August 7, 2008

I Guess This Is For One Of My Dead Grandmothers?

I think all of us internet atheists who put their email out there wind up getting emails by religious folk who think they have the answers. I get my share, and usually I get the bible thumper to go away after 2 or 3 exchanges. I just throw facts out there and destroy their argument. Like I said, it usually works. Well, not this time.

I had what turned out to be a disingenuous Godidiot. His deceit was evident as soon as he dismissed my first reply.

I will not include his name, because I'm just not that type of guy. He'll just be GI (Godidiot) and I'll be Bacon.

Here is the exchange:

Title of email: origins of judiaism (ed. note: perhaps the author wasn't sure where to put the "i" in Judaism, so he covered his bases)

GI: you claim in your blog that theists are always the ones that need to bring the proof. Orthodox Jews have always pointed to the kuzari principle to claim a logical proof for their beliefs. As a jewish athiest, i'm sure you have researched this claim and managed to find some solid disproofs. I have been looking for a very long time for a good reason why the kuzari principle is bogus, and i'm hoping you have some idea.

Ed. Note: I know this argument from before, but I quickly did a Wikipedia search just to refresh my memory. I quickly had solid disproofs for the KP.
Just one more thing, just because I'm an atheist Jew doesn't mean I have to have researched anything about Judaism (though I have). My atheism stems from the fact that there is no evidence for God, and no one has to investigate any or all the ridiculous claims made by theists of any following.

Bacon: Lots of evidence against it:

Just recently a book was written by an author featured on Oprah. Millions of people believed his story to be true, however it took the Smoking Gun to come along and show that he was embellishing some of it, and lying about the rest.
That is one example of how easy it is to dupe the public very quickly.
The Kuzari principal fails just based on historical findings alone. The history of the Jews was made up and accepted around 450 BC, but the myths were most likely gradually accepted prior to that over time.

GI: thanks for the article! sadly, I don't see anything hugely conclusive. The oprah story doesnt seem to compare, because, unlike the bible, that book didn't propose anything of any consequence to its readers lives. Duping millions of people into believing that their ancestors publicly witnessed a miracle, and that they have to follow a plethora of laws seems much harder to do.
Ed. Note: Notice how he asked for solid disproofs? I should have know. Like asking for solid disproofs of God, he is asking for conclusive evidence for a negative. This is where I should have figured out he was disingenuous.

Bacon: GI, I don't think it was hard to do. And it wasn't millions of Israelis who believed in a fake history. It was much less.
It only takes a few to begin with first, and then all of a sudden it is assumed by almost all. There was little available back then to disprove a claim.
All religions are started on the premise of a miracle. By the year 400 AD, most people in the Roman Empire started accepting that Jesus rose from his grave. And there is no contemporary history to even support a historical Jesus. Now there are almost 2 billion people on the planet who accept Jesus as the son of God.
It really takes one person to make up a viable story, and a story that people want to believe, and then it takes a few believers, and a generation or two, and then history can be rewritten.

If you watch the Bible Unearthed videos I linked on my site, you'll see that the Exodus story was impossible based on evidence alone.

GI: i really appreciate your answering me, but i still think your example lacks parallel. If i told you that your great great great grandfather built a spaceship and went to mars and back, would you accept it as your family history? Even without proof you will never accept such a story. If someone told you that your great great great grandfather and two million other people witnesses a great miracle and was commanded to pass down a retelling of that event to his descendants, would you accept it? Clearly you would not because you would have been told about it. So how is it possible that this fake history could ever be accepted, let alone spread? (and take note that at the time of ezra people kept family records and history).

would anybody accept a history that says "your great great grandfather saw a huge miracle" when they themselves had never head of it from their grandfather, of father? of cSurely something so great would

Bacon: I've already explained parallels and gave examples. How do we know when the story was started? It could have easily been started around 750 BC or even later, and then still generations upon generations could have reported the fake history to each other.
The fact is that there weren't millions of Israelis even around 1000 BC.
And more importantly, the historical finds do not support the Exodus in any way shape or form. The Bible Unearthed videos show that.
Keep believing what you need to, but I'm convinced the Exodus didn't happen 100%. There is no evidence that Jews were even monotheistic until around 600 BC or so. If the story was retold from a real starting point there would be abundant evidence to back up the myth.

GI: don't seem to get what I'm saying. Your examples James Frey/Jesus just aren't parallels. Here, I'll spell out what a parallel would be: a nation that claims that their ancestors publicly witnessed a miracle (hint: there are none others). If the Sinai claim "could have easily been started" then there should be many examples to choose from.
(see the bottom, 'An attempt to meet the challenge')

Ed. Note: I did read the link provided, and also read a few links refuting Gottlieb's "line of reasoning." This link is very good, showing how bogus the KP really is.

Bacon: Every example is unique. There is no evidence the Exodus ever happened. None whatsoever. To believe otherwise is to be wilfully ignorant.
Again, the similarities with respect to Greek Gods, Jesus (who never existed) and had many witnesses as well (or so they say).
So what about the Exodus myth? It is mind numbingly simple. Around 650 BC or so, a few Israelites invented a past, the myth grew, over time it was believed that millions left Egypt and since by 450BC the time of Ezra, 200 years had past, it was easy to say that it was passed on from generation to generation.

Sorry, but the historical findings make the Exodus IMPOSSIBLE. Therefore, my answer is the correct one.

You aren't going to change my mind on this. The idea of the Exodus happening to me, is laughable, and the explanation of saying millions of Jews from 1300 BC until now passed the story along unbroken is farcical at best.
They passed it around alright...starting around 450 BC, because enough people said they heard it from the grannies and granpas back then.

Here is more debunking that you can spin all you want:

GI: You repeated your argument without responding to the link I gave you which discusses your theory in the section called 'AN ATTEMPT TO MEET THE CHALLENGE'. Please comment on his logic.
Ed. Note: My patience has now worn thin!!!!

Bacon: GI, I'm done with this. It is farcical. I read the link, and the conclusions are just wilful ignorance times 1000.
The Exodus did not happen. Deal with it.
I've spent waaaay too much time with you on this. You just don't want to get it.

GI: If you had bothered to notice I was not trying to convince you of anything, just trying to elicit an intelligent response to specific points. Must have been my mistake for assuming that a person who writes a blog about a subject would have any balls to defend it.


Bacon: I did defend it. With the Wikipedia article. And then with a blog post on the subject by someone else. But you have to be too wilfully ignorant to accept those rebuttals, even though they make perfect sense, and totally crush the idiotic 11th Century argument for why the Exodus must be fact.

The Exodus didn't happen, and the Kuzari Principal is complete hogwash that makes false assumptions and ridiculous conclusions.

GI: Oh, I'm so sorry honey, I hope I didn't hurt your feelings...

Being petulant wont get you anywhere, and what don't you get about the word "bye"?

Bacon: The day I let a wilfully ignorant person dictate when bye time is, is the day after I take my last breath.
You are the one acting like a little girl btw, not me.

GI: you sound like you want to be put on some spam mailing lists, but I hope I wont have to resort to that.

or will I?

Bacon: My next blog post will be about our exchange. Don't worry, I won't use your name.

GI: I'm sure your grandmother will enjoy it.

For those of you who are link adverse. Here is the 12th Century Kuzari Argument:

To summarize, the Kuzari Argument states that while oral traditions of private revelations can be fabricated, oral traditions of national public revelations must be considered authentic. The reasoning is that people will reject false beliefs of their ancestors witnessing supernatural events on the basis that if the events did occur, they would have heard about them from the previous generation. To clarify what this means, consider the following three scenarios.

(a) A population believes that many years ago, one or several people witnessed the same supernatural events and reported it to the population's ancestors. The occurrence of these supernatural events cannot be verified, since a few people could easily have been misled to believe they saw something that they really didn't, or they could have lied about witnessing the events. A gullible population who believes their story is not proof that the events indeed occurred.

(b) A population believes that many years ago, another entire population witnessed supernatural events in the past. The population who witnessed the events are not the ancestors of the more recent population, and the events are only believed today because it was reported by one or several people sometime after the supposed events have occurred. Like the previous scenario, this scenario cannot be verified, since the credibility of the events rely on the credibility of a few individuals.

(c) This scenario is similar to the previous scenario. However, the population who witnessed the supernatural events are believed to be the ancestors of the more recent population. The belief is that from the time of the events until the more recent population, there has been an unbroken collective oral tradition of the events occurring. The Kuzari Argument says that these beliefs could not have been fabricated. The reasoning is that for these beliefs to be false, at some point in history a person or a group of people would have had to convince an entire population that their ancestors witnessed supernatural events. The population would reject this belief on the basis that if their ancestors truly had witnessed supernatural events, they would have already heard about it through an oral tradition from their parents. Since none of the population would have heard about the events from their parents as expected, they would reject that the events had occurred.

The Kuzari Argument is applied to the miracles in the Torah as follows. Millions of religious Jews believe today in the miracles of the plagues, the manna, and the Sinai revelation. For these beliefs to be false, at some point in history one or several people must have presented the beliefs to the Jewish population as truth. Since a population would not accept a story that their ancestors witnessed supernatural events but they never heard about it, the Jewish population would have undoubtedly rejected the belief. Therefore, the miracles described in the Torah must have occurred.


  1. "GI: you sound like you want to be put on some spam mailing lists, but I hope I wont have to resort to that."

    ... is the main thing he's truthful about. Ah, these good, moral theists, huh? I guess there's no commandment that says "Thou shallt not spam"...

  2. I'm sorry, Bacon, but I can't find the Bible Unearthed links that you mention. Point them out, please?

  3. OK, the Nehemiah stuff you link at BTA is interesting but I think a stronger argument can be found in Exodus itself. Recall that when Moses had the epiphany where he was presented with the tablets bearing the ten commandments he ROPED OFF the base of the mountain and placed guards to ensure that there would be no witnesses. Try to imagine the last mountain you saw, and the difficulty and effort required to do this. It smacks of an effort to commit fraud on a massive scale.

    Consider also the slaughter of those who weren't buying Moses' story - Exodus 32, 25ff in my New American (Catholic) Bible. This is presumed to follow on the heels of the Golden Calf passage, despite a lot of intervening material. Maybe these 23,000 victims would have had a significantly different oral history had they survived.

  4. Sadbuttrue: It's only 3000 victims according to my Bible. Still, I think you've found a passage in the Bible even more sickening than anything I'd seen before.

  5. So wait. According to this Kuzari principle, nobody ever made up a religious story? So while the whole Exodus stuff was happening, so was everything written down in the HIndu texts, and the Greek myths, etc etc? Thousands of people in Ancient Greece claimed lineage from Hercules, or Jason, or a god themselves. They had stories of public miracles and everything, including miracles that supposedly took place in front of whole armies and cities. This Kuzari principle could only be applied if every single religion that is not purely allegorical was true. So it's about as useful as that "logic" that says if god is real we should believe and if god is not real it doesn't matter if we believe or not. You would have to believe in everything.

  6. The KP does not take into account the effect of the power elite's stamp of approval. It's a strong incentive to believe a group's bullshit if the alternative is to have that group kill you.

    The step-by-step instructions on how to run such a scam are still to be found in the book of Exodus. The sheeple were so simple and gullible and trusting that very little effort was made to hide what was actually going on. I often wonder if the text was a test. Those smart enough to figure it out were invited to take part in the scam... or killed.

  7. Bacon Eater, there is abundant proof for the Exodus. The problem with modern archaeology is that it ignores Jewish historical narratives and therefore sets off looking for the Exodus in the wrong time period. Obviously, no evidence can be found in a time period when the Exodus did not occur.

    The book "the Riddle of the Exodus" by James D. Long provides archaeological evidence for the Exodus from Egypt. Most archaeologists assume that since the Bible speaks of the Israelites building the city of Ramses, the Exodus must have been in the time of Ramses the Great. This is wrong since it does not follow Jewish chronology, Ramses' period was one of great growth, and he died of infection, and not at the Sea. The only time period that fits the Exodus description is the end of the Old Kingdom, which left Egypt in complete disaray and chaos. Jewish narratives, in the Sefer HaYashar, tells us that the Pharaoh of the Oppression was named Melol and ruled for 94 years. The only Pharaoh who ruled for this time was Pepi II, whose Horus name (one of his divine names) was Merire. Keep in mind that in Egyptian, there was no 'l' and 'r' was often used instead. His son, Adikam/ Neferkare, was the Pharaoh of the Exodus.

    Proof for the plagues can be found in the Ipuwer Papyrus, a papyrus written by an Egyptian nobelman and priests lamenting to the Pharaoh over the destruction to Egypt. Ipuwer lived at the end of the Old Kingdom. Compare the Torah text to that of Ipuwer's:

    2:5-6 Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere.
    2:10 The river is blood.

    2:10 Men shrink from tasting - human beings, and thirst after water

    3:10-13 That is our water! That is our happiness! What shall we do in respect thereof? All is ruin.
    7:20 …all the waters of the river were turned to blood.
    7:21 ...there was blood thoughout all the land of Egypt …and the river stank.

    7:24 And all the Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.

    2:10 Forsooth, gates, columns and walls are consumed by fire.
    10:3-6 Lower Egypt weeps... The entire palace is without its revenues. To it belong [by right] wheat and barley, geese and fish

    6:3 Forsooth, grain has perished on every side.

    5:12 Forsooth, that has perished which was yesterday seen. The land is left over to its weariness like the cutting of flax.

    9:23-24 ...and the fire ran along the ground... there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous.
    9:25 ...and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.

    9:31-32 ...and the flax and the barley was smitten; for the barley was in season, and flax was ripe.

    But the wheat and the rye were not smitten; for they were not grown up.

    10:15 ...there remained no green things in the trees, or in the herbs of the fields, through all the land of Egypt.

    5:5 All animals, their hearts weep. Cattle moan...
    9:2-3 Behold, cattle are left to stray, and there is none to gather them together.
    9:3 ...the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field... and there shall be a very grievous sickness.

    9:19 ...gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field...

    9:21 And he that did not fear the word of the Lord left his servants and cattle in the field.
    9:11 The land is without light
    10:22 And there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt.
    4:3 (5:6) Forsooth, the children of princes are dashed against the walls.
    6:12 Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the streets.

    6:3 The prison is ruined.

    2:13 He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere.

    3:14 It is groaning throughout the land, mingled with lamentations
    12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive that was in the prison.
    12:30 ...there was not a house where there was not one dead.

    12:30 ...there was a great cry in Egypt.

    7:1 Behold, the fire has mounted up on high. Its burning goes forth against the enemies of the land. 13:21 ... by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.
    3:2 Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and bronze... are fastened on the neck of female slaves.

    12:35-36 ...and they requested from the Egyptians, silver and gold articles and clothing. And God made the Egyptians favour them and they granted their request. [The Israelites] thus drained Egypt of its wealth.

    A monument to the miracle at the Sea (or disaster from the Egyptian perspective) exists. It can be found in the tiny museum in Ismailia, near the Suez Canal. It speaks of the king and his men who fight "the evil ones at the Place of the Whirlpool". It describes a thick palpable darkness as mentionned in the Torah. It tells us of the fate of the king. "At Pi-Kharoti (Pi-HaKhirot, in the Torah), the Pharaoh is thrown by a whirlwind high into the air and is seen no more."

    Anyways, I would highly recommend this book. It is foold of proof.

    HaShem bless you.

  8. The Ipuwer Papyrus is a poem. Maybe part of the Exodus myth is based on the poem? But the poem is hardly evidence of an Exodus.

    As for the Riddle of The Exodus, I read this review. It is all I need.

    The Exodus is an impossibility to have occurred. Watch the Bible Unearthed, and show me one ounce of evidence that it could possibly be true. The Jews weren't even monotheistic for Centuries "after the fact."

  9. Bacon Eater, truth isn't established by academic credentials. If Jim Long is a lunatic who believes the world if flat, but the truth that he presents is correct, then the thesis stands. If he has a phD but his facts are wrong, then it remains wrong. Read the book and then judge for yourself.

    The Ipuwer papyrus is just one piece of evidence for the Exodus. A poem can be a historical proof also. Many historical events have inspired poems. Ipuwer laments the destruction of Egypt at the end of the Old Kingdom Period, which corresponds well to the time that the Sefer HaYashar and traditional Jewish chronology places the Exodus. It makes sense to believe that Ipuwer's Papyrus is speaking of current circumstances as he closes with a plea from Pharaoh to take action. (Contrast this with Exodus 10:7). Ipuwer claims that "magical spells have been divulged" (consider that Pharaoh's necromancers competed with Moses with regards to the plagues). He says: "Behold, the secret of the land whose limits were unknown have been divulged... secrets of the kings of Upper and Lower Egypt are revealed."

    At the end of his lament, Ipuwer accuses the king of lying and of failing his nation. "Would that he perceived their nature in the first generation (of men), then he would have repressed their evils. he would have stretched forth (his) arm against it, he would have destroyed their seed and their inheritance..." Remember that Pharaoh feared the rise of Israelites and tried to drown and murder "their seed".

    And, as I pointed out before, there is a monument to the disaster that befell Pharaoh Neferkare at the Sea, contained in a museum in Ismailia.

    As for the Jews not being monetheists, I don't see how that's relevant. In the Torah, Moses warns the Jews about idolatry and even predicts their straying from the Torah. The Torah records that only a short while after the giving of the Law, they danced before the Golden Calf. A few days ago was Tishea B'Av, the date which we mourn the destruction of the Temples. The writings of the prophets Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel for example, are full of descriptions of Jewish idolatry and calls for repentance. Judah and Israel had many idolatrous kings until they were finally destroyed and exiled.

  10. BC, again, there is no evidence for the Exodus. Watch the Bible Unearthed. It is an impossibility.
    The Torah is not a history book, and cannot even be considered a source.
    As for Long, he is desperately looking for a possible way to make Jesus and the OT real events. Again, there is nothing but a wilfully ignorant theory to back him up. I've read more reviews, I'm not impressed.

    As for monotheism, if the Exodus would have happened, I would have converted, not just me, but every Egyptian who got win of it.

    You want to believe in magic, that is your choice. The Exodus is a nothing but a children's story bought buy many adults.

    Again, watch the Bible Unearthed and try debating real archaeologists.

    Outside of Long's theories what else is there? Not much.

  11. BTW Long is not a Christian. He is a Noahide, a non-Jew who worships the G-d of Israel.

    As for the Exodus convincing Egyptians, the Torah records that many Egyptians left Egypt as part of the "mized multitude" and attached themselves to the Jewish people. They eventually corrupted the people into idol worship. But miracles never last. The nation that saw G-d speak at Sinai danced before a Calf days later.

    The Bible Unearthed is a political book, rather than a scientific one. Finkelstein is one of the most self-loating, anti-Zionist Jews on the planet. By claiming to disprove Israel's ancient history, he can claim that the Jews stole the Land of Israel from the "indigenous" "Palestinians". Biblical miniminalism is politically motivated, althought with every new discovery, its claims are thoroughly diminishing. Have you ever been to Israel? I was there but a few days ago and there are entire museum full of Biblical artifacts there.

    Here is an interesting article:

    It shows proof for the Exodus, the Conquest of Canaan and the reign of the Early Kings.

  12. You are thinking about Norm. It was Israel Finkelstein that co wrote the Bible Unearthed. It is not a political novel. Watch the videos.

  13. Baconeater, thanks for the link, the videos were fascinating.

  14. I'm busy now but I'll try to get to the vids soon.

  15. I watched the videos and I found them very interesting. However, I do believe that Finkelstein ignored key findings to support political causes.

    They speak about the migration of Abraham and how it is no longer acceptable. While no one could expect (or shouldn't expect) a doormat saying "Abraham and Sarah's residence", the textual details indicate that the Torah was writte during the time period indicated and not at a later period. For example, it was once thought that the main anachronism of Genesis was the use of camels which were only domesticated in the 12th century. New research, however, does show that camels were in use in the Mid East in the 18th century, the age of Abraham.

    - A 3.5 ft cord of camel hair from Egypt, dated around 2500 BC
    - The bronze figurine from the temple of Byblos in Lebanon. It is in a foundation with strong Egyptian flavoring, and is dated before the sixth Egyptian dynasty (before 2182 BC). Although the figure could be taken as a sheep, the figure is arranged with items that would strongly require it to be a camel (e.g., a camel saddle, camel muzzle, etc.)
    - Two pots of Egyptian provenance were found in Greece and Crete, both dating 1800-1400 BC, but both in area so far removed from the range of the camel as to suggest its presence in the intermediate areas (e.g., Syria or Egypt) during an earlier time. Both have camels represented, and one literally has humans riding on a camel back.
    - A final piece of strong evidence is textual from Alalakh in Syria, as opposed to archaeological: a textual ration-list. There is a entry for 'camel fodder' written in Old Babylonian. "

    Prof. Kenneth Kitchen, an Egyptologist at the University of Liverpool (retired) points out that the sale of Joseph to a caravan of Midianites (for 20 silver pieces) could have been an example of anachronism in the Bible, since 1,000 years later the price for a slave was much higher (ancient inflation). However, the price reported in the Bible matches precisely the going price of slaves in the region from Joseph's time period. This is just one example that demonstrates, according to Kitchen, that "it's more reasonable to assume that the biblical data reflect reality."

    I would direct you to:
    for a more complete discussion of the age of the Patriarchs, the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan.

    As for the monarchy of David and Solomon, minimalists assert that they are nothing but fairy tales. This ignores mounds of evidence found in Israel. This group suffered a huge setback when in 1993, an Aramic inscription was found in Tel Dan which detailed then invasion of Israel by an Aramean king. It read: "I killed Jehoram son of Ahab, king of Israel, and I killed Ahaziahu son of Jehoram king of the House of David." The Stone was dated from 835 BCE, less than a century after the reign of king Solomon.

    Neither was Jerusalem a backwater little village. In summer 2005, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar discovered an immense stone structure just south of the Temple mount, where the Torah records king David's palace. Dating from the 10th century BCE, its walls are between six to eight feet thick. A seal to the scribe of the last king of Judah was found at the site. Seal have been found proving the existence of the majority of biblical kings and many biblical scribes and families. Engravings found in Karnak reveal Pharaoh Shishak's military camps "in the highlands of Dwt", or David. A Moabite stone has been found celebrating the victyory of Mesha, king of Moab over the son of king Omri of Israel.

  16. The documentary basically states it is not determinable if a historical Abraham existed.
    As for David, it was impossible that he was ruler of a very large kingdom, though they don't dismiss that he was historical.
    As for being a monotheistic Jew though, there is no evidence of that.
    Any way, I'm about to read the link you provided, and it isn't that I'm not open to new evidence, I'm going with the Bible Unearthed for now.
    The Exodus btw is just an impossibility, unless you really need it to have happened. I don't.

    I think that Finklestein wanted to find evidence, but came up very very short.

  17. Regrading the Stone Structure and Eilat Mazar, there is this wikipedia article.
    In the end it states: "Finkelstein et al underline their concern about Mazar's attitude and approach:
    The biblical text dominates this field operation, not archaeology. Had it not been for Mazar’s literal reading of the biblical text, she never would have dated the remains to the 10th century BCE with such confidence."
    Mazar's archeology and methodology is flawed.