Headlines

THE YEAR’S BEST [actual] HEADLINES:

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over

Miners Refuse to Work after Death

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

War Dims Hope for Peace

If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges !

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Local High School Dropouts Cut In Half

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

And the winner is….

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Life

Like someone blinded by a bright light,
we walk into that which we cannot yet see,
a future unknown and undefined
from which we cannot escape.

We are born gasping for air,
and we die gasping for air.
All else in between is made less
by the realities of birth and death.

We encounter the world
on its terms no matter what we think,
and from birth’s first moment
we have lost the struggle.

So we come to life with a cry
and we leave it with a whimper.
That’s all that this is about
no matter what we think.

POEM FOR JANUARY

High winds and white skies
rattle bare-bone tree limbs
shaking snow from branches
laid bare to winter ravages.
Cold and sullen wayfarers
move in frozen fluidity,
leaving tracks in their wake
that are soon gone to naught.
Darkness claims the frozen land
and reigns again once more
keeping out the light and warm
from our sanguine visions.
The longest night holds us
in its frosty grip till dawn
and winter never ceases
until it kills our meager hope.

BIBLICAL BASIS FOR AMERICA?

I recently got into a discussion with a co-worker about the role of religion in the governing of the United States. He thinks that Christianity is central to the founding philosophy of our nation, and that the Bible has inspired our Constitution and our laws. I disagree with all of those premises.

Only through selective reading of the Bible and supporting literature dealing with the history of western culture can one make the inference that supports the notions that human rights, liberty, and equality come from the Christian god, or any other god for that matter. Objective reading and understanding of those same sources would clearly negate those claims.

Thomas Jefferson, for instance, was one of the main expositors in his time, of the concept of inalienable human rights. While Jefferson had a deistic belief in a god of the universe, he rejected nearly every single tenet of Christian orthodoxy. This can be seen in his letter from Oct. 31, 1819 to William Short, in which he named and rejected the following: The immaculate conception of Jesus, his deification, the creation of the world by him, his miraculous powers, his resurrection and visible ascension, his corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity; original sin, atonement, regeneration, election, orders of Hierarchy, etc. So whatever belief in inalienable rights depends upon, by Jefferson’s viewpoint, it does not depend upon believing in those central tenets of Christianity. We can then reasonably infer that it is not by virtue of belief in those things that our notions of inalienable human rights derive.

Another point I made to my friend that deflates the argument he was trying to make, involved the legal slave trade in early America. If our concept of human rights rests with the Bible and come from the god of that book, then slavery would still be o.k., or it would never have been alright. While many religious traditions have allowed slavery, the Bible never condemns it nor calls for its abolition. During the American debate over slavery, so-called Christian defenders of slavery could cite specific biblical passages in the Old and New Testaments supporting slavery. Opponents of slavery had to argue using general doctrines such as the creation of man in God’s image that denied the justice of slavery, yet they couldn’t cite any specific passage of the Bible in defense of their position. This would appear to be a clear case of the moral teachings of the Bible needing the reader to come to it with a prior moral viewpoint that must then be read into the Bible. If that’s the case, then this view of what is clearly a higher moral definition, does not then come from the Bible, but is read into the Bible by those holding to this moral principle.

Thus, the history of Christianity itself is a very strong argument against any connection between human rights and that particular belief system. If there were a connection, why did it take almost nineteen hundred years for that basic human right to disallow being owned by another person to be recognized by Christian society as an absolute? The obvious answer is that Christianity had nothing to do with it. It was the result of social and cultural changes entirely independent of Biblical philosophy.

Moreover, the very concept of universalism of the Bible is in serious doubt. I don’t see a universal morality in the Old Testament. Moses ordering the slaughter of the innocent Mideanite women and children, for example, manifests a xenophobia that runs through much of the Old Testament. And yet, as I pointed out to my friend, other cultures which are not even theistic at all do exhibit universal moralities that match or supercede those of Christianity. Buddhism is a perfect example of a non-theistic philosophy that has among the highest order of morals on the planet. Even many purely secular societies and their systems of governance have very high moral concepts exhibited within their social and constitutional frameworks. Even the United States can make the claim of secular morality not being dependent on any religious edicts. Nowhere in the Constitution is there a mention of religion of any sort or denomination, save the instruction that no office of the land will ever require a religious test for one to accede to it or hold it. This would seem to negate the claim of religion being central to the Constitution to an even more finite degree.

Now, of course, the New Testament does seem more inclined to a universal humanitarianism. Yet Jesus is quoted as teaching that those who follow him must hate their families in order to attain the kingdom he was promising. A very troubling viewpoint in the light of the claims of brotherly love and peace made by Christian apologists. Also, the Book of Revelation teaches that at the end of history the saints will destroy the Antichrist and the unbelievers in bloody battle. The bloodiness of this vision has been dramatized throughout the history of Christianity.

Should those who believe in the distortions that negate the role of secular societal constructs in the founding of America be allowed to make their arguments unchallenged, then their view will someday be the only one that gets heard in the marketplace of ideas. I challenge them and their allegations at every turn. Whether I change one mind or no minds on these topics, I at least have a clear conscience on the matter.

NEVER MORE TO BE

Worn linoleum
and faded paint,
flowered patterns
on old wallpaper.
The smell
of baking bread
and a hint
of Pine-Sol.
Grandma’s voice
softly singing
“Amazing Grace”
as she worked.
Soft odor
of purple lilacs
wafted through
the rusted screen.
The lazy whir
of windmill blades
seems to match
Grandma’s song.
Strong urges
pulled us outside
to play and work
in those endless times.
We thought
in childhood’s innocence
that it would
never end, nor could.
Now those days
only live in memory,
nevermore to be,
nevermore to be.

A Little Summer


By now everyone in my part of the world is tired of snow and cold. I thought a photo from last summer might brighten the mood for some of us who are muddling through the upper midwest winter doldrums. I hope this brightens the mood of others as much as it does mine. Now if it would just warm up and all of this snow disappear.

Bible Inconsistencies

Continuing with some more Bible contradictions and inconsistencies, and again I warn, this is not an all inclusive list by any means, but merely representative of the thousands that can be noted.

According to Genesis 1:31, God saw his creation and knew that it was good. But then in Genesis 6:5-6 we read, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Now while Biblical apologists will scurry to speak of the wickedness of man and the free-will that he exercised, and the influence of Satan, and all manner of other specious arguments, none of those arguments can explain how an omnipotent, omniscient god could not have known before he created man, that man would be wicked and that this fact would grieve him. He would then have known at creation that what he had made was not all that good by his standards.

God told Adam in Genesis 2:17 that in the day that Adam might eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he, Adam, would surely die. Of course that not only didn’t happen, but Adam, we are told in Genesis 5:5, lived 930 years. Was God a liar? Was he like the parent who tells the child, “If you get in that cookie jar, I’ll spank you,” only to not follow through with the prescribed punishment? Did he change his mind? Any of these, or any other answer to why Adam lived well past the noted failure to do as God had ordered, once again calls into question the issue of omniscience. If God idly threatened Adam on this count, how do we know that God has not idly threatened all who have disobeyed his edicts and reputed dispensations?

So, maybe in the above instance, God merely changed his mind, and is that such a bad thing for an omnipotent being to do? Well, possibly not. However, we are told in Numbers 23:19-20, Isaiah 15:29, and James 1:17 that God does not change his mind. On the other hand, we are told in Genesis 6:6, Exodus 32:14, Numbers 14:20, and elsewhere in the Bible that God DOES change his mind. Yet another inconsistency pops up even when trying to find a justification for Adam’s longevity in the face of God’s warning to the contrary.

Everybody knows the story of Noah and the Ark. As children we all learned in Sunday School that Noah took, at God’s instruction, two of each kind of living thing into the Ark. Now without even belaboring the obvious problems with that scenario: rounding up animals indigenous to the Arctic, Australia, and elsewhere that would have been unknown and unreachable in Biblical times, having enough feed for everything without some living things feasting on their Ark-mates, the removal and disposal of animal waste, etc., we have another glaring inconsistency. Genesis 7:2-5 tells us that Noah took seven pairs of some kinds, not the two by two that we so fondly remember from childhood. So if Noah took two of each, how could he have taken seven pairs of some and not cancel out the two by two story? Yet both stories exist there, virtually side by side, and yet few wonder why.

Numerous places in the Old Testament we are told that God is seen by mortal man. Genesis 12:7, Genesis 17:1, and 18:1 tell us that God appeared unto Abram. Genesis 26:2 has God appearing unto Isaac. In Genesis 32:30 Jacob names the place where he dwelt, “Peniel”, meaning, as Jacob says, “I have seen God face to face and have lived.” Of course, Moses saw God’s face multiple times, and in Exodus 24:9-11 Moses even took Aaron, Nadab and seventy elders with him, and they all saw God and even ate and drank in his presence. These are just some examples of man seeing God contained in the Bible.

Then we read in Exodus 33:20, “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me and live.” This is reiterated in John 1:18 and 1John 4:12 where we are told, “No man hath seen God at any time.” So has God been seen or not? If he was seen, and we’re told elsewhere that he never was, then the Bible is wrong. If he never was seen but we are given examples of man seeing him, then again, the Bible is in error. Either way, infallibility is in question.

The Tower of Babel is another nice story in the Bible that seems pretty straight forward in the telling. It tells of the creation of different languages in order to confound mankind in order to keep heaven safe from invasion by man via a tower. An obvious fairy tale or myth to explain something that ancient man didn’t understand. Genesis 11:1 in order to set up this story tells us that mankind had only one language prior to this event. However, in the previous chapter of Genesis we read on three separate occasions that there were many languages long before the ill-fated tower was ever conceived. So which is it? One language or many languages? It can’t have been both, for each is mutually exclusive of the other.

I think I’ll end today’s post with what is to me one of the most egregious inconsistencies, and hence one of the funniest. We are told multiple times and places in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, that God is omnipotent. Nothing is impossible with, or for, God. Of course that’s an understood attribute of God even without written indications to tell us that.

Then we read in Judges 1:19, “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”

What? God can do anything but he can’t overcome a tribe who possessed iron chariots? He who blinked the universe into being. He who created a universal flood and started it all over again. He who transcends time and space and all other barriers is foiled by iron chariots? It’s a good thing that they didn’t have helicopter gunships and heat seeking missiles or we’d be worshipping Baal or Thor or Odin, for this god would have been annihilated.

What is it? Omnipotence or the weakness of mortals? He can’t be a god if he’s not omnipotent, for that’s part of the definition. Is this another inconsistency or is it an early admission by a human writer or editor that God did not exist, for by being limited in his power by mortal man, he ceased being a god.