Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chemical origin of life - an honest assessment from a lading researcher.

[The label "evolution" only refelcts the geernal interest of this topic - I am aware that strictly speaking evolution is not responsible for the chemical origin of life.]

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Aztec "national revelation" - in the past I replied as follows:

Here is a paragraph from a much longer version of my argument that I have not yet published:

There is another type of story that would not leave evidence for the audience to whom the story is told. This is a story placed so far in the past that no information survives from that time. In this case the story may involve public events. Even if the story describes an event that was supposedly experienced by the whole world, the audience cannot reason that its memory would have been preserved, since nothing at all was preserved from that time. So, for example, stories about a remote time when all people understood the language of the animals and conversed with them will not contradict KP.

The Aztec story is not dated in our calendar system, so it fits what I wrote. Also, I checked the original. The migration is in fact true. 

Now I have received the following sources from David Greenberg that invalidate the entire question:

I found something on the Aztecs:

It seems the aztec legend is NOT that the god spoke to everyone in a national revelation, but rather that the war god communicated to the priests, who then relayed the message on. Not quite a national revelation. Here are 3 sources:

See pg. 31-32: "Huitzilopochtli, later identified as a god of war, communicated directly with his high priests via dreams and profound trances, bestowing on them omens, prophecies and navigational tools to arrive at their promised land."

2- "These priests voiced Huitzilopochtli’s oracular directions as to where the combined Mexica-Aztec tribe was next to travel."

3- "Huitziton, a person of great authority...heard in the branches of a tree the trilling of a small bird...struck at this, and communicating his impressions to another personage...they both induced the Aztecs to leave their country, interpreting the song as a mandate from divinity."

See pg. 140

So it looks that the aztec belief was that their war god did not communicate to the people, but rather to the high priests, who then relayed the claimed divine message on to the masses. But according to these sources, the Aztecs did not have a legend that it was the god Huitzilopochtli who spoke directly to everybody. So we can see this is definitely not a national revelation from god, but rather a relayed message from priests. This, unlike a national revelatory claim, is exactly what we’d expect to see in legends.

Added July 3, 2017;
There are three weaknesses in the account of the Aztec “national revelation” as a counter-example to KP – i.e. as a false NET.
1.       First, the translation presented is from A Scattering of Jades published in 2003 by The University of Arizona Press, pp 82-100. It is not mentioned at all in Handbook to Life in the Aztec World Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 3, 2007) by Prof. Manuel Aguilar –published four years later by Oxford. I have written to Prof. Aguilar concerning the authenticity of the Jades text and the validity of the translation and have not yet received a reply. So at present the entire text is in question. And as David Greenberg pointed out there is nothing resembling a direct communication of a god with the Aztec people in Aguilar’s text.
2.     Second, in order to satisfy the condition of NET that requires the tradition record an event that would be expected to be remembered – to create a national tradition – at the time when the tradition started. This requires [at least] two characteristics of the tradition.  
a.    The tradition must specify an appropriate time for the event. If the tradition assigns the event to a date too far in the past, or the tradition assigns an unknown/uninterpreted date to the event, or fails to assign any date to the event then at the time the tradition is formed no one will expect to remember what happened at that time, and then the tradition is not an NET at all. In the Jades document the dates are given as compounds: In section VI "2-rabbit 1286" "11-reed 1295" and at the end "2-house 1325". I asked Prof. Aguilar what is the source of the modern dates 1286, 1295 and 1325? Did the author of the text [in the 16th century] have a modern calendar going back 200 years? Did the translator or the editors insert the modern numbers of the dates? How did they calculate the dates? is the Wikipedia page on the Aztec calendar. The phrases “2-rabbit” “11-reed” and “2-house” are days of the year; there is no provision whatsoever for counting years themselves – certainly not modern Christian numbers.
b.    Also, the content of the story must be such that we expect it to create a national tradition. A comparison of the Aztec text with the Torah’s description of the Jewish national revelation reveals a vast difference in this regard: the Torah’s story would surely be remembered while the Aztec story would not surely be remembered – perhaps would not be remembered at all. The Torah’s story included the following elements:  A prediction of the revelation before the exodus from Egypt; detailed instructions to prepare for the event, and positions to be taken during the event; the event of revelation is accompanied by vast pyrotechnics – fire, smoke, cloud, earth shaking, sound of the shofar; the reaction of the people is panic; the revelation includes the commandment of a weekly holiday; the plea of the people that there not be a repeat; repetition of the story in detail in Deuteronomy and at least five separate mentions of the story in the text of the Torah; and a specific command not to forget the event. By contrast the Aztec story reports the god speaking to the people in completely natural terms without any reaction on the part of the people or change in their culture. Indeed, the completely unemphasized nature of the narrative encourages David Greenberg’s suggestion that the sense of the text is not a direct communication from the god to the people but rather communication through the priests though the intermediaries are not mentioned. Calling these communications “Aztec national revelation” and encouraging comparison with Sinai is grossly out of proportion. The same holds for the miracles reported in the Aztec text – the contrast with the plagues in Egypt, the splitting of the sea, the manna, the destruction of Korach makes comparison grossly out of proportion.

Added July 17, 2017


The Aztec and related peoples of central Mexico employed the cycle of 52 years, constructed, like its Maya equivalent, of concurrent 365-day years and 260-day cycles, any position of the former coinciding with a given position of the latter only at 52-year intervals. Again leap days were not used. At completion of the 52 years, known as “binding of the years,” elaborate ceremonies were held to avert destruction of the world expected on that occasion. The last occurrence before the Spanish conquest was in ad 1507. Although the last creation of the world was designated by a day name, neither that nor any other was in general use in central Mexico as the start of an era. Aztec reckoning is normally from their arrival in the Valley of Mexico, supposedly the year 1 Flint (ad 1168).
There is much confusion in placing events in Mexican history because no system of distinguishing one 52-year cycle from another was employed except by writing every year glyph throughout the period covered, a clumsy arrangement. Each year was named for either its last day (omitting the five-day unlucky period) or for the last day of the fifth month (both choices have distinguished supporters). In either case, only four day names (House, Rabbit, Cane, and Flint), each with its accompanying numeral, could designate a year. The Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés seized the Aztec capital in 1521, year 3 House, but some past event, also assigned to a year 3 House but unlocated in a full sequence of years, might refer to ad 1261, 1313, or 1365, etc. Month positions were rarely given in chronological statements.

Peoples of Oaxaca and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

Pictorial books of the Mixtec of Oaxaca record events in the lives of ruling families covering seven centuries, but, again, happenings are fixed only by the day on which each occurred and the year in which the day fell. Sequence is usually clear, but at times there is doubt as to which 52-year period is meant when parenthetical material, such as life histories of secondary characters, is inserted.
No era is recognizable. A clouded entry concerning the descent to Earth of the Sun and Venus, perhaps assignable to ad 794, is a logical starting point, but other entries are earlier.
Little is known of the calendar of the Zapotec, neighbours of the Mixtec. Years began on a different set of days, and glyphs differ from those of Mixtec and Aztec. Months are not recorded on monuments, which are numerous, and no chronological system has survived. Most Zapotec texts are early.
Rare inscriptions in western Chiapas, southern Veracruz, and the Guatemalan Pacific coast resemble the abbreviated lowland Maya Initial Series used in script and on a single sculpture in that numerical bars and dots are in a vertical column with period glyphs and month signs suppressed, clearly place numeration, that is, the value of each unit was shown by its position in the column. The linguistic affiliation of their sculptors is unknown.
All texts are either fragmentary or damaged; the two complete ones, unlike Maya Initial Series, open with days signs (and different ones at that). If, as one may reasonably assume, the series of bars and dots departed from those day signs, a fixed era is questionable. Nevertheless, some scholars postulate use of the Maya era ( 4 Ahau 8 Cumku). This little understood system may have been ancestral to the Maya Initial Series, the Maya perhaps developing a fixed era, for they alone seem to have been interested in an exact chronological system.

Added July 30, 2017:
A friend writes: It's worth mentioning that I searched a bit on youtube, and the only documentary on the Aztecs that I found which was done by an organization with name recognition was National Geographic. Professor Aguilar-Moreno is actually one of the experts that speaks during the documentary. The documentary makes no mention of the document allegedly authored by Montezuma's grandson, and it makes no mention of any Aztec myths about a national revelation or miracles. It simply says that after they made a human sacrifice out of the daughter of a nearby tribe leader on her wedding day to an Aztec, they were chased by the other tribe away from the mainland and onto the uninhabited island that they settled and made into the capital of their eventual empire. No mention of any fighting or casualties even, just chased away from the mainland. So that further strengthens points 1 and 3 that you make.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pseudoscience of the brain [thanks to Rabbi Yoram Bogaacz for the reference]

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