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The problem is that the article makes some critical mistakes. First, it cites a study that is not at all about what the article discusses, rather it is a discussion of Environmental constraints on copper production at a specific mine in the Levant. http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/pdfplus/
1) Initially, I was concerned with his dismissal of the earlier camel bones as "wild," but this turns out to be yet another example of terrible scientific reporting. Rather what the professor notes is that older examples of camel bones tend to be in midden (trash) mounds which suggests possible predation by humans, which is unlikely if this is a trade or pack animal (more on my objection to the pack animal assumption later). The NYT writer mistakes this phrase for suggesting they are wild.
2) His data is confined to just a few number of sites, with all the dating coming from a single site of habitual habitation (a copper mine). That site doesn't have any human habitation around the time of the patriarchs so it seems an odd evidence source for whether or not they had camels. If that was a valid conclusion, we could well argue that humans didn't exist in the levant around that time period either.
3) The patriarchs he takes issue with (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) lived in quite a few regions, and only in the levant itself during the times proceeding the famine in egypt (not exactly a bountiful time). Most of the Abraham story comes from a region near northern Iraq and so whether or not camels are present in the Levant is more of a side issue to whether or not Genesis is accurately depicting this story.
4) This copper mine site is a "high place," in Hebrew Har. The high places were where the Israelites tended to form settlements during the Judges and Kings period because of their defensibility. They are notoriously hard to live on and would not have been good locations for nomadic herders like Abraham or Isaac. Those peoples tended to live in the lower regions of canaan where grass was more abundant and water available.
5) As I just mentioned, most of the earliest patriarchs were nomadic herders. Nomads are infamous for not leaving large archeological footprints (especially if you are looking a place they probably didn't frequent like a Har in the Israeli wilderness) and so archeologists are usually very reluctant to make any definitive conclusions about them based on sparse archeological evidence. If we were to confine ourselves to archeology there would be virtually no record of the existence of Bedouins, however we can see them if you travel to the right regions.
6) Given the location objection noted above the timeline he proposes seems to hold no objection. Generally it agreed that Abraham was around sometime around 2100BC (he also proposes that time period in his paper). He was generally known to have lived in the vicinity of Ur (southern Iraq) and spent a lot of time near Ninevah (northern Iraq). Both of these cities are known to have extensive trade and cultural exchange with the Arabian Peninsula (where camels were domesticated no later than 3000BC). Now we can judge the spread of the camel by noting that it is present in Shar-i Sokhta in 2600BC. That city is in the eastern edge of present day Iran with Ur between it and Arabia. That means that camels must have been present in Ur prior to 2600BC, 500 years before Abraham is there.
7) The professor bases his levant timeline on the presence of trade routes. I have two objections to that. First, it seems to presume his conclusion since the trade routes could not have developed until after the Patriarchs had settlements large enough to warrant trade. Second, the use of camels far precedes their use as pack animals in trade. Camels were used in much the same manner as sheep (and still are) in nomadic groups nearly a millenia before their use in trade routes by the Egyptians. This second objection is critical to understanding why his evidence set is so odd. If I am looking for evidence of the domestication of dogs in America, I wouldn't go to an airport, find that dogs are first present in the 1990s as drug sniffing animals and then conclude dogs were first domesticated in the US in the 1990s.
As I said in dispute and as another poster already mentioned, this is a non-factual argument.
In the U.S., firearms are far, far more commonly used to prevent crime than to commit it. Even if we stipulate that prohibition works (historically it hasn't) that only means you are enabling the strong vs the weak. Is that the society we want to live in? Where a woman can't own a firearm to stop a rapist? http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp
This just shows a complete lack of factual accuracy. Citizens cannot buy "machine guns" which are large caliber automatic rifles. They can buy small caliber semi-automatic and larger caliber semi-automatic rifles, commonly called "assault rifles" and "hunting rifles," but neither of those are "machine guns" in any meaningful sense.
Further, lets say we eliminated not just all assault weapons, but tall rifles. Lets even stipulate that the banning of these weapons would be effective (how well has that worked out for marijuana or alcohol?).
You realize that these weapons are rarely used in crimes right? That on the order of 10 to 1, these weapons are used to prevent crime. http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp
We should remember that the ethnic makeup of that region 2000 years ago was quite different. The darker skinned arab genes wouldn't make a major appearance for quite a while. Rather, Jesus probably looked something like a modern day Serbian (though with dark eyes and curly hair).
But it wouldn't imply that you would be free from seeing anyone drinking a soda in public right? Isn't that more closely what is meant by "freedom from religion?"
I think we need to be careful in what we argue is "freedom from religion." It doesn't mean that you are free not to follow a religion, it traditionally means that you are free from any religious activities in the public sphere (no prayers at a school, even if not school sponsored for example).
Finally, even if we accepted your definition, that wouldn't mean they are equivalent, but rather that the latter is a variant under the former.
Actually Hell is not in Judaism, it was never mentioned anywhere other than the New Testament.
This is quite commonly referenced on the Internet today, however it isn't accurate. The confusion arises from the Torahs' use of Sheol solely to refer to the afterlife. All souls enter Sheol after their death, but that doesn't mean their existence there is equal or similar.
Both in the Torah and in the Talmud, Sheol is divided in how people will experience their death. God is described in Psalms as both a comforter to those in Sheol who love Him and as being cut off from the unrighteous. Sheol, in Hebrew, has linguistic variances based upon this usage, indicating the Israelites understood, or at least meant to imply, that there is a difference in state for various souls within Sheol.
Hell is described in the bible as so:
Matthew 13:50 “furnace of fire…weeping and gnashing of teeth”
Mark 9:48 “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched”
This is what happens when you interpret verses out of context. Both verses are part of large parables and their explanations. It doesn't make sense to take words or individual phrases as literal in the midst of a parable.
Further, Jesus (in Mark) is quoting Isiah, giving further problems to your first claim above.
If you are a Christian and you truly believe the bible to be the word of God, than why doesnt it simply describe hell as a place where one shall be seperated from God? Why does it instead depict Hell as eternal torment?
But it does, both in the verses you reference above, and in others. In all those parables there are some common themes. One is that those that reject the teachings are "cast out" or "separated." Jesus refers to judgement as a separation on virtually all occasions, a separation apart from the reward offered by the various parable characters.
How come you know more about your holy book than the billions of old age philosophers like Martin Luther who studied and lived by this stuff?
Can you support that that was their view? I think it is more likely that you are falling victim to the popular culture notion of their view. You'll notice that both Luther and Aquinas argued that Hell was a separation from God: http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/
I should have figured this is where you were coming from, I am simply arguing against the "infinte pain" concept of hell, I don't have much problems with that alternative, other than the fact that people are getting rewarded for blind faith which I don't consider to be virtue at all.
Fair enough, I think we would need to understand the mechanism of that "pain" however. I can have pain out of my own negligence, the negligence of others or even malicious intent. The nature of that pain and suffering isn't the latter in the Judeo-Christian theological world though, it is the former.
But lets say we were arguing about another religion, Islam, for example, where it does appear to be the latter. Is that inconsistent with Allah being "good?" (Not that I'm arguing Allah is doctrinally good here) I'm not sure it necessarily does. The question still comes down to a matter of appropriateness. One the one side of the scale we have "infinite pain for infinitely long" and on the other side of the scale "rejecting the Creator of all things."
To judge the balance of those two we have several possible mechanisms:
a) personal subjective: Person A feels they are balanced, person B does not. This mechanism seems unsatisfactory to me as it equates justice to a matter of taste and results in us clearly having no resolution. However, given that, for the sake of this argument, Allah is the supreme deity of the universe, his subjective view of the balance would seem to be more relevant than any of ours.
b) Objective measure: We would need to agree to some metric with which to compare.
Neither of these mechanisms seems to provide a clear path towards this clearly being "too harsh," rather one of them suggests that Allah views it as just from his provident point of view.
First, I still want to point out that we are operating under the assumption that Hell is meant as a punishment rather than a natural consequence. We still have no actual evidence to support that as the intent.
How does infinite pain for infinite time compensate anyone?
Nor did I make the argument that it was specifically either of those. My main point was to show that your assumption that punishment is only to stop re-occurrence was inaccurate. Hence, we would need to establish all possible justifications for punishment and then remove them in order to establish this as unnecessary.
I've seen no justification for the concept of Hell as "infinite pain" here, but sufficed to say it isn't an optimal condition. If we label Hell generally as "not heaven" ie "not reward" we can see a very logical reason for Hell. It is certainly a logical conclusion that someone who chooses to reject the morality issued by the Creator of the universe should receive the benefit for accepting that morality.
Even if we consider this on a base transaction level the outcome makes sense. If I offer $100 for someone to write an essay and they don't, what warrant do they have to claim the $100? The fact that that person lives without that reward for eternity is hardly an unjust consequence.
I've went over this, if this were the case, it would be SIGNIFICANTLY more successful in it's goal if god were to rather reveal himself.
Why? I see no reason to accept this. Drawing and quartering was horrific in punishment, as was crucifixion, neither punishment was fool proof. Both saw people commit crimes in full knowledge of the outcome of that crime.
A certain degree of punishment either will maintain order or it won't
In this scenario, what constitutes "order?" What precisely would constitute "maintaining order?" Would it be 100% of people believing in God? 0 Sins? What? And how would you account for the violations of law now? No one doubts the law's existence, they still violate it.
You do when you use the term "omnipotent". When you use the term "all-powerful" or "Omnipotent" you are claiming just that.
Not at all, that is your inference, not the actual philosophic or traditional meaning of that term, as I pointed out in my last response.
Then he is lacking power in certain scenarios, making him not all powerful. If you say god can't do X, then you are saying god lacks the power to do X, which means god lacks power in a certain conditions, which means god doesn't possess all power.
This is a non sequitor. God cannot be said to not possess a power that doesn't exist. The powers you are referring to are self-contradictary and are therefore impossible to possess. It would be like saying that the universe has to contain a married bachelor because the universe contains all that exists.
And nothing in your explanation resolves the problem I stated before. IE if omnipotent means anything, possible or not, then omnipotence is internally inconsistent and therefore an incoherent term.
Exactly which means god should have the power to do just about anything. Just about anything, that is the key phrase, not "can do anything." Nothing about omnipotence has ever required that it be able to do the logically impossible.
I'm not arguing that all-powerful necessarily means infinite power, but all-powerful means having all the power.
And in what sense does the power to make a married bachelor exist so that God can possess it?
Or to apply to your logic question, in what sense does God have the ability to change His nature? Rationality is a trait of God, so in the sense of what you are arguing, God would have to be able to be both rational and non-rational.
However to say that this world can't be any better than it is, does imply that you know it is the best it could possibly be. There is evidence suggesting that it could be better,
Well I should point out that I didn't say it was patently clear that that is the case, only that the objection that the world could be better is an uncertain one to make.
I don't see any evidence that it could be better. What specifically could be changed to make it so?
Like in my last response, why I perceive it as harsh, is it is ultimately pointless and accomplishes nothing...The point of punishment is to discourage something
I think this is an unwarranted conclusion for two reasons.
1) Punishments are not necessarily designed only in a pro-active discouragement mode. Some are designed to be a post-action reparation or removal of benefit from the guilty. Some fines are meant that way, as are virtually all civil punishments. They attempt to either compensate the harmed or to remove benefit achieved from the activity in question.
2) Further, it could well be a deterrent rather than an attempt to stop recidivism. In that sense it could well serve to "discourage" something.
Is it more than what is necessary to maintain order? I certainly think so...
That would seem to be a subjectivist fallacy. You feel it is unnecessary, they did not. If we are relegating the question to a matter of preference or indeed taste, it would seem that we could also relegate the decision to God as well. Once we make this a matter of subjective argument, your point must be ceded because the question of punishment is subject to the argument of who should get to determine punishment. Given God's status as creator of all things (in this argument), it would seem His determination would trump others.
Actually it does, because being omnipotent is synonymous with all powerful, omni meaning all, and potent meaning powerful. With that, he has power over everything, even logic, if he doesn't have power over logic, then he is not all powerful, just VERY powerful.
Strawman fallacy, theists do not argue that God is powerful in this manner. The Jewish and Christian Bible do not claim He is capable of this type of action.
Even if we were to accept your literalist interpretation of that word (rather than its contextual definition), it still does not argue that God is capable of doing anything at all that he wishes. Only that He has "all" power (omni meaning all as you point out). I can own all copies of a rare baseball card, that doesn't mean that I therefore own an infinite number of them either. I only own those which exist. Likewise God being omnipotent means that He has all power, not "infinite" power, all existent powers.
Why does this need to be so? Because otherwise the concept of omnipotent is meaningless as it is self contradictory. God has both the power to make a rock to heavy to move and the power to move it. That understanding of "omnipotence" is incoherent and as such not a valid concept to call into being.
Rather, as we see in the link here, God has generally been well understood as having all powers that are actualizable, not all powers conceivable.
I know that the world could be better than what it already is
This is a pretty strong claim to be made here. The world has emergent properties, and as such it is definitionally impossible for you to understand the full ramifications of that action. What you mean is that you don't know of anything bad that would happen as a first order effect. You might be able to puzzle out some of the second order effects, but the third, fourth, fifth and so on are far outside our ability to accurately predict.
So while it might seem that it would be better if God stopped some action, it is virtually impossible to say so with any real certainty. It reminds me of any of the Sci-fi tropes about time travel, stepping on the smallest lizard changes the world, kinda thing.
First, good response Zephyr. Thanks for replying.
I think you have several points that require a response:
The debate title, says "Is being sent to hell because you're not Christian harsh?", this to me seems to mean intentionally sending people to hell for not being Christian, not about people going to hell as a consequence in cause and effect.
Lets assume for a minute that that is the OP's position. Why exactly is that punishment "too harsh?" What about it objectively argues that it is disproportionally bad given the offense?
I understand that it might appear that way to some, and not appear that way to others, but that seems like a bad metric to use. Drawing and quartering didn't seem to harsh for some given the offense of political slander at one point. So what can we use to objectively argue that it is far too excessive given the action?
Besides if the Christian god is omnipotent, and omniscient, then god should be perfectly capable of not having people go to hell for not believing in Christianity
Being omnipotent does not mean that God can do anything. Rather it means He can do anything that is logically possible. He can't create a married bachelor for example.
Given that, I don't see any reason to believe that God could create a system where good is maximized, but where this consequence is absent. I mean to say that your position appeals to the possibility that such a world is possible where we have as much good as we have in our current world and where the consequence of Hell is absent. I don't see any reasoning to support that such a world is possible and the burden of support would seem to be on you given your appeal to it.
I am probably a good person but I haven't taken the time to fill out my profile, so you'll never know!