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Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby J Lord » Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:45 am

> Because the Bible says that God breathed "the breath of life" into a homo sapien

I don't think it says that because I don't think such a term even existed back then that would specify only homo sapiens and exclude Neanderthals.
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Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby jimwalton » Sun Mar 04, 2018 10:45 am

The term used in Genesis 2.7 is הָאָדָם (ha adam). It was used by the writer to designate what he would call a human being. Therefore he was talking about homo sapiens. Since we only have skulls and skeletons to go by, it's difficult for us to really know what a Neanderthal looked like (color of epidermis, preponderance of hair or fur, etc.) beyond guessing. It's tough to take a position on how similar or dissimilar was the appearance of a Neanderthal and whether or not the ancients would be able discern the difference. But we can say with certainty that the author was speaking of homo sapiens with his use of the term הָאָדָם.
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Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby J Lord » Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:29 pm

> It was used by the writer to designate what he would call a human being. Therefore he was talking about homo sapiens.

That would only be the case if somehow the writer somehow had pre-knowledge of future scientific discoveries.

> But we can say with certainty that the author was speaking of homo sapiens with his use of the term הָאָדָם.

I don't think so. The author did not know the distinction between humans and Neanderthals. It seems more likely to me that when the uses that term he is referring to humans as supernaturally created beings that were in existence shortly after the universe was created thousands of years ago.
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Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby jimwalton » Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:38 pm

When the author was writing, there hadn't been Neanderthals for 40,000 years. It's reasonable to think he knew nothing about them, as they were only discovered in 1829. So it's quite irrefutable that when the author speaks of human beings he would be speaking of the only homo- species know on the planet at the time: homo sapiens.

> It seems more likely to me that when the uses that term he is referring to humans as supernaturally created beings that were in existence shortly after the universe was created thousands of years ago.

The concerns of the cultures of 1500 BC were how the gods ordered elements on the earth to function, not how they came into being. There was universal agreement at the time, as far as we know, that the gods had created the material universe. That was not a subject for discussion. Instead, the distinction between cultures was how the gods ordered the cosmos and to what end. That would have been what the author of Genesis would have been addressing.

In the ancient world all agreed that humanity was supernaturally created. The mythologies of the surrounding cultures taught that humans were created to function as slaves to the gods. By contrast, Genesis taught that humans were created to function as co-regents of God on the earth and to maintain sacred space (Gn. 1.26-27; 2.15).

There is no evidence that Genesis is making any kind of statement about the age of the earth or of the cosmos. Genealogies in the ancient world were often telescoped (many generations left out) for their political or religious purposes. There is no reason to assume the author of Genesis would have anachronistically regarded genealogies the way we do rather than the way his culture did.
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Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby Wet Suit » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:40 pm

> Genesis tells us that the ark rested "on the mountains of Ararat," meaning the range—a region, not simply a mountain. The location is vague, and there is no claim that it rested on Mt. Ararat, and certainly no claim that it rested at the top of it or even high on it.

It is funny how the interpretation of Biblical claims take a sudden "vague", "metaphorical" and "interpretive" turn when it is contradicted by rationality, evidence or science. Even if I grant you your interpretive hypothesis that the ark came to rest at the foot of a mountain range, and not on the mountain itself, the regional flood theory still falls apart. Let's, for the sake of the argument, assume the ark did not come to rest at an elevation of 5km above sea-level, but came to rest at the measly elevation of 30m about sea-level. (1) Water always flows toward the lowest point it can. In any given region there are valleys, rivers and lowlands which eventually connect to the sea, which means that (except if the region was a basin and was 100% surrounded by a 30m high natural wall, water would flow into the sea to achieve equilibrium, and a 25m high "flood" line would be impossible. (2) The second, and more fundemental, problem with your fairytale is that the rate of precipitation required to deposit 30m of water over a large region is physically impossible. The maximum hourly rate of precipitation physically possible is governed by three factors, namely (a) the precipitable moisture in the air column, which is a non-linear function of temperature, assuming no limiting evaporation upwind, (b) the dynamics of condensation, assuming no limitation on the availability of raindrop nuclei, and (c) the lateral advective delivery of moisture. The highest hourly precipitation ever measured in history is around 500mm, while the highest hypothetical precipitation rate is just under 1cm per hour. Let's defy physics and make it 2cm per hour (because magic). That equals 19m in 40 days at a precipitation rate double that of what is physically possible. I'll take the supernatural writings and musings of goatherders, who did not know where the sun went at night, with a pinch of salt.

> There are several cultural elements that we have to take into consideration.

None of which make any of the problems the flood myth faces go away. One has to believe that scientifically illiterate peasants' second hand writings of an oral tale passed down the generations, about a supernatural flood, is historically accurate, all while admitted that the same people thought that the earth was flat, stood on pillars etc. Makes total sense.

> In addition, when Gn. 7.19 uses the word "covered" for the mountains, we have to look elsewhere in the Bible for what "covered" means.

You are now defending a dogmatic claim by arguing semantics; that the word "cover" does not mean what it clearly is intended to mean in the context it was used, but that a vast array of other meanings could apply. You assert a selection of unfalsifiable hypothesis, to open up a space in which the dogmatic claim could possibly exist. Not a good argument at all.

> If this were the case in Genesis, it would suggest that the water reached 15 cubits upward from the plain, covering at least some part of the mountains.

So according to Google, 15 cubits = roughly 7m. Wow, what an immense part of the mountains 7m of water must have covered... so much so that all people in the area drowned and could not find a hill higher than 7m, so much so that birds could not rest anywhere and no one could see any mountains. All under the cover of 7m of water from the plain.

> We know, first of all, that consciousness is not physical, but rather is immaterial. It is generated in the brain but it has not material substance.

If consciousness is "generated in the brain", then yes consciousness has a material substance / basis. You can divorce the two from one another. There is no evidence that proves that consciousness is possible independant to the underlying biology of the brain, which means that it is an emergent property of our brain, which in turn means that consciousness is an emergent property of matter arranged in a certain way.

> If you start with only matter, and matter is all there is, then you argue against consciousness.

Wrong. This is a false equivalency. There is no seperation between matter and consciousness. The two are intertwined. The one emerges from the other.

> But this is a false argument because we know consciousness exists in reality.

Of course we do, as I've explained to you above. I also don't know why you are harping on about consciousness when I've never claimed consciousness does not exist. Of course it exists. You've claimed that "souls" exist, which is something different to consciousness. Consciousness, because it depends on the underlying structure of the brain to exist, in all probability ceases to exist when the brain decays. However, "souls" are claimed to be transcendal, for which there is of course exactly zero demonstrable, verifyible, objective or testable evidence of any sort. Only subjective personal tales, dogma and supernatural claims.

> The problem for an atheist is how consciousness can come from mere chunks of matter.

It is not a problem at all. Why is it a problem?

> Since consciousness is immaterial, that you can exist in a disembodied state.

No it is not. Consciousness is not immaterial. Consciousness is not proven to exist without the underlying structure of the brain, which is made of matter. Consciousness is a metaphysical phenomenon, an emergent property of matter. It is not proven to be independently "immaterial" with transcendal properties as you incorrectly suggests.

> Some possible evidence of this is offered by those who have had "near death experiences" (not the "Heaven is for Real" type, but rather the kind that are well documented by people who were remotely viewing and accurately reporting events that took place while they were dead, including events in remote locations).

Personal tales and yarns about supernatural claims are not scientific evidence for anything. They are subjective, unverifiable, unfalsifiable and untestable. Sorry.

> We also know that quantum mechanics doesn't work with materialism (the general notion that everything may be defined and explained in terms of matter.

Wrong. Our model of physics is currently inadequate at quantum level, but there is no evidence of any kind that proves that quantum reality is separate or incompatible with matter. This is either embarrassing ignorance, or you are lying. Both are bad.

> In quantum mechanics the question that is asked makes a difference, which brings in intent / will / mind, and this does not fit with matter.

Wrong. I'm too exhausted at this point to explain to you why your faux-understanding of quantum physics is incorrect, but you are dead wrong in your "claims". Dunn Kruger comes to mind.

> Science nor psychology has come anywhere near disproving the existence of an immaterial soul.

That is not how logic works. It is impossible to prove the non-existence of something. You (as well as science) has not yet disproved the existence of a pink rhinoceros living inside Pluto. Does that mean it exists for real? Tell me, if I claimed it existed, how would you go about proving it's non existence? Can you give is a summary of how you would go about it? This is a logical fallacy of epic proportions.

> Logic, by contrast, is almost proof in itself that an immaterial part of us exists.

Sigh.
Wet Suit
 

Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby jimwalton » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:43 pm

> It is funny how the interpretation of Biblical claims take a sudden "vague", "metaphorical" and "interpretive" turn when it is contradicted by rationality, evidence or science.

I didn't mention anything about metaphorical or interpretive. We let the text speak for itself. In Gn. 8.4 "mountains" is plural. "Ararat" is found in extensive cuneiform sources (along with Minni and Ashkenaz). These names are the deformed names of three political entities in the mountainous northern region of Mesopotamia, and they correspond to the realms of Urartu, Manna, and the Scythians. "Ararat" is the Hebrew Bible's transcription of the cuneiform spelling of Urartu. When the Bible speaks of the mountains of Ararat, it is speaking of a political region, not solely of a mountain. In addition, Ararat is a range of mountains, not only a single peak.

> which means that (except if the region was a basin and was 100% surrounded by a 30m high natural wall, water would flow into the sea to achieve equilibrium, and a 25m high "flood" line would be impossible. (2) The second, and more fundemental, problem with your fairytale is that the rate of precipitation required to deposit 30m of water over a large region is physically impossible.

You are failing to consider some geological possibilities. for instance, geologists have surmised that in about 5 million BC the Straight of Gibraltar, which was once a solid dam holding back the Atlantic Ocean, was broken and the ocean water inundated the entire continental region for a temporary period of time. Such an onrush would create adiabatic cooling, cloud formation, and immense amounts of rain. I'm not suggesting the Flood happened in 5 million BC, but only that a cataclysmic geologic event could have created the phenomena recorded in the text.

In about 5500 BC, the geology of the Black Sea suggests a flooding that occurred when the then-small lake in the center of the Sea rapidly became a large sea. This happened when waters from the Mediterranean found a pathway to the much lower Black Sea area. This change in the Sea has been known since the 1920s. Since then, it has become clear that the flooding occurred about 7500 years ago (5500 BC) and that about 60,000 square miles (more than 100,000 square km) of the coastal areas of the lake became part of the sea in a relatively short time.

Another possibility is that waters from the Persian Gulf submerge a large coastland area due to a sudden rise in sea level, precipitated by an extraordinary undersea eruption, which could also have brought on torrential rains.

Geologists and seismologists also tell us that in the Pacific, the Cascadia subduction zone is "tight like a spring waiting to pop." When it does, they say, it will result in "a cataclysmic tsunamic flood—a 700-mile-long liquid wall—in both Japan and the Pacific northwest region of the US and Canada. The destruction will result in the unrecognizability of Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem, Olympia. Some 7 million people will probably die." Is it possible that the Flood was the result of tectonic activity of the Mid-Atlantic ridge? (That same ridge is central to the breakup of "Pangea" some 180 million years ago.)

These are the types of phenomena that could result in a massive regional flood.

> that the word "cover" does not mean what it clearly is intended to mean in the context it was used

What we have to determine is that what is clear to you based on your 21st century English understanding is identical to the 2nd millennium BC Hebrew understanding. Given the way language evolves and their cultural environment, I would guess there's not only leeway, but plenty of it.

> so much so that all people in the area drowned and could not find a hill higher than 7m

If it was an onrush of water due, say, possibly, to a tsunamic event, we have direct evidence from the Japan tsunami in 2004 how quickly a region can become inundated and people drown by the thousands.

> If consciousness is "generated in the brain", then yes consciousness has a material substance / basis.

The problem is, if mental events are intrinsically related to neural events (physicalism [eliminative materialism), how can it not be the case that the contents of mental events are ultimately governed by the laws of neurobiology? If neurobiological determinism is true, then it would appear that there is no freedom of the will, that moral responsibility is a delusion, and that our talk about the role of reason in any intellectual discipline is misguided.

Thinking, deciding, consciousness, memory, language, representation, belief, etc. are large dynamic patterns of brain activity that constrain the ongoing lower-level physiological phenomena whose activity constitute the brain patterns themselves. Therefore the causal properties of patterns are not reducible to the elements. They are emergent. There is an increasingly large body of research within the current understanding of neuroscience that supports that thinking and deciding are actual extant effective processes that cannot be exhaustively explained by material or physiological analyses.
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Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby Wet Suit » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:52 pm

> I didn't mention anything about metaphorical or interpretive.

Yes you did. You are claiming that the text does not mean what it states, that "cover" does not mean cover, and that Mount Ararat does not mean Mount Ararat. No, you advance the claim that one has to believe in certain semantics and interpretions of the text so that the "correct" meaning is ascertained, and so that the Biblical account does not conflict with logic or science. You obviously have no way of proving that your interpretations are correct, but you present it as a "truth" nonetheless.

> In addition, Ararat is a range of mountains, not only a single peak.

Which, like I explained to you before, does not make the flood myth an ounce more probable or real. Where the "ark" stranded along the Ararat range is totally irrelevant.

> You are failing to consider some geological possibilities. For instance, geologists have surmised that in about 5 million BC the Straight of Gibraltar, which was once a solid dam holding back the Atlantic Ocean, was broken and the ocean water inundated the entire continental region for a temporary period of time. Such an onrush would create adiabatic cooling, cloud formation, and immense amounts of rain.

No I haven't failed to consider other possibilities. There simply are none to be found. The "possibility" you've tabled above, is simply disconnected from the dogma you are trying to support. There is several problems with it: (a) The Medditeranean flood is an hypothesis, and is not an event proven to have taken place. It is not supported by evidence. (b) Scientific models of this hypothetical flood shows that such a flood would have taken place over hundreds of years, and certainly not as rapidly as a period of 40 days or at a rate close to that. (c) The Ararat and surrounding mountains are approximately 400km from the Black Sea, the closest point of contact with the greater Medditeranean basin, with many mountains inbetween, so was hardly in danger of even getting wet from the hypothetical flood of the Medditeranean basin. (d) No amount of adiabatic cooling can lead to 40 days of around the clock rain, meteorology simply doesn't work like that. Also, adiabatic cooling cannot function beyond the limits of physics and the maximum precipitation rate that is physically possible, which we've already established is not capable of flooding an entire region in 40 days to any significant degree as to prevent people from finding refuge on higher ground. (e) If this hypothetical event occurred 5 million BC, then what event took place during Noah's flood? Some other unnamed, magical event I suppose?

> Another possibility is that waters from the Persian Gulf submerge a large coastland area due to a sudden rise in sea level, precipitated by an extraordinary undersea eruption, which could also have brought on torrential rains.

Great, some more claims about hypothetical floods and underground "eruptions", none of which are proven, and none of which gels with the Biblical account, which describes that the flood was caused by persistent rain. The Bible does not mention water rushing in by land, or the earth shaking or erupting. Is describes rain. Is this another case of interpretive reading, where the writers got it wrong where the word rain does not mean rain?

> Geologists and seismologists also tell us that in the Pacific, the Cascadia subduction zone is "tight like a spring waiting to pop." When it does, they say, it will result in "a cataclysmic tsunamic flood—a 700-mile-long liquid wall—in both Japan and the Pacific northwest region of the US and Canada. The destruction will result in the unrecognizability of Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem, Olympia. Some 7 million people will probably die." Is it possible that the Flood was the result of tectonic activity of the Mid-Atlantic ridge?

Is it possible that Santa Claus brought a hose and flooded the area? Yeah, I suppose it is possible. Why are you talking about hypothetical seismic activity, when the Bible describes rain? You are regressing into an infinite set of hypotheticals where none of it can be falsified, all so that you can pat yourself on the back for having "defended" a clear iron age myth of a "40-day rain" that caused a flood that wiped everyone out, except some folks on a boat which carried all the animals of the area. Right on.

> What we have to determine is that what is clear to you based on your 21st century English understanding is identical to the 2nd millennium BC Hebrew understanding. Given the way language evolves and their cultural environment, I would guess there's not only leeway, but plenty of it.

When the Hebrew Bible was translated into English, we used the closest possible match when selecting words so that the original meaning remains intact as far as possible. So there is no "evolving" of language at play here. It is not like the writers of the Bible used an earlier form of English of which the words changed meaning since then. I guess you love the leeway, because that just leaves so much room for interpretation and mental gymnastics. Strange that "God" doesn't just arrange for a perfectly translated copy of his "Word" in every language for all his "children", but that we have to depend on the fallible and sometimes inadequate translations between modern languages and the writings of scientifically illiterate and superstitious folk from the iron age. Funny that.

> If it was an onrush of water due, say, possibly, to a tsunamic event, we have direct evidence from the Japan tsunami in 2004 how quickly a region can become inundated and people drown by the thousands.

Sigh. I'm sorry I have to be repetitive, but the Bible describes rain, not "onrushing tsunamis". Also, a tsunami does not take place over 40 days, nor does the waterlevel remain high for long.

> The problem is, if mental events are intrinsically related to neural events (physicalism [eliminative materialism), how can it not be the case that the contents of mental events are ultimately governed by the laws of neurobiology? If neurobiological determinism is true, then it would appear that there is no freedom of the will, that moral responsibility is a delusion, and that our talk about the role of reason in any intellectual discipline is misguided.

Mental events might very well be governed by neurobiology. Free will might well be an illusion. Reason and morality might be driven causally. We don't know yet.

> Thinking, deciding, consciousness, memory, language, representation, belief, etc. are large dynamic patterns of brain activity that constrain the ongoing lower-level physiological phenomena whose activity constitute the brain patterns themselves. Therefore the causal properties of patterns are not reducible to the elements. They are emergent. There is an increasingly large body of research within the current understanding of neuroscience that supports that thinking and deciding are actual extant effective processes that cannot be exhaustively explained by material or physiological analyses.

Not correct. Basically the Appeal to Complexity. "Science cannot currently reduce complex brain activity into their constituent elements, therefore I get to claim that consciousness is independent from matter and transcendal, and that souls exist". Nice one.
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Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby jimwalton » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:53 pm

> Yes you did. You are claiming that the text does not mean what it states, that "cover" does not mean cover, and that Mount Ararat does not mean Mount Ararat.

"Cover" means "cover." But when I say my arm is covered with mosquitoes, that's very different than when I say snow is covering the yard. That doesn't make it a metaphor.

> No I haven't failed to consider other possibilities.

What you have missed is that I clearly said I wasn't claiming it was one of these events but a phenomenon of similar characteristics. It's easy to see how a regional flood of this sort could be devastating.

> When the Hebrew Bible was translated into English, we used the closest possible match when selecting words so that the original meaning remains intact as far as possible. So there is no "evolving" of language at play here.

Of course there is. Usage and evolution are always at play. In front of my local grocery store is a sign that reads "No Standing." We all know what that means, and it doesn't mean no standing. It means you can't park your car there. I know it clearly says "No Standing," but in our culture we accept its meaning as different from what it clearly says. If someone 3,000 years dug this up, they'd probably wonder why we had a sign insisting that everyone sit. It helps to know the culture and the intent of the language.

> Sigh. I'm sorry I have to be repetitive, but the Bible describes rain, not "onrushing tsunamis".

I am only mentioning a variety of possibilities. All I'm asserting is that a global flood is not the only and required possibility of Genesis 7-8.

> Mental events might very well be governed by neurobiology. Free will might well be an illusion. Reason and morality might be driven causally. We don't know yet.

Then, for the time being, to be objective we must consider the possibility of a soul.
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Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby Wet Suit » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:25 pm

> "Cover" means "cover." But when I say my arm is covered with mosquitoes, that's very different than when I say snow is covering the yard. That doesn't make it a metaphor.

I never said you were using a metaphor... Where did you get this idea? Of course words have different meanings when used in different contexts. I said that you are claiming that words like "cover" should be understood to have a meaning different to the one clearly implied by the context of the passage it was used in. Basically: arguing semantics.

> What you have missed is that I clearly said I wasn't claiming it was one of these events but a phenomenon of similar characteristics. It's easy to see how a regional flood of this sort could be devastating.

It is easy to see how an alien invasion could be devastating too. But it does not make it true, real or in any way relevant to the Biblical claims.

> Of course there is. Usage and evolution are always at play. In front of my local grocery store is a sign that reads "No Standing." We all know what that means, and it doesn't mean no standing. It means you can't park your car there. I know it clearly says "No Standing," but in our culture we accept its meaning as different from what it clearly says. If someone 3,000 years dug this up, they'd probably wonder why we had a sign insisting that everyone sit. It helps to know the culture and the intent of the language.

My brain actually hurts. This is not an example of language "evolving". This is an example of words having more than one meaning, based on context, as is the case in almost any language.

> I am only mentioning a variety of possibilities. All I'm asserting is that a global flood is not the only and required possibility of Genesis 7-8.

Except it is, since that is what is described.

> Then, for the time being, to be objective we must consider the possibility of a soul.

Sure, you can consider it; but you cannot claim it to be true.
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Re: Neanderthal culture is a problem for Christianity

Postby jimwalton » Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:07 pm

> I never said you were using a metaphor... Where did you get this idea?

Here's what you said: "It is funny how the interpretation of Biblical claims take a sudden "vague", "metaphorical" and "interpretive" turn when it is contradicted by rationality, evidence or science."

> I said that you are claiming that words like "cover" should be understood to have a meaning different to the one clearly implied by the context of the passage it was used in. Basically: arguing semantics.

Semantics is what matters when we are discussing the meaning of terms. If we are asking what the author meant by his use of the term "cover," we have to argue semantics.

> But it does not make it true, real or in any way relevant to the Biblical claims.

You seem to be arguing that's it's not reasonable to assume some sort of geological cataclysm might be what happened at the Flood. I come to that conjecture because you have tried to make my argument look ridiculous with your response: "It is easy to see how an alien invasion could be devastating too." I was, however, discussing real geological possibilities.

> This is not an example of language "evolving".

Of course it's not an example of language evolving. What it is, however, is an example where words that seem clear in English are not what was intended by the author.

> This is an example of words having more than one meaning, based on context, as is the case in almost any language.

Bingo. So what did "cover" mean? And what did they regard as the "mountains"? These are the semantics that make or break the case.

> Except it is, since that is what is described.

Then possibly you're thinking only in 21st-c. English and Western worldview and not ancient Near East language and worldview. To understand the text we have to get at the intent of the author, not merely at our current understanding of it.

> Sure, you can consider it; but you cannot claim it to be true.

I can claim it as inferring the most reasonable conclusion, given that we are more than just material beings.


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