I Rebuttal: “Heroism depends on what culture values”
I.a In these words, Pro launched his argument that “the Bible has anything to do with the way Western Civilization views heroism and that the Bible was the book that brought revolution to the West causing people to be free.” An interesting debate proposal, considering that Western civilization pre-dates the Bible, even in its existence as single book scrolls, let alone folios. Since my opponent’s time ran short, we have nothing argued relative to the revolution, but heroism is discussed at length. What is at odds regarding heroism is that culture and civilization are not synonymous, and heroism does have a variety of features depending who is wielding the sword.
I.a.1 Culture is but one feature of civilization; others being society and intellectual development.
Culture, therefore, is a subset of civilization, not its equal. Culture begets language, never the other way around. Therefore, heroism, for all its guts and glory, is, after all, a cultural phenomenon, not necessarily the keynote of civilization. [Nor is revolution, by the way, but that is for another round.] Truly, one man’s heroism is, as Pro alleges in his round 1, either saving people from a burning building, or burning the building with people inside. The point is, civilization is the mother of either child. Civilization does not define altruistic behavior. We may wish it were so, but if wishes were fishes, we’d likely prefer cauliflower anyway, as is a prominent feature of Western and Eastern civilization, circa 2020, and just as likely in the other two cardinal coordinates.
I.a.2 As a result, heroism is neither the predominant feature of civilization, nor it its most remote feature. It is actually something of an anomaly, particularly in its most modern iteration as, so Pro admits, a military entity. Swords, you know. Consider that, at present, the military person, hero, or not, consists of “less than 0.5% of the U.S. population.”
However, this fact does not stop Pro from worshiping the classic, medieval, chivalrous, or biblical hero, as well. Swords, even figuratively, seem to be a common thematic element, so, let’s explore this implement as wielded by Pro-argued hero of the Christian version, and by its premier example: Jesus Christ. In this argument, recall this discussion when reaching my caution in this round, argument II.b.1 regarding my personal take on biblical text. Jesus is instructing the Twelve before sending them out to preach. He is offering suggestions of approach to people, and how they should conduct themselves. However, our image of Christ as a peacemaker is jarred when we read of his denial of people who deny him [verse 33] and then he says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
This is a Christian hero? THE hero? So, let’s not become too wrapped around the idea of peace, love, and rock-n-roll or Jesus Christ, Superstar. As I will say in a moment, translation, unfortunately, tends to be a matter of dictionary-to-dictionary comparison. Since Language is the result of culture, and not the other way around, and lacking an understanding of the culture involved, and since scroll translation in Europe in the 5thcentury knew naught of Middle East culture 500 years and more into the past, translation tended to make mistakes. Dictionaries of various languages, particularly ancient to modern, do not align word-for-word. Some words in one language do not exist in another, and one word in one language may be six or seven in other. Culture defines not just heroes, but the complexity of the concepts dearest to them. Finally, Dictionaries are fine for general definition and a spelling bee, but as an instruction manual of culture, it might as well be a sealed book.
II Rebuttal: Holy Bible Roots and Western Civilization
II.b As a student of History [having a PhD in the subject] I am aware that Western civilization can trace its roots to a point earlier than 1455 C.E., when Johann Gutenberg published the Gutenberg Bible in Mainz, Germany,
thus making the first effort to distribute the volume to ordinary people in mass production. I question the ability of an entire civilization to be rooted in a few handwritten manuscripts of any book, even the Holy Bible.
II.b.1 In fact, the origin of the Holy Bible as a single volume of scripture post-dates the advent of Western civilization by a more than a thousand years. Closer to two thousand years. Thereupon turns the argument of the advent of the “Holy Bible” as a volume of work bearing that title as any current language construes it. It is clearly a volume that began as individual scrolls, handwritten, allegedly by the authors noted, such as “Isaiah,” “Jeremiah,” “Malachi,” “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,” etc. However, no single, original manuscript as potentially written by these men, rather than originally by scribes dedicated to them, exists today. This is not an argument to discredit the Holy Bible; I am firmly convinced it contains the Word of God, as far as it is translated into my mother tongue correctly. As this is not a debate concerning the validity of the Holy Bible, and I trust my opponent is in agreement with that, on the validity score of dictionary-to-dictionary “translation,” my argument is done.
II.b.2 However, as to its being root of Western civilization, as argued by Pro, the Holy Bible, even at the time of the collection of separate manuscripts of books into a single book, post-dates Western civilization roots. “The Bible is a collection of writings, and the earliest ones were set down nearly 3500 years ago.”
That would properly place it in the lifetime of Moses, approximately 1450 B.C.E., alleged author of the Pentateuch; the beginning content of the Jewish Torah of history predating Moses by thousands of years, and the first five books comprising the Holy Bible as first assembled from separate manuscripts. That assembly is alleged to have occurred over time as various efforts were attempted to combine scrolls of various authorships, but not as yet the complete volume we know today as the “Holy Bible.”
“It was not until the 5th century C.E. that all the different Christian churches came to a basic agreement on Biblical canon.”
I will argue on that basis that the Holy Bible points to the 5th century C.E. as its origin. By then, Western civilization was ancient.
III Argument: Western Civilization roots
III.a One might first argue of what Western civilization consists. An interesting article, The Lost History of Western Civilization by Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Policy Center, alleges that a singular event at Stanford University in 1987 changed at least America’s vision of Western civilization. My PhD precedes this date; I’m not certain, as my opponent does not know his age [per the profile], but I am suspicious that his degree postdates this 1987 event.
III.a.1 In 1987, Stanford University launched what Mr. Kurtz called “the cold civil war.” I happened to live at the time just down the road a few klicks from Palo Alto, and I worked in Palo Alto, home of Stanford University, so I am familiar with this event. Protests on campus chanted, repeating the refrain, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Culture’s got to go!”
Mr. Kurtz adds, “What began as a colorful political side-show grew in the years that followed to become the script of our politics. The divisions that tore Stanford apart then now generate America’s most important political and cultural controversies.”
Those controversies have reverberated so widely that, over thirty years later, we may have forgotten the history of Western civilization that I was taught in the 60s and early 70s as I attended college and graduate school.
III.b Conversely, Western civilization can point to its origin at least in ancient Greece, and perhaps earlier.
There is “…a landmark of modern historical deconstructionism: the claim that the very idea of Western civilization is a modern invention devised during World War I as a way of hoodwinking young American soldiers into fighting and dying in the trenches of Europe.”
There are Pro’s military heroes. This thesis, proposed in 1982 by the historian Gilbert Allardyce, was cited by key players during the original Stanford controversy.”
III.b.1 Allardyce, the heroes, and Pro are all dancing to a tune that was discord in 1987, and is not the peace, love, and rock-n-roll of the 60s, nor is it familiar to Plato, a 4thcentury B.C.E. luminary who established the Academy in Athens, and was instrumental in propelling Western civilization in science and philosophy. I’m not saying Plato founded Western civilization any more than I would claim it was founded by Jesus. The point is, Moses did not do it, either.
III.b.2 In 2015, working in a one meter-deep excavation, two archeologists struck gold. Actually, it was bronze, but the strike of one’s pick against the green, oxidized metal was significant compared to strikes against the surrounding cream-colored clay. Further excavation revealed a treasure of artifacts of various metals and semi-precious stones, including the virtually complete skeleton of an ancient warrior of 1600 B.C.E.
III.c The foregoing is evidence of a civilization pre-dating Moses and his scrolls. Western civilization is at least this old, and they probably had their cultural versions of peace, love, and rock-n-roll and heroes to praise, swords to cross, and revolutions to endure.
*I habitually use the OED for all definitions. I recognize this dictionary as the ultimate of the English language. Unless one owns either the hard copy 20-volume set, or an online subscription [I have both] it is unavailable for reference. On my honor, I am fully quoting the definitions given.”
The Oxford English Dictionary, Unabridged [OED]*
Holy Bible [KJV] Matthew 10: 34