Sunday, 7 September 2008

Creationist tries real hard, gives scholarly reference, epic failure ensues

One thing that really casts the shadow of doubt across the events depicted in the Old Testament has to do with the story of the Exodus. In case you're not familiar with the story, it goes something like this:

A guy named Moses was born into a Jewish family but his mom stuck him in a basket and floated him down the Nile (he's damn lucky the crocodiles didn't get him). He was found by the Pharaoh's daughter and subsequently raised as an Egyptian until one day he kills a dude and God tells him "SURPRISE YOU'RE A JEW LOL". Moses then attempts to get the Pharaoh to let all the Jews leave Egypt by sending a multitude of plagues to convince him. Once free, they took a trip across the Red Sea by foot and wandered in the desert for 40 years.

No there lies a big problem with this story. A very big historical problem. The Egyptians were incredibly good at keeping records. They recorded everything. And we have lots of those records from the time that the Exodus supposedly happened (somewhere between 1600. BCE and 1200 BCE). Unfortunately for the Moses story, there is no record of it at all.

None. No record of anyone named Moses being adopted son of a Pharaoh, no record of plagues (they most certainly would have some reference to the worst of the plagues, the death of all first born sons in the kingdom!), no record of a mass number of Jews packing up their stuff and leaving, no mention of the Red Sea splitting in half so they could walk across... There is no reference at all to any of the Exodus story in the Egyptian records. And I've never heard of any explanation for why the Egyptians seemed to be too absentminded to record any of these events.

Until today.

From a guy named Enforcer from (of all places) the World of Warcraft forums:

"Totally false. Egypt very much has ancient records of Israelites in Egypt. One example is on the stele (an upright slab or pillar with an inscription) of Merneptah, the son of Rameses II, who reigned as Pharoah in the first half of the 13th century BC/BCE. It was discovered in Thebes in 1896. This is very important historically, as it shows that the Israelites were indeed present in ancient Egypt in significant numbers.

But aside from the artifacts, historians also say you're wrong. at the University of Pennsylvania - An estimated one mil
lion Jews were present in ancient Egypt.

Moses' existence is corraborated with books from other independent authors. You never heard of Isaiah and Corrinthians too I imagine, besides the books of Deuteronomy?"

Will you look at that! A JSTOR reference and everything! How cute. Too bad he misses the freaking point entirely.

First of all, no one argues that there were no Jews in Egypt. There were plenty of Jews there. What we are arguing is that the Jews that lived there didn't gather their belongings one night and leave the next morning. Egyptian stelae showing Jews lived in Egypt does not prove that it did occur. In fact, stelae dating to periods later than the supposed Exodus which tell of Jews in Egypt might disprove the story since all the Jews were supposed to have left by then (assuming the stelae did not depict historical references; the context is important).

The JSTOR reference doesn't help his case. Again, it proves that Jews lived in ancient Egypt, which no one doubts. What it does not show is evidence for the Exodus. This is further evidenced by the creationist's lack of rudimentary reading skills: the paper goes into detail about Jews during the Hellenistic-Roman (aka Ptolemaic) period, which lasted about 305-30BCE. The Exodus supposedly occurred during the time of the Pharaoh's, which ended in the early 11th century BCE. The time referenced in the paper is about 1000 years too late!

And finally, he closes with a classic "using the Bible to prove what's in the Bible" argument. Isaiah and Corinthians might have originally come from different authors, but they're both books in the Bible, and have been subjected to the same mistranslations, twisting and editing that the other books in the Bible have. If you want to use independent sources, you need to look outside of the Bible. Good luck though, because there's yet to be a single independent source which corroborates the story of the Exodus.

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