Is Torah-based society the most successful in human history?

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Mithrae
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Is Torah-based society the most successful in human history?

Post #1

Post by Mithrae »

An interesting idea which came up in another discussion. Even merely having persisted as a distinct cultural group for thirty centuries would probably put Jews in at least the top 20% success-wise of all groups which have existed since the bronze age. But in addition to merely persisting as a cultural/religious identity:
> The Jewish tradition has also deeply influenced the way in which the majority of humanity (Christians, Muslims and others) think about religion, society, morality and our place in the world;
> Jewish people have contributed at a vastly disproportionate level to modern human progress as indicated by Nobel Prize awards (~22% of recipients despite being less than 0.2% of world population);
> Jews have founded and constitute the main citizenry of a prosperous modern country, the only (or at least by far most) democratic country in its region;
> The Jewish nation and cultural influence has even been so successful as to significantly affect the policies and politics of a global superpower (ie, US 'aid' to Israel at bizarrely high rates considering how prosperous, and polarizing, Israel is).

Obviously by "Torah-based" I don't mean actually obeying all of the sometimes weird, primitive or outright evil commands and stories therein; circumstances, understanding and applications have changed over the millennia of course, as with all long-lasting cultures. That this original Torah model shaped a successful society seems blindingly obvious.
But are there any others which have been as or more successful, particularly in terms of longevity and influence on the rest of the world?

Edit to add:
Even if one concluded that the Jews were only the third or fourth most successful people group in human history, wouldn't that be something worth pondering while reading and debating their foundational myths and literature?


A few suggestions on the table so far (from another thread) have been the Greeks, the Chinese, the Egyptians and the Japanese.
Last edited by Mithrae on Sun Jun 21, 2020 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is Torah-based society the most successful in human history?

Post #2

Post by Mithrae »

I'll add some more of my thoughts later, but for now I'll say that I don't think the Egyptians would count as a viable example: I'm pretty sure there's no real linguistic, cultural or institutional (and perhaps no clear/widespread ethnic) continuity between modern Egyptians and the builders of the pyramids, for example, and I don't think that the mostly Arabic-speaking Muslim Egyptians of the past fifteen hundred years could be said to have had as much influence on the world as the Jewish people and tradition - in fact Islam itself was heavily influenced by Judaism!

There's obviously going to be some subjectivity in how different folk evaluate the 'success' of a people group, and more to the point I don't think it particularly matters who is the 'most successful.' I just think it's interesting that there might not even be very many serious contenders. Even if one concluded that the Jews were only the third or fourth most successful people group in human history, wouldn't that be something worth pondering while reading and debating their foundational myths and literature?

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Re: Is Torah-based society the most successful in human history?

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Post by Willum »

1. Is there any historic proof that the Hebrew people of the Bible are the people who are Jews today?
No.
2. There were originally 12 tribes, according to the Bible myth. Even ASSUMING this is true, there are only 2 tribes left. This is a survival rate of, assuming no dilution or other mythic dilutions etc., then that is a 2/12 success rate. Many peoples do better than a 16% cultural survival. I mean given that there were 12 tribes, and divine intervention, one would expect them all to survive for there to be a miracle involved. 16% is more consistent with the law of averages.
Or does that mean the other 10 were not Jews?
3. The Torah is, objectively, an aggregation of many other peoples and cultures literature. Picking and choosing from the best of history's literature, and claiming it as your own, is sure to be a successful trick, if you can pull it off. And, due to the lack of proliferation of paper people were able to remain ignorant of this fact for thousands of years.
4. Do they really have the same culture as they did? I doubt a Judaist today who interacted with one even 200 years ago would agree on very much...
4. There are so many people. How many of them aren't successful? What makes them special?
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Re: Is Torah-based society the most successful in human history?

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Willum wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:53 pm
1. Is there any historic proof that the Hebrew people of the Bible are the people who are Jews today?
No.
The Hebrew people of the bible were born thousands of years ago, and are no longer alive. So no, they are not the people who are Jews today. If memory serves, in the past you have promoted some kind of conspiracy theory about the Seleucids creating the Jewish race (was it the Seleucids, or the Romans/Herod? I forget). But I don't think I've ever heard of even a single credible scholar who accepts such a notion - which is quite remarkable in itself, considering how well folk like Richard Carrier have done by disputing the existence of a fellow who (among other lines of evidence) had a brother known to two independent authors. "Proof" can be used as a kind of weasel word by those so inclined, of course; nothing is ever proven absolutely, least of all in ancient history. But let's just note that since even an amateur such as I could probably name sources/points of continuity in almost every century of Jewish history since at least the 8th century BCE... odds are that the gaps you have tried to argue at times would be closed quite easily by some cursory research.
Willum wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:53 pm
2. There were originally 12 tribes, according to the Bible myth. Even ASSUMING this is true, there are only 2 tribes left. This is a survival rate of, assuming no dilution or other mythic dilutions etc., then that is a 2/12 success rate. Many peoples do better than a 16% cultural survival. I mean given that there were 12 tribes, and divine intervention, one would expect them all to survive for there to be a miracle involved. 16% is more consistent with the law of averages.
Do you have any evidence that it is "consistent with the law of averages"? You're saying that if I asked a historian to give me a big list of bronze and early iron-age people groups (like the Hittites, Amorites, Mykene, Edomites, Moabites, Phoenicians, Mitanni etc.) and I randomly chose 20 of them, I should actually expect at least three of them to have a continuous history and sense of identity across those thirty plus centuries? I can't help but noticing that you've only got nine such listings in your table, and some of those seem quite dubious...

If a Christian proposed that there was some miracle in play here you might have a point, though no doubt they'd have their counter-arguments ready to answer you. But I am neither a Christian, nor have I proposed a miracle. The Torah as we have it wasn't completed until well after the conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel by Assyria; in fact some of the key features of Jewish religion such as the mandate for centralized sacrifice were arguably introduced to help in the control/assimilation of an influx of northern refugees into the southern kingdom of Judah during the reign of Hezekiah: Even in the biblical record he is the first king said to have removed the local shrines.
Willum wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:53 pm
3. The Torah is, objectively, an aggregation of many other peoples and cultures literature. Picking and choosing from the best of history's literature, and claiming it as your own, is sure to be a successful trick, if you can pull it off. And, due to the lack of proliferation of paper people were able to remain ignorant of this fact for thousands of years.
Which literature? I've seen many claims along those lines, but little real evidence. The Avesta and the P source? I'm not convinced. The Egyptian Book of the Dead? Maybe I'm thinking about one of the multitude of Jesus-myth theories, but either way I'm not convinced. The Enuma Elish and the Genesis creation story? Maybe... but I wonder how many internet folk promoting that view have even read the Enuma Elish? I haven't. If Difflugia or Historia or maybe one or two other folk said there was compelling evidence I'd take them seriously, at least, but that's largely because they would probably do a lot more than just make blind assertions :lol:

In any case, this seems like a wholly irrational point from start to finish. Accepting and integrating things which are true or practical from the learning of others is one of the most important aspects of science and modern civilization. Why on earth would you imagine that it's somehow a bad or disqualifying thing if the Jews did it millennia ago?
Willum wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:53 pm
4. Do they really have the same culture as they did? I doubt a Judaist today who interacted with one even 200 years ago would agree on very much...
No they don't, any more than the Greeks or Chinese or (in religious terms) Christians or Hindus do. All societies and cultures change over time, as I noted in the OP. Or rather, all successful ones do; those that don't adapt to new circumstances simply can't endure. Again, how is this a bad thing? But there are clear similarities/dependencies between the ancient Hebrew language and culture and those of modern Jews, and a thread of continuity (cultural, ethnic, institutional) connecting the two. They are 'the same' in similar terms that you are 'the same person' as your mother gave birth to.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus
Willum wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 8:53 pm
4. There are so many people. How many of them aren't successful? What makes them special?
See picture.
Why do you question whether modern Jews are "the same" as biblical Hebrews despite fairly good documentation both within and beyond their people group, yet assume that Aboriginal Australians have a continuous cultural identity without a single scrap of written material? Indigenous Australians aren't and weren't even a single, monolithic people group to begin with; odds are that tribes from the Nullarbor plains and Arnhem land would have had far less contact with each other and far less in common than Greeks and Persians did, for example. (More strikingly we see a similar kind of thing in the case of folk who consider Africans part of a single 'race'; in reality of course, there's more genetic diversity within Africa than in the rest of the world combined!)

As I noted in the second post, I don't think there's anything particularly special about being the most 'successful' society. It's just something to consider, something worth bearing in mind (even if they're only the third or fourth most successful) before presumptuously dismissing those foundational stories - either as a critic assuming them to be primitive nonsense or as a Christian arrogating them as mere precursors to the 'true' religion.

The rather vague ideas of 'success' which I've been thinking of so far are firstly and most obviously longevity (you're hardly successful if you're extinct or otherwise superceded) but secondly also influence within the scope of the world at large (a people group with a few hundred die-hard loyalists breeding from generation to generation obviously has quite limited success!). From your list, in terms of influence the Chinese and the Indians might plausibly rival or exceed the Jews - the Japanese probably being a quite distant third by my estimation - but have those societies actually been more influential? And is there actually a comparable level of cultural continuity over a similar length of time to the Jews, or when we talk about 'Indians' and 'Chinese' are we referring primarily to geographical characteristics (a luxury obviously denied to the Jewish people for most of the past two millennia)?

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Re: Is Torah-based society the most successful in human history?

Post #5

Post by Willum »

[Replying to Mithrae in post #4]

Your comments are so evasively phrased, I think I’ll just let my comments stand. I believe my original post answers your questions.
The only reason I see for modern Judaists being connected to mythical Hebrew, is the same reason a magic god exists: Myth.
I really can’t prove Samson got stronger when his hair grew, so your challenge to me is specious.
Why don’t you show that the magic Hebrew existed in the first place, changing sticks to snakes, surviving global floods, and living hundreds of years, then I will show you they are related.

Here you go...
[Replying to Willum in post #3]

As far as being more successful than others.
The success of the Torah as you put it, is due to the murderous assault on the world by Christianity. For example, the Australian Aboriginal were ostentatiously more successful than Toradic, until English immigrants conducted genocide against them.

What kind of barbarian would call that “success?” By Biblical standards it’s is obviously the successful work of Satan.

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Re: Is Torah-based society the most successful in human history?

Post #6

Post by Willum »

And interestingly, as both more and more Judaists disparage then Adam aand Eve story, and more and more non-Judaists discover the stories were stolen from other cultures, will anyone really think how successful Judaic culture is...
It is easy to steal greatness. Or was.

Remember the parable of the wren.
The gods had a contest of all birds to see who was the greatest.
The one that flew the highest would be the victor.
None could compete with the Eagle, who flew above all in victory...
Except the wren who had hidden on the eagles back, and took off once he had made his zenith.

And what about those areas of the world unimpressed by Toratic thought?
Asia. You do remember how ancient and numerous it is - and it had all those ideas and more without the Torah.
Then there is India. America’s, although we must admit the Christians succeeded in genocide there, Australia,

Then consider how many Judaists, not Jews there are today.
Not really impressed.
Christians outnumber the 500 to 1. Muslims as well.
Christians are Hellenic, with a Judaic wrapper.
Muslims are, actually a good case for you... they embrace many barbaric Judaic practices, most Judaists no longer follow.
But is that an argument for or against you?

Then you must consider who actually authored Judaism.
Before Rome conquered the region, the people there were Canaan, aka, Peleponesian or Phonecian.
Pompey installed the Sadducee, then the Pharisee.
Two contrary religions.

Do you think ancient Judaism, if we call it that, had so much Hellenism in it?
Then we have Judaism 3.0, Christianity and an omnipotent deity.
Hebrew has no word for omnipotent, but Greek does. Hellenism is ok with adultery, as was Jesus, and not Judaism 1.0 or 2.0..

With all these factors, and the world learning more and more about them all the time, who culture is it really?
Sumerian?
Babylon?
Egypt?
Greek?
Roman?

I notice you disparaged Egyptian. But so much of the Torah is written about Egypt. The gods the Hebrew originally worshipped all had Egyptian analogs. With so much of the Torah concerning Egypt, how can you say it is not a great influence? The Hebrew themselves placed their name in history next to there own. With sour-seeming grapes, if you will.

In fact the Torah seems to be a low-brow assemblage of all these cultures that basically can fool most of the people most of the time.
This is a test: Had this been an actual revolution, the virus would have been much stronger.

To continue to argue for the Hebrew invention of God is actually an insult to the very concept of a God. - Divine Insight

Who would be proud these tactics?

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Re: Is Torah-based society the most successful in human history?

Post #7

Post by Mithrae »

Willum in post #5 wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 8:47 am
As far as being more successful than others.
The success of the Torah as you put it, is due to the murderous assault on the world by Christianity.
The successes of all major civilizations have been due at least in part to conquest, oppression and opportunism. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mongols, Europeans, Japanese, Chinese, Soviets and Americans are some obvious examples. I'm not aware of a major history of conquest outside their region by the Indians, but odds are its not for want of trying - and they've surely had their share of internal wars and oppression.

One of the areas of Jewish success/influence I highlighted - helping to shape how the majority of humanity think about religion, society, morality and our place in the world - obviously does depend in part on the sometimes violent spread of Christianity and Islam: But why did those two religions choose to tie themselves to the stories of the Torah and Tanakh rather than any other foundational mythology, and why where those two religions so successful in contrast to other competing worldviews and civilizations? Seems to me that some if not most of that credit lies with the Torah's principles of deep family ties and indoctrination of children, intense neighbourly cohesion among the broader tribal/religious 'in group,' and absolute rejection of religious pluralism (at least in the form of idol-worshiping) and often active aggression towards those religious 'out groups.' We may not consider all of those to be good things, but they certainly seem to be major tools of success. All that Christianity added in this context was a commitment to conversion as a means of bringing outsiders into the 'in group' which had been mostly lacking emphasis in earlier Jewish culture; Islam really didn't add much more at all to the model, as far as I'm aware. So arguably the lion's share of Christian and Islamic success can be attributed to their adoption of those principles from the Torah.

Furthermore Christian countries have often tried to eliminate Judaism, so simplistically claiming that Christianity is responsible for Jewish success seems like a bit of a stretch to begin with! We have no way of knowing what would have happened in a counterfactual world without Christianity and Islam, whether Jewish culture would have been less successful or moreso. Nor does it seem reasonable to credit Christianity with the survival/eventual flourishing of the Jewish state despite decades of extermination attempts by much larger neighbours, nor with the remarkable contribution of Jews to the arts and sciences, the fact that they have received over 20% of all Nobel Prizes despite numbering less than 0.2% of world population: It's really only that one (of at least four) areas of Jewish influence I highlighted which depend on the spread of Christianity and Islam, and that spread itself is arguably based largely on principles from the Torah.


Willum in post #6 wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:26 pm
Remember the parable of the wren.
The gods had a contest of all birds to see who was the greatest.
The one that flew the highest would be the victor.
None could compete with the Eagle, who flew above all in victory...
Except the wren who had hidden on the eagles back, and took off once he had made his zenith.
So the wren was both smarter and more successful. Good on her! How is this a bad thing? As I've already noted, that's a major part of what science and modern progress is all about. Isaac Newton famously said that if he'd seen further than most it was by standing on the shoulders of giants. You don't imagine it would have been better for Newton to ignore Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and so on and start from scratch in the name of some weird notion of 'fairness,' do you? Did you get your computer by starting with stone tools and working your way up from there?
Willum wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:26 pm
Then you must consider who actually authored Judaism.
Before Rome conquered the region, the people there were Canaan, aka, Peleponesian or Phonecian.
Pompey installed the Sadducee, then the Pharisee.
Two contrary religions.
Ah, there it is. So the Romans created the Jews? :lol: Now all you need to do is provide some kind of evidence...

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Re: Is Torah-based society the most successful in human history?

Post #8

Post by Willum »

[Replying to Mithrae in post #7]

We’ve had this conversation before.
Using religion is a Roman tactic to suppress its conquests.
The religion changed when Rome arrived. It also changed after Rome became a monarchy. Do you need more proof?
Hybrid deities. Seulis-Minerva, German Heracles, Iove is a cognate of both Jehovah and Yahweh. Jesus, from Joshua, is a homophone or “hail Zeus.”

Then of course that fact that the myth was perpetrated by an empire who used Jesus as a spokesperson to obey Rome and pay taxes.

Then there is the fact that the thing is a myth.

I approve of the fact you have not addressed anything else I stated.

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