Topper wrote:I do not except the brief historical summary of the earth by a handful of 5th century BC historians as the most relevant thinking on the issue
Oh, come on Topper! It's not like they just made it all up! They copied most of it from the older Sumerian and Akkadian creation myths, that date back to at least 4000 BC (copyright laws were not as strict back then as today, and hardly ever enforced). It's all in there, the garden of Eden, the flood, the whole shebang. Main difference being that the various versions predating the Hebrew one tend to have have more gods. In the Mesopotamian Enuma Elish myth (1200 BC, possibly older) there are six generations of gods doing what the Hebrew god (who they actually borrowed from the Kaananite religion) does in six days, but according to both accords, after that the god(s) rest.
Anyway, what I was saying, is that the Slartibartfast rush job create a planet in less than a week myth was not just the brainchild of a handful of 500 BC Middle East nomad goatherds; it was a condensed version of creation myths manufactured and polished over millenia by the finest minds in what today is known as Iraq, and incidently happens to be the place where Abraham (Ibrahim?) grew up.
Why the Israelites reduced the number of Gods, I don't know. I personally think that Moses, who supposedly was raised at Pharaoh's court, may have come across and become fascinated by the Aten-worship introduced in Egypt by Akhenaten (aka Amenhotep IV). That is afaik the first monotheistic religion in the Middle East, predating any archeological evidence of Judean culture by at least 200 years. Maybe the Aten-worshippers, who became ostracised after Akhenaten's death, joined forces with the Hebrew nomades and headed east towards Kaanan to flee their persecution by the Egyptian priesthood, and somehow during this forced marriage out of necessity, Aten merged with the old Kaananite deity El to become the lone ranger god of the Old Testament? That could explain why some one from Pharaoh's court ended up heading out of Egypt with a bunch of lowly goatherds and low rank construction workers. This theory was popularised by Sigmund Freud, but is not really in vogue among present scholars of Middle East religion. Still. I like it. It explains a lot. Aten was a sun god, and the early Judean state had a winged sun as it's official seal. In the Old Testament god is at times called El (a Kaananite deity), at times the mysterious Yahweh (an ancient Moabite deity) - a name so sacred Jews are not allowed to say it out loud - and at times Adonai. Adonai, eh? Kind of reminds me of Aton, aka Aten...
This would also explain why parts of the Psalms and Proverbs in the Bible are ripoffs of ancient Egyptian texts.