The Problem of the Pentateuch
What is the fallacy in this line of reasoning?
Whenever the light switch is turned off, the lights go out.
The lights are out.
Therefore, the light switch must be turned off.
The fallacy is that the conclusion is not necessarily true because the switch being turned off is only one of many possible events that can cause the lights to go out. Of course, when the lights do go out, we naturally begin to look for the actual cause of it and our first guess—our first hypothesis—might be that someone has turned off the switch. We then test the hypothesis by checking the switch. If we find that it is still turned on, then we might develop the hypothesis that the breaker has been tripped. We continue to develop and test hypotheses in this manner until we finally come to the right one, until we finally come to the actual cause of our problem. However, if we assume that the light switch is the one and only cause of the lights going out, we could spend hours flipping the switch back and forth to no effect, never looking to find the actual cause. Our invalid assumption keeps us from looking elsewhere and so keeps us from finding the answer to our problem.
The documentarians have been flipping the switch back and forth for over two hundred years now. The Documentary Hypothesis was first accepted in the latter half of the eighteenth century, in that time of ferment known as the Age of Enlightenment. The people of that time chose to look in a new light at what they believed, how they lived, and what their efforts had achieved for them—and decided to throw it all out and start over again. Traditional social structures, religious beliefs, and moral values were dramatically altered or completely discarded. Tradition was replaced by reason. Faith was replaced by science. The power that was vested in the privileged traditional authorities was replaced by the power residing in the common man. Hence, this era witnessed the success of the American Revolution, the terror of the French Revolution, and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It also saw the increasing popularity of the “Literary Dissectionists.”
These dissectionists (or “disintegrators,” as they were often called) subjected the Five Books of Moses, as well as the epics of Homer, to their scientific scalpels as they probed for evidence for or against the traditional views concerning the authorship of these works. Predictably, the traditional views did not survive the operation. Indeed, the scientific theories advanced by these dissectionists as alternatives to the traditional views became so widely accepted that anyone who still held to the traditional beliefs was stigmatized as either uninformed or unintelligent.
The dissection of the Iliad and the Odyssey began in 1795 with the publication of….