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Education Science

Why Are Some Hell-Bent On Teaching Intelligent Design? 1293

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-the-facts-mam dept.
Funksaw writes "Here's an op-ed by first-time politician, long-time Slashdotter Brian Boyko, where he talks about his experiences testifying at the Texas Board of Education in favor of having real science in science textbooks. But beyond that, he also tries to examine, philosophically, why there is such hardened resistance to the idea of evolution in Texas. From the article: '[W]hat is true is that evolution tests faith. The fact of evolution is incontrovertible and supported by mounds of empirical evidence. Faith, on the other hand, is fragile. It is supported only by the strength of human will. And this is where it gets tricky. Because to many believers, faith, not works, is the only guarantee that one can pass God's litmus test and gain access to His divine kingdom. To lose one's faith is to literally damn oneself. So tests to that faith must be avoided at all costs. Better to be a philosophical coward than a theological failure.'"
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Why Are Some Hell-Bent On Teaching Intelligent Design?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:09AM (#44899935)

    Check out Bob Altemeyer's - 'The Authoritarians' and his chapter about religious fundamentalist. It explains quite a bit about this strange ID movement - (and it is based on experiments and only theories) :

  • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:18AM (#44899995)

    It is a simplistic view. I feel Feynman puts it more maturely than I can... []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:20AM (#44900001)

    It also doesn't help that the scientific community uses the word "theory". The typical religious person thinks this means their view is just as valid. It also means every argument about evolution starts with "It's just a theory right? I just want my theory to be taught as well..." (which makes me start to twitch with the urge to slap these people and scream at them).

    We need to retire the use of the phrase "theory" when used in the context of a scientific theory. Terminology needs to change and evolve to combat the fact that the mainstream interpretation of the word "theory" flies directly in the face what the scientific community wishes to convey.

    Science for science's sake is pointless unless it can be communicated to others after learning something. Choosing and adapting terminology can seem silly and trivial when faced with what the subject matter is about, but can be just as important in combating ignorance.

  • I disagree. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:22AM (#44900011)

    That's the creationist side as seen by someone on the side of science, but it is not at all how the creationists view themselves. They aren't afraid of their faith being tested, because they believe their arguments are unbeatable and their faith secure - though they may worry about their children being lead astray.

    The key to understanding creationists is to realise that it isn't about creationism itsself. They have, as they would proudly call it, a 'God-centered worldview.' Everything comes down in some manner to their religious beliefs. Not just creationism, but their moral and political views, their attachment to national identity, their community, and their general vision of how things 'should be' in the world. They view Christianity not just as another religion among many, but as a defining aspect of western civilisation and that element which makes it great and has brought such prosperity through the ages.

    They also believe that Christianity and morality are one and the same. God is the standard of morality, the definition, and the source. Only Christians, as followers of the true God, know how to be moral people. Others might perform a reasonable immitation by following some social norms, but they are just denying that Christianity is their source. This is why they insist upon placing the ten commandments on public buildings: For them, 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' is the very reason murder is illegal: Had God not proclaimed that, and the faithful not kept it, then there would be no way for people to realise murder is an immoral act. Likewise for the theft thing.

    So that which threatens the doctrine of creation is far more concerning than a scientific debate: It is nothing less than an existential threat to civilisation itsself. Their concern is that if the population in general lose belief in the bible as inerrant - not belief in Christianity in general, but belief in the rock-solid beyond-debate 'truth' of the bible - then they will lose all spiritual direction. The bible will become fuzzy, a document where people can dismiss bits they don't like (The irony of this is quite lost on them as they happily tuck into their pork sausages). Before you know it, homosexuality will be accepted, prayer will be illegal, everyone will be having casual sex and marriage will be a thing of the past. Then people will start worshiping pagan idols, gangs of violent atheists will start roaming the streets killing people for fun, and eventually God will abandon the country and send the communists to take over and punish everyone.

    That's why they are so insistant. They believe the bible is the foundation for America and western civilisation in general. Take away the foundation, and the whole structure collapses. Creationism and patriotism are intertwined, almost inseperable.

  • by greg_barton (5551) <> on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:27AM (#44900047) Homepage Journal

    I grew up in Texas and have lived here all of my life. The resistance to evolution can be summed up in one sentence:

    "You can't tell me what to fuckin' believe!"

    If some long haired city boy told them their face was on fire the'd refuse to believe it, basically.

  • Genesis (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gd2shoe (747932) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:50AM (#44900151) Journal

    (Speaking as a Bible believing Christian)

    You're ignoring the fundamental problem with Genesis 1 (and thus, creation: including animals). If Man did not exist yet, who was observing the creation? How did man come to know about it?

    The obvious theological answer was that God and/or angels told someone about it between Adam and Moses (inclusive). The problem with many of Gods (OT) explanations is that they tend to be in dreams and visions, which aren't usually literal. If it was angels, then surely we got the simplified version. "Ooh, ooh! Tell me again about the divergence of Lorises and Pottos!" "Sigh. Listen, kid, he just made them, OK?"

    All this arguing over evolution is silly. Faith does not need it, but that doesn't mean that it outright contradicts faith.

  • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by beelsebob (529313) on Friday September 20, 2013 @03:54AM (#44900169)

    Um, no. God only shrinks if you're explanation for every problem is "God did it". If that's why you believe in a deity, then you miss the point of faith.

    Not at all, that was the exact purpose of faith in it's original form –to explain away thing we couldn't yet explain, and to explain things to people who couldn't understand them.

    Why did this huge flood happen that ruined our crops? Dunno^W I mean... God did it!
    Why do we celebrate $festival around the end of december? Because god told you to! (Or alternatively, because it's when you need to feast on the animals you don't need to survive the winter, because otherwise they'll eat all the grain stores and no animals at all will survive, including you)
    Why do we have a 40 day fast at the end of winter? Because god told you to! (Or alternatively, because the village elder didn't want to tell you that the supplies were running out and that everyone needed to survive on fuck all until the harvest came in) ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:03AM (#44900209)

    As a ~30-ish year "Native Texan", I can say that the only people who I've seen take that attitude are being presented with an aggressive argument about evolution (e.g. "Where is your god now!?"). Totally subjective, one data point, people I know, etc.
    I think the first step is to introduce the concept of an evolving world with a nod to possibly being part of "God's Plan"; a salesman won't get his foot in the door by opening with an insult.

  • Re:More importantly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tlambert (566799) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:13AM (#44900249)

    If God did create us, how bad an engineer do you have to be to put a sewage outlet right in the middle of a recreational area?

    Assuming we were designed (a big assumption), it's a lot easier to credit engineering skill when you get a second degree burn, and you end up healing. Think about it; how would you handle a design requirement for an empty planet with no replacement parts readily available?

  • Re:I disagree. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pseudonym (62607) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:32AM (#44900347)

    Clearly you didn't read it. The argument is that they see this not as an attack on their beliefs, but an attack on their values and their friends and their community and their country.

    The ironic part is that their brand of fundamentalism is not a traditional belief at all; it only dates back to the 1950s or so.

  • by rts008 (812749) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:46AM (#44900423) Journal

    Having read Genesis, I have had a question that no one has been able to answer to my satisfaction, since I was 8 years old.

    Genesis 4:17 "Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch."
    Where did Cain's wife come from?
    We have Adam (allegedly made by God), then God anesthetizes him to extract a rib to make Eve.(cloning?)
    Then Adam and Eve have Cain, then Abel. Cain kills Abel, God marks him and 'runs him out of town'.
    Then Cain gets married...and has a kid, then builds a city.
    Married to who? Eve?(at this stage Eve is the ONLY female on the planet, supposedly) Then Cain built a city. A city? For whom? WTF is going on here? take on all of this is:
    Adam is screwing his gender-changed clone, and making babies; the baby boy is screwing either his mother, or his imagination, and they have a kid.
    So, all humans come from this mess?

    Quantum physics has been getting weaker all of this time...back then there were people popping into existence, now we only get sub-atomic particles popping in, soon to be 'nothing' popping in, then the process reverses?

    Recreational drugs were much better back when this book was written, than they were in the 1960's and 1970's.

    Whew!!!! Enoch's family tree looks like a coconut tree...straight trunk, no branches, and just a few nuts at the top. Holy Hapsburgs, Batman!

    And that's just the first handful of chapters in this book so many people have tried to get me to take seriously all of my remembered life! No thanks!!!

    And don't even get me started on the biggest con job ever pulled on a husband....Immaculate Conception!
    "Honest dear hubby, it was either that toilet seat in Jerusalem, or God did it!"

    Hmmmm...Does this mean Jesus was a bastard? Oh, the Irony!

  • by Ckwop (707653) <> on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:50AM (#44900449) Homepage

    The idea that the Creation stories in Genesis are meant to literally describe how God created is another matter entirely, and it is the blind insistence upon this presupposition that results in so much hot air being expelled on both sides of the issue.

    In practically every thread you get someone who tries to reconcile evolution with theism. They say, well, "God created the system of evolution. Tada!" or "God guides evolution. Tada!"

    The truth is that when evolution is properly understood it is a complete replacement for the theistic creator hypothesis. It actually goes even further than this and give us yet more evidence that God doesn't not exist.

    The problem with evolution is that it's not the kind of system a God that cared and loved us would design.

    Does survival of the fittest seem righteous to you? Why should the most well adapted survive? Surely a better system would be one where people with kindness, co-operation and charity thrive and the selfish, brutish and dishonest perish? Yet we do not live in this world.

    Theism as a whole has the problem that it makes a really bold claim: "God exists and he loves us." and then it has to retreat almost immediately behind a series of adhoc justifications for why the observed universe doesn't match what we'd expect if that claim were true.

    If God really existed the universe would be hugely different to the one we currently live in. If God really existed science would have found him by now.

    That's because that's what Christ said. "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mk 16:16

    This is yet another problem with the theism. The complete and utter confusion about what God wants. You're sat in this thread quoting the Bible as if it were the word of God, yet there are literally thousands of independent strands of Christianity alone. I don't even mention that even there were 2 billion Christians, 71% of the words population think your view is a heresy. You would even be called a heretic by members of your own superstition.

    Again, would this confusion about religion be expected if there was a God who loved us? Absolutely not.

    It is a popular--and recent--misconception that faith and reasoning are incompatible. Many, if not most, of the great minds of the ages were believers in God or in other forms of religion. The idea that religious people are necessarily irrational fools is simply a lie; there are plenty of both religious and atheistic people who are irrational fools.

    The people in previous times didn't have the weight of evidence we do today. Faith and reason are incompatible. Faith is based on truth by revelation; that is, that some people a long time ago had the "word" revealed to them and every one else is left in the dark. The only hope we have is to just trust them. Reason works by studying, debating and seeking out evidence. Anybody can critique that evidence, review it and discuss it.

    These are diametrically opposed view of the universe and completely incompatible.

  • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gottabeme (590848) on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:52AM (#44900455)

    The problem is that every time science figures out some natural process and shows that it is in fact governed by hard, unfeeling laws or simple randomness it detracts from the idea that God cares. People start to realize that instead of just having faith that he will make things work out they have to try to understand the world and control it as best they can.

    No, it doesn't detract from that idea at all. There is nothing incompatible with the ideas that God created a universe governed by natural laws and that God cares about human beings.

    The real problem is that you throw around the phrase, "He will make things work out" without qualifying it. There are people who believe in predestination, that we are all puppets controlled by God, and there are people who believe that God doesn't exist. But there are many more people in between.

  • by globaljustin (574257) <> on Friday September 20, 2013 @04:57AM (#44900469) Homepage Journal

    As scientific knowledge advances, god shrinks.

    You and the author of TFA take a mind-numbingly reductive framing of the issue and it just causes **more** arguments and solidifies the opposition harder...

    Your first problem is that you take the word of an idiot.

    These Texas book controversies...they **defy all logic**. You'd agree and so would TFA's author. People have written tomes on this very discussion thread that impressively elucidate the sub-moronic notions of these wackos...

    Yet you just **assume** that their words can be taken at face value that they truly are describing their reasons for pushing these textbooks.

    And it's about textbooks, and public education and society in general here...if these people just kept their mouth shut and let professionals write the text you'd have *no gripe* with their dumbness...

    No...YOU are an idiot for **taking their stated reasons seriously**

    You do exactly what they want, fall into the predictable opposition mode...


    This really is about money pure and simple....there is a built-in market for these textbooks and in the greater sense suppressing science helps corporations avoid accountability on a host of issues...

    religion is only a *vector* in this instance

    stop playing their fool's game

  • by FPhlyer (14433) on Friday September 20, 2013 @05:04AM (#44900499) Homepage

    Theories that humanity was "seeded" by aliens are a non-theological example of Intelligent Design theory.
    In their 1966 book "Intelligent Life in the Universe" I.S. Shklovski and Carl Sagan present a good case for scientists and historians to consider the possibility of early contact between life on Earth and extraterrestrials. Intelligent Design is not a concept that is owned part and parcel by creationists.

    That said... I have a problem with teaching Intelligent Design in public schools. I'm a creationist... I believe the truth of the Bible. I also don't believe it is the job of government to indoctrinate students in religion. Mine or anyone else's.

    There was a time where teaching students of science the theory of Spontaneous Generation was perfectly legitimate. It was "good science" based on the best information that was available at the time that the theory was still viable. Evolution is the best scientific theory that explains the evidence as we have it right now. And so it should be the theory taught to science students. Perhaps one day evidence may arise to discredit evolution but that day has not come. If parents want to teach their children alternate views they are welcome to do so via religious education, private education or homeschooling. Presenting alternate views that have little or no hard evidence is unwarranted.

    Not confronting the evidence for Evolution is intellectual dishonesty at best and intellectual sloth at worst.

  • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 20, 2013 @05:30AM (#44900643)

    Apparently you fundamentally misunderstand both science and philosophy/religion.

    Philosopher Gary Gutting []:

    The success of science gives us every reason to continue to pursue its experimental method in search of further truths. But science itself is incapable of establishing that all truths about the world are discoverable by its methods.
    Precisely because science deals with only what can be known, direct or indirectly, by sense experience, it cannot answer the question of whether there is anything—for example, consciousness, morality, beauty or God—that is not entirely knowable by sense experience. To show that there is nothing beyond sense experience, we would need philosophical arguments, not scientific experiments.

  • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Barsteward (969998) on Friday September 20, 2013 @06:19AM (#44900841)
    1) don't need religion/faith for this.

    2) see point 1.

    3) Always to be taken non-literally in order to cherry pick good bits and ignore bad

    4) miracles? nope, sycophants ramblings on how great they thought their leader was

    every high ground religion tries to claim (eg moral) is bogus as their holy books are hypocritical (see point 3)
  • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msobkow (48369) on Friday September 20, 2013 @07:19AM (#44901053) Homepage Journal

    The universe is God's body. God is just this naval-gazing super entity sending out shards of life force to explore it's own existence.

    The God I believe in doesn't give a damn about individual lives or planets any more than I stress out when I lose a hangnail. If it's a *big* hangnail, there may be a moment of pain, but individual cell death is not noticed at all.

    Sure my view doesn't give one the "comfort" of an all-knowing and all-powerful benevolent God, but God has only been "benevolent" for about 2000 years in the first place. Prior to that it was a veangeful creature of anger and smiting, thrashing people into submission if they didn't sacrifice enough goats and cattle.

  • by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Friday September 20, 2013 @07:22AM (#44901077)

    It's really not any more crazy to believe the earth is 6000 years old than it is to believe in the Bible and that Jesus was the son of God. In fact I would say it's orders of magnitude more likely that the Earth is 6000 years old than the idea that Jesus was anything more than a regular human being if he even existed at all.

    The claim that the Earth is 6000 years old is at least a falsifiable claim, even if it is wrong. Wolfgang Pauli was known to offer the following criticism of some unfalsifiable claims "It is not only not right, it is not even wrong".

  • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:4, Interesting)

    by An dochasac (591582) on Friday September 20, 2013 @07:34AM (#44901151)

    When you have faith, true faith you see the weird man-made scaffolding of intelligent design theories as unnecessary and counterproductive. Where God seems to conflict with science some choose to believe that one is right and the other is wrong when the truth is that both are in harmony and it is our understanding of both that is flawed. Those who read only their own ephemeral rules, theories and prejudices into the bible have not accepted the spirit which is necessary to guide each of us through the poetry of God's creation whenever it seems to conflict with the logic of what we think we know.

    A faithful person also knows (as any honest scientist should know), that those "gaps" where God must exist are enormous. The amount of her universe(s) we truly understand is vanishingly small, far less than 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of the universe is known to us. What we know is certainly smaller than ourselves, our brain [], a leaf of grass [], , DNA [], atoms, quarks, strings and everything []. While we've come to learn more about each of these things with each passing day, we should accept that a scientist 50 or 100 years from now would look at the social constructs we know as scientific beliefs [] as being remarkably simplistic. Even for agnostics and atheists who choose to disbelieve in a universal creator with more embedded intelligence than the 3 pounds of chemicals within their brains, the Judeo-Christian bible contains remnants of the human story which pre-dates agriculture and civilization. In this age of short attention spans we need such an anchor to counter-balance pop-cultural fads and give us a longer view of humanity.

  • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday September 20, 2013 @07:57AM (#44901255)

    As scientific knowledge advances, god shrinks.

    I would challenge you to prove that statement. There is nothing inherent in scientific knowledge that would cause a belief in god or faith to shrink. The catholic church is the largest private funder of the sciences, it seems that they wouldn't be doing that if it was going to ultimately cause their demise.

  • Re:Because... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slim (1652) <john@har[ ] ['tnu' in gap]> on Friday September 20, 2013 @08:54AM (#44901699) Homepage

    Just completely hypothetically, imagine you had a computer program that ran a massive physics simulation. And imagine your lifespan is such that you can observe it for massive periods of time. So you set up the starting conditions for a Big Bang, and hit the 'run simulation' button, and watch it go. And eventually, as you knew they would (because of the physics you programmed, and because of statistical likelihoods), some of the matter clusters into solar systems and planets, then on one planet some primitive proteins come about in some inorganic process, then prokaryotes, then an evolutionary process that eventually results in humans.

    At that point, you could conceivably think, OK, these interesting entities in a remote corner of my simulation are doing some weird things. They seem to be controlling themselves in this structure in their heads. Perhaps I can put some hooks into the simulation so that I can observe what's happening in those brains. If I can reverse-engineer the structure that's evolved, I guess I could read their thoughts - and even write their thoughts.

    And there's a mechanism, whereby "the guy running the simulation" can appear in visions, hear "prayer", and, if he also manipulates the rest of the simulation, perform "acts of god".

    I thing somewhere there's a calculation that indicates that, if Moore's Law continues, the probability that this universe is a simulation running on a computer is greater than the probability we're in "real life". But I can't help but instinctively think it's fanciful.

  • Re:More importantly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Friday September 20, 2013 @08:56AM (#44901725) Homepage

    You're just mad because the joke hits the mark and reveals an invonenient truth.

    So "libertarians" are much like creationists...

  • Re:More importantly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maritz (1829006) on Friday September 20, 2013 @09:11AM (#44901847)
    Interesting you mention that as I was reading recently about people who have had their corneas removed, and the little smidgen of new 'purple' they can see as a result of that little bit of extra spectrum coming through. Quite surprised the retina detects it but there you go eh.
  • by MillerHighLife21 (876240) on Friday September 20, 2013 @10:24AM (#44902587) Homepage

    Actually, Christianity in particular teaches that our degree of moral relativism is to compare ourselves to Jesus and that basically, we all suck. So be humble, patient, kind, loving, charitable and exhibit self-control in an effort to try to be more like Jesus.

    The funny thing is that I was an atheist, then an agnostic for the better part of 6 years so I understand the view points very well. Since then, God literally and unequivocally changed my life in a manner that left no doubt. It shook every thing that I thought I knew or didn't know in a manner that I'm still coming to grips with today, but I understand faith in a completely different way now. I KNOW God exists and because of that, it causes me to think more critically about everything that tries to indicate otherwise. It's really easy to jump on a train of thought that appears to provide an explanation as a best probable case in the absence of God but when you start thinking as critically about the holes in those explanations as you do about the validity of faith, you'll realize there are A LOT holes on both sides.

    But in the end it boils down to this:
    1. An atheist chooses to believe that God does not exist and by extension of the belief has a strong and overwhelming tendency to view all people of faith as ignorant fools. This has a natural effect of making that person feel relatively smarter than all of "those people" providing a huge self-esteem crutch.
    2. An agnostic is generally humble enough to understand how much he does not know.
    3. A Christian either believes God exists or has experienced the grace of God directly, thus either believing or knowing respectively. God's existence can be proven to a person, but in the same way that if I walk down the street and talk to a guy in a blue shirt and then tell you, "yesterday I talked to a guy in a blue shirt" I cannot prove it to you. I know it to be true and I can tell you the story but you're acceptance that I'm telling you the truth depends largely on whether or not you view me as credible or insane.

    After having doubted for so long I feel absolutely obligated to tell people about the changes that God has made in my life. It's difficult to get into on here, but just imagine struggling with something for 2 years to the point that you understand you are helpless to overcome it, then finally praying about it and having the struggle immediately end...permanently. There's much more to it than that and many things in my life since, but everything in my life I've chosen to trust God with has been blessed. My marriage was really tough for a little while (for both of us), and I trusted God with it and it's wonderful now. My finances and career were struggling (and I'm very experienced at what I do) and I trusted God with them and both have never been brighter. Each time I made a decision to trust God in this way, he answered in a manner that left no doubt (which is a much longer story).

    And ask yourself that for a minute: as an agnostic just how convinced would you have to be? That's exactly how convinced I am and I tell everybody about it because I want for them exactly what I've been blessed with and more.

  • Re:God of the Gaps (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kjella (173770) on Friday September 20, 2013 @11:54AM (#44903595) Homepage

    I would challenge you to prove that statement. There is nothing inherent in scientific knowledge that would cause a belief in god or faith to shrink.

    Seriously, you want to dispute that? A hypothetical god or gods that exists entirely outside our plane of existence and only deal in intangibles like souls and afterlife, heaven or hell no. Actual religions, yes. Just look at for example rain gods, Wikipedia lists more than a dozen who people prayed to for rain. If you are primitive farmers that only know droughts come and go and imagine it's because the divine likes or dislikes you then that ignorance is the foundation of your religion. Does anyone really believe that anymore? That if the rain's not coming, farmers should get off their tractors and get together for a rain dance? Not to mention all the sun gods racing through the sky instead of a ball of proton-proton fusion that Earth is orbiting or the fertility gods that decide if you get pregnant and whatnot.

    The Christian god is a little harder to catch since he works in his "mysterious ways", but it's pretty hard to reconcile "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (...) "So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man." with anything resembling modern science. Of course the apologists just say anything not reconcilable with science is an allegory and not to be taken literally. Plenty of things you were supposed to take literally in the past has now receded to creative interpretation, like "days" in the creation myth not meaning days anymore.

  • Re:More importantly (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Friday September 20, 2013 @01:56PM (#44905127) Homepage Journal

    Well, no, it's just an inconsistency in the Bible. I don't actually presume that a deity would care for much of anything at all.

    That being said, I don't think you quite have your finger on Ares's heart; the Greeks recognized him as a bloodthirsty killing machine. The god of war isn't merely a metaphor for life's struggle, unless perhaps you're a Klingon. In the Roman empire this was downplayed, but only because they were so preoccupied with the idea of him as a protector; Roman farmers would call on him to rid their crops of blights.

    Old-Testament Yahweh has a lot more in common with Zeus's habit of dispatching judgements from afar, or perhaps the even more self-centred attitudes of an older deity like the Titan Cronus. (Not to be confused with Chronos.)

    The New Testament formulation of God is, quite simply, entirely different, and draws a lot of inspiration from things that had been attributed to Apollo and other largely benevolent gods, in tone if not in subject matter. (Zeitgeist technically deals with this, but the research and objectives of that documentary are so profoundly deficient I wouldn't wish it on anyone. So don't watch it. Just don't.) The Romans were gradually refining their concept of divinity and probably would have produced a weak form of monotheism on their own within a few centuries, centred around the cult of Apollo, if the Christians hadn't shown up. (I say "weak" both because few people cared and because the other deities would no doubt still have held some tokenary power.)

    In order to compete, the Christians naturally had to produce a message that was more enlightened and loving than what the established theology could offer. The result is a totally different deity; a profoundly loving one. With all the dying for the sins and so forth. This is where the harmonizing comes from that I bring up. (Fun trivia: earlier versions of the New Testament described Jesus's childhood and revealed that he was a total jerk who abused his powers but then saw the error of his ways.)

    That all being said, you're probably already moving past the Bible when you make statements like that, which is good, but it leaves me wondering why you'd bother with trying to understand a deity's motives anyway. If life's just a struggle, you don't need any divinity telling you that; that's just evolution in action. (And a rather turbulent subsection of it at that; there are plenty of people and organisms on this planet that are very much at peace.) At most you've described a situation that calls for a deistic universe, with no intervention on the part of a blind watchmaker.

    If it's the afterlife you're worried about, may I point out that the concept of eternal damnation in Hell was invented in the middle ages as a way to scare heretics? It's vastly less credible an idea than the Bible itself. There are Anglican ministers who preach that it doesn't exist.

  • Re:More importantly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TemporalBeing (803363) < minus painter> on Friday September 20, 2013 @02:33PM (#44905657) Homepage Journal

    The bulk of the bible was written in Hebrew and Greek, not just Aramaic. Also, there is no "original" bible. We have fragments. Some rather large ones (Textus Receptus, Textus Sinaiticus, and Testus Vaticinus." Which adds to your translation of a translation thought.

    As someone who has done Biblical translations...

    There has been much study done on the various texts, and ones found from quite a long time ago, e.g. Dead Sea Scrolls. What has been found is that the "Old Testament" was kept very rigorlessly and was virtually unchanged after centuries. The Levite Priests in charge of copying the texts would typically destroy copies that had even a single stroke out of place. Yes, others outside the temple also made copies, but they were not considered authoritative copies - and those copies would usually end up with commentary as well.

    Most of the debate about texts does not occur over the "Old Testament" texts written in Hebrew, but the "New Testament" texts written in Greek. The entire "New Testament" was written first in Greek; Aramaic versions would have been translations much like our English versions are. Quite a few of the texts for the "New Testament" have been proven to be passed down without change; the issue comes in that there has had to be many comparisons done as monks would write their commentaries in the margins in many cases and those commentaries became hard to decipher.

    Regarding what is considered to be the "Canonical" text - that is what makes up the official Bible - that was settled in 300 A.D and has not changed since. There is a secondary set of books called the Apocrapha that some consider to be part of the Bible, however those books did not meet the requisite criteria for the council in 300 A.D for them to be considered "Canonical" texts. Many things, like David Brown's DaVinci Code, rely more on the Apocrapha texts to do what they do.

    Most Prostestant churches view the Apocrapha as having some value as a secondary source, but do not consider it to be equal to the Bible. The "Book of Mormon", on the other hand, is considered heresy.

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