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Author Topic: Countering anti-Muslim xenophobia: pre-9/11/11 Edition
TomDavidson
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Except, of course, that here you're saying, "Guys, why are you complaining that God did something bad? These mortals are, like, way worse."
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Viking_Longship
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Tom is what you're saying "God should never use violence, and it doesn't matter what people do to eacother as long as God sits back and lets us do it. Thank goodness God stayed out of the holocaust."?


I'm saying that the plauges were a response to a situation that was far more brutal, with the goal of ending the situation. Everything the Egyptians were doing was aimed at maintaining a vile and inhuman status quo.


A forgiving God who never acts violently is a great idea for the comfortable. A just God is more attractive to the people the comfortable ride on.

[ September 28, 2011, 11:04 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Pete at Home
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I actually agree with the no-god squad [Wink] that the plagues don't make a lot of sense as the simplest means for an omniscient, omnipotent God to free the Hebrews from slavery. Clearly there's are other issues at play.
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Pete at Home
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Something I would love to see -- a retelling of the Moses story, with Penn and Teller playing the Pharaoh's magicians. [Big Grin]
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm saying that the plauges were a response to a situation that was far more brutal, with the goal of ending the situation.
A stupid, brutal response. You're damning God with very faint praise, here.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I'm saying that the plauges were a response to a situation that was far more brutal, with the goal of ending the situation.
A stupid, brutal response. You're damning God with very faint praise, here.
It's enough of a stretch to apply the word 'murder' to God ... the idea of 'damning' God simply boggles the mind. [Big Grin]
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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I'm saying that the plauges were a response to a situation that was far more brutal, with the goal of ending the situation.
A stupid, brutal response. You're damning God with very faint praise, here.
Should God have left them as slaves, periodically having their children fed to the river?

[ September 28, 2011, 11:38 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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TomDavidson
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No. God should have teleported them to America.
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Viking_Longship
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Tom, I suppose the teleporter could sanitize them in he process so they didn't set off another plauge as soons as they started making contact with the Native Americans.

[ September 28, 2011, 11:59 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
No. God should have teleported them to America.

How's the bible supposed to have become a moral inspiration to everyone if it was too boring to read?
[Razz]

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djquag1
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Or, being God, he could make his chosen people immune to American diseases. Or make a new island for them in the middle of the ocean.

I think the point is, if God is omnipotent, he could have done literally anything we can think up and much more. Can you think of no possible way that God could have fixed the problem without killing the first sons? Some of whom were infants and children?

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Pete at Home
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Then can you think of something that doesn't read like an incredibly lame story? Think mythic, here.

quote:
"Are you crazy?" he said.
"No," I said. And I shattered his power to doubt me. I transported him to the Taj Mahal and then to Venice and then to Dar es Salaam and then to the surface of the Sun, where the flames could not consume him-and then back to Midland City again.

The poor old man crashed to his knees. He reminded me of the way my mother and Bunny Hoover's mother used to act whenever somebody tried to take their photographs. As he cowered there, I transported him to the Bermuda of his childhood, had him contemplate the infertile egg of a Bermuda Ern. I took him from there to the Indianapolis of my childhood. I put him in a circus crowd there. I had him see a man with locomotor ataxia and a woman with a goiter as big as a zucchini.

I got out of my rented car. I did it noisily, so his ears would tell him a lot about his Creator, even if he was unwilling to use his eyes. I slammed the car door firmly. As I approached him from the driver's side of the car, I swiveled my feet some, so that my footsteps were not only deliberate but gritty, too.

I stopped with the tips of my shoes on the rim of the narrow field of his downcast eyes. "Mr. Trout, I love you," I said gently. "I have broken your mind to pieces. I want to make it whole. I want you to feel a wholeness and inner harmony such as I have never allowed you to feel before. [...]
"I am approaching my fiftieth birthday, Mr. Trout," I said. "I am cleansing and renewing myself for the very different sorts of years to come. Under similar spiritual conditions, Count Tolstoi freed his serfs. Thomas Jefferson freed his slaves. I am going to set at liberty all the literary characters who have served me so loyally during my writing career.

"You are the only one I am telling. For the others, tonight will be a night like any other night. Arise, Mr. Trout, you are free, you are free." He arose shamblingly. I might have shaken his hand, but his right hand was injured, so our hands remained dangling at our sides.

"Bon voyage," I said. I disappeared.


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seekingprometheus
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quote:
Is that worse than people acting like the Hebrews deserved to live lives in slavery and have ALL their baby boys thrown in the Nile
Oh, it's very clear that the Pharaoh was a morally reprehensible character.

So it's explicitly clear, anyone who holds the Pharaoh of the story up as a foundation for morality should absolutely, unequivocally be ashamed of themselves.

Can you imagine it if we lived in a society where not only were parents teaching children, and community leaders teaching the plebes that the Pharaoh of that story was a source of morality or worthy of praise--but people actually had the audacity to act personally offended if others pointed out that they shouldn't think that the Pharaoh was a good guy, or teach their children that they should look to that awful monster with reverence, respect and obedience?

Seriously, what if we lived in a world where everybody tacitly accepted that execrable character as the source of morality, and there was actually a bizarre cultural taboo against saying that it's bad to support and worship that monster?

Wouldn't that be utterly barbaric?

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seekingprometheus
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I know a lot of people who question whether or not Hiroshima is justifiable, even in the context.

But what if we knew from the historical narrative that the USA had intentionally sabotaged diplomatic channels, and purposefully done things to make it hard or impossible for Japan to accept diplomatic terms, with the explicit purpose of setting up a situation where the US could demonstrate it's nuclear power?

And what if we found out that the US had specifically targeted Japanese children? What if we knew from the historical narrative that the US had the clear ability to select its individual targets with pinpoint precision, and the individuals the US had targeted were the kids?

What if the US had pervasive civics classes--every Sunday, perhaps--where they taught children and the plebes this exact story, and told them that it demonstrated the greatness of the US, and that the US government was so good that citizens owed their souls to it?

On a side note, do you ever wonder if lack of indignation can sometimes be a moral failing?

[ September 29, 2011, 12:54 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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djquag1
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Pete, I might or might not be able to think of a story that was just as "cool."

What I don't understand is how the relationship between lameness and truth and morality in a religion works. I don't see any connection at all.

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TommySama
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quote:
I'm saying that the plauges were a response to a situation that was far more brutal, with the goal of ending the situation. Everything the Egyptians were doing was aimed at maintaining a vile and inhuman status quo.
Put differently, this would sound like a justification of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

[ September 29, 2011, 01:26 AM: Message edited by: TommySama ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by djquag1:
Pete, I might or might not be able to think of a story that was just as "cool."

Just go for "interesting." Think you can manage that? [Big Grin]

quote:
What I don't understand is how the relationship between lameness and truth and morality in a religion works. I don't see any connection at all.
Forget about religion a second. Let's talk about the underlying myth. A myth that kept a people cohesive through millenia of exile, scattering, and persecution. A myth that has captured the minds of not just its chosen people, but nations around the world. For starters.

Think you could do that with a boring, lame story?

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by TommySama:
quote:
I'm saying that the plauges were a response to a situation that was far more brutal, with the goal of ending the situation. Everything the Egyptians were doing was aimed at maintaining a vile and inhuman status quo.
Put differently, this would sound like a justification of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
So you're saying that God violated Egypt's sovereignty and interfered with its internal political process? [Big Grin]
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TommySama
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:
quote:
Originally posted by TommySama:
quote:
I'm saying that the plauges were a response to a situation that was far more brutal, with the goal of ending the situation. Everything the Egyptians were doing was aimed at maintaining a vile and inhuman status quo.
Put differently, this would sound like a justification of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
So you're saying that God violated Egypt's sovereignty and interfered with its internal political process? [Big Grin]
Jews are the Kurds. Perfect analogy; glad to see VL got off the liberal wagon.

Add: Jews = Kurds; God = US; B'ath party = Egyptian monarchy; George Bush = Moses [Smile]

[ September 29, 2011, 03:19 AM: Message edited by: TommySama ]

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
Aris I am finding the moral indignation here rather one-sided.
Nobody living asks us to worship the Pharaoh. We're asked to worship the God of the bible though. Therefore it's not the morality of the Pharaoh that is relevant, it's the morality of said God.

quote:
Looked at coldly, an Egyptian family loses one son in a family, perhaps peacefully. The others grow up as free men.
You've not even read the actual chapter in question then, because the firstborn son of Egyptian slavegirls are also explicitly killed by the tenth plagues.

quote:
Tom, I suppose the teleporter could sanitize them in he process so they didn't set off another plauge as soons as they started making contact with the Native Americans.
Yes, it could. Or is your God supposed to be omnipotent enough that he can split the Red sea and send selectively targetted plagues to the firstborn of Egyptians, but not omnipotent enough that it can prevent plagues?

Here's a different solution that doesn't even involve teleportation, it just requires the same sort of powers that God claims and exhibits elsewhere: Send leprosy against Pharaoh alone. Have Moses heal it. If Pharaoh denies letting the Hebrews ago, send leprosy against him again. Rinse-and-repeat until Hebrews are free.

But I guess an omniscient god didn't even think of such a solution. Come on, Viking!

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
A myth that has captured the minds of not just its chosen people, but nations around the world
Well, you do use the right verb in describing the apparent action of the myth.

And I'd generally agree that we shouldn't go around liberating people whose minds rely upon the mythical cell of their captivity--but should we stand by quietly while the submythive captives pull others around them into the cell and turn the key?

[Wink]

I'm really not sure what the answer to this is, but I do know that I don't agree with anyone who suggests that it is clearly wrong to protest a mentally imprisoning meme regardless of the circumstance...


PS: Is it xenophobic to wonder if there is any way to translate a similar kenning into arabic in a way that doesn't change the pronunciation of "muslim" more than a minor lisp would? Cuz it seems sad that I'll never get to use my coining with the potential pique that I suspect the idea could have--I kinda like that one...

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
But what if we knew from the historical narrative that the USA had intentionally sabotaged diplomatic channels, and purposefully done things to make it hard or impossible for Japan to accept diplomatic terms, with the explicit purpose of setting up a situation where the US could demonstrate it's nuclear power?

This is a legitimate point.

quote:
Seriously, what if we lived in a world where everybody tacitly accepted that execrable character as the source of morality, and there was actually a bizarre cultural taboo against saying that it's bad to support and worship that monster?

Wouldn't that be utterly barbaric?

This isn't.

There is no more a serious taboo in the USA about being critical of Christianity anymore than there is a real taboo against profane language anymore. The USA is not Saudi Arabia or Iran.

[ September 29, 2011, 07:53 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Send leprosy against Pharaoh alone. Have Moses heal it. If Pharaoh denies letting the Hebrews ago, send leprosy against him again. Rinse-and-repeat until Hebrews are free.

But I guess an omniscient god didn't even think of such a solution. Come on, Viking!

Why do you presume that would work when so many other things failed. Particularly if God was hardening Pharoh's heart?
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Aris Katsaris:
Yes, it could. Or is your God supposed to be omnipotent enough that he can split the Red sea and send selectively targetted plagues to the firstborn of Egyptians, but not omnipotent enough that it can prevent plagues?

Actually, there's a ridge running right across what used to be part of the Red Sea ... in short, the geography is set up so that a strong wind, from the right angle, could very well have split the Red Sea and allowed folks to walk right through it, so long as the wind kept blowing from the correct angle.

As for selective plagues, remember the earlier story of Joseph, how Benjamin gets fed first with a double portion, etc.? The tradition in the middle east was to cook and provide food for the male firstborn first, before the others. All you need to target the male firstborn is some sort of deadly fungus that grows on the top of the grain supply.

With the Nile in a state of Red Tide ("turned to blood"), all fish are dead, since it was deoxygenated. Egypt's cattle are dead to disease. Folks are breaking out old food supplies in order to eat. Grain that's been sitting in sealed containers in the dark. And the first grain off the top gets fed to the firstborn.

So voila, God didn't even necessarily have to do anything for the 10 plagues to happen, other than
1. know they were going to happen,
2. send Moses at the right time
3. Miraculously give respite from the plagues when Pharaoh showed signs of complying.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
A myth that has captured the minds of not just its chosen people, but nations around the world
Well, you do use the right verb in describing the apparent action of the myth.

And I'd generally agree that we shouldn't go around liberating people whose minds rely upon the mythical cell of their captivity--but should we stand by quietly while the submythive captives pull others around them into the cell and turn the key?

When have I said you should stand quietly by? When have I said that you should not proselytize your views?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Why do you presume that would work when so many other things failed. Particularly if God was hardening Pharoh's heart?
Wow. God made a Pharaoh He couldn't lift.

(As a side note, I love that God, in Pete's version, is basically Amadeus Cho. [Smile] )

[ September 29, 2011, 08:58 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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threads
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quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:

"I don't believe the story is true and I consider the Pharaoh's unbelievable behavior to be one of many pieces of evidence supporting my belief."

There you'd be clearly wrong, since it seems unlikely to be pure coincidence that 8/10 of the ten listed plagues would have a clear serial causal connection.

Water to blood = red tide, which deoxygenates the water, which in turn forces amphibious frogs to emerge from the river in order to survive, etc.

All the possible mappings that you listed are speculative and the casual connections between them are tenuous. There is no reason to believe that that is how it actually happened without reasonable documentation. As is, all we have is the Bible which describes the events in a supernatural manner. If the plagues actually happened then I would expect the Egyptians to have some sort of record of them. The fact that they don't strongly suggests that the plagues didn't happen.

[ September 29, 2011, 11:25 AM: Message edited by: threads ]

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threads
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I should add that I don't discount the possibility of any one or two of those plagues occurring. I just don't see any reason to believe that they happened in the order claimed during the time interval given.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by threads:
quote:
Originally posted by Pete at Home:

"I don't believe the story is true and I consider the Pharaoh's unbelievable behavior to be one of many pieces of evidence supporting my belief."

There you'd be clearly wrong, since it seems unlikely to be pure coincidence that 8/10 of the ten listed plagues would have a clear serial causal connection.

Water to blood = red tide, which deoxygenates the water, which in turn forces amphibious frogs to emerge from the river in order to survive, etc.

All the possible mappings that you listed are speculative and the casual connections between them are tenuous. There is no reason to believe that that is how it actually happened without reasonable documentation.
That red tide makes water look red, and deoxygenates water? You need me to prove that to you?

Does it strain the mind to suggest that amphibian frogs would come out of the river when they lost ability to breathe in the river?

That excessive flies would result from all the dead fish in the river?

quote:
As is, all we have is the Bible which describes the events in a supernatural manner.
The Bible says that the Pharaoh's magicians were able to replicate almost all of the plagues. It doesn't take rocket science to infer that means that most of the plagues were replicable through non-supernatural means.

But God sending a wind, right at the precise time, and the ridge being there in the water, right in the precise place, that the Israelites needed saving, that is miraculous. But it's not "teleport folks to a new continent I just zapped up out of the sea" miraculous.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Jews are the Kurds. Perfect analogy; glad to see VL got off the liberal wagon.

Add: Jews = Kurds; God = US; B'ath party = Egyptian monarchy; George Bush = Moses


I still think the Iraq war was a terrible idea, but I have a group of students from Basra right now, and they're some of smartest, sweetest natured students I've ever had. They seem to be very happy to be rid of Saddam.

Bush as Moses?....you misunderstimate me.

[ September 29, 2011, 12:12 PM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by threads:
I just don't see any reason to believe that they happened in the order claimed during the time interval given.

Where does the Exodus story claim a specific time interval between plagues?

Biologically it would make more sense for them to have occurred within a 6 month period. But the Bible story isn't precise as to timing.

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TommySama
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"The Bible says that the Pharaoh's magicians were able to replicate almost all of the plagues. It doesn't take rocket science to infer that means that most of the plagues were replicable through non-supernatural means."

Or competing gods/magic.

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Pete at Home
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There's a clear causal link between the first six plagues.

1. Red Tide deoxygenates water and kills fish

causes

2. Frogs to come out of the water

#1 and #2 cause proliferation of 3. Gnats and 4. Flies (probably stable flies which have a nasty bite)

Insect bites on the lifestock are knwon to spread a virus to a lethal cattle disease known as "blue tongue." Hence Plague #5.

Insect bites on humans and animals cause boils. Plague #6.

----------------
Plague #7, Hail, could lead to premature hatching of grasshoppers, leading to plague #8, Locusts.

The destruction of the farmland in Plagues 1, 7, and 8, could result in a dust-storm, leading to plague #9, 3 days of darkness.

Plagues 1 killed fish, plague 5 killed cattle, plagues 7 and 8 led to the destruction of the new Egyptian crops, so they were forced to dig out food storage. Plague 7 may have contaminated the food storage, got it wet, allowing some sort of mold or fungus to grow over the top of the stored grain, leading to plague 10, death of the firstborn.

So all ten plagues could have been set in motion by merely TWO independent events: a Red Tide, followed by a rare hailstorm.

Interesting that God gives such precise instructions about the Hebrews clearing all of the leaven (yeast, or dough which has yeast in it) from their houses. If it weren't for the fact that the strongest animals died as well (mid-eastern tradition also dictates that those are fed first with a double portion, just like the firstborn son), I'd think that Plague Ten had something to do with a contaminant in the leaven.

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
When have I said you should stand quietly by? When have I said that you should not proselytize your views?
You've lost sight of the original topic of the thread...

Speaking of confusing tangents, what is the point of your wild imagination's explication of the interrelatable causality within the mythology?

That God just set the dominoes up in the beginning, and isn't allowed to actively intervene?

You should read threads' link, though, before you try to understand the myth as real. Unlike other peoples in other sacred myths, the Hebrews were real, and left traces where they went. And they didn't actually sojourn as slaves in Egypt at all...

(The Torah wasn't really written down til...well, almost exactly around the time that Lehi would have left the land. There might have been scraps of the current stories that were being written down as far back as 800-900 BCE, but they were based entirely on oral myth and legend, not some holy artifact. The stories were made up. The reason I keep giggling at the strange goodness of the serpent is that it seems to have been written into the story by outsiders.)

[ September 30, 2011, 02:15 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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seekingprometheus
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Oh, and "...a ridge plus wind..."

You must be joking, on some level.

[LOL]

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
This isn't.

There is no more a serious taboo in the USA about being critical of Christianity anymore than there is a real taboo against profane language anymore

Well, aside from the fact that you just called an analogy posed as a hypothetical that works on multiple different levels invalid, you seem to think the term "taboo" is more limited than it actually is.

And it's funny that you just said that "profane" language isn't "taboo."

[Wink]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
When have I said you should stand quietly by? When have I said that you should not proselytize your views?
You've lost sight of the original topic of the thread...

Speaking of confusing tangents, what is the point of your wild imagination's explication of the interrelatable causality within the mythology?


That there is an observable pattern of constraints that we clearly don't fully understand.

quote:
That God just set the dominoes up in the beginning, and isn't allowed to actively intervene?

Clearly not, since the story is replete with active intervention.

But when it comes to mass death, God doesn't tend to zap people. Mass death tends to occur due to causes which on intelligent educated reflection, sound a lot like natural cause and effect, with God intervening to save his chosen people (as with the Plagues) or to save those that listen to his warnings and instructions (as with Noah).

Incidentally, it's a ghastly anachromism to interpret the whole "earth" being flooded as Planet Earth, since the whole concept of a planet appears not to have been familiar to the writers. A better interp would be all the land that the original storyteller was aware of.

Also, the Exodus text very closely corroborates the theory of wind set-down for the parting of the Red Sea -- even specifies that a wind arose to divide the waters.
You should read threads' link, though, before you try to understand the myth as real. Unlike other peoples in other sacred myths, the Hebrews were real, and left traces where they went. And they didn't actually sojourn as slaves in Egypt at all...

(The Torah wasn't really written down til...well, almost exactly around the time that Lehi would have left the land. There might have been scraps of the current stories that were being written down as far back as 800-900 BCE, but they were based entirely on oral myth and legend, not some holy artifact. The stories were made up. The reason I keep giggling at the strange goodness of the serpent is that it seems to have been written into the story by outsiders.)

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Pete at Home
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"(The Torah wasn't really written down til...well, almost exactly around the time that Lehi would have left the land. "

Too bad that the BoM doesn't quote more from the Torah parts, but focuses on Isaiah. If Torah material were quoted, I'd expect bigger differences, since Laban's plates were clearly the Joseph tribe version.

You realize that the predominant secular theory of origination on the Torah focuses on two major texts and a few minor ones being parsed together ... one of the major texts being a Joseph-friendly version, while one less friendly to Joseph? Hence the repetition of certain parts, with different names for God.

Basically, there was an oral tradition, which was written down independently by two or more different groups, then reconciled by later editors.

You've never heard of this?

That's definitely not out of harmony with the BoM statements about the Brass plates.

Consider that metalic plates have since been discovered, where? in PERSIA, man. Where the Jews had been in exile.

"There might have been scraps of the current stories that were being written down as far back as 800-900 BCE, but they were based entirely on oral myth and legend, not some holy artifact."

And you imagine that this contradicts my argument? Do I have to put it together for you?

The Israelites wrote their oral traditions down when? When they were captive to a people who had a written language. Persia. Is it any surprise that one version of the Joseph traditions might have been recorded metalic plates like others that have been discovered in Persia?

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
Oh, and "...a ridge plus wind..."

You must be joking, on some level.

[LOL]

I get the distinct impression that I'm having a conversation with a sarcastic magic 8-ball. Please take your time, and get back to me with a real answer.

[ September 30, 2011, 09:17 AM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by seekingprometheus:
quote:
This isn't.

There is no more a serious taboo in the USA about being critical of Christianity anymore than there is a real taboo against profane language anymore

Well, aside from the fact that you just called an analogy posed as a hypothetical that works on multiple different levels invalid, you seem to think the term "taboo" is more limited than it actually is.

And it's funny that you just said that "profane" language isn't "taboo."

[Wink]

Definition of TABOO
1: forbidden to profane use or contact because of what are held to be dangerous supernatural powers
2a : banned on grounds of morality or taste <the subject is taboo> b : banned as constituting a risk <the area beyond is taboo, still alive with explosives — Robert Leckie>

[/QUOTE]

Criticism of religion is neither banned nor forbidden in our society. It's considered rude in some circles, religious people don't like it, but that's not a taboo.

Profane language used to be considered a taboo but now it's more a matter of politeness, not a taboo.

If attacking religion were a taboo you wouldn't be getting so much support here. I don't see anybody but me and Pete bothering you with counter arguments. You can argue that they're all rational people, but most of the arguments are "we personally find the behavior of God offensive" which is not rational, it's emotional.

Now, may I ask were you raised in a very religious household? You sound like you were.

[ September 30, 2011, 11:21 AM: Message edited by: Viking_Longship ]

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