Friday, May 21, 2010

258: The David Blaine of the Bible

Daniel 1-3
"Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, 'Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?' They replied, 'Certainly, O king.' He said, 'Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed...' " - Daniel 3:24-25

After Nebuchadnezzar invades and takes Israel he orders his servants to select the best Israelites from noble families to serve him. They are to be taught the language and the literature of the Babylonians for three years before they are to enter the king's service. They are also to eat the food of the royal court.

Daniel finds exception with the royal food. He asks the chief official permission to eat something else (the royal food presumably has pork or some other "detestable" food). The chief says that he cannot treat Daniel differently because he's afraid Nebuchadnezzar is going to behead him. Daniel asks that all of the new trainees be fed only vegetables for 10 days. If, after these 10 days, they are more healthy than the other men who eat the royal food, Daniel says they should be allowed to only eat vegetables. According to the bible, after these ten days they look healthier and better nourished.

Of course, the bible doesn't mention what the royal food is, or what the vegetables are that the Israelis eat. Not to mention that 4 people (the number fed vegetables) are not enough to determine whether a diet is beneficial, and 10 days is not enough time to determine whether eating only vegetables has good long term medical effects. If this proves anything, it's that the bible is bad at doing science. This passage also makes me wonder why there aren't more Christians that are vegans. What happened to living your life by the bible?

Some time after this three year training session, after Daniel is an established servant of Nebuchadnezzar, the king has a dream that he wants interpreted. The trick is that the king refuses to tell his diviners what his dream was. If they cannot interpret his dream, the king says that he will have them chopped to pieces and he will turn their houses into piles of rubble (I don't suppose they'll care too much about their houses after they've been chopped to pieces).

The king's servants say that this is impossible and resign themselves to be chopped up. The king, in his anger, orders all of his wise men to be executed (this includes Daniel). When the executioner comes to Daniel's house, Daniel talks him into letting him go to the king and ask for some time to interpret his dream. The king agrees to grant Daniel some time to interpret his dream (the bible doesn't say how long). Daniel prays and God tells him what the king's dream and what it means.

Of course, in this time the king could have run around and told someone the content of his dream. I find this "miracle" about as impressive as John Edward or David Blaine (who also reads minds rather convincingly). The king's dream turns out to be some abstract vision of a giant statue being struck by a rock which then turns into a mountain that fills the whole earth.

Daniel interprets this dream as meaning the world will be ruled by four kingdoms after Babylon, ending with a kingdom that will never be destroyed. For this insightful (?) interpretation Daniel is made ruler over an entire province of Babylon and is placed in charge of all the wise men (who are no longer to be executed).

Todays section ends with a story about three of Daniel's fellow Israelites. Nebuchadnezzar makes a huge image of Gold and tells everyone to worship it. Daniel's three friends are the only people in all of Babylon that refuse to worship this idol (I guess Daniel himself was just fine with worshiping it). Because of this insubordination they are to be thrown into the furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar, apparently afraid the Israelites aren't flammable, tells his servants to burn the furnace seven times hotter (I'm not sure it's possible to make a furnace burn seven times hotter). The furnace is so hot that the guards that walk Daniel's peers to the furnace are burned alive. The three men are said to fall into the fire, but in the very next sentence the king is amazed that there are four people walking away, unharmed, from the furnace. The new fourth man appears to be "a son of the gods". Nebuchadnezzar is so amazed by this that he makes it a crime to say anything against the God of Israel.

This just reminds me of any cheap magicians trick. I have no explanation for this "miracle", but I also have no explanation for how people are seemingly chopped in half with chain saws. I find this vague anecdote unimpressive.

*News*
Faux News says we're in a moral decline, what else is new?

Their evidence for this moral decline is that, according to a recent study, America "no longer enjoys cultural consensus on God, religion and what constitutes right and wrong." If our old moral standards were based on Old Testament precepts, then no longer having a consensus is probably (read definitely) an improvement.
Not everyone who claims to believe in God (87%) believes that the Bible is the authoritative word of God (only 52% hold to such a belief) and even fewer (36%) believe people should live by principles as set forth in the Bible.
Wow, 36%? I didn't realize I was preaching to the choir. That being said, 36% is still far more than it should be (0% based on my reading so far).
Since the founding of America, the Bible has been the key standard of measurement for moral absolutes in this nation. As of late, a trend has emerged whereby individuals create a self-made standard of morality and the result is unequivocal…we are slipping.
Slipping into what? Social equality? It seems that the people who make a "self-made standard of morality" aren't any less moral than the people who base their morals on the bible. It's the people that want to outlaw things that hurt no one that should be examining their morals.
As America claims to believe in God, while ignoring His precepts, it finds itself in moral decline. The need of the hour is to return to God and embrace the teachings of the Bible. It is not too late to recognize that a change of course is not only possible, it is imperative.
It's interesting that nowhere in this article does the writer mention the exact symptoms of America's "moral decline". I guess we're supposed to figure it out on our own. I'd rather not go back to killing people for working on the sabbath or go back to owning slaves. Thanks anyway.

(via Faux News)

1 comment:

  1. "But that's just the Old Testament!"

    "Jesus made a new covenant!"

    "That was just for their time!"

    "You're taking it out of context!"

    "You have to be a Christian to interpret the Bible correctly!"

    Maybe Christians can try to grab a hold on one of those quotes I've heard to explain why we don't live by the Bible in the US. I don't care which, I'm honestly just glad Christians and I agree. The OT morals are detestable and we live more moral lives, given the example of Jesus or not.

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