks for your patience. We have a lot of ground to cover. I will break this out into a few comments to hope to make some sense.

    First we need to cover a few basic points.

    1. Burden of Presentation. I don’t mind the burden of proof being placed on my in this regard. If I want to make claims, even “negative” claims such as “The Exodus did not happen as recorded in the Tanakh,” I should have support for it.

    Yet I wish those making the claim would at least assume the Burden of Presentation. What is it that I am saying did not happen? I fell like a defense lawyer who is required to go first, and present evidence his client did not commit the crime, before the Prosecutor has had to present any evidence as to what the defendant is alleged to do.

    Invariably, after I present my evidence, someone responds, “I don’t think Exodus happened that way.” Arggg.. Then why not tell me how you think Exodus happened before requiring me to prove it didn’t.

    We go ‘round and ‘round with talking past each other because no evidence is ever presented–no specific claim is ever made– yet somehow it perpetually becomes my responsibility to provide evidence “it” (whatever “it” may be) didn’t happen.

    2. “Absence of Evidence is not evidence of absence.” This comes up so often, we ought to address it now. The idea being, just because we don’t have any evidence of Exodus happening, doesn’t mean it didn’t.

    But in reality do we use this? Can I make whatever extraordinary claim I desire, and since there is no evidence either for or against it, it has an equal probability of being true?

    “Aliens are replacing your furniture with exact replicas each night.”

    There. You have no evidence this isn’t happening—so it must have an equal probability of being true. Right? Of course not—this is not how we treat anything other than our own cherished beliefs. We have the same absence regarding Mormon claims—why are they any more ridiculous?

    What we naturally use is the method the more the claim is outside of our observation and experience, the more evidence we require to overcome our skepticism. Think of these three statements:

    “I ate some bacon yesterday.”
    ”I ate some bald eagle yesterday.”
    “I ate some bigfoot yesterday.”

    Although you have absolutely no evidence on any of these, the probability of their happening, based upon our experience, lessens by each claim. Why? Because eating bacon is well within our experience, eating bald eagle is way outside, but still feasible, whereas eating bigfoot is so extraordinary, we would require experience of it existing first, let alone eating some.

    Here we have a situation by its miraculous claims, is way outside our ordinary observation and experience. An archeological claim of a city being destroyed is not unusual—we find that at many places. A claim of the magnitude of the Ten Plagues is unusual—we naturally become more skeptical of it.

    To claim each is equal under “there is no evidence” is not reasonable.

    3. The beginning, Middle and End. I have already discussed this briefly. Many I discuss with don’t want to discuss the beginning (Ten Plagues) or the end (Joshua’s invasion). All they want to talk about is the middle—the Exodus.

    This is a mistake because history does not exist in a vacuum. An “Exodus” IS a journey from one point to the next. It has a beginning and an end. To ignore what those are is demonstration of concern over the existence.

    If they are exodusing, where are they leaving? Why are they leaving? When are they going? Where are they headed to? Do they arrive? What happens when they do?

    We cannot make any determination as to space and time without knowing the answers to these questions.

    4. The date of Exodus. If you read nothing else of what I am about to write, this is the key.

    The biggest single argument that archeology disproves Exodus is that scholars use different pieces of archeological evidence to disagree over the date of Exodus.

    We most certainly do not have universal agreement over what the date could possibly be—because every possible date present archeological difficulties.

    The problem with Exodus’ date as given by the Tanakh is during this period (1450 BCE) Egypt is stable, and expanding its influence. Jericho cannot be destroyed, because it is already destroyed 100 years or more ago! Both it and Ai are ruins. Therefore, scholars recognize this date is difficult and look for another.

    So they attempt to match it to some period closer to destruction within Canaan, giving us the 13th Century date. Again, the problem here is Egypt is in stability, and is actually expanding. Amazing a country is experiencing these tremendous catastrophes, yet is on military expansion!

    These dates don’t work, either.

    Since both dates present issues with Egyptian stability, some scholars look for the resolution in finding when Egypt is unstable. To do so, they reach back to 2150 BCE, when Egypt goes from the Old Kingdom to the First Intermediate Period. Certainly a period when the kingdom splits, and there is great instability, no building projects, and a possibly response to the Ten Plagues.

    Problem solved, right? Nope. Because we lose the destruction and invasion of Canaan at this time, the instability does not rise to the level the Ten Plagues would cause, and most importantly, Canaan does not develop as the continuous story of the Tanakh. What happened to all those Hebrews from 2100 BCE to 1300 BCE? Did they stay in caves, with no evidence of their existence? Did they disappear in space rockets?

    The dating of Exodus is the key. Find a date that aligns with the beginning, the middle and the end.

    In our experiment here, we are using the 2150 BCE date proposed by SocietyVs. Let’s see how it works…

  55. The Beginning.

    Lucky for me, I already wrote on the Ten Plagues.

    Here is the post verbatim.

    Archeology in the past 30 years has reduced the historical probability of the Exodus from slim to none. There is not a lick of proof of the destination of Exodus. Even though we should have extensive amounts of evidence of an invasion of Hebrews into Canaan, we have none. No proof for the Exodus itself. We have evidence of nomads crossing the desert, but nothing of 2 million (or 20,000 if you prefer the variant reading) wandering about this area.

    We have no proof, no archeological fact, not a single historical writing that the beginning of the Exodus occurred—the Ten Plagues. Using the very familiar “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” Christians often claim that the reason there is no evidence is that the Egyptians would not record these events as embarrassing, or as a cover-up for their incompetence.

    The problem is—these events would have too large of an impact–politically, militarily, economically and socially, to have covered them up. Have you ever read the story of the Plagues and thought about the results in the society? Egypt would have been wiped off the map! The Ten Plagues could not have happened as recorded in the book of Exodus.

    First of all, the length of time between plagues is not recorded. Did this happen over one year? Did it happen over a period of years? Depending on the convenience of the apologists, opinions differ. The impression given is that this happened in a short period of time. We have seven days between the first and second plague. There is the implication that within the same harvest time some grain is not wiped up, and subsequently it is wiped out. On the other hands, animals keep re-appearing, after having been allegedly killed off on previous plagues, which would imply this was over longer periods of time.

    If it happened in a short time, as we will see, all Egyptians would be dead. If over a longer period of time, more archeological evidence and writing would have happened and didn’t. Either proposition is difficult.

    Secondly, there is a question as to how far-reaching these plagues were. When it says “every” is that just exaggeration for “quite a bit”? Were they localized? The problem with this proposition is that God intended this to be a demonstration of His glory. A local sickness, killing a few cows, or a bad summer storm would not be remarkable. If the Christian wants this tale to be the jumping-off point for the establishment of Israel, it would have to be more than a few bugs.

    To say, “This was so grand that God provided a way for 2 Million people to exit Exodus” and then follow up with “but it wasn’t all that as recorded in the book” is to want one’s cake and eat it too!

    Finally, there are substantial reasons to determine these stories are allegories—never happened. For purposes of this particular blog, I am addressing those Christians that hold these were historical facts, and asking them to think about the implications.

    Water to Blood The Nile, every stream, every river, every pond, even water stored in vessels turns to blood. 7:19. (All verses from Exodus.)

    First of all this would mean the loss of drinking water. The Bible notes this problem. 7:24. How does one transport the water from rivers and streams inland? The effort must be made to dig new wells, then transport it. This could not be done in any short time at all. We still have images of victims of Hurricane Katrina, and the water problem of New Orleans. This is in an industrialized nation, with motor vehicles, planes, boats, and organizations specifically designed to respond to these types of needs. We have stored water, and could transport water from other locations. ALL of the water in Egypt turned to blood. They had no reserves. There would be a loss of life due to dehydration.

    Secondly, while there would be alternative drinking sources (milk, juice, even wine) concentration would be placed on re-obtaining water itself. This would bring any industry to a halt, as people would be concentrating on the water problem, and not the work at hand.

    But most important would be the loss of marine life. The fish (and other sea creatures) died. 7:21. Later, this will have in impact as to a food source. Environmental water systems, such as rivers, ponds and streams, have a necessary balance. By wiping out all of the fish, this balance would be irrevocably upset. It is not as if the blood turned back to water, and fish all of a sudden re-appeared. They were gone. It would take decades, if ever, for marine life to replenish and re-habit the rivers.

    Birds that relied upon the fish for food would migrate or die. Crocodiles that relied upon the birds and fish for food would look to alternative sources. Every creature, dependant on marine life, would find alternatives, leave, or die.

    Arguably, this would be enough to cripple Egypt. And we are on the first one!

    Frogs, flies, boils and darkness While none of these plagues would be necessarily deadly; they would bring the economy of Egypt to a halt. There would be no building projects. No working in the fields. No fishing (as if there were fish), no transportation, no commerce, no trading. Interspersed among the other plagues, the fact that the nation was immobilized would result in only a few deaths, but would be crippling to its economy.

    Anyone caught in the August 2003 blackout of North East America is familiar with how industry can come to an immediate halt. Again, even in an industrialized nation, a little thing like no electricity caused entire states to come to a standstill, and caused a ripple effect across America, regarding transportation and industry. Imagine the results in 15th Century BCE Egypt!

    Death of Livestock The beginning of the terrible plagues. Every Egyptian cow, horse, donkey, oxen, camel and sheep are killed. This would cause devastating problems in a variety of areas. In transportation, every thing would have to be done on foot. Any heavy lifting or tilling of the ground would come to a standstill. The bodies would have to be buried (under dead frog carcasses, if they were still around).

    But most importantly would be the loss of meat. While the Egyptians could live on grains, fruits and stores, animals would be necessary for protein input. (Don’t forget, we already lost all our fish.) Wild game would be the only option, and would start to be hunted with a vengeance.

    There are no babies to grow into the next generation of animals, no cycle of life happening. The Egyptians would be forced to turn to outside sources to obtain new animals—both fully grown, as well as young to replenish the stock.

    At this point, we would see a huge influx of Egyptian goods being traded to outside countries for their animals. An outpouring of gold, weapons, pottery, farm goods, rope, anything to replace these animals. While there would already be some trafficking of animals, nothing on the scale to provide animals for all of Egypt! Traders would be desperately attempting to get animals from neighboring countries, to sell to the Egyptians for ten times the price.

    This is not a matter of weeks, or months, but rather years to attempt to replace a portion of these animals. Imagine being an Egyptian farmer in the interior of Egypt, and you just lost 10 sheep. How do you replace them? By the time you walk to the border, every other person has arrived before you, bartering for sheep. The price is exorbitant; more than you can ever afford. Within a day or two, there are no longer any sheep even for sale.

    But you hear a rumor of more sheep coming in. So you wait a week. As more traders come in, more people arrive, and the princely sums paid the first days appear to be bargains now. Another week, another week. Every sheep is snatched up if even a bleat is heard. Egyptians start traveling farther to cut-off the traders.

    After a few months, you realize that you will not be able to afford sheep this year. No more coming in, all have been bought. You go back and hope for next year. Or the year after that, maybe. But you probably won’t live that long—look what is coming next.

    Hail Wipes out many of the animals that were just obtained from other countries, some servants, and much of the crops. 9:25. Again, the prices of animals would skyrocket from already unobtainable prices. Traders already completely depleted would see repeat customers begging for more.

    Other nations could not help salivating at the ripe plum Egypt had become for capture. Extremely diminished, if any cavalry. No chariots to speak of. People desperate. Rioting over a caught sparrow. All efforts concentrating on survival, not production.

    And for the animals that are left, what do you feed them? People have no meat, and now have no grain to eat. Stealing would be rampant. Any laws would break down at this point, and enforcement would be impossible. Stores would be rampaged and emptied. The officials indicate how bad this is by claiming that Egypt is destroyed. 10:7

    Now the traders would be aware that it was grain that was in high demand. All the animal auction tents would be immediately converted to grain auction tents. The prices would go up.

    And people would starve.

    Locusts A killer. Every single plant is gone; nothing green is left. 10:15. (Note: this would have done within the same harvest as the hail. 10:12)

    The few animals left would have nothing to eat. They would die. What would the people eat? There is no marine life. No wild animals now. No cattle, sheep, or even pigeons. But more importantly, no grain. No fruits. No vegetables.

    The only food source possible would be from outside sources or roots dug up. The riches of Egypt, gold statutes, gold plates, weapons, anything of value would literally pour out of Egypt. Due to the amounts that could be charged for just a handful of wheat, the poor would die. The rich would soon be the poor.

    Those in the interior of Egypt would not have access to the trading from other countries. They would be limited by transportation. Traders at the exterior of Egypt could not get stores from nearby countries fast enough to keep people from starving. We would see a mass migration away from Egypt at this point—people leaving to go into any other country just to eat grass and live.

    Reflect where we are at. There was a lack of water for a period, causing dehydration. Then frogs, gnats and boils, causing sickness, and limiting commerce. A loss of animals, causing a loss of food source, and significant transportation problems. Any animals replaced are killed. All vegetation wiped out. No food, sickness about, weakness within the people the social structure, the economy, the military and economy.

    Tenth Plague The firstborn of every family dies. Including the firstborn of the livestock. (Where do these animals keep coming from? And to the point of having firstborns?) Every single home in Egypt has someone die. 12:30.

    This would be completely demoralizing. We have had mass deaths already from sickness and starvation. An additional death in every household. The nation would crumble. Frankly, taken literally, I would not see how there would be that many people even alive in Egypt at this point, as it was.

    Oddly, the book records that the Hebrews asked the Egyptians for gold, silver and clothing, and since the Egyptians were favored toward the Hebrews, they just gave it up. 12:35-36. After reading what the plagues were doing, does this make any sense at all?

    Army wiped out Although technically not a plague, it is an important event that happened immediately on the heels of these national tragedies, that would further demonstrate how Egypt would no longer be in existence if the Plagues happened as recorded.

    Pharaoh pursues the Hebrews with all of his army, all the chariots and horsemen (where DO those horses keep coming from?), and his captains. 14:9. And they are wiped out. 14:28.

    At this point, there is no military defense to a crippled nation. Remember, the Philistines were right next door, and were so warlike not even YHWH wanted to take them on. 13:17. And to top this all off, the Egyptians lose a slave labor force.

    Can anyone take this literally? We have massive death, economic ruin, military exterminated, society destroyed, and yet what do we see when reviewing the Egyptian history? Nothing. Not a thing. Not a blip, not a burp, not even a hiccup. No massive graves. Egyptian goods stay in Egypt. The military remains a powerful force. Marine life, harvest, livestock all remain as they were.

    Even assuming the Egyptians desired to eliminate the history by not recording it, the effects would be evident. If God did it to demonstrate his Glory, then he immediately removed all traces of it happening. Removed all the bodies. Replaced all the animals. Took the gold/silver from the traders and replaced it in Egyptian coffers. Restored the military. Re-established the society.

    Is that what Christians are saying happened? A miracle that, once recorded in people’s minds, all effects were miraculously removed?

    OR, is it more likely this is a story. A legend. In stories and legends, we don’t have to worry about the effects. We can introduce animals, or remove animals as necessary. We can “wipe out an entire crop” and not worry about what the actual results of such actions would be. It is a story.

    End of post.

    While there was certainly upheaval (hence the name of a new period) during this period, nothing on this scale. Ironically, it was because of a drought on the Nile. According to Egyptian records, it was the lack of water, not a drowning of too much water.

  56. The Ending.

    Joshua records an invasion regarding certain cities. I have already linked a site indicating how those cities do not line up with the 15th Century or 13th Century dates. Now we can focus on the 21st Century date.

    The History of Jericho is not helpful for this date. There is destruction of Jericho and Ai in 2300 – 2200 BCE is over 100 years too early! (Note: 1250 plus 40 years of wandering puts us at 1210 BCE.)

    In fact, during this Early Bronze Period, prior to 2300 BCE, Palestine consisted of many city-states, many of which were destroyed by 2300 BCE. Yet no single group arises out of the destruction.

    Curiously, new practices are seen in the period of 2300 – 1550 BCE which are Syrian in nature! Syria is to the north. Understand the implication here—that any persons who entered Canaan during this time came from the north, NOT from the south. Not from Egypt.

    Do I have to reiterate the language developed in Canaan also came from the North (Phoenicia)?

    See Archeology and the Bible by Laughlin.

    The Middle

    The places listed within the sojourn are a mystery. There is debate as where “Mt. Sinai” is. The peoples such as Amalekites and Midianites are equally a matter of debate, due to the lack of evidence.

    There was a trade route running along the sea, but apparently this was not the route planned by YHWH.

    Curiously, if you look, there is little written on the journey itself, since so much concentration has been on the destination (Canaan).

    There is the problem of sustaining the number of 1.8 million, but if we are declaring this an exaggeration, I am left wondering what number it is I am supposed to be claiming did not cross Sinai?

    Again, it rises to the level of skepticism based upon observation and experience. If we are claiming 200 people crossed the Sinai and lived for 40 years on the peninsula, that is certainly easily possible. Bedouins have for centuries. Like saying we ate bacon. 20,000? Harder. 200,000—much, much harder. 2 Million? Certainly it comes to a point some evidence should be presented by the person making the claim.

    A sidenote.

    I briefly mentioned the issue of language, Here is site explaining the problem.

  57. Conclusion

    Let me try this from a slightly different angle.

    As a lawyer, I am often faced with addressing the same problem from completely opposite sides. Today I may be hired by a father who wants to fight for custody of his children. Tomorrow I may be hired by a mother who wants to fight for custody of her children. The next day by a person who the state is attempting to take away their children.

    Today I may be hired by someone who wants to sue for money. Tomorrow by someone who is being sued for money. Today I am hired to create a corporation—tomorrow hired to break one up.

    Because of this, we become adapt at looking at issues from two (or more) sides.

    Can you look at this from the “other side” as it were? Would it be convincing to you?

    Imagine, if you will, that the Tanakh wrote how a certain group of people followed YHWH. How they obeyed his precepts and his laws, and tore down the high places dedicated to other gods. And how YHWH declared these people, due to their following the law, would be entitled to the land. That YHWH would grant them power, and provide for them, allowing them to overcome those who did not abide by the law.

    Now along comes the skeptic who says, “Oh, no. I say the Hebrew people came from outside sources. They were slaves in Egypt for 100’s of years, and left Egypt to invade Canaan and overtake the inhabitants there.”

    Would this evidence be enough? Would you concede the skeptic must be right, as the evidence is so overwhelming as to the Ten Plagues, the Exodus and the Invasion and declare the Tanakh was incorrect?

    Or would you confidently state the skeptic appears to be making up tales out of thin air? Since there IS no evidence of such a thing?

    If you were on the other side—would you be convinced?

  58. Yael, that was a great post that really summed it up!

    esp loved “It doesn’t matter where we came from, it matters who we have become.

    It doesn’t matter how we first encountered God, it only matters that we have.

    It doesn’t matter the soil in which our roots began. They have been transplanted many times now. It only matters that we have roots which we don’t deny.

    It doesn’t matter that we don’t have all the answers to everyone’s questions, it matters that we allow questions.”

    wonderful! wonderful!

  59. Dagoods, that’s a lot of stuff there – I skimmed through it…well done!

    I guess my claim about Exodus – which I also state is the weak position in the debate – is that there is some foundational events from reality within the stories. Now – for me to conclude what did and did not happen is basically impossible for me to do…maybe Dagoods is right – maybe the lack of proofs is an assurance the whole thing never happened?

    But I cannot not know that for ‘sure’ – I am not to rule upon someone else’s culture. I think it happened in some way, shape, or form – and if the current evidences do not support the claim as it stands – then maybe the claim is not that accurate? I just cannot believe someone would pass this story down for centuries to just promote an idea that did not happen at all. I guess I would ask – why would that culture do that?

    I come from a culture with stories that go a way back into yesteryear – and many of the claims are made for a point to be made concerning the people’s history. Now a lot of it surrounded in myth – granted – but even the story is not a false one each time just because myth enshrouds the essence of the story. Some of this is also a matter of perspective from within the culture.

    In the end, I may be found wrong for believing the exodus – based on evidence that is not very strong…I am grown enough to accept that. But I do believe the exodus is based in some level of history…even to the disagreeance with all the evidence Dagoods has presented – and he may be more right than I am (historically) at this current juncture. I can accept that also. I just have reservations about making the leap to ‘this is not historical by no means’ from ‘this is based in some history’ because I am not a court of law – as much reasonable doubt exists – some reasonable assurance it did also does. Even if a date cannot be figured out.

    I guess in the end – I have to accept that fact I take some of this on reasonable amounts of faith and little less (at this point – since the evidence is not all it is cracked up to be). Yael mentions people making decisions based on personal agendas – I would agree there…isn’t this what we all do?

  60. Yaelbatsarah,

    Thank you for the kind words. I primarily post for two reasons:

    1) To give those who are interested in the study of a topic some things to contemplate;
    2) To hopefully have people consider what methodology they are using in their claims.

    It is…irksome when one religion is mocked for its peculiar belief, yet as an outsider I see that often the person doing the mocking, if applying the same method to their own belief—would find it equally unsupported. It is most evident when particular Christians jeer Mormons for their failure to provide archeological proof of an advanced civilization in Mesoamerica, yet fervently believe Exodus happened. An event with equal lack of archeological proof.

    SocietyVs: I just cannot believe someone would pass this story down for centuries to just promote an idea that did not happen at all. I guess I would ask – why would that culture do that?

    How do we know it was passed down for centuries? We don’t have any time frame fitting the events claimed. Let alone when these events could have occurred. We don’t know when the tales started. Nor the authors. We don’t know when the tales were written—let alone the time from when the tale was created to the time it was written.

    What if the written story came before the oral story?

    I am uncertain how you could claim these stories have been passed down for centuries.

    Secondly as to why a culture would do that—who knows? Cultures do many things we may find latter odd. To give you an idea of the variety of answers—one theory is that these were stories made up by exiles in Babylon returning to the remnant in Palestine to convince those who had stayed they were just as “entitled” to the land as the people living there.

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