Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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William
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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

Post by William »

[Replying to post 239 by Jagella]
I suppose I'm different and possibly in the minority in that I do not want any person killed who poses no danger to me.
I think your basic mistake here is that you appear to be defining yourself as you presently are and conflating it with being the exact same person you THINK you would be in another time and space.

The best you could do is to HOPE you would be the same person. but the reality is you live in a time where the social system is already set up and that is what helped shape you to think of your self as the person you think of as your self NOW.

Re the OPQ, the best answers are from those who take into consideration the likelihood that one would follow social norms of the time one was in, as per human nature and the instinct to survive.

Your argument is more along the lines that you were the one who time-traveled back to that past event as the person you are today with all those lovely attributes you wrote of, and defied the laws of that tribe and paid the price for your outstanding valor in the face of adversity, by being killed for your beliefs rather than accept the tribal regulations, but of course, that is fantasy.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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William wrote: [Replying to post 239 by Jagella]
I suppose I'm different and possibly in the minority in that I do not want any person killed who poses no danger to me.
I think your basic mistake here is that you appear to be defining yourself as you presently are and conflating it with being the exact same person you THINK you would be in another time and space.

The best you could do is to HOPE you would be the same person. but the reality is you live in a time where the social system is already set up and that is what helped shape you to think of your self as the person you think of as your self NOW.
There's a touch of irony here, in that I suspect the authors of the Numbers story may have been assuming something similar to Jesus' comment that those faithful in little will be faithful in much while those unfaithful in little will be unfaithful in much. A couple of folk in the thread seem to be applying that kind of reasoning in a rather extreme form to themselves - that because they in the 21st century have adopted a certain moral stance and/or perceive themselves as maverick independent thinkers, they would probably do similar if they lived in the bronze age too - while simultaneously condemning in no uncertain terms the prospect that reasoning in a more modest form might have been relevant to the Israelites - that someone contemptuous of the law, social cohesion and personal holiness when there's little gain or motive in view would likely disregard them in moments of greed, lust or anger too. Taking their own views as a litmus test for what they imagine 'they' as essentially a different person in a different era would be like, they nevertheless brutally attack any notion of the Sabbath being used as a considerably less speculative litmus test for the Israelites to deal with criminals before they rob or rape or kill someone.

The best argument against execution and punitive punishment generally that I've seen is along the lines of Sam Harris' critique of free will: That if someone were forcibly dosed up on some nasty drug and then set loose on a killing spree we would rightly feel compassion that though not responsible they'd still have to live with knowledge of what they'd done; and likewise our attitudes should perhaps be similar towards folk whose genetics, brain chemistry, upbringing and circumstances have partly or wholly compelled them to criminal action (while still taking steps to protect ourselves from and if possible rehabilitate them, of course). But anyone intent on attacking the Israelites' customs while exalting their own moral uprightness would apparently in the course of doing so have to reject that best reason for a better approach.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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Mithrae wrote:
There's a touch of irony here, in that I suspect the authors of the Numbers story may have been assuming something similar to Jesus' comment that those faithful in little will be faithful in much while those unfaithful in little will be unfaithful in much.

The true irony here is that you recognize the absurdity of murdering a man for collecting sticks on the Sabbath and therefore attempt to build a more reasonable reason for this murder. It is of course one not supported by the text in any way. Not even a hint of Jesus' thought, which by the way wouldn't be written for another 1,400 years or so, is included in the narrative.


What is included is that God, not Moses, not Aaron, not some ancient tribal code, decided this man should be murdered. This decision was made based on one transgression and one alone, he picked up sticks on the Sabbath.


Those of us who disagree with this senseless murder don't have to add anything to the story to recognize it's brutality. To justify it, you do.





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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

Post by Jagella »

William wrote:
I suppose I'm different and possibly in the minority in that I do not want any person killed who poses no danger to me.
I think your basic mistake here is that you appear to be defining yourself as you presently are and conflating it with being the exact same person you THINK you would be in another time and space.
If I am mistaken, then there's no way we can know unless you have a time machine we can use to transport me back to Israel as it was centuries prior to the current era. So I am forced to assume that I would still oppose the killing of an innocent man even if I lived in Israel's theocracy.
The best you could do is to HOPE you would be the same person. but the reality is you live in a time where the social system is already set up and that is what helped shape you to think of your self as the person you think of as your self NOW.
Today there is no single "social system," and I think the same goes for Israel when their scriptures were being written. As you should know, I tend to "buck the system" preferring my own way of thought. So I have good reason to believe that I would be among the many dissidents in Israel.
Your argument is more along the lines that you were the one who time-traveled back to that past event as the person you are today with all those lovely attributes you wrote of, and defied the laws of that tribe and paid the price for your outstanding valor in the face of adversity, by being killed for your beliefs rather than accept the tribal regulations, but of course, that is fantasy.
Let me use your time machine, and then we can know what is or is not "fantasy." Until then, all you can do is fantasize that I'm wrong!

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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Zzyzx wrote: .
Mithrae wrote:
Zzyzx wrote:
Mithrae wrote: . . . if we're interested in whether or not a god had anything to do with the Torah one of the key questions is whether the 'law of Moses' was better or more optimal in terms of social cohesion, deterrence and general societal wellbeing than surrounding contemporary cultures' laws. If it was, then we could legitimately suppose that like a guiding parent 'God' was bringing the Israelites a few steps forwards... rather than trying to futilely drag them forward several millennia without any corresponding technological and social sophistication or just handing them everything on a silver platter.
The notion of 'god' guiding Israelites in little steps MIGHT have some merit if it was carried forward in further steps up to the present. Evidently, and according to biblical tales, however, that has not happened. The Jesus character was pitched to gentiles, primarily (it seems) of the Roman Empire -- far from Israel.

Perhaps Jews of that era knew a fake when they saw one. Small wonder that Christianity was sold to Romans rather than Israelites.
What exactly are you trying to argue here?
My comments were directed toward, "The notion of 'god' guiding Israelites in little steps MIGHT have some merit if it was carried forward in further steps up to the present. Evidently, and according to biblical tales, however, that has not happened."

I will start another thread related to Jewish reaction to Jesus.
Mithrae wrote:
In various threads some of which I started I've made no secret of the fact that - some minor philosophical/moral quibbles and some serious pragmatic doubts aside - I find the general philosophy of Jesus, Diogenes and the like extremely compelling.
Would that be the ‘general philosophy of Jesus’ or the philosophy that has been attributed to him by others? Is it presented as a continuation of the OT God?
Mithrae wrote: Perhaps more importantly I would argue that the opposite philosophy, and the one which currently dominates western countries and the world at large, is ultimately both self-destructive, inherently harmful to other humans and destructive to our planet itself.
What philosophy dominates western countries and the world at large?

I do not identify ANY philosophy that applies worldwide (or even close).
I'm referring to capitalism, which does dominate western countries and increasingly the world at large, or even more broadly the pursuit of material self-interest.
Mithrae wrote: So you're trying to argue... what? That subsequent generations of humanity have somehow eclipsed the teachings of Jesus?
See above. There seems to be no effort on the part of ‘god’ to continue any guiding steps – thus casting doubt on the theory of guidance in steps.
Mithrae wrote: I mean, I'd hesitate about pitching Jesus as the pinnacle of human morality - not least because of his biographers' obvious but indeterminate influence in what we know of him, but also because the passages about hell may be genuine - but I'd be just as (if not more) hesitant about proclaiming that we have done significantly better since then!
It is probably safe to say that we know little about the morality of Jesus – nothing more than a few ‘snapshots’ recorded by anonymous writers, perhaps modified / misremembered / distorted.
Mithrae wrote: Gandhi? Well sure, maybe... but from what I know of the latter their philosophies seem very similar in most if not all practical aspects, and it's not as if many folk follow Gandhi's views either!
The ‘guidance’ (proposed as ‘steps’) by the OT God seem very different from those attributed to Jesus – and nothing further for 2000 years.
If the culmination of guidance to the Jewish people occurred 2000 years ago then there'd be no reason to expect any big new revelations. If the core philosophy embodied in Jesus' message were on par with best humanity has yet discovered - which is a pretty big if - then there'd be no reason to expect any new guidance. Your argument does not seem to disprove the guiding parent idea of god, in other words.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

Post by William »

[Replying to post 243 by Jagella]
I think your basic mistake here is that you appear to be defining yourself as you presently are and conflating it with being the exact same person you THINK you would be in another time and space.
If I am mistaken, then there's no way we can know unless you have a time machine we can use to transport me back to Israel as it was centuries prior to the current era. So I am forced to assume that I would still oppose the killing of an innocent man even if I lived in Israel's theocracy.
What is it that 'forces' you to assume anything? You can't time-travel back to test your theory, so what about your theory can convince the reader that your theory is correct and that you are not mistaken?
The best you could do is to HOPE you would be the same person. but the reality is you live in a time where the social system is already set up and that is what helped shape you to think of your self as the person you think of as your self NOW.
Today there is no single "social system," and I think the same goes for Israel when their scriptures were being written. As you should know, I tend to "buck the system" preferring my own way of thought. So I have good reason to believe that I would be among the many dissidents in Israel.

Yet you are still conflating 'today' with 'ancient history'.

It has to be acknowledged that 'good' or 'evil' regarding ancient customs as the case might or might not be, you in the present are equipped BY the actions of past generations to be who think you are - the 'system bucker' and 'your own way of thought' is actually a product of that process. It is the same with each of us.

Otherwise you are arguing more for the case of being BORN that way, which then opens up the door to the idea of Objective Morality perhaps being real - or Subjective Morality being something one is born with, and somehow also something one can lose sight of.
Your argument is more along the lines that you were the one who time-traveled back to that past event as the person you are today with all those lovely attributes you wrote of, and defied the laws of that tribe and paid the price for your outstanding valor in the face of adversity, by being killed for your beliefs rather than accept the tribal regulations, but of course, that is fantasy.
Let me use your time machine, and then we can know what is or is not "fantasy." Until then, all you can do is fantasize that I'm wrong!
On the contrary - part of my argument is that it is YOUR 'time machine' as presented in the wording of the OP, which is the fantasy. You appear unable at present to understand that.
Last edited by William on Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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.
Mithrae wrote:
Zzyzx wrote:
Mithrae wrote:
In various threads some of which I started I've made no secret of the fact that - some minor philosophical/moral quibbles and some serious pragmatic doubts aside - I find the general philosophy of Jesus, Diogenes and the like extremely compelling.
Would that be the ‘general philosophy of Jesus’ or the philosophy that has been attributed to him by others? Is it presented as a continuation of the OT God?
I'm referring to capitalism, which does dominate western countries and increasingly the world at large, or even more broadly the pursuit of material self-interest.
Is it rational to compare a religious philosophy to an economic system?

Mithrae wrote:
Zzyzx wrote: The ‘guidance’ (proposed as ‘steps’) by the OT God seem very different from those attributed to Jesus – and nothing further for 2000 years.
If the culmination of guidance to the Jewish people occurred 2000 years ago then there'd be no reason to expect any big new revelations. If the core philosophy embodied in Jesus' message were on par with best humanity has yet discovered - which is a pretty big if - then there'd be no reason to expect any new guidance.
The ‘core philosophy’ attributed to the OT God seems very different from the message of Jesus. Did ‘God' abandon Jews? Have the teachings attributed to Jesus done much to eliminate warfare and suffering of the world’s population?
Mithrae wrote: Your argument does not seem to disprove the guiding parent idea of god, in other words.
My intent is to question a ‘guiding parent idea of god’ – and allow defenders to expose weakness of their position. All are free to demean their own position with ineffective ‘arguments’.
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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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Jagella wrote:


Thank you for that honest admission. I realize that many people are like you in that they don't always value human life. Depending on the circumstances, they will kill people who pose no danger to them. I suppose I'm different and possibly in the minority in that I do not want any person killed who poses no danger to me.

This is very nice and indicative of a commendable morality but I was not asked my views on the value of human life. I was asked to place myself in that age, with the religious mind of the people then and I would not be Marco, with Marco's education but Obadiah perhaps, fond of locusts and eager for concubines.


I have no wish whatsoever to kill people but I do accept that sometimes it is necessary to kill in order to protect the innocent. As for mercy-killing and terminating a life because of grave illness, I once wrote to a person who said he no longer felt his life was valuable and was so ill and dependent on others that he wanted happily to terminate his existence. I don't know if I persuaded him otherwise, but I tried. I am not some Obadiah.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

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Tcg wrote: Those of us who disagree with this senseless murder don't have to add anything to the story to recognize it's brutality. To justify it, you do.
You're adding your assumptions and value judgements about the supposed triviality of the crime and how a justice system 'should' work. The fact that you don't even realize that makes your position seem weaker, not stronger.

I wonder if Rikuo is still reading the thread? Since he's a fan, I wish I'd thought to remind him of a particularly relevant Star Trek Next Generation episode in which the crew visit a virtual paradise world, full of lovely people and no crime; accomplished by having a death sentence for all offenses, no matter how seemingly trivial, a deterrent so powerful that obeying all laws became truly second nature for its people. You might call that kind of justice system 'murder,' but if it actually worked it would in the long run be a far more moral approach in utilitarian terms than weighing punishment against the crime and (by inescapable implication) leaving criminals to weigh their crime against the mere risk of getting caught and convicted and receiving a proportional punishment.

You've done nothing to justify your opinion that a more deterrent-oriented approach in less advanced cultures than our own constitutes 'brutality,' nor your opinion that there's anything 'senseless' about the social cohesion and personal holiness aspects reflected in the Sabbath law. No matter how strongly you feel on the subject, without providing a cogent argument addressing others' points and validating your own, mere emotionalism really doesn't count for anything.

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Re: Would you stone the man described in Numbers 15?

Post by rikuoamero »

[Replying to post 248 by Mithrae]
I wonder if Rikuo is still reading the thread? Since he's a fan, I wish I'd thought to remind him of a particularly relevant Star Trek Next Generation episode in which the crew visit a virtual paradise world, full of lovely people and no crime; accomplished by having a death sentence for all offenses, no matter how seemingly trivial, a deterrent so powerful that obeying all laws became truly second nature for its people. You might call that kind of justice system 'murder,' but if it actually worked it would in the long run be a far more moral approach in utilitarian terms than weighing punishment against the crime and (by inescapable implication) leaving criminals to weigh their crime against the mere risk of getting caught and convicted and receiving a proportional punishment.
Yes I am still reading, and as I recall, Picard didn't let the people of that planet kill Wesley, even though there was some sort of all powerful god thing in that episode.
I ask you a question - DOES the threat of capital punishment actually work as a deterrent? Do places that practice capital punishment have a lower rate of relevant crimes than places that don't practice it?
You've done nothing to justify your opinion that a more deterrent-oriented approach in less advanced cultures than our own constitutes 'brutality,'
and you've done nothing to justify your own opinion that a god (seemingly) commanding this approach is actually the best approach it could take or could have taken, when faced with this problem of keeping the culture united etc.
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