Sketches on Atheism

A Jewish Obligation?

truthIn late 1939, less than six months after its introduction, Australian cryptographer, Eric Nave, broke the Japanese naval code, JN-25, through which all Japanese wartime operational messages were sent. On the 25th of November, 1941, British and Australian intelligence officers intercepted and decoded a JN-25 message sent from Admiral Yamamoto in Tokyo to Admiral Nagumo reading: ‘The Task Force will move out of Hitokappu Wan [Tankan Bay] on the morning of the 26th of November and advance to the ready position on the afternoon of the 4th of December and speedily complete refueling.’ This message, as with all decrypts, was sent via Singapore to London where it’s believed Prime Minister Churchill, the former First Lord of the Admiralty, personally inspected each communiqué. On the 2nd of December, 1941, the signal Niitaka yama nobore [Climb Mount Niitaka] was sent by Admiral Yamamoto indicating the attack on Pearl Harbor was to proceed as planned. Neither this message, nor any others concerning the readying of the Japanese fleet in the Pacific, was apparently forwarded to the Americans.

Whether true or not*, did Churchill have an obligation to alert his American counterpart, Roosevelt, of Japanese preparations to attack the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor? Was it his duty to inform the Americans? Was he ethically and/or morally bound to divulge the information?

A version of this same question is facing Jews today. Do the senior figures in Judaism, the rabbis of the largest movements (Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal and Humanistic denominations which account for 80 to 85% of all practicing Jews) have an ethical and/or moral obligation to tell Christians and Muslims that the foundation narrative upon which their faiths are built is a myth with no historical credibility? As the custodians of the bedrock stories that both anchor and give meaning to all Abrahamic faiths do rabbis, in good conscience, have a duty to step outside Judaism and publicly discuss that which is openly taught in all but Orthodox rabbinic seminaries today: that the Patriarchal stories are simple mythology, that Moses was a legendary motif not found in history, that the Jews were never in Egypt, that there was never an Exodus, and that there was never a military conquest of Canaan?

images (2)Now, granted, the JN-25 analogy is perhaps too harsh. The archaeological information is after all freely available, has been for decades, and the point that Christians and Muslims are broadly ignorant to the fact that their religions are built on a tremendous historical misunderstanding is more a failing of popular culture and their own limited curiosity than of rabbis keeping a secret. A better and perhaps more accurate analogy therefore might be that of a major vehicle recall where the manufacturer issues a notice informing owners of a fatal defect in their product. The question though remains the same: As heirs to, and stewards of the narrative, do Jews have a social responsibility to step outside of Judaism and lead a dialogue in which the truth is laid bare?

I recently posed this question to dozens of rabbis and all but two said, No; they didn’t think they bore any culpability for the on-going false historical impression fomenting in other Abrahamic religions, and despite admitting the Jewish foundation narrative detailed in the Hebrew Bible was little more than a geopolitical myth conceived of and promoted in the late 7th and early 6th Century BCE wouldn’t willingly initiate an interfaith dialogue. Rabbi Irwin Kula (President of The National Jewish Centre for Learning and Leadership), for example, expressed to me that “I am actually kind of simple about this. I don’t worry that much about how people misinterpret the bible or get the historicity wrong. I only worry about their actions. If they use the Bible – whether as fact or fiction, or history or myth – in ways that hurt people then it’s a problem, but if they use their misinterpretations and historical inaccuracies to help people and make the world a better place then I am okay and maybe fiction is better than fact for some things.

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

While I respect the good doctor’s position I however emphatically disagree. A belief system which claims to be true – which claims veracity based on alleged historical events – does not get a pass from historical accountability. Something is either true or its not; it’s either genuine or it’s illegitimate, factual or deceptive, and as Conservative Rabbi David Wolpe said: “A tradition cannot make an historical claim and then refuse to have it evaluated by history. It is not an historical claim that God created us and cares for us. That a certain number of people walked across a particular desert at a particular time in the past, after being enslaved and liberated, is an historical claim, and one cannot then cry “unfair” when historians evaluate it.”

we are sorry

Well, historians have evaluated it. They’ve been grading the historical credibility of the Torah and Nevi’im for over a century and the conclusions are in: the narrative is a historical fabrication; a dramatic dream sequence that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the actual early history of the Jewish people. The revealed religions are missing the supposed revelation. And so the question stands: If archaeology, as a scientific body unto itself, has no mandate to “impose” its findings on the larger public stage, then doesn’t the responsibility to correct the monumentally-proportioned historical mistake being practiced by Christians and Muslims fall to the modern-day custodians of the narrative itself: the Jewish Rabbis?

 

*British and US documents pertaining to this event are still classified so it’s impossible to say whether Churchill deliberately withheld information, or whether Roosevelt was in fact in possession of the decrypts and did not act on them, knowing the attack would galvanise the America population and hasten her entry into WW2. 

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187 thoughts on “A Jewish Obligation?

  1. I think there’s an additional difficulty to this dilemma, the state of Israel. Part of its legitimation of the creation of modern Israel is the exodus story, public denouncement of exodus would undermine an essential cornerstone of Israel’s right to exist. The whole conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours is already very tense, hence any weakening of the zionist side would not accepted by that part of the conflict.

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    • I actually disagree. The opposite is in fact true. The current myth says the Jews left, spent 500 years away, then returned and forcibly took the land from its occupants. The actual history though demonstrates that they never left; they’ve had an uninterrupted connection with the land. They emerged as a culturally and linguistic unique group from the general Canaanite population. Surely this strengthens any “historical” claim, not weakens it.

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      • I agree with you that since the jews did not leave the land, they have a strengthened claim on the land. However, my point refers to the concept of the land being promised to them during/before the exodus.

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      • I see your point, but do you really think anyone in their right mind would stand before a panel of international jurors and say, “Well, a magical, invisible, inaudible Sky Being told my ancestors this was ours!” 🙂

        Just to add, the rabbis do speak about all this… just not in an interfaith capacity, which is what I was hitting at. I think they should.

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      • We are both rational people, so we would dismiss such claims. But Moses is recognized as a prophet by both christians and muslims. The idea that jews are entitled to canaan, because God promises so to Moses, is in fact acknowledged by christian and muslim scholars. At least it would make sense to such an audience.

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      • Precisely… but we now know with a great deal of certainty that Moses was a historical fabrication: a literary invention. Only a madman would try and claim he was real…. even Orthodox rabbis today are shying away from committing to any historical veracity of the story.

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    • Does it really matter whether Jews were or were not promised land by a mythical deity in a fairy tale? They had over 2500 years of archaeological history on that land, including having the earliest nation-states in that territory that actually still have a surviving descendant nations. That’s a much better claim than many today’s countries have to some or all of their territory.

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      • Principly you are right. But this is a straight rational argument, and we have here to deal with a religious audience. Which believes that some claim made by an invisible man in the sky could annule any other claim people have.

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      • Funny you should mention the other claim – Arab Muslims also have historical claim to the same land, but an important part of their claim to Palestine (including Israel) is that it’s been given to them as waqf. Which means there is an “invisible-man-in-the-sky” claim on both sides.

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  2. “Do the senior figures in Judaism, … have an ethical and/or moral obligation to tell Christians and Muslims that the foundation narrative upon which their faiths are built is a myth with no historical credibility?

    Of course, but as we have learned with Churchill (if this story is true) and with car manufacturers, one’s self-interests ultimately overrides any notion of ethics or morality. Basic human survival instincts still weigh heavily in people’s decision-making and that’s why so-called ethical codes are and will likely forever be dubious at best.

    Kudos John. Another great take o this topic.

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    • Cheers, Larry. I have to admit i was a little surprised at the almost uniform rejection of any responsibility to lead a dialogue. Wolpe, for example, jumped at the idea but on the whole there was a strong aversion to what i think the rabbis thought was “interference” in others’ religions. I can respect that position, but i really don’t think its justified, particularly considering the intimate relationship all Abrahamic faiths have to the Jewish origin tale. Someone at some point in time is going to have to speak about in an adult manner.

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  3. A tradition cannot make an historical claim and then refuse to have it evaluated by history.

    More importantly, one cannot assume ‘inerrancy’ of the source material when the historical evaluation of it is shown to be false without becoming a promoter of a lie. Claims of biblical inerrancy is not a faith claim but a lie, a kind of blatant historical revisionism that is based on no regard for what is true but a dismissal of it!

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    • Oh so true, and this brings us back to the failings of popular culture. I’ve forgotten right now which rabbi it was, but he called most popular (biblical-themed) documentaries little more than embarrassing pseudo-science. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t get us any closer to answering the question: who bears the responsibility to right this historical farce?

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    • A religion can make any claim it wishes (and they do) and refuse to have it examined/criticised by anybody (and they do) and be as dogmatic as they wish (and they are) about any rubbish at all.

      And they do …

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  4. I always thought the land claim issues would be an but of course it wouldn’t, would it?
    In fact, by publically entering dialogue there would be no need to fear for the right to claim “ownership” at all and the Palestinian issue could be amicably sorted out in a Jiffy as all stupid religious-based claims would disappear in a puff of smoke…or Woo woo as Tildeb says.
    It would be a case of , “See, we wus here all along. How d’yer like them apples then, hey?”
    Furthermore the neighbouring Arab states could simply pack away their Nukes & battle camels and shut the F**k up.
    They could still have their damn god…but it would a No – Name House Brand and all the Profits…sorry, I mean,Prophets, could be politely shown the door.

    Imagine, all enmity would wither like the proverbial fig tree.
    Yes, I agree with you, John,they damn well do have a responsibility to speak up.

    I sense that there may be a Fatwa with your name on it… Keep your head down , my friend.

    I notice the link you posted on apologetics site…hmmm. Will he respond?

    This is good stuff John, make no mistake.
    Serialised Newspaper articles?
    Back of Cornflake boxes? Who knows, the World Is Your Mollusc, Senor Zande.
    I never tire of reading your stuff. You should post more.

    Seriously. I really feel you have the makings of a pretty good book on the boil here. Along with your truly excellent prose you have all this freely offered input from scholars rabbis, archaeologists etc.
    You cannot hide a light under a bushel and all that.

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    • Thank you, kind sir… and I agree, the Jews should really embrace this actual history as it solidifies their connection to the land. No absenteeism = No problem. A book of essays would indeed be good. The thought is definitely there, just have to convince the rabbis and archaeologists to pick up a pen.

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      • Why do you think there is so much reluctance on their part (the 85% you mention) if a political solution to much of the “Middle East crisis” seems so readily at hand?

        You have mentioned before how many consider themselves jewish by culture rather than faith, ( technically atheist)and if they have the “Title Deeds” to the land already in hand why do you think they feel more comfortable to sit on their hands?

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      • Oh, Conservatives (the largest denomination) are still theists. It’s a rather strange situation. Someone like Wolpe openly admits the Torah is a myth, yet then does an aerial pirouette and says “But god is real.” His evidence, the evidence he uses, is the fact that Jewish people are still alive. That, to him, is proof. What’s actually happening is they’re redefining “god.” Reconstructionsist were out and out atheists, for example, but they’ve dialed it back in recent years to be more Deists. This is their platform statement:

        “Judaism is the result of natural human development. There is no such thing as divine intervention; Judaism is an evolving religious civilization; Zionism and aliyah (immigration to Israel) are encouraged; Reconstructionist Judaism is based on a democratic community where the laity can make decisions, not just rabbis; The Torah was not inspired by God; it only comes from the social and historical development of Jewish people; The classical view of God is rejected. God is redefined as the sum of natural powers or processes that allows mankind to gain self-fulfillment and moral improvement; The idea that God chose the Jewish people for any purpose, in any way, is “morally untenable”, because anyone who has such beliefs “implies the superiority of the elect community and the rejection of others”.

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      • If they reject the Mosaic/ Abrahamic Covenant why do they still circumcise males?
        Why celebrate Passover?

        In fact, the former is just child abuse, pure and simple, and the latter was little more than a mini ethnic cleanse/mass murder.

        Furthermore, if they publicly rejected the notion of separateness ( as stated above) and being the chosen ones, anti-semitism would have (eventually) nowhere to go, surely?

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      • I guess some people just really, really, really want to believe in a god, and the deistic notion is not as rationally absurd as the personal one.

        Regarding Passover, read the Wolpe article linked above with his name. If i remember correctly he speaks about why they still celebrate it, even though its a myth.

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      • The Torah is not a book we turn to for historical accuracy, but rather for truth. The story of the Exodus lives in us. Standing at the Passover Seder, I see in my mind’s eye the Israelites marching out of Egypt, the miracles at the sea, and the pillar of fire leading them through the fearful night. I feel an enormous gratitude to God. For although we cannot know exactly how God has saved our people, we have been saved. Despite unimaginable odds and opposition, the Jewish people have seen nation after nation buried under the debris of history while our nation lives. Here is where archeology, history, scholarship and scripture meet: Am Yisrael Chai, the nation of Israel remains alive.

        This struck as particularly odd, even slightly disturbing, as if the writer is displaying some sort of cognitive dissonance.
        They are admitting it was all myth yet celebrating and holding on as if letting it go would mean their ”Jewishness” would crumble to dust and disappear.

        On the one hand they issue a statement decrying and denying their separateness and that they are not anything special or chosen in any sense yet on the other they are revelling in the mystery of their god, thanking him for saving (freeing?) them and celebrating the longevity of their ‘tribe’.

        What exactly is this bloke trying to say?

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      • It’s a little confusing, isn’t it? This is what Rabbi Jeffrey Falick (The Birmingham Temple) had to say about it to me:

        I am highly critical of Wolpe’s and his colleagues’ efforts to simultaneously declare that the Torah is a work of fiction and that it somehow reflects deeper truths. It does not. The Torah reflects the attitudes of the people who wrote it and their attitudes are a reflection of the times in which they lived, no more and no less.”

        And just so you know, many Reconstructionists are in fact atheists. The deistic platform is non-binding, but it is interesting in how they reject god and flatly state there was no revelation, ever. Christians should see that.

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      • And no doubt Wolpe disregards this bloke’s opinion considering him nothing more than a Falick symbol?

        Remember the line in Life of Brian during the crucifixion?

        “I’m Brian, and so’s my wife”

        It appears confusion reigns and uniformity is still a few furlongs round the bend. Which is a bit f a problem, as it seems many are already round the bend.
        Not quite as cut and dried as one might hope.
        Cognitive dissonance par excellence.

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  5. I remember watching something a while back that revealed America’s plans to declare war on Britain. They had been attempting to get the Canadians on side, who refused, but as fate or luck would have it, the Japanese invaded at Pearl Harbour, and the Americans realised that they would be better off with Britain as an ally. Could explain why Churchill had no compunction to pass the info on.
    (*And for anyone itching to ask me to cite a source, or provide evidence, so that they can hide behind their self importance, too bad. This is publicly available knowledge, go look for it yourself!)
    Not directed at you John, but there is always one.

    I also watched something recently about the Exodus after the sacking of the Temple, which was very enlightening indeed. That Josephus was a devious bugger wasn’t he?

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      • Not to mention that he really wasn’t a Pharisee at all according to traditional Christian views, but actually one of the elite class posing as a servant of the poor in order to win favour with the Romans. What’s even funnier is the fact that archaeological evidence now suggests that the modern day Palestinians are the descendants of the Jews that stayed put, despite the fall of the Temple. But I guess you know all this already my learned friend. 🙂

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    • Sorry to have to step in here, Ishaiya – not to promote self-importance – but to clarify (because I’m a Canadian with a pretty good grasp of history of these parts): asking Canadians to declare war on Britain would be like asking the US Marines to declare war on the US Army; it makes no historical or common sense. We swear allegiance to the Crown as our head of state from which all political power derives, and if Canadians are respectful of anything, it’s the demand from government for peace, order, and good governance. Any Canadian government of any level that attempted to declare war against Britain would be subject to a popular uprising and its promoters at the very least stripped bare, tarred and feathered, and then run out of town to the hasty assembly of the local brass band. Once this was done, a hockey game would break out in celebration while the BBQ was fired up.

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      • This is very likely why they told the Americans where to get off in no uncertain terms. I’m amazed that the Americans even had the gaul to ask to be honest. That being said it is all history across the water now, so to speak. Besides the Americans apparently underestimated the strength of the British Naval Fleet, and according to military historians wouldn’t have stood a chance against them at that time, also because the British had the support of the Canadians anyway. I can’t remember what cockamamie excuse the Americans used to try and curry favour with the Canadians to try and get their support, but I think it was something along the lines of an economic threat. Nothing new there. Just as well the Japs turned up when they did. We might not be having this conversation right now, and what a shame that would be…

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  6. Well, two questions here. The first is whether archaeologists are obliged to take extraordinary steps to disseminate not just their research, but the implications of their research. On that count, I’d say no. They have the responsibility to correct factual errors that fall within their remit – so if they heard someone misusing their research (a claim they had found something they did not), then they have a duty to correct that. Trying to control how people interpret their findings is a different issue.

    Rabbis, on the other hand, have a clear duty not to tell falsehoods. Obviously it’s an explosive issue because of Israel, but would revealing that Moses was a fable make Judaism itself collapse? No, because we know that when religious folk are confronted with the contradictions in their beliefs, they find a way to absorb it. So Catholics and Anglicans acknowledge that Genesis is a myth, but overcome it by saying it’s the New Testament that’s important.

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    • First point: I agree. Second point: Judaism survives just as well without Moses as it would with. The Humanistic rabbis, led by Chalom (a ferociously intelligent man) are tackling this point head on; embracing what it means to be “Jewish” without all the religious nonsense.

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      • There must be some noticeable changes if Moses is (officially and publicaly) declared Myth, surely?
        Have any of the Rabbis outlined how they would move forward yet still maintain a Jewish religion without one of their core components? And never mind the the Egypt scenario, there is still the mountain climbing trip to consider, the ten commandments etc etc.
        How do they refashion this to come out smelling of roses and still assign authority to a deity?

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      • Good questions. I don’t have any good answers. I know Chalom, the head of the Humanistic movement, tackles it head-on by focusing on Jewish identity and history, which is quite remarkable considering the amount of thinkers and scientists and financiers they’ve produced. Hell, Spinoza laid the very platform for the Enlightenment!

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      • But to my mind this still doesn’t address things like cutting bits of their willies. Or is this another thing they have to ‘fess up about? “We made it up”
        And if they do, will moves by the European (Union?)Court to declare this child abuse impact on them?
        No religious excuses any more, right?

        So many questions.

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      • Well the motion was (recently?) brought to the attention of the European Court via one of the Nordic/Scandinavian countries, I think.

        http://www.icenews.is/2013/12/01/no-ban-on-circumcision-on-norway/

        I found this article on Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision_and_law

        and wondered when a charge of anti semitism might rear its ugly head and there was this….

        Swedish Jews and Muslims objected to the law,[75] and in 2001, the World Jewish Congress called it “the first legal restriction on Jewish religious practice in Europe since the Nazi era.”[76]

        However, further investigation suggests it won’t be banned…..not for now.
        Sorry…got sidetracked. Delete if you like. No probs.

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    • Sadly I don’t think that any truth counts where religion is concerned. I remember reading (somewhere) that at the time of the Mau Mau ‘troubles’ in Kenya the MM witchdoctors gave their flocks bullet-proof shirts—if their faith was strong they could put the shirts on then disregard British weapons. Anyone getting rearranged by those weapons was ipso facto lacking in faith …

      Quite a few, apparently, lacked true faith but it didn’t stop the survivors trying until someone with a tad of common sense told ’em to desist.

      I imagine that the MM witchdoctors stayed in the rear whilst exhorting the faithful to bigger and better efforts …

      RELIGION: faith will overcome ‘truth’ any day in the minds of the loyal. A speeding bullet doesn’t know that, though …

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  7. Interesting post….If I thought about religion much I might have a good answer to the question you pose. Funny how NO one in the Jewish faith ever mentions the Epic of Gilgamesh which is almost word for word the Books of Moses and written 1500 years before the accepted date of the founding of Judaism….without confirming that it is ripe-off of the ancient Sumerian text there will be NO discussion…just my thought…….chuq

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    • I think most rabbis admit Gilgamesh is the source of the Flood narrative and Utnapishtim was the origin of Noah. The six-part Judaic creation story is also far too close to the Zoroastrian creation myth to be a coincidence. It has the cardinal couple Mashya and Mashyana (Adam and Eve), the duality of the universe, the human condition, the concept of Free Will, and even the End Times prophecies with a Saoshyant; a saviour figure. As for Moses, his birth story is lifted straight from the much older tale of King Sargon.

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      • The flood story goes back even further than that, John, to the end of the Jemdet Nasr period about 2900 BCE, and to the actual, historical, Sumerian king,Ziusudra, who escaped a Euphrates River flood that saw water rise to a height of the same 15 cubits the Bible mentions (22.5 feet), but covering the equivalent of about three counties, rather than the peaks of the highest mountains, as one would find in Genesis. The king of Shuruppak boarded a trading barge, loaded with cotton, cattle and beer, and sailed down to the Persian Gulf. Ziusudra became the model for the fictional Utnapishtim of the Gilgamesh epic.

        Note the sacrifice scene in both Gilgamesh and the Bible – Gilgamesh tells us the gods swarmed above Utnapishtim’s burnt offering like flies, because they “smelled the sweet savor.” The Bible informs us that Noah’s god, “smelled the sweet savor.” Plagiarism like that succeeds more easily among a people, the majority of whom are illiterate and unquestioning.

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      • That, sir, is a brilliant piece of information. I had no idea. A good day is always one when i learn something new. You’re a champion.

        Just a question, though. In the Sumerian King List the last entry before the flood is this: “In Curuppag, Ubara-Tutu became king; he ruled for 5 sars. In 5 cities 8 kings; they ruled for 67 sars. Then the flood swept over.” Is Ziusudra separate from this?

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      • Strange, that in the email I got with your comment on it, this wasn’t part of it, so I nearly didn’t respond to it:

        “Just a question, though. In the Sumerian King List the last entry before the flood is this: “In Curuppag, Ubara-Tutu became king; he ruled for 5 sars. In 5 cities 8 kings; they ruled for 67 sars. Then the flood swept over.” Is Ziusudra separate from this?”

        “Curuppag” certainly does sound like Surupak, doesn’t it?
        I don’t know which Sumerian Kings List you have – I have 4:
        WB444
        WB62
        UCBC 9-1×19
        BEROSSOS (written in Greek)

        In WB444, which I must assume you have, as Ubarututu is mentioned, while WB62 and UCBC 9-1×19 both mention Ziusudra; BEROSSOS denotes Xisuthros, which my sources tell me is Greek for Ziusudra – what do I know, it all Greek to me —

        A thing that I don’t like about WordPress sites, is that those who comment, can’t upload a picture – I can put a movie on your site, but not a simple jpeg – I have an image of the 4 kings lists, but thanks to the limitations of WordPress, I will have to upload it to a blank page on the web, and you will have to retrieve it, if you want it.

        You can find it here:

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      • Not at all sure which one i’ve been working off. Didn’t actually know there were versions, but it looks like WB444. Mine reads:

        After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug. In Eridug, Alulim became king; he ruled for 8 sars. Alaljar ruled for 10 sars. 2 kings; they ruled for 18 sars. Then Eridug fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira. In Bad-tibira, En-men-lu-ana ruled for 12 sars. Dumuzid, the shepherd, ruled for 10 sars. 3 kings; they ruled for 30 sars. Then Bad-tibira fell and the kingship was taken to Larag. In Larag, En-sipad-zid-ana ruled for 8 sars. Then Larag fell and the kingship was taken to Zimbir. In Zimbir, En-men-dur-ana became king; he ruled for 6 sars. Then Zimbir fell and the kingship was taken to Curuppag. In Curuppag, Ubara-Tutu became king; he ruled for 5 sars. In 5 cities 8 kings; they ruled for 67 sars. Then the flood swept over.

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      • Ahhh, I see. I don’t think anyone’s doubting that there have been floods, Clap, just a little dubious as to the more colourful narrative sometimes attached to them.

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      • “…at least we can agree (?) there was at a minimum a cataclysmic local loos. And a boat was involved…-)”

        Who could ask for more proof than that, that a global flood occurred – in fact, that way more than theists usually have.

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  8. “is more a failing of popular culture and their own limited curiosity than of rabbis keeping a secret.”
    Many times i have heard modern day Christians say “God has a plan”. They have been trained to have a limited curiosity and this phrase also relieves them of any responsibility’s.

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  9. “the point that Christians and Muslims are broadly ignorant to the fact that their religions are built on a tremendous historical misunderstanding is more a failing of popular culture and their own limited curiosity than of rabbis keeping a secret.”

    To this list, John, “a failing of popular culture and their own limited curiosity,” I would have to add fear of social, physical and/or spiritual reprisal.

    I can name, off the top of my head, at least a dozen corporations that would fold, or at least see the value of their stock plummet, if someone came out and told the unvarnished truth about some of their products. Those boys in black are selling a product, just like all of the other snake oil salesmen – Popes, priests, and rabbis are in no more of a hurry to be out of a job, than anyone else – what incentive would they possibly have, for telling the truth?

    Your point, however, is well made.

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    • Thanks, Arch. I don’t see non-orthodox rabbi’s being affected/effected by the truth as much as Muslims and Christians. Judaism is open to interpretation and the feeling i get is it’s cultural more than religious. Orthodox rabbis who base their faith on Torah Mi Sinai are however in for some trouble, as with Christians and Muslims whose foundations are rooted in the godly revelations of the OT. Take that away and its a pretty empty basket.

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      • I have been giving this some thought, John. Do you think there is anyway they could squeeze through the bars and come up with some weird confabulation that might suddenly do a Marcion style back flip that reinvents Jesus?

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      • Miss Keene already has. It’s either Jesus was fully aware and was just playing dumb, regarding things like Moses, or, God had to forfeit most of his knowledge to become flesh and blood, hence explaining the historical blunders. Both are unacceptable excuses, but it shows people are thinking.

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  10. Judaism is not just open to interpretation, it is based upon it. The anti-intellectual crowd here in the U.S. is the cause of the “scripture is inerrant and you can read it for yourself” movement which mainly says that there is no room for interpretation. We don’ want no pointy headed priests tellin’ us’n what to think, by gum!

    I wonder, then, how these folks know their bible is true? Either the book itself says so (it does) or someone says so (they do) but how did those come to their conclusion?

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    • Circular Reasoning, Steve, Circular Reasoning…. Guaranteed to get you out of any theological jam.

      I haven’t read the commentary, but I’m told the recorded debates in the Talmud (regarding the interpretation of scripture) is quite lively.

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  11. You might enjoy Hebrew Jewish Scholar Mark Brettler, http://www.brandeis.edu/departments/nejs/faculty/brettler.html

    In particular his book “Creation of History.”

    I think if you spent but one semester in an Episcopal or Jesuit seminary you’d soon find many religious and scholars agree with many of your points. Or attend a Torah portion at a reform synagogue.

    The truth is, many believers of all religions understand myth just fine, and even consider it deeper than historical fact.

    As I’ve said, credibility is in the mind of the beholder ; )

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    • Oh, I agree with you. I was never raised to believe anything really in the OT. It was broadly accepted to be myth… but it was never actually “said” as such. You know, Keene, my articles are always directed to the fundamentalist… those wacky young earth, science-hating folk whose nonsense must really be boxed for our species sake.

      Seems, though, the rabbinic colleges are pretty far ahead of the Christian seminaries. Talking to Ark up above about how Rabbi Wolpe maintains his belief in a god while publically calling the Tanakh a myth. As far as i’m aware there hasn’t however been a single priest or preacher who’s confessed to his congregation: “It’s all BS, but i think we can move on…”

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    • These stories stop being myths the moment the supernatural stops being symbolic of human themes. The supernatural is a signpost for a myth, so if one thinks these are literal and historical critters/events then the story loses its purpose and it becomes pure fiction of entertainment. Credibility should be based on knowledge, n’est pas?

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      • As a writer, I agree and disagree ; ) Fiction is often purposefully written to reveal truth, or to tell a true story but not name names. “Supernatural” has often proved to be previously unknown science, same thing with miracles. I base credibility on both knowledge and how that knowledge is used.

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      • “To the scientist, the word ‘supernatual‘ is a contradiction.
        Everything that is in the universe is natural;
        the supernatural is the natural not yet understood.
        And that which is called the supernatural is often the figment of a
        disordered, undisciplined or undeveloped imagination.”
        — Elbert Hubbard —

        “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance, that gets smaller and smaller as time goes on.”
        — Neil Degrasse Tyson —

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      • I know how scientists think. I’m an engineer. “Supernatural” in practice has often meant wrong, ignorant, or not yet discovered. Or worse, known for years but kept under wraps.

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  12. I can think of times when a group of friends knew something and thought it was true. Sometimes we found out differently and would decide not to tell one friend because it might be upsetting. I mean it didn’t hurt to let her go on believing that her beloved one etc etc etc. lol

    Not exactly the same thing as your Jewish Obligation question. But we do skirt issues.
    We expect the truth from our children. We expect the truth from friends, relatives, business, government etc. Why not from religion too? I now know the friendly preacher of the church I attended knew that the stories were myths.

    I suppose if my job depended on shading the truth…..

    I agree with other comments that you always give us something of value to think about. 🙂

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    • Likewise, Meme, You make a great point about “expecting honesty from…” This is dead true. There is no institution or relationship i can think of where lying is expected and accepted, except for in religion, and maybe the espionage business. Put this way it seems all the more intolerable, doesn’t it.

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  13. American Jews may not have a problem with telling the Christians and Muslims that it’s all nonsense. The Israelis might have more of a problem since the US is full of TrueChristians who believe in such nonsense and base foreign aid on it.

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    • The grand Temple Project. No surer way to hasten the return of baby Jesus… apparently.

      Funnily enough, just under 50% of Israeli’s are secular/atheist. Orthodox only account for between 20 to 25% of the religious in Israel (10% in the US), but they’re a vocal minority.

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  14. Tut~!

    Silly man, you are completely missing the point. Religion isn’t about truth (if it were they’d all be out of a job) — it’s all about power, wealth, and control; and any (R) any means is fair means if it works.

    Now take ten demerits, go sit in a cave somewhere and repeat at least a thousand times: God’s word is NOT to be challenged and his mouthpieces are all impeccable.

    Come out after your thousand and we’ll say no more about it — sheesh, how often do I have to … mutter mutter mutter …

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  15. No, Jews don’t have any obligation to tell everyone that their favorite prophets Moses and Abraham aren’t real, especially considering their history. Don’t you remember how much flak Jews have been getting in the last couple of thousand years for telling Romans that Jesus isn’t really a Son of God?
    Besides, this is all public information already, unlike the Japanese intercept you mention in the beginning – and you know well enough how likely is that this information is going to change the minds of believers.

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    • I think “obligation to tell” is too strong a turn of words. “Responsibility to lead a dialogue” might be better. I think you’ll agree that Rabbis have a unique authority here in this matter; their voice carries a weight which cannot (should not) be ignored. Now, you’re correct, fundamentalists won’t change their minds, but no one is trying to change fundamentalist’s minds. Educating the kids is the goal… let them know the truth. Sure, this information is available, and yet History Channel/Discovery and like still produce historically inaccurate accounts of the Jewish people/biblical stories. Only rabbis have the clout to correct this ongoing historical blunder, and as they admit it freely already an interfaith dialogue is only a phone call away.

      X, did you read my post which reproduced part of the prologue of Rabbi Sherwin Wine’s book, A Provocative People? This is the type of honesty I’m talking about. Buy his book if you can. It’s worth a read.
      https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/rabbi-sherwin-t-wine/

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  16. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
    Who cares? Is there any relevance to real life~?

    I’ve stated before and am open to any challenge: “If Jesus Him/themself were to front up in … sayyyyy … the Vatican and/or the United Nations and publicly declare the whole Abrahamic religion thing to be a crock—it would make no difference whatsoever. None. Zilch.

    And if He had Mohammad on one arm and Buddha on the other testifying likewise … still no difference.
    Mere facts ain’t gonna stop this thing, it’s outgrown its creators. Not even God can stop it now …

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    • With all due respect, Dog: bollocks. Have some faith, my Tasman cousin. It just takes a couple of generations to smother it. The statistics already speak for themselves: the infamous “Nones” are rocketing, whereas the religious are on a steady decline. Effectively cut the indoctrination process and the deck is marginalised.

      Of course, some other nonsense will emerge in its place…. That’s to be expected, but i’ll take ancient aliens over magical oogity-boogity any day.

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      • That’s the whole point—always (r) always “some other nonsense will emerge in its place”.

        I read somewhere decades ago that “churches are closing in Britain at the rate of five or more a week” and thought they should run out soon. Nobody mentioned anything about mosques and others of their ilk opening in place.

        So cutting the indoctrination process would have to be a universal to do any good (and that just ain’t gonna happen). People don’t want facts—

        “Hey, you!”
        “Whom, I?”
        “Yeah, you! Ya gonna die, Bud. For ever. Goo in the ground.”
        “Eek!”
        “But I can offer ya salvation—”
        “Oh no … not another Jesus merchant—”
        “Naaah, that bugger died on a cross ages ago. Old hat now. The archaeologists and things proved it all a big con—”
        “Hah! Thought so!”
        “But we got a new one now, called ‘The Church Of The Holy Goat’ — it seems that all along God was testin’ us, investigating and watching in the form of a goat … well, Buddy, we found that goat livin’ on a Amish farm, so now we’re spreading His Holy Word—”
        Oh thank God for that! I was feeling a bit lost as an agnostic! Where do I sign up?”

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      • Ta for that … I hadn’t realised it was a link until you advised. (That pic — isn’t that the “Concorde” variant?)

        Brilliant~!

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    • “If Jesus Him/themself were to front up in … sayyyyy … the Vatican and/or the United Nations”

      Are you kidding? A little 5′ 6″ scruffy-looking Jewish guy, dirty bare feet and sandals – they’d throw him out on his ass and go back to praying to him!

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      • Actually … I thought that once they’d tested him … you know, walked him across water without sinking and proved he was He … they’d set the Swish guard onto Him and gallop him down to the deepest oubliette and throw away the key.

        In the meantime, business as usual.

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  17. What an interesting post! My husband is Jewish, and we recently took our daughter to a Rosh Hashanah children’s service (Reform). I was amazed at the frankness the Rabbi spoke about evolution (as true), and Noah as myth. Not quite in those words, but the underlying belief was one of the Genesis stories as folktale. Contrast that to my Christian family, who believe in a literal interpretation and it’s night and day! I think there is generally more acceptance of the Documentary Hypothesis and multiple authors of the Torah amongst Jewish leaders compared to their Christian counterparts. Whether they have an obligation to “enlighten” Christians…I think that is a bit of a stretch. Personally, I’d like to see the new Pope come out and say it’s all a bunch of holy crap.

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  18. Morals are funny things. If Churchill withheld because he knew an attack would help get the US to enter the war — which Churchill badly needed, then it was a pragmatic, utilitarian act for the greater good: moral in those terms. We must always define terms, eh? Likewise, if Jews or any other sect hold back the truth about the myths so as to keep members and the allusion of being a special chosen people, they may likewise be sacrificing truth for benefit in a similar way.

    And that seems the answer of the folks you asked. BTW, how did you ask them? E-mail, in person, letters, blogs — how are you connected, may I ask? You say you questioned “dozens”.

    It seems people are confirming that they feel religion is not about “right belief” but about “usefulness” and most of my casual believing friends know this but can’t say it.

    Heck, when I watch my kids come home with the bullshit teachings of Democracy and American virtues — a civil religion — at the expense of truth, I want to …..

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    • Email, mostly. This is still all material from my previous post, “Of course what you say is true, but…”

      The information is freely available, so the point is more should Rabbi’s (with the authority vested in them) lead a dialogue. Something has to happen because historically ludicrous documentaries are still being produced, and that should be (must be) corrected. Truth should be our ultimate purpose. Accepting lies is just silly.

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      • Trust me, I want the lies about these myths exposed too!
        I am just trying to guess their motivations.
        So, as I tried to say, it shows that most people don’t treasure their religion as repository for propositional truth but as a practical social tool.

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      • For sure. A few months ago i was chatting with a particularly outspoken apologist. It was an interesting conversation which took a surprising turn when he admitted “I know, it’s all myth, but i believe because it makes me feel good.”

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      • Exactly.
        You see, many Atheists seem naive to this point.
        They engage believers as if the believer holds beliefs as true propositions instead of how their faith serves them.
        Exploring how our myths serves us is often the more interesting conversation.

        The Israeli myth, for instance, is used to justify why they should rule the land. It makes them feel special. Giving that up is hard.
        Manifest Destiny served American political religion also.

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      • Grrr… I really wish people would stop abusing the term ‘myth’ like this.

        Myths don’t lie; they represent human themes on how to live well. People interpret them incorrectly and warp the symbolism of the supernatural into literal critters/historical events and destroy the truth value of the myth by doing so. People who find out the symbols aren’t literal then blame the myths for this all the time… so much so that the term now is synonymous with ‘lie’. This misdirected blaming is what needs correcting and not the myths themselves.

        This is why pretending that religions that present their supernatural critters/historical events as central tenets are not ‘myths’ of that religion; they are just-so stories of fiction that are entirely self-promoting, which has nothing whatsoever to do with mythology and everything to do with woo.

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      • In India, where I use to live and where ‘myths’ abound, I would see a great spectrum of ways people held their “stories”/”myths”/”tales”. I think it is unavoidable that the spectrum runs from symbolic to literal. It is unavoidable that “myth” has such a large number of usages (‘meanings’).

        Take the Greek story of gods — now just fun myths for us but stuff to die over back in ancient times.

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  19. I must second the point Ishaya and Sabio Lanz made about the ethical responsibility of Mr. Churchill. At that point the end result of the war with Germany seemed very uncertain, even though I personally think he allready understood, that Germany will loose the war, no doubt Mr. Churchill was terrified of the possibility, that the over all winner in continental Europe would be the Soviet Union. And even, if the US was not planning a war against Britain (Canada most certainly was not) Mr. Roosevelt really needed a strong casus belli, because both isolationist and pro-fascist sentiments were not rare in the US. So yes, perhaps his act, or that of Mr. Roosevelt, was unethical, but they were most likely acting in the interrest of “greater good”. Or the governments and military intelligences (what an oxymoron) just bungled, wich is actually more likely.

    The existance of state of Israel may not be dependant upon the Biblical stories to be true, but the Israeli government hard liners who treat Palestinians as a pariah race and their neighbouring states (and some Islamic nations further away) as open enemies are depending on the Christian Zionists in the US. Perhaps this will change as the neighbouring states are now rapidly changing, it seems like the best chance for Israel to normalize their relationships with their neighbours in years. If they do not start to treat the Palestinians as a nother nation and not like conquered enemies, this will fail. However, without the continuing and unwavering support (regardless if Israel attacks UN peace keeping troops) from the US, Israel simply could not act as it does and keep up the balance of terror. And of course it is also very usefull to other allies of US like the Saudis to have a belligerent enemy. Having a hatefull enemy any nation is unified instead of people questioning their own rulers right to act in any manner. And it is usefull to the US government to have these puny enemies overseas, by whom to frighten the US citizens into line, all the while weapons manufacturers make good profit by selling overprized crap as weapons for people to feel safe.

    The rabbis would really be pissing in their own fire, if they tried to make a big fuss about the fictional nature of the Biblical stories. Because, if the creation story and Moses are fables, then how do we know god ain’t? It is not like this god manifests anywhere any more than any of the other gods people already do not believe in? The rabbis are merely admitting the mythical nature of these stories, because in their civilized and educated social environment they and their god would be ridiculed, if they tried to forger science the same way as the creationists are attempting with the ignorant rednecks.

    I must also second Archaeopteryx1 in that it is really not so much the responsibility of the archeologists to come out with the truth. They have. The job of the scientist – like an archeologist – is to make science, to study and research. It is the job of the media, the journalists to make the story awailable to the larger audience, hence educate us to be better citizens, voters and for the democracy to actually work. Because, with better information one has higher morals as one is able to make more informed decisions.

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    • And the circle of responsibility goes round and round: Consumers creates the media as does the media create the consumer. The responsibility is on all of us while we blame each other of being responsible.

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      • Yes, point taken, I do agree we all have responsibility to enlighten our fellow citizens and other human beings. Just like John Zande has is doing here (and you Sabio in yours). However, coming from a country with a national broadcasting company a media, that is publicly funded and with an obligation to transmit educational information. I see the role of the media a bit differently. The citizens of a democratically organized nation not only deserve, but also need other information suppliers, than the consumer and advertizer dependant commercial tabloid media. Of course it always depends on the personal ethics of the journalist, wether they are only acting as the circus clown for the entertainment of the audience or as the loudspeaker of the rulers, or perhaps tries to reveal some interresting new discoveries, even if such discoveries challenge the public opinion. But the TV companies, newspapers and other large scale media are the ones with the tools – the medium – to inform the populace at large.

        For even the most educated teachers to tell their students about new or old discoveries of science, they first have to have not only the access, but at least a little peek (wich mainly comes from the media) that there even are these new discoveries, before they can even seek out the information for them. And the job of the educators in turn is to not only to provide the information, but to provide the students with the tools of critical thinking to evaluate weather or not the info is important, valid, or even plausible. So, yes the circle of responsibility goes around, but it does not mean there is no responsibility at all, rather that there are many responsibilities considering the truth – at least in a democracy.

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      • Here in the US, we have Fox News, whose programming is extremely liberal, including the ever-irreverant, often risque, “Simpsons,” but Fox executives discovered long ago that there is a market out there, from which money can be made, and thus their news is always slanted to feed that ever-hungry conservative market the conspiracy theories and biased news stories they so eagerly crave, in order to satisfy their confirmation bias.

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      • The +1 was for Rautakyy’s comment… with one caveat: private broadcasters and media outlets I think are in steep decline. The replacement is the Intertubes where all of us have to figure out fact from fiction or suffer from confirmation bias to a much greater degree than we find now. One option could be a public demand for a much greater emphasis in education on critical and skeptical thinking… but I’m not holding my breath. I suspect what will happen – at least in what I perceive to be the foreseeable future – is what is called an increase in ‘silo’ membership: a narrowing rather than expansion of public discourse to specific topics of interest rather than the wide spectrum of concerns that reduces the ability to see and understand connections. And I agree we must all do our part to get out the news to respect reality rather than just try to promote our preferred beliefs about it.

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    • Yep, it seems we’re all in agreement. It’s not the role of archaeologists to lead a dialogue; they have no mandate to do so. Rabbi’s do admit the mythological nature of the story among themselves (in seminaries) and its becoming common now in the synagogues and temples (see THINKING CRITICALLY ABOUT RELIGION comment above). The question is should they lead an interfaith dialogue? There isn’t an easy answer to this question. Ultimately, as you pointed out, it’s a failing in popular culture, and in this regard both rabbis and archaeologists I spoke with expressed a serious need to correct “pseudo-scientific” documentaries which perpetuate the myth. Neither rabbis nor archaeologist are, however, doing this… Hence the dilemma we’re in and why the question remains open.

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      • “It’s not the role of archaeologists to lead a dialogue; they have no mandate to do so.”

        While I agree with what you say, I would add that archaeologists DO have an obligation to make their findings available to all, rather than keeping them secret to placate some religious segment, or possibly to sanctify their own personal convictions.

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      • Yeah, every archaeologists i spoke to expressed the need for the information to be made more transparent, yet few seemed to be doing anything to actually effect that wish.

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  20. There seems to be the political issue sitting alongside this whole debate about who should, officially. let the cat out the bag, especially where it relates to the Palestinians.
    Surely, if there is no God-Given Biblical claim to the land then all religious considerations fall away?
    The Jews/Israelis have the right to it as they were there all along. Archaeology has shown this. Surely it is just a matter of affording the Palestinians a similar right to land as well?
    And as far as the Arab states go, well they now have no damn reason to argue the toss about Israel either. They can all play in the sandpit and stop whining about religion/god.

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    • It get’s a little more complicated than that, though, Ark. I really don’t want this to become a modern political debate, but the Palestinians have a good claim to the land as well. When Alexander took his circus down the eastern Med coast he met resistance, not least of all from Tyre. The problem here is, he wasn’t fighting Jews. As the historian Michael Wood said (In the Footsteps of Alexander), “The Palestinians resisted then, and they have been resisting ever since.” Is Wood correct in calling Phoenicians Palestinians? I don’t know enough to answer that.

      Simple solution: Two States living in peace…. That, or give it back to Homo Erectus.

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      • Apropos of nothing in particular, the name, Palestine, was a corruption of the name, Philistine, named for the sea-faring Greeks from the island of Crete, who made a home for themselves along the coast of that area, just north of Egypt, and may have been a remnant of the mysterious, “Sea Peoples,” who conquered and ruled over parts of Northern Egypt for a century or so.

        Not saying they were there first, the land was crowded with Semites of various tribes, as well as conquered by the Egyptians, the Akkadians, the Amurrites, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, and anybody else with a rock or a big stick.

        I don’t think anyone knows for certain who the first inhabitants were, but the Jews have established a long term residency. Who exactly are the Palestinians anyway, descendants of Canaanites? I’m truly not sure, anybody know? And by asking, I don’t mean to disparage their right to be there – I’m sure there are Native Americans who rightfully question my right to be sitting where I am, tapping on a keyboard. (That’s what happens when you let immigrants in without a Green Card!)

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      • I think the safest bet is to just say “Canaanites.” As the Jews were refugees from the coastal states (therefore Canaanites) everyone has a common lineage, and everyone should be happy…. Now can we all agree there is no Oogity Boogity and please get back to saving this planet of ours from environmental catastrophe.

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      • I didn’t mean to go at it hammer and tongs over ten rounds t see who has rightful claim!
        If they can’t all agree that they are all Canaanites of one style of kidney r another, get a marker pen and draw a line through Israel.
        There is no need to argue about the religious aspects of Jerusalem etc or any other Holy Aspects of the land.

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      • Maybe you could broach this question with your contacts during the next round of emails?
        Solve the Middle East crisis, and get a Nobel Peace Prize.

        Famous quotes from John Zande: “Henry Kissinger eat my shorts”

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      • I think you have a rare talent that you have not even begun to plumb.
        I get the distinct feeling those whom you have been dialogueing with are actually dying to “Come out of the closet”
        If you can get so many to offer up so much info over the internet without so much as breaking a sweat you could negotiate a Land Deal.
        I’d bet a few bob you’d pull off something. 😉

        The times they are a changing, sang a certain Robert Zimmerman.
        These ain’t the days of the PLO, no more.

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  21. Wow! very powerful argument in favor of full disclosure and transparency.
    Ark might be right, Nobel Prize for pulling humanity (screaming albeit) out of ignorance and stooopidity, could be in your future…. I am spitting on my crystal ball to make it all shiny… Damn! Still can’t see anything.

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  22. Wow. Being born on December 7th always made me particularly interested in this event, but I’ve never heard about this. Off to Google.

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  23. On the contrary John, I am even more confident because of the fact that you continue to question me and God and trust me I know the answer to your question but I just want you to keep questioning because the more you question the more God is on your mind. I love the testing of my faith because i would want to know if it was weak. I’ve decided that I am not worthy to answer for God nor to try to make you see what I believe because I am just a man like you. You obviously trust in your self more than God and I will let him show you the truth. I can’t turn your heart from being black only God can. People have tried to stop the spread of the word of God since day 1 and yet it’s still here and you are still talking about it. The word of God will outlast you and me by far so I’ll allow it to do that and allow you to keep your hope in yourself. I continue to pray for you John because whether you live your life to kill others beliefs or not it doesn’t matter Life begin with God and it will end with God as well so good luck with your trust in yourself And fellow man because that seems to be turning out well for our world. You can’t make me think like you John I have to much hope and I promise you my hope is not in myself or another man. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season.

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    • So, it took you 273 words just to say you can’t answer my question: Why didn’t Jesus know Moses was a fictional character?

      Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but you did say you COULD answer this question, didn’t you. You quite clearly stated that you had an answer. What changed, Tyler? Did you lie deliberately, or did you just find out that you didn’t, in fact, have an answer?

      It’s a shame, because i would really have liked to have heard your explanation… the explanation you said you had. It is, after all, a tremendously odd thing for Jesus not to know, wouldn’t you agree?

      Maybe, just maybe one day you’ll have the courage and strength of character to answer… as you promised you would.

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      • I can answer the question for sure but am I willing? No and the reason is because the more you question me the more God is on your mind. I do have a question though answer it or not it does me no difference. Jesus truly changed me from someone who was a bad kid who would do bad things and very selfish. He changed me from all that to a loving gentle caring person and he has done that for many others, why is it you live your whole life to change people like myselfs minds. I’m 23 and and have found what makes me a better person why is that you resent that fact?

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      • “why is it you live your whole life to change people like myselfs minds.”

        Help me out here, Tyler, I tend to confuse rather easily – how was it exactly that John contacted you and invited you over? And even more importantly, how exactly is he compelling you to stay? But most importantly, how could he try to change your mind, if you weren’t here?

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      • I know how it started, John, I think you’re missing my point. Tyler is blaming your black heart (his words, not mine) for trying to convert him, and I’m saying he can resolve that issue rather easily, in that no one is compelling him to be here.

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      • Ah, well i’m not trying to “convert” him, just hoping he’ll man up (as promised) and answer the question like an adult: Why didn’t Jesus know Moses was a fictional character?

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      • And another 116 words… and still no answer. I fulfilled my part of the bargain, so why won’t you? You’re not revealing yourself to be a man of character, Tyler. Your word, evidently, is worthless.

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      • The God of the Bible. His word will outlast you and me whether you like it or not. I can’t answer for him I’m sorry I can only try to be a light in the world.

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      • “The God of the Bible.”

        While that definitely narrows it down, it certainly doesn’t pinpoint it by any means. According to my research, the peoples represented by the fictional Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel worshiped the god, Amurru, “El Shaddai,” whose home base was Aleppo, Assyria, near both Haran and Ur-fa, that to this day, celebrates itself as the birthplace of Abraham.

        Then, when those peoples united for a time with the Midianites/Kennites, who worshiped an obscure desert god named, Yahweh, they changed camels in the middle of the sand dune, so to speak, and became followers of Yah.

        Exodus 6:3 – “And I appeared unto Abraham, unto isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of El Shaddai, but by my name, JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”

        While I concur that he will outlast you and I, his days, like ours, are numbered, as knowledge and education continues to diminish him. Soon, he will join the ranks of the other gods, about whom H. L. Menken asked:

        “Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds?”

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  24. “A better and perhaps more accurate analogy therefore might be that of a major vehicle recall where the manufacturer issues a notice informing owners of a fatal defect in their product.”

    Actually, a manufacturer’s notice that their product, indeed, never really existed, and that the vehicle owners have merely been walking around in a dream instead of actually driving 😉

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  25. Surely you’re neglecting the over half dozen sightings of Noah’s ark on Mount Masis (modern taller peak of Ararat). God keeps changing the location of the ark on Masis after Noah supposedly originally landed on current Mount Judi, and he prevents the archeologists from collecting any actual artifacts from their discoveries, but there can be no doubt that He moved the ark from one mountain to another and His divine revelation has led each of the archeologists to different locations to reveal the reality of the ark.

    I know you probably simply overlooked these important findings when you wrote your article and it simply didn’t cross your mind to ask any of these renowned archeologists about these verifications of the Bible and of God’s wondrous might in moving the ark around so easily. Most of them seem to be good Bible-believing Americans, so no long-distance calling.

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    • Ohhhh, my ribs hurt, and my clothes are all dirty from rolling on the floor! So your god is playing musical arks, now huh?

      Daniel, do you recall, from Genesis, Chapter 6:16, Noah was given the blueprints for the ark? Well, not blueprints exactly, let’s call them verbal instructions. Remember how Noah was instructed to make only the one window, one cubit square? Well a cubit was a relatively arbitrary measurement, being the distance from a man’s elbow to the tip of his fingers, clearly, you’re going to have different-sized cubits for different-sized men. Someone recently settled on 18 inches for the length of the cubit, which sounds fair to me, but possibly not for those who only know the metric system.

      It isn’t mentioned until 8:6, that the window was ever opened, and that was to let out the dove, and then, only after (Gen 8:5-6) ten months, plus forty days. The boat would also have been caulked to be airtight as well, in order not to take on water, flood, remember?

      Now, Dan, let’s chat for just a moment about cows. Cows munch mostly grass and hay – yet they grow big and hefty. Why? Because of the rumen, the first and largest of a cow’s four stomachs. The rumen holds 160 liters (42 gallons) of food and billions of microbes. These microscopic bacteria and protozoa break down cellulose (plant-wall substance) and fiber into digestible nutrients.

      A cow couldn’t live without its microbes,” says animal nutrition expert Dr. Floyd Byers of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

      But as the microbes digest cellulose, they release methane. The process, called enteric fermentation, occurs in all animals with a rumen (cows, sheep, and goats, for example), and it makes them very gassy.

      It’s part of their normal digestion process,” says Tom Wirth of the EPA. “When they chew their cud, they regurgitate some food to re-chew it, and all this gas comes out.

      The average cow expels 600 liters – 157 gallons – of methane gas per day, climate researchers report. Let me repeat that, just so I can be sure you understand – one cow – ONE, count ’em, ONE! – produces 157 gallons of methane every single day! Can you see where I’m going with this?

      Now I’ve done the math – do it yourself if you like, just to check my accuracy – and determined the entire volume of the mythical ark would have been 1,518,750 cubic feet. Now we have no way of knowing how many non-existent animals were aboard that mythical ark, but we can easily calculate that a single animal, of the size of a common cow, would produce over six thousand, eighty-six cubic feet of methane gas – cow farts – over 10, 28-day months, plus 10 days. That means that it would have taken less than 250 such animals to completely fill the ark with methane gas in less than the time the ark was closed up.

      Now with only one window, on a boat that large, and it closed for the entire ten months and ten days – the ark was dark. I mean, that was one dark ark – without a window, in an air-tight ark, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

      But surely they had lanterns, didn’t they? Or at least candles?

      Ever hear of a kid holding a lit match near his rear end, to see if the gas in his fart will light? Trust me, it will, but I’ve been assured that the hair will grow back. Methane is one of the most flammable gasses on the planet.

      Assuming you’re serious Daniel, rethink it.

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      • Well, methane didn’t explode the same way in Biblical times as it would now. However, I’m sure God help Noah and his family hold their breaths for those 10 months and 10 days. Either that or they were sweet-smelling farts of the kind that only God could produce.

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    • Well, I did leave room for doubt, but you have to wonder about anyone who would pass on a fantastic recipe for slowly-roasted honey-basted plump Polynesian babies – now I’m even more suspicious —

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  26. I think they ought present their case. A group belief or testimonies ought to be tested and evaluated. Just like Jesus-seminar group,these rabbis ought to present their works for academics peer-reviews accessible for all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Prayson, great to see you. Hope all is well.

      It’s funny that you say this. I’ve had this idea for some time, and was actually only speaking to Stephen Law about doing something along these lines just last week. To some extent, such a collection of essays (41, if I remember correctly) already exists, published in the 2001, Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary. For my version, though, I was thinking of getting biblical archaeologists (maximalists and minimalists for balance) to write introductory essays, then open up to the rabbis, representing every Jewish movement. Does your uni have a publishing arm? If so, I’d love to present the idea to them, then proceed from there. You know I already have the contacts, and if there’s room, perhaps we could both be editors on the work? What do you say?

      Liked by 2 people

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