Reed A. Cartwright posted Entry 2911 on February 18, 2007 11:50 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/2901

Georgia State Rep. Ben Bridges of Cleveland, home of Cabbage Patch dolls and Babyland General Hospital, is a vocal critic of evolution. This former barber and captain in the state patrol has twice (1999 and 2005) introduced legislation to include non-existent evidence against evolution in public schools—one of the teach-the-controversy laws that the Discovery Institute is so fond of these days. In 2005, Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education testified against his bill, causing Bridges to remark that he could have gotten “experts” as well, if he’d known that GCISE was going to be there. Earlier this week, we learned the type of “experts” that Bridges relies on.

On Feb. 9, Texas State Rep. Warren Chisum, the second most powerful member, sent a memo from Bridges to every member of the Texas House of Representatives. This memo advertised a model bill and called for the end of “tax-supported evolution science” because it “is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings on the mystic ‘holy book’ kabbala dating back at least two millennia”. Talk about bringing the crazy—but wait there’s more. Bridges’s memo invites lawmakers to visit FixedEarth.com, the “non-moving Earth & anti-evolution web page of the Fair Education Foundation, Inc.” Yeap, you read that right, Fixed—WTF—Earth.com.

So what is the connection between FixedEarth.com and Ben Bridges? FixedEarth.com is run by one of Bridges’s friends, Marshall Hall of Cornelia, and it would appear that Hall is the “expert” behind Bridges’s anti-evolution legislation in Georgia. Two years ago, while GCISE was testifying against HB 179, Bridges remarked that had he know that the university folks were going to be there, he’d have brought his own experts. Can you imagine the sound of everyone’s jaw hitting to floor if Hall got up and began to talk about he used to be “indoctrinated by the contra-scientific nonsense of Darwinism and Copernicanism (not mention Marxism, Freudianism, Saganism, and the like)“? Creationists are crazy, but we’re not usually prepared for them to be that crazy. If you are too crazy for Answers In Genesis, then there is a room for you at the “State Lunatic, Idiot, and Epileptic Asylum” in Milledgeville.

Needless to say, blaming evolution on a Jewish conspiracy might go well with the cross-burning, tinfoil-hat wearing crowd, but is not going to play well with most of middle America. Chisum and Bridges have been back peddling ever since Texas journalists discovered the Bridges-Chisum-Hall memo.

On Feb. 14, the Dallas Morning News quoted Chisum as dismissing his actions as “a courtesy to a member of the Georgia legislature”, but advocating that schools “ought to teach creation as well as the fact of evolution”.

On Feb. 15, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Bridges as denying any involvement in the memo: “I did not put it out nor did I know it was going out…. I’m not defending it or taking up for it.” However, the AJC also reported that Hall got approval from Bridges to distribute the memo under his name to “lawmakers in several states, including Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio”.

Not surprisingly, the Anti-Defamation League has publically blasted the Bridges-Chisum-Hall memo as bordering on antisemitism. They have demanded a public apology from the lawmakers involved. According to Feb 17’s New York Times, Chisum has issued one: “I sincerely regret that I did not take the time to carefully review these materials and recognize that I may have hurt or offended some groups including some of my dear friends.”

Wait, Chisum sent around the memo saying that he “greatly appreciate[d] [Bridges’s] information on this important topic”, but didn’t carefully review the materials? Why is someone with such poor reading comprehension skills tasked with managing a state as big as Texas? Are anti-intellectuals like Chisum sent to Austin to balance out the ivory tower of UT? What Texas needs is not another anti-evolution bill, but a bill that would give politicians the Bridges-Chisum-Hall test. If the politician actually believes that there is any merit to the rantings of a fixed-earth creationist, then he fails the test, is declared legally stupid, and required to stay five counties away from any child.

And finally, the Bridges-Chisum-Hall memo is an advertisement for a model anti-evolution bill that can be found on Hall’s FixedEarth.com. Given all the negative publicity that the memo has generated, we probably shouldn’t expect the model bill to be introduced anytime soon. This doesn’t mean that it won’t be introduced sometime in the future. Below is the text of the memo as transcribed by me from a scan. All emphasis is original, and I’ve redacted the contact information.

February 9, 2007

To: All House Members

From: Representative Warren Chisum

Subject: Tax-supported “Evolution science”

Members,

I am distributing the following information to all House Members on behalf of Representative Ben Bridges of the Georgia House of Representatives. I am acquainted with Representative Bridges through my work as Chair of the NCSL Agriculture, Environmental and Energy Committee, and greatly appreciate his information on this important topic.

Regards,

[signature]
Warren Chisum

[next page]

MEMO FROM: Representative Ben Bridges

RE: Tax-supported “evolution science” now unlawful under the U.S. Constitution

Greetings. As Georgia’s 5th term State Representative from the 10th District, I, like others, have made several attempts to challenge the evolution monopoly in the schools. These attempts have all have [sic] been in vain for basically the same reason you and I and all others have encountered. Whether the challenge has come from BOE members or Legislators, the Courts have ruled that “creation science” (& “ID”) has a religious agenda and thus is in violation of the “Establishment Clause” of the U.S. Constitution. “Evolution science“, on the other hand, has been viewed by the Courts as “secular science” with no religious agenda and therefore has been deemed lawful under the Constitution.

All of that can now be changed! Indisputable evidence—long hidden but now available to everyone—demonstrates conclusively that so-called “secular evolution science” is the Big-Bang 15-billion-year alternate “creation scenario” of the Pharisee Religion. This scenario is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic “holy book” Kabbala dating back at least two millennia. Evidence in the URLs below show conclusively that “evolution science” has a very specific religious agenda and (as with “creation science”) cannot legally be taught in taxpayer supported schools according to the Constitution.

This first link gives the purpose of the Bill in a generic form useful to other Legislators & BOE members:
http://www.fixedearth.com/HB%20179%20PART%20I%20MODEL.htm (2 pp.)

The second link provides the court cases and Kabbala-related evidence to support the Bill:
http://www.fixedearth.com/HB%20179%20PART%20II%20ATT.EVIDENCE.htm (7 pp)

This third link is optional. It is included it supply more evidence for those who want it.
http://www.fixedearth.com/HB%20179%20PART%20III%20ADDENDUM.htm (9 pp)

I hope you will join with me in presenting a Bill with this same content in your state. It will WIN in the Courts! Together we can stop the misuse of billions in taxes now funding a deception that is causing incalculable harm to every student and every truth-loving citizen. (The solution for future science instruction after evolution is expelled from the schools is also contained in the HB 179 links.) Feel free to copy and forward this memo to others you know.

Please direct all supportive calls and emails to: Marshall Hall. Pres. The Fair Education Foundation, Inc. 1-706-XXX-XXXX - fefinc@XXXX.net.

Wow, that sure was convincing!

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Comment #161543

Posted by Arun on February 18, 2007 12:37 PM (e)

Their next step will be to find and pay some people somewhere, perhaps in the Third World, who will swear that Darwin’s ouevre is their Sacred Text, and thus evolution is a religion.

Comment #161550

Posted by daenku32 on February 18, 2007 1:28 PM (e)

I would like to thank the Pharisees from giving us such great scientific discoveries as theory of evolution and the Big Bang. Just wish they had come out with it earlier.

Comment #161553

Posted by Mike Klymkowsky on February 18, 2007 1:45 PM (e)

This is so cool, it escaped my notice that Pharisees were involved in the moving earth conspiracy, as well as everything else.

Comment #161568

Posted by theletterafterz on February 18, 2007 2:57 PM (e)

hmm… A creationist using references for support that they haven’t read themselves….. This has never happened before, it isn’t happening now, and it will never happen again….

Unless of course, a creationist opens his or her mouth, then it is bound to happen again.

Comment #161597

Posted by misanthrope101 on February 18, 2007 7:18 PM (e)

Funny that all this time I’ve been mocking Creationists with “next you’ll be ‘skeptical’ that the earth revolves around the sun.” I’m always a bit uneasy when it gets this difficult to distinguish parody from reality. If I was activly plotting to make Creationists look like backwater hicks and completely ignorant fools who shouldn’t be trusted anywhere near policy decisions, I would never have thought of something this brazen. Are we sure fixedearth.com isn’t a satire site, like landoverbaptist.org? I’m reluctant to think that I’ve overestimated Creationists, but this seems more bizarre than even stuff I’ve seen from ICR.

Comment #161607

Posted by Jack Krebs on February 18, 2007 9:01 PM (e)

http://www.fixedearth.com/ is too bad to be a parody. If you haven’t actually looked at it, you should.

Comment #161608

Posted by Jack Krebs on February 18, 2007 9:06 PM (e)

Actually, this stuff has to be read to be believed. The parallels with some aspect of the ID movement are startling. For instance, take a look at http://www.fixedearth.com/Evol.is%20Religious%20Doctrine.htm.

Comment #161680

Posted by Ken Shaw on February 19, 2007 9:50 AM (e)

From fixedearth.com:

Indeed, by the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s a new theory which essentially replaces Darwinism was being entertained and has now become the theory of choice for all evolution-based musings. Astonishingly, no one seems to question how this new theory “coincidentally” fits with and strengthens the Big Bang Paradigm so perfectly! This new theory—labeled “Panspermia” by the Buddhist Wickramasinghe and Agnostic Hoyle—declares that the first life on earth was initiated by bacterium nourished inside of and spread around the universe by Comets, and that each alleged evolutionary advance has also come from outer space.

So now Hoyle wasn’t an anti evolutionist. He was part of the kabbalistic conspiracy working to support the Big Bang theory, which he frequently rejected. WTF!

I’ve just spent some time reading this site and am stunned that anyone cunning enough to get elected to a state legislature could be taken in by this anti semitic garbage.

Comment #161703

Posted by Aagcobb on February 19, 2007 1:21 PM (e)

Borderline anti-semitism nothing; this is blatant, in-your-face “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” caliber anti-semitism. Chisum and Bridges are disgraces to the offices they hold and should both resign immediately; to distribute a memo promoting the web-site of a fixed-earth, anti-semitic raving madman demonstrates that neither of them are fit to be dogcatchers, much less legislators.

Comment #161726

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson on February 19, 2007 5:36 PM (e)

The real fun thing is that these christian apologists base their attack on evolution on jewish apologists attempts to reconcile their religious texts with science.

And since they base their claims on old science, they are falsified: “15.3 billion years”, “between 14 and 16 billion years” and “15 ¾ billion years” vs 13.7 +0.1/-0.2 billion years for the Lambda-CDM model.

IIRC older data sets often suggested something just above 15 billion years. Imagine that, the jewish apologists correctly predicted that! I am pretty sure they now ‘correctly predict’ 13.7 billion years instead. :-)

Comment #161743

Posted by Fross on February 19, 2007 8:01 PM (e)

These types of cdesign proponentsists do more for the cause of science than they realize. Oh and they should take off their tin-foil hats before making public appearances.

Comment #161751

Posted by JamesR on February 19, 2007 8:33 PM (e)

This has been going around the blogs for about a week now. I must admit it sends me into uproarous laughter each time. These are the very people who claim that we need to treat their ideas with respect. Oh now wait right there I have a whole bucket of respect here…. Ahh well no I guess not, it is a bucket full of piss and really that is all their ideas are worth. We need to loudly and frequently mock these IDiots.

The Kabbalistic Pharisitic Big Bang Gang. It has a nice jingle to it.

Comment #161776

Posted by stevaroni on February 19, 2007 11:53 PM (e)

JamesR wrote

… it is a bucket full of piss and really that is all their ideas are worth.

Actually, though it’s lost much of it’s worth to progress, and presumably, inflation, once upon a time a bucket of piss was quite valuable.

In some places, buckets were left in public areas and citizens were expected to do their civic duty by contributing what they could rather than wastefully leaving it on the back wall. Especially prized was the first production run of the morning, since it was the most concentrated.

In case you’re wondering, it was used as a source of ammonia and urea for the manufacture of gunpowder and leather.

Comment #161853

Posted by David B. Benson on February 20, 2007 1:31 PM (e)

A bucket of spit, on the other hand…

Comment #161865

Posted by drsteveb on February 20, 2007 3:11 PM (e)

1. As a secular humanist Jew and Cohenim, all I can say is… you are welcome.

2. So according to the nutballs, was Darwin Jewish? An elder of zion? I guess the beard is confusing. I always thought he was Amish.

3. Seriously, is this a post-Dover opening salvo in a (not so) new tactic to get evolution (I mean evilution; that is Jewlution) out of the schools… after Dover, by claiming that evolution is also a religion?

Comment #161878

Posted by DragonScholar on February 20, 2007 5:41 PM (e)

Jokes aside, I have to say that this may be an indication that “Evolution is religion” IS about the only tactic left for the ID/Creationist groups to use. This guy may just be ahead of the curve in trying it.

Certainly we hear plenty of claim that Darwin requires as much faith as religion, is treated religiously, etc.

Comment #161950

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 21, 2007 12:10 AM (e)

“This scenario is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic “holy book” Kabbala dating back at least two millennia.”

There is no such “holy book” nor did Kabbalah exist prior to about 500 years ago when De Leon disseminated the founding work of the Kabbalah movement known as the Zohar.

Just another example of Christian ignorance about Judaism, on top of mistranslating and grotesquely distorting the Hebrew Bible to make it conflict with science. Disgusting!

Comment #161955

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 21, 2007 12:37 AM (e)

WOW!

Carol has some kinda radar up.

haven’t seen you around here in a while, and I just recently (an hour ago) mentioned you over on pharyngula, and BANG, here you are.

could you do me a favor?

they didn’t believe me when I tried to explain the philosophy behind the hyena/zebra thing.

could you explain that whole thing again so I have it fresh in mind?

seriously, I don’t want to be misinterpreting your arguments.

thanks

Comment #162001

Posted by Tom on February 21, 2007 9:53 AM (e)

As has been pointed out elsewhere, Creationists condemning evolution and the big bang as the work of Jewish Kabbalists, while they themselves subscribe to the Jewish myth of creation described in Genesis, is as ironic as it gets.

Comment #162016

Posted by Richard Simons on February 21, 2007 12:43 PM (e)

Carol: Please, please, please, give us, in English, just a few verses of the ‘correct’ version of the Bible. Feel free to use as many footnotes as you consider necessary to get over all the nuances that are missed in other translations.

For those not familiar with her, Carol pops by every now and then to insist that there is one ‘true’ version of the Bible in which nothing contradicts modern science, but she never does us the courtesy of providing an example and contrasting it with any other translation.

Comment #162020

Posted by fnxtr on February 21, 2007 1:55 PM (e)

… but then you wouldn’t buy the book. Duh.

Comment #162057

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 21, 2007 5:06 PM (e)

Richard wrote:

“For those not familiar with her, Carol pops by every now and then to insist that there is one ‘true’ version of the Bible in which nothing contradicts modern science, but she never does us the courtesy of providing an example and contrasting it with any other translation.”

I see two blatant falsehoods in your statement. They are:

(1) I have done you the courtesy of providing MANY examples and have debated them extensively here. Usually, after you folks lose the argument, I am told to take it elsewhere.

(2) I don’t “insist” that there is one true version of the Bible, I just remind folks that there is only one Hebrew Bible extant today and it ought not be translated sloppily and incompetently.

What I have stated, and nothing I ever encountered here has remotely persuaded me otherwise, is that the Hebrew Bible can be interpreted literally and yet not confict with science so long as it is understood and translated accurately and correctly.

(3)

Comment #162061

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 21, 2007 5:53 PM (e)

carol; about the zebra/hyena thing?

indulge me?

many are curious.

Comment #162083

Posted by Richard Simons on February 21, 2007 8:11 PM (e)

Can anyone give me a link to an example of a ‘correct’ translation of part of the Bible provided by Carol? Preferably one that does not conflict with science where most translations show a conflict. All I remember has been lengthy arguments on whether a certain word meant ‘servant’ or whether the concept of ‘slave’ was also included and such like issues.

Comment #162093

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 21, 2007 8:33 PM (e)

Can anyone give me a link to an example of a ‘correct’ translation of part of the Bible provided by Carol?

why, that’s a perfect question for Carol, since she seems convinced she has done that very thing many times and we just ignored it.

(hint: she didn’t, and we haven’t)

prediction:

you are about to hear about Judah Landa.

Comment #162099

Posted by carol clouser on February 21, 2007 9:38 PM (e)

Richard,

Well, why don’t we start with you telling us what the very first verse in the Hebrew Bible, correctly translated, states?

If you think it states “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, think again!

What more need I say? The very first verse is incorrect!

For more examples go check the archives here. You will discover that, contrary to TJM’s remark “she did, and we have” in spades.

TJM,

I checked Pharyngula and you certainly mangled my position beyond recognition. But since you are not sincerely interested in considering opposing views, I am not in the mood to get into the zebra/hyena matter here where it does not belong.

Comment #162107

Posted by MarkP on February 21, 2007 10:35 PM (e)

Carol said:

What I have stated, and nothing I ever encountered here has remotely persuaded me otherwise, is that the Hebrew Bible can be interpreted literally and yet not confict with science so long as it is understood and translated accurately and correctly.

This is a blatant dodge, akin to “I can do anything, but only when you aren’t looking”. It is a way of shifting the debate into an arena where most people cannot get at the data, ie, most people can’t read Hebrew.

The notion that all those highly motivated, highly learned scholars, over all these hundreds of years, managed to mistranslate the most read book on the planet (or at least the most owned), is preposterous on its face without a mountain of evidence. Writing a “proper” translation, submitting it to a review of Hebrew scholars, and making it publicly available, would be a good start. Otherwise, you sound like you’ve got a room up the hall from the guy who thinks Einstein was a dunce.

Far more likely, what we have here is a basically flawed logical progression as follows: The original Bible has no errors. This Bible I hold in my hand, which has been translated into English, contains statements that run contrary to scientific knowledge. Therefore this Bible was mistranslated.

Comment #162110

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 21, 2007 11:25 PM (e)

I checked Pharyngula and you certainly mangled my position beyond recognition.

well you had your chance to restate it, but since you asked so nicely, I’ll go ahead tommorrow and dig up EXACTLY what you said, just so you can see just how “wrong” I got it.

boy, you sure like to set yourself up.

Comment #162111

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 21, 2007 11:29 PM (e)

For more examples go check the archives here.

It was a simple request, Carol, and yet you STILL are unable to produce even one example, without quoting from Judah Landa’s book, can you.

search the archives???

why? can’t you just whip out a specific example?

oh and a hint for you:

If you think it states “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, think again!

think again, this doesn’t answer his question.

go figure.

Comment #162113

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 22, 2007 12:05 AM (e)

Mark P wrote:

“The notion that all those highly motivated, highly learned scholars, over all these hundreds of years, managed to mistranslate the most read book on the planet (or at least the most owned), is preposterous on its face without a mountain of evidence. Writing a “proper” translation, submitting it to a review of Hebrew scholars, and making it publicly available, would be a good start.”

Hey, we have been through all these arguments before, many times. I am not the one making the claim for the first time, I am merely the messenger bringing you the bad (or good) news. Jewish Hebrew scholars, whose native language was Hebrew and whose expertise is unquestionable and unimpeachable, have been commenting on the Hebrew Bible for centuries and millennia before King James’ “scholars” were running around in diapers learning English as their first language.

The great commentator Rashi, who lived some 900 years ago, makes it abundantly clear that the first verse does NOT state what the KJV says it does. This is all out there, it has been submitted time and again for centuries, it is very publicly available, all YOU need do is make the effort with an open mind to look.

Besides, I KNOW Hebrew and I KNOW how terrible the KJV and its successor translations are. They even contain entire phrases that are not in the text (such as “He made the stars also”). I cannot help it if YOU don’t know Hebrew. But YOU can help it. It just happens to be the language of the Bible and the others are all translations, some even translations of other translations.

And if you refuse to rectify the problem of your ignorance, you ought to stop pontificating about matters you know nothing about.

Comment #162114

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 22, 2007 12:16 AM (e)

Jewish Hebrew scholars, whose native language was Hebrew and whose expertise is unquestionable and unimpeachable,

like… Judah Landa?

Comment #162115

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 22, 2007 12:37 AM (e)

The great commentator Rashi, who lived some 900 years ago, makes it abundantly clear that the first verse does NOT state what the KJV says it does.

again, this is just an evasion on your part, Carol.

keep it up, you’re showing the newer lurkers exactly what your made of.

Comment #162164

Posted by Richard Simons on February 22, 2007 8:49 AM (e)

Well, why don’t we start with you telling us what the very first verse in the Hebrew Bible, correctly translated, states?

If you think it states “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”, think again!

What more need I say? The very first verse is incorrect!

But you’ve still not provided what you consider to be a correct translation!

In a later post you refer to what Rashi says, and say it is very publicly available. Not here, it aint. You need to give a link to where it is available on the web, or a proper bibliographic reference so I could get it on inter-library loan - the nearest library that might possibly carry something of that nature is a 5 hour drive away.

Comment #162168

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 22, 2007 10:00 AM (e)

Richard wrote:

“But you’ve still not provided what you consider to be a correct translation!In a later post you refer to what Rashi says, and say it is very publicly available. Not here, it aint.”

Well, Richard, Rashi’s commentary has itself been translated into English. So here is your assignment. Apply your googling skills and check out Rashi on the first verse. Then report back to us.

If this is not up your alley, let us know and I will convey to you the gist of Rashi’s analysis and conclusion. But hearing it from a secondary source will deny you the pleasure of reading Rashi in the original.

Comment #162169

Posted by Raging Bee on February 22, 2007 10:29 AM (e)

Carol: You still have not answered a very important practical question: What, exactly, is the point of treating an ancient Hebrew religious text as a repository of scientific knowledge, when we can’t prove it so without consulting modern scientific publications? As long as we have to read the modern scientific publications to verify the usefulness of the HEbrew texts as science, and as long as the modern stuff doesn’t have any of those cumbersome translation problems, then treating the Hebrew texts as science is nothing more than a waste of time that contributes nothing new to our current knowledge of science.

Do you really think an all-knowing God would expect his people to find a holy book useful as science-in-disguise? That seems like an awfully impractical use to make of any holy text.

Comment #162170

Posted by Glen Davidson on February 22, 2007 10:43 AM (e)

Jewish Hebrew scholars, whose native language was Hebrew and whose expertise is unquestionable and unimpeachable

There are no unquestionable and unimpeachable scholars. Only a crazed fundamentalist would make such a claim. Biblical Hebrew has many extant questions, so that it can’t even be used to conclusively date inscriptions (note the “Solomon tablet” controversy). Besides which, many of the scholars you refer to did not have Hebrew as their native language, rather as a dead scholarly language. For instance the commentator below would not have learned Hebrew as a native language:

The great commentator Rashi, who lived some 900 years ago, makes it abundantly clear that the first verse does NOT state what the KJV says it does. This is all out there, it has been submitted time and again for centuries, it is very publicly available, all YOU need do is make the effort with an open mind to look.

Why do you think commentaries exist, oh ignorant one? Everyone knows that translations don’t “say what the original does”, except apparently you. How thoroughly pedestrian of you to point out a general principle as if you have made some specific point.

Besides, I KNOW Hebrew and I KNOW how terrible the KJV and its successor translations are.

Yes, but how come you don’t know how bad your reading of the Hebrew is? Why, for instance, don’t you defer to real experts, instead of pretending to be some great expert yourself, you who know almost nothing about linguistics?

They even contain entire phrases that are not in the text (such as “He made the stars also”).

Why don’t you at least tell it right? The text does include something like “the stars”, while “He made” was added. Most KJV Bibles actually do italicize the added phrases, like “He made”, something that apparently has escaped your low level of scholarship (or you conveniently leave out these facts).

Here’s help for those who know nothing about the KJV:

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:7ODknu94X6YJ:www.scripturesforamerica.org/book%2520files/Solar%2520Finished%2520Book.pdf+%22the+stars+also%22+KJV+%22he+made%22+Hebrew+italicized&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=16&gl=us

See page 15, where the italicization of “He made” is discussed. The writer does point out that “also” is not in the Hebrew and makes some work of worrying about why that is. Well actually I think it’s because the KJV is a translation and “also” seems to render the meaning of the text into English, even if it isn’t explicitly written in the Hebrew. “He made,” by contrast, is another meaning that isn’t part of the original Hebrew denotation, and perhaps isn’t even implied. It’s a judgment call, of course, to decide which “additions” to italicize, so I suspect that “He made” appeared to be a great enough addition to italicize, while “also” presumably appeared to be more of a way to render the apparent meaning of the text into English in respectable literary form.

There aren’t really many truly egregious lapses by the KJV translators. Daniel 9 is probably one of the worst, though, where “MESSIAH” is typically highlighted in the KJV, as if it pointed toward Jesus, when in fact “Messiah” only means ‘anointed one”, almost certainly a high priest in that context. Some passages in Job receive a similar Xian gloss in emphasizing the resurrection as a ‘certainty’ and using “redeemer” (a common Xian phrase for Jesus) where something like “advocate” would be more appropriate. But largely the KJV is a competent translation (though scholarship has clearly progressed since then), whose italicization of clearly added phrases actually is more punctilious than exist in most later English translations.

See how it is. I don’t know Hebrew, but I have had religion classes that have informed me about these matters (the link was an afterthought, found and added as a good reference when I previewed this post). In fact it is easily more important to learn about linguistics and the difficulties of translation than it is to simply learn the ancient languages without knowing what’s going on with translations like the KJV, as Carol does.

I cannot help it if YOU don’t know Hebrew. But YOU can help it. It just happens to be the language of the Bible and the others are all translations, some even translations of other translations.

Why do you suppose the rabbis allowed the Bible to be translated, first into Greek? It’s because they knew more than you do, Carol, such as the fact that, however problematic all translations are, reasonable people are able to learn much from these translations. What is more, if one wishes to greater understanding, commentaries are available (and no, I would not automatically defer to Jewish authorities who had their own theological biases, rather I would hope to be able to hear from Jewish, Christian, and secular experts).

That said, Cyrus Gordon was probably right to point to the problems caused when Hebrew began to be left out of the curricula (no more entree into the various Semitic languages), while retaining Latin and Greek. Few enough learn even the latter languages now, however, so I fear that his point has little meaning outside of a relatively few scholars (he was complaining about sneering idiots who knew no Semitic languages, yet faulted some of his scholarly work relating to Semitic writings).

And if you refuse to rectify the problem of your ignorance, you ought to stop pontificating about matters you know nothing about.

I think that every time you come in here with yet another obtuse and poorly-informed diatribe. Why don’t you learn about the KJV for once instead of blithering on, despising what you don’t understand? This isn’t to suggest that your railing against that old translation has any traction, since most know that better translations exist now, yet your omissions (such as the fact that supplied phrases are marked as such in the KJV) indicate that your ignorance begins just that far back.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #162171

Posted by Glen Davidson on February 22, 2007 10:45 AM (e)

Jewish Hebrew scholars, whose native language was Hebrew and whose expertise is unquestionable and unimpeachable

There are no unquestionable and unimpeachable scholars. Only a crazed fundamentalist would make such a claim. Biblical Hebrew has many extant questions, so that it can’t even be used to conclusively date inscriptions (note the “Solomon tablet” controversy). Besides which, many of the scholars you refer to did not have Hebrew as their native language, rather as a dead scholarly language. For instance the commentator below would not have learned Hebrew as a native language:

The great commentator Rashi, who lived some 900 years ago, makes it abundantly clear that the first verse does NOT state what the KJV says it does. This is all out there, it has been submitted time and again for centuries, it is very publicly available, all YOU need do is make the effort with an open mind to look.

Why do you think commentaries exist, oh ignorant one? Everyone knows that translations don’t “say what the original does”, except apparently you. How thoroughly pedestrian of you to point out a general principle as if you have made some specific point.

Besides, I KNOW Hebrew and I KNOW how terrible the KJV and its successor translations are.

Yes, but how come you don’t know how bad your reading of the Hebrew is? Why, for instance, don’t you defer to real experts, instead of pretending to be some great expert yourself, you who know almost nothing about linguistics?

They even contain entire phrases that are not in the text (such as “He made the stars also”).

Why don’t you at least tell it right? The text does include something like “the stars”, while “He made” was added. Most KJV Bibles actually do italicize the added phrases, like “He made”, something that apparently has escaped your low level of scholarship (or you conveniently leave out these facts).

Here’s help for those who know nothing about the KJV:

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:7ODknu94X6YJ:www.scripturesforamerica.org/book%2520files/Solar%2520Finished%2520Book.pdf+%22the+stars+also%22+KJV+%22he+made%22+Hebrew+italicized&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=16&gl=us

See page 15, where the italicization of “He made” is discussed. The writer does point out that “also” is not in the Hebrew and makes some work of worrying about why that is. Well actually I think it’s because the KJV is a translation and “also” seems to render the meaning of the text into English, even if it isn’t explicitly written in the Hebrew. “He made,” by contrast, is another meaning that isn’t part of the original Hebrew denotation, and perhaps isn’t even implied. It’s a judgment call, of course, to decide which “additions” to italicize, so I suspect that “He made” appeared to be a great enough addition to italicize, while “also” presumably appeared to be more of a way to render the apparent meaning of the text into English in respectable literary form.

Comment #162172

Posted by Raging Bee on February 22, 2007 10:50 AM (e)

More questions for Carol. You wrote:

Jewish Hebrew scholars [including that Rashi guy you mention], whose native language was Hebrew and whose expertise is unquestionable and unimpeachable, have been commenting on the Hebrew Bible for centuries and millennia before King James’ “scholars” were running around in diapers learning English as their first language.

Did these Jewish scholars specifically state in their comments that their “correct” translation of their Bible contained significant scientific knowledge, as you and Landa allege? If so, was it the scientific knowledge of OUR time, or of THEIR time?

Can you quote an example of any of these scholars citing a bit of scientific knowledge from their Bible that contradicted the current understanding, but has since been proven true? (Like heliocentrism, for example.)

Comment #162180

Posted by Glen Davidson on February 22, 2007 11:30 AM (e)

Carol: You still have not answered a very important practical question: What, exactly, is the point of treating an ancient Hebrew religious text as a repository of scientific knowledge, when we can’t prove it so without consulting modern scientific publications? As long as we have to read the modern scientific publications to verify the usefulness of the HEbrew texts as science, and as long as the modern stuff doesn’t have any of those cumbersome translation problems, then treating the Hebrew texts as science is nothing more than a waste of time that contributes nothing new to our current knowledge of science.

Do you really think an all-knowing God would expect his people to find a holy book useful as science-in-disguise? That seems like an awfully impractical use to make of any holy text.

To be fair, if one could look back at a text and show that it comports with modern science that would be interesting. However, it’s odd that nobody actually inferred from the Hebrew text that, say, evolution might be the way that life began, and most Western opposition to evolution came from the Bible.

Carol’s apologetics unfortunately disagrees with most scholars, Jews, Xians, and secularists. As in, we’re supposed to believe a physicist who learned Hebrew, and not good solid, say, Jewish scholars who disagree with her.

Something’s not quite right with that.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #162182

Posted by MarkP on February 22, 2007 11:55 AM (e)

Carol said:

And if you refuse to rectify the problem of your ignorance, you ought to stop pontificating about matters you know nothing about.

I know quite a bit about cranks, and their similarities of M.O. make them very easy to spot. Cherry picking dated authorities and proclaiming them unquestionable is a big one. So is refusing to make arguments on their own and insisting everyone go read whatever obscure references they can yank out of their posterior. And of course one must have the arrogance of one who speaks from the position of knowing The Truth ™.

The details really aren’t important once these traits are spotted. They are the fingerprints of intellectual dishonesty. Accomplished scholars and scientists simply don’t talk like that.

Comment #162189

Posted by Richard Simons on February 22, 2007 1:32 PM (e)

I’ve had a quick Google on Rashi with “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” and from what I can gather looking at the first few pages that cropped up the opening line is ungrammatical Hebrew, which is why the interpretation of it is disputed.

Rashi said it would be better to understand it as “In the beginning of God’s creating of heaven and earth”. However, it seems clear that this was his interpretation of what was intended, not what was actually written, as others disagreed with him.

Carol: it is basic courtesy when you make sweeping statements that are contrary to general opinion to give people a clear idea of where they can find your supporting evidence, not to condescendingly say things like “I cannot help it if YOU don’t know Hebrew. But YOU can help it.” and “So here is your assignment. Apply your googling skills …”

And you have still not identified any verses in the ‘correct’ translation which agree with modern science where other translations do not. There is no way I am going to try to track down Rashi’s translation (did he make one - I did not see any reference to it in the pages I googled. What language was it into?) and scour the whole thing with my KJV in the other hand trying to find the passages you have in mind. Apart from anything else, I don’t believe they exist.

Comment #162190

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 22, 2007 2:09 PM (e)

Richard,

Let me help you out a bit there with that commentary by Rashi. And by the way, the overwhelming majority of ancient scholars agree with Rashi’s analysis. The meaning of the first verse is to say, “In the beginning of God’s creation of the heaven and the earth.”

That additional word “of” changes the entire meaning of that verse and the following verses. Instead of a declarative sentence telling us that first God created heaven and earth, we have an introductory comment which continues with the next verse. The phrase “heaven and earth” is therefore a euphimism for “all that exists” and the intent is to set the stage and the background behind the first creation-event, that of light.

Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of Hebrew knows that that is the simplest, plainest and most likely meaning, by far, of the first Hebrew verse. That King James’ translators went astray from this interpretation is testimony to their sloppiness and ignorance.

The other verse I cited in passing above, is another example. It is not a question of whether “He made the stars also” is in italics or not, that is entirely irrelevent. The point is IT IS WRONG. That is not what the Hebrew verse means to say. Instead, the meaning is, “…and the smaller light to rule over the night and the stars”. There is no creation of stars discussed here at all.

Did you ever hear of a death of a thousand cuts? By mangling the interpretation of every second verse in so many ways, each of seemingly small significance, the whole story is altered beyond recognition.

Comment #162196

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 22, 2007 3:29 PM (e)

Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of Hebrew knows that that is the simplest, plainest and most likely meaning, by far, of the first Hebrew verse.

I don’t want to misrepresent you, but it seems that here you’re admitting that even the most straightforward sentence admits multiple meanings, even in Hebrew. In which case a definitive interpretation seems preposterous.

Comment #162197

Posted by Raging Bee on February 22, 2007 3:33 PM (e)

Carol worte:

Instead of a declarative sentence telling us that first God created heaven and earth, we have an introductory comment which continues with the next verse. The phrase “heaven and earth” is therefore a euphimism for “all that exists” and the intent is to set the stage and the background behind the first creation-event, that of light.

The difference between these two translations/interpretations is laughably inconsequential – either way, God created the Universe. I find it unbearably sad to think you spent a significant amount of time quibbling over such trivial “differences” of interpretation.

This example does absolutely nothing to advance or prove your thesis that scientific truth can be found in a “literal” reading of the original Hebrew text.

Comment #162206

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 22, 2007 4:06 PM (e)

GuyeFaux wrote:

“I don’t want to misrepresent you, but it seems that here you’re admitting that even the most straightforward sentence admits multiple meanings, even in Hebrew. In which case a definitive interpretation seems preposterous.”

No doubt there are certain Hebrew words, probably more so than in some other major languages, with multiple definitions. That is not the case in this verse (Genesis 1:1) but when it does occur we are compelled to look at other literary devices such as context, purpose and even tradition. This is why Jews are commanded by the Bible, which was written by and for them, not just to study the Torah but to toil in it. And toil and sweat is what is called for. The books of commentary on the Hebrew Bible can easily fill huge libraries. The Talmud itself consists of 60 volumes.

Raging Bee,

I don’t want to be discourtious to you by continuing to ignore you, but your comments don’t leave me much of a choice. They are entirely irrelevent to this discussion and totally misrepresent my views. I never remotely argued that the Bible is to be used as a source of scientific information. And, of course, the Bible states that God created the universe. The Bible has its own agenda which does not incorporate disseminating scientific data nor does it include the goal of becoming a best seller nor does it care whether you are pleased with its style or substance.

The only issue I address is the question of whether science does or does not necessarily contradict anything stated in the Bible. My answer to that is, no. I suspect that displeases some folks here, you included, but that is just too bad.

Comment #162209

Posted by Raging Bee on February 22, 2007 4:25 PM (e)

The only issue I address is the question of whether science does or does not necessarily contradict anything stated in the Bible. My answer to that is, no.

And the evidence you provide to support your answer is, nil.

If you want to convince us that nothing in the Bible contradicts science, then you need to take a passage that is currently believed to contradict science, show us how it has been misinterpreted or mistranslated, then provide an alternate translation/interpretation that does not contradict science. The examples you have provided, true though they may be, do not support your thesis.

Of course, we sensible theists, Christian and non-Christian alike, have this issue easily covered already: we simply understand that a) the Bible is not a literal document, and most of its relevance is lost in a literalistic reading; and b) the Bible is not supposed to say anything about science at all, it’s primary subject is Man’s relationship to God.

Comment #162211

Posted by Raging Bee on February 22, 2007 4:27 PM (e)

The Bible has its own agenda which does not incorporate disseminating scientific data nor does it include the goal of becoming a best seller…

Nor, apparently, does it include offering any examples to back up your claims about it. On that, at least, we can agree.

Comment #162213

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 22, 2007 4:36 PM (e)

Richard,

Since I have this nagging feeling that my previous post will seem somewhat incomplete to you, let me elaborate just a little more here. Please keep in mind that this is not the place for a line-by-line analysis of, say, the first eleven chapters in Genesis. That would require an entire book (and I can recommend some to you).

A careful reading and accurate translation of the story of creation in Hebrew reveals the following divergences from commonly assumed misconceptions.

(1) The Bible speaks of seven eras not in chronological order, instead of seven days in chronological order. (One era, a second era, and so on, instead of the first day, the second day, and so on)

(2) There is no discussion of the first human in Genesis. The Hebrew ADAM (as opposed to the English name Adam) that appears many times refers to “the human” as a species, not the name of an individual. To the extent that an individual is described by the Hebrew name Adam, it is not AT ALL referred to as the first homo sapien.

(3) The first era refers to the period of time soon after the big bang when there was a “explosion” in the number of (light emitting) stars in our universe. As you may know the number of new stars appearing per time declined sharply after that initial record-setting pace that occured over the course of a relatively brief amount of time.

(4) I am not going into all the eras here, but suffice it to say that they each describe a process of development that took some time and that the Bible states was orchestrated by God.

(5) A literal reading is entirely consistent with science in every detail and no Hebrew scholar has ever argued that this interpretation is faulty or erronous. Nor can such an argument be made, as anyone with some knowledge of Hebrew will readily realize.

Comment #162214

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 22, 2007 4:40 PM (e)

Raging Bee wrote,

“If you want to convince us that nothing in the Bible contradicts science, then you need to take a passage that is currently believed to contradict science, show us how it has been misinterpreted or mistranslated, then provide an alternate translation/interpretation that does not contradict science. The examples you have provided, true though they may be, do not support your thesis.”

Go ahead, you pick one. Take your best shot!

Comment #162217

Posted by Raging Bee on February 22, 2007 4:46 PM (e)

Carol: your first four out of five points are, at least to my non-Hebrew-speaking mind, plausible, sensible, and a perfectly appropriate interpretation for a modern person in the modern era. They are not, however, in any way “literal.” Point #2, in particular, refers to Adam as “the human” in general, not a specific individual; but the Bible speaks of his actions as those of an individual. Therefore, while the stories may not be contradictory to science, they are also not “literal,” and anyone who says they are is being rather dishonest in his/her use of that word.

Comment #162226

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 22, 2007 6:07 PM (e)

And toil and sweat is what is called for. The books of commentary on the Hebrew Bible can easily fill huge libraries.

I agree with Bee here. Sounds like reasonable, smart people have all come to various reasonable interpretations of the Hebrew Bible which are consistent with modern science, in particular with respect to humanity’s biological origins.

But this has nothing to do with a literal reading of Genesis, i.e. your point 5) is in serious question. Seems to me that only a liberal, allegorical interpretation, informed by modern science and history can make the Hebrew Bible consistent with reality. This is not a bad thing, but it makes the Bible all but useless as a predictive source for science.

Now, if you on the other hand claim that there is really only one correct interpretation of the Hebrew Bible (which, I think, is why you keep coming back to the importance of knowing Hebrew), then you’ve contradicted your previous statement that Hebrew is an ambiguous language. It is also contradicted by the evidence that there are literally libraries full of conflicting Biblical interpretations, all written by well-informed Jewish scholars.

Comment #162229

Posted by carol clouser on February 22, 2007 6:31 PM (e)

Raging Bee,

Sorry, but you are wrong. The Hebrew word ADAM is used hundreds of times throughout the Bible, in all manner of contexts, and over 99% of the time it refers to the species. This is not only one of the literal definitions of ADAM, it is the main definition, since a name does not constitute a definition.

Yes, in Genesis the text does refer here and there to an individual by that name. And according to the story, there indeed was such an individual. But the Bible does not claim that he is the first homo sapien. Quite the contrary. It gives EVERY INDICATION that very many folks were around at the time. His grandson builds a city (not a town, not a village, but a city!) and his son is seriously concerned that “all who find me shall kill me”. Who is “all”? His parents? Who else is around?

This interpretation is not allegorical, metaphorical, comical, sarcastical or anything other than literal. The text in Genesis gives every indication of being straighforward narrative. To eviscerate it of its intended meaning is a dishonest dodge of the bullet labeled science. I cannot buy into that.

Comment #162230

Posted by carol clouser on February 22, 2007 6:37 PM (e)

GuyeFaux,

I didn’t say Hebrew was “ambiguous” nor did I say the library is filled with “conflicting” interpretations. Please don’t put words into my mouth. I try to be careful about my choice of words for a reason.

Comment #162235

Posted by Glen Davidson on February 22, 2007 7:09 PM (e)

The other verse I cited in passing above, is another example. It is not a question of whether “He made the stars also” is in italics or not, that is entirely irrelevent. The point is IT IS WRONG. That is not what the Hebrew verse means to say. Instead, the meaning is, “…and the smaller light to rule over the night and the stars”. There is no creation of stars discussed here at all.

Blah blah blah, your real point you have your evidence-free belief about the “right interpretation”, and you demand that everyone else accept it. It’s substantially different with the KJV translators, who italicized their interpretation instead of insisting that it was the only one possible. So between the two, the integrity of the KJV translators shines, in comparison with Carol’s lack of consideration of the other possible meanings.

Did you ever hear of a death of a thousand cuts? By mangling the interpretation of every second verse in so many ways, each of seemingly small significance, the whole story is altered beyond recognition.

So you’ve exposed your plan to keep obfuscating everything and to insist that your mindless “interpretation” is the correct one, and, as typical, without any evidence whatsoever.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/35s39o

Comment #162249

Posted by Richard Simons on February 22, 2007 7:47 PM (e)

The Bible speaks of seven eras not in chronological order

Why would anyone be so contrary as to write them down in a non-chronological order?

I’m still waiting for you to compare a few verses in your favorite translation with the more common ones, to show that the ‘true’ version does not conflict with science. You suggest that Raging Bee selects a passage - in your version, does a snake persuade Eve to eat a fruit (Genesis 3:1-5)?

Actually, what particularly interested me when I did the Google you suggested was to find that the holy writings, transmitted direct from an omniscient God, have a grammatical error in the first sentence. Kind of reduces your confidence in the rest, doesn’t it?

Comment #162264

Posted by carol clouser on February 22, 2007 8:51 PM (e)

Richard,

Good questions. Let us go through them point by point.

(1) The entire Bible is structured non-chronologically. It is even a Talmudic rule of Bible analysis (EIN MUKDAM UMI-UCHAR BATORAH). The sages explain, and demonstrate, that this is not a measure of disorder in the Bible but one of order dictated by considerations other than the chronological. The normal rules of book writing just do not apply to a divinely inspired document.

In the case of Genesis, the Bible actually signals that the seven eras are not intended to be chronological. It does not say, “the first era”, “the second era”, and so on, but “one era”, “a second era”, meaning second in presentation, not in occurrence, and so on. The Bible is counting the eras as it is presenting them, not as they occur ed. They are not only not chronological, they even overlap in occurrence.

(2) I don’t know why you are still waiting. Doesn’t the era/day issue and the Adam/human issue, just for starters, resonate with you? If you want more, you will need to read up on the matter. I am not retired yet and life must go on.

(3) No. The Hebrew VI-HANACHASH refers to “the cunning one”, an evil person in the garden who was jealous of the prominence of Adam and Eve and sought their downfall. The Bible chooses this term for “cunning one” over other possibilities as a play on words according to the principle of AL SHAIM HA-ATID, on the basis of the future, which was that this cunning person lost the ability to walk upright and became serpent-like. This too is a Talmudic rule employed widely in Bible study.

(4) You misunderstand. First, the alternatives to Rashi’s translation suffer from a far greater defect - they don’t fit the widely employed meaning of BERAISHIT in the Bible, as Rashi demonstrates. Second, Rashi’s translation renders the pronunciation of the next word somewhat problematic. It would be more appropriate that it be pronounced BIROH instead of BARA. Third, for thousands of years the Hebrew Bible was transmitted exclusively in the form of handwritten scrolls (like today’s Torah scrolls) that contained no symbols under the letters to indicate proper pronunciation. (There are no vowels in Hebrew.) This was left to the oral tradition. The present BARA in Genesis 1:1 is indicated by the dots and dashes under the letters in printed books only and they were inserted much later (only about 600 years ago) to help the uneducated reader. They don’t have the authority that the text itself has and Rashi was not perturbed by the slight anomaly BARA posed. To say there is a “grammatical error” is quite misleading.

Comment #162266

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 22, 2007 9:03 PM (e)

The normal rules of book writing just do not apply to a divinely inspired document.

..and there we have Carol’s basis for claiming non-contradiction between “correctly translated” myths and reality.

the rules just don’t apply.

whee!

Oh, Carol, are you done “educating” Richard yet?

Are you ready to revisit those nasty hyenas and the poor zebras again?

Comment #162273

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 22, 2007 9:51 PM (e)

I didn’t say Hebrew was “ambiguous” nor did I say the library is filled with “conflicting” interpretations. Please don’t put words into my mouth. I try to be careful about my choice of words for a reason.

Then you don’t have a good grasp of how human languages work. C.f. for instance what you said:

No doubt there are certain Hebrew words, probably more so than in some other major languages, with multiple definitions.

Re libraries filled with conflicting interpretations, I wasn’t trying to put word in your mouth. But would you really state that there are not libraries which could be filled with conflicting interpretations?

Comment #162345

Posted by Raging Bee on February 23, 2007 9:16 AM (e)

…The normal rules of book writing just do not apply to a divinely inspired document.

Which is why insisting that there is only one-count-it-one “literal” meaning to a Bible story is an extremely dumb idea. While sensible theists – and even many agnostics and atheists – are finding all kinds of helpful spiritual truth in the allegories and metaphors in the Bible, you’re on a totally pointless quest to make the Bible “scientific,” and contributing absolutely nothing to anyone’s spiritual betterment, which is what the Bible and other holy texts are all about.

Comment #162352

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 23, 2007 9:56 AM (e)

Raging Bee,

You cannot claim divine inspiration and have conflicts with the evidence (that is, science) at the same time. Of course the Hebrew Bible is meant to be understood on a variety of levels. That’s what all those volumes of commentary filling up huge libraries are all about. But the simple meaning of the words is one of those levels and it must be truthful, consistent and error free.

Our sages have identified four levels of understanding of the Bible. (1)PISHAT - the simple meaning of the words, even a child should be able to wrap his mind around it, (2) REMEZ - literally “hints”, allegories, metaphors, parables, messages between the lines, (3) DIRUSH - derived learning via homily, textual analysis and exegesis, and (4) SOHD - hidden secrets that must be dug up with effort, not readily available to all.

So you don’t need to persuade me about the non-literal aspects of the Bible. Studying the Torah in its myriad ways is one of the great joys of my life, on a par with doing physics. But the simple meaning of the words, the PISHAT, still must not be contradicted by the facts if you are to claim divine inspiration.

Comment #162359

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 23, 2007 10:54 AM (e)

Our sages have identified four levels of understanding of the Bible. (1)PISHAT - the simple meaning of the words, even a child should be able to wrap his mind around it, (2) REMEZ - literally “hints”, allegories, metaphors, parables, messages between the lines, (3) DIRUSH - derived learning via homily, textual analysis and exegesis, and (4) SOHD - hidden secrets that must be dug up with effort, not readily available to all.

This is a very nice breakdown; PISHAT, as you define, is the only literal level; also, by definition, it is accessible to everyone. Which means that your literal interpretation is as useful as a child’s, or about as useful as any semi-competent English translation. So I see no reason why you should knock our literal reading of the Bible, gotten from reasonable translations.

(And how is this not proof of the ambiguity of the Bible? Multiple, significant levels of interpretation are simply not plausible in an unambiguous document.

Comment #162370

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 23, 2007 11:52 AM (e)

Posted by carol clouser on February 22, 2007 8:51 PM (e)

(3) No. The Hebrew VI-HANACHASH refers to “the cunning one”, an evil person in the garden who was jealous of the prominence of Adam and Eve and sought their downfall. The Bible chooses this term for “cunning one” over other possibilities as a play on words according to the principle of AL SHAIM HA-ATID, on the basis of the future, which was that this cunning person lost the ability to walk upright and became serpent-like. This too is a Talmudic rule employed widely in Bible study.

Well this is where the Bible confuses me.
If God is omniscient/omnipotent and omnibenevolent AND God made everything, where did this “cunning one” come from?
It is a logical absurdity that God is all-powerful and all-knowing and disappointed by man’s actions.

Comment #162375

Posted by Raging Bee on February 23, 2007 12:45 PM (e)

Our sages have identified four levels of understanding of the Bible. (1)PISHAT - the simple meaning of the words, even a child should be able to wrap his mind around it, (2) REMEZ - literally “hints”, allegories, metaphors, parables, messages between the lines, (3) DIRUSH - derived learning via homily, textual analysis and exegesis, and (4) SOHD - hidden secrets that must be dug up with effort, not readily available to all.

And understanding the Bible on any of these levels does NOT demand re-wording it to avoid contradicting science. Because, as I have repeatedly said and you have repeatedly ignored, that’s not what the Bible is about. If, for example, the Bible mentions “the ends of the Earth,” then it’s spiritual truth, or lack thereof, is entierly independent of the fact that the Earth does not have “ends.”

If I made a metaphorical statement, about a non-scientific subject, such as “We must hunt terrorists to the ends of the Earth,” and you insisted on re-wording it to avoid conflict with known literal science, I would point out that you were changing the subject and refusing to address the point I was trying to make. This is what you are doing with regard to the Bible.

Comment #162376

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 23, 2007 1:19 PM (e)

Stephen Elliott wrote:

“Well this is where the Bible confuses me. If God is omniscient/omnipotent and omnibenevolent AND God made everything, where did this “cunning one” come from?
It is a logical absurdity that God is all-powerful and all-knowing and disappointed by man’s actions.”

Hello Stephen, it has been awhile since I last saw you here.

You are created in God’s image, meaning you are free to do good or evil, as you please. You can even easily convince yourself that there is no God. As the great Psalmist says, “and you have made him (humans) a little lower than God.” This is the way God wants it and all are free to take advantage of it. This also allows for the “cunning one” as well as Stalin or Hitler.

Comment #162380

Posted by David B. Benson on February 23, 2007 1:31 PM (e)

This is one of the most entertaining threads on PT!

Go at it!

Keep me laughing, Carol C.!

Comment #162387

Posted by Stephen Elliott on February 23, 2007 2:47 PM (e)

Hello again Carol,
I haven’t posted here for some time now.
It was your behaviour that prompted me to do so.

You are being very unfair. You are stating things such as “your interpretation is wrong” while not stating your position at all.
Why should anyone take the time to learn Hebrew to interpret the bible against an unstated opinion?

You would then be free to state “that is the wrong interpretation” or “that is not what I meant”.

Not very nice behaviour Carol.

Regards,
Steve E

Comment #162395

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 23, 2007 3:19 PM (e)

Stephen wrote:

“It was your behaviour that prompted me to do so. You are being very unfair. You are stating things such as “your interpretation is wrong” while not stating your position at all.”

I am sorry you feel that way. I always thought you were one of the nicer folks around here. I thought I have repeatedly stated my position on many subjects in great detail. I certainly am not consciously holding anything back. Indeed I have engaged in extensive debates while being invited to go elsewhere. Surely you must have noticed that.

Where would you like further elaboration?

Comment #162403

Posted by J. Biggs on February 23, 2007 3:54 PM (e)

I hate to interrupt, but did anyone else notice that on the fixed earth page that states “Evolutionism is a religious doctrine.” they site 24 sources to support their arguments and almost half of them come from their own website.

http://www.fixedearth.com/Evol.is%20Religious%20Doctrine.htm

They are obviously the foremost authority on the subject since they call on their own literature to support their own arguments. How moronic.

Comment #162414

Posted by Sir_Toejam on February 23, 2007 5:11 PM (e)

It’s not like we haven’t had this “discussion” with the Clouserbot dozens of times over the last couple of years.

one wonders at what point folks here will finally conclude that it’s just as pointless as “debating” AFDave over in the ATBC area.

In fact, those that have should at least be seeing the similarities.

OTOH, it doesn’t stop folks from using Davey as a whipping boy, either.

*shrug*

Comment #162417

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 23, 2007 5:37 PM (e)

Carol, now I really want to know something about the so called PISHAT level of understanding, based on things you’ve said:
1) It is the only literal level at which the Bible can be understood, and
2) It’s accessible by anyone, including any child who knows Hebrew.
Then why do you insist that other people’s literal interpretations are wrong, if they were based on a semi-competent English translation?

This seems to me to obviously contradict pretty much everything you’ve said about a literal reading of the Hebrew Bible. Or, at least, should show that your interpretation at this level is no better than mine, even though I have to rely on a translation.

Comment #162873

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 26, 2007 12:56 AM (e)

GuyeFaux wrote:

“Then why do you insist that other people’s literal interpretations are wrong, if they were based on a semi-competent English translation?”

I really don’t know what you are talking about. Look, Hebrew is a language with words that have meaning and rules that dictate how words are put together into sentences. Yes, some words have multiple meanings, as do words in other languages. So there are correct and incorrect translations. It is as simple as that. Yes cannot mean no. BERAISHIT means “In the beginning of”, not “in the beginning”. VI-ET HA-KOCHAVIM means “and the stars”, not “He made the stars also”. And so on and on and on. The KJV contains some 200 poor and wrong translations in the first eleven chapters of Genesis alone (the story of creation).

Comment #163120

Posted by David B. Benson on February 27, 2007 12:46 PM (e)

Carol C. — And got it completely wrong regarding Jonah and the Whale? Ha!

Comment #163127

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 27, 2007 1:24 PM (e)

The KJV contains some 200 poor and wrong translations in the first eleven chapters of Genesis alone (the story of creation).

I understand your point about the KJV. I’m not talking about the KJV.

I’m merely pointing out that, in a semi-competent translation (or Hebrew), it’s strongly indicated (certainly to a child’s understanding) that the world was literally created in 7 days. And, since there are no other literal levels of understanding, you cannot argue that your literal interpretation (which doesn’t claim that the world was created in 7 days) is somehow better.

Comment #163153

Posted by David B. Benson on February 27, 2007 3:35 PM (e)

Carol C. — Jonah and the Whale?

Comment #163155

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 27, 2007 3:54 PM (e)

GuyeFaux wrote:

“I’m merely pointing out that, in a semi-competent translation (or Hebrew), it’s strongly indicated (certainly to a child’s understanding) that the world was literally created in 7 days. And, since there are no other literal levels of understanding, you cannot argue that your literal interpretation (which doesn’t claim that the world was created in 7 days) is somehow better.”

Well, the word YOHM is one of those Hebrew words with multiple meanings, all of them literal. They are all standard definitions of the word YOHM, so appear in any quality dictionary of ancient Hebrew, and are so employed all over the Hebrew Bible. (The three are - period of daylight, period of 24 hours, and era.) The question therefore is which of the three was the intent of the author assuming he was devinely inspired. Considering that in two other verses in very close proximity to the beginning of Genesis and within the context of the story of creation the word YOHM is used in the sense of era (at least that is certainly the far more likely intended meaning), I conclude that the era interpretation in the beginning of Genesis is just as likely, if not more so, as the 24 hour interpretation.

Comment #163156

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 27, 2007 3:57 PM (e)

David,

What about Jonah and the Whale?

Comment #163157

Posted by Carol Clouser on February 27, 2007 3:58 PM (e)

David,

What about Jonah and the Whale?

Comment #163175

Posted by GuyeFaux on February 27, 2007 5:32 PM (e)

Well, the word YOHM is one of those Hebrew words with multiple meanings, all of them literal. They are all standard definitions of the word YOHM, so appear in any quality dictionary of ancient Hebrew, and are so employed all over the Hebrew Bible. (The three are - period of daylight, period of 24 hours, and era.)

Upon your urging, I re-read an English translation of Genesis, with Rashi’s comments. There’s naught in there about eras, but a whole lot of

There was evening and there was morning, a second day.

Remember, PISHAT should mean the same thing to a child as it does to you and me. So your scholarly wisdom about context is irrelevant when it comes to a literal interpretation. Rashi seems to agree.

Comment #163269

Posted by David B. Benson on February 28, 2007 1:09 PM (e)

Carol C. — You are claiming that the bible never contradicts physical reality, it is just poor translations that make it seem so.

So, how about Jonah and the Whale?

Comment #163296

Posted by carol clouser on February 28, 2007 4:54 PM (e)

David,

I still don’t know why you latched on to Jonah, when there are plenty of “unreal” events in the main body of the Bible (the Pentateuch). And I never claimed that the Bible does not contain stories of miracles. It certainly does, although Jonah is likely not one of them (there is evidence that Jonal is a parable written by one of the later preachers).

What I claim, and I don’t see why folks here have a hard time getting this straight, is that modern science does not necessarily contradict the Bible. Miracles are not precluded by science, science makes no comment on them nor is it within its perview to make such comments. But evolution does contradict the proposition that the first homo sapien appeared intact a few thousand years ago. Do you see the difference?