Saturday, June 5, 2010

273: False Prophecy & Zechariah: In Review

Zechariah 8-14
"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." - Zechariah 9:9

God repeats his normal promise to Israel in the first chapter today. He says that, at some point, he will bring the Israelites back to Israel and everyone will live happily ever after.

In the beginning of chapter 9 God promises to punish all the enemies of the Israelites. He says that never again will an oppressor overrun his people. God conveniently forgets that the holocaust is going to happen.

The next portion of chapter 9 holds yet another "prophecy" of Jesus (or so my teen study bible claims). God tells the Israelites that their king will come to them riding a donkey. This prophecy falls into the same trap that all the others do. Jesus was never king of anything. God says that the rule of this king will stretch to the end of the earth. The only way this makes sense is if Jesus is a metaphorical "king", which strikes me as bullshit.

In chapter 10 God repeats his sentiment from chapter 8. He says that though the Israelites are now scattered among the nations he will eventually bring them back to Israel and strengthen them.

In chapter 11, we descend back into incomprehensible craziness. God tells Zechariah (I think) to pasture the flock marked for slaughter. I'm not sure if this is a metaphor or not (I assume that it is). Zechariah says that he took two staffs, named one "favor" and one "union". The flock detests Zechariah (if this isn't a metaphor, then sheep detest Zechariah). Because they detest him, he breaks his staff called favor. Some from the flock give him 30 pieces of silver (yes, the sheep have money), and God tells him to throw the money to the potter. Zechariah throws the money, then breaks the other staff. I officially have no idea what's going on. My teen study bible says that the 30 pieces of silver are a prophecy of how much Jesus will be betrayed for. How they got that out of this shepherd/flock/staff breaking nonsense I have no idea.

Chapter 12 says that there will be a day when everyone is against Jerusalem. On that day God will make Jerusalem an unmovable rock. Again, I'm not quite sure what this is supposed to mean.

Chapter 13 continues the discussion about this mysterious "day". On this day, a fountain will be opened for the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse their sins. God says that if there are any false prophets in the land on that day, their own parents will stab them to death.

In the final chapter of the book of Zechariah we reach a climax of crazy. God says that on the "day of the Lord" God will send all the nations to fight against Israel. God says the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. He then says that, on that day, he will go out and fight the nations that were against Israel. He will split a mountain east of Jerusalem in half and the Israelites will flee through the newly formed valley.

On this day, there will be no light during the day, but as soon as evening comes there will be light. At the same time, God says there will be no daytime or nighttime. Still on that day "living water" will flow out of Jerusalem. All the nations that fought against Jerusalem will be struck with a plague. This plague will cause them to rot so fast that their bodies will dissolve while they are still on their feet.

The survivors will be forced to participate in the feast of the Tabernacles. If they do not, they will be given the plague. Finally, "Holy to the Lord" will be inscribed on the pots of all the Israelites. And God will wipe the Canaanites from the land.

Zechariah: In Review
I said yesterday that the craziness of this book didn't beat four headed angels with eyeballs all over their bodies. But I may be rethinking my opinion. The competition is certainly close.

This is probably the first book where I would say that the majority is incomprehensible to me. The parts that I did understand seemed either insane or like someone that was incoherently rambling.

Out of this, we are supposed to get prophecies of Jesus, and probably prophecies about the end of days.

I'm sure a biblical expert would have far more to say about this book than I do. I'm still waiting for beautiful narratives and inspiring passages. All I see right now is God saying he's going to make people rot while they're still alive. I'm still holding out hope for the New Testament.

*News*
As if to mock my non-understanding of the bible, I read an article today titled "Bible has the answers you need".
The other day someone asked how many times I have read the Bible from cover to cover and is there any question I could not answer? My answer was "You could read the Bible for a lifetime and not scratch the surface." There's no other book like it. You can't read the Bible without it affecting your life and the lives of those around you.
I guess the question he couldn't answer was "how many times have you read the bible from cover to cover?".
When I was a senior in high school, it was permissible to bring your Bible to school with you, and I did. One day when I was reading it during lunch break another student came up to me and asked a different kind of question. He asked "are you some kind of Jesus freak?"
It still is permissible to bring your bible to school. If you're going to pull the standard "Christians are being oppressed" at least make it something more plausible than that. If a public high school prohibited someone from bringing a bible on the premises I can almost guarantee you they would be front page news.
I did realize something that day though, the Bible has the power to draw a reaction just by looking at it.

Why? It's because there seems to be an aura the Bible generates which no other book does. Try laying a newspaper on your table while eating breakfast at a restaurant, and no one will give you a second look. But lay your Bible on that same table, and most people will stare at you, watch you chew your food, and maybe even read your license plate when you get into your car
Where does this guy live? Coming from the bible belt, I've seen many people openly carrying bibles. This includes carrying bibles into public high schools, which the writer claims is prohibited. Nobody, including me, gave these people a second glance. In fact, I've been that person carrying a bible. I, due to this blog, sat in a McDonald's (free internet) with my bible open on the table for 4-5 hours. One person went out of his way to say how he loved free internet, nobody said anything about my bible.
That's because the Bible creates a sense of God's presence that forces a reaction in the hearts of men and women. We are changed as we read it. Our core values are altered, peace enters our spirit, joy wells up within our heart. Martin Luther said, "The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me."
Free internet forced more of a reaction in the hearts of men, in my experience, than did the "aura of God". Does this mean I should be worshiping free internet (people already worship Google)? Maybe it's not the bible that's making people look at him funny.

Friday, June 4, 2010

272: A Menagerie of Crazy

Zechariah 1-7
"Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! He said, 'This is wickedness,' and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed the lead cover down over its mouth. Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth." - Zechariah 5:7-9

This whole chapter is just a random assortment of weirdness. We still haven't beaten four headed angels covered in eyes, but Zechariah gets bonus crazy points for the sheer number of weird things.

The book starts out rather mild. Zechariah asks an angel what his dream about four horses means. The angel says that the four horses are the four horses he's sent throughout the earth to check on it. The horses come back (as they are speaking) and report that the entire earth is at peace. God says that he is very angry with Israel, but they will eventually be prosperous again. I really don't know what God is talking about. When was the whole earth at peace?

The chapter ends with Zechariah seeing horns floating in front of him. I'm not sure what kind of "horns" the bible is talking about (and I'm too lazy to look up the Hebrew at the moment). The angel says that these horns have prevented anyone from lifting their head in Israel. The first chapter looks a lot like someone just threw words on a page and hoped it meant something.

Chapter 2 is about a man that's going to measure Jerusalem. Zechariah stops talking to the angel he was talking to, and starts talking to another one. I'm not sure quite why that's relevant (but the bible mentions it, so it must be of divine importance). This new angel tells Zechariah to tell the measuring guy that Jerusalem is a city with no walls. God then says that he, himself, is going to be a wall of fire around the city. Is there no wall, or is God the wall? Again, I'm having a hard time grasping the point to any of this.

In chapter 3, Satan makes an appearance. He doesn't seem to actually do anything, but the bible mentions that he's there with Joshua, the priest. Joshua is wearing dirty clothes, so an angel gives him clean clothes. We are three for three on absolutely random chapters in Zechariah.

In chapter 4, Zechariah has a vision of a lampstand with seven lights on it, and two olive trees to it's left and right. Zechariah asks an angel what this is. The angel responds by saying, "Don't you know?" Well obviously he doesn't know if he's asking you. The angel finally explains. By "explains" I mean he rattles off a bunch of cryptic nonsense. I'll quote the "explanation":
'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

"What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!' "
I'm not even going to attempt an interpretation on that one. The angel finally says that the seven lights on the lampstand are the seven eyes of God that wander throughout the earth. What? God has seven eyes that roam the earth? I guess I'm not sure how many eyes I expected. Seven would not have been my first choice.

But wait, it gets worse. Chapter 5 starts with Zechariah seeing a flying scroll that's thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide. This scroll banishes all those who swear falsely or steal. Then a basket comes out of the sky. Inside this basket is a woman. As soon as the angel reveals the woman in the basket, he slams it shut and puts lead over the cover. He exclaims, "This is wickedness". Then two winged women fly the basket back into the sky. The angel says they are taking the basket to Babylon to build a house for it. What the hell is going on? I feel like I'm on an acid trip just reading this book.

In the next chapter Zechariah sees four chariots fly out of the heavens. He asks the angel what these are and the angel says they are the four spirits of heaven. Four spirits of heaven? I'm so lost today. This all seems terribly nutty.

In the final chapter for today, God tells the people of Israel to stop fasting and start treating each other better. God says that they haven't been fasting for God but for themselves. What are they getting out of fasting?

This is yet another book I'm going to point to if someone tries to tell me the bible is valid, or sane for that matter. I think I got a little more crazy just reading it.

*News*
When is the right age to give your child a real (non picture book) bible? I vote 18, others go a little younger:
I was a little unsure whether she was old enough. After all, I had a small New Testament until my parents bought me my first big girl Bible at age 10. Mama wrote my name and the date in calligraphy in the front of my white Thomas Nelson King James Version.
My reading today perfectly illustrates that the NIV bible is barely comprehensible, and that's written in much clearer language than the KJV. I can't imagine a ten year old trying to figure out what the bible says. Not to mention that most of the bible is wildly inappropriate for children (see Noah passing out drunk, or Lot getting raped by his daughters).
But in the past month, she’s been reading the Bible with her Sunday School teacher and really excelling. Her teacher said my daughter didn’t need any of the new-fangled picture bibles for children. She could read the KJV and visualize David and Goliath and Noah herding the world’s animals into his boat just fine.
Right, she doesn't need those books to visualize it, but she had those books before. There's no way she could have remembered what those pictures looked like, or what she was supposed to believe about Noah and David and Goliath. They must not have read to the end of the story of Noah where he's passed out drunk in the nude, or to the end of the David and Goliath story where David carries around Goliath's severed head for the majority of the chapter.
I marvel at her hunger to learn more about God and her interest in keeping the 10 Commandments. When we took a walk the other night, she was so loud talking about how we needed to be good Christians and honor God’s creation by planting trees, I told her if she didn’t quiet down I would have to start calling her the Pit Preacher. (Any of you Carolina graduates out there will know who I’m talking about.)
I marvel at the ability of children to learn and imitate their parent's values. As a side note, imitating your parents (which were successful enough to reproduce) has a clear evolutionary advantage. I believe this girl yearns for God as much as I believe those toddlers in beauty pageants yearn to be there.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

271: The Most Selfish Toddler of Them All

Haggai 1-2
" 'Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,' says the LORD. 'You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?' declares the LORD Almighty. 'Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.' " - Haggai 1:8-9

For the first chapter of Haggai, God whines about how the Israelites haven't built his house yet. God says that everything the Israelites brought home, he's blown away. He's destroyed their things because they spent too much time worrying about their own comfort, and not enough time worrying about God's comfort.

This all seems very ridiculous. Why does this all powerful God, who made the universe, need the Israelites to build him a house? Build your own damn house. To add insult to injury, he has enough energy to huff and puff and blow the Israelites' houses down. Maybe he should channel some of that destructive energy into building the house himself. God also causes a drought, just for good measure.

I don't mean to ramble on here, but this chapter makes the idea of an all powerful (and certainly an all "moral" God) seem laughable. God's ultimate morality says that if you don't build a pretty house for him to be "comfortable" in, then he blows down your house and makes you suffer from drought? Grow up, God.

God spends the first paragraph of chapter 2 rambling on about his house, then the book goes a little strange. God tells Haggai to ask the priests this: "If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?". The priests answer "no". He then asks: "If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?". The priests answer "yes". Then God says: "Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled". I guess those were the wrong answers?

I'm again baffled at what meaning I'm supposed to be getting out of this.

*News*
I don't even have an intelligent intro to this letter to the editor. I think reading it melted my brain.
Evolution as “survival of the fittest” sees mankind much like Genesis Chapter 1, in which man, made in God’s image, is the culmination of creation and is given dominion over the earth. Evolution as a cooperative model has a similar theme to Genesis Chapter 2, in which man, as God’s representative figure, is to tend to the earth and keep it.
Evolution in no way implies that man is the "culmination of creation". In fact, I'll venture to say that most humans would die in a matter of days if they were thrown into the forest and told to survive. And evolution certainly doesn't imply that we've been given the earth to tend and keep. I'm not sure how someone can be this far off base about the concept of "survival of the fittest" and evolution.
Science knows what it knows at the moment and dismisses what is yet to be proven as unrealistic, a fantasy or perhaps a myth. Science dismissed hand washing after working with a dead or diseased person as unscientific until science discovered bacteria, but the Israelites learned this principle in the desert. Religion can be equally close-minded. Whether the earth revolves around the sun or vice-versa is not a religious question.
Maybe science did dismiss hand washing (this was surely a very primitive form of "science", but we'll give the writer the benefit of the doubt). Then someone formed the hypotheses that hand washing prevents disease. This hypothesis was tested, and found to be accurate. Most of us now hold to the "theory" of hand washing. This seems to be a sound way of gaining knowledge.

How would religion have handled this new idea? What if the bible said that hand washing was a sin? I would imagine that the "evil" hand washers would be burned at the stake for awhile. Eventually, with the help of scientists, religious anti-hand washing zealots would eventually give in to the fact that hand washing prevents disease, and that passage of the bible would become yet another "metaphor". This seems like a not so sound way of gaining knowledge.
Knowing who we are and why we are here is not the sphere of science, and it is the answer to those questions that will have the greatest impact on each individual and each society.
Those questions may not be answered by science. But we can all use the same principles of inquiry, skepticism, and curiosity we use to do science to answer those questions. I'm not sure what benefit you get from blindly following a 2000+ year old book.

(via Knox News)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

270: Two Unoriginal Books

Habakkuk 1-3
"How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, 'Violence!' but you do not save?" - Habakkuk 1:2

Habakkuk starts out with a complaint for God. He says that he, and the Israelites, constantly cry out to God, but he doesn't come to help them with their enemies. This is an especially valid complaint when you consider that God has said many times that if the Israelites would only cry out, he would immediately help them. I guess God needs to be in a good mood to help.

God's responds to this by saying that he is raising the Babylonians to punish all the nations that are bad to the Israelites (and, it turns out, the Israelites themselves). Yes, we're back to this discussion. God is raising up the Babylonians to be his punisher, but he will soon punish the Babylonians for all of the punishing they've done.

Habakkuk's second complaint is that God doesn't punish those who deserve it (this is surprisingly like his first complaint). God, apparently to get out of his punishment responsibility, explains that evil people get no satisfaction from their deeds. Therefore, I guess, there's no need for them to be punished(?). It's a good thing the American judicial system doesn't follow Godly logic.

Zephaniah 1-3
" 'I will sweep away everything from the face of the earth,' declares the LORD. 'I will sweep away both men and animals; I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. The wicked will have only heaps of rubble when I cut off man from the face of the earth,' declares the LORD." - Zephaniah 1:2-3

Zephaniah is incredibly unexciting. God goes through the list of nations that he regularly talks about and says how he's going to destroy them all.

The only think that pops out at me as original or worthy of talking about is from the very beginning of the book. God seems to slip up and says that he is going to wipe everyone off the earth. First of all, God never does this (obviously). Or, as any good apologist would say, it just hasn't happened yet. Second, what happened to God's promise to not wipe everyone off the earth? Now he just threatens to do it like a frustrated, all powerful toddler.

Maybe God will be more mature in the New Testament.

*News*
We have more "science" babble today. This time it shows evidence that the biblical account of creation could be accurate.
"When the Bible describes the day-by-day development of our universe in the six days following the creation, it is truly referring to six 24-hour days. But the reference frame by which those days were measured was one which contained the total universe," Schroeder wrote -- a universe that was rapidly expanding. Because of the time/velocity connection, that change in perspective changed the meaning of time -- or of, say, six days.
Right, when you look at the reference frame which somehow contains the entire universe, then 15 billion years equals exactly six 24 hour days. If that didn't blow your mind, e = -1. What's the difference? The latter can actually be proven. I've heard attempts to reconcile Genesis 1 and science before. This was probably the least successful.

The most hilarious part of this article, to me, is Ken Ham's take on the issue:
"The first thing I look at," said Ham, "is to question what is his ultimate motivation?"

Ham and his museum believe that the Bible should be taken literally, rejecting theories of evolution in favor of the Bible's stories. He said Schroeder "has accepted the secular view of 15 billion years as the age of the universe, so his ultimate motivation is to fit 15 billion years into the Bible's account. He then develops this model, to fit that model."
Who else starts with a conclusion and then twists facts and science to fit their ultimate goal? Oh, that's right, Ken Ham! I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry at this blatant hypocrisy.

(via Fox News)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

269: You Kill Them, I Kill You

Nahum 1-3
"Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be cut off and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, O Judah, I will afflict you no more. Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away." - Nahum 1:12-13

The entire book of Nahum is about how God is going to kill the Assyrians for their invasion of Israel (and other nations). This is going to be wildly unexciting, because I've already talked about God destroying Babylon under similar circumstances.

Here is the problem (for those of you just starting to read): God commanded (even forced) the Assyrians to invade Israel as a punishment for Israel's sins. Now God has decided that it's a sin to invade Israel, and is going to personally destroy Assyria. Why couldn't God have just destroyed Israel himself? What happened to fire and brimstone?

God ends by saying that everyone that hears about Assyria's fall will clap their hands with joy, because everyone has felt Assyria's cruelty. By this logic, people would clap their hands if God died as well, everyone has felt his cruelty worse than Assyria's.

*News*
Pamela Geller has started a bus campaign to "help" those leaving Islam.


With very little research it's easy to see that this is Pamela's cover for her anti-Islamic fanaticism. But, of course, she's not going to admit that:
"It's not offensive to Muslims, it's religious freedom," she said. "It's not targeted at practicing Muslims. It doesn't say 'leave,' it says 'leaving' with a question mark."
Right, putting up signs that imply all Muslims kill people who try to leave the faith isn't offensive at all. I wonder if she would be so defensive of bus ads if the subject were Christians. Pamela is also against putting a Mosque near ground zero. To me, that's like saying there shouldn't be any churches near what was once the location of the Murrah building in Oklahoma, because Timothy McVeigh was a Christian.

If you go to refugefromislam.com, it says that you should fear for your life if you are leaving Islam because the Koran says that you should be killed. By that logic, any Christian working on the sabbath should be afraid because a holy book says you should be killed. The hypocrisy is killing me.

Pamela Geller is also one of the major perpetrators of photoshopping Obama with a turban on his head. If she spent all this time painting Obama as a Muslim, she can't just let people think that not all Muslims are terrible people. As if to make matters worse, this is the first thing I saw when I went to her blog:
Palin just gets better and better, and she was brilliant to begin with. It is no wonder Obama and his left-wing paramilitary thugs are scared to death of her. This is what the leader of the free world should sound like.
As the kids say, bitch be crazy.

(via AP)

Monday, May 31, 2010

268: Jesus?

Micah 1-7
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." - Micah 5:2

After today, there are 6 more days, and 6 more books till the New Testament. Why do I feel like they're all going to be exactly the same? Micah fits the Old Testament book mold perfectly.

Chapter 1 is God's judgement against Israel. As usual, the Israelites are supposed to weep and mourn because God is going to make their life so terrible. Chapter 2 is a continuation of this judgement. Chapter 2 ends with a promise that Israel will be rebuilt. How original.

Chapter 3 is yet another chapter in which God rebukes Israel for their many sins. God says that if his people eat each other he will not answer them when they cry out for forgiveness. This is an inconsistency in two ways. One, this is a way that God has punished Israel. He has explicitly caused the Israelites to eat each other (their children) as a punishment for their sins. So he's punishing people for sin by making them sin? Two, God has promised in many cases that if only the Israelites would cry out for forgiveness, he would immediately forgive them. Because God is "abounding in love and slow to anger" (yeah, right). Not only is God punishing the Israelites by making them sin, but he won't forgive them for the sin he forced them to commit.

In chapter 4, God says that he will make a mountain that is "chief among the mountains" and people will come there to learn God's ways. This apparently hasn't happened yet. The only mountain I can think of that would be called "chief among mountains" is everest, and I don't think anyone climbs that for divine instruction.

Chapter 5 is a chapter that is surely used as a "prophecy" of Jesus (indeed, googling "Micah 5 Jesus" gives me several websites claiming just that). It says that, from Bethlehem, will rise a ruler of Israel. The fallacy of all these prophecies, it seems, is that Jesus was never "king" over Israel (as far as I know). Nor was he in any sort of leadership position over any Israelite (except maybe the apostles). There is some debate over this passage. Some websites tell you that this prophecy actually points to king David, while others say it proves that Jesus has always existed. This is just a testament of how unclear biblical prophecy is.

Chapter 6 and 7 echo the first to chapters of Micah. Yes, God again says all the ways Israel has sinned, and all the ways he is going to punish them. Then he promises to restore them to their former glory. It's almost forgivable to repeat this over a number of books, but why does Micah (or God) feel the need to echo this concept twice in one book?

This book was completely devoid of any story. I'm still waiting for the beautiful prose, and wonderful story of the bible that I've been promised (on "every page" no less).

*News*
Can the bible be trusted? Some "prove" that it is in interesting ways.
Because the Bible is such an ancient book, the honest investigator will question whether we really have the Bible as it was written. Our faith must never be built on a book that will not stand careful examination.
First of all, I thought faith meant that even if all evidence pointed to the bible being untrustworthy, that you would believe it anyway. That's certainly how some (even most) Christians feel.
When one considers the abundance of copies of the New Testament in the Greek language, and compares it with the scarcity of other ancient books he will be amazed at the vast difference. While copies of other writings number less than fifty, there are over 4,000 manuscripts of the New Testament!
He conveniently doesn't mention how consistent these 4,000 copies are. Even if they are 100% consistent, just because something is said 4,000 times doesn't make it real.
In addition to these manuscripts there is another source for establishing original text. Within three hundred years of the establishment of the church scores of "church fathers" wrote extensively and freely quoted from the Bible. Some of the names are better known than others (Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius) yet all of these writers play a vital making the Bible a trustworthy book. In the writings of just six of these (the three mentioned above plus Clement, Tertullian and Hippolytus) there are 35,989 quotations from the New Testament. Might we point out that there are only 7,957 verses in the entire New Testament, yet these six men quote these verses over 36,000 times!
Again we aren't told how accurate these quotations are. I feel sorry for whoever had to read the works of these authors. Quoting every verse an average of 5 times each must make for a pretty boring read. Think about this: what if 2000 years from now, the only surviving texts say that 9/11 was perpetrated by the U.S. government. This has surely been repeated more than 4,000 times, but does that make it any more valid? All of this non-evidence brings us to this conclusion:
The Bible is trustworthy. Come and study it with us.
Whoa. Lets say that the writer could somehow prove to me that the bible was 100% accurately copied. It's a long way from there to prove that 1. the bible is internally consistent (it's clearly not) and 2. the original accounts are completely factual (I'll go out on a limb and say that this is also clearly not the case). This same fallacy is used in the evolution/creation debate. Creationist think that if they somehow disprove evolution (nobody is anywhere close) then that will prove unequivocally that creationism is true. That's just not the case. If you disprove evolution then you've proven that we don't know anything about how animals came into existence.

The writer is a long way from proving the bible is trustworthy.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

267: Two Books in One

Obadiah
"See, I will make you small among the nations; you will be utterly despised." - Obadiah 1:2

The entirety of the book of Obadiah is God saying how bad Edom is. God sends Obadiah to tell them how bad they've been and how God is going to destroy them for what they've done. However, God doesn't promise to bring them back like he does the Israelites. I guess there is a downside to not being the chosen people.

It seems like they could have just tacked this entire book on to the end of another (it is only one chapter after all). I don't think anyone would have noticed.

Jonah
"From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God." - Jonah 2:1

I think most of us know the basic story of Jonah (i.e. he gets swallowed by a whale/big fish, whatever). Even I know that part, and that's saying something. But there's a bit of back story that at least I didn't know.

God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against the people living there. Jonah says hell no and gets on a boat to Tarshish. On the boat's way to Tarshish God summons a huge storm. The people on the boat, knowing some God must be responsible, cast lots to figure out who's God is angry. Jonah's lot comes up so the people of the boat know that Jonah's God must be the one that's angry.

They ask Jonah what to do to calm the waters. Jonah tells them that the only solution is to throw him overboard. The people of the ship hesitate to throw him over, but once they see that they cannot handle the storm they go ahead and toss him into the sea. God, being the nice guy that he is, has a big fish eat Jonah. Of course, this "big fish" could be a whale. This wouldn't be the first time God miscategorized an animal (Leviticus 11:13-19). Jonah prays to God from inside this fish for 3 days.

I'm going to avoid arguing whether Jonah could have survived inside the stomach of a fish/whale. Common sense tells us that Jonah couldn't have. If there were enough oxygen inside a stomach to survive (there's not), Jonah would probably be thoroughly digested in 3 days. But I don't think this is a logical argument. Either you believe it, or you don't based on whether you believe God can make anything happen.

At the end of three days God commands the fish to puke Jonah up and, lo and behold, Jonah is dropped off at Nineveh. Jonah preaches against the people of Nineveh. For once, the people of Nineveh listen to God, so God doesn't destroy them. For some reason, Jonah is mad about this and spends the rest of the chapter saying he wants to die.

*News*
Well, it's finally been proven. God exists. I feel a little silly now.
New orleans, Frank Tipler, a professor at Tulane University, has been studying god, and he claims to have undeniable proof that God Exists. He started off in a Christian childhood, he then became an atheist at 16 when he began studying science. Recently he has converted back due to his newest discovery.
I'm on the edge of my seat.
God is the cosmological singularity, out of which the universe sprang. God created the universe, he will guide the universe, and until finally the universe will recollapse into him. The final singularity which is the same as the initial singularity. The cosmological singularity at its fullest extent is, in fact, God.
First of all, he's redefined God. God being a singularity is a long way from a personal God that listens to all of your prayers and sends Jesus to sacrifice himself for our sins. Second, this isn't, in any way, evidence. Randomly saying that God is a singularity doesn't make it true. Not to mention that science suggest that the universe isn't going to collapse back into a singularity.
He claims that his math coincides with Exodus in the bible, describing god referring to himself as "I am that I am" meaning that god is referring to himself as both past and future tense. By his logic this proves that god is with the universe from beginning to end.
The math coincides with Exodus? I'm not even sure what that means. I always thought God referring to himself as "I am that I am" was just God ranting. I now know that it's irrefutable evidence that God exists.

This guy obviously didn't study science hard enough.

(via Rant Rave)
 

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