29 July 2006

Ann Coulter on ID

There's an interesting Ann Coulter interview at Beliefnet. Most of the others that I've seen have focused on her nasty name-calling habits, rather than her ideas, which are even worse. Here, for example, is what she says about creation, evolution, and intelligent design.
Beliefnet: You devote four of your eleven chapters to evolution, and say that Darwin's theory of evolution is "about one notch above Scientology in scientific rigor." So what do you think really happened? Did God create the world in six days? Did he create each species separately? Did he set a chain of causation in motion? Did he "cause" evolution in the sense that all the species are related to each other but God guided their descent?

Coulter: These are unanswerable questions--except the latter. God did not "cause" evolution because evolution doesn't exist. Thus, for example, He also didn't "cause" unicorns. My faith and reason tell me that God created the world and I'm not particularly interested in the details. I'll find out when I meet my Maker.

Did God create the world in six days? Did he create each species separately? Did he set a chain of causation in motion?

She doesn't know or care. She's not interested in the details.

Are any creationists or IDers interested in the details? It reminds me of the dialog in the movie "Inherit the Wind."

Drummond: Now listen to this. This is Genesis 4:16: "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife." Now where the hell did she come from?

Brady: Who?

Drummond: Mrs. Cain. Cain's wife. If, in the beginning, there were just Cain and Abel, and Adam and Eve, where did this extra woman come from? Did you ever stop to think about that?

Brady: No, sir. I leave the agnostics to hunt for her.

Drummond: Never bothered you?

Brady: Never bothered me.

Drummond: Never tried to find out?

Brady: No.

Drummond: You figure somebody else pulled another creation over in the next county somewhere?

Brady: The Bible satisfies me. It is enough.

Drummond: It frightens me to think of the state of learning in the world if everybody had your driving curiosity.

Ann Coulter: Jesus was a godless liberal

On MSNBC's Hardball, Ann Coulter said:
...generally the liberal idea is to be nice to your enemies, punish your friends. No, I think you should punish your enemies and be nice to your friends.

Well, I'm not sure if this is a liberal idea or not, but, if you believe the gospels anyway, it was definitely one of Jesus'.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you. -- Matthew 5:44

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. -- Luke 6:27

But love ye your enemies, and do good. -- Luke 6:35

Maybe Jesus founded not only the Catholic Church, but the godless Church of Liberalism as well.

28 July 2006

Ann Coulter's favorite Bible verses

In a recent post, I suggested that hard core Christians hate the good stuff in the Bible. Well Ann Coulter is a hard core Christian. Here are her favorite verses. (Beliefnet interview)
Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. -- Matthew 10:26-28

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. -- Matthew 10:32-33

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. -- Matthew 10:22

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. -- John 15:18

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. -- Revelation 14:9-11

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. -- Matthew 10:34

It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. -- Revelation 21:6

Here's how I've classified Ann's favorite verses at the SAB.

verse category
Matthew 10:26 cruelty, injustice
Matthew 10:32-33 injustice, intolerance, absurdity
Matthew 10:22 contradiction
John 15:18 contradiction
Revelation 14:9-11 cruelty, intolerance, injustice
Matthew 10:34 family values, injustice, cruelty, intolerance
Revelation 21:6 none

Not a good verse among them.

The Irish Psalter: Open to Psalm 84 (Not 83)

A few days ago, an early medieval psalter was found in an Irish bog. It was reported to have been open to Psalm 83, which apparently it was. The hard core Christians went wild.

But it was Psalm 83 of the Latin Vulgate Bible, not of the Protestant versions (such as the KJV or NIV), which number the Psalms differently. Psalm 83 of the Vulgate is Psalm 84 of the King James.

What a difference a chapter can make!

Psalm 83 (of the KJV) contains these verses.

For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.

What a fine coincidence it was, too -- a clear message from God about the end times to come. Here's how the excited and credulous "Live From" CNN host, Kyra Phillips, introduces the topic.

So dig this. A man was bulldozing a bog in central Ireland the other day when he noticed something unusual in the freshly turned soil. Turns out he'd unearthed an early medieval treasure: an ancient book of Psalms that experts date to the years 800 to 1000. Experts say it will take years of painstaking work to document and preserve this book, but eventually it will go on public display.

Now here's the kicker. The book, about 20 pages of Latin script, was allegedly found opened to Psalm 83. Now, if you're a scholar, as you know, Psalm 83: "God hears complaints that other nations are plotting to wipe out the name of Israel."

But shucks! It wasn't Psalm 83 after all, but the very boring Psalm 84. Here is the verse (7) that the Psalter was open to.

Transeuntes in valle fletus fontem ponent eam (In the vale of tears, in the place which he hath set.)

But don't despair, hard core Christians. There is still a way to interpret this verse as a warning from God about the coming destruction. It's all laid out clearly in Hot Air.

27 July 2006

Bad Books of the Bible

You'd think that "The Good Book" wouldn't have much bad stuff in it. But nearly half (27/66) of the Bible's books have nothing good in them, at least as far as I can see. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible includes some of the worst stuff in all literature, with 27 books that have not a single piece of useful moral (or any other kind of) advice.

Here's my list of the Bible's bad books:

  1. Genesis
  2. Numbers
  3. Joshua
  4. Judges
  5. Ruth
  6. 1 Samuel
  7. 2 Samuel
  8. 1 Kings
  9. 2 Kings
  10. 1 Chronicles
  11. 2 Chronicles
  12. Ezra
  13. Nehemiah
  14. Esther
  15. Song of Solomon
  16. Lamentations
  17. Daniel
  18. Joel
  19. Obadiah
  20. Jonah
  21. Nahum
  22. Habakkuk
  23. Zephaniah
  24. Haggai
  25. 2 Thessalonians
  26. Philemon
  27. Revelation

(Let me know if you can find something good in them. If you can convince me, I'll add the verses to the good stuff and remove the book from the bad book list.)

25 July 2006

God is love: The most hated verse in the Bible

Have you ever noticed that hard core Christians don't much like the good stuff in the Bible? And they just can't stand the very best.

But the verse they hate most of all is 1 John 4:8.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

Because if God is love, what the hell is hell?

[It is interesting that Pope Benedict XVI's first encyclical is entitled Deus Caritas Est (God is Love). But then the hard core Christians that I'm talking about don't consider the Pope to be Christian.]

The Whole Message of the Bible

I'm having an email discussion with a creationist physics professor who keeps telling me that "the Bible says everywhere" this and that "the whole message of the Bible is" that.

But the Bible has no "whole message" and it says absolutely nothing "everywhere". It is the most inconsistent book ever written.

But that's not surprising since it's not a book, but a collection of books written by many (mostly unknown) authors over a period of 1000 years or so. The Bible teaches nothing consistently throughout. Pick any topic and the Bible will say one thing one place and another in another.

24 July 2006

The Ten Commandments: Paul couldn't name them all either

Last month on the Colbert Report, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (co-sponsor of a bill requiring the display of the Ten Commandments) couldn't name them. Which, as I noted in a previous post, is no big deal since Jesus couldn't name them all either.

And neither, apparently, could Paul. Here's what he said about them in Romans.

Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Romans 13:9

So Paul listed only five, and then (like Jesus), threw in one that isn't in the Big Ten. And notice again that only the secular commandments are listed. Nothing about which god to worship, making images, the Sabbath, or taking God's name in vain.

So maybe there are only five or six commandments. If so, Westmorland (according to his office) did better than Jesus or Paul! Congratulations Lynn. You're a Peach.

21 July 2006

The Root Cause of the Problem

In a briefing to Congress on the recent G8 summit, President Bush said
Everybody abhors the loss of innocent life. On the other hand, what we recognize is that the root cause of the problem is Hezbollah.
But the root cause is not Hezbollah, or Syria, Iran, or even Israel. The root cause is religion.

Three incompatible and mutually exclusive religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) fight each other, basing their beliefs upon two of the world's most violent books (the Bible and the Quran). A more perfect recipe for mutually assured destruction could not be found.

When people of Israel, Lebanon, the Middle East, and the world no longer believe in (or pretend to believe in) the Bible and the Quran, there will be hope for peace. Religious belief is the root cause of the problem, and until it is addressed there will be no peace in the region -- or in the world.

20 July 2006

Forget Amalek: What the Bible really says about fighting terrorism

Rabbi Gellman has a new article in Newsweek (Remember Amalek: What the Bible says about fighting terrorism). He begins by saying:
The Bible is the greatest collection of books, and I believe it to be the complex but discernable word of God.
Well the Bible is one of the three worst books I've ever read (the others are the Quran and the Book of Mormon). And I sure as hell wouldn't blame its contents on God.

Next he tells us that we must be careful when we interpret the Bible, because the Bible can be used to justify anything. To prove it, he uses the Bible to justify Bush's war on terror.

The key to it all, he says, is Amalek.

In Deut. 25:17-19 we read: “Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.”

God didn't like Amalek's tactics: he attacked the Israelites from behind when they were "faint an weary; and he feared not God." Or as Rabbi Gelman puts it:

This meant that his [Amalek's] soldiers could kill women and children, the elderly and the infirm and in so doing avoid engagement with the soldiers at the front. In this way he could produce maximum carnage and maximum terror. The moral problem the Bible addresses is that this is not warfare, it is the slaughter of innocents—it is terrorism.

So Amalek, according to the Rabbi, was a terrorist. And that's why God hated him so much. And we must hate him too, just as much and forever.

Indeed our remembrance of Amalek is combined with a chilling pledge from God that is also unique in the Bible: “The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exod. 17:16). Our enemies are just our enemies except if our enemy is Amalek. In that case our enemy is also the enemy of God. Amalek thus becomes the symbol of terrorism in every generation. ... Yes, one can disagree and debate how Amalek must be fought, but not that Amalek must be fought.

But Gellman has it exactly backwards here. We might not know for sure who God thinks Amalek is these days (Amalek's descendents, terrorists, Muslims, Republicans, Knicks fans, etc.), but there can be no debate about what we must do to them whenever and wherever we find them. God made that clear in the Rabbi's favorite book.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. -- 1 Samuel 15:2-3

Now this was a direct command given by God to King Saul several hundred years after Amalek died. (Saul lost his kingdom because he failed to kill everyone as God commanded.) And, as the rabbi pointed out, the instructions still apply today (see Exod. 17:16). So if you think today's Amalekites are terrorists (as Rabbi Gellman does), then you must kill them all -- the terrorists, their families, and their neighbors -- every man, woman, infant, suckling, ox, sheep, camel, and ass.

According to Rabbi Gellman, the difference between us and Amalek is "that our victims were killed by mistake and Amalek's victims were killed by design." But the Bible God doesn't quite see it that way. We must kill them all -- innocent or guilty, young or old, women, children, babies, even their animals.

Gellman ends by endorsing "the message from our president: victory is the only way."

In my heart and prayers, I thank President Bush for remembering Amalek. ... [T]his is a war against a lover of slaughter.

There is no greater "lover of slaughter" than the God of the Bible. Bush should reject his evil commands to kill innocent people.

It's time to finally forget Amalek.

19 July 2006

For thy pleasure they were created

The Intelligent Design movement has its own wedge issue: natural evil. Its existence is hard to deny, but what do you do with it? If cruelty is designed into creation, then how can the creator be good?

Most IDers solve this problem by shifting the blame from the designer to humans or demons -- anything but God. But of course that's cheating. We should clearly see the existence and nature of God from his creation. After all, Paul says we're going to hell if we don't.

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. -- Romans 1:20

There are a few Christians, though, that take God at his word. He is, after all, the proud creator of evil.

I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. -- Isaiah 45:6-7

He made predator and prey, host and parasite, and did it all for his own amusement.

The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. -- Psalm 104:21

Thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. -- Revelation 4:11

An ASA article by David Snoke puts it this way:

God does claim direct responsibility for the creation of natural evil.... God neither apologizes for making these things, nor weeps over them -- he glories in them.

God didn't create a world full of misery to punish Adam and Eve, and the devil didn't make him do it. He did it because he wanted to. He just likes to watch things suffer.

18 July 2006

Dembski's Defective Design Inference

To make us realize the full extent of human sin, God does not merely allow personal evils (i.e. the disordering of our souls and the sins we commit as a result) to run their course subsequent to the Fall. In addition, God allows natural evils (e.g. death, predation, parasitism, disease, drought, floods, famines, earthquakes, and hurricanes) to run their course prior to the Fall. Thus, God himself wills the disordering of creation, making it defective on purpose. William Dembski, The End of Christianity, p.145

Notice that according to Dembski, God purposefully designed the evils of the natural world, "making it defective on purpose."

What a valuable concept! Defective Design (DD)! It will be interesting to see how Dembski and others who believe in DD will incorporate it into their "design inference."

Dembski's Theodicy: God's Preemptive War on Nature

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. -- Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden

In a previous post (Behold, it was very good 4 June 06) I listed five ways that Christians try to explain natural evil. Here's a summary:

  1. The original creation was perfect and would have remained that way if Adam hadn't of sinned. But he did, so God changed everything. The natural world was good before Adam's fall, but worse after.
  2. Death and suffering are all a part of God's grand design. Nature is red in tooth and claw because God likes it that way.
  3. God's creation was perfectly benevolent, but then Satan snuck in and ruined everything.
  4. God created the world, but he (she, it, them) can't control it. He didn't know how it would turn out and he is not responsible for it. He's just an innocent bystander.
  5. Natural evil does not exist. Nature, like God and the Bible, is kind and gentle. (Ignore it when it appears otherwise.)

But William Dembski has come up with a whole new theory: God's preemptive war on nature. Here's how it goes (with quotes from Dembski's article).

God created the universe billions of years ago.

I accept standard astrophysical and geological dating (12 billion years for the universe, 4.5 billion years for the earth). -- p.15

It was screwed up from the start because God knew Adam would sin in the end.

God is able to act preemptively in the world, anticipating events and, in particular, human actions, thereby guiding creation along paths that God deems best. -- p. 32

God ... brings about natural evils (e.g., death, predation, parasitism, disease, drought, famines, earthquakes, and hurricanes), letting them run their course prior to the Fall. Thus, God himself disorders the creation, making it defective on purpose. --p.39, Dembki's emphasis

So for hundreds of millions of years, untold billions of sentient creatures were purposefully tormented by God. How can that be true, if God is good?

Well, it's all about us. We are all that God cares about. (J.B.S. Haldane was wrong about God; God doesn't give a shit about beetles.)

God's activity in creation is ... principally concerned with forming a universe that will serve as a home for humans. -- p.37

A world that exhibits natural evil becomes an instrument for revealing to us the gravity of sin. -- p.47

God, in his preemptive war on nature, has purposefully created elaborate methods for systematically tormenting animals. And he's been doing it for hundreds of millions of years while no one but him could watch. But he did it all just for us, to teach us a lesson about the gravity of sin. Kind of makes you feel warm all over, doesn't it?

07 July 2006

Polygamy Quiz: Bible, Quran, or Book of Mormon?

Which books (Bible, Quran, and Book of Mormon) contain the following passages.
  1. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
  2. Abijah waxed mighty, and married fourteen wives.
  3. Marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four.
  4. If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish.
  5. If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated....
  6. Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.
  7. Thus saith the LORD ... I gave thee ... thy master's wives.
  8. For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but ... he had many wives and concubines.
  9. Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
  10. And if ye wish to exchange one wife for another....

And the answers are ...

05 July 2006

David, a man after God's own heart (WWDD?)

It would be hard to find anyone in the bible that God liked more than David.

He was directly selected by God to be king, and "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward."

And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. 1 Sam.16:10-13

His heart "was perfect with the Lord" and "the Lord God of hosts was with him."

David ... grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him. 2 Sam.5:10

His [Solomon's] heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 1 Kg.11:4, 15:3

He walked in God's ways and kept his statutes.

And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days. 1 Kg.3:14

And (with the exception of the matter of Uriah the Hitite) he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord in his every act throughout his lifetime.

Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. 1 Kg.15:5
He was, according to Acts, a man after God's own heart.
And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Acts 13:22 (See also 1 Sam.13:14)

So if we want to know what type of person God likes, we need only look at David. Those who believe in the bible should try hard to imitate David, to always ask themselves "What would David Do?" in any particular situation.

With that in mind, then, let's look at some of David's godly acts.

  • He kills Goliath with his sling, beheads him, and carries the head back to Jerusalem. 1 Sam.17:51-57

  • He and Saul have a contest to see who can kill the most people for God, and the women act as cheerleaders saying, "Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands." 1 Sam.18:6-7

  • He kills 200 Philistines and brings their foreskins to Saul to buy his first wife (Saul's daughter Michal). 1 Sam.18:25-27

  • He acts like he's crazy, scribbles on the gates of Gath, and lets spit run down his beard. All this he did in front of Israel's enemies in the hopes that they would take him in and protect him from Saul. 1 Sam.21:12

  • He "inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go and smite these Philistines? And the Lord said unto David, Go, and smite the Philistines ... So David smote them with a great slaughter." 1 Sam.23:2-5

  • He vows to kill "any that pisseth against the wall." 1 Sam.25:22, 34

  • He "smote the land and left neither man nor woman alive." 1 Sam.27:8-11

  • He had many (like Joseph Smith, no one knows how many) wives. 1 Sam.30:5

  • He tells one of his "young men" to kill the Amalekite messenger who claimed to have mercifully killed Saul at Saul's own request. 2 Sam.1:15

  • When Joab (David's captain) kills Abner, David says that he and his kingdom are not responsible. The blame, he says, lays with Joab. So David curses Joab, his family, and their descendants forever. Let them all be plagued with venereal diseases and leprosy, starve to death, commit suicide, or lean on staves. 2 Sam.3:27-29

  • Some of David's men kill Saul's son and bring his head to David, thinking that he'll be pleased. But he wasn't. David has the assassins killed, their hands and feet chopped off, and their bodies hung up (for decorations?) over the pool in Hebron. 2 Sam.4:6-7

  • He says that whoever kills the lame and the blind will be his "chief and captain." 2 Sam.5:8

  • He asks God if he should kill some more Philistines. God says yes, and he'll even help. So David and God "smote the Philistines" again. 2 Sam.5:19, 25

  • He dances nearly naked in front of God and everybody. Michal criticizes him for it and Godpunishes her by having "no child unto the day of her death." 2 Sam.6:14, 20-22

  • He kills two thirds of the Moabites and makes the rest slaves. He also cripples the captured horses. 2 Sam.8:2-4

  • He kills and tortures thousands of people, "and the Lord preserved David withersoever he went." 2 Sam.8:6, 14

  • He sees a woman (Bathsheba) bathing and likes what he sees. so he sends for her and commits adultery with her "for she was purified from her uncleanness." She conceives and bears a son (which God later kills to punish David). 2 Sam.11:2-5

  • He tells Joab (his captain) to send Bathseba's husband (Uriah) to "the forefront of the hottest battle ... that he may be smitten and die." In this way, David gets another wife. 2 Sam.11:15, 17, 27 (This is the only thing he ever did wrong. Everything else was "right in the eyes of the Lord.")

  • He tortured or enslaved (depending on translation) the inhabitants of several cities. 2 Sam.12:31, 1 Chr.20:1-3

  • He shows unusual restraint and "went not in unto his concubines." Instead, he imprisons them as a punishment for being raped by David's son, Absalom. 2 Sam.20:3

  • To appease God and end the famine that was caused by his predecessor (Saul), David agrees to have seven of Saul's sons killed and hung up "unto the Lord." 2 Sam.21:6-9

  • Old King David tries to get some heat by having a beautiful virgin minister unto him. 1 Kg.1:1-4

  • In David's last words, he commands his son Solomon to murder Joab. 1 Kg.2:5-9

So if you believe and trust in the Bible, you should try to follow the example of David in everything you do. Just ask yourself in any situation, "What would David do?", and then do likewise. That way you can be sure to do (just like David did) "that which is right in the eyes of the Lord."