Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – A Pew Research Study “Half of Americans say Bible should influence U.S. laws, including 28% who favor it over the will of the people”

The Pew Research Center has a new study out about religion: “Half of Americans say Bible should influence U.S. laws, including 28% who favor it over the will of the people

“The U.S. Constitution does not mention the Bible, God, Jesus or Christianity, and the First Amendment clarifies that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Still, some scholars have argued that the Bible heavily influenced America’s founders.

Today, about half of Americans (49%) say the Bible should have at least “some” influence on U.S. laws, including nearly a quarter (23%) who say it should have “a great deal” of influence, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Among U.S. Christians, two-thirds (68%) want the Bible to influence U.S. laws at least some, and among white evangelical Protestants, this figure rises to about nine-in-ten (89%).”

As you see above, it’s pretty much what is expected.  Conservative Christians make false claims and then believe them. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – A Pew Research Study “Half of Americans say Bible should influence U.S. laws, including 28% who favor it over the will of the people””

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Exodus redux

yes, there are indeed cruxifix chocolate molds and plague finger puppets. Yay, dead people! Yeesh.

Lest anyone think that I have only issues with Christianity, here is the link to the first part of my Exodus series.  I look at the strange story of the exodus in the bible.

Passover is based on the idea of putting blood on doorways to avoid being killed by the angel of a supposedly omnipotent and omniscient being.  It needs blood to figure this out.  It is also based on the idea that it is moral and okay for this god to murder people who had no choice in the matter, over the actions of their god-king, which was forced into the issue by this god.

Here are also a couple of good blog articles by my friend John:

and one of my favorite posts of my own, just how many quail showed up:


Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – 960,000 tons of what?

sabbathI’ve been crossing swords with a particularly tenacious Christian, “scientific christian” (you already know where things are going with that screen name) and the discussion has gone far and wide, though mostly staying around the idea of having evidence supports one’s claims. My apologies for anyone who commented in that thread and has thus been caught in the post storm. WordPress really needs to work on allowing people to disengage from comment threads.

Thanks to SC, I’ve discovered some pretty amusing claims in the bible (and that some Christians are unrepentant liars but I already knew that). SC is quite sure that the “exodus” happened and there was an “empty tomb” amongst other things. He’s also just as sure that the bible is wrong when it claims that there was hundreds of thousands of Israelites coming out of Egypt after the supposed exodus. He’s a great example of a Christian cherry-picking things when reality shows that their claims aren’t true. Suddenly, the bible and its multitude of supposedly deity-inspired translators are wrong, and obscure websites are correct when they claim only a few thousands left, because, you see, there is no evidence for 600,000 men plus the women, children and animals.

But to the fun stuff!

In the story of the exodus related in Numbers, we have the following: Numbers 11 “Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.” (this story is also in Exodus 16. FYI, this is from the NASB bible)

So we have an area of approximately 706 square miles (15 miles is about what a person can walk in a day) covered 6 feet deep in quail. And per the bible, every man gathered a little shy of 2 tons of the quail. This would be, if my calculations are correct, 960,000 tons of quail.

And this isn’t the all the quail. That was just what was collected. As a cubic footage, we have approximately 1.180811 cubic feet of quail, or 118,080,000,000 cubic feet of quail. If one assumes the average quail as 9” x 5” x 5” this means that there are 15,350,400,000 individual quails and if each weighs about 6 oz (large for quail but we can afford to give a bit), we get about 2,878,200 tons of quail. Even if one assumes that the quails weren’t even, and assume 3 feet deep, we still get 1,439,100 tons of quail.

The middens would be full of quail bones and human poo, amongst other things.

Now on to the poo!

In Exodus, the Israelites are told to bury their feces because their god might notice in them, Deuteronomy 23: “12 “You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13 and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. 14 Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.” Doesn’t speak very well for its omniscience, eh?

Humans poop about 125 grams a day. With 600,000 men, we get 37 tons of poo a day and that isn’t even counting the women, children and animals, grass eaters that poop a *lot*.

The “exodus” should have quite a bit of evidence for it, 40 years worth of garbage. It has none and Christians like SC, are reduced to claiming that just a few thousand left Egypt, while simultaneously stuck with the claims of the rest of the OT where Israel could field armies in the hundreds of thousands.

(admittedly, I suck at math. Feel free to check my calculations and correct me.)

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Big miracles, little evidence and the beginning of the kvetching, part 3

dr evilWe find ourselves at the end of Chapter 13, which is where this god isn’t going to send his people on the easy road, because “For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” We’re not sure who this god said this to. It doesn’t seem to be Moses. Now, since this god can change minds contantly, why not with these fussy little bastards? And where is the god that takes a personal hand in warfare in this bible? Oh yes, he hasn’t been made up yet. So, we have the arrangements made to send the Israelites into the sea.

At this point, Moses somehow has the bones of Joseph. This goes back to the rather odd story in Genesis (Genesis 49-50) where Jacob is supposedly mummified by the Egyptians and buried by Joseph, who has enjoyed living in Egypt for quite a long while. Joseph was supposedly mummified too. They are following a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. No one else notices this rather obvious event. I have seen some interesting claims that they were “following” a comet, but that fails like following “yonder star”.

We get one more claim that this god is mind controlling the pharaoh. It wants to destroy all of pharaoh’s army, which belies the claim of one Christian I debated, who was sure that not all of the army was supposedly destroyed when I mentioned it was rather strange that none of Egypt’s enemies took advantage of Egypt’s supposed weakness.

We even get names of locations where all of this is supposed to have occurred. And not one scrap of evidence of this at all. In this chapter, Y says to have the Israelites encamp. Then a few paragraphs later, Y is wondering why they are encamped. The sea is parted, at night, which seems to be ignored for good cinematography in most versions of the story. It requires an east wind which should be one of those instances where evidence can be found for these events. But there is none. The way this is described, it sounds most like that there was a blast of air coming from the east and somehow it blows a trough through the water.

The events of what happens here are curious. The water is driven back and the Egyptians follow. Then it seems that the Egyptians camp in the area that was once under water, since this god disrupts the last watch of what must be the camp. This god also either jams or removes the wheels of the chariots. This would indeed make it difficult to drive the chariots. The Egyptians decide to leave, but at daybreak the waters return. So, it’s not anything like the version everyone is taught in Sunday School or what Christians like Ron Wyatt who has claimed that he has found evidence for this nonsense and of course, when asked for it, can’t provide one scrap.  So we have the entire Egyptian army destroyed and no one notices, not even Egypt’s enemies who would have taken advantage of this.   But that’s not a problem since the entire story is made up.

All of these miracles and the Israelites go off into the wilderness. This is supposedly the Sinai peninsula, a fairly small piece of land for 600,000 to about 2.5 million people to wander around on for 4 decades and have no one notice them or them to have left any artifacts, latrines, etc. It’s about half the size of Pennsylvania, my home state.   People have been looking for centuries and nada.

Moses and his sister sing a song that is shown to be wrong about as soon as they supposedly set foot on anyone else’s land. No other group is afraid as they claim.

All of these people wander around for three days and find no water. They find some bitter water (I’d guess this might be a claim of alkali water as are found in many deserts) and we get a miracle to make it not bitter. Then everyone finds an oasis with twelve springs and 70 palm trees. For hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people and animals for a month and a half.  Uh-huh.

The Israelites then start complaining that they have no food. For a bunch of people who supposedly see miracles frequently, they do get techy. They do show that it wasn’t quite so bad as claimed in Egypt, with being to eat meat and as much as they wanted.

The manna and quail given. The manna rots and smells if it’s kept too long. Y can’t make manna or quails on the Sabbath. Some manna is saved so people can see it in generations to come and is put with the tablets of covenant law which haven’t appeared yet in the ark of the covenant which hasn’t appeared yet. The Israelites eat manna and quails for 40 years. No wonder they were cranky. 🙂

At the end of chapter 17, they finally make it to Horeb, where the Israelites have no water again. You’d think that this god might consider making sure they have water. Now, here is an interesting bit because it says that the Israelites were testing their god and it responded positively. This does not bode well for those believers who claim that one cannot test this god.

The Israelites finally meet some people, the Amalekites. Moses has to keep his hands in the air to make sure the Israelites win the battle. It seems that the whole idea is cheated on when two guys hold Moses’ hands up for him. Y claims that he will blot the name of Amalek from under heaven.   Which is why we can read about it today??   Sigh.

Jethro, Moses’ father in law, comes to see him at Horeb. And it sounds like that he, and the elders sat down to eat with Y, or at least in his “presence”.   We also get the beginnings of a justice system that doesn’t require only divine decisions but where humans can make some.

The last installments of this series will be the events at Mount Sinai, and the narrative in amongst the laws. I’ll not bother with commandments here, since those have been reviewed for their strangeness in other places (here for one). Deuteronomy and Leviticus have the really strange bits.

“Let my people go…. For a long weekend! – Part 1

“abracapocus” and lots of collateral damage, the peculiar story of exodus part 2

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – the kvetching continues, and “you want these in the courthouse?” part 4

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – “Abracapocus!” plus lots of collateral damage – the peculiar story of the “exodus”, part 2

yep, you can make plague puppets!
yep, you can make plague puppets!

After re-reading the story in exodus, I think I would be overjoyed to find out that there is no evidence for this nonsense if I were a believer. The characters are not the sharpest knives in the block.

A quick overview of what has gone before.   We have a reluctant leader and a god that mind controls people so he can punish them for what he makes them do. The great “let my people go” meme is only for a three day vacation, though towards the end of chapter 6 we do see that this god might get around to freeing the Israelites. Or maybe not…

Chapter 7 opens with the famous ten plagues. Yahweh (aka Y, aka God aka Allah) tells Moses again that it is mind controlling the pharaoh so that, no matter what miracles are performed, the pharaoh will not listen to Moses and Aaron telling him to let the people go. But they are supposed to tell him anyway. At this point, we are to believe that we have two octogenarians standing before the pharaoh.

So, Moses and Aaron go before pharaoh, and do the first miracle, the staff becoming a snake. And strangely enough, the Egyptian magicians can do the exact same magic as this god can. Aaron’s snake does eat the other ones. We get confirmation that yep, Y is controlling the pharaoh.

The first plague is conjured. This is the one where all of the water in Egypt turns to blood, no matter if it’s in the Nile or in your glass of water on your bedside table. Y says “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go.” Not exactly, this god is making the pharaoh’s heart unyielding. It seems that Y is a bit in denial of what it’s doing. Supposedly by this miracle, everyone is supposed to know that Y did it. Problem with this is that the Egyptian magicians do the exact same trick which is indeed a neat trick since supposedly all of the water in Egypt was already turned to blood. Coherent sequences of events aren’t very common during these plagues. So, was some water not changed? Seems so.   And of course, there was plenty of clean water, as long as you dug a well.   Again, we get another confirmation that Y is controlling the pharaoh, just like it said.

A week passes and the second plague is up: frogs. Now, I never quite could figure out why a lot of frogs were a problem. Yep, they’d likely get squished often and pile up but I could imagine worse things to have around. They do seem to get everywhere per the story.   Again, the Egyptian magicians do the same trick, so either there are replacement frogs or someone had to have sent them back and called them again.   There is at this point no way to tell if this god has any powers more impressive than court magicians or not.

The pharaoh evidently doesn’t like frogs because he offers to allow the three day weekend to commence if Moses gets rid of the frogs. Moses says he’ll get rid of them from the Egyptian’s houses . Y doesn’t quite do as his mouthpiece says, and the frogs “leave” by dying where they sit and stinking up the place.   More mind controlling? Why, yes.

So Y gets to send more plagues, because he makes the pharaoh harden his heart just like Y claimed he would back in the beginning of Chapter 7. Here Y has Moses threaten a plague of gnats and then brings them. Finally, we see that Y finally has better magic than the magicians because they can’t replicate this or the next set of curses. Still more heart hardening by Y.   Then a plague of flies (some versions say wild animals) is sent and here we see that the prior plagues were visited on the Israelites too. Only now, does this god get around to treating his people better than the Egyptians.

The pharaoh then offers to allow the Israelites to have their festival in Egypt but Moses insists that it has to be somewhere else (perhaps Horeb? We’re never told exactly). Moses gives a strange excuse, that they can’t do that in Egypt because the Egyptians would stone them. These Egyptians that his god has mind controlled to give the Israelites anything they want? Evidently so.   Pharaoh agrees, and now Moses can do the three day thing as he wants. And Y hardens the pharaoh’s heart again, so we have to go through this nonsense 6 more times.

Chapter 9 opens with the plague upon the livestock, where animals are slaughtered just for this god to show off. Now, remember this for a bit to watch what happens. Pharaoh’s is still hard thanks to Y.   We next get the plague of boils, which is supposed to afflict all of the people and animals in the land. Well, I guess wildlife is now suffering for collateral damage since there is no livestock? “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.”

Y gets Moses up early again and sends him off to threaten the pharaoh, again, despite saying that it’s pointless since he’s hardened the pharaoh’s heart *again*. We get to see Y say that it’s doing this just to show off with the words repeated in that lovely bit in Romans 9 that shows that there is no free will at all in the bible. The current plague is hail (some versions add fire) and Y says that all of the livestock should be brought in so they aren’t killed.   Ummm, they are already dead. All of them. Seems that this god isn’t exactly omniscient or can remember events from ostensibly a few days ago. Y proceeds to kill the newly resurrected livestock (well, where else did they come from?) and slaves that aren’t Israelites. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – “Abracapocus!” plus lots of collateral damage – the peculiar story of the “exodus”, part 2”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – “let my people go……. For a long weekend!” the peculiar story of the “exodus”, part 1

Bible-doesnt-know-where-we-are-goingThe newest Bible as Conan movie candidate is “Exodus: Gods and Kings”. It’s a Cecil B. De Mille-ian event with a cast of at least digital thousands. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have watched the Discovery Channel show that is trying to ride its coattails. I’ll review that after I’ve reviewed the book of exodus.

My friend John has a couple excellent posts on just how the exodus story has lost any credibility (here, here, and probably more that he’ll remind me of). I’m going to amuse myself with the bible story and what it really says, as opposed to how it is whitewashed to make everyone feel good.

Let’s look at the story of Exodus (you can find it here in just about any version you’d like). It’s not that long, at least the story itself. A lot of the book is taken up by those “commandments”. Like many events in the bible, there is no way to know when this supposedly happened. There are guesses, but again like many bible events, they never quite match up with reality. This part will cover chapters 1 through 6.

After a bit of exposition, where the baseless story of enslaved Israelites gets its start (sans pyramids), we start with the pharaoh telling the Israelite midwives, a whole *two* of them to service supposedly thousands, to kill the boy babies. They don’t and lie to the classically gullible bad guy. For some reason, Pharaoh doesn’t just have the kids killed right then.

Pharaoh tries again. He tells everyone to drown the boy babies which also doesn’t seem to work. Then we get to the story of Moses, with basket, the princess and the conveniently nearby mom, which again, no one suspects. The princess does know that it’s an Israelite baby, I’d guess by the circumcision. Teen Moses must have been the object of comment by at least his fellows.

Fast forward some indeterminate time (this happens a lot with bible characters) and Moses is now killing someone beating a Hebrew and hiding the body. An excuse given for this is that it is pre-commandments so it’s okay. He then is found out and Pharaoh tries to kill him. Moses leaves and ends up in Midian (yes, those people who this god commands to be annihilated except the young virgins whom are taken as slaves and temple profit). Moses marries a Midianite woman (peachy keen here, very very bad in books to come) the daughter of the priest of Midian and has sons.

Meanwhile, this god finally remembers the Israelites and its covenant with them after they make enough noise about how much they don’t like being slaves. Yep, this god has to be prompted.

Moses finally gets to Horeb, the mountain of this god (not to be confused with Sinai, the other mountain of this god) and we get the scene with the burning bush. An angel and Yahweh are in the bush and Y talks to Moses. Y has him take off his shoes, and says now that he’s realized that the Israelites are complaining, Moses will lead them out of Egypt. And return to this mountain to worship this god. Y says that the elders will listen to Moses and that they will all go to the pharaoh and ask that they can take three days off and do some sacrifices. Y says that he knows that Pharaoh won’t let them so this god will perform wonders so that the pharaoh will let them go. Which at this point makes it sound like the only “letting go” Pharaoh will be doing is allowing a short vacation for sacrificing, not “let my people go” Charlton Heston style. There’s no concern for slavery at all. Y also says he’ll mind control the Egyptians so they will give the Israelites anything they ask for. “And thus you will plunder the Egyptians.”

In Chapter 4, Moses isn’t really buying it. This god does have some problems in getting good help, after the mess with Noah and all. Y does some magic tricks to get him to believe. Moses still isn’t really keen on the idea, and Y finally gives up and suggests Moses’ brother Aaron, whom Moses evidently has never met. Rather than just have Aaron do things, Y comes up with this plan that he’ll tell Moses and then Moses will tell Aaron what Y has said. Oh and Moses has to take the same stick along to do the magic tricks with.

Moses asks his father in law the priest if he can return to Egypt to see if any of his people live. Evidently any except Aaron who is just wandering around and whom this god said was coming. Now we get to some of the meat of the story. Here is where Y says that he intentionally will mind control the pharaoh (“harden his heart”) so he won’t let the Israelites go no matter how many miracles Moses does. Then Moses is to threaten him with the death of his first born son because this god won’t allow him to believe the wonders and let the Israelites go. Makes just bunches of sense doesn’t it?

What makes even less sense is that Y gets murderously angry with Moses for no reason and his wife has to circumcise Moses’ son with a flint knife(?) and touch M’s feet with the blood so Y won’t kill him.   Unsurprisingly, the NIV gives up trying to explain that one.

Moses and Aaron finally meet, do their miracles for the elders, who had no problem in wandering around despite supposedly being horribly overworked slaves. Everyone is happy and believes.

Chapter 5 has a confirmation that it was really only for a vacation to do some sacrifices that was the “letting go”. There is nothing at all about freeing the Israelites. Moses and Aaron threaten the pharaoh, but don’t do any magic tricks like Y said to do. The pharaoh gets annoyed and tells the slave masters to not give the Israelites any straw to make bricks from but to make them get it themselves. This would make the process harder. So, supposedly the Israelites wander all over Egypt getting straw.

Moses gets fed up and asks his god why he stands by while the pharaoh makes the Israelites work harder. Y promises again that everything will work out and this is where we first hear that this god means to have pharaoh drive the Israelites from his country, not just having a festival for a few days as it said earlier. Moses goes back and no one believes him. Now, one would think that this god would have seen this coming. Y says again to tell Pharaoh that he has to let the Israelites go. Which makes no sense to Moses since that didn’t work before. It also bears mentioning that Y knows that it makes no sense since it has claimed that Pharaoh won’t listen because Y doesn’t allow him to. We get a small commercial break for a bit of “begats”. And one more instance of Y trying to get Moses to do something.

Next, the plagues begin. And things get stranger from here.

“abracapocus” and lots of collateral damage, the peculiar story of exodus part 2

big miracles, little evidence and the beginning of the kvetching part 3

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – the kvetching continues, and “you want these in the courthouse?” part 4