Word of the Day: Bronze Age Collapse

Can God and atheism coexist?The Trojan War of roughly 1200 BCE and the destruction of the city of Troy, about which Homer wrote the epic Iliad, was monumental enough in itself, but that period also marked the end of the Mycenaean Greek civilization. The Linear B writing system of the time was abandoned, never to be revived, and most of Greek cities of the time were destroyed or abandoned. Only after centuries of relative barbarism did the Greek city-states of Sparta, Corinth, Athens, and so on appear.

The Hittite empire in Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) also collapsed at the same time. So did the New Kingdom in Egypt.

Experts speculate on many possible causes of this Bronze Age Collapse—a meteor, drought, the eruption of an Icelandic volcano that caused climate change, the spread of iron weapons, and other causes. Certainly invasion was a factor, but does this explain everything or were these just opportunistic invasions after the existing empires were weakened? The cause(s) are still disputed and none explains all the facts.

Like a global extinction event that opens up niches for new species to invade, this collapse allowed new civilizations, technologies, and writing systems to emerge.

What happened to Israel, in the middle of these collapsing empires? The historical record is unclear—the traditional date for the Israelite conquest of Canaan had been about 1400 BCE, but the modern consensus is 1250. Perhaps the Bronze Age Collapse was a factor in jump-starting Jewish civilization. If nothing else, this setback for the nearby empires must’ve provided some breathing room for the people in the Levant.

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Related posts:

Related links:

  • RandomFunction2

    Hi Bob,

    Yes… and? What is the point you would like to make? I mean, how do you think this has relevance to apologetics?

    • Retro

      I mean, how do you think this has relevance to apologetics?

      I think the point is that the Bible is not historically accurate.

      For some believers, this might not be a big deal, but it is to those who hold to a literal and inerrant Bible.

      To those that interpret the Bible more spiritually, I’d ask: What good morals do we learn from the bad stories in the Old Testament?

      IMO, the Old Testament is obviously propaganda designed to instill patriotism. The stories all tell of how the Israelites are the chosen race. The stories tell how the Israelites are different from the surrounding peoples. The stories all warn not to mix with these other peoples, and tells what horrible things will happen if they do try to mix. The Old Testament is not really about what is moral, it’s actually about how much better the Israelites are how superior their god is.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      RF2:

      I found this an interesting topic and thought I’d share it, that’s all.

      The relevance is simply in understanding more about the times and place of the Bible.

      • RandomFunction2

        Hi Bob,

        Ok, nice then.

  • Bob Calvan

    Retro,
    “..IMO, the Old Testament is obviously propaganda designed to instill patriotism….”

    Yeah tell Jesus that on judgement day.

    • RandomFunction2

      To Bob C,

      I bow down before your superior argument… or not, because there is no attempt at an argument in your reply.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        “What is asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”

    • Retro

      Yeah tell Jesus that on judgement day.

      I’d tell it to him right now if he wasn’t too busy helping professional athletes and country music award winners.

      Whether the Old Testament is true or not, it EXACTLY fits the definition of propaganda.

      Propaganda: information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

      Now then, my main point is that the Old Testament’s main objective is to create and glorify the identity of the Israelites, and it actually has little to do with morality.

      I’d be more than happy to have an intelligent debate on this point, but I get the feeling that all I’m going to get are threats of eternal damnation…

      • RandomFunction2

        To Retro,

        I don’t think you are 100% right: there are a few parts of the OT that are universalistic. But your views help explain why the canaanite genocide raised no objection then.

        • Retro

          I’d be happy to discuss these few parts if you list them.

  • RandomFunction2

    To Retro,

    Let’s take an example: Job is said to be righteous, yet he is not a Jew.

    Or another example is the biblical saying that God chose Israel not because they were the greatest people, but because they were the smallest. Hardly any self-aggrandizement there.

    Also, the view embraced by the second Isaiah aims to universalize the religion of YHWH, to turn it into the religion of humankind, not just of a people. This is what a scholar, Jean Bottéro says in “La plus belle histoire de Dieu” (the nicest history of God).

    • Bob Seidensticker

      second Isaiah aims to universalize the religion of YHWH, to turn it into the religion of humankind, not just of a people

      Interesting. I thought that the first universalizing effort was Jesus saying to evangelize everyone. I thought Judaism was tribal before that point (“chosen people” and all that).

      • RandomFunction2

        Hi Bob,

        The thing is that Isaiah did not have as much authority as the books ascribed to “Moses”. And another prophet, Ezekiel, disagreed with Isaiah.

        But most of you believers and skeptics probably know how much Isaiah influenced the New Testament.

    • Retro

      Let’s take an example: Job is said to be righteous, yet he is not a Jew.

      Yeah, I’m not real sure of when the Israelites actually came into existence and when Job was written (I’ve heard it said that Job is the oldest book in the Bible), but Job was considered righteous because he feared god and performed sacrifices, not necessarily because he acted morally.

      IMO, Job might teach us something about philosophy, but it doesn’t teach us anything about morality.

      Or another example is the biblical saying that God chose Israel not because they were the greatest people, but because they were the smallest. Hardly any self-aggrandizement there.

      And to me, this is a false humility. Israel still believes it’s the greatest because their god is the greatest. American Christians say this kind of thing all the time. People are only going to be as moral as their god is, and a god that kills and tortures people simply for unbelief can not be moral.

      Also, the view embraced by the second Isaiah aims to universalize the religion of YHWH, to turn it into the religion of humankind, not just of a people.

      According to Wikipedia: While Yahweh had shown his superiority to other gods before, in Second Isaiah he becomes the sole God of the world. This model of monotheism became the defining characteristic of post-Exilic Judaism, and became the basis for Christianity and Islam.

      So what’s so great about making your tribal god into a universal god that denies all other gods? The Israelites are still going to condemn anyone that disagrees with their concept of YHWH. Again, the idea of a universal god has nothing to do with actual morality.

  • RandomFunction2

    To Retro,

    ««« People are only going to be as moral as their god is, and a god that kills and tortures people simply for unbelief can not be moral. »»»

    Yeah, it’s a good point. Many gods (or concepts of God) just don’t deserve to exist, for they are too petty and they bring about more evil than good in the world.

    That’s why I am more sympathetic to secular humanists than to most believers. I do believe that atheism can easily be a way to heaven. Much easier than fundamentalism. Of course, there have been some evil atheists out there, like soviet communists or Mao. But today, atheism is far more peaceful and positive than most manifestations of religion. Though I am wary of the bellicose New Atheism.

    So if I make it to heaven, I will meet you there. :)

    • Retro

      That’s why I am more sympathetic to secular humanists than to most believers.

      Since God is supposed to be infinite, He can’t be helped or harmed, so it makes no sense to base morality on how it affects God.

      Humans can be helped and/or harmed, so it only makes sense to base morality on how it affects humans.

      I really don’t care about what someone believes as long as their actions towards others are moral. Far too often, religion gives people the justification to harm people they disagree with.

  • Pingback: Polytheism in the Bible