Monthly Archives: March 2015

NEWSFLASH: Are you sure you know anybody who is a citizen of Ancient Israel?

I will admit a certain fascination with some of the most frequent groaners from the COMMENTS section of The Sensuous Curmudgeon:

“If you believe in creationism because you believe that every word of scripture is literally true, you are also going to believe in executing gays and disobedient children.”

No. Not really. And no. (I suppose I should give some leeway to the ambiguity of what it means “to believe in”, but I should at least clarify why the majority of Young Earth Creationists would strongly object to this popular but mistaken generalization.)

If someone actually cares what the Bible states, they aren’t going to apply the relevant Torah passages to life today unless they think they are Bar Mitzvah citizens (Sons of the Covenant) of ancient Israel and have taken a loyalty oath to the national Constitution (i.e., the Torah Law) recognizing YHWH as the head of that theocracy. (I suppose I could allow for a time machine.  Nah.)

You might think that even the most casual Bible reader would have noticed two testaments, one called The Old Testament and the other called The New Testament.  Of course, if one is not accustomed to the vocabulary of 1611 English at the time of King James and his authorized Bible, perhaps the modern term contract would be easier to understand.  Accordingly, does it seem more likely that The Old Contract or The New Contract would guide the lives of Christian’s today? Hmm. Years ago I had a mortgage contract on my house.  After mortgage rates dropped, I refinanced and got a new mortgage contract. Did both contracts continue to govern my relationship with the lender until my mortgage was paid off?  I don’t think so.

Jeremiah wrote centuries before Jesus, “‘The day will come,’ says the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. . . . But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,’ says the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people’” (Jeremiah 31:31,33) Jesus himself said Luke 22:20, “And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”  The Apostle Paul hardly left any ambiguity as to the New Covenant (i.e., the New Testament contract) replacing the Old Covenant. Virtually the entire Epistle to the Galatians made that fact very clear.

How much of the Old Contract (the Old Covenant/Testament) was to be continued under the New Contract. The gathering at Jerusalem settled the matter by eliminating any remaining ambiguity:

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” Acts 15:19–21)

This official proclamation from the Apostle has become known as the Council of Jerusalem and was summarized repeatedly in the New Testament. The Old Testament prohibitions of food polluted by idols, strangled animals, and blood as well as sexual immorality would remain binding.  The “loyalty to the theocracy” provisions of the Old Testament Torah Law were declared no longer binding. Of course, since the New Contract allowed Gentiles (non-Jews) into the Kingdom of God, we should hardly be surprised that modern day Christians would not pledge themselves to obey the national Constitution of ancient Israel!

Of course, this reality should hardly surprise anyone with at least room temperature IQ and good night’s sleep. After all, is America today governed by The Articles of Confederation?  Hardly.

While we are correcting the S.C. commenter, we should also remind them that the Torah says nothing about “executing gays”. Indeed, the Torah Law says nothing about sexual orientation at all!  Of course, The Torah does prohibit a detailed list of sexual acts, but an admission that “I am only attracted to some persons of my own gender” was not a Torah violation in ancient Israel.

The commenter found several more ways to ride off the rails completely.  (For example, despite the damage done by some sloppy English translations of years gone by, Israel’s unruly toddlers didn’t get executed for having a bad day.) But it always pains me when the Bible-ignorant so commonly show such a failure to grasp the nature, purpose, and significance of the two main divisions of the Christian Bible. Seeing how everything in the Biblical texts gets expressed in modern English, perhaps it is time to do the same kind of updating with the archaic titles The Old Testament and The New Testament.  Accordingly, my vote is for The Old Contract and The New Contract. (I might have called them “The Old Deal” and “The New Deal” but I heard that a popular politician already made good use out of those terms.)

Yes, there is much that Young Earth Creationist get wrong about science and about the Bible. But most of them do understand that they are not living under the national constitution of ancient Israel. And that’s why the Young Earth Creationists who don’t own time machines don’t generally believe that they should go around “executing gays and disobedient children.”

(c) 2014. Professor Tertius & the Bible.and.Science.Forum at Gmail.com
All rights observed. Email us at Gmail.com address for permissions on reposting and publication.

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Thoughts on Teaching Evolutionary Biology & Noticing the Homogeneity of Denialism

{I’ve been doing a lot of posting to various forums lately, especially under Amazon book reviews of Stephen Meyer’s DARWIN’S DOUBT as well as general The Theory of Evolution topics on that website. Seeing how the denialists are so reluctant to engage the evidence nor to answer my questions and challenges, I decided to use the “dead air” to post two impromptu “blog topics” in those forums–and I repeat them here. Keep in mind that on those Darwin’s Doubt comment threads we are blessed by a wonderful variety of scientists and non-scientists. Dr. Christine Janis is an accomplished paleontologist-professor and Dr. David Levin is a microbiology professor. You might wish to join us at http://www.amazon.com/review/R2SJ3UQQ1HD73G and click on the Latest link to jump to today’s discussions there.}

** Imagining a Diversely Collaborative Textbook on Understanding The Theory of Evolution. **

If I were to have the unlikely luxury of 10x more available hours in the day and years of scholarship still available to me, I would love to have the opportunity and privilege of publishing some sort of combined tome—aimed squarely at “creation science” and ID fans who deny The Theory of Evolution and any/all science they don’t like—as part of a team of authors, with Christine Janis, David Levin, Stickler, Puck, and perhaps other like-minded writers possessing such talents and desires to teach the general public why evolution makes good sense.

Yes, so much has been written on these topics by scientists but threads like this one are quite unusual in drawing together a lawyer, a paleontologist, a microbiologist, a chemist, and a linguist-theologian in saying the same things about science in different ways. I particularly enjoy watching Christine step up and say, “I know the author(s) of the publication you deceptively quote-mined and, in fact, know him/her quite well and……” She and David have often shared fascinating memories and insights which expose the ignorance and dishonesty of denialists so beautifully—and one wonders if fans of denialist leaders ever get frustrated that their “heroes” are always outsiders who long for the privilege of being part of the academy and “in the know” as real scientists are. And Puck brings us great analogies and ways of summarizing the facts of evolution in ways that illustrate how the non-scientist comes to an understanding of evolution with the benefit of a traditional series of science degrees. I come here for the insights of the non-scientists on these threads just as surely as the wisdom and knowledge of the scientists.

** DENIALISTS are Homogenous. Their Opponents are Heterogenous. **

Isn’t it interesting that denialists tend to be so HOMOGENOUS? In fact, most deniers of The Theory of Evolution share incredibly similar religious views from a particular set of very predictable histories and life experiences which tend to explain their denialism quite easily. Yet, their opponents on these threads and every other venue where they clash with “anti-denialists” are SO VERY DIVERSE. Think about that.

Think about it, indeed! While denialists are so very HOMOGENEOUS, their opponents who try to provide remedial tutoring in science, philosophy, and biblical studies are so very HETEROGENEOUS. They run the gamut from theist to non-theist to atheist to anti-theist, both scientist and non-scientist, and we see this heterogeneity wherever people who are curious about scientific topics meet on-line. (For example, a survey of the readers and commenters at the Sensuous Curmudgeon blog would no doubt fascinate us with its diversity.)

I challenge Les, Gervais, Andrew McDiarmid, and Stephen Meyer [Hello, Stephen!] to address and explain the narrow, predictable, and…..well…..in-bred nature of denialism which produces such obvious HOMOGENEITY among the ranks of YECs and IDers.** If your science is so outstanding, why do you utterly fail to attract a diverse following who are attracted by your compelling evidence and “logic”?

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** No, Ray Comfort, you will find that “homogeneity” has nothing to do with gay marriage, just as you eventually learned that a “bibliophile” was not a “perverted person” who does kinky things with your favorite book.
[That really happened, folks! Ray knows as little about morphemes and English lexicography as he does about science. His Facebook exchange where he lashed out at a “proudly admitted bibliophile” remains a favorite comic excerpt. Of course, it is easy to understand why Ray Comfort and so many of his fans would be horrified at the very idea of people who actually love books and learning from them! Ray has been called many things over the years but one can confidently assume that “bibliophile” was not among them.]

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