The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 5 in a series

Did I mention I previously attended meetings of a creationist group in Dallas? I’m sure I did. Here’s more of the same.

There’s a group called the Metroplex Institute of Origin Science, MIOS, and they had program meetings on a Tuesday night most every month. Often times there were presentations on why creation is true and evolution is wrong, not only wrong but usually evil. These were what I call creationists of the first type. They hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible, which is the origin of the creation story. So they need to continually confirm the truth of biblical stories, including the famous flood of Noah. Also other stories. Including the story of Joshua.

A presentation one night was a bizarre explanation of how the story of Joshua at the Battle of Jericho has been proved true. I have a copy of the handouts from the meeting, and here it is, as verbatim as my ability allows:

THE SUN DID STAND STILL

Did you know that the space program is busy proving that what has been called “myth” in the Bible is true? Mr. Harold Hill, President of the Curtis Engine Co. in Baltimore, Maryland, and a consultant in the space program, relates the following development:

“I think one of the most amazing things that God has for us today happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Green Belt, Maryland. They were checking the position of the sun, moon, and planets out in space where they would be 100 years and 1,000 years from now. We have to know this so we don’t send a satellite up and have it bump into something later on in its orbits. We have to lay out the orbits in terms of the life of the satellite, and where the planets will be so the whole thing will not bog down! They ran the computer measurement back and forth over the centuries and it came to a halt. The computer stopped and put up a red signal, which meant that there was something wrong either with the information fed into it or with the results as compared to the standards. They called in the service department to check it out and they said, “It’s perfect.” The head of operations said, “What’s wrong?” “Well, they have found there is a day missing in space in elapsed time.” They scratched their heads and tore their hair. There was no answer!

One religious fellow on the team said, “You know, one time I was in Sunday School and they talked about the sun standing still.” They didn’t believe him; but they didn’t have any other answer so they said, “Show us.” He got a Bible and went back to the Book of Joshua where they found a pretty ridiculous statement for anybody who has ‘common sense’. There they found the Lord saying to Joshua, “Fear them not; for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.” Joshua was concerned because he was surrounded by the enemy and if darkness fell they would overpower them. So Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still! That’s right — “The sun stood still, and the moon stayed . . . and pasted not to go down about a whole day.” Joshua 10:8,12,13. The space men said, “There is the missing day!” They checked the computers going back into the time it was written and found it was close but not close enough. The elapsed time that was missing back in Joshua’s day was 23 hours and 20 minutes — not a whole day. They read the Bible and there it was -­”about (approximately) a day.”

These little words in the Bible are important. But they were still in trouble because if you cannot account for 40 minutes you’ll be in trouble 1,000 years from now. Forty minutes had to be found because it can be multiplied many times over in orbits. This religious fellow also remembered somwhere in the Bible where it said the sun went BACKWARDS. The space men told him he was out of his mind. But they got the Book and read these words in II Kings: Hezakiah, on his death-bed, was visited by the Prophet Isaiah who told him that he was not going to die. Hezekiah asked for a sign as proof. Isaiah said, “Do you want the sun to go ahead ten degrees?” Hezekiah said, “It’s nothing for the sun to go ahead ten degrees, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.” II Kings 20: 9-11. Isaiah spoke to the Lord and the Lord brought the shadow ten degrees BACKWARDS! Ten degrees is exactly 40 minutes! Twenty-three hours and 20 minutes in Joshua, plus 40 minutes in II Kings make the missing 24 hours the space travelers had to log in the logbook as being the missing day in the universe! Isn’t that amazing? Our God is rubbing their noses in His Truth!”

The above article was copied from “The Evening Star”, Spencer, Indiana. It is verified by Mr. Harold Hill, who gave permission for reprinting, February 22, 1970.

References Cited for “The Missing Day in Time”

Did the Sun Stand Still? Tract No. 1211. North Syracuse, N.Y.: Book Fellowship [n.d., 7 pp.] *Mentions Irwin H. Linton, A Lawyer Examines the Bible.

Apologetics. By Harry Conn. Minneapolis: Men for Missions [tract, n.d., 9 pp.]

The Missing Day /Behind the Missing Day. Minneapolis: Osterhus Pub. House [tract, n.d., 4 pp.]

Harold Hill, as told to Irene Burk Harrell. How to Live Like a King’s Kid. Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International, 1974. Ch. 13, “How to Find the Missing Day,” pp. 65-75. On pp. 75-77: “Book Report ‘Long Day of Joshua’ C. A. L. Totten,” by V. L. Westberg, August 1970, Sonoma, Cal.

Joshua’s Long Day. In Five Minutes with the Bible & Science. Daily Reading Magazine. Supplement to Bible-Science Newsletter. Vol. VIII: No. 5 (May, 1978). Caldwell, Id. [2 pp.] *Mentions Robert L. Odem, “The Lost Day of Joshua,” Ministry (November/December, 1970), and J. B. Dimbleby, All Past Time.

Harry Rimmer. The Harmony of Science and Scripture. [1927] 4th edn., Berne, Ind.: Berne Witness Company, 1937.

Charles A. L. Totten. Joshua’s Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz. A Scientific Vindication. [1890] Study No. 2 of “The Our Race Series—The Voice of History.” Merrimac, Mass.: Destiny Publishers, 1968 edn. with a foreword by Howard B. Rand.

Dan A. Oren. Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale.New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.

“A Clergyman Insane. He is a Graduate of Yale and one of Lieut. Toten’s [sic] Disciples.” The New York Times. 26 June 1891. p.l.

“No Rest for Totten.” The New York Times. 13 March 1892. p. 4. “Lieut. Totten’s Vagaries.” The New York Times. 30 March 1892. p. 1

*I have not yet located these three publications, mentioned in works consulted. I would be grateful for information about them, and for copies of “Missing Day” fliers or tracts.

Jan Harold Brunvand Department of English University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT 84112

All right. You’ve read it. So, maybe you didn’t read it. Maybe you read part of it. Let’s take it from there. I was in the room when this presentation was handed out. There were fully functional adults in the room. And nobody laughed. Nobody. I must have held my breath. How about some Skeptical Analysis. Where to start? Let’s start with this bit of unreason:

They ran the computer measurement back and forth over the centuries and it came to a halt. The computer stopped and put up a red signal, which meant that there was something wrong either with the information fed into it or with the results as compared to the standards.

The computer stopped? Really? Why? Computers don’t just stop. They get finished, and they pause, waiting for something new to come along. The computer put up a red signal? This massively intriguing. I am, most of us are, accustomed to error messages on computers. They tend to be in the order of:

  • Unexpected “{” in line 32.
  • File not found.
  • Segmentation fault—core dumped.
  • Blue screen of death.

Some forgiveness may be due. Permission for reprinting was given in 1970, so the events preceded Windows 3.2. Maybe a red light (flashing or not) was all that was available.

Anyhow, the explanation for the computer’s stopping comes off the rails quickly. There was a missing day? Really? How does a day turn up missing? What information could the computer possibly have been chewing on to make it conclude there was a missing day? Yeah, that’s curious. Fortunately I have done some of this stuff. I took celestial mechanics and interplanetary navigation in college, and I also did a term project much like the one described above. It goes like this.

You provide the data for the simulation. There are celestial bodies with these masses in these positions and traveling at these velocities. You press the start key, and the simulation launches, predicting where the bodies will be in one-minute (or whatever) intervals. One of the inputs includes a condition that signals the simulation to stop. A condition such as “Simulate 500 hours.” You can easily run the simulation backwards in time. Just reverse the velocities of all the bodies and hit the start key. The simulation will tell you where the bodies were in the past. That is what the NASA simulation must have been doing. And NASA and astronomers and curious amateurs like me do this sort of thing. For one thing, you might want to know where the moon’s shadow crossed the Earth’s surface. Here’s one:

12 June 2000 BC 03:14:51 5 Total 1.0733 06m 37s 6.0°N 33.3°W 247 km (153 mi)

I don’t know if anybody was around to see that, but we can all be sure it happened. Celestial mechanics is a well-developed science.

And no, there is no missing day.

The remainder of the story requires scrutiny. I will scrutinize partially.

The above article was copied from “The Evening Star”, Spencer, Indiana. It is verified by Mr. Harold Hill, who gave permission for reprinting, February 22, 1970.

Permission was given in February 22, 1970. Compare that with this:

Harold Hill, as told to Irene Burk Harrell. How to Live Like a King’s Kid. Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International, 1974. Ch. 13, “How to Find the Missing Day,” pp. 65-75. On pp. 75-77: “Book Report ‘Long Day of Joshua’ C. A. L. Totten,” by V. L. Westberg, August 1970, Sonoma, Cal.

Permission was given to reprint prior to when Harold Hill told the story to Irene Burk Harrell. I will not belabor. Feel free to spot the additional discrepancies.

I was able to verify the “Totten” references appearing in the New York Times back in the 19th century. Apparently there was a C.A.L. Totten back then, and he caught the attention of the Times often. This is from Wikipedia:

Charles Adelle Lewis Totten (February 3, 1851 – April 12, 1908) was an American military officer, a professor of military tactics, a prolific writer, and an influential early advocate of British Israelism.

Finally, there is this item’s signatory:

Jan Harold Brunvand Department of English University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT 84112

We know Jan Brunvand. He’s the person who created the concept of the urban legend. Is it possible “The Sun Did Stand Still” is a sample from his studies blown up into something to impress fellow creationists? I shudder to think.

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Stronger Than Dirt

Restating the obvious – 3

Reece has responded to my previous post. See the link above. He sent an email, which follows:

Thanks for sharing and taking the time to respond to my comment. I’d just like to respond to a few of your points made in the article…

“When we say “God,” what do we mean.”

You already know what God I mean, because out of the many that exist, there’s only one God which atheists focus on with their attacks 99% of the time. I know this wasn’t a straight out argument, but I see the point you were making. The problem with this statement, and the common argument about the thousands of other gods that atheists make, is that it’s like saying to a prosecutor of a murder trial: “You believe John Smith killed this man? Well, I don’t think anybody killed this man; he died accidentally. I mean, think about it. There are 7 billion potential murderers out there, and you believe that 6,999,999,999 of them did not kill this man. I just believe in one less murderer than you do .” The prosecutor doesn’t just arbitrarily pick one suspect out of billions, each of whom is equally guilty. Instead, she has good reasons for choosing this one suspect out of all the others. Just because there are thousands of false gods or billions of people who are innocent of a certain crime, it doesn’t follow that there is no true God or no single person who is guilty of a crime.

 

Now you’ve listed a list of some of the usual ‘so called’ Bible contradictions. First, let’s be clear that there are viable and intellectually plausible answers to every supposed Bible contradiction and error. See: https://answersingenesis.org/contradictions-in-the-bible/scripture-index/ or http://defendinginerrancy.com/bible-difficulties/ 

So we can’t really use apparent contradictions to disprove the Bible’s reliability if we are being honest here. For example:

Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
Satan did (I Chronicles 21:1)

1. This would appear to be a contradiction, however, when we know God’s nature from other verses, and that all temptation is permitted by God, but not caused by God. We realize that Satan provoked David to number the people, and God allowed him to do so. God allows those things which serve to advance His holy and perfect will. 

In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
One million, one hundred thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

How many fighting men were found in Judah?
Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)

2. It is possible that this 1,100,000 describes the grand total for Israel including the standing army which consisted of 12 units of 24,000 men each (288,000, 1 Chron. 27:1-15) plus 12,000 especially attached to Jerusalem and the chariot cities (2 Chron. 1:14). These 300,000 subtracted from 1,100,000 would yield the 800,000 figure in 2 Samuel 24:9. Also the chronicler may not have included the 30,000-man standing army of Judah (6:1) whereas they were included in chapter 24. This would raise the 470,000 total of Chronicles to the 500,000 of Samuel. 

God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
Three (I Chronicles 21:12)

3. The solution to this one can be solved when we look at the verse before it. It says,
 
“Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.” (2 Samuel 21:1)
 
Clearly, Israel had already experienced three years of famine before David numbered the people of Israel and Judah. 2 Samuel 24:1–7 record the initiation of the census, but we find in verse 8 that “when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.” 
 
So according to the text, numbering the people was nearly a year-long process, and there is no clear indication that God had suspended the initial three-year famine prior to the events in chapter 24. Now if God had combined three additional years of famine (1 Chronicles 21:12) with the three years of initial famine, and a possible intervening year while the census was conducted, the resulting overall famine would have totaled about seven years (2 Samuel 24:13).

How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

4. We aren’t given too much information here, but there are two solutions which clear up this apparent contradiction. Either the 42 is in reference to the beginning of the kingly reign of which Ahaziah is a part, or this was a copyist error which changed the original 22 in 2 Chronicles 22:2 to 42.

I could go on, but please do take a look at those two links above and check out the answers for yourself. 
 
The trouble is, myself and Christians who believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God, know that all of these can be reconciled, whereas skeptics will most likely deny again and again. But as long as you can admit, we can’t use the so called contradictions to disprove the Bible because there are answers to everyone of them. Also, do you think if someone went to all the effort to make up the Bible, they would put in such obvious contradictions?

“We have to justify the existence of God (the God of Abraham) without resorting to the Bible. How?”

It seems to me like you think the Bible, and nature are the only ways to prove God’s existence. That’s true, but I can prove God on many other factors excluding the Bible. If I prove the Bible is true and God exists, would you want to become a Christian?
 
Can I show you some evidence for God, John? I’m not going to force you to believe, but if you are willing to look open mindedly I’ll show you some.
 
Regards, Reece

I responded to Reece’s email, and I promised to post his comments and to respond. Here is my response.

Regarding my need to establish which God is being discussed, too much is made of asking the question. It is standard and good practice before entering a discussion to  establish that both parties are using the same terminology. Of course we are talking about the God of Abraham. I never doubted that. I wanted Reece to say it, so I posed the question. That’s the only reason.

Reece talks of “apparent contradictions.” No. These are actual contradictions. Reece links to two sites dealing with apparent contradictions. I will proceed for now without digging into those. I will address those matters in a separate posting. Follow the blog to catch it when it gets posted.

Reece’s number 1. “This would appear to be a contradiction…” It is an actual contradiction. I will not allow anybody to explain this away with another made-up story. Introducing a made-up story to explain another made-up story does not accomplish anything. To explain away a made-up story what you need to do is to demonstrate that it is not made up.

Reece’s number 2. “It is possible that this 1,100,000 describes the grand total for Israel…” Again, no. This is a real contradiction and it cannot be explained away by a wave of the hand. Any serious reader will come to the conclusion that the Bible first says one thing and then later says something that contradicts what was said previously. Any reasonable and coherent text would include an explanation were there one to be given. There was not.

Reece’s number 3. “The solution to this one can be solved when we look at the verse before it.” All right. Let’s examine the context from BibleGateway.com:

1 Chronicles 21 King James Version (KJV)

21 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.

And Joab answered, The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.

And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.

But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king’s word was abominable to Joab.

And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.

And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

And the Lord spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying,

10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee

12 Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.

13 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.

14 So the Lord sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.

15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.

17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lordmy God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.

18 Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the Lord.

20 And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.

21 And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground.

22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the Lord: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.

23 And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.

24 And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.

25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.

26 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.

27 And the Lord commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.

28 At that time when David saw that the Lord had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there.

29 For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon.

30 But David could not go before it to enquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord.

2 Samuel 21 King James Version (KJV)

21 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.)

Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord?

And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you.

And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel,

Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, whom the Lord did choose. And the king said, I will give them.

But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the Lord‘s oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.

But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

11 And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done.

12 And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, which had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa:

13 And he brought up from thence the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged.

14 And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was intreated for the land.

15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint.

16 And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David.

17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

18 And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant.

19 And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

20 And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant.

21 And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimeah the brother of David slew him.

22 These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

2 Samuel 24 King James Version (KJV)

24 And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.

And Joab said unto the king, Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?

Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.

And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:

Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon,

And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beersheba.

So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.

And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,

12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.

14 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.

15 So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

16 And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.

18 And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.

19 And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the Lordcommanded.

20 And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.

21 And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people.

22 And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.

23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee.

24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

25 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

So there is the verse from 1 Chronicles and the two verses from 2 Samuel, and a reasonable person who reads these three will come to the conclusion that in one case the Bible says there were three years of famine during the time of David, and in the other case the Bible says there were seven years of famine in the time of David.

Reece’s number 4. “We aren’t given too much information here, but there are two solutions…” Again this appears to be searching for an explanation other than the one apparent to even a careful reader.

Reece states, “I could go on, but please do take a look at those two links above and check out the answers for yourself.” I will do that, and I will give my findings in a future post.

Reece says those “who believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God, know that all of these can be reconciled.” Those who believe so are invited to do so.

He also says, “[W]e can’t use the so called contradictions to disprove the Bible because there are answers to everyone of them…” Let’s not use these contradictions to disprove the Bible. Let’s use those contradictions to demonstrate the Bible was written by people who made mistakes. The Bible is the work of people, and it is not the work of an infallible being, natural or supernatural. Fallibility has been demonstrated. Where does this logically lead us?

Also, do you think if someone went to all the effort to make up the Bible, they would put in such obvious contradictions?” Apparently so. Not by design but through human fallibility.

If I prove the Bible is true and God exists, would you want to become a Christian?” If you can accomplish this I will do just about anything you command. I have currently posted an award of $12,000 payable to anybody who can do such a thing. That can be for starters if you like.

Can I show you some evidence for God.” Please do. That is what this blog site is all about. It is for critical analysis of all things that need such.

Keep reading. There will be more to follow.

Stronger Than Dirt

Restating the obvious – 2

Many months ago I posted the following:

Would that you had provided more of a challenge. I congratulate Michael Snyder, who is credited in the post I copied these from. He has dredged up what may be the most comprehensive collection of creationist nonsense I have come across in many years. This has been a refreshing tour and a reminder to me, and others as well, of the shallowness of the creationist argument. If there is any demonstration of the standing of modern science with respect to superstition and myth, these kinds of postings stand out. They are sorely appreciated.

Heartening to witness, a number of people commented. Most recent has been a comment from Reece Stevens:

All I’m seeing are some uneducated responses to famous scientists. And were they supposed to be arguments or just some one silly sentence with your uneducated opinion? Because all I was seeing were true scientific facts from Snyder, which you couldn’t even rebut, and silly little one sentence opinions from someone who doesn’t want to believe God exists.

That was worth a response, and I approved Reece’s comment, and I sent him an email:

I invite you to amplify on your statement. I will also respond in more depth where you believe clarification is necessary. For example,you mention “someone who doesn’t want to believe God exists.
On this point you completely misunderstand me. I have no desire to believe one way or the other. I am content to believe or not to believe. It just so happens I do not believe, since that is the way the evidence points.
Additionally, you may want to bring up why there should be a connection between God and biological evolution. The two would appear to exist in different fields of study. Can you expand on your thoughts about this?
Thanks for reading, and especially thanks for taking the time to comment.

Best regards and all that sort. He responded:

The reason I connected God into it is because I am just shocked by the fact there is lack of any evidence for evolution, and you’d expect people to recognise it straight away, but they still believe it. And really the only explanation as to why this is comes down to a quote from zoologist, D.M.S Watson: “Evolution is a theory universally accepted not because it can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.” It makes me think the reason evolution is accepted despite lack of evidence is because the only alternative requires believing in a God.

My response:

I finally got your name right. My apologies.
Your response is appreciated. I will post this dialog to a future item on Skeptical  Analysis.
First, I need to dispute D.M.S. Watson. There are alternatives besides God. That said, I do not believe in  God, and I have good reasons for doing so, and those reasons do not involve biological evolution. Details on request.
You mentioned “true scientific facts from Snyder, which you couldn’t even rebut…” I am thinking that at the time I made no attempt to rebut Snyder, because I wanted to give other readers the opportunity to chime in. In my future post I will address Snyder’s remarks.

So I promised  to  spell out at some length why I don’t believe in God, and biological evolution is not at the heart of it. To start, we need some definition. When we say “God,” what do we mean. We will assume we mean the God of Abraham, as described in the Bible. I’m going to say I do not believe in that God, and I will ignore all other Gods, besides which I do not believe in them either. And we start.

Before I can believe in God I need to know about God. You can’t not believe in something if you have never heard of it. There are a number of ways you can know about God in order to not believe:

  • You never heard of God before, but you made him (it?) up on your own.
  • You observed God first hand.
  • Somebody told you about God, else you would never have known about God.

I’m picking the third choice, because that’s how I learned about God. Somebody told me. If I want to believe in God I have to believe what somebody told me. This sort of thing generally needs some convincing. Here is something you would not consider on your own without outside advice from dsomebody, and it’s also something you never observed. Somebody told you. Are you convinced?

That depends. That depends on how convincing is the presentation from the person who told you about God. Is this person’s word reliable, and should you take this person’s word at face value without investigating? That depends. If the person is known to tell a fib from time to time, or if the claim is so outlandish as to boggle the mind, you might want additional evidence. In my case the person who first told me about God was a family member known to fabricate stories, but not often. Also, the story about God turned out to very hard to believe, with emphasis on very.

Of course I was informed I should not merely take this person’s story about God. There must be a higher authority. I will gloss over the number of church people of high standing who vouched for God, and I will go to  the ultimate source, because that is the source these preachers always gave. That source is the Bible. There is where God ran into  real trouble. If the Bible is the ultimate and true source, and if the Bible turns out to be an unreliable source, then it is going to be difficult to believe in God, especially when the concept of God lacks credibility. Let’s start with the Bible.

Genesis 1:1-5 King James Version (KJV)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And also:

Genesis 2:4-9 King James Version (KJV)

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

On the very first page the Bible gets into trouble both with fact and with internal consistency. To begin with, the two stories do not agree with known facts. They presume this planet is slightly more than 6000 years old. Also, here you have conflicting stories of the same events. There are additional places where the Bible contradicts itself. Take this example of the Bible attempting to tell who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel:

Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?

  • God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
  • Satan did (I Chronicles 21:1)

The Bible appears to give differing accounts of the same event. It’s worth seeing the exact wording:

2 Samuel 24:1 King James Version (KJV)

24 And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

1 Chronicles 21:1 King James Version (KJV)

21 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

And this goes sort of thing recurs in multiple instances. One source cites 100 more such instances. Here are some:

  1. In that count how many fighting men were found in Israel?
  • Eight hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
  • One million, one hundred thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
  1. How many fighting men were found in Judah?
  • Five hundred thousand (2 Samuel 24:9)
  • Four hundred and seventy thousand (I Chronicles 21:5)
  1. God sent his prophet to threaten David with how many years of famine?
  • Seven (2 Samuel 24:13)
  • Three (I Chronicles 21:12)
  1. How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem?
  • Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26)
  • Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)

God is omnipotent:

Genesis 1 King James Version (KJV)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

And God has limited abilities:

Judges 1:19 King James Version (KJV)

19 And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

There is all this and more. The Bible does not seem to be a reliable source of information.

But suppose. Suppose one of the following:

  • The Bible was transcribed by people, and from  time to time they made errors in transcription. The original intent of the Bible is correct, even if the wording is sometimes confusing.
  • The Bible was written by godly people who wanted to tell their story and to establish a basis for orderly life. What they wrote was a work of fiction with good intentions.

Other possibilities may exist, but the Bible should not be taken literally as a set of instructions for righteous living. That needs to come from those who interpret the Bible. But that abandons the Bible as a testimonial for the existence of God, and it’s the existence of God that is in  question.

We have to justify the existence of God (the God of Abraham) without resorting to the Bible. How?

First turn to the wonders of nature. How did all this marvelous stuff come into existence all by itself? The argument goes something like this.

  1. We don’t see airplanes assemble themselves.
  2. Animals, even the simplest living cell, are all more complex than an airplane.
  3. If an airplane cannot be assembled by purely natural means, it’s absurd to think a living cell can be.
  4. Some supernatural power must be at work here.
  5. That supernatural power must be the God of Abraham.

The argument for the existence of God moves steadily from points 1 through 4, but it hits a road bump at 5. It does not logically follow that God is the supernatural power argued for in 1 – 4. Any supernatural power of sufficient capability will suffice.

But then it will be argued that God is the only supernatural power acclaimed by people far and wide. And that’s your argument for God? But now you need to ask why God is acclaimed by people far and wide, and the answer is the biblical tale, demonstrated (see above) to be insufficient to demonstrate the existence of God.

You may argue that what is important is not the existence of God (the God of Abraham), but the divinity of Jesus. Really? Supposing Jesus was a real person, and I do not intend to disprove that, then we can conclude that at the least Jesus was a worthy philosopher and teacher, and we should live according to Jesus’ teachings. But not all of them. If the Bible is accurate in what it says, then Jesus had some distinctly unrighteous views. Jesus saw nothing immoral with slavery and never preached against it:

Luke 12:47-48 King James Version (KJV)

47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Additionally:

Ephesians 6:5 King James Version (KJV)

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

A group called Focus on the Family a few years ago produced a series of videos featuring creationist Stephen C. Meyer. The first came out in 2009 and is titled “Does God Exist?” That “season” comprised 10 episodes, and I reviewed each, hoping to settle the question. My conclusion was that, at the very least, Meyer failed to make his case for the existence of God. If God exists, God exists without the benefit of creationist Stephen C. Meyer. The postings are back-linked, and you can start with Episode 11, which is a bonus feature concerning challenges fundamentalist Christians encounter when they leave home and venture into the outside world, particularly to college. A link to the previous post heads each posting, and you can click links until you arrive at the review of Episode 1. Then follow the entire series.

Focus in the Family released another video, this time in 2010, and the title is “Is the Bible Reliable?” There are ten episodes, and I reviewed them over four postings. Again you can start with number 4 and work your way back to the beginning and then review the entire series.

Readers can follow the remainder of my argument against the existence of God by reading these 14 reviews. Comments and questions are invited.

False Testament

Number 4 of a series

This is the fourth and last of my reviews of the video series, “Is the Bible Reliable?” The series is produced by Focus on the Family and features creationist Stephen C. Meyer. The video is marketed as a DVD containing ten episodes. The first six episodes cover the Old Testament, hitting on some high points that Meyer believes will make a case for the reliability of the Bible. As noted (see the above link) Meyer skips a large body of biblical  text that would sink any other publication.

The final four episodes deal with the New Testament, the contribution by Christians, telling the story of Jesus of Nazareth, his teachings, his trial and execution, and his return from the dead. Meyer wants to assure viewers all those doubts about the validity of the New Testament are groundless.

He wants to demonstrate the New Testament is reliable as a source of information due to several  characteristics:

  • A documentary style rather than a piece of satire (for example)
  • A reliable transmission—not a bunch of stuff mangled in retelling
  • Contemporaneous or as nearly contemporaneous with the events described
  • Corroboration  from  other sources
  • Reputable character of those telling the story

He demonstrates that Luke comes off as a historical work.

From BibleGateway.com:

Luke 1:1-4 King James Version (KJV)

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

He offers up early manuscripts to demonstrate the New Testament is truly an ancient work.

He references:

  • Codex Alexandrinus, 5th century A.D.
  • Complete Manuscript of the New (and Old) Testament in Greek

From Wikipedia:

The Codex Alexandrinus (London, British Library, MS Royal 1. D. V-VIII; Gregory-Aland no. A or 02Soden δ 4) is a fifth-century manuscript of the Greek Bible, containing the majority of the Septuagint and the New Testament. It is one of the four Great uncial codices. Along with the Codex Sinaiticus and the Vaticanus, it is one of the earliest and most complete manuscripts of the BibleBrian Walton assigned Alexandrinus the capital Latin letter A in the Polyglot Bible of 1657. This designation was maintained when the system was standardized by Wettstein in 1751. Thus, Alexandrinus held the first position in the manuscript list.

The Magdalen Papyrus, Gospel of Mathew (P64)

The “Magdalen” papyrus was purchased in Luxor, Egypt in 1901 by Reverend Charles Bousfield Huleatt (1863–1908), who identified the Greek fragments as portions of the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 26:23 and 31) and presented them to Magdalen College, Oxford, where they are cataloged as P. Magdalen Greek 17 (Gregory-Aland {\displaystyle {\mathfrak {P}}}{\mathfrak {P}}64) and whence they have their name. When the fragments were finally published by Colin H. Roberts in 1953, illustrated with a photograph, the hand was characterized as “an early predecessor of the so-called ‘Biblical Uncial'” which began to emerge towards the end of the 2nd century. The uncial style is epitomised by the later biblical Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus. Comparative paleographical analysis has remained the methodological key for dating the manuscript: the consensus is ca AD 200.

And possibly the earliest, the John Rylands (P52) Fragment.

The Rylands Library Papyrus P52, also known as the St. John’s fragment and with an accession reference of Papyrus Rylands Greek 457, is a fragment from a papyrus codex, measuring only 3.5 by 2.5 inches (8.9 by 6 cm) at its widest; and conserved with the Rylands Papyri at the John Rylands University Library ManchesterUK. The front (recto) contains parts of seven lines from the Gospel of John 18:31–33, in Greek, and the back (verso) contains parts of seven lines from verses 37–38.[3] Since 2007, the papyrus has been on permanent display in the library’s Deansgate building.

Meyer wants to compare the meager New Testament holdings with those of other famous works.

A favorable Comparison

  • Gallic Wars by Caesar, written  in 55 B.C., earliest manuscript from 850 A.D. 10 mss extant.
  • Histories by Tacitus, written in 100 A.D., earliest manuscript from 900 A.D., 2 mss extant.
  • History by Thucydides, written in 430 B.c., earliest manuscript from  900 A.D., 8 mss extant.

This last part echoes from a few years back when Michael Shermer debated Douglas Geivett at the University of Texas at Arlington.

This was our first encounter with Douglas Geivett, but a number of the more erudite have studied his writings and arguments. Richard Carrier has reviewed In Defense of Miracles. In “Geivett’s Exercise in Hyperbole” Carrier takes issue with Geivett’s lack of understanding of history:

He then issues a comparison, in the voice of a mock critic, asserting that the resurrection of Jesus is as historically evidenced as Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon in 49 B.C. 3

Geivett’s over the top comparison of the resurrection with this well-established historical event severely blunts the credibility of any other arguments he might make, and it takes some of the shine off his professed piety. Whether he will continue to be an effective proponent of the reality of God will depend on how well he controls his handling of the truth. His standing as a creationist, however, is looking brighter all the time.

That footnote reference links to this:

It should be clear that we have a huge number of reasons to believe that Caesar crossed the Rubicon, all of which are lacking in the case of the resurrection. In fact, when we compare all five points, we see that in four of the five evidences of an event’s historicity, the resurrection has no evidence at all, and for the one kind of evidence it does have, it has not the best, but the very worst kind of evidence–a handful of biased, uncritical, unscholarly, unknown, second-hand witnesses.

In Episode 8 Meyer addresses the early composition of Luke and Acts. He argues there is evidence they are (nearly) contemporaneous.

People, Positions and Places

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus:

Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

The biblical quotes are from BibleGateway.com.

Roman Rule of Cyprus

  • Up to 22 BC, Imperial Province. Legate.
  • 21 BC and after, Senatorial Province According to Luke.
  • Paul and Barnabas meet the proconsul Sergius Paulus in Cyprus.

The point here is that differing Roman territories were ruled either by Caesar, and the local ruler was call a legate, or they were ruled by the Senate, and the local ruler was called a proconsul. Paul got it right when referring to the ruler as a proconsul for the date of his supposed visit.

There is the Temple Warning Inscription.

The Temple Warning inscription, also known as the Temple Balustrade inscription or the Soreg inscription, is an inscription from the Second Temple in Jerusalem, discovered in 1871 by Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau and published by the Palestine Exploration Fund. Following the discovery of the inscription it was taken by the Ottoman authorities, and it is currently in the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.

From BibleGateway.com:

Acts 21:27-28 King James Version (KJV)

27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

Luke, writing for Acts, got this right.

In Episode 9 Meyer takes up external corroboration.

There is the Miracle of Cana:

The transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of JohnIn the Gospel account, Jesus, his mother and his disciples are invited to a wedding, and when the wine runs out, Jesus delivers a sign of his glory by turning water into wine.

The location of Cana has been subject to debate among biblical scholars and archeologists; several villages in Galilee are possible candidates.

 

Miracle at Cana

“Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification …”

– John 2:6

Meyer observes John 2:6 got that right. This was the time stone water pots were used, rather than clay ones.

I was amazed Meyer brought up the James Ossuary:

The James Ossuary is a 1st-century chalk box that was used for containing the bones of the dead. The Aramaic inscription: Ya’akov bar-Yosef akhui diYeshua (English translation: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”) is cut into one side of the box. The inscription is considered significant because, if genuine, it might provide archaeological evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. However, the authenticity of the inscription has been challenged.

Meyer apparently made this video in  2010, seven years after this artifact was demonstrated to be a fake:

In 2003, The Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) determined that the inscriptions were forged at a much later date. In December 2004, Oded Golan was charged with 44 counts of forgery, fraud and deception, including forgery of the Ossuary inscription. The trial lasted seven years before Judge Aharon Farkash came to a verdict. On March 14, 2012, Golan was acquitted of the forgery charges but convicted of illegal trading in antiquities. The judge said this acquittal “does not mean that the inscription on the ossuary is authentic or that it was written 2,000 years ago”. The ossuary was returned to Golan, who put it on public display.

Meyer notes some key facts.

Some Key Facts

  1. Paleographical analysis of the inscription dates the ossuary between 20 B.C. and 70 A.D.
  2. Reburial by ossuary was done primarily in the city of Jerusalem between the late 1st century B.c. and 70 A.D.
  3. Only wealthy and prominent people had their bones placed in ossuaries. Inscriptions incurred further expense and expertise.

Episode 10 concludes the video series with the trial of Jesus.

I  will mention some artifacts and some quotes that Meyer asserts attest to the reliability of the scriptural account of Jesus. First there is the authenticity of Herod Antipas.

Herod Antipater (GreekἩρῴδης ἈντίπατροςHērǭdēs Antipatros; born before 20 BC – died after 39 AD), known by the nickname Antipas, was a 1st-century ruler of Galilee and Perea, who bore the title of tetrarch (“ruler of a quarter”) and is referred to as both “Herod the Tetrarch” and “King Herod” in the New Testament although he never held the title of king. He is widely known today for accounts in the New Testament of his role in events that led to the executions of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.

There is the finding of Peter’s House in Capernaum:

Capernaum (/kəˈpɜːrniəm/ kə-PUR-nee-əmHebrewכְּפַר נַחוּם‎, Kfar NahumArabic: كفر ناحوم, meaning “Nahum’s village” in both languages) was a fishing village established during the time of the Hasmoneans, located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It had a population of about 1,500. Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other. A house turned into a church by the Byzantines is said to be the home of Saint Peter.

Peter’s House

  • 4th century A.D. writings of the Pilgrim Egeria, say, “And in Capernaum, what is more, the house of the prince of the apostles [Peter] has been turned into a church, leaving its original walls however quite unchanged.”

Josephus is one person who is presumed to have spoken with people who knew Jesus:

The works of Josephus include material about individuals, groups, customs, and geographical places. Some of these, such as the city of Seron, receive no mention in the surviving texts of any other ancient authority. His writings provide a significant, extra-Biblical account of the post-Exilic period of the Maccabees, the Hasmonean dynasty, and the rise of Herod the Great. He refers to the Sadducees, Jewish High Priests of the time, Phariseesand Essenes, the Herodian Temple, Quirinius‘ census and the Zealots, and to such figures as Pontius PilateHerod the GreatAgrippa I and Agrippa IIJohn the BaptistJames the brother of Jesus, and to Jesus (for more see Josephus on Jesus). Josephus represents an important source for studies of immediate post-Temple Judaism and the context of early Christianity.

From Tufts University:

[63] Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

Finally, there are historians mentioning Jesus.

Historians Mentioning Jesus

  • Titus Flavius Josephus, Yosef Ben Matityahu (ca. 37-100 A.D.)
  • Publius Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 56-117 A.D.)
  • Mara Bar-Serapion (late 1st century A.D.)
  • Flavius Lustinus, Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165 A.D.)
  • Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (ca. 9230 A.D.)
  • Pliny the Younger, ca 61-113 A.D.)

Taking them in turn.

Titus Flavius Josephus, already noted.

Publius Gaius Cornelius Tacitus.

A survey of the literature indicates that this citation by Tacitus has not been given enough regard, having often been overshadowed by the citations in Josephus (see next entry). Respected Christian scholar R. T. France, for example, does not believe that the Tacitus passage provides sufficient independent testimony for the existence of Jesus [Franc.EvJ, 23] and agrees with G. A. Wells that the citation is of little value.

It is unfortunate that France so readily agreed with Wells’ assessment. An investigation into the methods and background of Tacitus, as reported by Tacitean scholars (whose works, incidentally, France does not consult), tells us that this is an extremely reliable reference to Jesus and for early Christianity.

Mara Bar-Serapion:

The letter has been claimed to include no Christian themes[2][4] and many scholars consider Mara a pagan, although some suggest he may have been a monotheist.[3] Some scholars see the reference to the execution of the “wise king” of the Jews as an early non-Christian reference to Jesus. Criteria that support the non-Christian origin of the letter include the observation that “king of the Jews” was not a Christian title, and that the letter’s premise that Jesus lives on in his teachings he enacted is in contrast to the Christian concept that Jesus continues to live through his resurrection. Another viewpoint is that he could be referring to the resurrection recorded in Jesus’s teachings which say he lived on, that would mean we don’t know if he believed the resurrection happened or not and leaves it up to speculation whether he was a Christian or a non-Christian who agreed with Christians as regarding Jesus as a “wise king” according to the Gospels.

Flavius Lustinus:

The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia notes that scholars have differed on whether Justin’s writings on the nature of God were meant to express his firm opinion on points of doctrine, or to speculate on these matters. Specific points Justin addressed include that the Logos is “numerically distinct from the Father” though “born of the very substance of the Father,” and that “through the Word, God has made everything.” Justin used the metaphor of fire to describe the Logos as spreading like a flame, rather than “dividing” the substance of the Father. He also defended the Holy Spirit as a member of the Trinity, as well as the birth of Jesus to Mary when she was a virgin. The Encyclopedia states that Justin places the genesis of the Logos as a voluntary act of the Father at the beginning of creation, noting that this is an “unfortunate” conflict with later Christian teachings.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus:

The Roman historian Suetonius (c. AD 69 – c. AD 122) mentions early Christians and may refer to Jesus Christ in his work Lives of the Twelve Caesars.

One passage in the biography of the Emperor Claudius Divus Claudius 25, refers to agitations in the Roman Jewish community and the expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius during his reign (AD 41 to AD 54), which may be the expulsion mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (18:2). In this context “Chresto” is mentioned. Some scholars see this as a likely reference to Jesus, while others see it as referring to an otherwise unknown person living in Rome.

Pliny the Younger:

In any event, the value of the Pliny letter as “evidence” of Christ’s existence is worthless, as it makes no mention of “Jesus of Nazareth,” nor does it refer to any event in his purported life. There is not even a clue in it that such a man existed. As Taylor remarks, “We have the name of Christ, and nothing else but the name, where the name of Apollo or Bacchus would have filled up the sense quite as well.” Taylor then casts doubt on the authenticity of the letter as a whole, recounting the work of German critics, who “have maintained that this celebrated letter is another instance to be added to the long list of Christian forgeries…” One of these German luminaries, Dr. Semler of Leipsic provided “nine arguments against its authenticity…” He also notes that the Pliny epistle is quite similar to that allegedly written by “Tiberianus, Governor of Syria” to Trajan, which has been universally denounced as a forgery.

Despite Meyer’s enthusiasm for his list of historical reference to Jesus, these seem paltry at times. However, in religion enthusiasm counts for a lot.

Suppose…

Suppose we grant Meyer all his points about when the texts were written and how these place names and these people are as told in the Bible (including the New Testament). There is one thing he cannot get past. The details can be demonstrated to have been fabricated. Some examples are in called for. Refer to previous posts for examples I am not repeating here. These are new.

A talking donkey:

Numbers 22:26-30 King James Version (KJV)

26 And the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.

27 And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.

30 And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay.

Nay, indeed. Here is another:

Luke 22:41-44 King James Version (KJV)

41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

You may have noticed Jesus was by himself, with nobody around to hear him. So, who is writing down what he’s saying?

Jesus was born in Bethlehem? Really? Why? Mary and Joseph were required to travel to Bethlehem (from Nazareth) for a census (for tax purposes). Really? Since when did the Romans, or any other government require this? From all appearances this is made up in order for Jesus to fulfill the prophesy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

The nativity of Jesus or birth of Jesus is described in the gospels of Luke and Matthew. The two accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the time of Herod the Great to a betrothed virgin whose name was Mary. There are, however, major differences. Matthew has no censusannunciation to the shepherds or presentation in the Temple, implies that Jesus’s parents’ home is Bethlehem, and has him born in a house there, and has an unnamed angel appear to Joseph to announce the birth. In Luke there are no Magi, no flight into Egypt, or Massacre of the Innocents, Joseph is a resident of Nazareth, the birth appears to take place in an inn instead of the family home, and the angel (named as Gabriel) announces the coming birth to Mary.[1] While it is possible that Matthew’s account might be based on Luke, or Luke’s on Matthew, the majority of scholars conclude that the two are independent of each other.[1]

From where I observe, Meyer is clawing at the air to validate the Bible to a bunch of Christian youth. His aim is to ensure they (and viewers) retain their faith in the Bible and thereby retain their faith in Christianity. Were I a cynic among them this sort of hoax would only put me off the message of The Lord. Which is pretty much what happened with me, about 60+ years ago.

I watched to  the end of Episode 10 streaming on Amazon Prime Video (where I obtained these screen shots), and when that finished another episode started up, featuring not Stephen C. Meyer, but Del Tackett, former president of Focus on the Family. It’s Episode 1 of Season 3, with Season 3 having the title, “Who is Jesus?” Season 3 does not appear on Amazon’s Prime Video menu. You may have to do a search to find it. I make no promises I will watch and review Season 3, except.. Except that Amazon may have this available for a limited time, and I  would hate to let slip the opportunity to watch it without having to  pay the $25+ to purchase a DVD.

Keep reading. God may grant your wish.

False Testament

Number 2 of a series

This is the second part of my review of the video “Is the Bible Reliable?” from Focus on the Family. In the first installment I reviewed creationist Stephen C. Meyer‘s presentation purporting to demonstrate the validity of the biblical story of the Patriarch. Next up, in episodes 2 and 3, Meyer seeks to validate the biblical story of the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan by the Israelites.

By this time I have found Meyer’s justifications tiresome, and in response I am not going to produce a point-by-point rebuttal. I will post a few points of his presentation and conclude with what should be obvious.

Meyer discusses the skeptical view of the Exodus. He presents two different views.

The Exodus: The Skeptical Views

  • There was no exodus of the nation of Israel from Egypt.
  • The Exodus happened, but it happened later than the Bible indicates.

I hold to the first view. The Israelites were never in Egypt, and there was no Exodus. Archaeological evidence is that the Israelites always lived in region west of the Jordan River. From Daniel Lazare’s recount of the archaeological findings:

Finkelstein and Silberman concluded that Judah and Israel had never existed under the same roof. The Israelite culture that had taken shape in the central hill country around 1200 B.C. had evolved into two distinct kingdoms from the start. Whereas Judah remained weak and isolated, Israel did in fact develop into an important regional power beginning around 900 B.C. It was as strong and rich as David and Solomon’s kingdom had supposedly been a century earlier, yet it was not the sort of state of which the Jewish priesthood approved. The reason had to do with the nature of the northern kingdom’s expansion. As Israel grew, various foreign cultures came under its sway, cultures that sacrificed to gods other than Yahweh. Pluralism became the order of the day: the northern kings could manage such a diverse empire only by allowing these cultures to worship their own gods in return for their continued loyalty. The result was a policy of religious syncretism, a theological pastiche in which the cult of Yahweh coexisted alongside those of other Semitic deities.

For Meyer it is necessary first to demonstrate the Israelites were once enslaved in Egypt. Among other things, he puts up a graphic from the period that is supposed to  show an Egyptian master holding sway over Semite slaves.

Semitic Slaves in Egypt

Semitic slaves as builders and brickmakers with a quota to fulfill under the command of task masters in 16th to 13th century B.C. texts such as the Tomb of Rekhmire, Louvre Leather Roll and Papyrus Anastasi III.

“But the quota of bricks which they were making previously you shall impose on them”

Exodus 5:8

Meyer does not link to the mass of counter evidence, as he is not required to in this instance, it being a polemic seeking to counter denial of the Exodus. However, the Wikipedia entry for the Exodus has a lengthy rebuttal with links to authoritative sources:

The consensus of modern scholars is that the Bible does not give an accurate account of the origins of Israel.[26] There is no indication that the Israelites ever lived in Ancient Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula shows almost no sign of any occupation for the entire 2nd millennium BCE, and even Kadesh-Barnea, where the Israelites are said to have spent 38 years, was uninhabited prior to the establishment of the Israelite monarchy.[27] Such elements as could be fitted into the 2nd millennium could equally belong to the 1st, and are consistent with a 1st millennium BCE writer trying to set an old story in Egypt.[28] So while a few scholars, notably Kenneth Kitchen and James K. Hoffmeier, continue to discuss the historicity, or at least plausibility, of the story, arguing that the Egyptian records have been lost or suppressed or that the fleeing Israelites left no archaeological trace or that the large numbers are mistranslated, the majority have abandoned the investigation as “a fruitless pursuit”

Meyer pursues the same line as Kitchen and Hoffmeier, arguing the absence of records only enforces the validity of the biblical claim. He presses his case for the existence of Israelites in Egypt by displaying a graphic, depicting the reconstruction of a dwelling in the Nile Delta. This dwelling is in a style known only to the Israelites.

To the rankest of amateurs, that would include me, this is not evidence of in excess of 600,000 Israelite slaves in Egypt. At the most it indicates somebody, possibly from the land of the Israelites, constructed a home here on the plan of an Israelite style.

God, with the help of Moses, freed the Israelite slaves from their Egyptian masters and struck off to the east, where God promised them they could have the land of Canaan. Forty years later they arrived there, without leaving a trace of their 40-year habitation during the interim. Upon arriving at the east bank of the Jordan river, with Moses now dead, Joshua took charge and engaged, with God’s approval and connivance, in a war to obliterate the people already living west of the Jordan. This is the story of The Conquest.

The Israelite Conquest

  • Before entering Canaan, God commanded the Israelites to drive the Canaanites out of the land and to settle it (Numbers 33:50-53).
  • With Joshua as their leader, the Israelites began the conquest of Canaan by destroying and burning Jericho, on  the west side of the Jordan River (Joshua 6:1-21).
  • The next city the Israelites destroy by fire is Ai in the central hill country (Joshua 8:3-28).
  • The third and final city that the Israelites under Joshua burn and destroy is Hazor in the north (Joshua 11:10-14).
  • During the Judges period, the Israelites slowly gain control over more of Canaan.

The Israelite Conquest

And here’s the good part.

Joshua 11:10-13

“Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly as the head of all these kingdoms. They struck every person  who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was no  one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire.”

What I find so amazing is this is the same Stephen C. Meyer who in the previous video cautioned us against moral relativism.

Moral relativism, according to Meyer and also according to most who give thought to the matter, holds there is no fixed and true morality. Moral values are at best set by societies and in the worst cases are set by individuals. Individuals who set their own moral values may become social outcasts and usually do harm to themselves, with harm being a relative term.

How come this reminds me of ISIS? I have no better way to describe moral relativism than stories of God, the giver of moral absolutes, condoning, yeah facilitating, the slaughter of innocents. “If he does it to me, then it’s wrong.” I said that.

Meyer goes on to persuade us the Conquest, described in the Bible, has a factual basis. Readers are invited to scratch the surface of this argument and see what lies beneath.

The order of books in the Old Testament is:

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges

And more. I’m thinking Meyer has now taken us through Judges, but there may be more. I have not previewed the video. In all this Meyer has presented what is surely his strongest case, but in doing so he has passed completely by the most onerous claims against the Bible. This book cites events and circumstances even Meyer would disavow. To cite some:

  • In Genesis the creation of the Earth a little over 6000 years ago.
  • The story of Noah and the flood that never happened.
  • The parting of the Red Sea.
  • The story from Joshua of the sun standing still in the sky.

Watching the video you will come to acknowledge that Meyer is a master presenter. He delivers faultlessly and with earnest commitment. If he suspects for a moment that what he is telling his student is a massive fraud, he never lets on. Look into his eyes as he presents, and you will see that if he knows it is not true, he also knows it has to be true.

The next review will start with Episode 4: “Israel’s Rise to Prominence through David and Solomon.” From Amazon:

Discover that if one can discount the historicity of the bible, its theological implications and message can also be dismissed. But if these stories prove to be true, then the message and meaning of the Bible must be taken seriously as well.

Keep reading.

False Testament

First of a series

 

 

With this series of reviews I am barging into a topic about which I know very little. That would be archeology, the study of old stuff. We will see how it turns out.

But first I need to discuss Focus on the Family. Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

Focus on the Family (FOTF or FotF) is an American Christian conservative organization founded in 1977 in Southern California by psychologistJames Dobson, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.[3] It is active in promoting an interdenominational effort toward its socially conservative views on public policy. Focus on the Family is one of a number of evangelical parachurch organizations that rose to prominence in the 1980s.

Focus on the Family’s stated mission is “nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide”.[4]It promotes abstinence-only sexual educationcreationism;[5] adoption by married, opposite-sex parents;[6] school prayer; and traditional gender roles. It opposes abortion; divorce; gambling; LGBT rights, particularly LGBT adoption and same-sex marriage;[7] pornography; pre-marital sex; and substance abusePsychologistspsychiatrists, and social scientists have criticized Focus on the Family for trying to misrepresent their research to bolster FOTF’s fundamentalist political agenda and ideology.

The core promotional activities of the organization include a daily radio broadcast by its president Jim Daly and his colleagues, providing free resources according to Focus on the Family views, and publishing magazines, videos, and audio recordings. The organization also produces programs for targeted audiences, such as Adventures in Odyssey for children, dramas, and Family Minute.

Here is what they have to say about themselves:

Focus on the Family is a global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive. We provide help and resources for couples to build healthy marriages that reflect God’s design, and for parents to raise their children according to morals and values grounded in biblical principles.

We’re here to come alongside families with relevance and grace at each stage of their journey. We support families as they seek to teach their children about God and His beautiful design for the family, protect themselves from the harmful influences of culture and equip themselves to make a greater difference in the lives of those around them.

All of this is to give readers a heads up. The core of Focus on the Family is not scientific rigor, so when I set out to review their video titled Is the Bible Reliable?, I went in expecting science and truth to be sacrificed on an alter of some sort. Since this one features creationist Stephen C. Meyer, as does the previous one, Does God Exist?, I expect not to be disappointed.

Also note the person in the image above. That’s David Stotts, host and narrator of at least the first two of this series of videos from Focus on the Family. Below is a screen shot from the title sequence of Episode 1. I am watching this on Amazon Prime Video, and I will start with the first episode, titled ” The Patriarchal Narratives & The Documentary Hypothesis.” Amazon has this to say:

Dr. Stephen Meyer begins to lay a historical foundation for the accuracy of the biblical text by looking into the lives of Abraham and his descendants.

By way of introduction, Here is Meyer addressing students in a dramatized seminar at a college campus.

Throughout, as was the case with the previous video, Meyer puts up a sequence of presentation foils, and I have captured some of them to assist in narrating.

Here’s the text from above:

Theories Undermining the bible’s Historicity

Where do they come from historically?
What’s the intellectual background?
What are the assumptions that the advocates of these theories make?

Meyer is going to kick off by attacking the credibility of the arguments against biblical historicity. Fifteen years ago James Cunliffe gave a presentation to the North Texas Skeptics on biblical historicity. Here is an excerpt from the meeting report:

Scientist have gone head-to-head with creationists on the matter of Genesis for two hundred years. For a long time it has been apparent the first story in the Bible just does not add up. Neither does the second biblical story, Exodus, according to James Cunliffe.

James Cunliffe has a Ph.D. in geology from Rutgers University, and he dabbles in archeology. He has previously lectured on the “rock wall” that gave Rockwall, Texas, its name. At the July NTS meeting he explained what has been talked around in archeological circles for years and is now popping up in the popular press. Not only is the story of the escape of the Jews from Egypt a myth, but there is no evidence there was ever such a large number (in the order of 600,000) of ancient Jews in the land of the Nile, much less as slaves building the pyramids.

A lot of the discussion pulled from a Harper’s article written by Daniel Lazare and titled “False Testament,” whence the title of these reviews. Follow the link, and you will find a link to a PDF of the Harper’s article. I have a copy, from which I obtain these excerpts:

False testament: archaeology refutes the Bible’s claim to history – Criticism
Harper’s Magazine,  March, 2002  by Daniel Lazare

Not long ago, archaeologists could agree that the Old Testament, for all its embellishments and contradictions, contained a kernel of truth. Obviously, Moses had not parted the Red Sea or turned his staff into a snake, but it seemed clear that the Israelites had started out as a nomadic band somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Mesopotamia; that they had migrated first to Palestine and then to Egypt; and that, following some sort of conflict with the authorities, they had fled into the desert under the leadership of a mysterious figure who was either a lapsed Jew or, as Freud maintained, a high-born priest of the royal sun god Aton whose cult had been overthrown in a palace coup. Although much was unknown, archaeologists were confident that they had succeeded in nailing down at least these few basic facts.

Also:

Some twelve to fourteen centuries of “Abrahamic” religious development, the cultural wellspring that has given us not only Judaism but Islam and Christianity, have thus been erased. Judaism appears to have been the product not of some dark and nebulous period of early history but of a more modern age of big-power politics in which every nation aspired to the imperial greatness of a Babylon or an Egypt . Judah, the sole remaining Jewish outpost by the late eighth century B.C., was a small, out-of-the-way kingdom with little in the way of military or financial clout. Yet at some point its priests and rulers seem to have been seized with the idea that their national deity, now deemed to be nothing less than the king of the universe, was about to transform them into a great power. They set about creating an imperial past commensurate with such an empire, one that had the southern heroes of David and Solomon conquering the northern kingdom and making rival kings tremble throughout the known world. From a “henotheistic” cult in which Yahweh was worshiped as the chief god among many, they refashioned the national religion so that henceforth Yahweh would be worshiped to the exclusion of all other deities. One law, that of Yahweh, would now reign supreme.

And much more. It is against narratives such as this one that Meyer is going to need to bring counter evidence, refuting not just one, but all the findings Lazare recounts in his article. If Meyer fails to validate a single point brought forth in the Bible as the divine truth, then that book can no longer claim to be infallible. As it turns out, very little that is in the Bible passes a test for validity. We will see how Meyer strives mightily to refute claims of the Bible deniers.

Start with the assertion that multiple people wrote the biblical text. Biblical scholars point out different names for God in different parts of the Bible, indicating different authors.

The Documentary Hypothesis: The Four

J (for Yahwist), 850 BC
E (for Elohist), 750 BC
D (for Dueteronomical), 621 BC (Josiah)
P (for Priestly Code), 570-530 BC

The person behind the name hypothesis was Julius Wellhausen:

Julius Wellhausen (17 May 1844 – 7 January 1918), was a German biblical scholar and orientalist. In the course of his career, he moved from Old Testament research through Islamic studies to New Testament scholarship. Wellhausen contributed to the composition history of the Pentateuch/Torah and studied the formative period of Islam. For the former, he is credited as one of the originators of the documentary hypothesis.

Wellhausen’s Reasons for Skepticism

  • Lack of archaeological or textual evidence
  • Use of different names for God in the Torah.

Meyer’s counter argument:

Thesis

  • Extra-biblical evidence corroborates the testimony of the Patriarchal narratives.
  • Several classes of external archaeological evidence have shown that the Documentary Hypothesis is untenable because the evidence “situates” the narratives in the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000-1550 B.C.).
  • Naturalistic assumptions about the origin of the Bible, gives rise to a view of the Bible that is at odds with the archaeological  and documentary evidence.

Meyer recounts Genesis 11:31.

Abram on a Journey

“Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and then went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there.

Genesis 11:31

He recounts the biblical story of the Abraham patriarchy.

The Patriarchal Period, Summary, Cont.

  • Jacob, son of Isaac, has his name changed to Israel and fathers 12 sons who become the 12 tribes of Israel.
  • Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, is sold into slavery and is taken to Egypt, where he rises to prominence and eventually saves Egypt and his entire family from famine.

The Patriarchs

From there Meyer moves to indirect evidence.

Categories of Indirect Evidence Situating the Patriarchal Narratives in the Middle Bronze Age

I. Covenants and social customs
II. Law codes indicating slave prices

the Patriarchs

The concept of situating is new to me. I pulled some references from a Google search:

Taussig, H. (Ed), Kotrosits, M. (Ed)

The Bible and Cultural Studies series highlights the work of established and emerging scholars working at the intersection of the fields of biblical studies and cultural studies. It emphasizes the importance of the Bible in the building of cultural narratives—and thus the need to intervene in those narratives through interpretation—as well as the importance of situating biblical texts within originating cultural contexts. It approaches scripture not as a self-evident category, but as the product of a larger set of cultural processes, and offers scholarship that does not simply “use” or “borrow” from the field of cultural studies, but actively participates in its conversations.

Meyer puts the biblical narrative into the context of historical (by means of archaeological study) customs.

I. Covenants

  • At Shekhna, an ancient city in Syria, an archive of the 18th century B.C. Akkadian tables was discovered.
  • Many tablets contained a specific type of covenant protocol unique to the early 2nd millennium B.C.

Middle Bronze cuneiform tablet

He explains how this relates to dating the biblical texts.

I. Covenants

  • These covenants contain 5 elements: witnesses (a deity), oath, stipulations, ceremony, & curse
  • This format mirrors Genesis 21:23-32, 26:29-31, and 31:51-54

– Same elements
– Generally 5 elements
– Roughly in the same order

  • But covenants in the Late Bronze Age contain 7 elements.

He gives some explanation. Who is witnessing this agreement, what is sworn to, stipulations (statements of fact), any ritual that accompanies the agreement, and finally the curse—what the person swears will happen to him if he does not fulfill the agreement.

Covenants referenced in Genesis have the five elements, but Genesis would have referenced seven elements had it been written in the Middle Bronze (much later).

The matter of social customs:

I. Social Customs

  • Ismael, born first, son of Hagar the slave. Isaac born to Sarah, Abraham’s wife and thus made heir and the son to carry on the family line (Genesis 21:10).
  • The Code of Hammurabi from  Babylon, (ca. 1760 B.C., laws 170-171) requires that the son(s) of a man’s first wife, not those of his female slaves, should be given preferential treatment in inheritance.
  • Patriarchal narratives reflect this and other social customs.

I likely missed this in Meyer’s narrative, but I fail to see how this ties the Genesis narrative to ca. 1760 B.C. I will let it pass.

The story of Joseph being sold into slavery.

Joseph Sold into Slavery

“Let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh. … they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver.

Genesis 37:27-28

What this is getting to is the historical record of the going price of slaves. Here is how Meyer uses the sale of Joseph to the historical time line.

Slave prices increased over time, ranging from  10 to 120 shekels over a period of 2000 years. All biblical accounts of slave prices are accurate to the time period the Bible purports to be describing.

See the graph.

Then there is the matter of personal names in  the historical time line.

III. Personal Names

  • Names such as Abraham, Abram, Aburahana, Abarama, Israel, Esau, Job, Zebulanu, Noah, Laban and Jacob appear in Early and Middle Bronze Age texts ca. 2400-1700 B.C.
  • These texts include Egyptian Execration texts, the Dilbat Tablets, Mari Tablets, and Ebla Tablets.

Cuneiform tablet and Execration text

He does a similar thing with place names.

IV. Place Names

  • Cities such as Ur, Haran, Hebron,  Sodom, Gomorrah, Laish, Salem (Jerusalem), and Shechem all appear in both the Patriarchal narratives and Middle Bronze Age texts.
  • Many of these sites have also been excavated and demonstrate Middle Bronze habitation just as Genesis describes.

Lament of Ur and MB gate at Dan/Laish

Now Meyers feels satisfied he has established his point of situating the biblical texts in the historical time line.

Categories of Indirect Evidence Situating the Patriarchal Narrative in the Middle Bronze Age

I. Covenants and social  customs

II. Law codes indicating slave prices

III. Personal names

IV. Place names

He lists four additional categories of indirect evidence.

Other Categories of Indirect Evidence Situating the Patriarchal Narratives in the Middle Bronze

  • V. Existence of the Amorites and Hurrians
  • VI. Nomadism
  • VII. Climate
  • VIII. Political cinditions

The Patriarchs

He next attacks some anachronisms skeptics have noted in the biblical text. One is the matter of the use of camels.

Alleged Anachronisms

  • A major criticism of historicity in the Patriarchal narratives is the claim that they contain obvious and blatant anachronisms.

One alleged anachronism is the presence of domesticated camels in the Middle Bronze Age.

Meyer counters with what he considers to be a refutation of the claim of anachronism. It’s the matter of domesticated camels that was brought up in  the Daniel Lazare article.

Domesticated Camels in Abraham’s time?

  • “Camel” is used in a domesticated sense 22 times in Genesis (12:16; 24:10-64; etc.) and 3 times in Job (1, 42).

[There is an archaeological graphic.]

Man leading a camel caravan ca. 2200 B.C.

  • Archaeological evidence from artwork, ancient documents and biological remains demonstrates that camels were domesticated in the Near East before 2000 B.C. and the time of Abraham.

What Meyer is saying is that, contrary to skeptics’ claims, camels were domesticated during the supposed time of Abraham. Here Meyer is either being careless with his research or else dishonest. Camels were domesticated by the time Meyer cites, but not in the Levant, the Eastern Mediterranean, what is now Israel. National  Geographic has published on the matter:

The study, published late last year in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, concerned the introduction of domesticated camels at copper smelting sites in Israel’s Aravah Valley.

The dromedary, or one-humped camel that so many tourists picture when they think of the Middle East, is mentioned in the Bible 47 times. Stories about the Jewish patriarchs—Abraham, Joseph, and Jacob—include descriptions of camels as domesticated animals. For example, Genesis 24:11 says, “And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.”

Historians believe these stories took place between 2000 and 1500 B.C., based on clues such as passages from Genesis, archaeological information from the site of the great Sumerian city of Ur (located in modern Iraq), and an archive of clay tablets found at the site of Mari (in modern Syria).

Using radiocarbon dating and evidence unearthed in excavations, Israeli archaeologists Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen have pegged the arrival of domesticated camels in this part of the world—known to scholars as the Levant—to a much later era. They were also able to more precisely pinpoint the time span when that arrival occurred.

No disrespect to Stephen C. Meyer, but given the choice of believing something from National Geographic and believing somebody with a history of promoting false science, I will go with National  Geographic any day.

Meyer wraps up Episode 1.

Conclusion

The form of treaties, covenants, cultural practices, lifestyle and place and personal names in  the Patriarchal narratives conforms to documentary evidence in external sources from the ancient Near East in the Middle Bronze Age. This evidence situates the origin of the text close to the time of the events it describes, contradicting the Documentary Hypothesis about the origin of the Torah.

I did not run a deep analysis of all of Meyer’s claims, and I have neither the background nor the resources to do so. However, in light of Meyer’s false posturing in matter of the camels, there is good reason to question the remainder of his presentation. Hints at inconsistency abound.

  • He mentions Noah, as though Noah were a real person. The story of Noah is demonstrated to be a complete fabrication. No archaeological or geological evidence exists for the Flood story of Genesis.
  • Meyer wants to validate the historicity of the Bible, yet he completely ignores the Bible’s most glaring defect. Specifically, “In the beginning…” Yes, the Bible gets it wrong from the very beginning. All evidence is contrary to the Earth and the Universe being created a few more than 6000 years ago. And this is galling in light of Meyer’s acceptance, in other presentations, of the reality of modern cosmology and the multi-billion year age of the Universe.
  • Meyer talks of the sale of Joseph as a slave and taken to Egypt, setting the scene for the Exodus. All evidence points to the fallacy of the Exodus story. The ancient Hebrews were never in Egypt but were likely situated in what is now Israel for all  their existence as a tribe-nation.

Possibly Meyer is going to address these points in one or more of the nine remaining episodes. I will be viewing these in coming days. Watch for a review. Coming up next is Episode 2 titled “The Exodus: From Egypt to Canaan.” From Amazon:

Historians have discussed the narrative of the Exodus story for centuries, but this is more than just a great drama; the Exodus is a revealing look into the nature and character of God Himself.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Fan Club

I’m turning another year, and it will be a long time before I see 70 again. In the meantime, there’s a quote from Abraham Lincoln that I keep coming back to:

You have heard the story, haven’t you, about the man who was tarred and feathered and carried out of town on a rail? A man in the crowd asked him how he liked it. His reply was that if it was not for the honor of the thing, he would much rather walk.

Do I feel like that man? No, I’m enjoying the ride while it lasts:

John Blanton, head slanderer for the North Texas Skeptics

Atheist, evolutionist, humanist, Bible hater, North Texas Skeptics staff.

John Blanton is on staff for the North Texas Skeptics and through this organization is directly associated with: Curtis Severns, Daniel Barnett, Elizabeth Hittson, Greg Aicklen, Jack Hittson, Joe Voelkering, John Blanton, John Brandt, John Thomas, Keith Blanton, Laura Ainsworth, Mark Meyer, Mark Meyer, Mel Zemek, Mike Selby, Prasad Golla, Ron Hastings, Tony Dousette, Virginia Barnett.

There is absolutely no question about it that this organization as a whole, is either ignorant of what their organization publishes and the facts that underlie, or is deliberately slanderously dishonest and a promoter of lies.

  1. Although John Blanton falsely accused Patton of misquoting most of his scientific references, Blanton has never supplied any shred of evidence to support this claim. Countless challenges have been made to him and his organization to come clean. Yet his organization continues to make this false unsubstantiated claim. Such is as evil as it is slanderous. We have had many different groups preen through these very quotes and in the end are satisfied Blanton’s claims are as unscholarly as they are vacuous.
  2. Although John Blanton falsely accused Patton of having a phony college degree. Blanton also stated that Patton has no formal training in geology and accused Patton of having a fake degree. When he was later directed to our page that details Dr. Patton’s credentials, he called Patton a lair. When Key authentic original documents were presented to Blanton, he accused Patton of forging these documents to support, “his phony degree”. Blanton actually contacted Jan Williamson, believing this person to be as fictitious as the letter. To Blanton’s horror, Jan Williamson was not only a VERY REAL PERSON, but also verified the letter was authentic. When Jan Williamson told John Blanton directly that the accreditation of the school where Patton earned his Ph. D. was valid, like Satan himself, Blanton continued speaking these lies against Patton. Rather than withdraw the charge as false and unsubstantiated, John Blanton, continues to this day with his slanderous accusations.
  3. Blanton and the North Texas Skeptics live by the rule, “If you say something false enough times, people will begin to believe it.” Or “throw enough mud and people will look dirty.” To this day, the North Texas Skeptics publishes documents that accuse Patton of having a phony degree, yet other than the 5 word title, there is no other information supplied. This is a well known internet scam trick to get the slanderous headlines into web crawler search engines. Such illustrates just how black a heart Blanton and his organization must really have to allow such things to exist at all!
  4. While openly slandering the name of Patton around the world, John Blanton cleverly keeps his name out of sight. John Blanton likes to cower in the dark caves of anonymity only surfacing to make slanderous, evil, unsubstantiated claims he knows, for sure are false. We know he knows they are false, because we have directly shown them to be false. But truth is not something he values. So in addition to being a dishonest liar, John Blanton is a coward. The North Texas Skeptics has no credibility or integrity because of it.

Nobody famous ever said it, but I have always had the feeling that a person’s worth can be measured by the caliber of his detractors. I will keep on keeping on.

People Unclear

This is number 22

These are coming fast—I’m having to space them out so they don’t begin to look like Astroturf. This is another one of those people appearing to be in dire need of professional help. Conservative activist Mary Colbert could be in need, unless… Unless she does not believe the stuff she’s trying to push. I will leave it for readers to decide. In the meantime, here is what Right Wing Watch is reporting:

Last week, conservative activists Don and Mary Colbert appeared on “The Jim Bakker Show” for the program, “Reclaiming the Land: Inauguration 2017.”

Mary Colbert—who, along with her husband, was listed by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign site as a pro-Trump “Christian leader”—said that Trump is “the chosen one of God” and anyone who challenges him will be cursed by God. That curse, she said, will extend to their children and grandchildren.

First, and before I get too far into this, I am gratified to learn that Donald Trump is the chosen one of God. I had been wondering who it might be. Now I see the light.

Now that we know who is the chosen one, it’s worth analyzing who or what has been doing the choosing. Yes, you got that right.

And that pretty much settles it. Mary Colbert, please get help. Soon.

Your Intelligence Insulted For Free

This does not appear to be a theatrical release, so it’s not being reviewed as a Bad Movie of the Week or even as a Bad Movie Wednesday. It’s something I caught on Amazon Prime Video, and in that respect I’m watching for free. Hence the title. A quick Internet search failed to turn up an analysis of this particular viewing, though there are a number of others with the same title. One is free on YouTube.

It’s The Rapture, no link available. Amazon has this to say about it:

We’ve all heard of the Rapture, and the rumored “second coming.” But what about a third coming? And has it been predicted, before our eyes, in the Book of Revelation? Unveil the shocking theories of scholars in this doc.

Credits list David Priest and Laura Pacini as editors. Technical consultants are

  • Dr. Noah Hutchings
  • Dr. Roy Knuteson
  • Patrick Lumbroso
  • Dr. Randall Price
  • Marsha Rano
  • Les Stevenson

Researchers are

  • Diane Cowan
  • Gerald Magnuson
  • Barbara Petty

The release date is stated as 2006. Dr. Charles Thurston, M.D. explains the concept. He is director of the Evidences Biblical Institute. This Dr. Charles Thurston, M.D. is not to be confused with Dr. Charles Thurston, M.D. from San Antonio, where I live.

therapture-01

Imagine, if you will, you are flying in an airplane, and suddenly the person sitting in the seat next to you disappears. Vanishes. No warning. No goodbye. I would even think in mid-sentence if a conversation were going on. What if one of the disappeared people were the pilot, with disastrous consequences. Even people driving automobiles, on the freeway. Driver-less cars careen into others, into  immovable objects. People all around just vanish without warning.

Something strange, to be sure. But consider those who don’t disappear. What about them? What about those left behind? And there’s the clue. This is going to be another of those Left Behind movies. A clip somewhere deeper into this video’s 50-minute run shows the late Dr. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind publications. Now you really know you have come here to have your intelligence insulted.

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Wikipedia relates the inspiration for Left Behind:

LaHaye indicates that the idea for the series came to him one day circa 1994, while he was sitting on an airplane and observed a married pilot flirting with a flight attendant. He wondered what would befall the pilot if the Rapture happened at that moment. The first book in the series opens with a similar scene. He sold the movie rights for the Left Behind series and later stated he regretted that decision, because the films turned out to be “church-basement videos”, rather than “a big-budget blockbuster” that he had hoped for.

And that introduces the concept of the rapture and the title of this production. The late Ernest Martin explains the rapture, a fairly modern idea. Martin was the author of The Essentials of New Testament, among other works.

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Wikipedia has some background on Ernest Martin:

Martin proposed a recalculation of the birth of Jesus in his books The Birth of Christ Recalculated (1978) and The Star that Astonished the World(1996). He argued that the “Star of Bethlehem” was the planet (or “wandering star” in antiquity) Jupiter, or Zedeq (“Righteousness”) in Hebrew, leading the wise men to Jesus in Bethlehem on December 25, 2 BCE, coinciding with the Jewish Festival of Lamps or Hanukkah that year. Dr. Martin argued that the birth of Jesus happened on the evening of September 11, 3 BCE, which corresponds to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year on the first of Tishri on the Jewish calendar.[3]

In his 1999 book The Temples that Jerusalem Forgot, Martin argued that the Haram al-Sharif is not the location of the last Temple. This was significant given his relationship with Herbert W. Armstrong whose editorial in The Plain Truth magazine was cited by Denis Michael Rohan as a reason for setting fire to the Al Aqsa mosque during the 1960s.

The basis of this work began with Martin’s first visit to Jerusalem in 1961 when he first met Benjamin Mazar and later his son Ory Mazar, who informed him of his belief that the Temples of Solomon and Zerubbabel were located on the Ophel mound to the north of the original Mount Zion on the southeast ridge. In a 1996 draft report to support this theory Martin wrote: “I was then under the impression that Simon the Hasmonean (along with Herod a century later) moved the Temple from the Ophel mound to the Dome of the Rock area.” However, after studying the words of Josephus concerning the Temple of Herod the Great, which was reported to be in the same general area of the former Temples, he then read the account of Eleazar who led the final contingent of Jewish resistance to the Romans at Masada which stated that the Roman fortress was the only structure left by 73 C.E. “With this key in mind, I came to the conclusion in 1997 that all the Temples were indeed located on the Ophel mound over the area of the Gihon Spring“. From these conclusions Martin produced his book in which he asserted that the Temples of Jerusalem were located over the Gihon Spring and not over the Dome of the Rock. He wrote: “What has been amazing to me is the vast amount of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian records that remain available from the first to the sixteenth centuries that clearly vindicate the conclusions that I have reached in this book of research.

Other works included Restoring the Original Bible (1984), Secrets of Golgotha (1987), 101 Bible Secrets (1991), The Biblical Manual (1985) and The Essentials of New Testament Doctrine (1999).

Martin explains the origin of the rapture, as viewed in current times. A 15-year-old Irish-Scottish girl named Margaret McDonald was ill in bed and had a vision of the End Times. This was in  1830, so the concept is modern relative compared to all biblical history. Wikipedia gives a history at variation with the video:

The rise in belief in the pre-tribulation rapture is often wrongly attributed to a 15-year-old Scottish-Irish girl named Margaret McDonald who was of the first to receive a spiritual baptism under a Pentecostal awakening in Scotland. In 1830, she had a vision of the end times which describes a post-tribulation view of the rapture that was first published in 1840. It was published again in 1861, but two important passages demonstrating a post-tribulation view were removed to encourage confusion concerning the timing of the rapture. The two removed segments were, “This is the fiery trial which is to try us. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus” and “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept”.

Cutting to the chase, the end of days notion is supported in the Bible almost solely by a few lines of text in 1 Corinthians:

therapture-04

From Bible Gate here is the full text:

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

The video presents a number of others weighing in on this fanciful fabrication, and the late Dr. J.R. Church is one of them.

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Dr. Church was author of Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms, which is available in paperback from Amazon. A variant seems also to be available for one penny from Amazon.

If by now you have noticed that a number of the contributors to this production have already left for another world, then you are not alone. For one, I feel fortunate to be among the left behind.

No biblical prophecy story would be complete without some choice religious art, and this has its share.

therapture-03

Where this seriously gets silly is where it stands fast for the veracity of ancient prophecies. Some quotes:

Narrator: When it comes to accuracy no one can hold a candle to the biblical prophets. Their record of prophecy is so far unblemished by any failure. Over 400 prophecies regarding the birth and the life of the savior were fulfilled in every respect. And many of us are witness to the fulfillment of prophecy in our own time, the prophecies of Ezekiel being just one example.

Whoa boy! Will the whoppers ever cease? Regarding fulfilled prophecies, Ezekiel should never be mentioned. Examples abound:

  • Ezekiel prophesies that Tyrus will be completely destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar and will never be built again. But it wasn’t destroyed, as evidenced by the visits to Tyre by Jesus and Paul (Mt 15:21, Mk 7:24, 31, Acts 21:3). 26:14,21, 27:36, 28:19
  • Ezekiel prophesies that Israel will reside in its homeland safely and securely, never again to fight neighboring nations. 28:24-26
  • Ezekiel makes another false prophecy: that Egypt would be uninhabited by humans or animals for forty years after being destroyed by Nebuchadrezzar. But there was never a time when Egypt was uninhabited. Humans and animals have lived there continuously since Ezekiel’s prophecy. 29:10-11
  • The rivers of Egypt (identified as the Nile in NIV, NASB, and RSV) shall dry up. This has never occurred. 30:12

This production further stretches weird when it begins to invoke Nostradamus:

Skeptics cast doubt upon the interpretation of Nostradamus’s quatrains (Randi 1993). Here is how James Randi and Cheetham read one of the more famous quatrains, allegedly predicting the rise of Adolph Hitler to power in Germany:

Bêtes farouches de faim fleuves tranner;
Plus part du champ encore Hister sera,
En caige de fer le grand sera treisner,
Quand rien enfant de Germain observa. (II.24)

Cheetham’s version:

Beasts wild with hunger will cross the rivers,
The greater part of the battle will be against Hitler.
He will cause great men to be dragged in a cage of iron,
When the son of Germany obeys no law.

Randi’s version:

Beasts mad with hunger will swim across rivers,
Most of the army will be against the Lower Danube.
The great one shall be dragged in an iron cage
When the child brother will observe nothing.

Neither translation seems to make much sense, but at least Randi’s recognizes that “Hister” refers to a geographical region, not a person. So does “Germania,” by the way; it refers to an ancient region of Europe, north of the Danube and east of the Rhine. It may also refer to a part of the Roman Empire, corresponding to present-day northeastern France and part of Belgium and the Netherlands. (Because Hister is an ancient name for the Danube region near Hitler’s childhood home, some think the reference is clearly to him.)

This is typical of interpretations of ancient prophecies. You wait for an event to happen. Then you interpret the prophecy in this light and suddenly realize, “Oh, dear Jesus, it was staring us in the face all this time.”

This production has little in the way of dramatic content. Although actors have been employed to portray some sequences (Margaret McDonald, Nostradamus, etc.), much of this is stock footage and interviews with biblical apologists. A quantity of the stock footage depicts modern day disasters, floods, fires, riots.

Strangely, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein prominently portrays modern despotism in action, but there is no mention of his downfall and subsequent execution by hanging. This despite his death being in December the year this was released.

Bat Shit Crazy

First of a series

PhilRobertsonTedCruz

Wisdom oft comes unbidden. And from the strangest places:

Gentlemen, young men, marry you a woman. Dude—if she’s clean, and you’re clean, and you marry her, and you keep your sex right there, you’re never going to get a debilitating disease and/or death. It’s safe!”

The prospect of never dying has long had my attention. Not so long Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. Stunned was I to hear such wisdom from the same mouth. The same mouth that has in the passed revealed serious lapses of comprehension:

I am guessing Robertson never heard of Emmett Till. I am guessing Robertson never noticed that black people were being denied the right to vote. I am guessing he never saw the governor of a state stand in the door of a school building to prevent a black student from entering. I am guessing Robertson never ventured over into Neshoba County, Mississippi. I’m guessing he never heard of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. I’m guessing Robertson missed a lot growing up in rural Louisiana.

Could you possibly imagine it’s the very same mouth that is delivering up the path to freedom from sickness and death. At this point I need to second guess the Oracle of West Monroe and conclude he is not actually promising eternal life free of the flu and cancer of the pancreas. What he likely means is that if you don’t bed down with a chick who has gonorrhea, syphilis, the crabs, and even AIDS, then you are going to avoid these modern maladies. Provided, of course, you don’t already have them, yourself.

Actually, the Duck Dynasty patriarch had more to say in his speech endorsing presidential candidate Ted Cruz, United States Senator from Texas. The video show him waving what appears to be a copy of the King James Bible. He proclaims, in part:

Vet what you say to the word of God. If you do, you know what? There won’t be any vile, filthy language coming out of your mouth. God said don’t do it.

Amazing! The answer is simple. The Bible (if I interpret correctly) is the word of God. We should follow the example of the Bible. Such as this one:

Ezekiel 23:1-8 King James Version (KJV)

23 The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,

Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:

And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.

And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.

And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours,

Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.

Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself.

Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.

Blessed be the word of the Lord. And blessed be he who brings us the word. Further blessed is he who will promote this wisdom to the highest stations in the land:

“So,” Cruz continued, “I’m seriously thinking about sending Robertson off to the UN, so he could establish some sense of order in Africa. You all heard his speech today. The man knows what he’s talking about, I dare even say he’s got a valid point. So, who better for the job than him? And another thing – because of the hygienic apocalypse that has been going on throughout Africa, we now have AIDS as a consequence. One of the most severe diseases that has plagued the human race in history today exists solely because of how dirty the peoples of Africa are. And the sad part is – they don’t even care about it. The men keep sleeping with infected women and keep spreading the virus as if it was nothing. That’s why we need someone with a firm hand to take control of things, to rule them with an iron fist and to teach them how to pick out the clean females. And I’ve got just the man for it. So, don’t go dismissing him before he’s even started the job.”

I’ve seen bat shit, and I’ve seen crazy, but I have to tell you this is bat shit crazy. Is there more? Does the bear…? Well, you know what the bear does. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

It was the best of times, it was the end of times.

One of a continuing series

FranklinGrahamSamaritinsPurse

Bad news haunts our dreams. As much as we dread the coming of the night, the dawn of each new day brings promise of unfathomed disaster. These are fearful times. Our world teeters on the edge of catastrophe. Humanity gropes for answers, which are freely offered:

The cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami in Japan have all the trappings of Armageddon, but there’s no way to know whether the end times are upon us, evangelist Franklin Graham tells Newsmax. His advice in the wake of the tragedy: Help your fellow man as much as you can, and always be prepared to meet your maker.

“What are the signs of [Christ’s] second coming? War and famine and earthquakes … escalating like labor pains,” says Graham, founder of The Samaritan’s Purse charity. “Maybe this is it, I don’t know. We should pray and be vigilant. The Bible teaches us Jesus is going to return someday. Many of us we believe that day is sooner rather than later.”

“Whether the end is in five years, 10 years, 100 years or 1,000 years, we need to be ready to stand before God,” Graham says in an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview.

Readers, that is wonderful news. It is immensely reassuring to learn the end may not come tomorrow, which it has not in fact. Reverend Graham’s message is from nearly five years ago, with no end in sight. I should add that Franklin Graham’s dire warning came in conjunction with the announcement his charity was forwarding 90 tons of relief supplies to the stricken region.

According to the CNN Belief Blog article that referenced this, Graham “is paraphrasing the Gospel of Matthew.”

Matthew 24 King James Version (KJV)

24 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Plus a bunch of other really bad stuff.

You can forget about the “10 years, 100 years or 1,000 years” business from five years ago. That was then. This is now. The latest from Reverend Graham is less encouraging:

Oct 27, 2015 05:10 PM EDT

The increasing number of natural disasters and global tragedies currently affecting our world, the Rev. Franklin Graham is warning that the second coming of Jesus Christ is definitely close at hand.

In a Facebook post shared on Tuesday, Graham, who is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse, identified two specific events in revealing why he believes we are living in the end days: The earthquake that struck Afghanistan and southern Asia on Monday, and the car accident that occurred during the Oklahoma State parade last Saturday.

“A magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck Afghanistan and southern Asia today and authorities say the number of casualties has already exceeded 200,” Graham wrote. “Pray for those suffering in the terrible aftermath and for those trying to provide rescue, relief, and medical care.”

He added, “This is a very difficult and dangerous part of the world. We know from God’s Word that earthquakes, famines, and wars will increase as the day of the Lord’s return draws nearer.”

In an earlier post, Graham urged prayers for the victims of the car accident at the Oklahoma State parade over the weekend. According to a report from Fox News, a 25-year-old woman crashed into the crowd, causing the death of four individuals, including a two-year-old boy.

Not included in the above is that somebody dinged my car in the parking lot earlier this year.

Depressing as this may be, I take comfort from one thing. People are no longer blaming me.

Short of blaming me, where else can we lay off this mess of human calamity? Others besides the Reverend Graham flash their authority and provide an explanation:

Q: Can you address something we hear many times, which is “Why would God allow natural disasters?”

Lutzer: One thing we have to remember is that the world is fallen. The Bible says that when man fell into sin, all of nature was cursed. In other words, it was impossible for a sinful man to live in a perfect environment of paradise, so all of nature is cursed.

But having said that, it doesn’t mean that God has a hands-off policy when it comes to natural disasters. Many people want to protect God from the clear teaching of the Bible, which shows He is involved in natural disasters. It is not that God causes them, but the very fact that He could prevent them shows that we need to face squarely the fact that natural disasters happen within God’s providence.

Let me give you a few examples. During the time of the plagues in Egypt, clearly God sent those plagues. Then you have the time of Noah; the flood obviously was sent by God. It says regarding Jonah, God hurled a storm into the sea. We must see God in natural disasters. The question, of course, is why does he allow them and what is there to be learned.

Q: What kinds of lessons can we learn from natural disasters?

Dr. Lutzer: Natural disasters are a megaphone from God and they teach us various lessons. First of all, natural disasters show us the uncertainty of life. Thousands of people wake up in the morning not knowing what is going to happen that day, such as the terrible devastation in Haiti and elsewhere. There was a couple that left California because they were afraid of earthquakes. Then when they came to Missouri, they were killed in a tornado. We can’t get away from the reality that life is very, very short and it’s possible for us to delude ourselves.

When we look at the news and see these disasters, it’s like a preview of the natural disasters that will someday come upon the earth. When you look at the second coming of Christ, you find many different natural disasters connected with it.

That was Pastor Erwin Lutzer of Chicago’s Moody Church. Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but the Reverend Lutzer has a knack for sorting things out. Here’s a guy not reduced to throwing up his hands and shouting “Shit happens.”

Prophecy

Right Wing Watch tracks the wisdom of such lights as Erwin Lutzer and End Times citizen reporter Rick Wiles. On 13 February of this year Brian Tashman reported on the Reverend Lutzer’s comments. From the audio clip:

For now, the far left and the jihadists have the same goal, namely the destruction of Christianity in America. They share that goal, and they also share the goal of destroying capitalism. So because of that you have the far left and the jihadists in cahoots. That’s why the far left will overlook human rights abuses, Islam’s treatment of women, etc. They’ll overlook all that, but they’ll attack Christianity.

Right Wing Watch summarized further:

Lutzer later explained that Obamacare is helping too many people gain health coverage, and as a result the “administration is encouraging Islamic doctors from all over the world to come to the United States.”

Since Obamacare is pushing doctors out of the practice and abortion rights are slowing population growth, Lutzer said, the U.S. now has “huge immigrant populations from the Muslim countries.”

Like all patriotic Americans, I am deeply distressed to learn that too many people are getting health care in this country. That is not what I had in mind when I voted for Barack Obama, twice.

Erwin Lutzer has elaborated on his thoughts in An Act of God, with a forward by Franklin Graham. I have other projects in the works, so I won’t be reviewing the book any time soon.

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Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Candidates Acting Stupidly

One of a continuing series

FiorinaPeopleOfFaithHitler

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. You can count on it. Politicians, especially candidates, are my favorite source when it comes to lessons in foolishness:

“I do think it’s worth saying,” Fiorina declared, “that people of faith make better leaders because faith gives us humility, faith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us, that each of us are gifted by God. Faith gives us empathy; we know that all of us can fall and every one of us can be redeemed. And faith gives us optimism, it gives us the belief that there is something better, that there is someone bigger than all of us. And so I think it’s important that we elect a leader of faith and that we elect a leader, as well, who knows that more prayer, not less, is necessary in public life and in all our lives.”

This was not presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s first encounter with the cow patty that is foolish pronouncement. Her path to national glory has already found its way to the warm and moist:

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina won applause in Wednesday’s debate for her vivid description of a live fetus she said was shown in an antiabortion group’s undercover video about Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

But the image she described isn’t in any of the videos released by the antiabortion group. Instead, one video from the group depicts a former employee of a tissue procurement company stating what she says she saw at a Planned Parenthood clinic. There was never any video that depicted, as Ms. Fiorina stated, a live fetus on a table being prepared for organ harvesting.

As remarkable as was Fiorina’s stance on the non-existent video, her latest is no measure of poetic license. Some dissection will illustrate:

[F]aith gives us humility.”

Let’s see how that works. Here is a snippet from what I gather to be Fiorina’s handbook on faith:

Zechariah 13:3 King James Version (KJV)

And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.

Be we be ever so humble.

“[F]aith teaches us that no one of us is greater than any other one of us.” For example:

Jeremiah 50:21-22 King James Version (KJV)

21 Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the Lord, and do according to all that I have commanded thee.

22 A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.

“[E]ach of us are gifted by God:”

Deuteronomy 13:6-10 King James Version (KJV)

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

“Faith gives us empathy. ” See above.

“And faith gives us optimism:”

Revelation 20:11-15 King James Version (KJV)

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

 

I am really looking forward to that. In truth, rather than people of faith, I enjoy a world populated by people with good sense. People of faith give me a pain.

Not yet

Not yet

** FILE ** President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, in this May 1, 2003 file photo. Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 sent Iraq legislation setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals to President George W. Bush and a certain veto.  On the fourth anniversary of the president's "Mission Accomplished" speech, Senate Majority Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that Bush "has put our troops in the middle of a civil war. A change of course is needed."  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

** FILE ** President Bush declares the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, in this May 1, 2003 file photo. Democratic congressional leaders on Tuesday, May 1, 2007 sent Iraq legislation setting timetables for U.S. troop withdrawals to President George W. Bush and a certain veto. On the fourth anniversary of the president’s “Mission Accomplished” speech, Senate Majority Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that Bush “has put our troops in the middle of a civil war. A change of course is needed.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Four Shades Of Lunacy

FourBloodMoonsCover-01

Who gets my attention this time? Rather, again? It’s Pastor John Hagee, again. Back in May I had this to say, in part:

But this is not about wacko right wing religious fanatic Rick Wiles. This is about another wacko right wing religious fanatic. It’s about one who does his wacko just a few miles from my house. It’s about wacko right wing religious fanatic John Hagee. More specifically, The Reverend Hagee has written a book Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change, and what a fascinating book it is. Fascinating, yes, surprising, no. It’s the kind of book we should expect from a WRWRF.

And darned if I didn’t have to purchase the book just to make sure it was what I thought it was. I did, and it was. And more shades of lunacy I have never before seen. Where to begin? How about if I begin by quoting from Pastor Hagee’s silly book and adding pertinent comments.

During our conversation, he asked me if I had ever studied the sun, moon, and stars as a source of prophetic revelation. My answer was quick and truthful.

“No.”

Pastor Biltz immediately responded, “You should! I believe God is trying to speak to us, and we’re not listening!”

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 13). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Pastor Hagee had traveled to Seattle to meet with Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries for a conference “Night to Honor Israel.” He had previously established Christians United For Israel. I receive his email newsletters.

Six years earlier, on February 6, 2006, I had invited four hundred of America’s foremost evangelical leaders to join me at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, to form a national organization called Christians United for Israel. The purpose of our organization is to bring Christians and Jews together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and brotherly love, in order to emphasize that what we have in common is far greater than the differences we have allowed to separate us over the centuries.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 2). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The suggestion from Pastor Biltz that messages are in the sun, moon, and stars is not new. Astrologers have been telling us this for centuries. Pastor Hagee wants to differentiate astronomy and astrology, to what end is not clear:

Astronomy is the science of studying the movements and positions of planets and stars. For example, the North Star never moves. Knowing where the North Star is has helped captains of ships sail the seven seas of earth for centuries. God Almighty created the stars, and He “calls them all by name” (Psalm 147: 4).

Astrology is the worship of stars, which is occultic and pagan. People who make choices based on the stars are seeking guidance for their lives from things created rather than from the Creator. This is a violation of the law of Almighty God (Romans 1: 20– 21; Exodus 20: 4).

In this book, our discussion of the stars and moon in biblical prophecy is based on the Word of God, history, and the science of astronomy— and never refers to astrology.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (pp. 15-16). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I am glad Pastor Hagee set us straight on that point. I was beginning to be confused. If my confusion was dissipated by Pastor Hagee’s soothing words, it was subsequently restored a few pages later. The item that brought me to the book in the first place (earlier this year) was Hagee’s reference to the Russian meteorite fall a few months back:

The ten-thousand-ton meteor lit up the Russian skies before crashing into the earth, causing shockwaves that injured twelve hundred people and damaged thousands of homes in an event unprecedented in modern times.

A priest near the explosion site called it “an act of God.” A fireball traveling at forty-four thousand miles per hour with a long, blazing white tail visible one hundred twenty-five miles away has to be considered a sign from heaven.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 19). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

To put this straight, a ten-thousand-ton rock, that has been on a collision course with Earth for likely millions of years, finally succumbed to the laws of physical science and completed its journey to the surface of Earth about a thousand miles east of Moscow, just north of the Kazakhstan border with Russia. And this was a message from God? Considering it may have been, the message was what? We are left to figure that out. Everybody gets his own shot at interpretation. Mine is that this was to herald the release, six days later, of Terry George‘s Stand Off. I’ve been wrong before.

In any event, God certainly does move in mysterious ways, his miracles to perform. Equally mysterious would be if God were to clue in to social media to push his roll outs.

Pastor Hagee refers to astronomy as “God’s High-Definition Billboard” (page 16). And he quotes Acts 2: 19– 20:

I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (pp. 16-17). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

We are getting around to the title of the book. Hagee explains further and quotes Matthew:

What does “moon into blood” refer to in these two verses? I learned later in my research that this astronomical event is actually called a Blood Moon. A Blood Moon occurs during a total lunar eclipse; the moon does not actually turn to blood, but it does appear blood-red.

If we are going to see these wonders in the heavens before the coming of the Lord, how long before His coming will we see them? The Bible gives no answer other than the words of Jesus to His disciples:

Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. (MATTHEW 24: 36)

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 17). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Hagee is by now absolutely fascinated by the Four Blood Moons phenomenon. He’s not making this stuff up. There is a name for such a thing. Here is a description from the NASA Web site:

The action starts on April 15th when the full Moon passes through the amber shadow of Earth, producing a midnight eclipse visible across North America. So begins a lunar eclipse tetrad—a series of 4 consecutive total eclipses occurring at approximately six month intervals.  The total eclipse of April 15, 2014, will be followed by another on Oct. 8, 2014, and another on April 4, 2015, and another on Sept. 28 2015.

Only, Hagee is the first I’ve ever observed to be spooked by this. The fact is the Earth-Moon relationship is very tight. The two bodies are strongly coupled by gravity, and their relative motions are well studied and analyzed. The positions of the sun, Earth and moon with respect to each other have been projected by computation far into the future and also far into the past. It’s almost as though Hagee is saying, “Look at this.”

e^{i \pi} + 1 = 0

“God is sending us a message.”

Hagee does insert some shocking truth into his book. It’s some truth he may not realize, some truth that is not bound to give him comfort.

If you don’t believe Genesis 1: 1, you have no solid foundation to believe the rest of Scripture. You can’t believe that God parted the Red Sea for Moses or stopped the sun for Joshua and you can’t possibly believe that God controls the sun, moon, and stars and creates signs to appear in the heavens at specific times in history.

If what God’s Word says about the creation is not true, why would you believe His Word when He says, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33: 3)? If Genesis 1: 1 is not true, why bother believing the remainder of the Word of God?

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (pp. 28-29). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Right on, Brother Hagee. I think you have it nailed. It’s a bit of truth that thinking people have been trying to get across for centuries.

At a critical juncture Hagee reveals how he closed in on the truth that led up to this book. I will quote extensively:

Though I had applied the study of the stars relative to the creation and the birth of Christ, I had yet to discover the connection that Pastor Mark had asked me to make: how were the sun, moon, and stars linked to the study of prophecy?

I searched the Scriptures for a new revelation with that specific question in mind and came to two verses that shouted out to me!

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (JOEL 2: 31 NIV)

The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. (ACTS 2: 20)

What did these two verses have in common? It was the blood moons! Now my blood pressure was up and my mind was racing with questions!

I knew they related to prophecy, but what were they saying? What was a blood moon? Have they appeared before? Were they coming again? I turned on my computer and started searching for scientific evidence supporting the blood moons. I must confess I am no computer whiz so I found my expedition most exasperating!

After more than an hour of finding nothing, I was ready to quit when it occurred to me that maybe God was using the heavens to send a sign to Israel and the Jewish people. I began a more focused search; I went to the NASA site and suddenly, there it was! It leaped off the screen, and I gasped with excitement.

The sun, moon, and stars are unmistakably connected to Israel and biblical prophecy— and that connection inspired this book. God will use them to light up the heavens with an urgent, top-priority message for all mankind.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (pp. 38-39). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The power of the human mind is a wonder to behold. In the case of Pastor Hagee, it’s breathtaking. One could even say “inane.”

Hagee cites instances of tetrads coinciding with significant events related to Jews and the state of Israel. More so, he bears down on associated solar eclipses.

But a Tetrad with a total solar eclipse, historically significant to Israel and falling on the Jewish Feasts with a Shemittah year that corresponds with the Feast of Trumpets (the Jewish New Year) within its series is astronomically rare!

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 234). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Let’s examine one of these solar eclipses. This is from the NASA Web site.

SE2015Mar20T

This is nice. It actually occurred earlier this year but well after Hagee published his book. An astute reader will want to ask, “What does this have to do with Israel?” The shadow of the moon doesn’t even come close to Israel. Once again, God moves in mysterious ways, but not so mysterious as the mind of Pastor Hagee.

How does all this relate to the state of Israel? More so, how does it relate to Hagee’s Christians United for Israel? CUFI is relentless in its defense of all things Israeli. In all disputes his organization takes the side of the Israeli government. An excerpt from their blog illustrates the language:

On the list of things that Jews have to worry about as they contemplate the start of a new year in their religious calendar that began this week with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, what goes on in Reykjavik, Iceland isn’t high on the list. Thus, the announcement that the capital of the island nation in the North Atlantic Ocean had instituted a boycott of all goods from the State of Israel hasn’t set off a panic in the Jewish state or among Jewish communities on either side of the pond. But though the boycott will have no effect on Israel — according to one story published about it in Ynet.com, Israeli expatriates living in Reykjavik have yet to see any goods from their homeland on sale in Iceland — it is worrisome. Like the election of an open supporter of Hamas to lead Britain’s Labour Party, the acceptance of this boycott in a country that identifies itself as part of the European community illustrates the growing acceptance of efforts to isolate Israel and to marginalize its supporters. Though the impact on the Middle East will be minimal, it is one more in a long list of events that show how a rising tide of anti-Semitism has moved from the margins to the mainstream.

I will not dive into the cynicism exhibited by some evangelicals in their support for Israel. Hagee’s purported rationale is that Christianity owes its origins and its theological basis to the Jews. Jesus and all the famous disciples were Jews, Judaism gives legitimacy to Christian theology, Jews must be respected and protected. There is an additional rationale for the protection of Israel’s Jewish state. God gave the Jews this land in the covenant he made with Abraham.

“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you” (Genesis 12: 3). This is God’s pledge to Abraham and the Jewish people for all generations to come. God has promised to bless nations, churches, and individuals who do practical acts of kindness to bless Israel and the Jewish people.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 3). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

That says enough about that. Hagee then takes it the extra mile. He provides proof beyond all challenge that Israel rightfully belongs to the Jews. After quoting extensive scripture, Pastor Hagee pronounces the unshakable conclusion:

God never breaks covenant! The above body of scriptures proves beyond all reasonable doubt that God gave to the Jewish people a specific piece of real estate that was to be theirs and was forever sealed by a blood covenant. That covenant cannot be rescinded by Russia, Syria, Iran and its radical legions, Hamas, Hezbollah, or even the United Nations and America. God will crush any nation that tries to drive the Jewish people off their sacred soil called Israel (Joel 3: 2).

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 109). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Readers, dwell on this for a moment. Who can counter an argument like that? Based on the evidence, the conclusion must be accepted. The God that the Jews created out of whole cloth has repaid them by giving them this piece of land. Disregard claims any other people or groups may have, this land was given to the Jews by an object of their own making. Is this yet another way of spelling “breathtaking inanity?”

This mountain of wisdom aside, there are a number of places where Hagee has obviously gone off the rails. I will cite just a few and then conclude. Here is one:

World War II was brought to an early close through the scientific genius of Albert Einstein, who was instrumental in developing the atomic bomb. America’s military experts predicted that at least seven hundred and fifty thousand American lives were saved that would have otherwise been lost in a land invasion of Japan.

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (pp. 123-124). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Physicist Albert Einstein, who escaped Nazi Germany under threats of death, did not participate in the development of the atomic bomb. He only, at the urging of others, wrote a letter to President Roosevelt stating the importance of the new discovery of induced nuclear fission and the possibility of an atomic bomb. Others, including many escaped Jews from Nazi-controlled regions, contributed immensely to the development.

Hagee’s understanding of basic geology is about par with the average person on the street, unfortunately.

Few are aware that the Army Corps of Engineers has identified a major fault running the full length of the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Canada. Experts are stating that one major earthquake could split America in half. 9

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 137). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Hagee cites Otto W. Nuttli, The Effects of Earthquakes in the Central United States (Marble Hill, MO: Gutenberg-Richter Publications, 1993), 41– 48. I do not have the reference, but it is unlikely a real geologist would conclude a single earthquake could rend the North American Continent asunder.

The Antichrist, whatever that is, gets a lot of Hagee’s attention. I will note only a particularly juicy segment.

He will blaspheme God, as John the Revelator states: “He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God” (Revelation 13: 6). He will force everyone on planet earth to take his mark, and without that mark you cannot buy or sell (vv. 16– 17). Information technology already exists today

Hagee, John (2013-10-08). Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change (p. 152). Worthy Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Call me an old fogy if you will, but I find that prospect particularly frightening. What I find even more frightening is that there is a person who believes as such is allowed to possess sharp objects, let alone operate heavy machinery and vote.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Politicians Say The Darndest Things

From Raiders of the Lost Ark

From Raiders of the Lost Ark

Yes, this is not going to get old. When the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is not so delightful, and there are no reports of UFOs landing on the White House lawn, I can always count on politicians saying the darndest things:

That’s it. That’s the answer. There was a person. There is a person who supervised the design of all life on this planet. A quick search of the CNSNews article does not reveal the identity of this person. Does Dr. Carson anywhere say who this person might be? Does Dr. Carson conjecture who this person might be? Does Carson even know? The world wonders.

Not to be outdone, noted politician and former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee has stepped forward to fill in for the absent UFOs. He has help.

Meet Harry Moskoff, the man who is becoming known as the “Jewish Indiana Jones.” A filmmaker and researcher by hobby and an IT specialist by trade, Moskoff has spent the last 25 years of his life dedicated to uncovering the location of the Lost Ark.

“Truth of the matter is, for the last 25 years, it’s been a personal hobby of mine to find the Makom Hamikdash, the exact location where the Jewish Temple once stood,” he told Breaking Israel News.

Inspired by the teachings of Maimonides, Moskoff has met with world renowned rabbinical and archaeological authorities in Israel as he comes closer to finding the Lost Ark.

Moskoff’s book is The ARK Report: The Ark of the Covenant and the Tunnels of Israel. A co-author is Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg. Prominent is a lengthy interview with the former governor. Mother Jones cites an excerpt from this interview:

HUCKABEE: One of the great things about archeology is that it’s never controverted a biblical truth. It’s always affirmed it. Archeology is one of the best friends truth will ever have. It’s certainly one of the best friends the Bible will ever have, because every discovery validates that which has been presented in scripture. And those who want to say well, the bible, we can’t depend upon it; so far what we can know is that when there’s an archeological (sic) discovery, it brings a validation to the point of the Bible,rather than to a repudiation of it. That ought to be comforting to every person of faith. Now, will that result in the world standing back and saying, well, we didn’t know that you have these archeological and historical facts now to back it up, so we’re going to change our view?

Governor Huckabee goes on to say people’s views are not going to change, and observes this is a sad fact.

It may be only a sad fact for Governor Huckabee, but it’s another side of this that bears attention. That other side would be the Governor’s fact-deficient statements regarding archeology and the Bible. Contrary to what Governor Huckabee believes, contrary to what Governor Huckabee wants us to believe, archeology does not support the Bible. Nor does history. Where to start?

Let’s start in the beginning:

Genesis 1 King James Version (KJV)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

No.

No archeology, no history, no findings of fact support the first few sentences of the Bible. The same goes for the first few paragraphs, the first few sections, the first few books, and hardly a word of the remainder. All rigorous analyses of the geological evidence produces the conclusion that the Universe came into being about 13 billion years ago, and that the Earth was formed from remnants of an exploded star about 4.5 billion years ago. Facts being what they are, the Bible contains two accounts of the creation of the Earth. And they contradict each other.

Daniel Lazare “is a journalist and author of three books.” An item he wrote for Harper’s Magazine in March 2002 discusses a number of conflicts between the Bible and reality. A prior post from The North Texas Skeptics highlights some troubling issues:

  • Use of camels. Abraham sent out a servant with camels to find a wife for his son, Isaac. This was about 2100 to 1800 BCE Actually, camels were not much used for transport in this area until after 1000 BCE
  • Isaac and Abimelech. Abimelech was king of the Philistines, and Isaac sought help from him, which could not be much later than 1800 BCE Problem is, there were no Philistines present until after 1200 BCE
  • Heshbon and Edom. Hebrews fought King Sihon at Heshbon and also the king of Edom. But these two cities did not exist at the time of the supposed battles.
  • Forty years in the Sinai. Archeologists cannot find any trace of such a large number of people living in the Sinai during the time the Jews were supposed to be wandering or camped there.
  • Invasion of Canaan. There is no indication of an invasion. It appears “a distinctive Israelite culture arose locally around 1200 BCE as nomadic shepherds and goatherds ceased their wanderings and began settling down in the nearby uplands” according to Lazare. 2 The Israelites were there all along and were much like other cultures in the area at that time. They differentiated themselves from the others by abstaining from pork, as evidenced by a lack of pig bones in the archeological digs.
  • Envy of the hillbillies. Supposedly David and Solomon of Judah built a great civilization and lived lavishly during the time 1005 to 931 BCE and also ruled over the kingdom of Israel to their north. Archeological evidence does not indicate the southern mountain tribes were all that prosperous. Evidence does exist for a prosperous and worldly tribe of Israel, and there is no indication the two nations were ever joined.

I wrote the above review and used the term “Jews” when “Hebrews” would have been correct.

Given this, it would be well for Governor Huckabee, when he has time in his busy schedule (running for President) to cite some factual research to back his assertions. It may be well, but it will not be likely to happen. The Governor has dug himself in too deep. Start with a Newsweek interview eight years back:

I wanted to follow up on a question you and the other candidates got at the YouTube debate about whether you believe every word in the Bible. Do you believe the Bible is inerrant?
I believe it is. There are some things in the Bible that were clearly intended to be figurative: “If the eye offends thee, go pluck it out.” Did Jesus mean that we were supposed to take our fingertips, reach deep into our eye and pull it out if we see something we don’t think we should see? Obviously not. “Inerrant” means if you follow the direction of the Bible, it will not lead you into error.

Governor Huckabee may have said a number of things following his first sentence, but those four words are going to be hard to back out.

Be assured we will be hearing much more from the former Governor of Arkansas.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Candidates Acting Stupidly

Happy days are here again,

The skies above are clear again
So lets sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again.

The joy to my heart was immeasurable the day Ted Cruz announced he was running for president. Happy days are here. Again. Where to start?

Look at the jihad that is being waged right now in Indiana and Arkansas, going after people of faith who respect the biblical teachings that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Happy days are here again. Or maybe happy days were really 2900 years ago when the Bible was written, when marriage was the union of one man and one woman:

Genesis 4:19King James Version (KJV)

19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

The images are from Google Images.

Lamech and his Two Wives 1795 by William Blake 1757-1827

All right now, we have two wives. Do I hear three? Do I hear three? Do I hear more?

Judges 8:30King James Version (KJV)

30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.

GideonWives

That’s going to about do it for the “one man, one woman” business today.

But what about a Bible-thumping candidate who hasn’t read the Bible? Maybe he doesn’t have a copy. I can lend him mine. In the mean time, happy days are here again, the skies above are clear again, so lets sing a song of cheer again, happy days are here again.

TwoWives

And good luck to you, candidate Cruz.

Perkins in a Time Warp

Levite_and_dead__concubine_1153_vol_3-514

You think a time warp is just a device of science fiction? You could be wrong. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins may have found one. Here’s what he said:

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins spoke yesterday on his radio show “Washington Watch” with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) about a sex trafficking bill which sparked outrage after Republican leaders included an anti-abortion provision in the otherwise uncontroversial legislation. During the program, a caller suggested that the government combat trafficking by following Levitical law which, according to the caller, “requires the death of the people who enslave or the people who fund the enslavers.”

Perkins responded to the caller by lamenting that the separation of church and state has contributed to sex trafficking in America.

He added:

If you think — you know when people say, ‘oh things aren’t that bad, we don’t need religion, we don’t need God,’ when you take God, the creator, out of the equation, you kick the Ten Commandments out, you remove prayer, the Bible, you remove all of that from the public square and it’s quarantined to churches for an hour or two a week, this is what you get.

Here’s what I think he said: Once we had prayer and the Bible in the public square (government). Now we don’t. One consequence is trafficking in human beings, or at least an increase in such trafficking.

So, when was it that we did have prayer and the Bible in the public square? It must have been before about 1960, about the time the courts started enforcing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. That took prayer and the Bible out of the public square. Before the courts started enforcing this law the power of the government was regularly used to proselytize for religion by promoting Christian prayer in public schools, plus other niceties. Enforcing this law has contributed to the scourge of human trafficking.

When was a time when we did have prayer and the Bible in the public square? It must have been before 1960. Human trafficking was not the problem then as it is now. And it’s because we started enforcing the law.

How was the problem back before we started enforcing the law? I needed to do some research.

A quick check does not bring me any hard statistics. I will just have to go on personal experience. That experience, based on what was printed in the newspapers years ago and what is revealed from popular culture in those days, is that human trafficking did exist. More so than now, it’s hard to tell. There is one source of hard information. That source would be some books on United States history.

History books reveal that years before 1960, back before the law was enforced and prayer and the Bible were excluded from the public square, there was a time when human trafficking was open and rampant in this country. Before it was outlawed in 1865 human trafficking was condoned and widely practiced. What’s more, history shows that proponents of this institution often provided biblical justifications for the practice of slavery:

Exodus 21:20-21King James Version (KJV)

20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

And some more.

I read through that biblical passage a few times, and I never got out of it that there was something wrong with keeping slaves. Readers of the Bible are assured that slaves are legal property.

concubine2

The Bible offers additional advice:

Judges 19:22-29 King James Version (KJV)

22 Now as they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.

23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly.

24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.

25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.

26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her lord was, till it was light.

27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.

28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her up upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place.

29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, together with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel.

Removing these good words from the public square is going to bring on the ruin of 21st century society.

May Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Culture of Death

This is bad news:

America’s ‘Culture of Death’ Stems From a ‘Sinful, Godless Worldview That Rejects Christ’

Who would have thought? But you really should take this seriously. The words are from none other than the Reverend Franklin Graham. If you don’t know Franklin Graham, then you certainly must know his father, the Reverend Billy Graham.

walking-dead-season-1

These remarks are from the Reverend Graham’s comments appearing in the January issue of Decision magazine. He is additionally quoted as saying:

I don’t think there’s any doubt that this rise in the culture of death in our own country coincides with the embrace of an immoral, sinful, godless worldview that rejects Christ. Christianity is constantly under siege from the halls of government and education, which seek to suppress any public expressions of faith.

That is so shocking. The Reverend Graham is absolutely correct about the suppression of faith. I have witnessed this with my own eyes. People attempting to pray in public quickly get the attention of armed government thugs, who arrive on the scene shouting obscenities at them before hauling them off to jail. OK, not quite. It’s a little less extreme than I have portrayed it. But I have observed this: Government officials, attempting to use government funds to proselytize for religion, have been challenged in court for violation of certain fundamental laws of this nation. That, fellow citizens, should be enough to send chills down your spines.

There is one point, however, at which the Reverend Graham is spot on:

Sunday night NFL football has been a favorite television staple for several years, but on at least two occasions this past fall, it was definitely a second viewing choice for millions of Americans.

Instead of watching footballs fly, 17 million viewers chose to watch the season premiere of The Walking Dead, a series featuring foul zombies creating endless havoc. Just a few weeks later, nearly 15 million people tuned in to yet another episode, easily surpassing that night’s matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs.

This is sickening. Instead of spending a quiet Sunday afternoon (after services, of course) watching 22 millionaires tussle over a leather-covered ball, 17 million otherwise intelligent citizens chose to watch a tawdry piece of fiction. On this matter the Reverend Graham has done us a great service. If the souls of 17 million are not worth saving, their brains certainly are. Powerfully aware that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, he warns us of the ruin that comes with this mindless activity. The Reverend Graham has deep knowledge of this kind of foolishness. Given the chance, he will go into great detail on stories about people, who once dead, come back to life, to walk among the living for 40 days or so. It’s a grim vision that will trouble young minds into their later years.

Reverend Graham rightly reminds us to take life, death (and the Bible) seriously:

However, despite our society’s fascination and obsession with death, there is virtually no understanding of the eternal consequences that death brings. Amazingly, as much as the entertainment industry cranks out movies and programs that are preoccupied with death scenes and motifs, death is not a subject often candidly discussed. I think that’s because we would prefer to portray death on a purely fictional level and avoid its stark reality.

The Bible says that once a person dies, he will face the judgment of God. “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). There is no reincarnation. There is no second chance.

Of course, the Bible has a lot more we should take seriously:

Ezekiel 23 New International Version (NIV)

15 But she carried her prostitution still further. She saw men portrayed on a wall, figures of Chaldeans portrayed in red, 15 with belts around their waists and flowing turbans on their heads; all of them looked like Babylonian chariot officers, natives of Chaldea.[b] 16 As soon as she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17 Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her. After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust. 18 When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her naked body, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister. 19 Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses. 21 So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled.

I will agree with the Reverend Graham if he insists American youth should read more of the Bible and spend less time watching trashy TV dramas.

Anyhow, there’s lots more that the Reverend Graham has said and that we should heed. People who take him for a featherweight do so at their peril. What he does may seem like wasteful meddling to many of our youth, caught up as they are in their world of materialism. They would take better notice were they to know this man of good deeds in 2010 alone pulled in  “$409,851 as chairman of Samaritan’s Purse and received $156,566 from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association as CEO.” Straighten up, young minds. Heed the word.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

One More Time

We’re having an echo problem. I will deal with it. In the mean time, here’s another one:

Welcome back to the Skeptical Analysis blog. I took the weekend off, but I’m back now, and I need something to comment on. I’m thinking I will start off with the School Shooting of the Week. Do we have a school shooting for the week?

It turns out this week’s school shooting fails to live up to the promise of past events:

  • The shooter was not successful in killing anybody (three wounded).
  • The shooter did not kill himself. Police killed him when he engaged them in a gun battle.
  • It’s not a white kid this time. The shooter was a grown man, a black guy. And a lawyer.

Also, this does not seem to be a plot hatched by ISIS/ISIL. So, I’m sure everybody out there reading this is getting a better feeling right now. This is not foreign terrorism. It’s just another crazy person with a gun:

The Florida State gunman, who opened fire in a university library shortly after midnight Thursday morning wounding three students, has been identified as Myron May, a former student at Florida State University who went on to become a lawyer.

But despite the appearance of a successful and upscale attorney, who listed himself as the in-house counsel for Taunton Family Children’s Home in Wewahitchka, Florida, on May’s Facebook page he posted a number of ominous Biblical passages, a short rant against “our government” and a bizarre image depicting a Google search for “targeted individuals.”

OK, “Biblical passages.” Not quotes from the Quran. I’m feeling better already.

I’ll get back to you with a follow-up on this running topic next week. Or the next school shooting. Whichever comes first.

Graham

Number 4 of a Continuing Saga

JesusReligion

No, I can stop any time. Just as soon as the House of Graham shuts down their idiocy machine:

“Even though America is just as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah ever were, and as deserving of the judgment of God, God would spare us if we were earnestly praying, with hearts that had been cleansed and washed by the blood of Christ,” said Rev. Graham in his commentary for Decisionmagazine, published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“The problems of the world will never be settled unless our national leaders go to God in prayer,” he said. “If only they would discover the power and wisdom that there is in reliance upon God, we could soon see the solution to the grave problems that face the world!”

Our leaders need to “go to God in prayer?” Really? You mean like this?

Born from an especially brutal al Qaeda faction, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has grown from relative obscurity in recent years to overshadow its extremist patrons. It now terrorizes large swaths of Syria and Iraq, has become the target of the largest U.S. military operation in Iraq in years and, with the public, cold-blooded execution of multiple Westerners, dominates headlines the world over.

Reverend Graham, these people pray on their knees five times a day. And, yes, it is the same God of Abraham that you pray to.

The story from CNSNews.com provides additional commentary from the Reverend Graham:

Rev. Graham then noted numerous instances from the Bible where people “turned the tide of history by prayer.”  For example, he notes, Elisha prayed and a young man was raised from the dead; Jesus prayed and Lazarus rose from the dead; the thief on the cross next to Jesus prayed and Jesus told him he would go to paradise that day; John Wesley prayed and religious fervor grew in England, and the same happened with Johnathan Edwards in Northampton.

I appreciate Reverend Graham’s observation concerning “numerous instances from the Bible where people turned the tide of history by prayer.” Here’s one from Ezekiel 9:

He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, “Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.”

And behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side. And they went in and stood beside the brazen altar.

And the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;

and the Lord said unto him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and who cry because of all the abominations that are done in the midst thereof.”

And to the others He said in mine hearing, “Go ye after him through the city and smite. Let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity.

Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” Then they began with the elder men who were before the house.

And He said unto them, “Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go ye forth.” And they went forth and slew in the city.

And it came to pass, while they were slaying them and I was left, that I fell upon my face and cried, and said, “Ah Lord God! Wilt Thou destroy all the residue of Israel in Thy pouring out of Thy fury upon Jerusalem?”

Then said He unto me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood and the city full of perverseness; for they say, ‘The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not.’

10 And as for Me also, Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their ways upon their heads.”

11 And behold, the man clothed with linen, who had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, “I have done as Thou hast commanded me.”

Let’s see how that compares:

ISIS just released a video showing what they claim are Iraq’s Army POWs captured by ISIS, driven away in truck loads and then shot them all dead. The video caption stated that there were 1,500 individuals. The video shows their end being shot at point blank in several horrific mass slaughters reminiscent to what we see during Nazi Germany. The young teens begged for their lives as they were made to curse Al-Maliki but to no avail while they were forced to chant “long live the Muslim nation”. …

Glory be the power of God.

Losing Sight of Reality

Who is Pharrell Williams, and why is he acting like a fool in public?

From Wikimedia

From Wikimedia

Oh, wait. That’s being what Pharrell Williams calls “incredibly arrogant.” I get it now. What was I thinking?

If I look at the world head on without flinching, that’s being “incredibly arrogant.” If somebody offers me a $3 bill in change, and I back off, that’s being “incredibly arrogant.” Why, paint me lumpy and call me a potato. I must be “incredibly arrogant.” Of course I could instead be “incredibly ignorant.” But that job is already taken.

We do have a choice, you know. And Christian Today has some specifics:

US singer, rapper and producer Pharrell Williams has revealed that he believes in God, insisting that it’s “incredibly arrogant” to think otherwise.

“I believe in God but I also believe in the universe…and I believe in that innate ability to make decisions and to exercise our feelings as human beings,” the Happy singer told Stylist magazine.

“How do you see all the stars and think there’s nothing else out there?” he continued.

“It’s so incredible arrogant and pompous. It’s amazing that there are people who really believe that. It’s unbelievable.”

Yes, it is unbelievable. It’s unbelievable that a modern, intelligent human being could harbor such outrageous lapses in reasoning. Then of course I could be wrong. About the intelligent part. Williams had a bit more to say:

“I’ll say this: at the end of the day, you can soundbite things in the Bible and be offended. But I’m sure that’s not the writers of the Bible’s intentions,” Williams, who has defended his involvement, said of the controversy.

“I’m clearly not comparing my song to one of the most respectful writings I’ve ever read…My point to you is, anything can be taken out of context.”

This last part had to do with a controversy over a song Blurred Lines written by Williams. This dainty piece of fluff apparently (I have not listened to it) takes a dim view of women. Here is an excerpt:

One thing I ask you
Let me be the one you back that ass into
Yo, from Malibu, to Paris bo
Yeah, had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two

All right! That’s my kind of Christian.

Just kidding.

So what’s out of context. Let’s see.

19 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

OK, so this is out of context. No wait. This is the context. The Bible was written by misogynistic tribesmen living over 2000 years ago on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. These people are hardly distinguishable from the Taliban. Only, the Taliban have Kalashnikov rifles, and they make home movies.

Take a deep breath and enjoy some more context:

19 In those days Israel had no king.

Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But she was unfaithful to him. She left him and went back to her parents’ home in Bethlehem, Judah. After she had been there four months, her husband went to her to persuade her to return. He had with him his servant and two donkeys. She took him into her parents’ home, and when her father saw him, he gladly welcomed him. His father-in-law, the woman’s father, prevailed on him to stay; so he remained with him three days, eating and drinking, and sleeping there.

On the fourth day they got up early and he prepared to leave, but the woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Refresh yourself with something to eat; then you can go.” So the two of them sat down to eat and drink together. Afterward the woman’s father said, “Please stay tonight and enjoy yourself.” And when the man got up to go, his father-in-law persuaded him, so he stayed there that night. On the morning of the fifth day, when he rose to go, the woman’s father said, “Refresh yourself. Wait till afternoon!” So the two of them ate together.

Then when the man, with his concubine and his servant, got up to leave, his father-in-law, the woman’s father, said, “Now look, it’s almost evening. Spend the night here; the day is nearly over. Stay and enjoy yourself. Early tomorrow morning you can get up and be on your way home.” 10 But, unwilling to stay another night, the man left and went toward Jebus (that is, Jerusalem), with his two saddled donkeys and his concubine.

11 When they were near Jebus and the day was almost gone, the servant said to his master, “Come, let’s stop at this city of the Jebusites and spend the night.”

12 His master replied, “No. We won’t go into any city whose people are not Israelites. We will go on to Gibeah.” 13 He added, “Come, let’s try to reach Gibeah or Ramah and spend the night in one of those places.” 14 So they went on, and the sun set as they neared Gibeah in Benjamin. 15 There they stopped to spend the night. They went and sat in the city square, but no one took them in for the night.

16 That evening an old man from the hill country of Ephraim, who was living in Gibeah (the inhabitants of the place were Benjamites), came in from his work in the fields.17 When he looked and saw the traveler in the city square, the old man asked, “Where are you going? Where did you come from?”

18 He answered, “We are on our way from Bethlehem in Judah to a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim where I live. I have been to Bethlehem in Judah and now I am going to the house of the Lord.[a] No one has taken me in for the night. 19 We have both straw and fodder for our donkeys and bread and wine for ourselves your servants—me, the woman and the young man with us. We don’t need anything.”

20 “You are welcome at my house,” the old man said. “Let me supply whatever you need. Only don’t spend the night in the square.” 21 So he took him into his house and fed his donkeys. After they had washed their feet, they had something to eat and drink.

22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”

23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this outrageous thing. 24 Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don’t do such an outrageous thing.”

25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. 26 At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight.

27 When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up; let’s go.” But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.

29 When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel. 30 Everyone who saw it was saying to one another, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up!”

Please do not ask me for more context. I have enough to puke an elephant.

A note to Pharrell Williams and all the idiots out there who believe this stuff, and especially those who believe this stuff and also believe we should base our lives on the teachings of a bunch of incredibly arrogant tribal leaders: What really is incredibly arrogant is thinking the human race, the human race which has existed for less than 0.01% of the life of the universe and occupies far less than 0.00000001% of its habitable planets, this race is somehow special in the mind of a mythical person who supposedly created everything 6000 years ago, long after people starting writing stuff down. This is incredible arrogance.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.