Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Few Things Worth Looking At...

Today's post will offer several links to things I've found interesting and would like to pass along for your entertainment and education:

First up, we have The Thinking Atheist who blogged about some of the utter nonsense in the bible. My favorite is how he summed it up: "It’s perfect. It’s infallible. It’s divine. It’s irrefutable. And there are unicorns in it." Nice job...

Another story I just recently stumbled upon comes from the USA Today. The story talks about how some atheists are choosing to undergo a ceremonial de-baptism. Evidently they use a hair dryer to blow the baptismal waters away. LOL.

ABC News also recently reported about the rise in the number of non-believers. Some of the numbers bandied about include: Some 15 percent of Americans claim no religious affiliation, up from 8.2 percent in 1990, according to Trinity College's American Religious Identification Survey, released in March. Also, the American Humanist Association claims 20,000 financial supporters. That marks a doubling from five years ago, says spokeswoman Karen Frantz.

And finally, it looks like ghosts are now putting a beatdown on the living! But not to worry, they've called in a priest to fix things... that ghost better scurry on back to the great beyond before that priest figures out how to bugger a boogieman!


Sand Dollar said...

Unicorns? I didn't realize that.

Ceremonial debaptism is ridiculous. I thought most atheists shunned stupid ceremonies like that?

Nothing much worth saying about the ghost story.

Lou said...

De-baptism? The new atheist ceremony. That is one way to keep the religious tag given by our gov.

No religious affiliation doesn't imply atheist. I have no religious affiliation and that would include atheism. You numbers are not necessarily rising csm but numbers do not a truth make.

csm said...

Agreed that ceremonial de-baptism is crazy. I understand some folks desire to rid themselves of things that were foisted on them when they were a child, but ceremonies like this are not needed. I did think the story was funny, though!

And Lou, I'm not sure what you are talking about with "religious tag given by our government."

Agreed that no religious affiliation does not mean atheist (whereas the reverse is almost always true, atheist means no religious affiliation).

Regarding atheist numbers (and other non-religious numbers), they are rising. Survey after survey after poll after poll shows that.

And numbers, if understood properly, do "a truth make." Here's one: 2 + 2 = 4. Numbers... true...

csm said...

Oh, by the way, welcome Sand Dollar.

Ceroill said...

Sand Dollar- I'd heard about it but with a quick search at I found 5 mentions, 1 in Job, 2 in psalms and 2 in numbers.

I think, in the bit I saw on tv (history channel or some such), the scholars largely agree that 'unicorn' is not a literal translation from the hebrew or even the greek.

Oh, and welcome to the fray.

G said...

"Unicorn" is simply what the King James translators used for an unknown animal. It can be a good point to make if you are debating a "KJV only" person. But otherwise it is a useless argument. The exact meaning of the Hebrew word is unknown, but most believe it refers to some type of wild bull, possibly now extinct. Some think it refers to the auroch.

csm said...

Which, I guess, means that christians have to speak Hebrew and Greek to really know what it is that they believe.

Ceroill said...

Or at least watch educational tv. Fun items come out on those programs, such as the idea that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute. Or, interestingly, that Thou Shall Not Kill is not an exact translation. The word in hebrew actually comes closer to 'murder' than the more generic 'kill'.

G said...

... or just use some of the many study tools that are available, including Hebrew & Greek dictionaries and lexicons... which I always recommend to people.

csm said...

Again with the murder/kill thing? OK, again with my researched comment:

Several times on several of these postings folks have said things like this "Actually, the Hebrew word used specifically means murder." Most English translations say "Thou shalt not murder" or "You will not murder."

I've had enough of it so here goes the rebuttal:
There are several Hebrew words meaning "kill" used in the oldest versions of the documents that comprise the christian bible. Of them, the five most common are as follows:
1. muth - meaning die, slay, put to death, kill
2. nakah - meaning smite, kill, slay, beat, wound, murder
3. haraq - meaning slay, kill, murder, destroy
4. zabach - meaning sacrifice, kill
5. ratsach - meaning slay, murder, kill, be put to death

The word ratsach is used in Exodus 20:13 (translated as kill in KJV); haraq in Exodus 32:27 (translated as slay in KJV).

These five words are strewn throughout the text of the bible in overlapping manners and in the same manner that synonyms are used today. Consider Numbers 35:6-34. "Then ye shall appoint you cities for refuge from the avenger; that the slayer (ratsach) may flee thither, which killeth (nakah) any person at unawares." Surely ratsach and nakah are used synonymously here.

Going further in these verses we see in 35:21 "He that smote (nakah) him shall surely be put to death (muth); for he is a murderer (ratsach)."

In 35:22-24 we see "...the congregation shall judge between the slayer (ratsach) and the revenger...". And in verse 27 we see that ratsach can be considered justifiable killing "if the revenger of blood kill (ratsach) the slayer (ratsach) he shall not be guilty of blood." Verses 30 and 31 show the words being used interchangeably: "Whoso killeth (nakah) any person, the murderer (ratsach) shall be put to death (ratsach) by the oath of witnesses..." (so, when we dispense justice to murderers are we murdering them?)

And then there is Deuteronomy 4:42 which says that "the slayer (ratsach) might flee tither, which should kill (ratsach) his neighbor unawares, and hated him in times past." Murder is pre-meditated. If ratsach is murder you cannot ratsach someone "unawares."

Further consider these verses: Leviticus 24:17 says "And he that killeth (nakah) any man shall surely be put to death (muth)." Do bible apologists mean that nakah should be translated as murder, too?

Then there is Exodus 21:12 "He that smiteth (nakah) a man, so that he die, shall surely be put to death." Seems to me that nakah and ratsach are used interchangeably by the author of Exodus.

Then there is Joshua who killed (nakah) the people of Ai (Joshua 8:21) and David who slayed Goliath (nakah). But these are seen as justifiable even though Leviticus and Exodus expressly forbid any nakah-ing.

And if none of the above convinces you (boy, you are really stubborn ;-) then consider Proverbs 22:13: "The slothful man saith, there is a lion without, I shall be slain (ratsach) in the streets." Can an animal murder someone?

Another big problem is circular reasoning. Translating ratsach as murder in Exodus 20:13 is problematic because the commandments are supposed to be the law. And murder means to "kill unlawfully." So what does "do not murder" in the context of a law even mean? It is a useless tautology.

So enough said. Whenever I quote the ten commandments it is KILL that I will use, not MURDER, for that is what seems most accurate.

Ceroill said...

Okdoky. Thanks for that csm. Better research than I did.

My only real point was about mistranslations, not the kill/murder thing in particular, it just came to mind, cause I found it interesting, as I find any of that kind of thing interesting.

Lou said...

"And numbers, if understood properly, do "a truth make."

Actually no csm. Just because a particular belief has a large number of adherents does not make it truth. Scientific theories are not necessarily truth. And today's truth maybe tomorrows myths.

And yes csm atheism has reached the level of a particular religious belief system according to SCOTUS. I suppose that would even include de-baptism. I know you don't approve but it is what it is.

I always understood "Thou shalt not kill" to mean not murder. That seems clear cut and a fine rule.

G said...

Using "kill" is fine, as long as you are using it in a precise way. The argument that it is closer to "murder" is generally in response to those who claim that "Thou shalt not kill" means that putting an animal (or even a bug) to death is sin or that war is sin. I'm sure you noticed that the word used in the commandment is never used for killing an animal or in reference to war.

It is the putting to death of another human being outside the allowances of the law (e.g. capital punishment).

csm said...

Well, Lou, as you clarified your intent, I agree with you. Just because a large number of people believe something that does not make it true. I do agree with that. Completely.

Regarding calling a lack of belief in something a religious belief system: Wow. Even if that is indeed what the SCOTUS has decreed (a link or reference for that please), it is quite wrong-headed.

And I agree that not murdering is a fine rule. Too bad the bible doesn't say that.

csm said...

Well, G, actually ratsach is the word used in Exodus 20:13. And it is the same word used in Proverbs 22:13 about the lion. So the lion can murder?

csm said...

Didn't mean to sound like I was coming down hard on you Bob. I just saw this whole can of worms opening up again and decided to try to squash it before it crawled all over the place again!

G said...

Did I say murder? The proverb, particularly since it is spoken from the fearful person's perspective, fits just fine with the idea of a human being put to death.

But that wasn't really the point I made, was it? The point is that the commandment doesn't have anything to do with killing animals or acts of war.

Incidentally, "a lack of belief in god" is not the only commonly used definition of atheism. Many people use the definition "a belief that there is no god". Even among those who define themselves with your "lack of belief in god", an awful lot of them sure sound like they don't just lack belief in a god, but are certain that no god exists.

csm said...

Atheism is a religion only in the sense that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

csm said...

And yes, G, in re-reading your comment you are correct; you did specify killing animals, and not animals commiting murder.


So war isn't a sin, huh? Cool.

Ceroill said...

Bawdy, yes, basically that's what it means. War and executions are not sins. Convenient, isn't it?

csm said...

Maybe we could use the bible to justify sending murderous lions out to fight our wars?

Ceroill said...

That raises the question of whether lions could be properly considered murderous, being that they are only beasts.

csm said...

That was kinda my point, Bob.


Speaking of war, where the fuck are all the anti-war protesters hiding now that we are reupping in Afghanistan? Could it have just been a President they found distasteful?

lou said...

Baedyscot you can now effectively yell BINGO!. It was never about the war, it was about the man. Under the radar of the economy is the impeding disaster in Afghan.

Those who were so concerned about death, war and destruction now suddenly are pro-war. Its sad how Americans can be lead around by the nose by a party.