The Exodus Debunked: Archaeological Issues


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

We must first remember that ancient Egypt was a very literate context with a huge amount of recording of events and, well, an awful lot of things. As with any sort of Bayesian approach to history, we can do away with claims such as absence of evidence is not evidence of absence because when we would expect evidence and it is not there, then we genuinely do have a problem when assessing the overall probability of a given interpretation of data being true.

In this case, we would definitely expect to see some evidence of the Exodus as described in the Bible because it was such a massive supposedly historical event. The rebuttal so often heard is that, since history is written by the victors, the Egyptians were interested in rubbing out this embarrassing set of events from their recorded history. However, the ramifications of the Exodus would have been so huge that there simply would be no way that this event wouldn’t be referenced in some manner.

In fact, the only appearance of Israel as an entity in all the texts and inscriptions and is artefacts of Egypt’s is in a very brief reference dated to the end of the 13th century BCE. This is, of course, the famous Merneptah Stele, a victory stele of the Nineteenth Dynasty. It is on one-line postscript to some detail all is of some victories in Libya. As Bradley states, it is a sort of “meanwhile, back in Canaan” (p.267):

“Ashkelon has been overcome; Gezer has been captured; Yano’am is made non-existent. Israel is laid waste and his seed is not.”

And that’s it. That is the totality of reference to Israel in Egyptian history at the time. …

tippling 2018/03/16 archaeological-issues

Finkelstein, Silberman: The Bible Unearthed

Wikipedia: The Bible Unearthed


The Real Lessons from the Story of Joshua


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

The lack of historicity of the Bible is rampant. To take just one example, there is no evidence for the triumphalist story of Joshua leading the Israeli soldiers, just returned from their (also fictitious) captivity in Egypt, in one victory to another over the various towns in Canaan. The most famous battle is the one for Jericho. But archeological excavations reveal that far from being a big fortressed city whose walls fell under a military onslaught that was favored by their god, Jericho was an insignificant little town that was unwalled.

Such stories, even if fictional, are not harmless. Because they are told to children as something glorious (and praised in song about even today), they serve to indoctrinate young children with the tribal mindset that atrocities are acceptable as long as they are done by ‘our’ side (by definition good) against ‘their’ side (evil).

The real lesson from the story of Joshua is that people are most dangerous, and can be most cruel, when they think they know the mind of god and believe that he is on their side. …

singham 2011/05/19 joshua

Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld: Battle of Jericho

A Wrinkle in Time


(Guardian::Film) – Hadley Freeman:

Oprah Winfrey is perhaps the biggest draw in Ava DuVernay’s film adaptation of the children’s classic – but behind the scenes it’s the noticeably diverse cast and crew that make this film stand out. …

theguardian 2018/mar/15 wrinkle-in-time

A Wrinkle in Time, 2018 film

An Older Origin for Complex Human Cultures


(Atlantic Science) – Ed Yong:

New finds from Kenya suggest that humans used long-distance trade networks, sophisticated tools, and symbolic pigments right from the dawn of our species. …

theatlantic 2018/03 555674

Middle Stone Age tool

A CIA Director-Designate and Nazi War Crimes


(The Intercept) – Jon Schwarz:

During the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, several Nazis, including top German generals Alfred Jodl and Wilhelm Keitel, claimed they were not guilty of the tribunal’s charges because they had been acting at the directive of their superiors.

The Nuremberg judges rejected that defense, and both Jodl and Keitel were hanged. The United Nations International Law Commission later codified the underlying principle from Nuremberg as “the fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

This is likely the most famous declaration in the history of international law and is as settled as anything possibly can be.

However, many members of the Washington, D.C. elite are now stating that it, in fact, is a legitimate defense for American officials who violate international law to claim they were just following orders. …

theintercept 2018/03/15 nazi-defense

Nuremberg International Military Tribunal court

Annabelle Timsit: What Happened at the Thailand ‘Black Site’ Run By Trump’s CIA Pick

Marcus Ranum: A Confirmation Question for Gina Haspel

Stick Figure Iconography: Julius Caesar


(Good Tickle Brain) – Mya Gosling:

It’s the Ides of March, and what are the Ides of March without Julius Caesar? So here’s the latest in my ongoing examination of the distinguishing characteristics and props of Shakespeare’s most famous characters. …

goodticklebrain iconography-julius-caesar

Mya Gosling: Stick Figure Iconography: Julius Caesar

N.R.A. Proposes 2nd Armed Teacher


(New Yorker::The Borowitz Report) – Andy Borowitz:

Hours after an armed teacher in a Northern California classroom fired a gun and injured a student, the head of the National Rifle Association proposed placing a second armed teacher in every classroom, to shoot the first armed teacher before he or she can do harm. …

borowitz-report nra-proposes


Frank Turner


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

I have featured Frank Turner on a couple of posts, mainly due to his rousing hymn to atheism, Glory Hallelujah. It’s incredible to think that some 12,000 people are singing the words “there is no God” in unison.

Frank is a local artist to me – we hail from the same county (Hampshire) in the south of the UK. I recently managed to get a little interview over the interweb with him. Enjoy! …

Frank Turner: Be More Kind

Finding Stephen Hawking’s Star – And Your Own


(Discover Blogs::Out There) – Corey S. Powell:

When I look at the night sky, I often view the stars not just in space but also in terms of their places in time. Light moves at a finite speed, so the journey from star to star is a very long one even for a beam of light. When astronomers talk about light years of distance, they are literally describing the number of years it takes for light to travel from those distant stars to your eyeball.

And so when I heard about the death of Stephen Hawking, I couldn’t help thinking about his place in the stars. At some distance from Earth, there is a star whose light (as seen right now on Earth) started its journey at the time when you were born. You can think of that as your birth star. We all have one. Hawking has one – and you can easily see it. His birth star is shining brightly in the evening tonight. …

outthere 2018/03/14 stephen-hawking

Constellation Leo with Regulus

Stick Figure Iconography: Lady Macbeth


(Good Tickle Brain) – Mya Gosling:

Lady Macbeths generally come in all manner of shapes, colors, costumes, and hairstyles nowadays, so it’s a bit hard to nail down an iconic look, but one thing is certain: slap a bunch of stage blood on a lady’s hands, have her look slightly unhinged, and Hey Presto! You’ve got yourself a Lady Macbeth. …

goodticklebrain iconography-lady-macbeth

Mya Gosling: Stick Figure Iconography: Lady Macbeth