22 December 2006

Absalom's hair was heavy upon him

But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he polled his head [cut his hair], (for it was at every year's end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight. 2 Samuel 14:25-26

Absalom was the best looking guy in all of Israel -- with one hell of a head of hair. He'd let it grow all year and then cut it, which he had to do each year because it got so darned heavy. One year's growth weighed 200 skekels.

And how heavy is 200 shekels? Well, one shekel weighed about 11 grams. So Absalom's haircut trimmings weighed in at 2.2 kilograms.

How does this compare with normal human hair?

An average head hair has a diameter of about 0.007 cm (70 micrometers) and grows 15 cm per year. And an average head has about 100,000 hair follicles on it. Since human hair has a density of 1.32 g/cm3, we can estimate the weight of an average person's yearly hair production.

weight = pi * (.0035 cm)2 * 15 cm * 100,000 hairs * 1.32 g/cm3 = 76 g

So an average person produces about 0.076 kilogram of hair annually -- about than 1/30th that of Absalom.

Of course Absalom wasn't an average person. He was, after all, the best looking guy in Israel. So maybe his hair was 30 times as thick or 20 times as dense as normal human hair. Or maybe the Bible was just making stuff up.

Source for human hair values: Robbins, C.R., Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair, Fourth Edition, Springer (2002)

19 December 2006

I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit

The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven. Matthew 12:31

He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. Mark 3:29

Unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. Luke 12:10

Take the Blasphemy Challenge; deny the existence of the Holy Spirit. It's time for us all to stop believing (or pretending to believe) out of fear or politeness.

42: It's not God's favorite number

(Although it is The Answer to The Ultimate Question Of Life, the Universe and Everything.)

One of my favorite Bible stories for children is the Story of Elisha and the bears.

He [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. (New Revised Version) 2 Kings 2:23-24

So much action packed into two short verses!

But what's really important here is the moral of the story. What is God trying to teach us here?

Well some things are obvious.

  1. Don't make fun of religious leaders (or God might kill you in a particularly gruesome way).

  2. Children shouldn't make fun of bald men.

  3. God doesn't much like the number 42.

Okay, maybe the third one isn't so obvious. But doesn't it seem strange to have 42 little boys running out of the city screaming "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!" all at once? And then to have all 42 of them ripped apart by bears? Two or three, even a half dozen maybe, but not 42.

So maybe the number of boys was inflated a bit. But, still, why make it 42?

Because, you see, God really likes seven (that's why he has seven spirits) and he hates six (666 and all that). So since 7 is perfect and six is evil, 7 times 6 is perfectly evil.

So when the story of Elisha and the bears was made up (well, you didn't really believe it, did you?), 42 was selected for the number of boys. It showed how bad those boys must have been and how much they deserved being torn up by bears.

For other demonstrations of God's hatred of 42 see Judges 12:5-6; 2 Kings 10:14; Revelation 11:2, and 13:5.

18 December 2006

Where does evil come from?

Behold, this evil is of the Lord. 2 Kings 6:33

As I pointed out in my last post, evil spirits (according to the Bible, anyway) usually come from God (not Satan).

But what about evil itself? Where does it come from?

Here is the Bible's answer.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

The Bible tells us that God is the proud creator of everything evil. So whenever and wherever you find evil, you can be sure that God is its source.

Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? Amos 3:6

05 December 2006

Where do evil spirits come from?

Seems like silly question, doesn't it? At least it would to most Bible believers. Evil spirits come from Satan. But that's not what the Bible says.

The phrase "evil spirit(s)" occurs 14 times (in 13 verses) in the Bible, in 8 of which the evil spirits were sent directly and explicitly by God.

The first evil spirit was sent by God to kill people in war.

Then God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech. Judges 9:23

God sent the next evil spirit to cause Saul to have a mental breakdown. (But luckily, David plays his harp and makes Saul's "evil spirit from the Lord" go away.)

But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubleth thee. Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee, that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well. 1 Samuel 16:14-16

And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him. 1 Samuel 16:23

Then God sent an evil spirit to cause Saul to prophesy and sit with a javelin in his hand.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand. 1 Samuel 18:10

And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand. 1 Samuel 19:9

The other 6 "evil spirit" occurrences are in the New Testament. The Bible doesn't say where the evil spirits came from, but they are usually associated with some type of illness (Which come from God, right?).

And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Luke 7:21

And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, Luke 8:2

So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. ... And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. Acts 19:12-16

So the Bible is fairly clear on evil spirits: they are either sent directly by God or their origin is unknown. The Bible never attributes evil spirits to Satan.

(Thanks to Sternwallow at the Raving Atheists Forum for this one.)

03 December 2006

Swear not at all: Christians and the oath of office

A Christian who believes in the Bible shouldn't swear on one.

The Bible, of course, is worse than useless when it comes to consistent advice on morality. But the New Testament (to avoid confusion, ignore the Old Testament on this one) is pretty clear about one thing: Christians shouldn't swear. Not to God and not on the Bible or on anything else.

Here's what Jesus (supposedly) said about it:

But I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by heaven for it is God's throne; Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Matthew 5:34-37

And the Book of James condemns swearing "above all things." I guess that'd make it the worst possible sin.

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. James 5:12

But what about Muslims? Is there anything in the Quran that forbids them from swearing on it? Well, not that I know of, but let me know if there is and I'll note it in the SAQ.

Of course this shouldn't be an issue. The swearing-in ceremony doesn't require the use of the Bible, Quran, or any other religious book. So Representative Elect Keith Ellison shouldn't have a problem getting sworn-in, although he should leave his Quran at home.

But what about Christian representatives? Since the Bible forbids them ("above all else") to take any type of oath, they can't take the oath of office without renouncing their faith.

Oh well, that shouldn't be a problem for them. Most are just pretending to believe for political purposes, and the rest are mostly just hypocrites.