"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.


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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Atheist On The Bible Part2: Moses

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Moses or Sargon in the bullrushes?

Transcript: ~

" I've read the bible. The King of Egypt wants every male hebrew child dead. Now moses's mom puts him in a basket and floats him across the Nile River over to the Pharaoh's daughter. Now, right from the get-go, this is an exciting story. You've got baby killing, mom throwing kids into rivers and hoping they will survive and get adopted. I mean, this is good stuff.

There is one strange thing though, and this story is really similar to an ancient Babylonian myth about a great king called Sargon. Sargon was supposedly found as a baby, in a basket in a river, way before Moses was even supposed to have been born. I just thought that was a little strange. I mean, you wouldn't think that someone would have actually lifted the story from the Babylonians to use in the bible, I mean that just couldn't be true. Could it?

Well anyway, the Pharaoh's daughter finds baby Moses and raises him. Moses grows up and then one day, he sees an Egyptian beating the crap out of a Hebrew. Moses looks around, sees nobody, and then whacks the Egyptian, killing him. Now of course murder is a crime in Egypt, so Moses runs for the hills.

He ends up out in a foreign country by a well where he meets some girls. Some shepherds try and drive the girls away but Moses chases them off. So Moses, the hero to the girls, marries one of them and has a son. His father-in-law sets him up with some sheep and Moses has a job as a shepherd.

One day, Moses is out with his flock, and he sees this bush on fire. It's god. God tells Moses he has chosen him to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt. After this there is this really weird passage about Moses going to an inn and god trying to kill Moses. His wife saves him by circumcising their son. I really don't get it. I mean, why would god want to kill Moses when he has especially chosen him to lead his people? And what does circumcising his son have to do with this?

Well anyway, Moses goes back to Egypt. It's been a while since he had been there, so no one remembers him from before. He goes to his brother Aaron, and they go to the Pharaoh and demand that the Israelites be released. Then there is this pissing match about rods and snakes and eventually god ends up casting down plagues upon the Egyptians. Now let's talk about the first plague.

First plague - water to blood. Now that's pretty impressive, right? Even though the Pharaoh's magicians seem to be able to do it too. And one thing I sorta wondered about, the Egyptians couldn't drink the water for seven days, so here they are in a hot environment, where you'll die without water. If all the water sources are polluted, where do all the people and the animals get their drinking water?

Second plague - frogs. Now what the hell is wrong with frogs? They eat tons of insects and never harm anyone. Besides you would think that the frogs wanted to move to greener pastures because their water got turned all bloody. For what it's worth, the magicians were able to create frogs too. Although all the frogs did die the next day. I was curious, why would god want to kill off all those frogs he created?

Third plague - lice. Fourth plague - flies. Fifth plague god kills off all the cattle. And what did he have against them? I mean firstly he wiped out most species of cattle during the flood, keeping only two of each animal and then now he's wiping out herds of cows. It sounds like the man has got a grudge.

Sixth plague - boils. Seventh plague - hail. Eighth plague - locusts. Ninth plague - darkness. You'd think that a sane leader would just kick out the Israelites after so many problems. Well the Pharaoh was going to, but here's the thing. God purposefully hardened the Pharaoh's heart so he wouldn't do it. So much for free will. I mean, instead of wanting his people freed, god actually wanted the Egyptians to hold onto them so they could suffer even more.

Finally, the last plague. God sends Moses to teach the Israelites that animal sacrifice is a good thing. He wants the Israelites to sacrifice lambs to him and smear their blood on their doorways. So for the final plague, excluding the Israelites, god kills every first born animal and baby in Egypt. He killed puppies, kittens, babies, cattle, all the first born men and animals - everybody. Well, I am going to leave that blatant contradiction right there. It's there. I'll just ignore it for the moment.

I want to concentrate on the idea that this supposed loving, forgiving god, killed all the first born babies of Egypt. Now you can't blame the Egyptians for god killing their babies. You know, I have heard people say that it was the Pharaoh's fault. Well, the people didn't vote for their Pharaoh. They didn't have a choice as to who their leader was. He was their leader by birth. Now a just person, a just god, would not blame them for something they had no free will over. Would he? Also, the Pharaoh didn't have a choice in this because if you remember, god hardened the Pharaoh's heart and made him stop the Israelites from leaving and then chasing after them.
(Exodus4:21 ~ The LORD said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.)

So finally Moses and the gang are released out of Egypt. Unfortunately, the Pharaoh then goes after them with an army but they cross the Red Sea through the big mystical thing and they all get away. However, one thing that seems really strange is, did you know that there is no record outside of the bible that the plagues or the exodus actually ever happened? Nothing. You'd think there would be some evidence of the exodus in records from somewhere else. I mean, it couldn't just be some kind of mythological made up story, could it?

Now, I should say that some people think that there is one piece of supporting evidence. The Leiden Papyrus. It describes Egypt as facing several disasters including the river is blood. This was written sometime between 1850 and 1600 BCE. However, the problem is the dates don't jibe. If the bible is true and accurate, then the papyrus was dated several hundred years before the exodus. In other words for the papyrus to be real evidence of the exodus, we would have to erase our knowledge of Egyptian Dynasties that we have records of.

It would be a far easier explanation to say that the papyrus was adopted into the bible by a story-teller. Of course, that would mean that the bible wasn't true. But this brings back my point, if the bible is true, why wouldn't there be any supporting evidence for any of these things.

Now apologists say, it is because the Egyptians didn't record mistakes or loses. Is that true? The Egyptians were meticulous record keepers with writing skills, math skills, an economy. Wouldn't we see a decrease in the cost of frog legs as supply outwayed demand? Wouldn't we see someone's recorded poems or songs about their dead sons? Wouldn't we see a notation about a jump in prices after all the cattle and crops were destroyed? Something? Anything? This would be a bigger coverup than the JFK assassination or the Roswell conspiracy combined. Because we are talking about a coverup that involved all of the people in Egypt.
(So, what is that contradiction? In the fifth plague god had already killed off all the Egyptian's livestock, so there were NO first born animals left to kill in the last plague.)


"My changeling mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me." - Neo-Assyrian text (7th century BC)



Blogger concerned citizen said...

That was a action packed piece of fiction, eh?

20/9/06 5:13 am  
Blogger Deacon Barry said...

In 1628 BC, Thera erupted. The aftermath of this massive geological event could account for the plagues - the darkness, the hailstones, boils due to ash irritation, cattle dying in the field, even the parting of the Reed sea due to a tsunami. The Ipuwer papyrus was probably referring to these events. Greek myth refers to the Giant Typhon with legs like serpents and a voice like thunder who brought chaos to the region and overthrew the gods - a poetic description of the volcanic plume that was apparently 30 miles high! There was also the Ogygian flood that Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha survived. The tsunami that devastated the coast of Crete would also have done immense damage to Achaia.
This gives us three versions of the same event. Contrary to popular belief, the exodus has never been dated. It could easily have taken place in 1628 BC. The Thera date is confirmed by ice core measurements from Greenland.
The chronology of the Middle East between then and the 7th century has absolutely no fixed points whatever.
Of course, the exodus could have taken place centuries after the plagues, and they were simply added into the official narrative for dramatic effect. Maybe the Pentateuch should have a disclaimer?

20/9/06 6:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just dont understand, do you? The bible is the word of the Lord! It just cant be wrong! Get a life and stop trying to find contraddictions in it! The almighty Lord has surely put them there to test our faith!

eh eh... I have to say it's a funny book, dont u think so? If you read it with a nice spliff it's almost hilarious.

And Wow! I'm in your blogroll list! I think you're the first one (as far as I'm aware) and to thank you I put a nice cat-picture-link in mine!

20/9/06 8:38 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE deacon barry:

Certainly egyptologists, do not agree that the Lieden or the Ipuwer papyrus depicts the exodus.

"The association of Ipuwer papyrus with the Exodus is generally rejected by Egyptologists, who if they interpret the Exodus as a historical event at all generally place it later, in the reign of Ramses II. Some have alternatively interpreted the poem's references to disturbances in nature as relating to the Thera eruption, which according to vulcanologists occurred ca. 1600 BC."

It seems reasonable to me that Israelites living at that time would have woven natural disasters into their folklore and myth.

So I have no problem believing that natural disasters occurred which were interpreted according to the desires and knowledge at the time. If isaelites used the excuse of a natural disaster to move on from egypt, that also makes sense.

Better still (from the israelite point of view), if you can leave as the victors of some imaginary confrontation between your god and the god of your oppressor.

So, I think that if an exodus occurred, it was the result of natural disaster, or a series of natural disasters, which were woven into religious myth.

The disaster/s were embellished with heroes, talking bushes, rods that turned into snakes, frogs being created out of thin air, and anything else which would (in those times) add the sufficient level of mystery and magic to the event.

Unusual, exceptional, mysterious and magical events would have lended authenticity to the stories for the average listener, and would have ensured that those stories would have been passed down.

All ancient cultures had their folk heroes who performed magical or supernatural feats. Their accounts are legendary, but legends nonetheless. Truly, the ancient myths/legends are the beginning of our modern addiction to the cults of hero worship.

This mode of thinking has not altered even today as we see religious people interpreting natural events as the actions of their respective gods.

God is displeased with South East Asia and sends a tidal wave to kill all those homosexuals living the highlife in the sun and the sand etc etc.

But do I think that a guy called moses had a pact with god and their pact defeated the "god pharaoh"? No. And 'no' to any of the other natural events interpreted by ancient peoples to be supernatural ones.

And 'no' to any MODERN natural events interpreted by the religious to be supernatural ones.

20/9/06 10:19 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE jones: No worries about the blogroll. Cheers!

20/9/06 10:20 am  
Blogger Daniel said...

Help! Help! I've just been turned into a pillar of salt! You unbelieving lot had better take care of what you say. God is displeased. Very.

P.S. However, being an atheist, I'm not sure which God. Please, which ever One, I'll try harder, I promise.

P.P.S. Perhaps one of you will be turned into a pillar of pepper to balance me up.

20/9/06 10:53 am  
Blogger Tod said...

Great stuff. I had read somewhere the theory that Thera might have been responsible for the various Biblical plagues.

That monolgue is truly hilarious.

So tell me this: If god is omnicient, doesn't he know that Lucifer is going to betray him? So why the doesn't he do anything about it?

Sounds like a fucking sociopath, to me.

20/9/06 1:01 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE daniel: If I was at all polite I would offer to turn into a pillar of pepper in order to keep you company, which raises a good question. Why a pillar of salt?

My thinking would be that the aftermath of a volcano would leave all sorts of mysterious shapes on the landscape. Some of these would have resembled people. Some of these certainly could have been people covered with layers of ash, lava or pumice.

The crystaline nature of these shapes may have resembled the sparkling appearance of salt in the sunlight. Why wouldn't they have resembled pillars of pepper?

"Since the Roman times, Pepper has been the most important spice. The cities of Alexandria, Genoa, and Venice owed their economic success to Pepper. Three thousand year old Sanskrit literature mentions Pepper. It was one of the earliest items traded Asia and Europe."

Maybe pepper wasn't a recognisable product when Gomorrah and Sodom were swallowed in volcanic ash? I dunno.

Salt was known at the time and used in religious ritual. So to say that Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt might have been a medaphor to suggest that her sin had been cleansed by god. Who knows?

One thing for sure is that the ancients lived in a superstitious world, where cataclysmic events were inevitably interpreted as the handiwork of some supernatural being.

Natural occurences were explained in supernatural ways, as science and the scientific method was certainly in its infancy.

21/9/06 5:58 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE urizon:

Certainly the idea of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent being who creates evil in order to watch his created drones squirm, seems a tad psychopathic.

21/9/06 6:10 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff as usual Beep.

Personally I think the event was to big to be a single event. Nearly every culture (there's at least one from ever hemisphere of the globe) has a story the includes "rivers turning to blood" etc. Although I'm not so sure he got it totally right, Velikovsky certainly had some interesting ideas on the subject.

I did a series on this myself, not so long ago. It's here . It's in 2 parts...

Another plug... Sorry Beep...:)

21/9/06 11:25 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also wanted to add that there was supposed to be about 2 million Israelites that left Egypt, all of whom were slaves.

Besides completely destroying the Egyptian economy, this would have left a hell of a hole in the archiological record. It didn't so there's probably very good reason to suggest it didn't actually happen...

21/9/06 11:31 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE ted: Good point about the economy. Nice practical thinking.

22/9/06 6:10 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Beep, I'm chuffed...:-)

It definately would have been recorded somewhere more "official" had it actually happened...

22/9/06 8:27 am  
Blogger Deacon Barry said...

The Old Testament was written in the 6th century BC during the captivity in Babylon. This was a thousand years after the Thera eruption, and about 600 years after the exodus (according to conventional chronology). I presume they used oral traditions. So after that amount of time, how much would be history, and how much would be legend? They could easily have tacked on the story of Thera to the story of the Exodus. Who's going to bother about a difference of 400 years?
Exodus is only dated to the 13th century BC because of the mention of the city of Ramesses. The writers wanted a big villain, so they went for the most famous pharoah, regardless of historical fact. That's why there's no mention of the Exodus during Ramesses' reign.

23/9/06 9:30 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's why there's no mention of the Exodus during Ramesses' reign

But there's no mention of it under any Pharoh's reign. Their economy depended on slaves to a large extent so I still think that that many slaves leaving a society, en masse, would have left such a labour and skill deficit that it would completely destroy the economy. It wouldn't matter who was reigning, it would have been recorded somewhere. If not in Egypt then by rivals like Babylon, for instance.

23/9/06 10:05 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE: All of the above.

It is telling to me that the separation between myth and legend and religion is one purely of belief.

If you believe the claims of the ancient egyptians, we should all be worshipping RA or Re or Amun, or any of the other depictions of sun deities.

If you don't believe them, they are examples of ancient mythology.

I don't believe the god claims of any of them. So therefore, even christianity as far as I am concerned, is an example of ancient mythology.

23/9/06 6:42 pm  
Blogger Deacon Barry said...

Exactly Beep! The bible and the Greek myths were written down at about the same time.Why should one be regarded as fiction and the other as fact?
(And I'm not saying which is which)

24/9/06 7:59 am  
Blogger Deacon Barry said...

Ted, an exodus could have occurred at the end of the 13th dynasty, which was a troubled time, and poorly documented. It's when the Hyksos came in and took over. They may, or may not have been, the Amelekites...or the Hebrews...or the Phoenicians Minoans, Therans, Achaeans, or any of the peripatetic peoples wandering round that end of the Mediterranean.

24/9/06 8:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point DB, and one I obviously hadn't considered. But could it have been of "biblical" proportions do you think?

24/9/06 12:49 pm  
Blogger Deacon Barry said...

Ted, how's this for a scenario? A handful of Hebrew fugitives are being chased by the Egyptian military through the marshes of Suez in 1628BC. The Tsunami reaches the area, and the waters recede. The fugitives take this unexpected new path and reach high ground as the tsunami hits, wiping out their pursuers. They escape to the Sinai peninsula, where they are joined later by survivors of the Thera fallout - maybe a few hundred, their leaving unnoticed in the collapse of civilisation.
Their population grows over the next few decades, and they start looking for more fertile land. Now Palestine is not far away. They could walk from Egypt to there in a week. The bible tends to use the number 40 as shorthand for 'a lot'. Hence 40 years is just a heck of a long time - it could evn be a century or two, enough time for the population to grow into a major invasion force, and one man's story of a magical parting of the sea to become tribal legend.
So was the exodus of 'biblical' proportions? In the tales of the exodees, certainly. In actual historical fact, it probably went unnoticed in the carnage and chaos.

24/9/06 8:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how's this for a scenario?

Not bad at all DB. Pretty good in fact...:-)

25/9/06 7:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, lets just re-write the Bible using this new theory! Sounds good to me! No actual proof, but hey, it "sounded good"

Such religious intolerance. Coming from the "compassionate" Left. Brings a certain H word to mind.

All we need now is the denigrating of Mohamme......ah,...hang on....don't want my head hacked off!

Well, here goes: Did you know that Mohammad ascended to heaven on a unicorn! Hahahahah, classic

3/10/06 10:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, its claimed here that "The Egyptians were meticulous record keepers". And of course thus we'd know about an economical catastrophe if millions of slaves left, says Ted.

Actually, they weren't great record keepers. I majored in History at Monash Uni and during ancient Egypt studies we were specifically told that the Egyptians deliberately ommitted, or changed, their contemporary writings to erase any "embaressing" events from the records.

And this results even today in a less than clear recall of events of the day.

But I don't want to upset the learned ones here. Shhhhh......

3/10/06 10:16 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE : playful pete

Which new theory?

RE: "Such religious intolerance. Coming from the "compassionate" Left. Brings a certain H word to mind."

What religious intolerance? And are you trying to let us all know that you have herpes...

RE: Muhammad -

Yeah, well those stories are insane as well.

3/10/06 10:23 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

RE anonymous:

"Actually, they weren't great record keepers. I majored in History at Monash Uni and during ancient Egypt studies we were specifically told that the Egyptians deliberately ommitted, or changed, their contemporary writings to erase any "embaressing" events from the records."

Frankly, appeals to authority don't have any weight in here, so I don't care if you majored in "Creative Knitting at Cornell's Institute for the Terminally Insane" or at "Heidi Fleiss's Drama School For Incontinent Poodles."

I also don't care what you were specifically told and neither does anyone else.

And by the way, if you have a degree in history from Monash University and you can't spell "embarrassing", Dad deserves to be compensated for the obvious waste of your worthless tuition.

3/10/06 10:41 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

While I am at it : -

"Omitted" has one "m" and
it is not ancient "Egypt studies", but ancient Egyptian studies.

Ahhh, I feel much better.

3/10/06 10:45 pm  

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