The Instigator
syz
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
MoralityProfessor
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points

The only possible origin for the revelation story of Moses is from the event itself

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
syz
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,199 times Debate No: 49701
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

syz

Con

Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen has developed a list of names tracing the Jews alive today back to Moses and the Sinai event (http://www.simpletoremember.com...). This list was referenced in a past debate in which MoralityProfessor used it to establish the existence of God via the inability for this story to have been introduced in any other way.

The previous debate that inspired this one can be found here: http://www.debate.org... The arguments for existence come almost exclusively from "A Rational Approach to the Divine Origin of Judaism" (https://www.youtube.com...) by Lawrence Kelemen and the Kuzari Principle.

If possible, I'd like to ignore the Kuzari and whether God exists, but instead focus on specifically the claim that the only way (or if you like, most rational/reasonable/likely way) for this story to have started is from the actual event itself--that God spoke to the Jews at Mt. Sinai.
MoralityProfessor

Pro

I would like to start off by thanking Con for initiating this debate. It has the promise of being most thought provoking and eye-opening as well as providing me with many additional hours of research.

Just a few clarifications before we begin:
1) A significant amount of the arguments I am presenting will be drawn from Rabbi Keleman's lecture linked by Con above as well as my previous debate on the subject, also linked by Con above.
2) As Pro, I will be defending the position that G-d speaking to all the Jews at Mt. Sinai is the most plausible explanation for the story circulating the Jewish nation today.
3) Burden of proof is shared. Con will also be required to present a plausible explanation for the Jewish revelation narrative.
4) I will concede the debate if I believe Con has brought sufficient evidence supporting his side.
5) No new arguments may be presented in the last round by either Pro or Con, unless in direct response to a contention made the previous round.

Overview and Contention 1 - Narrative and Transmission
The Jewish revelation narrative maintains that G-d spoke directly to all the Jewish people (approximately 3 million men, women, and children) at Mt. Sinai. The following are excerpts from the Torah revealing the basis for this belief:

Exodus 19:9; and the LORD said unto Moses: Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and may also believe thee forever.
Exodus 19:11; and be ready against the third day, for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.
Deuteronomy 5:4; The LORD spoke with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire
(www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0219.htm) and (http://www.mechon-mamre.org...)

This is a fundamental belief that permeates Jewish thought. (http://www.myjewishlearning.com...), (http://www.simpletoremember.com...), and (http://www.chabad.org...).

It is also important to note that at no period after the mass revelation at Sinai was there ever an individual responsible for the transmission of the Torah. This does not hold true for other religions, where much of their faith is dependent upon the word of a single person who claimed to experience divine revelation. (This applies in the case of Joseph Smith - founder of Mormonism, the revelations of Mohammad - off of which the Koran was based, and visions stemming from Paul the Apostle - originator of much of the New Testament, etc.)

Contention 2 - Past, Present, Future Lie
Now, if we are to assume that this story is false we must trace it back to see where it originated and how this lie was told. At whatever point in Jewish history the 'lie' was transmitted, there are three possibilities explaining what form it took:

1) Future lie - this lie would take the form of 'One day, G-d will speak to you and/or your children'.
This lie can be easily dismissed, because the Jewish people today believe not that G-d will speak to us, but rather that He did.

2) Present lie - this lie would be placed in a present setting, i.e. 'G-d just spoke to you now'.
This lie is also excessively problematic because, being that it occurs in the present tense, it assumes either that:
A. Someone lied outright to the Jewish people, claiming G-d was speaking to them.
B. Someone duped the entire Jewish nation into believing G-d had just spoken to them.

Both A and B are remarkably unlikely due to the sheer numbers of people present. To believe Moses told 3 million Jews G-d had spoken to them and they believed him - despite the fact that they heard and saw nothing - is unrealistic.
Point B might seem a little bit more likely. It assumes that events as substantiated by the Jewish nation did indeed occur, however they were natural events and not Divinely inspired. (This could mean that all the Jews were hallucinating or Moses performed a Wizard-of-Oz-like feat, i.e. 'Ignore the prophet behind the mountain'.) Natural events are reoccurring, but why has a similar event never happened again? Whatever scenario a person might come up with to explain the event, it all falls away when we take into consideration that no other nation or sizable group of people has ever claimed to experience G-d. If indeed, the event as described happened with a natural explanation - take a national drug trip, for example - why have there not been claims throughout history of nations speaking with G-d because of national drug trips? However, if the revelation truly happened as told by the Jewish nation, that would be sufficient explanation for why it hasn't occurred again.

3) Past lie - this lie takes place in a past setting, i.e. 'G-d spoke to your ancestors'.
This lie is the most plausible form to have been told, because it doesn't seem to demand that three million people be convinced all at once. This lie could have spread gradually, starting with a small number of people, slowly increasing until the Jewish nation was formed.

Now this form of lie also has some subtle problematic points. Number one, assuming the narrative's inaccuracy, the closer we are to the supposed revelation, the easier it is to verify its veracity. Anyone being told that their ancestors heard G-d speak simply needs to check with his own parents to see if such a story holds any truth. If they find that their parents aren't aware of any such claims, the lie falls away. In order to convince some would-be-followers, the person telling the lie would also have to explain why no one else knows about this story. They could justify it by explaining that the Torah was lost, the story was forgotten, all the people at the revelation died before they were able to transmit the story, etc.

In other words, they would create a break in the line of transmission as an explanation. The problem here is that there is no such gap in transmission. Con cites a list in his first round detailing this chain of transmission, and I will post a link to a similar list here. (http://www.pidyon.com...)

Now, one other major problem with all of the above theories is something I will posit once again. The story of revelation never depended upon an individual for transmission after the story was said to occur. This is a very significant point because if the story were to have shaped over time, starting from the word of one person, then it would make sense that said person would play a significant role in the religion. A similar example can be given for Joseph Smith, the individual responsible for and credited with writing the Book of Mormon. However, in Judaism, there is no single person, or even a group of people to whom credit of writing/transmitting the Torah is given.

This is demonstrated in the graph below, which details Jewish population throughout history.



Contention 3: The start of such a lie paradoxically requires the presence of a Jewish nation

The historical belief that G-d spoke to the entire Jewish nation is widespread amongst the Jewish nation today, (I, as an Orthodox Jew can testify to that, having been brought up with such a belief myself), as is the belief that this information has been passed down reliably from generation to generation since the occurrence of the actual event. The possibilities are twofold:
1. It is true.
2. It was sold to the Jewish people as an intentional or unintentional deception.
Note that at no point in time could a whole nation have been deceived into the content of such a story. This is because Judaism makes the outlandish claim that every generation, (including this one) received the tradition from their parents. The Jewish people would never have embraced the narrative of revelation, unless their parents had already told them the story. At no point would the Jewish nation have bought the lie that millions of their ancestors witnessed this revelation and that it was passed down reliably from generation to generation, unless all (or at least the majority) of the parents had already told them, and unless the people were already a sizable nation.

That last point is integral because it shows that the lie couldn't have been spread gradually by a small number of people over time. To tell tales of a great nation when no such nation is in existence would be a clear example of a lie that IS verifiable. As outlandish as the claim of mass revelation may be, for the lie to be transmitted an entire nation is actually required to be present where (this is assuming its false-ness) there is none. The existence of a Jewish nation is a necessary prerequisite in order to spread such a lie successfully.

In other words, an entire Jewish nation that witnessed G-d speaking to them would be necessary to spread such a 'lie', requiring the events in question to have occurred in order for them to have spread.

I conclude here and look forward to Con's response.
Debate Round No. 1
syz

Con

Thank you for your great response.

I would take time and pull out specific sentences and respond to those, but I think in the interest of sanity I’ll just address the broader ideas and claims rather than the specific supporting points. The argument for the Sinai event happening boils down to something like this:

1) Jews alive today believe that their ancestors heard god speak.

2) Somewhere, someone must have told that lie in order to make everyone believe this.

3) It would be impossible to introduce the lie anywhere along the line in history because:

There is an unbroken chain of Jews going back to the event itself

The lie can be checked with family members

4) Therefore the only possible origin from the event must be the event itself

I hope I didn’t misrepresent your position. I wanted to summarize to help my own responses to your broader point.

——

Biblical claims are truly uncheckable. I can’t *prove* that the whole thing never happened, but what I can do is use rationality and logic to show that this is not sufficient evidence to make such a historical claim--that is, Con’s argument does not meet the burden of proof to make a positive claim about this event occurring.

I will also show along the way that there are various other explanations besides divine that are more likely, that is they involve the fewest assumptions and I contend are simply more “reasonable”.

Introducing the lie

Kelemen... who this debate is really against… says “the lie had to have been introduced” by one of his three ways. However, his methods are all predicated on the story being introduced at a single point in time by a single person. This need not be the case. More on that later.

I will show that point #3 is gone, that there is a much more reasonable way for the story to have come about besides “a lie”.

Comparing real life prophets to a characters in a story

An important thing to keep in mind is that when you talk about Joseph Smith, you are talking about someone who we know existed. Even Paul the Apostle is likely to have existed. However, when it comes to Moses and the Jews at Sinai, their existence is unestablished and unproven (see "unbroken chain"). So when you make historical claims ('no period after the mass revelation at Sinai was there ever an individual responsible for the transmission of the Torah' or 'To believe Moses told 3 million Jews G-d had spoken to them and they believed him - despite the fact that they heard and saw nothing - is unrealistic') you're presupposing the event happened to establish your argument. This is a relatively minor point.

Exodus authorship

All biblical scholars (minus the devoutly orthodox I suppose) agree: Moses did not write Exodus. I think you agreed with me on this, unless I’m misunderstanding: “...there is no single person, or even a group of people to whom credit of writing/transmitting the Torah is given.” I assume this means you don’t think Moses wrote it then.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

http://en.wikipedia.org...

The point is that Exodus was written long after this supposed event occurred.

Assuming that anything happened at all, how likely is it that the story was unmarred by (at least) 300 years of oral tradition amongst the uneducated, illiterate tribal peasants of the iron aged middle east? And that’s just from the supposed event’s date that we have written down. The story could easily have been a part of that culture for much longer. Or much shorter.

A much more likely explanation is it that the Sinai story just simply grew over time through the natural, well-understood and well-exampled process of legendary development. That is, the tendency for stories passed down through oral tradition to change and adapt over time to fit the time in which it's being told, often taking on more fantastical elements. For a parallel, consider King Arthur and its many adaptions that happened over generations of retelling. There are numerous examples, available upon request, but the point is that the most likely method of story development is the same, not the particulars of the stories themselves.

The “unbroken" chain

Here’s a google doc I made:

https://docs.google.com...

I highlighted rows are the gaps in the “unbroken chain” where the difference between two dates was greater than 65 years (super generous). I also included some date corrections for some of the earliest figures based on wikipedia sources.

But really it’s impossible for Kelemen to have created this list with any sort of historical accuracy. It goes from real people to kings to prophets to characters from the stories themselves, which can hardly be considered evidence. There is definitively no way to prove direct relationship, or even that some of these people even existed. Even Ezra is questionable as a historical figure, and he was supposed to have lived *almost a thousand years* after Moses did. No credulous person would believe that such a document could actually be produced with any level of historical accuracy. Some of these names are pre-history, and have no corroborating sources, secular or not, of their having lived.

Claims that cannot be proven false are believed

Kelemen emphasizes, and you also mentioned it in your argument, that claims that can be checked are treated with credulity while those that cannot be checked are believed. Kelemen says: “When [Applewhite said crazy thing X] was there any way to check that lie? No. Which is why it was believed.” Seriously, that's a direct quote. Absolute nonsense. Basically, “Oh, I guess I can’t check what he’s saying, so I believe him.” The reasons why rational people don't believe him is because there's no evidence for the claims.

This is trying to set up a false contrast between claims that Judaism makes versus other religions, that is Judaism is special because it doesn't make faith-based claims, their claim could have been fact-checked when it was first told. See my legendary development assertion for why this argument doesn't apply at all. See the next section for why, even if the lie was introduced at a single time, this point doesn't matter.

This entire premise--that only unproveable religions survive and that because Judaism is provable, it’s uniquely correct--is complete bunk. You and Kelemen got the first half of it right, but after one generation Judaism is no more checkable than the rest.

Ancient fact-checkers

Is it really reasonable to expect that ancient people A) were able to know a story was new, B) had an emphasis on critical thinking and questioning of one’s parent's teachings, and C) had the resources available to them to fact check a claim?

I don’t have a choice but to appeal to your rationality. Consider: people today are *terrible* at fact checking easily disproven information. People eat up gossip, chain mail, political lies, urban myths and hoaxes. It’s why Snopes.com exists. Further, people get sucked into crazy cults (like Heaven’s Gate, Mormonism, etc), even when their claims are obviously bogus to a credulous individual, regardless of the falsifiability.

Given this, a more likely origin story (over the actual Sinai event's occurence) would be someone jumping out of the shrubbery saying “Boy do I have a story for you about your ancestors!” because it's plain to see *some* people would have been inclined to believe it. As Kelemen says himself, “People are gullible”. Especially ancient, illiterate ones with no surviving grand parents, no cultural focus upon reason and evidence, and no written history about their origins and history. Now you add just a single generation to the original and the lie is no longer disproven by Kelemen's methodology of asking around.

The Jewish claim of mass revelation is not unique

Various religion's mass revelation claims:

https://docs.google.com...

Lakota story teller telling about their god’s mass revelation to their people. How cool is that?

https://www.youtube.com...

He says, “As far as the oral historians I have talked to, and others that testified during the Wounded Knee trials, they figure somewhere between 10 and 12 BC this woman came to Lakota people. It was there that she brought the seven sacred ceremonies of our people....”

This man is claiming their god came to their people (the seven Lakota tribes), bringing the ceremonies they still practice to this day. This belief grew from a long oral tradition and the process of legendary development. All future generations of Lakota, as long as the religion persists, learn that their god appeared before them with a message and gifts.

They also still have the peace pipe she gave them. Their claim is identical in every meaningful way and objectively has more evidence. Not enough evidence to believe the claim, but still more.

Applying Occam’s Razor (not a "proof," but these are non-falsifiable claims)

In summary, I contend that, precisely like the other religions that came out of cultures that had oral traditions, the jews have no true revelation narrative in the sense you describe and compare. Their revelation occurred over generations as the stories grew and changed during retelling, consistent with how other fables, legends and religions have.

Further, even if there were a massive amount of “witnesses” of the event, that still wouldn’t be sufficient evidence because modern miracles (linked in the google document) have shown that even the testimony of “thousands” or “millions” is not proof of anything. And that’s during a time of photography and written language.

Further still, this type of story (a god appearing to lots of people, giving a message, that message getting passed down through generations) is not unique. Even if your entire premise is true, applying it to the numerous, functionally identical, mass revelation claims will lead you to the conclusion that these other religions are true as well.

MoralityProfessor

Pro

I'd like to thank Con for his detailed response. The bold italics are his arguments and my responses are underneath. Let's get right to it.

3) It would be impossible to introduce the lie anywhere along the line in history because:

There is an unbroken chain of Jews going back to the event itself

The lie can be checked with family members

...I hope I didn"t misrepresent your position. I wanted to summarize to help my own responses to your broader point.


The summary was fine, but I would like to add to the third point that 'an individual was never solely responsible for the transmission of the event'.

All biblical scholars (minus the devoutly orthodox I suppose) agree: Moses did not write Exodus. I think you agreed with me on this, unless I"m misunderstanding: "...there is no single person, or even a group of people to whom credit of writing/transmitting the Torah is given."

Here, I wasn't so much referring to the origin of the Torah as described in the Jewish tradition (essentially - authored by G-d, transcribed by Moses, then distributed to the twelve tribes - the very same people that witnessed the revelation at Sinai.), but rather, the origins of the Torah according to modern interpretation. The intention behind the original statement was to convey that, once again, there is no known individual to whom credit for transmitting/writing the bible story is given. If such a person existed, there is no reason so significant a figure should be left out of Jewish tradition. This is evidenced by other religions as well, where credit is given to respective individuals, i.e. Paul the Apostle, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, etc.

Is it really reasonable to expect that ancient people A) were able to know a story was new, B) had an emphasis on critical thinking and questioning of one"s parent's teachings, and C) had the resources available to them to fact check a claim?

To be frank, yes. Completely reasonable. You mention several times the illiteracy of ancient people, which is simply untrue. Modern scholars believe that the Hebrew alphabet originated around 1200-1001 BCE. (http://en.wikipedia.org...) In addition, it seems to be a common misconception that people of ancient times were uneducated and feeble minded individuals. Firstly, keep in mind that the progress we have made today in various areas, be it technology, medicine, philosophy, science, etc. is only possible because of the basis that has been built up over previous centuries by other people. The cavemen don't go from learning to light a fire to postulating the theory of evolution in one day. Progress is attained as skills are learned and as new ideas are formed - based off the skills and ideas previously established. Despite not having the same information and technology available today, it is reasonable to assume that ancient people had similar levels of creativity and innovation as the people today.

Take the ancient Egyptians for example. The pyramids they built required a considerable amount of thought and deliberation, as the building process was quite complicated. (http://news.psu.edu...)

I don"t have a choice but to appeal to your rationality. Consider: people today are *terrible* at fact checking easily disproven information. People eat up gossip, chain mail, political lies, urban myths and hoaxes.

Two major problems I see with the above analogy are that a) it doesn't take into account the technology aspect involved in the dispensing of information (true or otherwise) in today's society, and b) makes a very broad use of the term 'easily disproven information'.
In regards to A, much of the problem with fact checking today involves the over-abundance of information - once again, true or not - available to anyone, anywhere. For any given idea, you can find a wide variety of conflicting opinions via a simple google search. In the ancient times, stories and ideas were told and exchanged via word of mouth, a much more reliable source of information.
In regards to B, the examples that Con gives as 'easily disproven information' are not, in fact, easily disproven. All are cases of impersonal information, which is a lot more difficult to verify than personal information. As an example, say Celebrity A was rumored to be dating Celebrity B. The veracity of such a rumor could only be speculated by the public. However, Celebrity B would obviously have a more definite idea as to the veracity of the claim. Even a confidant of either celebrity could be expected to know that information.
Judaism's claim falls into the category of personal information as it is expressly about one's ancestry, thus, easier to verify.




No credulous person would believe that such a document could actually be produced with any level of historical accuracy.

The point of the document, I believe, was not to provide a historically accurate chain, rather to provide the reader with an uninterrupted chain. The difference being that one would provide conclusive evidence, and the other, supportive evidence, respectively. The significance of the unbroken chain is to show that there is no gap in Jewish history and no one person responsible for the transmission of the Torah after the revelation at Sinai. However, I agree that it is not a definitive proof by any means.

The Jewish claim of mass revelation is not unique.

This is my opponent's strongest argument against my position. Should it be proven to be true, it would demonstrate that the argument for Judaism being the correct religion is an argument based on special-pleading. At this time, I do not have enough information to respond to this section properly. I am currently in the process of researching the religions Con has listed to see if there is a tradition of mass transmission or if there was ever a point in history where an individual was responsible for transmission. If I cannot find a sufficient answer by the next round, I will concede the debate to Con.

In summary, I contend that, precisely like the other religions that came out of cultures that had oral traditions, the jews have no true revelation narrative in the sense you describe and compare. Their revelation occurred over generations as the stories grew and changed during retelling, consistent with how other fables, legends and religions have.

A significant difference between the transmission of legends and the transmission of the Torah is the context in which it was transmitted. The revelation narrative has two distinct properties. One, being that the events described were, according to the narrative itself, witnessed by a nation consisting of many people. Two, the narrative also claims that the people present endeavored to pass along this information as a chain for future generations. (Vedibarta bam). The second aspect is not, as far as I am familiar with, an aspect inherent in the transmission of other legends and fables.

I will be concluding here for now. If there are any arguments that have not yet been addressed, I would genuinely appreciate it if Con would point them out as it was not my intention to skip them over. I would also like to thank Con for a wonderful debate thus far.
Debate Round No. 2
syz

Con

Another good reply.

...there is no known individual to whom credit for transmitting/writing the bible story is given.

I am perfectly willing to concede that this is the case. It is, afterall, part of my contention as well in calling it a cultural story. Further I posted those wikipedia articles that further back up my point that Exodus was not the work of one man, or a group of men, at a single point in time.


You mention several times the illiteracy of ancient people, which is simply untrue.

It was not my intent to imply that all people were illiterate, which clearly the invention of the Hebrew alphabet is evidence against. It was my intent to express that most people were. And further, even if they weren't, there were no libraries and books were EXTREMELY expensive until the invention of the printing press such that only the richest people could afford them. This is why ancient books are filled with lavish illustrations and addornments. They were works of art for the rich.

Regardless of all that, according to your list, Moses was born before the invention of Hebrew writing. It's rather indisputable that the story had to go through a substantial period of time until someone wrote it.

Also, by citing the Hebrew alphabet invention date of, at the earliest, 1200 and the unbroken chain list which puts Moses at 1272 (this is probably death since Sinai is at 1312), you basically proved to yourself that Moses could not have written the Torah. But again, maybe you already accept that, it's hard to tell.

Firstly, keep in mind that the progress we have made today in various areas, be it technology, medicine, philosophy, science, etc. is only possible because of the basis that has been built up over previous centuries by other people....

Your point is well met--we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, most obviously and notably in the world of science. However, our modern conceptions of all of those things you just listed are mostly products of the scientific revolution and the enlightenment period (http://en.wikipedia.org...). The former began sometime around the 1500s. Consider as an example, the heliocentric theory for the solar system wasn't developed until ~1520 by Copernicus. Getting even more rudimentary:

"The Flat Earth model is an archaic belief that the Earth's shape is a plane or disk. Many ancient cultures have had conceptions of a flat Earth, including Greece until the classical period, the Bronze Age and Iron Age civilizations of the Near East until the Hellenistic period [323 BC], India until the Gupta period (early centuries AD) and China until the 17th century." (http://en.wikipedia.org...)

So yes, we stand on the shoulders of giants, but the peasants of the Middle East during the pre-history times that we are talking about weren't even ants yet. Further, even if writing was established (which it wasn't), you must further contend that the population was generally literate and that it wasn't reserved for the most wealthy, who could actually afford an education and books (which it was). Further, even if they were literate you have to believe that they had access to information (libraries, schools, historians, etc) which they didn't.

Where's the "secondly?" Anyway, your counter that the populace at this time was educated, literate, critical thinkers with access to information is left unestablished.

...much of the problem with fact checking today involves the over-abundance of information - once again, true or not - available to anyone, anywhere. For any given idea, you can find a wide variety of conflicting opinions...

What you've done here is focused merely on the fringe. Rightly or wrongly, I contend it is plain to see (especially in the realms of science: chemisty, biology, mathematics, physics, etc) that most of what we collectively "know" is not debated. Consider the body of knowledge in a particular subject to be an outward-expanding circle. The outside of the circle is all hairy and tattered, "fringed" you might say. Anyway, yes, some stuff is debated, but all of that is built, as you said, on a foundation of knowledge that must be wholly taken for granted to even discuss the outer fringe. Oh, and the area of the center bit is so much larger than the fringe was my point.

So while we're fighting about what type of boulder to place, at the end of the day, it's being placed on a mountain.

Further, some things we know are not subject to opinions at all. But I digress.


In the ancient times, stories and ideas were told and exchanged via word of mouth, a much more reliable source of information.

Do you have any sort of citation or evidence for this? I cannot see how telling a story over and over again through centuries could possibly be considered "more reliable". There's many examples where this is simply not true. And of course, if it were, the Sioux and all other aboriginal tribes around the globe would have unadultered histories of their people. But they don't. They have legends and fairy tales that contain wildly fantastical claims about their history and their interractions with various gods. Judaism was founded by a tribe effectively identical to those still following their oral traditions today in South America, Africa, North America and the Philippines.

Judaism's claim falls into the category of personal information as it is expressly about one's ancestry, thus, easier to verify.

This is patently false, unless you consider "verification" totally different than any other (credulous) person. Even from today's perspective, assuming the Sinai event happened, there is no way for you to prove direct lineage to a "founding member." Even the Halakhic perspective allows for conversions. And I don't take the orthodox rules as lending much credibility to the claim as my own family is an example of how even the most Orthodox jews can not be descended from other Orthodox jews. Real quick, my aunt was born into a relatively liberal Jewish family, a far cry away from orthodox. My aunt, however decided to persue orthodoxy on her own with the help of a rabbi and I now have cousins in Israel studying Torah I have never met, and I bet they would claim Orthodox descendence even though it doesn't even go back two generations.

Anyway, Orthodox descendency is not enough proof to establish an ancestral link, even if their laws didn't allow for conversions, which it does.

The point of the document, I believe, was not to provide a historically accurate chain, rather to provide the reader with anuninterrupted chain.

Well I showed that it was in fact historically innaccurate and interrupted. That is, it cannot be used for evidence at all about there having not been a single person responsible for the line of transmission as there are plenty of gaps in the "unbroken chain." But anyway, how can you establish a chain is uninterrupted without first being historically accurate? Seems I could just make up any old chain linking me to the Aztecs and claim I'm descended from Tecuciztecatl (from the Aztec's creation myth, which is also untrue).

If I cannot find a sufficient answer by the next round, I will concede the debate to Con.

Personal note: It might be too late, but really consider why each part of the structure you use to judge is relevant and necessary. The Kuzari was constructed to establish Judaism's uniqueness by way of a framework that was specifically designed ahead of time to singly apply to Judaism's revelation narrative. These examples I gave are merely to show that the Kuzari can apply to other religions so you must contend those to be true as well, but the Kuzari is arbitrary and there is no justification for why its construct is fundamentally valid or is sufficient evidence to believe the claim alone. Working from a position of knowing all the answers and trying to find evidence to support your position is totally different than starting from a position of indifferent ignorance and following to the clues wherever they may lead. But I'm sure you know this, I'm just rambling.

One, being that the events described were, according to the narrative itself, witnessed by a nation consisting of many people.

There's many legends that would have been witnessed by thousands, millions were they true. Consider the legend/myth of the seige of Troy: http://en.wikipedia.org...; (Read at least the summary and note the mythological claims that developed around a small [possibly] historic core--sound familiar?) But really, my point is that the story about a number of witnesses of some event cannot be used as evidence for the story itself. It's wholly irrelevant unless you start from a position of historical accuracy of Exodus, which is totally unestablished.

Two, the narrative also claims that the people present endeavored to pass along this information as a chain for future generations. [This is not] an aspect inherent in the transmission of other legends and fables.

Even if this specific part of the story is unique, the result of it is not. So, the source of 'it's important to pass this down' for Jews includes "God said so" on top of the pile shared with all other cultures: significant events in their lives, stories and lessons that they hold sacred, moral lessons, civil lessons, national origin, entertainment.... These are all reasons why societies might pass down stories, as evidenced by the fact that, dare I say, all oral societies did throughout history including those that still lack writing today. My point: the fact that the Jews have a commandment built into the story would only be signficant if it could be demonstrated to have been of signficance. As an exercise, consider that God did not say that part. Do you believe that those people would have simply been like "Oh, I guess we don't need to pass this down (and encourage our children to do so) because God didn't tell us to." Obviously not so this is wholly irrelevant.
MoralityProfessor

Pro

I am posting this round to concede the debate to Con. After examining his arguments, it seems clear he has managed to sufficiently point out integral flaws with Rabbi Keleman's proof.

There are a few minor details that I continue to disagree with, but none of them at this point are significant enough to counter the main contentions Con brought against my argument.

I appreciate Con's thoughtful arguments and willingness to debate this topic. It has indeed lived up to being an eye-opening and thought provoking debate.

Should I, at any point, think of any significant responses to Con's arguments, I would be willing to debate those points should he be interested as well. In the meantime though, I encourage voters to vote Con and sincerely appreciate the time and effort he has put into this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
syz

Con

Thanks for a good debate.

Compliments to my opponent for exceptional candor and well-thought arguments.
MoralityProfessor

Pro

Just posting now to bypass straight to the voting period.

A big thanks again to my opponent. I very much enjoyed the debate.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by syz 3 years ago
syz
The Kuzari and Kelemen take as a presupposition that the only way in which the revelation narrative in Judaism could have come about is via a lie told or via the actual event itself. I have heard this argument from an orthodox jewish friend of mine, but haven't been able to get a straight answer out of him as to why, he merely sent the video. I feel well-prepared to debate the points Kelemen brings up in his video after doing extensive research and analysis of it just for fun. I want to see if anyone can knock down those arguments.
Posted by MoralityProfessor 3 years ago
MoralityProfessor
I must admit, I was surprised to be issued a challenge concerning this topic. It seems that the previous debate didn't get much notice. If I may ask, what is your interest in the subject?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Zarroette 3 years ago
Zarroette
syzMoralityProfessorTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro gracefully concedes. I found sources to be relatively even, with both debaters providing relevant arguments. Con's custom sources were impressive, in that they're very unique, though...
Vote Placed by The_Scapegoat_bleats 3 years ago
The_Scapegoat_bleats
syzMoralityProfessorTied
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro conceded - as promised - due to superior arguments and sources of Con. This gains her points for conduct. Her concession necessitates awarding Con points for arguments and sources. This was a great debate, good job, both of you. I enjoyed this a lot.