Saturday, May 29, 2010

266: Cruel and Unusual & Amos: In Review

Amos 6-9
"Now then, hear the word of the LORD. You say, ' 'Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the house of Isaac.' Therefore this is what the LORD says: ' 'Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan country. And Israel will certainly go into exile, away from their native land.' ' " - Amos 7:16-17

Chapter 6 looks like yet another chapter about God's complaints against the Israelites. But toward the end it gets a little strange/incomprehensible. Here's the quote I'm confused about:
If ten men are left in one house, they too will die. And if a relative who is to burn the bodies comes to carry them out of the house and asks anyone still hiding there, "Is anyone with you?" and he says, "No," then he will say, "Hush! We must not mention the name of the LORD."
So this relative goes into a house filled with dead bodies and asks if anyone is with them? Who answers "no" if everyone's dead? As if to further my confusion, he tells the mysterious person to hush and not mention the name of the lord. What? Who mentioned the name of God? Unless God changed his name to "no".

Chapter 7 is yet another chapter about the punishment of Israel, how original. There is, however, a sliver of story today. Amaziah, a priest, sends word to the king that Amos is prophesying against Israel. Amaziah then goes on to tell Amos to get out of town. God responds by saying that since Amaziah told Amos to leave, that God is going to make his wife a prostitute, kill his sons and daughters, and give his land to the pagans. Couldn't Amos have just said, "no, I won't leave"? I'm not even sure why punishment is necessary. The only thing worse than cruel and unusual punishment is cruel and unnecessary punishment.

In chapter 8, God has a metaphor for Amos. God shows him a basket of fruit and asks him what he sees. Amos says, "A basket of fruit" (Amos would have gotten a gold star in kindergarten). God says that, like the basket of fruit, Israel is ripe for the picking (aka destruction). It's nice how God treats Israel like an out of control plant. Every once and awhile they get out of hand so God has to hack them back. It's time God started showing some humanity.

Chapter 9 is about the destruction and restoration of Israel. I can only presume that this is the same destruction and restoration that God talks about in every Old Testament chapter. This is considering that he promises not to destroy Israel ever again at the end of every chapter. Of course, I'm giving the bible the benefit of the doubt. God could be destroying, restoring, and promising never to destroy again every couple of generations.

Amos: In Review
Again I wonder why this book was included in the bible. It's exactly the same as every other Old Testament book. Without the two paragraphs of story about Amos, I suspect that it would be indistinguishable from the rest of the books of the Old Testament (to all but the most avid biblical scholar).

Yet another Old Testament book that leaves me underwhelmed and unsatisfied.

Is "Theistic Evolution" (i.e. God using evolution to create all species) a valid "compromise" between creationism and evolution? If there's one thing fundies and I agree on, it's that the answer to this question is "no".

First the religious argument:
Here are seven reasons why I don't hold to Theistic Evolution.

1. Theistic Evolution says the earth was created millions of years before man was created. The Bible says God created Adam and Eve "In the beginning" (Matthew 19:4).

2. Theistic Evolution says that the word "day" in Genesis 1 is symbolic and doesn't have to mean a literal 24-hour day. The Hebrew word for day can mean a period of light in a day-night cycle, however, a number attached to the word such as in Genesis 1 ( i.e. "first day," "second day," etc.), occurs 359 times in the Old Testament outside of Genesis 1, always meaning a 24-hour period.

3. Theistic Evolution holds to a different order of creation than the Bible. For instance, Theistic Evolution says the sun and stars existed before earth; the Bible says earth was created first.

4. Theistic Evolution teaches that there was death, decay and suffering before man walked the earth. The Bible teaches that the world was perfect in every way before Adam and Eve sinned.
These all seem to be pretty valid reasons that Theistic Evolution doesn't jive biblically. If the writer had stopped at 4 we'd have been in perfect agreement. Unfortunately, he went on:
5. Theistic Evolution relies on faith just as much as Young Earth Creation. With "Operational Science," facts can be observed, measured and repeated, and agreement had by evolutionists and creationists alike. No faith needed. However, "Origins Science" is looking at present data but making conclusions about the past that can't be observed, measured nor repeated.
First of all, no it doesn't. Evolution can be repeated in species with high mutation rates (bacteria and other single celled organisms). Setting aside the whole "faith" point being invalid, isn't relying on faith supposed to be a good thing in fundie land? Shouldn't this be an argument for theistic evolution? If you're allowed to have faith in something and pretend that makes it true, then why can't I?
6. Theistic Evolution claims all the evidence supports their views. However, the evidence usually referred to is that found in public education and the public media. Evidence that scientifically contradicts evolution may not make it into these resources, because it doesn't pass the litmus test.
Scientific knowledge, by definition, is available to the public. That's the whole idea behind "peer review". Saying that the only evidence quoted is the evidence in public media isn't an argument against science. What "litmus test" is he talking about? The peer review process? Or the "is this based in reality" litmus test?
7. Many "facts" from one era become disputed or disproven facts in later eras. Examples include:

• The belief that mudstone deposits couldn't have happened as quickly as creationists believe by the flood was shown to be untrue in a science magazine article from 2007.

• The belief taught in textbooks for years that grasses evolved 10 million years after the extinction of dinosaurs has been disproved by the finding of five different grasses in fossilized dinosaur droppings.
I've never heard these two hypotheses cited as key components of the theory of evolution. What are you trying to prove by citing two cases in which scientific hypothesis were revised? I guess if hypothesis change over time based on new evidence (a basic precept of the scientific method) then all of science is wrong and we should just take everything on faith. That is, if some new evidence comes along that changes our ideas about things, we should promptly throw out all evidence because we already know everything. Yes, that makes perfect sense.

I generally think that "Theistic Evolution" is a desperate attempt for the believer to hold on to his/her faith, while at the same time accepting the mountains of evidence for evolution. However, don't let me tell you not to believe it. Believe whatever makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, as long as you don't try to force it on me or the public education system.


  1. The original sin was anal intercourse. For the exegesis, google the first scandal Adam and Eve. Then click, read the 20 posts, and comment. You won't like what you read. That's a guarantee. So there must be something wrong with the exegesis. But what's wrong with it? When you discover what's wrong, with whom will you share your discovery?

  2. That sounds like a lot of work with no reward whatsoever. On the other hand, I can go into the kitchen and get a piece of cake. Very little work, glorious (albeit fleeting) reward. I like my idea better.



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