Tom wrote:I understand that we're trying to keep from getting into a religious scuffle here,
Don't worry, I won't take offense
but being a Catholic my whole life and studying the stories of the Old Testament in religion classes in the past, I can't help but explain the real meaning of those killings in Exodus and Joshua. Yes, the Israelites slaughtered everyone in the city, and Moses killed many of the idol worshipers (as did the Levites). However, not all of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is to be interpreted literally. I would use the example of divine inspiration as a reason for why the Old Testament is not to always be interpreted literally, but to prevent further religious discussion, I will present a more non-religious explanation for this. The Bible was written mostly during the "Exile" period of the Israelites, allowing a lot of time to pass between the events of Moses and Joshua and the actual writing of their stories. Before they were written down, these stories about Joshua and Moses were told time and time again and passed down through the generations by way of oral tradition. And, as well all know, stories tend to have their facts misconstrued and/or exaggerated as they are passed on from person to person. So, even though some of these facts made it into the Bible, this could have been because the writers of these books were writing with the knowledge that they had at the time, unknowing of whether it was absolutely correct or not. For all we know, Joshua's name could have been Ralph; but that's not the point of these stories in the Bible.
Or for that matter, some of those stories could have simply been made up out of thin air. Archaeologists have never been able to find any evidence of a massive migration from Egypt to Israel, or of the kind of economic upheaval and sudden depopulation which would have resulted from the entire slave class of Egypt vacating overnight. When you think about how critical the slave class was to a typical slave-holding economy, it's hard to imagine anything other than a massive economic collapse following such an event. Egypt was in slow decline for various reasons, but there was nothing like the overnight disaster you would expect.
The point of most of those Old Testament stories, as written by the authors, wasn't meant to convey historical truth at all times. Rather, these stories were composed by the authors at the time (and by God, if you so wish) to convey a deeper meaning to the peoples who would read these stories in future generations. I suppose it's hard to explain unless you have an understanding of the true nature of the Bible, but if you do then you'll understand where I'm coming from here. You don't have to believe in God to understand that the Bible, especially the Old Testament, was not primarily created to convey correct historical information.
So you appear to be saying that the Old Testament is like Aesop's Fables: a collection of morality tales intended to teach lessons, rather than being historically accurate. I have no problem with this interpretation (indeed, Bronze Age people almost certainly did not subscribe to modern empirical philosophy, and probably regarded moral "truths" to be more important than empirical accuracy). But that distinction is not really important for the purpose of the argument I was making.
Anyway, I am straying quite off-topic here. I was just attempting to point out how the killing of the people in Exodus and Joshua could have been a symbolism of some kind meant to convey a deeper meaning than what it seems. Maybe it was even referring to the final judgment that will occur at the end of time... Oh - there I go again with the religious talk.
To reaffirm my original concept, yes, you are correct in saying that "the good guys" have committed atrocities many times in the past, and even in the Bible. However, interpreting the Bible is very tricky and probably isn't best to be brought up in this type of discussion because it is quite an abstract concept to apply to such a discussion. Having said this, I now conclude my discussion of the Bible and its intended interpretation. Make of it what you wish.
Personally, I regard religion as a vehicle for the perpetuation of a culture: its values, its beliefs, etc. Stories in the oral tradition were an ancient culture's only real way of transmitting such things from one generation to another. It's more fascinating for its anthropological value than any kind of existential philosophy IMO.
In any case, to return to the subject at hand, the comparison I made was intended only to address a particular kind of logic, by showing how people will jump through hoops to apply it only
to videogames and not to older forms such as movies, literature, or religion.