Friday, January 15, 2010

Skeptic Moment: Bible Written Earlier?

According to Yahoo via, a piece of pottery may suggest that parts of the bible could be centuries older that originally thought. Ignoring the fact that the ages of biblical texts have almost nothing to do with their veracity, let's explore!

A few things struck me about the article, suggesting many reasons to be suspicious of this finding until more information is available.

The excavations were performed by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Gershon Galil, the professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel, deciphered the writings after not initially being able to clarify if the language was Hebrew or another regional language. Good old religiously based collegiate institutions finding artifacts they claim prove their case. How convenient. Okay, okay...I am being snarky but I honestly value their findings a bit less than if a group without so much baggage had came to the same conclusion.

"It [the piece of pottery] uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as asah ('did') and avad ('worked'), which were rarely used in other regional languages," Galil said. "Particular words that appear in the text, such as almanah ('widow') are specific to Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages." it is in Hebrew. And...? The five phrases are missing letters but appear to be making social statements about treating disenfranchised groups such as slaves, widows, and orphans. They believe it translates to:

1' you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
2' Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
3' [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
4' the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
5' Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

Confusing, muddled, judgmental, and contradictory, with a moment of niceties...
Sounds like biblical commands to me! But...none of these stanzas are actually copied from the bible though they do seem similar to three scriptures.

Regardless, doesn't make the Bible anymore realistic or morally authoritative than before. In the end, I find it lacking.

What A Roomy Closet You're Stuck In

There are numerous closets that people come out of or stay in. The most stereotypical closet is, of course, that of the GLBT community. The prominent Evolutionary Biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins has called for fellow non-believers to come out of their own metaphorical closet in his books, lectures, and on his website.

One thing is certain, the symbolic wardrobe has traditionally been reserved for those that are oppressed for one reason or another. Today I heard one woman's story about her own coming out but the essential element of persecution seemed to be missing. You see...she came out of the Christian Closet. How is this possible you ask; Well, at least that was my first question.

She is a writer for and until recently was attending the Episcopal Church unbeknownst to her friends. Apparently in a country where Christianity dominates (as Fox News continually reminds us) she managed to find a rare oasis where secularism dominates and religion is regarded as less than coherent. In her article she refers to atheism as a sort of new fundamentalism and accuses atheists of taking easy shots at Christianity, "It's like shooting Christian fish car magnets in a barrel." She talks about how her church has made many strides towards social justice and suggests that it is bigoted to ignore these steps.

I'm sorry (okay, no I'm not) but the few liberal steps that the Episcopal Church has taken are the exception to the rule. It also points to the church becoming more secular, undermining the so called moral authority that the author seems to believe the church holds, "All of us need help with birth and death and good and evil, and religion can give us that." I'm sorry but if conforming to secular ethics is considered a step in the right direction than you are not using the Bible's morality (or lack thereof) to guide your life.
She almost gets it, but like most moderate religious people, she misses the point entirely.

 "I'll give the atheists a lot: The Creation Museum is a riot. The psychos shooting up abortion clinics and telling gay couples they're going to hell are evil, and anyone of faith has an obligation to condemn them. Abominable stuff has been done in God's name for centuries. The Bible has a lot of crazy shit in it about stoning people for using the wrong salad fork. Up with science and reason!"

She went on NPR's Tell Me More this afternoon and continued her nominal martyrdom. I must admit, I found myself rolling my eyes a few times. The one secular friend she mentions specifically in the article also edited the piece and their relationship has not suffered from her recent revelation. On NPR, she admitted to feeling 'silly' that she kept it a secret for so long. I think we can all agree that if your friends do not accept you as who you are then they shouldn't be your friends. So be honest and if need be...find new friends! I know of very few atheists that are completely surrounded by friends and family who agree with them. Sure, it is nice to be around those that agree with you, but you'll be hard pressed to find someone who shares your views on every subject. Besides, like Harvey Milk suggested, if everyone comes out of closet then everyone else will know someone that they care about was once in the closet and should subsequently get the hell over it! 

Not surpirsingly, the comment section filled up quickly. Most of the responses were sarcastic but honest. Many were supportive of her message but as always debates were in full swing. Here are a few tidbits:
"Ada, you're going to catch a Katrina of shit from the angry atheists who populate Salon, so before you do, I want to congratulate you on a fine, nuanced piece and a smart, humble point of view on your faith."

" were going to a temple to telepathically grovel to the ghost of a 2000 year old zombie and demon fighting dead rabbi and his father who really hates foreskin and Egyptian babies and loves when you sprinkle the blood of sacrificed cows around, while reading from a book that says disease comes from sinning and a man built a boat that carried all the animals to safety during a world wide flood, and sacrificing birds will cure leprosy...and then you ate crackers and wine, which will turn into the Jewish ghostman's skin and blood in your that when the Jewish Ghostman returns to earth to fight satan you wont be cast into a giant lake of fire. Why would anyone laugh at that?"
"Another poor persecuted Christian, just because she has to be exposed to other beliefs! Yes indeed, being part of the overwhelming majority of Americans isn't enough, those atheist billboards hurt her feelings! Eeek!"

"Never mind the multitude of religious displays asking if you are saved. Never mind all the laws that are attempted and sometimes even passed to force the non-Christian to live by the religious laws of the Christian. Never mind all the ways your religion is taught in schools and is all throughout society - there's an atheist billboard, and you feel insecure. The horror!"

"To the author: Thanks for this article. I have found a similar experience within the 12-step community and at a Unitarian Universalist church, and I have also been going through an experience of figuring out how to let this part of me show to those who knew me when I was much different in this regard. As you said, this stuff works for me. I can't explain it, and it goes against some things I used to think I knew. But when I go to these places and do the things they suggest, which have worked for them, I feel better, I live better, and I am a better person for all those whose lives intersect with mine in small or large degree."
In the end, I digress. This issue is far from being irrelevant.

Brighten Up

Hello Blogoshere!

A little introduction before my brilliant brain ramblings take over...

My name is some version of Maddie Lynn. Good luck figuring out my actual name and the correct spelling however. I am a twenty-one year old married mother of one toddler and one currently in utero. I stay at home with my daughter doing the usual domestic duties as well as writing for random companies via an online virtual middle man. It doesn't pay much but at least when I re-enter the workforce it won't be sans recent work experience. I spend a great minority of my time reading (currently One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, On a Tangled Skein, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Alice in Wonderland), writing (both for pleasure and otherwise), and listening to music (mostly rock and folk) and NPR. Other entertainment comes in the form of watching my favorite YouTube channels (TheAmazingAtheist, KingHeathen, misterdeity, NonStampCollector, patcondell, SolRosenberg84, and Thunderf00t), as well as catching up on the links I have listed on the sidebar ------>

I also belong to the La Leche League and enjoy writing to my penpal on ePals via Check it out if you want to promote learning for elementary school age children and have a knack for writing!

My family consists of my husband, my two and a half year old daughter, the boy currently residing in my uterus, our hamster Captain Jack, and our two water frogs Steven and Stephen.

This blog will contain personal anecdotes, opinions on recent news stories (especially regarding irrelgion and its ugly sister religion), parenting tidbits, and more. I hope to successfully improve my writing skills and style while connecting to you, the reader. Enjoy!