Saturday, December 19, 2009

105: Overkill

1 Kings 8-9
Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the LORD : twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the LORD. - 1 Kings 8:63

Solomon decides that he needs to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. The ark (like everything else) seems to have lost it's Godly power. The ark that once destroyed people for merely touching it has been reduced to making rooms foggy. When the priests brought the ark to the tent of meeting they sacrificed "so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted". I wonder when they decide to stop counting because it's too many.

Solomon then proceeds to give the most long winded prayer ever (or maybe it just seems like it). He says pretty much the same things that all the other prophets say in their prayers: God is wonderful, God is big and scary, punish the sinners, reward the obedient, etc.

Apparently the temple needs to be dedicated. They do this by sacrificing twenty-two thousand cattle, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep/goats. I certainly hope nobody is going to bed hungry in Israel because they just wasted hundreds of tons of meat. I think ten or twenty is sufficient, they're getting to be a little ridiculous with their sacrificing.

In chapter 9 God appears to Solomon to let him know that he heard his prayer and he approved. Why didn't he just come to Solomon right after giving the prayer? Was he busy? Oh, that's right, it's because this is another dream. I wonder if Solomon takes his wet dreams seriously too. Does he really think that beautiful women (or men, I don't judge) have sex with him at night? Or is the thinking dreams are real thing only reserved for God?

The last part of chapter 9 describes the forced labor Solomon used to build his temple and his palace. This sounds a lot like Pharaoh enslaving the Israelites. But this is good slavery, because the Israelites are doing it.

First we had the brick testament, then we had the LOLcat bible, and now we have the Zombible!

Apparently the only thing the bible was missing was zombies. The writers of the Zombible aim to remedy that. Unfortunately, they are only going to zombify the New Testament which, from what I understand, is the most interesting part. I think the Old Testament could use some zombies right about now. Then maybe people other than pastors and crazy bloggers would read it.

This looks like a rip off of books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Oh well, it might be unoriginal, but it's still awesome.

While I was looking through the Zombible website I found an interesting link at the bottom of the page called "Philosophy" (click at your own risk). It's irrelevant but amusing.

(via Pharyngula)

Friday, December 18, 2009

104: Pi = 3

1 Kings 6-7
He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. - 1 Kings 7:23

Let me summarize these two chapters, then we'll talk about pi. Solomon builds a temple. Solomon builds a palace. These are described in minute detail for 4 long pages. The end.

Ok, now that that's out of the way. As the quote says at the top of the page, the bible explicitly says that the ratio of the circumference of the bowl and the diameter is 30/10 = 3. Most of us that have gone through high school algebra/geometry/trigonometry know that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle (pi) is approximately 3.14 (3.1415926535 8979323846 2643383279 5028841971 6939937510 5820974944 5923078164 0628620899 8628034825 3421170679... to be a little more exact). A cubit is approximately one and a half feet, so you'd think the people measuring the bowl would at least notice that the bowl was thirty one cubits around.

I googled this just to see what people thought. The most common cop out is that the people making the bowl measured the circumference from the inner rim and the diameter from the outer rim (of course, the size of the rim is made to be whatever makes the value of pi 3.14). First the bible doesn't say that. Second, why would they give measurements from different positions? Actually, why are they giving us measurements at all, especially incorrect ones?

This whole argument is silly anyway. It's not like people think of this book as "absolute truth" or use it to counter scientific theories like evolution. It's pretty well understood that this book is just the best approximation of the real world that an ancient society with no scientific knowledge could come up with. Everyone knows that, right?

Rod Parsley needs money. The devil has taken all of his.

To understand how the devil got all of the Rod's money, we have to go back to 2006. Parents (who remain unnamed) pick up their then two year old son from Parsley's mega-church daycare center. The child seems upset but the teacher says that no incident occurred. Later that day the parents find fresh cuts and red marks on their son's bottom. They immediately took him to the childrens hospital. The doctors there found his injuries to be consistent with physical abuse.

Fast forward to 2009, Parsley's church settles with the family of the boy for 3 million dollars. Is this the "demonically inspired financial attack" Rod speaks of? A two year old boy? Maybe he shouldn't allow children to be abused at his facilities, just a thought.

(via Clevland Scene)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

103: Nothing but a Dream Within a Dream

1 Kings 3-5
Then the king said, "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: "Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other." - 1 Kings 3:24-25

Solomon makes a treaty with the Pharaoh and marries his daughter.

God comes to Solomon and gives him one wish. God is now a genie. Solomon asks to be wise. God says that since Solomon didn't ask for riches or to have his enemies destroyed, that God will grant his wish. Wait a minute, God doesn't want to destroy Solomon's enemies any more? Maybe God is going to stop killing people and start being the fair and just God I was promised! This is almost too good to be true, it's like a dream. Oh wait:
Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.

Two prostitutes come to Solomon with a problem. I'm not sure why the bible mentions that they were prostitutes. They both have a baby within days of each other. One of the mothers rolls over on her baby, killing it. She wakes up and finds that her baby is dead and does the ol' switcheroo with the other woman's baby. The other woman isn't that stupid and realizes it's not her dead baby, but the other woman's dead baby.

They decide to take the argument to Solomon (the equivalent of taking it to court). Solomon tells his servants to chop the baby in half and give a half to each mother. One mother agrees that this is the good course of action and the other gives up and says to give the baby to the other woman. This somehow proves that the more loving mother is the parent. Because we know that no children have psycho mothers that would kill them.

The next chapter is about all of the things that Israel eats per day. I'll spare you the details. They eat a lot. The rest of the chapter goes on to say how smart Solomon is. I'll spare you the details. He's really smart.

I have another beef with the language in the bible. First we had, the Israelites are more numerous than the stars in the sky. Now we have the bible constantly saying the people of Judah and Israel are more numerous than all the grains of sand on the beaches. Now, if you figure that one grain of sand is about .1 cubic millimeters that turns out to be 10,000 per meter (grains back to back in a straight line). 10,000 X 10,000 per square meter = 100 million. A hundred million is already getting to be a ridiculous number for the ancient world and we only have a plane of sand grains a meter wide. If you make it a cubic meter of sand the number becomes 1000 billion grains. I'm going to venture to say that the population wasn't 167x larger in the ancient world than it is today (keep in mind, this is one cubic meter of sand). Dear bible, stop using ridiculous metaphors.

Chapter 5 just talks about Solomon building a huge temple and all of the materials/labor he wastes on it.

A man uses the bible to try to justify beating a child with a piece of pipe.

Alkathene Pipe

The unnamed man said he was seeking to discipline the child in "the manner described in the Bible". I believe the punishment described in the bible for thievery (what the man accused the child of) is to kill the offender. We'll hope that he's never actually read the bible and has no idea what he's saying.

(via Stuff)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

102: Solomon, a New Tyrant

1 Kings 1-2
"Adonijah shall be put to death today!" So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died. - 1 Kings 2:25

David get's old and cannot stay warm no matter how many blankets his servants put on him. The solution that his servants come up with is to find a young virgin to be his personal heater. It's good to be king.

Adonijah, the eldest son of David (besides Absalom, who is dead) decides that he should be king without the blessing of David. He gains a following, including Joab and Abiathar the priest. David had apparently promised Solomon the throne, so when David hears that Abiathar has taken the kingship for himself he immediately appoints Solomon the official king.

As David is dying, he tells Solomon to kill Joab and Shimei (the guy that was cursing David while he fled Jerusalem). I'm not sure why David didn't do these things himself. I guess he promised that he wouldn't kill them. He never said that he wouldn't tell the next king to kill them. Is he finding a loophole in his own promise?

Adonijah asks his mother (also king Solomon's mother) to ask Solomon if he can marry Abishag. Fun fact: Abishag just so happens to be the virgin that kept king David warm. Seems like a simple request to me. Solomon not only says no, but has Adonijah put to death for making the request. Why would Solomon kill his own brother for wanting a wife?

When Joab hears about Adonijah's death he hides in God's tent (yes, God has a tent). This doesn't deter Solomon, he has one of his servants go into the tent and kill Joab. I can only assume that Shimei is next to be killed. Solomon calls Shimei to him and says that he can build a house in Jerusalem and live, but if he ever leaves Jerusalem that he will be killed. I don't understand the reasoning. If he leaves the city he is somehow more guilty of his "crime"?

Three years later some of Shimei's slaves run off and he follows them into another city (oops). When Solomon hears about this, Shimei is put to death. Great, another crazy king. At least I won't run out of things to write about.

Jack Summers, a Newton South High School (near Boston) student refuses to read the bible for a school assignment. He actually didn't have to sue to have the reading requirement dropped.

I'm torn on this one. On one hand I don't think anyone should be forced to read religious texts. On the other hand it's apparent to me that the school was not proselytizing, but teaching the bible so that other literary references could be understood. Summers said this:
This is the word of God. People take this literally ... I don’t want to read about what they believe to be true
He goes on to say that if he were able to read a summary of the bible rather than the actual text, he would have no objection. Thus he would understand the references but not have to read the holy text. I think I remember seeing a blog that was reviewing the bible in 365 days. Maybe he should check that out.

(via Newton)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

101: David Sings... And Sings Some More & 2 Samuel: In Review

2 Samuel 22-24
Smoke rose from [God's] nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it. - 2 Samuel 22:9

Surprisingly little happens in these sections. Chapter 22 is a huge song that David sings to God. The song makes God seem a lot like what I imagine Satan would look like (if Satan were actually in the bible). He breaths fire out of his mouth and darkness surrounds him wherever he goes.

Chapter 23 lists the "mighty men" of David.

Finally, in chapter 24 something happens. God gets angry at Israel for some reason (he's back!). And David keeps apologizing for whatever they did. God gives David three options:
Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land?
David chooses the three days of plague and God kills seventy thousand people. David hurriedly builds an alter to sacrifice animals to God, thus stopping the mass killing. God apparently only returns to kill people.

2 Samuel: In Review
For a book named Samuel, there is very little (read: no) Samuel. I'm very curious as to why this book isn't named "David". Speaking of missing characters, God is pretty much absent. He only returns to randomly kill people for arbitrary reasons (or reasons we never even get to find out about).

Of course, David, who is probably the biggest "sinner" in these chapters, never has to feel God's wrath. Is it too much to ask for God to show some consistency?

I'm trying not to put any more Christmas stories in the news section, but that's all I can find for today. Is Christmas in the White House constitutional?

My opinion is that Christmas in the white house is absolutely constitutional. As far as I'm concerned the White House is the president's (and his family's) private abode for the extent of his term. Yes, the White House is funded by taxpayers, so what? Rest assured though, if the president were really a Muslim and he wanted to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr (the conclusion of the month of Ramadan), Christians would be up in arms to stop him.

(via The Examiner)

Monday, December 14, 2009

100: Who killed Goliath?

2 Samuel 19-21
In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod. - 2 Samuel 21:19

[We've reached 100 days into the bible. I can honestly say that 100 days ago I had no idea what I was getting into. I've seen the heights of stupidity and the depth of boredom. To celebrate 100 days I'll do some shameless self promotion. If you know anyone that may be interested in my journey through the bible, let them know. The more readers/commenters the merrier. I've officially committed way too much time to this project to give up now, so expect to see new posts for at least the next 265 days.]

Joab tells David to stop crying over his son because it makes the soldiers that fought and died to kill him feel bad. David listens to Joab and stops mourning.

Joab meets with David's nephew (Joab's cousin) Amasa. Without provocation (as far as I can tell) Joab cuts open Amasa's belly, killing him. Joab hides the body and nobody seems to notice.

A man named Sheba rebels against David. David isn't going to allow a revolt to happen again and sends Joab to kill him. Sheba hides with his men in a fortified city. Joab follows Sheba to the fortified city and begins tearing down the walls. A woman comes out from the city and tells Joab he shouldn't kill innocent people. Joab tells her to throw him the head of Sheba and they will stop attacking the city. Sure enough, some time later Sheba's head comes flying over the walls. That was easy.

There is a famine in the land, this is attributed to Saul killing the Gibeonites. David summons the Gibeonites and asks them what he can do to repay them for their loss. The Gibeonites tell David to kill seven of Saul's descendants. David, of course, spares Jonathan's son, but rounds up seven other descendants of Saul and has them executed to appease the Gibeonites, and in turn God. So much for no human sacrifice.

David decides again that he needs to go fight the Philistines. You'd think they'd be exterminated by now. As I started reading this I thought it was going to be boring. The Israelites have defeated the Philistines at least five times now. That's until I saw this:
In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod.
What? Goliath is long dead. They carried his head around for the better part of a chapter. I Googled this to try to figure out what was going on here. And as usual when I try to search for these things I found at least 5 different opinions on the matter. The two main ones were David didn't actually kill Goliath, and this is a copyist error. Neither of these explanations bode well for the "inerrant word of God".

p.s. God is still missing.

A study found that children really love bible school, but they don't think their fellow students do.

The person who gave the study suspects that the students answered the survey as they thought they were expected to. However, when asked if the other students liked bible study, almost two thirds said that they didn't.

I see hope for the future.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

99: Man on the Run

2 Samuel 16-18
When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. - 2 Samuel 17:23

As David flees from Jerusalem, he meets a man names Shimei who curses him and throws rocks at him. He is from the house of Saul and tells David that he is being payed back by God for killing so many Israelites. David's men really want to chop off Shimei's head, but David won't let them. He says that if God is telling Shemei to curse him then he cannot kill him for it.

Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem, Absalom has taken over as king. He seeks advice from one of his servants, Ahithophel. Ahithophel tells Absalom that he should sleep with all of David's concubines to assert his authority. Absalom doesn't have to be asked twice and screws the ten concubines that his father left behind to guard the castle.

Ahithophel's next piece of advice is for Absalom to take 12,000 men and go kill his father. Ahithophel would have him spare the men guarding David, and only try to kill David himself. This advice seems good to Absalom but he asks another man (Hushai) just in case. Hushai suggests that he gather men "as numerous as the sand" to go attack David's men and completely destroy them. As with most things in the bible, complete destruction is generally the chosen alternative. Hushai's advice is taken and Ahithophel's advice is ignored. It turns out that Hushai is really an informant for David but that doesn't seem to make much difference. Ahithophel is so upset when he finds out his advice is not being taken that he goes home and hangs himself.

I want you to read a sentence from the bible and tell me how anyone can think that this is the perfect word of God:
Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, "Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so."
Such and such? So and so? What kind of writing is this? Let's hope this doesn't sound like eighth grade writing in Hebrew. You'd think God could take a writing lesson or two.

Absalom goes out with his men to fight the armies of David. Absalom's armies are routed by David's. This turns out to be his last decision. As he is riding through the forest on a mule, he gets caught in a tree (watch for those low hanging branches). When David's men find him, they stab him through the heart with javelins. David mourns for his son.

Shocker of the week: most people who aren't religious are Democrats.

Gallup has released an interesting poll that outlines party affiliation and Obama approval rating based on religion.

It seems a little silly that the party of smaller government has turned into the religious party and the party of larger government has turned into the party of the non-religious. I'm curious where this got started. I guess the bigger question is when did conservative get paired with republican and liberal get paired with democrat.

Obama mentioning the non-religious must be like mentioning that there are other holidays this time of year. Terribly offensive.

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