The Instigator
likespeace
Pro (for)
Winning
24 Points
The Contender
GarretKadeDupre
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Is the Book of Exodus fictional?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
likespeace
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/8/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,595 times Debate No: 30052
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (24)
Votes (5)

 

likespeace

Pro

To readers, voters, and my opponent--may you enjoy this debate. :)

Debate Rules:

1. In round one, Con may choose any single complete English-language Exodus book to debate/dissect from among those at the following website. Otherwise, we will debate its "New International Version"--

http://www.biblegateway.com......

2. Fiction: "literature in the form of prose, especially novels, that describes imaginary events and people."


3. Our debate will follow the chronology of Exodus--

Round 1: Terms and acceptance
Round 2: Arguments (only) for Exodus 1-13:16
Round 3: Arguments (only) for Exodus 13:17-27:19
Round 4: Arguments (only) for Exodus 27:20-40
Round 5: Rebuttals to rounds 1-4 (only) and summation.

4. The Burden of Proof is shared equally. Pro will argue it's fiction. Con will argue it's not fiction.

5. Any evidence may be presented; judges will assess the relative merit of evidence/sources.
GarretKadeDupre

Con

I accept. I don't mind using the translation you mentioned. Let's get this thing started!
Debate Round No. 1
likespeace

Pro


Round One's about the enslavement of the Israelites by the Oppressor Pharaoh, the origin of Moses, and the freeing of the Israelites from the Exodus Pharaoh.


A. Historicity

No pair of Egyptian kings meet every constraint Exodus imposes--


Exodus 1:11: They built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh

1. Rameses was a great capital not a "store city"

"Rameses also announced that this was to be the site of a new city that he was going to build as the new capital of Egypt." [1] Rameses was much more than a store city.

2. Rameses and Pithom built by different kings

Rameses was built by Rameses II (1279-1213 BCE). "Rameses II was also the king who.. made it his great Delta residence called Piramesse ('house of Rameses'), the Rameses of biblical tradition." [2] Pithom's construction wasn't listed among his accomplishments. Pithom's first mention is much later in a statue for Osorkon II (874-850 BCE). [3]

3. Rameses II or later can't be the Oppressor Pharaoh

If Rameses II were the Oppressor Pharaoh, we run into a contradiction. His successor Merenptah would be the earliest possible Exodus Pharaoh, but Merenptah recorded his first encounter with the Israelites. They weren't in bondage and were already in Canaan--

"The 'victory stele' that records these victories also contains the first reference in Egyptian sources to Israel, albeit not as a country or city, but as a Tribe,"[2]

4. Rameses I or Seti I can't be the Oppressor Pharaoh

The two kings preceding Rameses II couldn't have been the the Oppressor Pharaoh--

First, those kings didn't claim credit for building Rameses.

Second, neither Rameses I (1295-1290 BCE) nor Seti I (1290-1279 BCE) ruled long enough to perform all of the Oppressor Pharaoh's actions--

And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Rameses.

[T]he more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied

Then the king.. spoke to the Hebrew midwives.. "if it is a son, then you shall kill him;"

God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty

"Every son who is born you shall cast into the river"

she became pregnant.. She named him Moses.. after Moses had grown up

Third, this would make Rameses II the Exodus Pharaoh, and "Egyptian records make no mention of the oppression of the Hebrews, the plagues, the Exodus, the pillar of fire, or the Pharaoh's army drowned in the Red Sea. Here instead is a portrait of a dynamic leader.."[1]

5. Pharaohs before Rameses I can't be the Oppressor Pharaoh

Kings immediately preceding Rameses I run into the problems in argument four, but also had little interest in building at the site of Rameses. That interest of Rameses I and his successors is explained by their nearby upbringing. [2]

Kings that came long before Rameses II would be far-fetched, given that Egyptian records and archaeological evidence agree that Rameses II founded Rameses.

B. Believability

A rational person believes what's probable based on experience. [4] Consider--

6. Humans can't turn staffs into snakes without preparation

In Exodus 7:11, all the sorcerers and wise men Pharaoh calls upon turn staves into snakes without preparation. First, the existence of sorcerers with magical powers is improbable. Second, even the wise people of today would need time to prepare such an illusion.

7. Earth is not ruled by evil god(s)

The Exodus God overrides Pharaoh's will ten times, so he'd keep the Israelites and be punished for it. "Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them" (Exodus 10:1)

The ten plagues weren't restricted to Egyptians leaders, but also inflicted upon animals (Exodus:9:10, 9:16), non-Israelite slaves (Exodus 9:21), and innocent children (Exodus 12:29). He blistered their skin, destroyed their food, and murdered them.

Sources

[1] Rameses II: Pharaoh of the New Kingdom, pgs 9, 38

[2] Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, pgs 292-294, 300

[3] The Store City of Pithom and the route of the Exodus, pg 4

[4] "Truth and Probability", 1931

GarretKadeDupre

Con

Who were the Exodus Pharoahs?

The first Exodus Pharoah is recorded by Exodus as having reigned a very long time. This Pharoah was reigning when Moses was adopted by his daughter in Exodus 2:10, and was still in power when Moses was eighty years old (Exodus 7:7).

Only one Pharoah reigned that long: Pepy II. According to Gerald E. Aardsma, Ph.D, Pepy II was Pharoah for ninety-four years.

So Pepy II is the first Exodus Pharoah.

The second Exodus Pharoah is obviously his successor, Merenre II. According to Exodus, this pharoah didn't reign very long... he had to deal with plagues and ended up drowning in the 'Red Sea'. This account is validated again in Dr. Gerald's book; he only reigned about a year.

One would expect that the plagues and subsequent death of the Pharoah would leave a dent in Egyptian history. It did. According to Dr. Grimal, Merenre II's reign "ended with a period of great confusion" and the Nile Valley suffered a famine, a.k.a. the plagues.

Reference:

  • Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1993. p. 89-139
Debate Round No. 2
likespeace

Pro

Round Two's about Moses parting the red or reed sea and the Exodus God bestowing His laws upon him.

For those who are intuitive--search your heart and search your conscience. The following are the laws of the Exodus God. Ask yourself whether such a God created us, rules our world, and is morality.

8. The God of Cruel and Unusual Punishment doesn't exist.

God condones cruel punishment?

Exodus 21:17 Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.
Exodus 22:19 Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal is to be put to death.

9. The God of Slavery doesn't exist.

God condones slavery?

Exodus 21:2 If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years.
Exodus 21:4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.
Exodus 21:7 If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do.
Exodus 21:20-21 Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

10. The God of Intolerance doesn't exist.

God condones witch hunts and intolerance?


Exodus 22:18 Do not allow a sorceress to live.
Exodus 22:20 Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.
GarretKadeDupre

Con

The parting of the 'Red Sea' was caused by a huge tsunami, which in turn was caused by the Santorini eruption. (1)

(1) http://skywalker.cochise.edu...
Debate Round No. 3
likespeace

Pro

Round Three is about the Moses and Aaron wandering the desert, the building of the tabernacle, and God's retribution against the Israelites for worshipping a golden calf.

11. No credible archaeological evidence supports the actual Exodus

The path of this mass exodus across the desert is described in Exodus, and some sites would have mass graves. The lack of archaeological evidence, despite intense investigation, makes this event improbable.

"After more than a century of research and the massive efforts of generations of archaeologists and Egyptologists, nothing has been recovered that relates directly to the account in Exodus of an Egyptian sojourn and escape or of a large-scale migration through Sinai." [5]

The above was written by Dr. Carol Meyers, a notable professor of religion at Duke University [6], author of the book "Exodus", and a key speaker on the NOVA special on Moses.

I checked the historical Egypt, Israel, and Arab-Israeli books in my collection and at a major bookseller and found nothing to contradict her view. The vast majority of archaeologists with an opinion agree.

M
ainstream religious figures and organizations also mostly agree--

The Catholic Apologetics & Research Ministy wrote:

"Nothing at all has been unearthed in the Sinai Peninsula supporting the biblical account of the Exodus." [7]

(CARM called for more exploration of the Arabian peninsula based on a find in 2000. That was subsequently refuted [8], and investigation on that peninsula before and since hasn't yielded credible evidence.)

David Wolpe, named the most influential Rabbi in America [9], wrote: "Three years ago on Passover, I explained to my congregation that according to archaeologists, there was no reliable evidence that the Exodus took place--and that it almost certainly did not take place the way the Bible recounts it." [10]



Sources

[5] Exodus, Carol Meyers, 2005
[6] http://religiondepartment.duke.edu...
[7] http://carm.org...
[8] Is Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia? - "Bible and Spade", Fall 2000
[9] Newsweek, April 2012
GarretKadeDupre

Con

The Tabernacle was real.

"[S]cattered all through both the Old and New Testaments there are many allusions and notices--some of them merely incidental, but others more historical in nature--all of which go toward establishing the Tabernacle's historicity. And finally--which is perhaps the most convincing testimony of all--we have given us in the New Testament one whole book, the Epistle to the Hebrews, which concerns, especially explaining from a Christian point of view, the typology and religious significance of that old building." (1)

The Septuagint, a part of the Bible which existed several hundred years before Christ, described the Tabernacle in detail.

The Bible has allusions to the Tabernacle throughout, from the Old Testament to the New Testament, all of which are harmonious. Verses which allude to the Tabernacle include:

Jud. 9:8; Wis. of Sol. 9 :8 ; Eccl. 24 :10, 15 ; and 2 Mac. 2 :5.

The historian Josephus also describes the Tabernacle in his work, Antiquities.

(1) http://www.eaec.org...
Debate Round No. 4
likespeace

Pro

Rebuttals

Round Two

Con says only Pepi II of the 6th dynasty reigned in Egypt as long as Exodus requires. That bolsters my arguments against other kings, plus Pepi II as oppressor contradicts known facts--
  • The 6th dynasty was a time when no rivals threatened Egypt. [5]
  • Rameses was built upon Avaris, which was built in the 10th dynasty. [5]
  • Egyptian chariots were invented in the 14th-17th dynasties. [5]
  • The Santorini eruption Con says parted the Red Sea occurred in the 15th-16th dynasty. [7]
  • Egyptian kings were first addressed as "Pharaoh" in the 18th dynasty. [6]
  • Rameses was built in the 19th dynasty. [2]
  • There was no royal palace near Rameses before the 19th dynasty. [2]
  • Pithom has no evidence for its existance before the 22nd dynasty. [3]

Exodus 14:14: "He set out with all his chariots, including the six hundred finest."

If Pepi II was the oppressor, the many verses contradicting these facts, describe imaginary events.

Round Three

Con links to a student paper that fabricates a National Geographic quote--

"The tsunami that resulted from the Thera eruption is also speculated to have caused the parting.. of the Red Sea."

The real article, for reference--

http://news.nationalgeographic.com...

But, what if this student's speculation were true, anyway?

The Santorini eruption (1627-1600 BCE) occurred during Egypt's 15th/16th dynasty. [5][7] My last four rebuttals to Pepi II, and Con's objection due to duration of reign, would stand.

Also, Exodus 14:21-22 describes the parting thus--

"Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left."

A volcanic tsunami is not wind-based, tsunamis act much faster than this, and the result would not be walls of water on both sides. More fiction to add to the fire.

Round Four

Con cites--

> Josephus ... Jud. 9:8; Wis. of Sol. 9 :8 ; Eccl. 24 :10, 15 ; and 2 Mac. 2 :5.

Josephus - His Antiquities simply retells Exodus, and so lends no additional support.

Ecclesiastes - That book has twelve chapters, so 24:10,15 doesn't exist.

Judith 9:8 - "They plan to defile your Temple." Which temple? Judith 8:21 - "If our town is taken by the enemy.. our Temple in Jerusalem will be looted." Judith refers to the Temple of Jerusalem, not the Exodus tabernacle!

Wisdom 9:8 - "You told me to build a temple.. It is a copy of that temple in heaven." Solomon's temple is a copy, and not even a direct copy of the Exodus Tabernacle.

2 Maccabees 2:5 - "When Jeremiah got to the mountain, he found a huge cave and there he hid the Tent of the Lord's Presence, the Covenant Box, and the altar of incense." Finally! I don't deny that a second story lends some credibility to the tabernacle's existence. However, the book of Jeremiah, written centuries earlier, makes no mention of what would be an extraordinary event in his life. Perhaps this is why so few accept Maccabees? I'll also point out you've offered less evidence than we have for the Holy Grail or Pandora's Box.

Conclusion

Fiction in our debate is defined as "literature in the form of prose, especially novels, that describes imaginary events and people". Prose is defined on Google as "written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure". From the excerpts, the NIV Exodus is prose. From the arguments, the NIV Exodus contains imaginary people and/or events. I've presented my cited research showing many contradictions with the historical and archaeological records.

It's too late for Con to make new arguments, bolster his arguments, or rebut my conclusion--so I thank him and urge you to vote Pro. :)

Sources

[5] Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, pgs 89, 194, 215, 479-483 (King dating)
[6] Rameses II: Pharaoh of the New Kingdom, pg 101
[7] Science 312: "Santorini Eruption Radiocarbon Dated to 1627-1600 B.C."
GarretKadeDupre

Con

Concession (my laptop broke and I'm on my PS3)
Debate Round No. 5
24 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Wallstreetatheist 4 years ago
Wallstreetatheist
At least try, Garret.
Posted by likespeace 4 years ago
likespeace
While I would be happy to debate others afterwards, and certainly welcome feedback after we finish, this particular debate is between Garret and myself. ;)
Posted by likespeace 4 years ago
likespeace
I don't suppose that you would respect that this debate is in-progress and withhold your personal interpretations and/or rebuttals until we have finished?
Posted by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
Contention 7 is pretty much just an assertion. It is not backed up by facts of any sort.

That's why it's laughable.
Posted by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
8, 9, and 10 are just as bad.
Posted by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
Contention 7 is pretty much just an assertion. It is not backed up by anything relevant, which makes it laughable.
Posted by Deadlykris 4 years ago
Deadlykris
Of course it would seem unsupported to someone who has no use for facts where they conflict with strongly held beliefs. However, an intellectually honest person is willing to reevaluate their most deeply-held beliefs in light of new evidence. Such a reevaluation of one's position is clearly not valued much in my country, where politicians are called "flip-floppers" or other such nonsense for changing their position on a matter based on new information. My fellow Americans seem to think that one's position should be immutable forever despite new evidence, and that's a sad commentary on our society.
Posted by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
Contention 7 in particular.
Posted by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
@Deadlykris

No, laughing because it's so completely unsupported.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 4 years ago
GarretKadeDupre
:If our debate causes laughter and amusement, I am happy for that, for the world could use more of those!

Indeed!

I'm putting my argument together right now.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
likespeaceGarretKadeDupreTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: It seems like Con didn't even try. In R3 he about forfeits. He ignores Pro's evidence that exodus happened only in the story books. If exodus happened I think they would've written more about it than "a period of great confusion" which doesn't entail anything. Pro's evidence was well thought out and researched. On top of all these things, con conceded.
Vote Placed by Orwell 3 years ago
Orwell
likespeaceGarretKadeDupreTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro went into far more detail, and presented his arguments better, with the use of pictures and titles etc, so Argument to Pro. Con also provided very few sources, so Sources to Pro.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 3 years ago
Deadlykris
likespeaceGarretKadeDupreTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con Conceded.
Vote Placed by Luggs 3 years ago
Luggs
likespeaceGarretKadeDupreTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro has more convincing arguments, and had better sources. Conduct to Pro for Con's concession.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 3 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
likespeaceGarretKadeDupreTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: You lied to me Garret, so I'm giving Pro conduct.