The Instigator
Aleksa_Stojkovic
Pro (for)
The Contender
KingJokeAlot
Con (against)

Genesis 10/11 has more explanatory power than any other ancient document

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Debate Round Forfeited
Aleksa_Stojkovic has forfeited round #5.
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/10/2018 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 days ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 83 times Debate No: 107843
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (0)

 

Aleksa_Stojkovic

Pro

Before I proceed with explaining my position, I have to clear up what would otherwise, inevitably, develop into a misunderstanding between me and a potential opponent: This is not about the historical accuracy of Genesis, or whether the things that are written there really are true, that is not the point of this debate at all - it's only about the explanatory power of whatever is written in Genesis, vs the explanatory power of any other ancient text, whether fiction or not.

Now, to elaborate on my position, I believe that the information you find in Genesis can be used to explain the origin of most of the nations, people groups and such in the Middle East, surrounding regions, and even the world - and I claim, that there is no other ancient document, that can do the same. There is no document that can have the same level of explanatory power. There is no document that when you read it, you can make sense of the world in the same way.

Now, there is a chance that my opponent still has not understood what I meant by "this is not about the historical accuracy of Genesis", and proceed with the objection "but Genesis could have been written after the fact, and therefore have accurate explanations of why things are the way they are today." This of course, completely misses the point. All of the ancient civilizations could have faked documents, according to that logic, and yet, no such documents exist other than Genesis.

I hope I have made myself clear enough, and if I have not, post your concerns in the comment section and I will provide further clarification.
KingJokeAlot

Con

To proceed, a few things need to be defined and clarified.

The book of Genesis is thought to be written between 10th and 5th century BC, but there still needs to be a very specific time interval for which we'll consider documents "ancient", because that will determine the possible documents we can discuss in this debate.

Verses 10/11 in Genesis explain:
- The common ancestry of all people
- Why human kind has more than one language
- How humans were spread over the world

To prove my opponent incorrect, I would have to find a document from a time interval my opponent and I agree is "ancient" that explains more content than this or explains this in more detail.

In the next round we should agree on how old a document has to be, to be considered ancient.

https://biologos.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Aleksa_Stojkovic

Pro

The only reason I said that Genesis 10/11 has more explanatory power than any other ancient document, is to exclude any modern Encyclopedia from the debate. Other than that, I don't see why it would matter whether Genesis was written 6,000 years ago, 3,500 years ago, or 2,500 years ago. It has no impact on this debate, all that matters is that it's not a modern production of our time.

And to be more specific about the explanatory power of Genesis, that I believe other texts do not have:

(1) You walk along the streets of Cairo, Egypt, and notice a writing on the wall of a government building, which says, Jumhuriyat Misr al-Arabiya, which translates to Arab Republic of Egypt. So you wonder, which of the words in Jumhuriyat Misr al-Arabiya translates as Egypt? And then you figure out it's the word Misr. So you are left wondering, why in the world would Misr be translated as Egypt? Well, here comes the fun part. All that you have to do, is open the Book of Genesis, and there you have it: the grandson of Noah, by the name of Misraim, was the founder of Egypt.

(2) You are in the Balkans, and hear of the Illyrians, but you have no idea who they are, or where they come from. Albanians say they are the Illyrians, Serbians say they are the Illyrians, and both have different versions of the story. Open the Bible, and you figure out that the founder of the Israelite tribe of Gad which migrated from Greece into Balkan lands, called his youngest son Arile (hint: Aryllia / Illyria).

(3) Perhaps you are in Egypt, and you overhear a conversation, where someone refers to the neighboring country of Libya as Punt. So like you wondered about Misr, you also wonder about this. Why in the world is Libya known to them as Punt? Well, on to Genesis 10:6: "And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan." Notice a little "Phut" there? The same person, according to the Bible, went into Africa following the flood, and settled there. Libya is in Africa, and coincidentally, referred to as Punt (or Put/Phut).
KingJokeAlot

Con

Drawing a line for what time periods we can start calling "ancient" does have an impact on this debate because it will determine what texts we'll be able to compare with Genesis, it's probably the first thing that should have been defined. Modern history is generally referred to as the time proceeding post-classical history or approximately any time after early 16th century. You have implied that all you wanted to exclude was any modern encyclopedia, so all text is fair game except any encyclopedia written after the 16th century.

Another point I'd like to make is that you cannot completely dissociate explanatory power from historical accuracy. The criteria by which we assign explanatory power are:

- the facts accounted for
- the details of causal relations that are provided
- its predictive power
- its dependency on observation rather than authority (this is a big miss for Genesis)
- assumptions made
- its ability to be tested (another big miss)

To give an example that would beat Genesis 10/11 I'll use Sacrobosco's Tractatus de Sphaera, an account on the Ptolemaic system (written in 1230). The Ptolemaic system was used to explain many astronomical phenomena and it was developed in the Islamic golden age. Now to compare the explanatory power of the two texts (Neither of which are "modern productions of our time") and I'll focus on the elements where the discrepancy is greatest.

- predictive power
Genesis 10/11 can't be used to predict much, maybe if we humans got together and started building a tower to heaven we might expect God to come down and stop us again lol.
Tractatus de Sphaera can be used to predict movement in celestial bodies and length of seasons.

- its dependency on observation rather than authority
Genesis 10/11 is completely based on authority, it is regarded as "the word of God"
Tractatus de Sphaera is based on methodic observation.

- ability to be tested
Genesis 10/11 cannot by any means be tested for validity.
Tractatus de Sphaera can very well be tested by using its calculations.

By this comparison of explanatory power, verses 10 and 11 in Genesis don't seem to hold up very well.

https://en.wikipedia.org...
https://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
Aleksa_Stojkovic

Pro

I apologize for my ignorance, but I do not see the relation between explanatory power and predictability. It's fine to predict a certain event, but that does not provide an explanation of the event - why does it happen, what are it's origins, what is the primary cause?

Talking about predictability, Sacrobosco (the author of Tractatus de sphaera) does include miracles in his writing, which is the opposite of predictability. For instance, he states that the eclipse at the time of the crucifixion was a disturbance in the order of the machine, also known as the universe - it's irrelevant here, but an interesting point to note.

Aside from that, my main point here is, methodic observation is not an explanation of events, it's a prediction of events based upon the recognition of pattern, and a belief in the uniform laws of the cosmos. The document that is Genesis 10/11 on the other hand, provides explanations for various historical observations, f.ex., why Egypt is called Misr.
KingJokeAlot

Con

Okay let's say I read two explanations (A & B) on how babies are made. A said babies are made via intercourse and B said babies are made by praying. The most effective way to compare explanatory power here would be to look their predictability. You can more accurately predict the making of a baby after intercourse than after praying. (It's a silly example lol but it delivers the point).

However, predictability and ability to be tested are pretty closely linked and it might be practical to put those under the same category for purposes of this debate.

I agree that "methodic observation is not an explanation of events", I assigned methodic observation to one of the criteria of explanatory power, i.e. an explanation is more powerful if it's more based on observation.

I also agree that "The document that is Genesis 10/11 on the other hand, provides explanations for various historical observations, f.ex., why Egypt is called Misr" but that point would fall under facts accounted for. The fact that Egypt is called Misr is accounted for in Genesis 10/11, it is not an observation used to arrive at the explanation provided in Genesis 10/11.
Debate Round No. 3
Aleksa_Stojkovic

Pro

I know the baby was only an example, but let us take that further. If you had in your possession a baby of unknown origin, and you had Tractatus de spaera in the one hand, while you had Genesis in the other hand - the existence of the baby is better explained by Genesis.

I know you may not approve of this example, so I will add to that: in what way can you use the Tractatus de sphaera to explain anything that we see today? Whether it be the remains of the Hittites, the global similarities in Flood accounts, or where Arabs come from?

I have provided several examples of Genesis explaining certain observations in our world today, and I could provide many more at request, or as we progress. I do not see how the Tractatus de sphaera can come close to that, so a few examples would be good.
KingJokeAlot

Con

It is imperative to note that we are specifically discussing verses 10 and 11 of Genesis, not the whole book. These verses do not talk about how babies are made. The example I used was only to show the relevance of predictability. It is not very effective anyways to compare explanatory power using only one accounted element (as you suggested with the baby).

As I mentioned before, Tractatus de Sphaera accounts for astronomical phenomena. These include the Earth's rotation and that of the planets in our Solar system, Earth's orbit and that of the other planets, our four seasons and their duration, the roundness of Earth, and so on. However, keep in mind that the observations accounted for is only ONE of all the criteria we should be discussing to compare explanatory power, i.e. just because an explanation accounts for more things than another, it doesn't mean it is a better explanation.
Debate Round No. 4
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Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by KingJokeAlot 21 hours ago
KingJokeAlot
Hey Aleksa, I was looking forward to finishing this debate. I hope everything is alright.
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