First question ...

Jayhawker Soule

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Jews cycle through the Torah once a year, one parashah per week. We are now back at the beginning, back at Parashah B'reishit (Genesis 1:1 thru 6:8).

Humanist geographer Yi-Fu Tuan once wrote: "All human beings are religious if religion is broadly defined as the impulse for coherence and meaning" With that in mind it is interesting that the first question asked of God in this ancient narrative is not
  • "Why am I here?"
but, rather,
  • "Am I my brother's keeper?"
 

Thomas

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... it is interesting that the first question asked of God in this ancient narrative is not
  • "Why am I here?"
but, rather,
  • "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Ha! So simple, and so telling!

New Scientist came down firmly on the side of man being 'hard-wired' for God, and that religion would outlast science in the long run.
 

Jayhawker Soule

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New Scientist came down firmly on the side of man being 'hard-wired' for God, and that religion would outlast science in the long run.
I'm not sure what you're seeking to imply nor how it relates to the OP.
 

Dream

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I have a question. Cain was asked "Where is your brother?" I could infer that the answer to Cain's question is rhetorical, but is it really? Is it a question that is generally considered to have been answered implicitly? Perhaps the question asked does not imply a responsibility for his brother. To Cain it certainly didn't, so what other than our little bleeding hearts tells us that any responsibility is implied?
 

Jayhawker Soule

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Perhaps the question asked does not imply a responsibility ...
And perhaps such a view says more about the person than about the text.

No ... you don't have a question; you have a mild sophistry.
 

Dream

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JS said:
And perhaps such a view says more about the person than about the text.
So I'm not good enough to ask questions? I think you are getting off topic.

No ... you don't have a question; you have a mild sophistry.
sophistry: the use of fallacious arguments, esp. with the intention of deceiving. No, I don't think so.
 

Dream

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JS said:
Are you asking a question or pushing an agenda? Never mind; it has nothing to do with Judaism.
I didn't realize the question was going to seem that way. You said 'Humanist geographer Yi-Fu Tuan once wrote: "All human beings are religious if religion is broadly defined as the impulse for coherence and meaning" ' Cain was not asking a religious question by this definition, because he was actually refusing to answer a question that he knew the answer to.
 

wil

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a figment of your imagination
Yes we'll have no pushing agendas here!

Is this a conversation or a conversion?

Ya gotta be willing to open your eyes to go on an exploration.
 

Jayhawker Soule

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I didn't realize the question was going to seem that way. You said 'Humanist geographer Yi-Fu Tuan once wrote: "All human beings are religious if religion is broadly defined as the impulse for coherence and meaning" ' Cain was not asking a religious question by this definition, because he was actually refusing to answer a question that he knew the answer to.
Agreed, and relevant is one is a literalist. But I do not view the Cain-Abel narrative as historical, much less as holy writ. It is, rather, a narrative that has survived the process of oral transmission/refinement to make its way into scripture. Of interest to me is why this particular narrative came down in this particular way.
 

Dream

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JS said:
Agreed, and relevant is one is a literalist. But I do not view the Cain-Abel narrative as historical, much less as holy writ. It is, rather, a narrative that has survived the process of oral transmission/refinement to make its way into scripture. Of interest to me is why this particular narrative came down in this particular way.
That is interesting.
 

Jayhawker Soule

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I find value in viewing scripture (or, for that matter, any other meta-narrative) as an evolutionist, always remembering that evolution is not a ladder but a sieve.
 

Dream

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There is a lot of time to cover and there could be any number of sieves, but I can't think of a time when any person has ever had access to the range of information that we have today. Possibly you could learn things that no one ever has. You could become the Buddy Holly of historians.
 

radarmark

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Dream,

One cannot learn something new for information (processed and examined data). The amount of information is virtually irrelevant. Or at least I cannot see the link.

One may develop new and novel hypotheses. But you still would have to test them (this is greatly facilitated by the amount of data one can gather today).

The problem with using just information is that each source has (1) some probability of being true and (2) some confidence. If you have 10 or 20 sources (I can get that just from one or two pages of a text), then go out to get the 1s and 2s for each, the Bayesian solution is (at the lowest dimension) 20 dimensions. Not trivial, even without trying to use the math.
 

Jayhawker Soule

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There is a lot of time to cover and there could be any number of sieves, but I can't think of a time when any person has ever had access to the range of information that we have today. Possibly you could learn things that no one ever has. You could become the Buddy Holly of historians.
Relevance?
 

Dream

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radarmark said:
Dream,

One cannot learn something new for information (processed and examined data). The amount of information is virtually irrelevant. Or at least I cannot see the link.

One may develop new and novel hypotheses. But you still would have to test them (this is greatly facilitated by the amount of data one can gather today).

The problem with using just information is that each source has (1) some probability of being true and (2) some confidence. If you have 10 or 20 sources (I can get that just from one or two pages of a text), then go out to get the 1s and 2s for each, the Bayesian solution is (at the lowest dimension) 20 dimensions. Not trivial, even without trying to use the math.
I see what you mean. I was going to mention (but somehow edited it out by mistake) that I wouldn't know how to pursue such a study. What about the sieves though? (That would also be beyond me, but one might learn more about the 'Sieves' of time.) As for me, I don't think anything was ever thrown out purposefully. I think many people died, and so any material that was lost is explainable by death rather than editing. Death is the ultimate sieve usually, but evolution of ideas is not out of the question.

JS said:
Relevance?
I was actually thinking about what could be learned about sieves. I don't think a reconstruction of History would be possible. The reference to 'Buddy Holly' was a suggestion that fame could be had, that not everything historically interesting has been discovered and that the conglomeration of knowledge today and the ability to process could tempt one to become a historian.
 

radarmark

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Very good, Dream. I appreciate the response. I also cannot figure out how to view any meta-narrative as evolutionary process (the key here is any... what about other large works like Star of Redemption, Joyce, Whitehead, or Pynchon). Nor can I picture what is met by a 'sieve' (in reference to the test itself, not of viewing of it).
 

Marcialou

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Jayhawker Soule:

Well, "Am I my brother's keeper," isn't a real question but a rhetorical question. But your observation is still interesting because it shows that at this point, the Hebrew Bible isn't asking the deep existential questions that might occur to us. Anyone out there: Does it ever address this question?

The stories in Genesis are pretty old - they were part of an oral tradition long before they were written down. They sound more like fairy tales than history. The people who told these stories were probably intellectually pretty young. They wouldn't be capable of asking the question "why am I here?"

Also, the writers/compilers of the book seemed more interested in showing God's power and mercy than explaining an existential matter. In the story, God is omniscient: he knows that Cain has killed Abel. He is omnipotent: he has the power to punish Cain by making him a "restless wanderer of the earth." But he shows mercy by giving Cain a "mark" which tells others that if they kill him they will be punished 7 times over.

This is much more important stuff to impart if you are trying to sell a monotheistic religion to a primitive people.
 
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