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All about sin. What is it, how does it work, what does it do—whatever your questions are

Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby God of Mind » Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:13 am

> absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

> You cannot say this with any certainty. It's an argument from silence.

This is a commonly-recited proposition even more commonly misapplied. The absence of expected evidence is regularly and appropriately taken as evidence of absence, in much the same way as I know there's not a tiger in my office chair right now because I'm sitting in it and I don't see a tiger. This is what I was getting at when I invoked the notion of "negative evidence."

Arguments from silence are only weak evidence where the silence is somewhat expected even on the assumption that the unattested event actually occurred. That's not what we're dealing with when you talk about an event like the biblical Exodus myth. If over a million people recently (in geologic and archaeological terms) wandered the Sinai peninsula for forty years, there would be no argument from silence because we'd have discovered artifacts and other such evidence that they were there. If a slave population that comprised a significant percentage of the total population of Egypt had escaped, followed by the subsequent deaths of the Pharaoh and much of his army in the course of pursuing them, it would almost certainly have been recorded by someone in Egypt. Instead, we find no mention of any such slave population ever existing at all.

If you've found evidence that the Exodus actually occurred, you shouldn't be directing your wall of text at me. You should be publishing it and collecting your Nobel prize. Until then, however, I'm skeptical: Elevating faith commitments over evidence is just not a reliable way of learning true information about the world and its history.

> Empiricism is not the only path to knowledge, even when dealing with history.

Fundamentally speaking, it actually is. Deduction is a great way of determining whether the assumed truth of a premise or set of premises necessarily entails the truth of some conclusion, but outside of those instances where some proposition can be shown to lead to a contradiction, empirical investigation is the only workable means of determining whether your premises are true.

> You may be thinking that in the brutality of war, she would not marry him because she loved him but only because she was forced by the situation and survival.

No, I'm thinking that if a soldier thought she was attractive, he'd grab her and carry her off whether she felt like going anywhere or not. Nothing about this was ever optional for the women. Whether she was to be taken back to Israel, and whether she was to be married to and subsequently penetrated by some guy who just killed her family, was decided without her input. In other words, she was treated as property and raped.

> She was not considered as property, and she was not raped, and I've given you many proofs of it.

You appear to have conceded that these women are being married to and penetrated by their captors without their consent ever being sought or obtained. If that's not an admission that this practice entails rape, I don't know what ever possibly could be. Are you arguing that it doesn't fall within the operative definition of rape typically used by bronze age Hebrews? That may or may not be true, but is also completely irrelevant to whether it was actually rape. I'm intentionally applying our more sophisticated modern standards of ethics here, without deference to the savagery of the biblical authors and their societies. Whether bronze age rapists realized they were rapists is plainly irrelevant to their actual status as rapists.

I completely agree these are modern thoughts, and not ancient Near Eastern ones. The fact that we no longer sanction treating women as property and raping female captives is one of the ways in which society has improved since Old Testament times.
God of Mind
 

Re: Was the original sin sexual desire?

Postby jimwalton » Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:57 am

> This is a commonly-recited proposition even more commonly misapplied. The absence of expected evidence is regularly and appropriately taken as evidence of absence, in much the same way as I know there's not a tiger in my office chair right now because I'm sitting in it and I don't see a tiger.

We must make some distinctions here. If I'm walking my dog in a dog park, and I look around and see no tigers, I can logically conclude that absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence. I have sufficient access to the situation to judge reliably. Now imagine that you strain your ears and hear only dogs and their owners, as well as the faint sound of traffic in the distance. So you observe, "It appears that no dog whistles are being blown today." Would it be reasonable for you to conclude this? Not in this case. In this case the absence of evidence does not warrant evidence of absence because you do not have sufficient access to the situation to judge reliably. Even if the dog whistles had been blowing, you would not have heard them. In other words, we are entitled to move from an "appears" claim to a claim about what is *likely* to be the case only when a certain condition is satisfied. In other words, a move from “It appears there is no x” to “Therefore there is probably no x” is entitled only if the following condition is satisfied: If there were an x, we would probably know it.

You can judge there is no tiger in your office chair because if there were, it would be evident. In contrast, if evidence of an ancient event is warranted but not yet discovered, it is not *necessarily* evident. The condition "if there were an x, we would probably know it" is not completely satisfied.

For instance, Hoffmeier (Egyptologists) points out that Aper el's name was the first of a high ranking, Semite official to be found in Egypt (it was found at Sakkara in the late 80s), even though Sakkara has been excavated and explored for more than a century. "If such a high ranking official as Vizier Aper el was completely unknown to modern scholarship until the late 1980s, despite the fact that he lived in one of the better documented periods of Egyptian history [fourteenth century], and was buried in arguably the most excavated site in Egypt, it is wrong to demand, as some have, that direct archaeological evidence for Joseph should be available if he were in fact a historical figure." This is even more the case, he says, because Joseph lived during a period when surviving Egyptian documents of any kind are sparse and because Joseph operated in the Nile Delta, an area that remains "underexcavated" to this day.

If we take that same science and apply it to the Exodus, we see distinctive proof that "The condition 'if there were an x, we would probably know it' is not completely satisfied."

> Fundamentally speaking, it actually is. Deduction is a great way of determining whether the assumed truth of a premise or set of premises necessarily entails the truth of some conclusion, but outside of those instances where some proposition can be shown to lead to a contradiction, empirical investigation is the only workable means of determining whether your premises are true.

Have you ever seen one of those "Magic Eye" pictures—a flurry of computer lines (usually geometric patterns), and when you stare at them long enough in the right way a 3-dimensional images emerges? We look at the particulars of the picture, but we also look beyond them, and even ignore them. Once the image comes clear, we can actually look right at it. This is a more accurate picture of knowledge than simple deduction. The goal is to see a coherent pattern, and we do it through clues, focus, and integration. Whether we are figuring why a faucet is dripping, or looking for clues to the biblical Exodus, recognizing a familiar face or learning to play the piano, we rely on body experiences, integrate all the input data, and come to knowledge. Even the generating of a hypothesis to begin the process of scientific inquiry is not an act of deductive reasoning. The human effort that generates true thinking and true knowledge is different from deduction, as is illustrated by the Magic Eye integration. In a limited view of knowing, the only approved method of extending knowledge is deduction. In deductive reasoning you move from statements that are called premises to a statement called a conclusion. The conclusion of a deductive argument follows necessarily from the premises: if the premises are true, then conclusion has to be true also. This is what we call an inferential connection. What actually happens in the act of knowing is that the relationship between clues and pattern, subsidiaries and focus, is not one of premises and deduced conclusion. When you see a Magic Eye picture, you cannot fully express in words all the particulars on which you rely, nor all that the focus includes, let alone a step-by-step procedure you followed to move from the one to the other. You cannot express the particulars as premises because prior to the actual act of integration—before the Magic Eye picture came clear—you are in no position to articulate the very things that you must rely on if you are to integrate to the pattern.

Deduction certainly has its places and uses, but it's far from all knowledge. Deductivism is an approach to reasoning called "falsificationism," by which we falsify the elements that do not belong in the set under study. We cannot logically prove "all swans are white," no matter how many swans we see, but we can logically *disprove* it if we see even just one black swan. That's how science and deductive reasoning work.

But there is also inductive reasoning, abductive reasoning, abstract reasoning, and integration. Deductive can't begin to tell you if i felt chilly yesterday, if I think Jimmy Fallon is funny, or if I saw a sunset 3 evenings ago that I consider to be beautiful. Fundamentally speaking, empiricism isn't even close to being the only path to knowledge, and may not even be the best path.

> You appear to have conceded that these women are being married to and penetrated by their captors without their consent ever being sought or obtained.

You are making some assumptions that may be unwarranted:

1. The soldier was unfeeling towards the situation and demeanor of the woman.
2. The soldier turned husband would force himself on his captive turned wife even if she was resistant to his advances.
3. The soldier was just a sex-crazed barbarian who was determined to get his fulfillment no matter what.

There are many stories from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam where soldiers found brides from among the people, even sometimes the conquered people. I think you are reading cruelties and barbarism into a text where it isn't necessarily there. I'm sure some guys were jerks (there are always some, unfortunately), but that doesn't mean the system was based on a "right to rape" premise.


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