Lion of the Blogosphere

Did Plato influence the Book of Genesis?

A commenter suggested that the Bible must be influenced by God because he thinks that the story of Genesis is not completely insane but has some vague correlation to the correct scientific order of events.

So doing some research, I found this very interesting web page alleging that Plato inspired the book of Genesis.

Now the belief among Orthodox Jews is that the book of Genesis is very old, but as the web page points out, there are no outside historically dated references to the book of Genesis until the second century B.C., which is two hundred years after the founding of Plato’s Academy. This all fits in with a general pattern I’ve pointed out before that Judaism isn’t as old as people think it is.

Thus it’s likely that Genesis was not influenced by God dictating Genesis to Moses (who probably never existed as a real person), but rather by the scientific research and philosophy of Aristotle, Plato, and other ancient Greeks scholars.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

Posted in Religion

58 Responses

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  1. Interesting. Genesis is a pretty big book and other parts of it (ie stuff about Jacob and Joseph) clearly came from much older Hebrew folklore.

    Contra Mike Huckabee-style fundamentalists, anti-evolutionary interpretations of Genesis first appeared in the early 20th century as a reaction to Darwinism. Many educated religious Christians and Jews have always taken a critical, non-literal approach to the Bible.

    http://www.unz.com/isteve/four-years-ago-i-wrote-an-article-about/#comments

    McFly

    February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

  2. Someone I’ve met a few months ago had the audacity to say that some of the Ancient Greeks were in fact descendants of Jews, and vice versa (many Greeks became Jewish during the Hellenistic period). I don’t know about that.

    JS

    February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

    • Given the fact that Askhenazim are genetically related to Modern Greeks might prove his case. What separates the people in that part of the world, is culture and ideology. Greeks are lovable, while Jews (and Israelis) are generally not well-liked by others.

      JS

      February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Greeks were FEARED back in the good old days when Alexander the Great was conquering the known world.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • The Askenazim are a recent development of the Middle Ages, and are more northern Italian than Greek. But the broader point is well-taken. By Jesus’ time the Jews in Palestine were thoroughly Hellenized, and the most common version of the Old Testament in Jewish synagogs was the Greek language Septuagint, precisely because many more Jews spoke and read Greek than Hebrew. The Septuagint is still used by Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.

        The real fun will begin when Jews realize that David and Solomon were Philistine puppets.

        bob sykes

        February 19, 2015 at EDT am

      • Alexander was a Macedonian and he has no descendants. In fact most Greeks now are prole Slavs; Original Greeks died out sometime in the 5th century.

        toos is god

        February 19, 2015 at EDT pm

      • In fact most Greeks now are prole Slavs;

        Macedonians might be partially Slavic but skeletal reconstructions of Ancient Greeks prove they are basically identical to modern Greeks. Just look at their pottery:

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 20, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Negro of the Bongosphere (formerly Viscount Douchenozzlé)

        February 20, 2015 at EDT pm

      • TUJ: what you’ve posted are contemporary reproductions.

        Obviously the fault of Google Images. But you get the point – ancient Greek vases show Greek hair, skin, jawlines, and noses to be very similar to modern Greeks.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 21, 2015 at EDT am

      • “Macedonians might be partially Slavic”

        They may have some slavic admixture, but I always find it irritating when people make population replacement claims without evidence. Historians used to claim the British Isles were settled by Celts and that the English were descended from Anglo-Saxon invaders. Both are false. English have a small amount of Anglo-Saxon but it’s greatly exaggerated. And there was never a migration of Celts into the Isles. Similarly, the Turks are largely the same people the Greeks fought at Troy. Genetic analysis shows this. A change in language, religion, culture often accompanies political changes without population replacement. For example, Haitians speak French but they’re obviously not.

        As for Macedonians, they’re largely the same people who lived in there when Alexander ruled. The population myth is pushed hard for the same reason the Turks used to claim the Kurds were “mouintain turks”. It was politically motivated. The Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians, etc defeated the Turks in the First Balkan War. They all got part of the historic lands populated by ethnic Macedonians. Naturally, the ethnic Macedonians wanted independence, too. The Greeks solved this with the Population exchange of 1923.

        Greece and Turkey both had large numbers of the other living in each others country they wanted to get rid of. So they agreed to a mandatory population swap. Greece resettled all the Anatolian Greeks in the portion of Macedonia under their control. Then they changed the names of cities and towns from Slavic to Greek, passed laws against Macedonians identifying as Macedonian, speaking their own language and even forced them to change their last names. It was forced assimilation. Of course, they don’t want to admit it today. And neither do other countries in the region because several of them have part of the Macedonian lands and population. So they push the idea that Macedonians are the descendants of slavic migrants during the early middle ages rather than the original inhabitants.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_exchange_between_Greece_and_Turkey

        destructure

        February 22, 2015 at EDT am

      • The Turks today are a hodgepodge of people of their subjects from the Ottoman Empire, and also strains of Mongoloid that swept from the East. Take a Modern Greek and mix him with a Mongol and Kurd, and you get a modern Anatolian Turk.

        Most Turks today aren’t physically indistinguishable from Greeks!

        JS

        February 23, 2015 at EDT pm

  3. “The assumption throughout the discussion is that no text can be dated earlier than external testimony permits.”

    Huge assumption and a quite lazy one to simply keep academics with busy-work with “new-found” ideas.

    Biblical scholars agree that the oral transmission of the mythos became textual at the latest with the Unified Kingdom of Israel (~900 BC). To disregard the oral transmission of culture to present an alternative hypothesis is almost disingenuous, but that’s what you get with academia today who have to fabricate new “scholarship”.

    It isn’t shocking to find parallels between Plato and Genesis – great minds think alike.

    And also, some have complained that Plato ripped off Moses:

    http://www.iep.utm.edu/philo/

    https://itself.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/a-further-problem-for-the-hellenization-thesis-plato%E2%80%99s-familiarity-with-moses/

    achillesheels

    February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

    • Biblical scholars agree that the oral transmission of the mythos became textual at the latest with the Unified Kingdom of Israel (~900 BC).

      Hellenic mythological texts date to at least the end of the Greek Dark Ages (8th to 9th century BC) with the Homeric myth. It’s possible Israelite religion influenced Greek centuries before Alexander spread Hellenism across the Mediterranean. However I’m skeptical how much impact either had on the other.

      I don’t see a connection between Greek gods and Old Testament tales that’s deeper than what anyone inventing a religion would come up with. And there are many divergences. The Hebrew God is an omnipotent, unknowable entity, while the actions of Greek deities and their explanations of natural phenomena are quite more intuitive. For example, winter lasts for three months a year because Hades reunites with his wife, Persephone, for that time. A neat (if you ignore Hades’ rape of his wife), easy to grasp story on the origins of one of the four seasons.

      The Undiscovered Jew

      February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

  4. Whoa, whoa whoa. Not so fast.

    Just because Plato’s life predates the codification of the book of Genesis doesn’t mean that Plato had any influence on it.

    Culture traveled much slower back then in the absence of media and physical travel, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to think that Platonic philosophy traveled to Judea and became influential so quickly (within 200 years or so), when Platonism wasn’t even the most important school of thought even in Athens at the time – it competed against the school of Isocrates, materialist philosophy and Epicureanism, among others.

    You are right about “Judaism” being younger than most people believe, but not for the reasons you stated. It’s pretty clear that the ancient Hebrews were a lot more polytheistic than what the Hebrew testament indicates – every time that new ruins from old Jerusalem are reached archaeologists are astounded by the number of fertility idols and other items that are found alongside traditional Hebrew artifacts, with both clearly dating from the same period.

    Rather, the monotheistic cult of Yahweh was probably the specialty of the Priestly and scribal sects within ancient Israel, with the general population vascillating back and forth in their singular devotion to the national God, who effectively competed against other regional Semitic deities for devotees. A careful reading of the Hebrew scriptures shows that those who codified those oral traditions and histories into writing were on the side of the Priestly cult in trying to send the propagandistic message that Israel’s history demonstrates their need to put aside all other Gods and follow Yahweh alone.

    The Hebrew scriptures are really just one long, didactic finger-wagging session, with a few historical facts throw in here and there.

    Camlost

    February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

    • I think the ancient Hebrews probably had a faith that’s not dissimilar to contemporary Christian African syncretism. Yahweh was the chief god, but there were other less important deities beneath him. The story of the Golden Calf in Exodus is an example of the ancient Jews not being above having multiple deities to worship. Furthermore, the first commandment by stating [t]hou shalt have no other gods before me” would imply that polytheism is ok as long as Yahweh remains at the top of the pantheon.

      Aristippus

      February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • We don’ have to “think” – there’s archeaeological evidence showing that the ancient Hebrews were not as monotheistic as later portrayed by themselves and others. Even the Hebrew scriptures themselves seem to indicate that other Gods exists, at some points:

        “For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.”

        Micah 4:5

        Of course, different translations tinker with this verse and it may open to interpretation, but it’s another example of ambiguity on the monotheism question.

        Camlost

        February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Of course Judaism evolved out of the other religions in the area. Unless you believe the story about God revealing himself to Abraham and making him the first Jew.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • “Yahweh was the chief god, but there were other less important deities beneath him. ”

        Some people would like to believe this, but it is more to say that in a hostile tribal environment where every one has their own God, the culture existed with playing with other tribes in a neighborhood game of “my god is better than your god.” “Nuh-uh.” “Yuh-huh.”

        How else is a Bronze Age III / Iron Age human being supposed to understand reality other than the immanent struggle of gods and that his is the best one?

        achillesheels

        February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Yahweh used to just be a war and storm god, but over time he was fused with El the Canaanite creator god and acquired more attributes and replaced the rest of the pantheon of the Canaanites, creating the Judaism we know and love.

        With the thoughts you'd be thinkin

        February 19, 2015 at EDT pm

    • Camlost, would you mind explaining why you think that the hadiths aren’t super-important for Muslims? (I’m referring to your comment on the previous post.) Aren’t there “strong” and “weak” hadiths, the strong ones being very authoritative and providing the basis for much of Sharia?

      Garr

      February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Take a look at the Islamic tradition of Ijtihad. The Hadiths are always regarded as a secondary source compared to what is contained in the Quran or sometimes even less important than what is agreed to by scholarly religious consensus, or found in contiguous practice and study of the Sunnah. It goes that way in any Islamic tradition or branch (Sunni, Shiite, Ismaili/Twelvers etc., you name it) to various degrees.

        They are important, but Lion may be overstating their status. Every serious, self-respecting Islamic scholar contends that Hadiths are by nature open to interpretation and healthy debate, in comparison to the perfect Quran, of course. Large groups of Islamic scholars reject the use of Hadith entirely, and there is no consensus on which collections are canonical.

        Camlost

        February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • And yes in my experience not all Hadiths are created equal, to put it in rough terms. Historically, some have carried more weight than others thoughout history because of their particular content and importance in being a building block for various Islamic practices.

        Camlost

        February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Camlost, I think what’s tricky about the scripture is that references to other gods are ambiguous about how “real” the deities are. Different tribes have their own gods, but their often isn’t a strong declaration about whether or not the other tribal gods exist. 1 Samuel, for example, mentions that when the Ark of the Covenant is taken by the Philistines that the statue of Dagon in their temple repeatedly bows down in front of it. What’s open to interpretation is whether Yahweh caused the statue to bow or if Dagon, in recognition of his inferiority, himself bows to Yahweh.

        What’s interesting is that the idea of a universalist god is something that doesn’t appear until much later in history. The ancient Hebrews were more than happy to believe that every tribe could have its own god, but it isn’t until the Christians, probably under the influence of Greek philosophy, that there becomes one universal god that everyone should worship. This line of thought affects modern Jews too. I used to chide Jews at my very Jewish university by claiming they were selfish for not evangelizing and trying to share their religion with us goyim.

        Aristippus

        February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • I used to chide Jews at my very Jewish university by claiming they were selfish for not evangelizing and trying to share their religion with us goyim.

        Jews don’t proselytize because Christians (and, centuries later, Muslims) outlawed conversion to Judaism after Rome adopted Christianity ~1700 years ago. That’s the same timeframe when European Jews stopped acquiring European DNA.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        February 20, 2015 at EDT pm

    • The OT makes it clear that the Hebrews were intermittently apostate, but that they were always returned to the religion of Yahweh by either divine punishment or by their leadership. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them polytheistic, but rather that they frequently succumbed to polytheism. This was likely sometimes for longer stretches depending on whose thumb they were under or to whom they were proximate at the time.

      Jon

      February 21, 2015 at EDT pm

  5. “After the implement of generation was thrown into the darkness covering the sea, … “

    Fred

    February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

  6. It’s an interesting theory. Usually Plato and Greek philosophy are connected with the New Testament because of St Paul (a Pharisee with knowledge of Greek philosophy) and the “Hymn to Logos” that opens up the Gospel of John. Also, there’s a story by Lucian, the Syrian-Greek satirist from the 2nd century AD, called “On the Death of Perigrinus” that involves a Greek philosopher taking advantage of the early Christians’ generosity in exchange for writing them a new gospel and being religious sage. To me, the strongest link between the Greeks and Jews in Genesis comes from the description of God blowing life into Adam. The Greek word for soul, “psyche”, can be translated as “breath of life” and the “Greek soul” has an animative function rather than the more contemporary and dualistic understanding. I’m unfamiliar with the Hebrew word for soul and its linguistic baggage, so maybe it’s just a coincidence that Adam’s soul seems awfully Greek. The article makes mention of man in God’s image as being a Platonic idea, but really that thought precedes Plato by about a century. Xenophanes, a pre-Socratic philosopher/poet/sage, said something along the lines of “if horses could conceive of gods, then their gods would look like horses.”

    Aristippus

    February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

    • The most important difference between the ancient Greeks and the Jews when it comes to divinity, is that the Greeks invented their own gods, and Jews were provided with one. So who’s more chosen depends on whom you ask!

      JS

      February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

    • “… and he blew into his[/its?] nostrils the “neshama” (Artscroll has “soul”, King James has “breath”) of life, and the man became a living “nefesh” (Artscroll has “being”, King James has “soul”). But I think that I’ve also seen “nefesh” translated as “person” when it appears in legal contexts. The dust-man (“Ha-Adam afar”) becomes a living person when God breathes into its nostrils. Not very Platonic!

      Garr

      February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

  7. Correct religious interpretation of the Bible does regard it as the literal word of God. Instead, the Bible is a catalog of the religious experiences of believers. That’s why various sections of the Bible have authors, like the Book of Job or the Gospel of Luke.

    map

    February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

    • does not regard the bible as the literal word of God.

      map

      February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Ha! God got you there.

        Eyen I

        February 19, 2015 at EDT pm

  8. According to the Documentary Hypothesis, there are at least five different sources for the Torah/Pentateuch. It wouldn’t surprise me if P, the Priestly Author and the source behind Genesis 1, was acquainted with Greek philosophy and thus was influenced by Plato.

    Sid

    February 18, 2015 at EDT pm

  9. Moses probably didn’t exist as a real person.

    The Egyptian Pharos of the time period were black. This was a time when the Upper (Sudanese) Egytians ruled over the lower Egyptians. Moses was mistaken for a noble person (and not as a Israelite) several times. The only way this could happen would be If Moses were black too.

    Rotten

    February 19, 2015 at EDT am

  10. “Did Plato influence the Book of Genesis?”

    I skimmed the site and quickly lost interest. It seemed like a lot of work for similarities that were weak, coincidental, speculative, etc. You can find similarities in anything if you look hard enough. Maybe there was some influence. But many of the elements that article mentions were also present in earlier beliefs by Zoroastrians, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Canaan. And we know those influenced Genesis. So why attribute influence to Plato rather than them? Maybe Plato and Genesis were both influenced by them? There’s nothing special about the following link other than it gives examples of what I’m talking about.

    http://listverse.com/2013/06/30/ten-influences-on-the-bible/

    destructure

    February 19, 2015 at EDT am

  11. Plato was the all-time world’s greatest bamboozler. So the contention that Plato was complicit in concocting the absurdities that riddle the Old Testament doesn’t surprise me.

    Mark Caplan

    February 19, 2015 at EDT am

  12. Lion, you can’t be conservative or pro-West and barf all over sacred aspects of Western religion and cornerstones of Western civilization.

    Dan

    February 19, 2015 at EDT am

    • My brother-in-law who is conservative but agnostic still is supportive of Christianity and will have my niece baptized because that is central to his identity and culture. He would never throw rocks at the faith underlying his own civilization.

      Dan

      February 19, 2015 at EDT am

      • The Enlightenment is the cornerstone of western civilization. Did anything interesting happen say between the fall of Rome and the time of Galileo/Newton?

        Kant

        February 19, 2015 at EDT am

      • Kant,
        Music theory outstripped the greeks during this time.

        Music notation was developed during the middle ages.
        Pitch adjustment was settled in the early 1600’s.

        And science wasn’t abandoned during this time. Roger Bacon would be one example.
        Not a Catholic, but the church was instrumental in keeping scholarship alive after Rome fell. Without it, would the Western Enlightenment happen? Hard to say.

        Half Canadian

        February 19, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Kant summed it up nicely. Intelligent life on Earth began around the times of Galileo, Newton and David Hume. The few sparks before that never caught fire.

        Mark Caplan

        February 19, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Agnostic is a polite way of saying atheist. The main difference being that most describing themselves as atheist are obnoxious about it. I won’t go into my reasons other than to say they include, but are not limited by, the one your brother in law gave. The worth of religion is in what it accomplishes not whether it’s literally true. . It’s redeeming qualities are such that I don’t feel the need to bash religion for it’s own sake. What irritates me about the likes of those who do is that they imagine western civilization spontaneously sprouted with the Enlightenment in order to disregard the foundation on which it was built and hold themselves as superior to those who built it. Religion played a critical role in western civilization without which the Enlightenment would have never occurred. Even when discussing his own achievements Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Newton and Galileo were both very religion men. Yet he and Galileo are the two examples given to dismiss the religious influence on western civilization? Really? I think the commenter Kant is imposing his own preferences/prejudice for secular humanism on history. He would tout the scientific breakthroughs (though not a scientist and wouldn’t understand them) yet denounces the economic developments that worked hand in glove to make such advancements possible. I wonder what the real Kant would think if he knew his name was being worn by such a little toad?

        destructure

        February 20, 2015 at EDT am

      • “What irritates me about the likes of those who do is that they imagine western civilization spontaneously sprouted with the Enlightenment in order to disregard the foundation on which it was built and hold themselves as superior to those who built it. Religion played a critical role in western civilization without which the Enlightenment would have never occurred.”

        Aristotle was a far bigger influence than any medieval thinker on Galileo. The Judeo-Christian-Islam religions only serve as negative material for Enlightenment thinkers to distance themselves from. Which is besides the point, there were very few great thinkers after Rome and before the Enlightenment.

        “Yet he and Galileo are the two examples given to dismiss the religious influence on western civilization?”

        Strawman. Outside a few thinkers (and many were Islamic) there was very little intellectual achievment between the fall of Rome and the Enlightenment which is the point.

        “He would tout the scientific breakthroughs (though not a scientist and wouldn’t understand them) yet denounces the economic developments that worked hand in glove to make such advancements possible.”

        I have training in Mathematics you tool. But another great ad hominem and straw man!

        Kant

        February 20, 2015 at EDT am

      • “There were very few great thinkers after Rome and before the enlightenment…”

        The last time that I checked it was the quality of thought and not the volume of thinkers that counts. Any statement to the contrary would be mighty democratic of you.

        By that criteria, the time between Rome and the enlightenment was at least as philosophically significant as the periods either before or after. In fact, it is the period in time in which we might say the antithesis to modern philosophy and thus modernism was perfected.

        Jon

        February 21, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Aristotle was a far bigger influence than any medieval thinker on Galileo. The Judeo-Christian-Islam religions only serve as negative material for Enlightenment thinkers to distance themselves from. Which is besides the point, there were very few great thinkers after Rome and before the Enlightenment.

        Actually, it was Aristotle’s who served as negative material for Galileo. Aristotle was not just wrong but very wrong in the very field Galileo was most known for — classical mechanics
        http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/history/aristotle_dynamics.html

        As for great thinkers after Rome and before the Enlightenment how about Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa? And not one of them was dissuaded from intellectual inquiry. Indeed, the most oft cited example, Galileo, wasn’t even a victim of religious dogma as is often claimed but caught in a battle between politics and science. The “conflict thesis” of religion suppressing science was created by protestant reformers in the 1600’s as propaganda against Catholicism and later promoted by a few polemicists during the Enlightenment. It’s pure propaganda — the most famous example of which is that people living in the middle ages believed the earth was flat. In fact, they not only knew the Earth was round but knew how large it was since Eratosthenes calculated the circumference over 2000 years ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

        There was never a regression after the fall of Rome but a slow, steady progression which directly laid the foundations for the scientific revolution. There have been numerous books written on this by science historians such as James Hannam’s The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, David C Lindberg’s The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450, Edward Grant’s The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts, and Ronald L Numbers’ Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion. Theirs is not a minority view but mainstream consensus. That’s why modern historians no longer use the term “dark ages” but “early middle ages”.

        Only those with an axe to grind continue to push the dark ages “conflict thesis”. The so-called “Dark Ages” never existed outside the imagination and propaganda of anti-Christian polemicists like Thomas Huxley, John William Draper, and Andrew Dickson White. Secular humanist like to confuse the scientific revolution with anti-religious enlightenment philosophy. But philosophy isn’t science. Much of what passes for philosophy is merely people trying to justify their own politics, religion and morality. Many of whom criticize religion for what they themselves are guilty of. Which explains why you’re so smitten with it. It’s your cult as opposed to the other guy’s cult. It’s your stab at science, religion and morality not unlike revealed religion was the ancient world’s stab at science, religion and morality. I’m not saying there’s no baby in the bathwater. But there’s a lot of bullshit in the bathwater, too. It’s not science. Science is science. So don’t push that garbage that you’re on the side of science. You have nothing in common with science.

        I have training in Mathematics you tool. But another great ad hominem and straw man!

        Oh? You have “training in math” do you? Did you take a calculus class along with some compsci? Calculus may be where you ended but it’s where I started. I have degrees in engineering and physics. Math and compsci may be lumped in with science but they are NOT science. They’re tools used in science. Math and compsci by themselves are too abstract to provide any scientific understanding. Unless you’re actually using them for science then they’re no more science than Sudoku or any other number puzzles.

        Strawman. Outside a few thinkers (and many were Islamic) there was very little intellectual achievment between the fall of Rome and the Enlightenment which is the point.

        You accuse me of using a strawman for disputing an example that YOU brought up? Speaking of strawmen, you couldn’t help sneaking in the Islamic myth. At this point I think everyone sees you for the little toad you are.

        destructure

        February 22, 2015 at EDT am

      • “Actually, it was Aristotle’s who served as negative material for Galileo. Aristotle was not just wrong but very wrong in the very field Galileo was most known for — classical mechanics”

        Of course he was wrong. The point is that his breadth of thought was more of influence than the majority of medieval thinkers.

        A”s for great thinkers after Rome and before the Enlightenment how about Albertus Magnus, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon, John Peckham, Duns Scotus, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, William Heytesbury, Richard Swineshead, John Dumbleton, Richard of Wallingford, Nicholas Oresme, Jean Buridan and Nicholas of Cusa? And not one of them was dissuaded from intellectual inquiry. Indeed, the most oft cited example, Galileo, wasn’t even a victim of religious dogma as is often claimed but caught in a battle between politics and science. The “conflict thesis” of religion suppressing science was created by protestant reformers in the 1600’s as propaganda against Catholicism and later promoted by a few polemicists during the Enlightenment. It’s pure propaganda — the most famous example of which is that people living in the middle ages believed the earth was flat. In fact, they not only knew the Earth was round but knew how large it was since Eratosthenes calculated the circumference over 2000 years ago. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

        Aristotle, in contemporary philosophy, is more often cited than all these thinkers combined. No insult to their intelligence, which was likely similar, but their range of intellectual inquiry was bound by Christian dogma. I do not doubt intellectual achievement during the period but the thinkers you show do not have much contemporary sway. More can be learned from each page of Hume than all these thinkers combined.

        “There was never a regression after the fall of Rome but a slow, steady progression which directly laid the foundations for the scientific revolution. There have been numerous books written on this by science historians such as James Hannam’s The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, David C Lindberg’s The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450, Edward Grant’s The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts, and Ronald L Numbers’ Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion. Theirs is not a minority view but mainstream consensus. That’s why modern historians no longer use the term “dark ages” but “early middle ages”.”

        It should be noted that the “continuity thesis” is a fringe view and is NOT supported by the majority of scholars. I do not deny scientific inquiry during the period but it is simply did not grow at a rate of success as it did past Galileo.

        “Oh? You have “training in math” do you? Did you take a calculus class along with some compsci? Calculus may be where you ended but it’s where I started. I have degrees in engineering and physics. Math and compsci may be lumped in with science but they are NOT science. They’re tools used in science. Math and compsci by themselves are too abstract to provide any scientific understanding. Unless you’re actually using them for science then they’re no more science than Sudoku or any other number puzzles.”

        Basic physics, which you claim I do not understand, is built mostly on calculus. No shit math isn’t a “science” as its objects are not empirical. Yes, proving theorems = Sudoku…that is laughable. David Hilbert, Godel, and Turing were simply good at doing work at a level of crossword puzzles, who knew? What does this have anything to do with a clear accelerating rate of scientific achievement post-Galileo?

        “You accuse me of using a strawman for disputing an example that YOU brought up? Speaking of strawmen, you couldn’t help sneaking in the Islamic myth. At this point I think everyone sees you for the little toad you are.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age. Algebra is a myth I guess?

        The point still stands. Intellectual achievement was simply not all that impressive, on a relative scale, in the Middle Ages. In contemporary philosophy, Plato and Aristotle will be cited 10 times as much as all medieval thinkers combined. Some developments in science during the Middle Ages influenced the Enlightenment but it is clear the rate of scientific achievement greatly increased after Galileo/Newton. I do not deny scientific achievements in the Middle Ages.

        The original claim “Christianity is the cornerstone of western civilization” by Dan is just simply untrue. Nothing in the Bible or the teachings of the Church provide any insight on scientific methodology or any relevance in contemporary research. Very little contemporary philosophy involves the teachings of medieval philosophers. The Christian religion, as an INSTITUTION, clearly provided scientific research in the Middle ages but nothing in the religion itself, as read in the Bible, provides insights into the workings of nature.

        Here is the list of the most Christian countries in the world and most irreligious.

        Christianity:

        Vatican City 100%
        Pitcairn Islands 100% (100% Seventh-day Adventist)[6]
        Samoa ~99%[7]
        Romania 99%[8]
        American Samoa 98.3%[9]
        Malta 98.1%[10] (mostly Roman Catholic)
        Venezuela 98%[11] (96% Roman Catholic)
        Greece 98% [12] (95% Greek Orthodox)
        Marshall Islands 97.2%[13]
        Tonga 97.2%[14]
        San Marino 97%[15] (~97% Roman Catholic)
        Paraguay 96.9%[16] (mostly Roman Catholic)
        Peru 96.5%[17] (mostly Roman Catholic)
        El Salvador 96.4%[18]
        Kiribati 96%[19]
        Federated States of Micronesia ~96%[20]
        Barbados 95.1%[21]
        Papua New Guinea 94.8%[22]
        East Timor 94.2%[23][24]
        Armenia 93.5%[25] (mostly Armenian Apostolic)

        Irreligion:

        Estonia 71–82% (76.5%)
        Japan 64–88% (76%)[96]
        Denmark 72%
        Sweden 46–82% (64%)
        Vietnam 44–81% (62.5%)
        Macau 60.9%[97]
        Czech Republic 54–61% (57.5%)
        Hong Kong 57%[98]
        France 43–64%[99] (53.5%)
        Norway 31–72% (51.5%)
        China 47%[100] (details)
        Netherlands 39–55% (47%)
        Finland 28–60% (44%)
        United Kingdom 31–52% (41.5%)[99] (25% England and Wales)[101]
        South Korea 30–52% (41%)
        Germany 25[91]–55%[102] (40%)
        Hungary 32–46% (39%)
        Belgium 42–43% (38.75%)
        Bulgaria 34–40% (37%)
        Slovenia 35–38% (36.5%)
        New Zealand 34.7%[103]
        Russia[104] 13–48% (30.5%)

        America minus the South and Midwest would likely be there too. Ironically, the countries most “western and civilized” are most likely the least religious. Christianity is hardly a “cornerstone” of modern Western society.

        PS

        “Much of what passes for philosophy is merely people trying to justify their own politics, religion and morality.”

        Ironically, a philosophy in itself.

        Kant

        February 22, 2015 at EDT am

      • ” Of course he was wrong. The point is that his breadth of thought was more of influence than the majority of medieval thinkers.”

        Your point was that Aristotle was a bigger influence on Galileo than medieval thinkers. Which is unlikely considering Galileo was contemporary to Kepler and using scientific methods pioneered by other middle age thinkers to prove Copernicus’s theories.

        ”Aristotle, in contemporary philosophy, is more often cited than all these thinkers combined. More can be learned from each page of Hume than all these thinkers combined”

        So which is it – are we judging contributions by how often someone is cited? Or by how much can be learned from them? Or by how significant the contribution was? Perhaps we should also give consideration to those who were critical to the transition from Point A to Point C? Knowledge is cumulative after all.

        “The point still stands. Intellectual achievement was simply not all that impressive, on a relative scale, in the Middle Ages. In contemporary philosophy, Plato and Aristotle will be cited 10 times as much as all medieval thinkers combined. Some developments in science during the Middle Ages influenced the Enlightenment but it is clear the rate of scientific achievement greatly increased after Galileo/Newton. I do not deny scientific achievements in the Middle Ages.”

        No. You’ll call it a straw man but we both know your real point is this. https://pinkocrat.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/darkages.gif The problem is that chart isn’t real. Someone made it up.

        There was a slowdown after the “fall of Rome” but it wasn’t caused by religion. It was caused by climate change. To summarize, climate change caused lower agricultural yields. Lower agricultural yields means a smaller total population, a higher percentage of the population working in agriculture and fewer workers available for skilled trades and learning. Fewer people available for learning means slower intellectual advancement. But there was no regression. There was slow, steady progress until the climate warmed up and the population boomed leading to the Enlightenment. From this article you can see that changes in population size roughly corresponds to changes in intellectual output. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_demography

        ”Ironically, the countries most “western and civilized” are most likely the least religious. Christianity is hardly a “cornerstone” of modern Western society.”

        You think that because the most developed countries are the least religious that it’s better to be less religious. But you have it backwards. Religiosity doesn’t influence development so much as development influences religiosity. Or maybe you didn’t notice that those countries were religious when they developed and only became irreligious later. With a prolonged economic downturn that would reverse.

        destructure

        February 22, 2015 at EDT pm

      • “Your point was that Aristotle was a bigger influence on Galileo than medieval thinkers. Which is unlikely considering Galileo was contemporary to Kepler and using scientific methods pioneered by other middle age thinkers to prove Copernicus’s theories.”

        I define medieval as before the Renaissance. Copernicus and Kepler were after. So from 300 to around a little before 1500, a 1200 year span, there were a few good sparks of scientific thought but clearly there was not as much investment and time put into scientific research as there has been in the past 200 years.

        “You think that because the most developed countries are the least religious that it’s better to be less religious. But you have it backwards. Religiosity doesn’t influence development so much as development influences religiosity. Or maybe you didn’t notice that those countries were religious when they developed and only became irreligious later. With a prolonged economic downturn that would reverse.”

        Has stagnant Japan become more religious in the past two decades? I seriously doubt that the recent economic troubles of Spain and Greece have made a more religious society as they were very religious when prosperous. What aspects of Christian dogma and the Bible have been influential in technological/scientific/human development over the past 200 years? Modern society is the antithesis of medieval society. The foundations of modern society, technology, science, and mixed economies have no roots in the Bible. Christian INSTITUTIONS clearly encouraged scientific and philosophical research, of which I doubt were of less quality than today and that clearly influenced the first modern scientists and philosophers. But, the RATE of scientific discovery is clearly greater than of the middle ages, one only need be literate to understand this. Our society clearly invests more resources into scientific inquiry than ever before.

        “So which is it – are we judging contributions by how often someone is cited? Or by how much can be learned from them? Or by how significant the contribution was? Perhaps we should also give consideration to those who were critical to the transition from Point A to Point C? Knowledge is cumulative after all.”

        Contemporary philosophy owes little to medieval philosophy. Many analytic philosophers will start with David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Gottlob Frege, etc. This is not too surprising as philosophy is concerned with foundations and by that nature consider thinkers with wrong foundations as irrelevant. Citations do not ensure by necessity quality thought but they do show RELEVANCE. The original contention is the Christian religion as the cornerstone of contemporary society. This is false. Christian thought was a house that was knocked down to be rebuilt into Modern thought. But to be clear, I do not doubt Christian INSTITUTIONS encouraged rational inquiry.

        “No. You’ll call it a straw man but we both know your real point is this. https://pinkocrat.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/darkages.gif The problem is that chart isn’t real. Someone made it up.”

        That is wrong. I’ll rescind any judgement I have on the sciences of the Middle Ages as my original statement was geared more towards philosophy. But there are clearly two views of the time period and is a contentious subject. But if we assume that scientific development over time is exponential then by definition I am right. The last two hundred years were simply more productive than the Middle Ages, which is my point in regards to scientific progress. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand that.

        This has morphed into a debate of the nature of history and whether it is progressive or simply changes in paradigms. I do not want to debate this. What I will debate is Christianity as the cornerstone of contemporary western civilization. Nothing in the Bible or teachings of the Church influences modern science or philosophy. As been established some Christian thinkers provided groundwork for further developments in intellectual inquiry but the religion ITSELF via its teachings in the Church or Bible do not provide much in modern research or jurisprudence. What textbooks today cite the Bible?

        Kant

        February 22, 2015 at EDT pm

      • I define medieval as before the Renaissance. Copernicus and Kepler were after. So from 300 to around a little before 1500, a 1200 year span, there were a few good sparks of scientific thought but clearly there was not as much investment and time put into scientific research as there has been in the past 200 years.

        Then you define the Renaissance incorrectly. The Renaissance spans the 14th century (late middle ages) to 17th century (beginning of modern history). Regardless, I wasn’t claiming Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler lived during the middle ages but that their work was based on the advancements in mechanics made during the middle ages. Yet you would dismiss this entire period as “stagnant”. Without the advancements of the middle ages there would have been no scientific revolution. Indeed, without the scientific revolution there would have been no age of enlightenment. It was the growing understanding of the world that led philosophers to question theology and create the foundation for later philosophy.

        Your concession of “a few good sparks of scientific thought” is no more than an attempt to dismiss medieval advancements as exceptions. They’re not exceptions because there was no stagnation but a slow steady progress. Mainstream historians reject the “Dark Ages” myth.

        Has stagnant Japan become more religious in the past two decades? I seriously doubt that the recent economic troubles of Spain and Greece have made a more religious society as they were very religious when prosperous.

        What part of “prolonged economic downturn” didn’t you understand?

        What aspects of Christian dogma and the Bible have been influential in technological/scientific/human development over the past 200 years? Modern society is the antithesis of medieval society. The foundations of modern society, technology, science, and mixed economies have no roots in the Bible. Christian INSTITUTIONS clearly encouraged scientific and philosophical research, of which I doubt were of less quality than today and that clearly influenced the first modern scientists and philosophers.

        When did I say “Christian dogma and the Bible” directly influenced science or technology over the last 200 years? Religion did however create a stable society through religious unity, a well-developed philosophical tradition, jurisprudence and fair laws. The last cannot be overstated since economic and political stability depend on law. There wouldn’t be much progress in anything without stability. Religion also created institutions of theology and learning. None of this could have happened without the foundations established by religion. Even the ancient Greek schools of philosophy were rooted in religion.

        Modern society may well be the “antithesis of medieval society” in all the wrong ways. Promiscuity, illegitimacy, divorce, drugs, etc. Many of those may have existed previously but not to the extent they do today. Like I said, the more advanced a country is the less religious it becomes. Contrary to your view, that’s not necessarily a good thing

        ”Contemporary philosophy owes little to medieval philosophy. Many analytic philosophers will start with David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Gottlob Frege, etc. This is not too surprising as philosophy is concerned with foundations and by that nature consider thinkers with wrong foundations as irrelevant.

        A lot of early medieval thinkers considered themselves theologians NOT philosophers. However, your claim that contemporary philosophy owes little to medieval philosophy isn’t true. Medieval philosophers translated and analyzed the works of Aristotle. They studied metaphysics, natural philosophy, logic, philosophy of mind and ethics in addition to theology. To quote wikipedia, The increasing use of mathematical reasoning in natural philosophy prepared the way for the rise of science.” And “scholastic writers refined and developed Aristotelian logic to a remarkable degree. The great historian of logic I. M. Bochenski[25] regarded the Middle Ages as one of the three great periods in the history of logic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_philosophy#Topics_in_medieval_philosophy

        ” my original statement was geared more towards philosophy. But there are clearly two views of the time period and is a contentious subject. But if we assume that scientific development over time is exponential then by definition I am right. The last two hundred years were simply more productive than the Middle Ages,.”

        Even cherry-picking philosophy your statement was wrong. Western civilization didn’t begin with the enlightenment and isn’t defined by it today. The only reason the medieval time period is contentious is that secular humanists falsely claim it was stagnant in order to push an anti-religious agenda. Progress may have accelerated over the last 200 years but that’s an arbitrary period since progress has also accelerated over the last 500, 100, 50 and 10 years. Why dismiss the medieval as stagnant for slower progress and not the renaissance or enlightenment as similarly stagnant for slower progress? You’re only “right” if you use a double-standard.

        ”What I will debate is Christianity as the cornerstone of contemporary western civilization. Nothing in the Bible or teachings of the Church influences modern science or philosophy. What textbooks today cite the Bible?”

        A lot more people read the bible and follow its teaching than those of enlightenment philosophers. Nor are Enlightenment philosophers monolithic. Even if they were they wouldn’t own science. Science doesn’t care about Hume or Kant. None of my physics textbooks quote them either.

        destructure

        February 23, 2015 at EDT am

      • “Regardless, I wasn’t claiming Galileo, Copernicus and Kepler lived during the middle ages but that their work was based on the advancements in mechanics made during the middle ages. Yet you would dismiss this entire period as “stagnant”.

        The rate of scientific achievement in the past 200 years is still greater than all of human history combined. It might not of been stagnant but the rate of achievement did not grow as fast.

        “It was the growing understanding of the world that led philosophers to question theology and create the foundation for later philosophy.”

        Of course medieval philosopher to a certain degree influenced modern thought, that degree of influence, however is minimal.

        “What part of “prolonged economic downturn” didn’t you understand?”

        Clearly if your model worked there would of been an uptick in religiosity in Japan. Does not change that modern first world societies owe nothing to Christian thought.

        “When did I say “Christian dogma and the Bible” directly influenced science or technology over the last 200 years?”

        Original poster “Dan” claims Christianity to be the cornerstone of western society. If Christian thinking has no influence over the past 200 years then it is not a cornerstone.

        “To quote wikipedia, The increasing use of mathematical reasoning in natural philosophy prepared the way for the rise of science.” And “scholastic writers refined and developed Aristotelian logic to a remarkable degree. The great historian of logic I. M. Bochenski[25] regarded the Middle Ages as one of the three great periods in the history of logic.”

        The historian you quoted is not even a contemporary philosopher! If want to assume my position is that absolutely nothing happened in the Middle ages that’s fine but wrong. My position is the degree of influence is simply not as strong as philosopher of the modern age. Scarcely any contemporary philosophers cite medieval thinkers.

        “You’re only “right” if you use a double-standard.”

        At what point before the 20th century did researchers have a global network of colleagues to do research with? There are more people than ever doing all kinds of research. The last two hundred years show extreme growth.

        “A lot more people read the bible and follow its teaching than those of enlightenment philosophers. Nor are Enlightenment philosophers monolithic. Even if they were they wouldn’t own science. Science doesn’t care about Hume or Kant. None of my physics textbooks quote them either.”

        This has nothing to do with regular people. This has to do with the cornerstones of modern thought. Well they weren’t scientists, so duh.

        Kant

        February 23, 2015 at EDT am

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Battani

        I guess if we accept Christian thinkers as making the Enlightenment possible we must concede that without Al-Battani, Copernicus hence the Enlightenment would of not been possible. So without Islam the Enlightenment is not possible.

        Kant

        February 23, 2015 at EDT am

      • “The rate of scientific achievement in the past 200 years is still greater than all of human history combined. It might not of been stagnant but the rate of achievement did not grow as fast.”

        The rate of scientific achievement in the past 20 years is greater than all of human history combined. Bornmann and Mutz ffound that global scientific output went “from less than 1% up to the middle of the 18th century, to 2 to 3% up to the period between the two world wars and 8 to 9% to 2012.” If you’re dismissive of the middle ages fror having made slower progress then you should also be dsmissive of the enlightenment (as well as ancient Greece and Rome) for having made slower progress. If not then you’re being inconsistent. I already pointed this out in the last comment. The only reason you wish to dismiss the middle ages but not ancient greece/rome or the enlightenment is because you identify the middle ages with Christianity.

        “Of course medieval philosopher to a certain degree influenced modern thought, that degree of influence, however is minimal. “

        That degree of influence was critical. Without it the scientific revolution (and subsequent enlightenment) never would have occurred. Of course, you only care about the enlightenment because a few of them espoused liberal anti-Christian opinions you share.

        “Clearly if your model worked there would of been an uptick in religiosity in Japan. Does not change that modern first world societies owe nothing to Christian thought.”

        The model is observable. Pretty much every country (aside from Soviets and Chicoms where religion was suppressed) was more religious before developing and became less religious afterwards. It didn’t happen overnight but slowly over time. Japanese have a different definition of “religion” which doesn’t show up on surveys. But most (50-80%) actualy engage in religious practices. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Japan I wouldn’t have expected Japan to be so religious or to have become more religious due to its recesion. Because it’s only been 20 years and it’s still a very highly developed country. However, when I checked there actually was a smal uptick of 5%. I’m actually surprised that it does support my model.

        “Original poster “Dan” claims Christianity to be the cornerstone of western society. If Christian thinking has no influence over the past 200 years then it is not a cornerstone.”

        Christianity has been the most significant influence on culture and morality in western society for over 1500 years and still is today. It’s not that you don’t recognize the influence so much as you don’t like it and wish to minimize it. You don’t want to admit it because you’re a secualar humanist (atheist, marxist, etc) who views religion as the “enemy”. It must gall you to live in a society that is the antithesis of everything you believe. Maybe that’s why leftists hate their own countries?

        “The historian you quoted is not even a contemporary philosopher! If want to assume my position is that absolutely nothing happened in the Middle ages that’s fine but wrong. My position is the degree of influence is simply not as strong as philosopher of the modern age. Scarcely any contemporary philosophers cite medieval thinkers.”

        The philosopher historian I quoted only died 20 years ago. That’s plenty current as far as philosophy is concerned. If you think there’s been some amazing philosophical breakthrough in the last 20 years to change his view then I’d certainly like to know what.

        “At what point before the 20th century did researchers have a global network of colleagues to do research with? There are more people than ever doing all kinds of research. The last two hundred years show extreme growth. “

        Yes, research is more global today than ever before. I’ve never said otherwise. But it’s also more global in the last 20 years than it was 50, 100 or 200 years ago. Why arbitrarily draw the boundary at 200 years ago if not to prop up your anti-Christian prejudice.?

        “This has nothing to do with regular people. This has to do with the cornerstones of modern thought. Well they weren’t scientists, so duh.”

        More scientists believe in God than don’t. Even if that weren’t true, 95% of Americans believe in God. You wish to dismiss “regular people” because they’re not scientists? But I’d say 95% is enough to prove Dan’s point. I’d also point out that you’re not even a scientist yourself.

        “I guess if we accept Christian thinkers as making the Enlightenment possible we must concede that without Al-Battani, Copernicus hence the Enlightenment would of not been possible. So without Islam the Enlightenment is not possible.”

        Not necessarily. While Al-Battani made contributions, his weren’t crucial to the scientific revolution. This is the second time you’ve attempted to credit muslims for the scientific revolution. The first was in falsely claiming muslims invented algebra. That’s a common claim but it’s not true. Muslims made significant contributions to the form of algebra we use but the Greeks, Hindus and even the ancient Sumerioans also had their own versions of algebra. Agebra wasn’t that unique.

        What strikes me, however, is that you’re so desperate to minimize the influence of Christianity on western civilization that you’d rather attribute their accomplishments to muslims. That really is a common theme with you. You also continue to repeat the same arguments even after they’ve been definitively refuted, You truly have a mind like a brick wall. I’m arguing from evidence and reasion but you’re arguing from belief. Like I said earlier, secular humanism is merely your cult as opposed to the other guy’s cult.

        destructure

        February 23, 2015 at EDT pm

  13. It is very likely that the Book of Job, which is considered the oldest book in bible since it has no cross-references with the rest of it, is influenced by Greek tragedies, most importantly the works of Euripides.

    toos is god

    February 19, 2015 at EDT pm

    • And since you are in love with your moniker, you ought to read the Greek Comedian Aristophanes’ play called Wealth, which is about Plautus, the of god wealth, who is more powerful than Zeus and was blinded by him. because he made men wealthy. Money trumps all divinity.

      JS

      February 19, 2015 at EDT pm

      • Plautus was a TOOS literally, he was a god blinded by Zeus for making men wealthy.

        JS

        February 19, 2015 at EDT pm

  14. […] Did Plato influence the Book of Genesis? (lionoftheblogosphere.wordpress.com) Now the belief among Orthodox Jews is that the book of Genesis is very old, but as the web page points out, there are no outside historically dated references to the book of Genesis until the second century B.C., which is two hundred years after the founding of Plato’s Academy. This all fits in with a general pattern I’ve pointed out before that Judaism isn’t as old as people think it is. […]

  15. Unsurprising. Nietzsche defined Christianity as “Platonism for the people.”

    swanknasty

    February 23, 2015 at EDT pm

  16. […] Did Plato influence the Book of Genesis? (lionoftheblogosphere.wordpress.com) the belief among Orthodox Jews is that the book of Genesis is very old, but as the web page points out, there are no outside historically dated references to the book of Genesis until the second century B.C., which is two hundred years after the founding of Plato’s Academy. […]


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