George Washington didn't know about dinosaurs. What don't we know about yet, and what do we think is true that will turn out not to be?
On a more technological note, a COBOL to Java translator has probably made unforeseen mistakes that will change reality for people.
That’s when I learned that (at least for them and many folks like them) isn’t a scholarly take but just another faith element immune to scrutiny.
There is a simpler view that it is the best available reference we have for the intent of a creator, and it sets a pretty high bar. We can use science and other tools to interpret that intent (or even argue against its existence at all), but in terms of leading an exemplary life, we're probably not going to do better than that example, and even attempting it is universally more moral than not.
It's not so much that faith is immune to scrutiny as it's an axiom that criticism doesn't change. If you accept your experience of existence is an artifact of some other persons logic, you can be made to accept anything. The idea of working from a fixed divine example works as an innoculation against a lot of evils (deception as a means to direct cruelty in particular). I think what most atheists find so objectionable isn't the band so much as the fans, and I thought most of Hitchens' arguments reduced to this.
When we look at peoples faith as a conclusion, it presumes some prior logic or argument subject to language, and that logic determines its reality, but when you look at it as an axiom from which the rest of their experience flows, you just have to take it or leave it. We can all certainly reason, but what we are is not mere reason. So I think this difference is at the very core of how we experience identity, and everything that flows from the possibly irreconcilable logics of ideas about it.
It's an amalgamation of various writers from different periods in history.
I've read very little, but I've quite liked the portions I've read.
The same "context-specific and region-specific and time-specific" criticism could be said for science, statistics, and academics.
Both scripture and science are done by humans, but that doesn't mean there isn't truth in both of them.
That’s true, but some do.
>The same "context-specific and region-specific and time-specific" criticism could be said for science, statistics, and academics.
I think we can both agree that science and religion are not on equal footing in terms of self-correction. Science goes back and forth in a matter of years to verify observations. In religion you can easily step over the line into blasphemy even when simply asking a question.
>Both scripture and science are done by humans, but that doesn't mean there isn't truth in both of them.
I don’t disagree. My concern is apparent truth derived from misinterpretation.
Rarely mentioned (and often avoided during discussion, on this topic or others) is the epistemically sound, quantitative (percentage) of people who "see" "sacred texts as infallible or perfect", something which is not measurable (but rarely realized as such, as far as I can tell).
> I think we can both agree that science and religion are not on equal footing in terms of self-correction.
True, but I often wonder if the persuasiveness (with respect to one's model of reality) of individual data points like this is significantly greater than their actual importance (and therefore misleading).
> Science goes back and forth in a matter of years to verify observations.
Within the physical/materialistic realm, but often not noticed is when science [implicitly] makes statements that cross over into the metaphysical realm, which is the territory religion tends to deal with - these (admittedly perhaps not all that frequent) seem to not get a lot of attention from the scientific community/enthusiasts (to be fair, understandably so considering their beliefs). And if one is to draw their attention to it, they tend to react (purely coincidentally, of course) in a way not all that unlike stereotypical religious people when you criticize their model.
> In religion you can easily step over the line into blasphemy even when simply asking a question.
So too with science, if one is to (for example) ask whether metaphysics might possibly deserve a seat at the adult table at Thanksgiving dinner.
> My concern is apparent truth derived from misinterpretation.
Have you focused your critical analysis at science to the same degree as you have at religion? (And if you have not, would you necessarily know?)
 magnitude and quality, taking into consideration bias, perception, intuitive skills, etc
As I see it (from a high level):
- all models are wrong
- some models are useful
- some things that are models are not realized/perceived as such (ie: reality)
- (almost) all human beings (including genuinely logical & intelligent ones) have strong emotional reactions to criticism of their models, or the discussion of metaphysical matters beyond a certain depth
And as a consequence, hilarity/tragedy ensues, potentially indefinitely.
Also, the first gospel written is thought to be Mark. In the King James Bible, Catholic translations etc. Jesus is seen resurrected by the apostles and others. This does not happen in the earliest versions of Mark.
There are lots of things like this, Ehrman goes into many of them.
The poems do retain the older Hebrew though.
Fortunately, the Jews have an unbroken chain of proficient Hebrew speaking Rabbis going back to the beginnings of the faith, and throughout that entire time they have written commentary. So like tracing photographs of a person back to when they were a baby, we have an unbroken chain of context to reference.
The amount of material is daunting. It really is a profession to comprehend it all - whether one believes it to be divine or not.
They're on display in a case, easy to miss, near the replica Rosetta stone that you can touch ( https://g.co/arts/Jc9fSG2q4FfZzCPT9 )
I love these artifacts because they show a real live example of the way people did science a few centuries ago.
The pace is thought-provoking -- it took 4+ years between one person's letter and another's results? we didn't even declare the translation "done" until 1824? -- and I've always wondered what was going on there.
This is an interesting book review, helps fill in some gaps for me!
I am a little surprised to see the author use the phrase "Elgin Marbles". This was used ubiquitously a few years back but at some point in the past 5-10 years the preferred phrase seems to have become "The Parthenon Sculptures" (see e.g. https://www.britishmuseum.org/about-us/british-museum-story/...). I'm not quite sure when this happened and when I looked it up recently I couldn't find good news coverage explaining the conscious choice to change the name.
As a simple example, the Rosetta Stone that is the focus of this article was yoinked by locals for building material and used as fill in the wall of a fort some distance away from its original location. It was only saved because when some French soldiers were rebuilding the foundations of the fort wall someone recognized the significance of the inscription on the stone.
It is a sad fact that were it not for this 'looting' we would have far fewer artifacts to examine and use to inform our understanding of the past because the locals would have continued to treat these sites and objects as open-air quarries.
many idols of gods in less famous and out of the way hindu temples in india were stolen and sold off to collectors in the west. these idols were there in the community forever and cared for, when they were stolen, the community simply accepted the loss because they didnt have the resources to chase it all up.
see this: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/05/07/the-idol-thief
from the article
Collectors often suggest that they are the custodians and preservers of antiquities that might otherwise suffer from neglect or mistreatment, but Ghiya described the callous mechanics that are sometimes required to smuggle a statue from one country to another. He recalled a squat stone Vahara—a depiction of Vishnu in his incarnation as a boar—that stood in the village of Attru, in southeast Rajasthan. The boar weighed more than a thousand pounds and its legs and torso were covered in a magnificent phalanx of tiny, intricately carved figurines. Ghiya’s thieves stole the statue in the late nineteen-eighties, lacing a chain through the boar’s open mouth and yanking it from its stone pedestal, shearing off its lower jaw and breaking its legs in the process. The piece was eventually sold to a private collector in Zurich.
And I would accept this excuse if they now returned the items they looted to the countries that do have significant preservation efforts in place. Like Greece.
Sure the British could have been worse, but they were still pretty bad.
You dont need to have been shat from an egyptian vagina to deeply understand, respect and eventually contribute to its culture a thousand times better.
Actually, the fall of Egypt is much earlier. Nectanebo II in 342 BC was the last native ruler of Egypt (and even he was part of a rebel dynasty that ruled for around 40 years after successfully revolting against the Persians who had conquered Egypt under Cambyses in the 500's.
The Rosetta Stone, was probably the single greatest archeological discovery to date. It opened up the written history of arguably one of the oldest civilizations in the world and which was throughout much of history either one of or involved with the greatest empires in history.
What exactly does "native" mean in this context? The entire Mediterranean coast was the equivalent of a highway off-ramp for as long as boats have been a thing, which is far longer ago than the 4th century BC. I'm no Egyptologist, but given that there were 32 different dynasties (supposedly), I assume some "foreign" conquest must have been involved on more than one occasion in the millennia the Egyptian kingdoms existed. It's an area where Internet search provides no quality results, so if you can help clarify I'd greatly appreciate it.
This is as important a discovery because it helped decipher cuneiform, a language that existed in parallel to hieroglyphics.
The Demotic language mentioned as a shorthand form of hieroglyphics... it's the script used to write what we now call "Arabic". That's right, written Arabic is a direct descendent of hieroglyphics.
The Coptic language is essentially Greek letters (plus 7 additional ones for sounds not covered by the Greek alphabet) used to write the Egyptian language.
Coptic was supplanted by Egyptian Arabic as the primary spoken language of Egypt following the Muslim conquest of Egypt, although it remains in use today as the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Another fun fact: the Greek letters used to write the Coptic language were based on the Phoenician alphabet, which were based on Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. So in essence, the alphabet brought over by the foreign Greeks and then used to write the Egyptian language, was itself based on Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, bringing it full circle!
The modern Arabic script is only related to Demotic in the sense that it's probably derived from the Phoenician script, which in turn is probably derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Because the Phoenician merchants had activities all around the Mediterranean and through the Middle East, the Phoenician alphabet became known over a very large area, unlike the earlier alphabets. The consequence was that almost all alphabetic/abugida systems of writing are derived directly or indirectly from the Phoenician script.
The Greek alphabet was derived directly from Phoenician, then the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets were derived from the Greek.
Other Semitic alphabets were also derived from Phoenician, e.g Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic, but they had problems because the Phoenician alphabet had a reduced number of letters so they had to use various means to write the sounds that were missing in Phoenician. The Aramaic alphabet spread through Asia and generated various other writing systems, e.g. in India.
> "The older alphabet has not been preserved, but we know some things about it because there have been a few other alphabets derived from"
The predecessor is preserved and seems to be based on an creative re-interpretation from some of the Egyptian Hieroglyphs.
> "According to common theory, Canaanites who spoke a Semitic language repurposed Egyptian hieroglyphs to construct a different script. The script is attested in a small corpus of inscriptions found at Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, dating to the Middle Bronze Age (1900–1850BC)"
From those inscriptions it was not possible to determine the complete list of signs, their phonetic values and their alphabetic order, things that we know only about later derived alphabets, e.g. the Ugaritic alphabet and the South-Arabic alphabet.
Even if the Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions would have never been found, starting from the derived alphabets we could have guessed about the original alphabet about the same things that we know now.
The Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions have provided a confirmation for such guesses and they have also provided a more constrained time frame for the development of the original Semitic alphabet, but they did not add much other information.
This might change in the future only if additional inscriptions would be found or if someone would be able to make an improved analysis of the existing inscriptions to better determine the meaning of the signs, as for now the exact correspondence with the later alphabets is not clear.
The hard part, especially when talking about language artifacts this old, is distinguishing between "derived" and "ancestor of" compared to "influenced" and "contributed to". The difference between being the genetic offspring of something and just "borrowing" some genes.
It's easy to guess some sort of shared lineage between the Semitic writing systems, the Egyptian hieroglyphs and Demotic, and the European Latin/Greek offspring, but I bet it's not a nice tree so much as a directed graph with at least some borrowing and cross-pollination. :-)
The creator of the Greek alphabet knew the Phoenician alphabet and its adaptation to the Greek language preserved almost all Phoenician letters, with their names and their alphabetic order and their pronunciations, with just a few exceptions when some letters have been reassigned to other sounds (the most significant being the reassignment of ALEF, HE, AYIN to the sounds A, E, O) and a few letters were added at the end of the alphabet for sounds missing in Phoenician.
On the other hand, the creator of the first Semitic alphabet (many hundreds of years before the creation of the Phoenician variant) knew the Egyptian hieratic writing system (not the Demotic, which is much more recent than even the Phoenician alphabet).
However, the Semitic alphabet preserved much less from the hieratic script, mainly the principle of using a sign for each consonant, without marking the vowels, and the writing direction from right to left.
Because we know very little of the early evolution of the Semitic alphabet (the few so-called Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions are very obscure), we do not even know for sure if any signs were taken directly from hieratic or all the Semitic signs were completely new. Also, it is not known which are the origins of the 2 traditional orders of the letters in the Semitic alphabets (the one used in Phoenician/Ugaritic, which was inherited by the European alphabets, and the different order used in the South-Arabic alphabet).
So the ancestor of the Phoenician alphabet has taken much less from the hieratic script than the Greek alphabet has taken from the Phoenician, but it can be argued that a principle like using a sign per consonant is much more important than the graphic signs that are used (especially because this idea seems to have occurred only once in history, all the other not-derived-from-Egyptian writing systems have used signs for either syllables or words, not for simpler sounds).
You can download the programme here:
In Our Time: The Rosetta Stone: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000s2qd
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the role of Champollion in deciphering the hieroglyphs on The Rosetta Stone, when the written culture of ancient Egypt opened to the modern world.