Entertaining a conjecture about the validity of biblical revelation

Even if you are a militant atheist, entertain a conjecture with me.

Suppose the Pentateuch, alone in the ancient world, promulgated the opposite of what it actually does:

1. The truth about the origin of man and of the universe, with essentially the right timeline, many billions of years, not thousands.

2. Egalitarianism and the rights and dignity of every man and woman, Jews and Gentiles, all treated equally before the law.

2a. The abhorrence of slavery as a logical consequence of egalitarianism – all god’s creatures are equal and equally special to god.

2b. The full equality of men and women.

2c. The abhorrence of any elitism such as Jew against Gentile, Greek against barbarians.

2d. The recognition that children are not property, and are not to be treated however the parents want (no doctrine of “patria potestas” that the Jews sort of had and Romans had in full). Children have full rights before the law.

2e. Instituted democracy as the only acceptable form of government.

3. Made “due process of law” the very cornerstone of the legal system.

3a. Instituted a prohibition of “ex post facto” legislation.

3b. Derived all other laws from the fundamental equality of people.

4. Recognized the extreme harshness of all existing legal codes like Hammarabi’s.

4a. Instituted a prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, and

4b. Eliminated capital punishment as incompatible with the broad-based rule: “thou shalt not kill,” whose sole exception is self-defense, thus

4c. Prohibiting all offensive warfare as incompatible with the same broad-based rule.

4d. Instituted diplomacy, based on “principled negotiation” (objective negotiation on the merits, cf Urey’s Getting to Yes) as the frontline and second and third and… strategy in dealing with “enemies.”

5. Portrayed god as a happy being who broadcasts happiness to all, a loving, generous, patient and kind being, who never kills anyone or orders anyone to kill in his name – a truly wonderful parent figure and teacher, a very role model for everyone.

If all of these were true, instead of the exact opposite, we could at least entertain conjecture that the supreme being inspired the writing of the Pentateuch.

However, I would still think that is the least likely explanation of the remarkable insights found in this hypothetical Pentateuch. It is hard to imagine how we could possibly understand the ideas of an omniscient being. We could sooner teach calculus to a goldfish.

Most likely conjecture: this imaginary Pentateuch was written by an incomparable and lucky genius, with remarkable powers of intuition, observation, logical deduction, scientific reasoning, and calculation.

Second most likely: the author of the imaginary Pentateuch had made contact with a very advanced civilization, now extinct and unheard of.

Third most likely: the contact was made with extra-terrestrial beings.

Fourth most likely: the creator of our universe made contact, but the creator is a product of evolution from a previous universe, which perhaps began billions of years before our universe was created, and this creator of our universe was not, and perhaps still is not, omnipotent and omniscient.

Least likely: the creator of our universe, who is omnipotent and omniscient, made contact with the author of this imaginary Pentateuch and communicated all of these fundamental truths in a perfectly comprehensible fashion.

Because the Pentateuch promulgates the opposite of these truths we hold to be self-evident, I am not even tempted to believe it was inspired by god or in any way connected to a supreme being’s thoughts. It is hard for me to understand how anyone can believe the Pentateuch is a revelation from the supreme being, the omnipotent and omniscient creator of our universe.

The only significant difference between the thinking, beliefs, and practices in the Pentateuch and what was already commonplace in the ancient world is the belief in monotheism, and the author of the Pentateuch borrowed that from an Egyptian pharaoh. Had monotheism been an original idea of the author of the Pentateuch, that would still be too small an “advance” in thinking about god to believe it was inspired by the supreme being – no not with all of the bad and commonplace baggage in the Pentateuch.


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