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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A Review of R. H. Allen's "Guidance on Abortion"

I recently came across what purported to be a Bible-based look at the abortion issue, written by a youth pastor. Since probably most abortions are of a child of a youth group member, this would be an important issue. The link to the pdf can be found here.

The full title of Allen's article is, "A Christian Looks to the Bible for Guidance on Abortion," but when Allen looks to the Bible, he doesn't look very far. In fact, he doesn't get much past Exodus 21:22-25, which he quotes from the King James Version:

"If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."

Convenient that he did this, because just about any other English translation will totally defeat his purpose, which is to show that abortion is biblical, based on the conclusion that
"The scripture directs that if the fetus is aborted as a result of the injury, the offending man must pay retribution as determined by the woman’s husband. However, if the woman herself dies, then the man must die (i.e., “give life for life”)."

Take, for example, the ONIV:

"If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[a] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life"
 [a] Or she has a miscarriage

The NNIV, of course, changes 'men' to 'people,' which brings in the off-the-wall possibility that the mother herself is at least partially responsible for the abrupt delivery of her child. But there's still nothing about the woman being killed in the process.

Here are the possible interpretations of the English text:

1) Child dies: man fined. Woman dies: capital punishment. (Allen's view)
2) Child is born prematurely but lives: man fined. Child born prematurely but dies: capital punishment. (possible view based on NIV text)

The view derived from the NIV marginal reading is a bit hard to pin down. If causing a miscarriage isn't 'serious injury' (and it is so considered in all 50 states), then what is, short of the woman herself dying? The passage really just doesn't make sense as translated from Hebrew to English.

What happens, though, if we look at the Greek translation of this passage?

22 ἐὰν δὲ μάχωνται δύο ἄνδρες καὶ πατάξωσιν γυναῖκα ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσαν καὶ ἐξέλθῃ τὸ παιδίον αὐτῆς μὴ ἐξεικονισμένον ἐπιζήμιον ζημιωθήσεται καθότι ἂν ἐπιβάλῃ ὁ ἀνὴρ τῆς γυναικός δώσει μετὰ ἀξιώματος 23 ἐὰν δὲ ἐξεικονισμένον ἦν δώσει ψυχὴν ἀντὶ ψυχῆς   --Septuagint

Daniel L. Christiansen has provided the following translation:

"If two men are fighting, and they strike a pregnant woman, and her not-fully-formed child comes out, the man should be punished by a fine: in keeping with the court's decision, he is to pay as much as the woman's husband might demand. 23 But if [the child] was fully-formed, the man is to give [his] life in exchange for [the child's] life."

A more literal translation would be:

"If two men are fighting, and they strike a pregnant woman, and her not-fully-formed child comes out, the man should be punished by a fine: in keeping with the court's decision, he is to pay as much as the woman's husband might demand. 23 But if it was fully-formed, he is to give life for life."

Both of these offer a third possible interpretation:

3) Child is born so prematurely that it can't survive: man fined. Child is born prematurely, though viable, but dies anyway: capital punishment. (Daniel L. Christiansen's view)

One thing that all these interpretations have in common is that they accept the fact that striking a pregnant woman may cause her pregnancy to terminate early. There are actually not just three, but four possible results from this:

1) A pregnancy that could have proceeded to term is ended before the fetus is viable, causing avoidable death;

2)  A pregnancy that could have proceeded to term is ended after the fetus is viable, but before it is strong enough to survive outside the womb, still causing avoidable death;

3) A pregnancy that could not have proceeded to term anyway--because of a defective fetus--is ended before the fetus has a chance to spontaneously abort, causing death that would have happened later anyway;

4) A pregnancy that could have proceeded to term is ended after the fetus is viable, and strong enough to survive the experience, resulting in emotional harm to the mother, but not physical harm to her child.

This third possibility comes out in Breton's translation of the Greek:

"And if two men strive and smite a woman with child, and her child be born imperfectly formed, he shall be forced to pay a penalty: as the woman's husband may lay upon him, he shall pay with a valuation. 23 But if it be perfectly formed, he shall give life for life"

Neither the second nor fourth possibility is in view in either translation of the Greek. It is assumed in verse 23 that the expelled child dies; the only possibilities are the death of an imperfectly formed fetus that couldn't have survived outside the womb, or the death of a fully formed fetus that could have.

Now, we know more about human physiology than did the Greek scholars who first translated the Pentateuch. Unless we get our education from watching television and movies, we know that a fetus is well-protected inside its mother's womb, and a blow to the outside of her body is not going to hurt it directly. While the trauma may send her into labor early, the only danger to the child is that it may not yet be ready for the experience.

So the idea of a perfectly formed fetus dying from this sort of trauma only makes sense if it were extremely premature--basically, first or second trimester (although, with modern medical intervention, viability is pushed back a ways into the second trimester). Thus, according to the Greek translation of this passage, causing a woman to abort her child IS grounds for the death penalty, the only defense being that a postmortem revealed the fetus to have been doomed regardless of when it was born.

So, here's the scenario: A woman gets involved in a fight between two men, gets punched in the gut, and stumbles off to recover. Before she is fully recovered, however, she experiences a miscarriage. The question is, was this just a coincidence, or is the miscarriage a direct result of the blow she received?

The only way to determine this is to examine the fetus. If it proves defective, like other fetuses from miscarriages not know to have been associated with an abdominal blow, the man is not subject to charges of murder (of the child), but only assault and battery (of the mother). The possible death of the mother is not at all in view here, contra Allen.

Now, that's what the Greek translation says. But what about the Hebrew?

22 וְכִֽי־יִנָּצ֣וּ אֲנָשִׁ֗ים וְנָ֨גְפ֜וּ אִשָּׁ֤ה הָרָה֙ וְיָצְא֣וּ יְלָדֶ֔יהָ וְלֹ֥א יִהְיֶ֖ה אָס֑וֹן עָנ֣וֹשׁ יֵעָנֵ֗שׁ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָשִׁ֤ית עָלָיו֙ בַּ֣עַל הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה וְנָתַ֖ן בִּפְלִלִֽים׃  וְאִם־אָס֖וֹן יִהְיֶ֑ה וְנָתַתָּ֥ה נֶ֖פֶשׁ תַּ֥חַת נָֽפֶשׁ׃ 23

"If men strive, and strike a pregnant woman, and her children come forth, and no mishap comes about*-- fining he shall be fined, according as the woman's husband will impose upon him; and he shall pay in pleadings. 23  And if mishap comes about*, then you shall give soul in place of soul."

It's important that the Hebrew word here is not that of an embryo, but of a baby. It's probably in the plural to avoid the misconception that only a male child is in view here. The text is ambiguous, but only to a limited extent: the LXX interpretation is certainly possible, but only as Breton translates it; it's not an unformed embryo, but a baby.

So, in conclusion, R.A. Allen is way off base linguistically. He takes an obscure translation of an obscure passage, twists it like a pretzel, and viola--gets the interpretation he started with. Ironically, most of his article is a warning against doing this very thing.

Now, perhaps you're in agreement with me, that there is nothing in this verse laying a different valuation on the life of an inviable fetus, versus a viable one.  But, it turns out, that's not the way the ancients understood it.

Thanks are due to Thomas F. McDaniel for the following quotes.

Philo (Congressu Quaerendae Eruditionis Gratia, xxiv 137):
"And with respect to these matters the following law has been enacted with great beauty and propriety: “If while two men are fighting one should strike a woman who is great with child, and her child should come from her before it is completely formed, he shall be mulcted in a fine, according to what the husband of the woman shall impose on him, and he shall pay the fine deservedly. But if the child be fully formed, he shall pay life for life. For it was not the same thing, to destroy a perfect and an imperfect work”

He goes on, (De Specialibus Legibun, iii 108–109):
"But if any one has a contest with a woman who is pregnant, and strike her a blow on her belly, and she miscarry, if the child which was conceived within her is still unfashioned and unformed, he shall be punished by a fine, both for the assault which he committed and also because he has prevented nature, who was fashioning and preparing that most excellent of all creatures, a human being, from bringing him into existence. But if the child which was conceived had assumed a distinct shape in all its parts, having received all its proper connective and distinctive qualities, he shall die; for such a creature as that is a man, whom he has slain while still in the workshop of nature, who had not thought it as yet a proper time to produce him to the light, but had kept him like a statue lying in a sculptor's workshop, requiring nothing more than to be released and sent out into the world."

*According to McDaniel, this phrase should be translated, "[not] perfect it has become."

   **********************************************

So, we see the possibility of my interpretation after all. In either case, a postmortem ensues, no doubt before the same judges who are to decide whether to apply a fine or the death penalty. The expelled fetus is examined, and if it can be see to be perfectly formed, it is assumed that it could have survived if left to term; if it is still too early in gestation to determine whether some fatal genetic abnormality is present, then the accused retains the assumption of innocence as regards to murder, and is only fined for assault.

What then, is the implication for R. A. Allen? Simply that according to this verse, anyone who causes the death of a fully formed yet unborn human, is guilty of murder.

That's not a pro-choice position.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Demythologizing the Santa Scripture

I've been away from my blog since the month before last, and since I committed to posting at least once every three months until I die, here's one for today.

The following is a letter, allegedly written by a mythical creature known as Santa (short for Santa Claus, derived from Sinterklaas, a Dutch-American appellation for Nikolaos of Mura):

"Dear children, regrettably I bring bad tidings. For some time now, melting ice here in the North Pole has made our operations and our day-to-day life intolerable and impossible and there may be no alternative but to cancel Christmas. I have written personally to President Obama, President Putin -- all world leaders. Sadly my letters have been met with indifference. Needless to say these individuals are now at the top of my naughty list. My home in the Arctic is fast disappearing and unless we all act urgently then I have to warn you of the possibility of an empty stocking forevermore. Please help me."

I wrote earlier about the alarming icemelt during an Antarctic summer, but this is the first time I ever read about the Arctic ice melting in the winter. As far as I know, no one has ever traveled to the North Pole during the Northern Winter, any more than to the South Pole during the Southern Winter.
[UPDATE JUNE 2016: As I write, a daring flight to the South Pole is underway, just three days before the onset of Southern Winter. Only one flight to the pole has ever been made even in the Southern Autumn, in April of 2001.]

Santa shouldn't be so distressed. With the unlimited carrying capacity of his sleigh, he could pull a reverse on the Arctic Tern and just move his whole toy-making operation to the other Pole during the ice-melting season (he'd have to get permission from President Obama, though, who claims sovereignty over the South Pole). Furthermore, according to his evolutionary beliefs (assuming that 'Santa' here is just a pseudonym for a Greenpeace copywriter), there would be no coal to put in stockings if it hadn't been for a powerful global warming trend jillions of years ago.

Monday, 18 November 2013

I shared quite a few years ago that this blog was listed as a Black Blog, which I thought both ironic and amusing--although 'humbling' was the adjective I used at the time.

Today, idly hitting the 'next blog' arrow at the top of the screen, I noticed that my blog has come to rest in a more aptly described place in the blogosphere--in the 'religious blog' category.

I'm in some pretty good company.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Monday, 28 October 2013

Demographic Winter

If you found this post interesting, you've got to watch this whole video:
Demographic Winter
There are only two possible ways to stave off the impending Demographic Winter: stop killing babies, or start killing old people.

Since this video was made, the Netherlands has been paying mothers to have children, and paying doctors to kill adults. But their welfare state still collapsed.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The temple of Nisroch, his god



And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
--2 Kings 19:37/Isaiah 37:38 ESV

Now, there's a problem with this account: Nisroch is not known as a member of the Assyrian pantheon. He seems to be a personal deity of Sennacherib. It turns out, however, that there is an account in Jewish tradition that identifies Nisroch and ties into another unusual name in this passage--Ararat.

Ararat (Armenia in the KJV, but that's a paraphrase, not an interpretation or transliteration) is, as we know, the biblical location of Noah's Ark. What is known today as the Mountains of Ararat (Greater Ararat and its subpeak Lesser Ararat) turns out to have been given that name because of a relatively recent association with the account of Noah's Ark. It's Turkish toponym is Agri Dagh.

On the other hand, the word 'Nisroch' is associated with another location entirely, and one with widespread ancient association both with the story of Noah and with artifacts of the ark itself: Cudi Dagh, some 200 miles southwest of Agri Dagh,.

Gordon Franz tells the story:
In Tractate Sanhedrin, Rabbi Papa (ca. AD 300-375) recounts a story about Sennacherib, king of Assyria, finding a piece of wood from Noah’s Ark. It states: “He [Sennacherib] then went away and found a plank of Noah’s ark. ‘This’, said he, ‘must be the great God who saved Noah from the flood. If I go [to battle] and am successful, I will sacrifice my two sons to thee’, he vowed. But his sons heard this, so they killed him, as it is written, And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adram-melech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword.” This story is recounted in Louis Ginzberg’s classic work, Legends of the Jews, and implies that this is a legendary account. One reason it might have been considered a legend is because Sennacherib was never on, or near, the modern-day Mount Ararat (Agri Dagh). Yet there are plausible historical reasons to believe this story is true and not legendary.
There are three lines of arguments that suggest the historical plausibility of this event. First: at one point in his life, Sennacherib was on the mountain in the Land of Ararat where tradition and ancient history say Noah’s Ark landed. Second: he learned of the story of Noah’s Ark from some Israelites or Judeans with whom he had contact. Third--the strongest--: the temple of Nisroch was dedicated to a plank of wood from Noah’s Ark.

Bill Crouse, president of Christian Information ministry, was one of four plenary papers at the beginning of the conference. His paper was: “Five Reasons for Rejecting Agri Dagh as the Ark’s Final Resting Place and Five Reasons Why it Did Land on Cudi Dagh.” His five reasons for why it did not land on Agri Dagh, the traditional site of Mount Ararat, are:
(1) The early ancient sources do not mention Agri Dagh as the landing site of Noah’s Ark,
(2) Agri Dagh is a volcanic mountain and was never submerged under water, and thus it was formed after the Flood and could not be the landing site of the Ark,
(3) Geographically, the peaks of “Greater Ararat” and “Lesser Ararat” are not located in the “Mountains of Ararat,” but rather, in a plain,
(4) The “eye-witness” accounts [of the Ark at Agri Dagh] are unreliable, and
(5) Thus far, after 60 plus years of [scientific] searching, nothing has ever been found there.

The five reasons Bill believes the Ark landed on Cudi Dagh are:
(1) There is a consensus of diverse ancient sources that place the landing site of the Ark in the area of Cudi Dagh, including pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sources,
(2) Diverse groups of pilgrims have visited the site for over at least two thousand years,
(3) There are olive trees in the area of Cudi Dagh (cf. Gen. 8:10), but none in the area of Agri Dagh,
(4) Possible archaeological remains have been discovered on the top of Cudi Dagh, including wood that has asphalt on both sides (cf. Gen. 6:14), 9-12 inch nails/spikes (cf. Gen. 4:22), and other objects found in the area of the landing site, and
(5) Cudi Dagh is a much more accessible mountain for disembarking from the Ark.

To conclude:
1. The identification of Agri Dagh as "Mount Ararat" is based on legends of the Ark being seen there, and the biblical identification of "The Mountains of Ararat" as the Ark's final resting place. Thus, Agri Dagh needed to be thoroughly searched by scientific expeditions (especially during the most recent global warming cycle that culminated in 2012) in order to ensure that the Ark was, or was not, present there. The verdict is in that the Ark is not there in any way that is accessible to science. Thus it is now reasonable to search for it elsewhere.
2. Cudi Dagh ("Mount Judy") is identified as the Ark's final resting place in all ancient accounts that specify a geographically identifiable mountain. Since it is not nearly as inaccessible as Agri Dagh, it is possible that no more of the ark remains to casual view. Thus what is needed to further the science of Arkeology is a systematic archeological excavation of Cudi Dagh in search of evidence that the Ark once rested there.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Was Rachab a Harlot?

Was Rahab Really a Harlot?

So asks the title of an article in the September-October issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.  But that's not the real issue--it's just a catch phrase. The real questions about Rahab may not be any easier to answer, but they're of much more significance to the scholastic disciplines of biblical inerrancy and translation.

The first question to be answered, I suppose, is the most basic: was Rahab an actual historical figure? Bible skeptics, who don't believe that Joshua even conquered the city of Jericho--despite all agreeing that a particular mound of rubble along the lower Jordan is in fact the city of Jericho that Joshua didn't destroy--will of course say 'no.' But even for those who take Scripture at its word, questions remain as to Rahab's identity.

For example, was there just one Rahab, or two? Because the bewildering variety of ways in which Rahab is referenced in the hagiographic literature could point to distinct personalities.

There is the Rahab of Joshua chapters two and six. She treasonously protected the two Israelite spies in exchange for protection when Israel destroyed her city. She has quite an entry in Jewish hagiography, going on to marry Joshua himself and becoming the ancestress of at least nine notable Judeans.

On the other hand, the more ancient tradition of Rahab as the wife of Salmon and ancestress of Boaz (and thus eventually of the entire Davidic line right down to Jesus the Messiah) comes from the Christian scriptures--which nonetheless hold out the possibilities of two distinct individuals, Rachab in Matthew 1:5 (spelled Ῥαχάβ) as the mother of Boaz, and Rahab in Hebrew and James where she is identified quite unambiguously as   Ῥαὰβ πόρνη, or Rahab the Harlot.

In either case, there has been cultural pressure to redeem Rahab's occupation, first suggested in the turn-of-the-era Targums, which used a cognate Aramaic word that meant 'feeder' (and thus translated 'innkeeper,' for example by Josephus) rather than the original Hebrew word which has always been translated 'prostitute.'

Germane to that point is the question of Rahab's husband: if she didn't have one, it would definitely strengthen the case for her being a prostitute, as no unmarried woman of good repute would have put up men in her own home.  As it turns out, the book of Joshua does mention her family members, rather specifically in fact. And here, once again, we run up against the translation philosophy of the NIV's Committee for Bible Translation--whether for good or ill, remains to be demonstrated.

Joshua 2:12-13 "Swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death"  --KJV

 Joshua 2:12-13 "Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you, that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them--and that you will save us from death" --NIV

Now, there are two noticeable differences between the KJV and the NIV here, and they both relate to the identity of those who Rabab is requesting to be spared.

1. "my father's house" v. "my family."  The English term "my family" is rather ambiguous. It can refer to either of two subsets, or to both, along with an even larger circle of extended family.  "My father's house," on the other hand, specifies only a single lineage and their spouses.  Inasmuch as Rahab goes on to delineate exactly who is in her father's house, the NIV's ambiguity here is as harmless as it goes. But the harm starts as soon as we get to the list of relatives, because the testimony here is far from unanimous.

2. "all that they have" v. "all who belong to them."  This is a question of translation--whether 'all' should be taken as neuter or masculine plural. Inasmuch as both the Codex Vaticanus copy of Joshua and the NKJV translate it as neuter (all the things that they have), one would think this to be a legitimate translation. But the exact same phrase is found in the Hebrew of 6:17, where there didn't appear to be any question (except to the LXX, who at least were consistent here) that those saved were people, not things. [CORRECTION: the word πάντα  appears to be a form shared by the masculine singular and neuter plural declensions in the accusative, so that the Greek would be ambiguous as to 'all things' or 'all people' where it refers to Rahab in the book of Joshua.]

So, if you're keeping score in the NIV's attempt to improve on the KJV, we have one win, one draw. And on this score, the New KJV doesn't come out any better than the Old. But what about the gender sensitivity question?

As we have seen elsewhere in our study of the NNIV, the CBT doesn't seem to know quite what to do with lists of relatives that include 'brothers and sisters' in the original. It doesn't sit very well with their firm belief that 'brothers' always really means 'brothers and sisters. But whether they intended to or not, they did miss a great chance improve significantly on the KJV, by taking into account the existence of polygamy in the Ancient Near East.

You see, the way the KJV reads, "my father's house" would include Rahab's father and all his wives, along with all their children--whether or not 'all that they have' ended up being translated as neuter (things) or masculine (people). But the NIV's "my family" wouldn't. One of Today's Young People does not think of his half-sibling's other parent as belonging to "my family."  And by putting "all who belong to them" at the end of the list of relatives, it's not at all obvious that the CBT intended to include any of Rahab's stepmothers.

6: 17  "only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house"  --KJV

6:17  "Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared"--NIV

Here is another question, one that could be either textual or translational (but only in the case of a really loose translation like the NIV). Clearly, the Hebrew reads "in the house" and the Vaticanus Greek reads "in her house."  Since the house in question was already identified as hers back in 2:1 and 19, it's a simple paraphrase to call it "her house" here, and that is apparently what the LXX did to set the example for future translators. We could maybe even be magnanimous here, and say that the literal meaning of 'at home to her' could well be accurately translated as "in with her in her house."

There's just a couple more verses to look at, and then we're done.

2:18 "thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee."  --KJV

2:18 "unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house" --NIV

Oh ho ho, suddenly the CBT doesn't feel a need to translate "brothers" as "brothers and sisters," even though the same loose approach to translation by which they translate "the house" as "your house" would demand it!  Is is that they are subtly trying to hide the elephant in the room, Rahab's stepmothers? Because, by leaving out specific mention of the sisters just this one time, they leave the impression that "all your family" encompasses them categorically (whilst rejecting, virtually every other place it occurs, the idea that 'brothers' could also encompass sisters categorically).  But, like so many writers of historical fiction, they are transplanting their modern (at least as of 1967) idea of what constitutes a 'family' back to a different time and place, where Rahab knew full well that her hypothetical stepmothers were part of her father's household, but wouldn't necessarily have considered them part of her 'family.'  And in so doing, they also skillfully disguise the obvious non-existence of Rahab's husband. He sneaks in under the guise of being a part of HER family, when in fact it was only her FATHER's family, which would not have included her husband, that was delivered. Thus they join a long line of theologians trying to salvage Rahab's reputation by concealing the obvious nature of her occupation.

There's one other note to make here: there's a textual problem in verse 13--the Masoretic Text reads 'sister,' but the Masoretes had a footnote reading 'sisters.' Codex Vaticanus left out the word entirely, probably indicating either that the original Hebrew was using 'brothers' collectively, or that the LXX did when they translated it. No one seems to think that Rahab had only one sister living in her father's house, although that is entirely within the realm of possibility, her married sisters not having been included in her father's household.

6:24-25 "And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho." --KJV

6:24-25  "Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the LORD's house. But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho--and she lives among the Israelites to this day." --NIV

Now, there are other members of Rahab's father's household who are less hypothetical: the slaves. Rahab's house was in a strategic location, built into the city wall so that her customers could come and go discreetly after the city gates were locked (an obvious choice, then, for the spies--who needed just such an accommodation).  It's commonly known in the business that prostitutes don't function as proprietors, but are always under the patronage of a pimp, to whom they remit the lion's share of their income. It would appear that Rahab's profession was one chosen by her father, who was wealthy enough to set her up for business in the prime location of the city. Ergo, he must have also owned slaves--some of whom no doubt served as her associates. In fact, there's a good chance that they did all the dirty work for her, and that her position was more of a madam rather than a streetwalker. Because whether you follow the Talmud or Matthew 1:5 in fitting Rahab further into Jewish history, she clearly married into the upper class of Jewish society.

Okay, despite the inconsistencies of the KJV and the ambiguities of the NIV, I think we can finally come up with a list of the people who were eligible to escape total destruction by taking refuge in Rahab's house of prostitution (fortunately for them, it must have had a large capacity):

- Rahab, the proprietress
- Rahab's two parents
- Everyone who lived in Rahab's house (basically, her trafficked humans)
- Everyone who lived in Rahab's father's home compound (including his slaves and his married sons' families)

Of course, as in the case of Lot's deliverance from Sodom, only those who actually chose to take refuge escaped destruction. It appears from the text that, this time, nobody turned down the offer.

One more note on the 'things' versus 'people' question. Since all the riches of Jericho were to be devoted to utter destruction (witness the problem Achan got himself into when he couldn't bear to see some of those riches go to waste), it is germane to the question whether Rahab got to keep all of her wealth, or was spared with her life only, and those of her father's house. It appears obvious, if not from the text then from the context, that Rahab was spared not only her people, but also all their goods. This certainly would have made her more attractive as a potential wife to Salmon, prince of Judah. This reminds of of our post on Genesis 12:5, where there also appear to be used an expression which encompasses both all of one's goods, and all of one's people.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

An Upside-down Christmas Tree in China

In an earlier post, I pointed out that national fertility rates tend to fall wherever national income rises. While such is indeed the case in China, the drop is further exacerbated by the national One-Child Policy, which went into effect in 1979. Not surprisingly, there's now a big drop in the 30-34-year-old cohort of the Chinese population. As China's population growth slows to a crawl, there's some talk of eliminating the policy, or at least cutting it back further (only about a third of Chinese couples are currently subject to the restriction).

But actually, it's already too late. The pre-policy Chinese couples are already fast heading out of their peak childbearing years, so for an entire generation to come, the reproductive potential of the Chinese is going to be severely curtailed.

In order do their part to keep China's population from dropping, every couple consisting of two only grandchildren (the 'little emperors') would have to first produce six children just to replace themselves and their parents; then another eight to replace their grandparents! Obviously, that is not going to happen. Instead, as the larger cohorts of the population die off, the population will peak, then start a long and continuous decline--even if the birth rate doubles or triples among the remaining cohorts as they come of childbearing age.

That results in an Upside Down Christmas Tree.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

End Game in Iran

Counter Three Ramadans have come and gone since I first started writing about "the impending war with Iran." I'm glad to say that none of my bellicose predictions have yet come true, but at the same time it's clear that war with Iran is at least as immanent as it ever was.

For the last year or so I've let my blogroll link to Joel Rosenberg's blog tell the story, but this time I'm going to comment directly on his latest post.
Denver, Colorado — Evidence is mounting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is increasingly prepared to order a massive preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear sites. Here’s why:
1. Iran aggressively pursuing two routes to nuclear weaponry, one via uranium enrichment, the other via plutonium.
2. Thus, Iran is steadily approaching the “red line,” the point at which Netanyahu has said Israel would have no choice but to strike.
3. Officials in Jerusalem do not see the Obama administration taking decisive action to prevent Iran from getting The Bomb.
4. To the contrary, Israel sees President Obama and Secretary John Kerry weakening their resolve and opening the door to indefinite negotiations with the new Rouhani administration, which they perceive as “moderate.”
5. Israeli military leaders believe they have the operational capabilities to destroy — or at least seriously damage — Iran’s nuclear program, but they have a shortening window of time, after which the task would be beyond Israel’s capabilities.
Now, the approaching deadline is the activation of the new plutonium-generating reactor in Arak. In the view of the US at least, the environmental damage caused by blowing up a working reactor would be unacceptable.

I'm beginning to doubt that such a threat would be enough to stop Israel at this point. Look at Operation Orchard--where the Israeli air force flew through Turkey to to Syria's norther desert and blew up a nuclear reactor being built by the North Koreans. Look at the numerous nuclear accidents in North Korea itself. It's clear that the aftermath of a nuclear catastrophe is no longer as unthinkable as it once was.

Which brings us to the matter of route and weapons. Israel is reported to have stowed MOABs at an airfield in Azerbaijan, which would allow a total fly-over of Iran without much of any warning. It's also possible that Israel would use low-yield nuclear warheads to permanently disable Iran's underground nuclear facilities, which are also far enough out in the desert to minimise the ecological fallout of such a strike.  I don't see an attack at this stage in the game being desperate enough to resort to that, though.


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

'Nigger' is the new 'Peasant'

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One thing about living in the modern age is the ease at which one can look up the meaning of a word. And I'm not just talking about The Internet; I was able to pick up an 8-pound unabridged 1929 dictionary for its value in scrap paper. I'm therefore able to look up meanings that are now so obsolete that they may be left out of most online definitions. Thus my surprise when I found that there is a word with a very specific meaning I could have used instead of the word 'nigger' when writing this post.

The word is 'peasant.' An ancient meaning of the word, still found online, is:

a member of a class of persons, as in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, who are small farmers or farm laborers of low social rank.

Obviously, peasants were the niggers of their day. But you can see how this usage of the word has not kept pace with modern technology: niggers of the late 19th and early 20th century in the American South definitely fit this definition of peasants, but most niggers nowadays wouldn't.  You don't have to work on a plantation to belong to a class with a low social rank.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Is AIDS a curse on homosexuals?

Counter In an earlier post, I wrote how animism and AIDS are a deadly combination, as animists continue the behaviour that gave them the HIV even when told that AIDS can't be caught by someone putting a curse on them.

In May of 2023 I got the following comment to that post:

"I've always wondered about this. So would this prove that homosexuality is in the end wrong? Bisexuals being the worst for spreading it around to women and then to guys like Magic Johnson who had sex with hundreds of women. Right? or am I wrong?" --Anonymous 5/07/2013 11:37:00 pm

I decided to delete my reply and that comment and instead devote an entire post to a more thought-out answer. In order to do so I will address the comment in sections.

"Basically most gay people would have died out if not for condoms."

Condoms have not helped keep people from dying of AIDS, if for no other reason than that a lot of people engaging in HIV-spreading behaviours don't use them. The main reason that people in Africa and elsewhere have stopped dying from AIDS is that they have been taking antiretroviral drugs, which keep them from developing AIDS even after they have the HIV.

"Bisexuals being the worst for spreading it around to women"

Well, by definition a bisexual is someone who engages in risky behaviours with both sexes, and AIDS did originate with males. But the bisexuals aren't to blame for most of the spread of the HIV, unless you include all prostitutes within the definition of bisexuals (and quite a number of them do fit that definition by their behaviour). HIV mostly spreads by means of risky behaviour between an infected prostitute and his/er thousands of (typically male) clients. So you are wrong in making this particular charge.

"guys like Magic Johnson who had sex with hundreds of women."

Yes, Magic is probably responsible for passing on the HIV to many of his female risky-behaviour partners. But I don't know as that has ever been alleged or proved in court, so at best it's a reasonable assumption--all the less reasonable if he was consistent at using a condom.

As more and more American money is spread around Africa in the form of free retrovirals, the death rate from AIDS will go down regardless of animistic influence on behaviour. But in the mean time, AIDS will continue to strike animists disproportionately, especially since animists are reluctant to even be tested for AIDS, which of course is necessary to be entered into a retroviral treatment program. 

"So would this prove that homosexuality is in the end wrong?"

Well, that's a moral question, and how you answer it depends on your moral foundation. If you don't believe in The Creator, than your only foundation is the Survival of the Fittest. Since homosexuality doesn't pass on one's genes, it's morality is already seriously suspect from that point of view. Bisexuality would be just fine for one of that moral persuasion, other than that bisexuals are even more likely to pass on the HIV as homosexuals.

But in the end, the fact that animists are more likely to die from AIDS than rationalists has no bearing on the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality, regardless of your moral foundation.

Okay, so much for the comment--now to the actual title of my post--"Is  AIDS a curse on homosexuals?"

In order the answer this question with a specific 'yes' or 'no', we must first establish several things:

1) Is there anyone with both the ability and the motivation to design and send a disease on someone?
Well, as far as design is concerned, only The Creator has that power. If you don't believe in The Creator, then you can stop your investigation right now, and answer the question with "no." You may not be right, but at least you'll be certain.
If you do believe in The Creator, then you can go on to wonder whether The Creator would do such a thing. Now you are inquiring into the Nature and Character of The Creator, and to get anywhere in that sort of investigation, you will need to find out whether there is any first-hand information that addresses that.
Well, the Bible does give information on the Nature and Character of The Creator, but if you don't believe the Bible, you may as well stop right there and say that at best, you don't know the answer to the question. If you do believe the Bible, then studying it will get you a long ways towards your answer as to whether God would, or did, design and send a specific disease targeting a specific sinful behaviour.

2) Is the HIV designed in such a way as to specifically target homosexuals and/or their behaviour?

3) Is the HIV effective in targeting homosexuals to the extent that it only harms them and is incapable of transmitting widespread harm to the population at large?

I think once you get this far in the investigation, you will realise that AIDS cannot be a curse on homosexuals--that's too specific a charge. Change the question slightly, and ask if AIDS could be a curse on fornicators in general, and you're much more likely to end up with a positive answer.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Where in the Middle East was the Red Sea?

95,295 views
I've been online a bit of late researching the fairly recent (as Bible scholarship goes) theory that the Israelites, upon escaping from Israel, crossed that part of the Red Sea now known as the Gulf of Aqaba (in Israel, the Gulf of Eilat). Even Snopes has tried to debunk the theory, and the best they can come up with after five years is "Undetermined."

I'm not happy with the slipshod manner in which this theory has been investigated on the ground, but I will say one thing: It's clear that "the Red Sea" (when doubly capitalised in the KJV, it's always a translation of yam suf) does, in at least a handful of places in the Torah, refer to the shoreline of Edom on an arm of the Indian Ocean (interestingly, both 'Edom' and 'Indian' can carry the connotation of the colour red).

Thus it has to be at least a possibility, from a biblical perspective, that the Israelites walked across the Gulf of Aqaba on dry ground. Moreover, even Eusebius in his Encyclopedia located it there. However, apparently out of respect for Constantine's mother, who had located Mt Sinai in what is now (because of her) known as the Sinai Peninsula, he failed to explicitly locate Mt. Sinai in Midian (where it must have been, if the Gulf of Aqaba was crossed in the Exodus).

The problem is, it doesn't appear to be a physical possibility. The Gulf is at least 800 meters deep at the center of its portion of the Great Rift Valley. I have yet to see a sea chart of any stretch of the Gulf that would allow for passage by foot should the water level drop--unless it were to freeze over, and that goes against the statement that the Israelites crossed over "on dry ground."

The Gulf-of-Eilat theory requires that the Israelites covered about 200 miles in what appears from Exodus to be a three-day period. Usually proponents of this route are semantically able to stretch that out to about a week, but still--could an entire nation really cover 30 miles a day, even if that day were prolonged by a massive nightlight overhead?

I found documentation to show that this is basically impossible by natural means--of course if God wanted to, he could have made all the toddlers run 10 miles an hour around the clock, but were that the case, they could have made the trip in only one day!

The Spanish Road was a 16th-century supply line linking the Hapsburg Empire's domains in the Low Countries and Italy. Although sea travel around the Iberian peninsula was faster, the Road was preferred because it ran entirely through territory friendly to the Hapsburgs. Marching soldiers could average 12-15 miles a day along its 1000-km length. And it wasn't darkness that limited them to that--it was the sapping heat of summer, when the days were longest. The fastest trek on record, during the dark month of February, averaged 23 miles a day.

If an army at forced march couldn't top 23 miles a day, even 30 miles a day for an entire nation on the move is supernaturally fast. Fifty to sixty miles in three days over level land, however, is entirely within the realm of possibility. Thus we are forced to accept a Red Sea Passage over the Gulf of Suez.


Missing in Action: The NIV's Young Men in 1 Peter 5:5

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. --KJV (Cambridge)

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” --NKJV 1982, 1990

 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
-- NIV 1973-1984

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble and oppressed." TNIV, NNIV

   Back before the NIV had even gone to press--when we were both children--my elder sister, when wanting to get her way, used to remind me of the biblical exhortation to "obey your elders." Obviously she held to an egalitarian interpretation of this verse, one actually encouraged by the KJV as it was.

  The NIV, however, in search of accuracy, turned that notion on its head. Not quite all the way--though; they identified the gender of those submitting, but not those being submitted to! This, despite the fact that the entire preceding portion of this chapter of First Peter is talking about 'elders' who 'feed the flock' and 'take oversight,' not merely 'older people.' 

  Well, the gender police fixed that. Since 2001, the NIV brand has not only applied the command across the board to all young people, but it even calls those to whom they should submit 'elders.' But what about the rest of the verse? In the KJV family of versions, the elders have to turn back around and submit to everyone else--something the CBT was quite in favour of when translating Ephesians 5:21, but instead, here they are advocating nothing more than an all-around equanimous dose of humility. This turns out to be the result of them using a 'superior' Greek text, which lacks the second occurrence of the word for 'submit.'  But is it really? As I read the Greek, the missing word is still understood by the context--so they must have some other reason for omitting it.

What it is, I have no idea.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Secular Government brooks no religious competition--not even from Jews in Brooklyn

Counter The government of New York City is suing to ban stores in Brookly from posting their Hasidic version of the common but unconstitutional sign, "No shirt, no shoes, no service." “These stores are public accommodations, and they are prohibited from posting any kind of advertisement specifying a preference for one type of customer or another, or expressing discrimination against one type or another,” said Clifford Mulqueen, deputy commissioner and general counsel to the human rights commission.

Public accommodation is a legal term meaning entities like stores, public or private, that are used by the public. The signs are “pretty specific to women,” Mulqueen said. “It seems pretty clear that it’s geared toward women dressing modestly if they choose to come into the store, and that would be discrimination.”

There are two problems with this idea: one, no customer has EVER complained about being denied service on the grounds of immodesty--no male, no female, no other. Secondly, just because an unemployed city official could construe something as being unacceptably discriminatory, that doesn't mean it is. No one has grounds to sue against these regulations, because no one has been harmed by them.

Government continues to grow until it becomes so oppressive that the remaining populace resort to violence to throw it off their backs. Or, they could vote the bums out, but that never seems to happen.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

How the Feds bungled the investigation and prosecution of Israel Keyes, serial killer extraordinaire

Counter You may have never heard of Israel Keyes, and if you haven't, it's because he wanted it that way. Right up until the very end, he preferred to operate in secret. And in control.

Israel Keyes, the oldest son of ten children raised in a Mormon household in Utah, knew he was different from other people. When he tortured and killed pets, the shocked looks on his playmates' faces told him not only that he didn't have the same morals most people did, but that he'd better keep that part of his personality a secret, or he would be in big trouble.

So, for the next twenty years Israel lived a double life. He wasn't even out of his teens when he transferred his attention from defenseless animals to defenseless people. By the time he joined the Army--which happened during a time of such relative peace that he never got the opportunity to use his license to kill--he'd already abducted and raped a teenage girl in Washington State, where he lived.

After finishing his army term, he began his killing career in earnest. The consummate serial killer, he traveled thousands of miles to hunt down random people, whom he tortured and killed simply for the thrill it gave him. After a kill, the urge would subside and he'd return to his construction business. When his girlfriend gave birth to a baby girl, he decided that little children, and parents of little children, were off limits; he only killed childless couples and post-pubescent girls. He covered his tracks so well, there was virtually no chance he would ever be caught--or that any of his growing number of murders would be solved.

But in 2012, his career started to unravel. Like all addictions, killing had gone from a sport to a compulsion that he could no longer control--even by killing. When he spontaneously chose his last victim, he broke all his own rules. First of all, he targeted a local--18-year old Samantha Koenig, whom he kidnapped from her job at a coffee kiosk in his own town of Anchorage, Alaska. Secondly, he used the girl's cell phone to text a ransom demand to her parents--although by that time he had already raped and killed her. And finally, he had the ransom money deposited into Samantha's own bank account, using her ATM card to withdraw cash in a spree that took him all the way to the double wedding of his sisters in Wells, Texas, where he nearly broke up the wedding with a defiant proclamation of his atheism. As his family members tearfully urged him to repent, assuring him that God could forgive him no matter what he'd done, state and federal police officers were already closing in on his trail. He left the wedding in disgust, a cigarette between his lips and Samantha Koenig's ATM card in his rental car.

The end came soon after his last rejected chance to repent. A Lufkin police officer identified the rental car from an all-points bulletin based on a surveillance photo of him pulling away from an ATM where he had used Samantha's card. The cop pulled him over for speeding, called for backup, and arrested Israel on what turned out to be federal charges of using someone else's ATM to withdraw over $1000 in one month. The District of Alaska took jurisdiction of the case, since that's where Samantha's bank account was based.

This is where the prosecution really began to bungle the case. Focused on the intricacies of the law that protect accused criminals, the crime investigators couldn't ask him about Samantha's murder. But when he started to open up about "other chapters in this story," they realized they had a serial killer on their hands.

For the next nine months investigators continued to ask him about his previous murders, but he was cagey. Sometimes he'd bargain with them: a cigar for a name and a place. Returning his girlfriend's confiscated property for a description of where he'd disposed of a body. Again and again his demands came back to: a swift and speedy trial, sentencing, and execution. Until he got some idea of how soon the end was, he wouldn't give them all the information they demanded.

The prosecution, looking forward to a big trial--one that would no doubt be dominating the headlines right now had it gone as scheduled--wouldn't cooperate. They kept reminding Israel that he was in jail now, and they held all the cards. The best he could hope for was a life sentence, if he cooperated.

Fools. Israel didn't want a life sentence, and told them so openly. Liars that they were, they could have told him anything he wanted to hear; and in return, he would have given them the information they so desperately needed to close down a dozen cold murder cases. But when they told him he couldn't expect a trial to even start until a year after his arrest, he pulled out the trump card and ended not only the valuable stream of data they'd been teasing out of him, but the whole prosecution: despite being on suicide watch, he killed himself in his cell on Dec 2, 2012. There would be no trial, no sentencing, no execution. The Koenig case was closed without resolution--other than that divers had found her dismembered body in an Alaskan lake, just where he said he'd left it.

Prosecutors who really want to solve a case have to realize that the only person who can say how many victims a serial killer has murdered is the killer himself, and they NEVER hold all the cards until the dealing's done.

Monday, 29 April 2013

The non-combatant American

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An earlier post reflected on the European desire to kill or be killed for the motherland. Rose Wilder Lane very elegantly explained that this ideal never became part of the American psyche:

War has always been the primary function of Old World Government. Men living in the Old World use a large part of their energy in killing men and in destroying food, shelter, and all other necessities of human life. Americans in general do not understand this. Neither do most continental Europeans understand the American attitude toward war.

When I was living in Albania I had a friend who was one of the finest persons I ever knew. He was an Italian of English ancestry. His mother and his maternal ancestors for many generations had been English. He was fourteen and his brother was nine, when their parents were drowned at sea. The boys had no other near relatives and from that time they were inseparable. They stayed together in schools and universities; they got from the King himself a special permission to do their military service together. They went together to Argentine, and in 1915 returned to join their regiment. They were both wounded at Caporetto, and abandoned on the field. My friend reached his brother but was too weak to do anything for him. The brother died during the third night. My friend's wounds still required him to return to hospitals at intervals.

For weeks I tried to explain to him the American attitude toward war. He could not understand it. I was confused, myself, for like most Americans I had taken it for granted that no one wants war. My friend had the best European schooling, Italian, German, and English. He was widely and accurately informed; he was intelligent, open-minded, and eager to understand my puzzling country. The clue, he said, was in our attitude toward war. It baffled him.

"War has always been the primary function of Old World Government." He laughed at the superficial European belief that Americans are mere dollar-chasers. He knew several Americans intimately. He did not find them mercenary, nor cowardly, nor weak, nor — exactly — unpatriotic. American patriotism is peculiar, he said. Americans never say "my fatherland," "my motherland." What a peculiar attitude toward your country, to call it Uncle Sam. And notice, he said, the tone in which you say "Uncle Sam," or, "The States." It is affectionate; it has a sound of — what should he say? equality? tolerance? — as if a confident young man were speaking of a good old uncle. That is not the way in which a man speaks of his country, the fatherland, the motherland, the parent whose child he is. And then, the curious American talk about war. He did not believe that it was entirely hypocritical. But would I explain the facts?

The United States are made by unprovoked military aggression. They attack the Indians and take half a continent; they attack Mexico and take Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California; they attack Spain, and take Cuba; they attack the Filipinos and take the islands. Then why don't they hold and subdue Mexico, when American troops have taken Mexico City? Why don't they attack Canada while the mother country is embroiled in Europe? Why do the United States reverse all history, and fight for an older empire instead of helping to dismember it? Now (in 1928) the United States are the strongest world power; why do they no have compulsory military training? They have used military power to dictate to all Europe; then why has the army no influence in our foreign policy? Why do the sons of our upper classes go into business or professions, why not into the army and navy? Why do Americans not honor their great Generals above such men as Edison and Hoover? Why, when General Pershing is an American, do Americans make a small-town editor the President of the United States?

One morning his servant brought a note, asking if he might see me at once, for only a moment. He came in, excited, apologizing for calling at that hour, "but I could not wait to tell you! It came to me in a flash, suddenly, just now. It is materialism! As you have said, Signora: Americans hate war because it kills men and destroys property. Suddenly, it comes to me. What are lives and property? Material things. All men die, time destroys all property. Lives and property have no value. The immortal value is the soul of a nation, and war regenerates the nation's soul. Americans cannot see spiritual values. That is it, Signora; yes, yes, that is the truth. Deep down, at base, au fond, your countrymen are pure materialists. You see only the material world; you cannot see what war is, because it is spiritual."

He had seen his brother die at Caporetto, and he died in Ethiopia, a fine, brave, honorable man, who believed with his whole mind that an individual is a cell in the body of The State, that Authority controls all human beings, and that his own life had no value whatever but service to Immortal Italy.

That is the cause of war.

Men who have that pagan belief will always make war. They must make war, because of the nature of human energy. Not knowing that individuals control themselves, they do not recognize and accept that responsibility; they try to make their own energy work on a false basis. It will not work on a false basis, and one of the results of trying to make it do so, is war.

--Rose Wilder Lane, from The Discovery of Freedom

Friday, 19 April 2013

[Random] Thoughts on the Latest Chechen Terrorist Bombing

Counter Well, I've spent the better part of the day following the Boston Marathon Explosion, and have tried to pull back a couple of times and think this through. Some questions have finally been answered, such as:

Was this an attack by undercover agents of a foreign government, or Americans? Americans.
Did the perpetrators skip the country immediately, as foreigners were, or stay local? They were locals.
Were they using sophisticated military-grade explosives, or IED's? They used pressure-cooker IED's.
Was this an isolated attack, or part of a general war on America?

Aha. Now once we get to this question, it gets a little stickier. That the two bombing suspects are also accused of robbing a 7/11 would indicate that this wasn't an isolated incident, while on the other hand it also pretty much guarantees that they were lone wolves. Somebody being funded by an outside agency isn't going to resort to armed robbery to raise cash, especially not in their own local neighborhood.

On the other hand, this also demonstrates once again (The Beltway Sniper did if for us a decade ago) that a single pair of terrorists can literally immobilize a major metropolitan region. This was the first time probably since the Revolutionary War that the entire city of Boston was, to some extent or another, under a 24-hour curfew. I believe it's also the first time tanks have been used on American streets. And all this, brought on by a few household chemicals and easily obtained handguns.

Just imagine what this country would look like if, instead of a couple of Muslims taking out their religious angst on the Great Satan, a couple dozen--or couple hundred--gun owners methodically took out their rage on a government that tried to disarm them.

That thought must give the gun-grabbers a churning feeling in the pits of their stomachs.

I should add that although these Chechen terrorists are in fact Americans local to the Boston area, their father at least lives back in the Caucuses, and was hoping to see them there this summer. Muslim Americans who regularly travel to terror-stricken regions of the globe to visit Muslim members should probably be rated considerably higher on the suspect list for crimes like these than non-Muslim Americans who like to blow up stumps on the back 40. A mass-murdering terrorist could emerge from either group, but one is way more likely than the other.

April 20:
Well, I have a few more thoughts. One, if somebody did put these guys up to it, they cut them off after the bombing; these guys were out of cash and desperate to clear town.
Secondly, these guys were determined not to be taken alive.
Thirdly, the FBI is probably going to scale back their terrorist conspiracy sting program. There's a least a hint that this may have been a sting gone terribly wrong when they hired someone actually capable of pulling it off.

Okay, here's a report showing it most likely that Tamerlan at least was a stooge for the FBI. His brother most likely was just going along with him.

UPDATE AUGUST 2013:
More information has come out on the details, but not such as would change the overall picture; for example, their mother also lives in the FSU, and apparently it was only Tamerlan who was determined not to be taken alive; his brother was shot while unarmed and unthreatening. 

Monday, 15 April 2013

The NIV and God's three loaves of bread

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"Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine."   --I Samuel 10:3 NIV (2011)

"And thou shalt go on forward from thence, and shalt come to the oak of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God, to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three cakes of bread, and another carrying a flask of wine." --I Samuel 10:3 Darby (1890)

"Go on from there, and you will come to the Oak of Tavor. Three men will meet you there on their way up to God at Beit-El. One of them will be carrying three kids, another three loaves of bread and the third a skin of wine." --I Samuel 10:3 Complete Jewish Bible (1998)

Well, this is about a blatant translation error on the part of the CBT, but really it's not fair to single out the NIV without mentioning that virtually every English Bible in the last 400 years has read "three loaves of bread" in 1 Samuel 10:3. Specifically worthy of mention is the Complete Jewish Bible, the editor of which really should have known better.

What is the problem? Well, in English now, as in 1890, "loaf" carries the distinct connotation of leavened bread. Darby knew that, so he used a word that was rather awkward, but nonetheless more accurate: 'cake'. It's the best English word to use to describe what isn't all that common in English culture: a flat piece of yeastless bread baked by turning it on a skillet. Such a food item is actually quite common as a breakfast dish, but as such it is always made with use of a leavening agent: a pancake.

Cakes of unleavened bread, however, were specifically prescribed for offerings to the LORD:

“‘When you bring a grain offering which has been baked in the oven, it is to consist of either unleavened cakes made of fine flour mixed with olive oil or matzah spread with olive oil." --Leviticus 2:4, CJB

"And if thou present an offering of an oblation baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil." --Leviticus 2:4, Darby

Okay, so David Stern at least recognized the need to use "cakes" here, where "unleavened loaves" just wouldn't make sense in English. But there was a disconnect between the prohibition on offering leavened loaves here, and the implication of offering leavened loaves just six books later.

Now, there's' something interesting about the word translated 'cakes' in 1 Sam 10:3; it's the Hebrew feminine plural noun kikkaroth, from the verb karar, 'to spin or whirl.' The implication is that these are round slabs of bread, like those from which pizza crusts originated. Although the word itself is not used in Leviticus, clearly there are no grounds for assuming that these round cakes of bread being brought before God at Bethel were anything but unleavened.

Simply put, "loaves" was a bad translation back in 1611, still a bad translation in 1890, and unmistakably a bad translation in 2011.

We haven't made much progress--or even regress--in the past 120 years.

"Then you will go on from there until you reach the Oak of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three cabritos, another three tortillas, and another a skin of wine."   --I Samuel 10:3 The Complete Latino Bible (yet to be published)

UPDATE July 2013
It just occurred to me that the NNIV also mentions "three loaves of bread"  in Luke 11:5--
Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,--

As in all the versions cited. As if such a huge amount of food was needed for a traveler's midnight snack.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Kent Hovind on defending the King James Bible, from the very seventh word

Counter Having written earlier on Mike Pearl's King-James-Only cosmology, I now note Kent Hovind's report that he came on board this bandwagon 15 years ago. I can't seem to link to his site (2peter3.com) so I quote it here in full:

Open letter to Brother Tom Ish- Editor of Creation Illustrated
 Thank you for your excellent magazine!  I have been a long time supporter of and advertiser in it and recommend it to all.

 With that said, I must object to an article in your Winter 2013 issue: "Creation Day 2" by Paul Taylor.  In this article Mr. Taylor objects to the teaching of a canopy above the atmosphere in the original creation.

 I don't recall ever having met Mr. Taylor but when I was given my "extended vacation" by the feds (for some illegal, bogus and hotly contested reasons you can read about on www.2peter3.com if you wish) I asked my son Eric to manage the Creation Science Evangelism (CSE) Ministry in Pensacola, Florida until my return.  Within a year he began a new ministry called Creation Today.  Soon thereafter he hired Paul Taylor to come from England and join his team and they have been doing a great job of spreading the creation message.

 I in no way wish to hinder anyone's outreach for the Lord or harm their reputation or hurt anyone's feelings but I also cannot sit silently after reading the many errors in that article!  These errors and the flawed premise they are based on may not only cast doubt in the minds of your readers about what I believe and teach on other issues, since I teach about the canopy in Seminar #2, they may also adversely affect my son's thinking (and your readers) on two critical topics as I will explain below.

 I try to be constantly alert for false doctrine.  I understand it can come from ANY source- even within myself- and it spreads quickly like a virus and can infect healthy organisms if not stopped and treated in time.  After all the years and money I invested in my son and the creation ministry in Pensacola I've got to stay vigilant as God gives me strength and insight to be sure it is not undermined or derailed in my absence.  I have paid a HIGH price for my convictions and won't let anyone destroy them now.  Jesus rebuked Peter (Mt. 16:23) when he taught something wrong.  Peter seems to have received the rebuke and correction.  I pray Paul and Eric will receive mine.  Nehemiah had to set a few things right after his extended absence (Neh. 13). So did the Apostle Paul (I Cor. 11:34).

 In the article Paul explains some problems with a canopy model that I don't think anyone believes or promotes today-I don't.  He is right that 20 inches of water above the atmosphere would not be enough to flood the world.  I sure never said it would. Beating up a "straw man" image you set up does NOT mean you have beaten the real man.

 His article starts with a false dichotomy when he says, "What I am about to suggest to you may be argumentative to some while others will wholeheartedly agree with my research."  Obviously this type of statement gives two false choices and makes it look like you either: A-argue with him or B. agree with his "research."  As if those who may disagree with him do not also do research.  The obvious third option is that his "research" has led him to the wrong conclusion or the forth option is that he researched the wrong canopy model or a fifth option that he was using the wrong Bible to study this topic.  It is rather like the Russians who first circled the moon and concluded there was no God since they didn't see Him out there during their "research."  Ah...not good logic fellas!

 So, I will address 3 points:
1-Which Bible should we use to determine ANY doctrine including the canopy?
2- The problems with Paul's article.
3- The canopy theory I teach.

1- Which Bible?

 I fully agree with Paul when he says that "No opinion on it (the canopy) should be elevated to the status of biblical inerrancy."  He also says, "God's Word is unchangeable and never up for review."  I actually REALLY believe that but from his frequent use of other versions and his criticism of the King James I don't think he really does. I would love for him to send me a copy of what he will stand by as "God's Word" which is "unchangeable" since the one he quotes from for the article has THOUSANDS of changes from the one I use and the one the church has used for over 400 years.

 For example: Let's look at Genesis 1:1 where we can't even read 7 WORDS without spotting a "change" in God's "unchangeable" Word.  The change I will point out is critical to lay the simple foundation for a discussion of the "canopy theory" in part 3 so bear with me please.

 Moses (1,400 BC) collected and edited Genesis from 10 eyewitness accounts (see seminar #7) and then wrote the next 4 books Ex.-Dt.  The Jews then CAREFULLY copied it thousands of times and spread it to all their synagogues.  They were concerned with every "jot and tittle" (Mt. 5:18) as they copied.  They also wrote scores of commentaries about the Torah.  Let's see if the copies were kept pure and "unchanged" in just Genesis 1:1.

 Genesis 1:1 in the Jewish Torah (OT) says, "In the beginning God created the heaven..."  Hmmm?  Heaven is in the singular and has been for 3,400 years in Jewish literature as well as the thousands of copies scattered around the world.

Early English translations of Genesis 1:1.

1384 John Wycliffe- "In the bigynnyng God made out of nouyt heuene and erthe." Heaven is Singular.
1525 William Tyndale- "In the begynnynge God created heauen and erth."  Singular
1535 Miles Coverdale- "In ye begynnynge God created heauen & earth."  Singular
1537 Matthew Bible- "In the beginnyng God created heauen and erth." Singular
1539 Taverner Bible- " In the begynnynge created God heuen and erth." Singular
1540 Great Bible- "In the begynnynge God created heuen and earthe." Singular. Gen. 2:1 The heauens also ...plural
1568 Bishops Bible- Gen 2:1- "The heavens also the earth were finished..." Plural in 2:1
1579, 1599, 1606, 1611 Geneva Bible- heaven singular in 1:1 and heavens plural in 2:1
1587 Geneva Bible- " the heauen " Singular
1609 Doway Bible- 2:1 "The heavens therfore ..." plural
1611 King James Bible- "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Singular
1750 Challoner DRV Bible- "...created the heaven " Singular  heavens plural in 2:1
1885 English Revised "...created the heaven " Singular
1886 Parallel RV/AV "...created the heaven...." Singular in both columns and plural for 2:1
1895 and 1898 English Revised "...created the heaven..." Both have Singular

French-
1555 1:1 Diev crea au commencemet le ciel & la terra. Singular- Les cieux... Plural in 2:1
1561 1:1 ...le ciel & la terra." singular, Les cieux donc... plural in 2:1
1562 1:1 ...le ciel- singular.  2:1 Les cieux donc... plural
1956 1:1 Au commencement, Dieu crea le ciel et la terre. Singular (La Sainte Bible Tranduite en Francais sous la direction de L'ecole Biblique de Jerusalem.)

German-
1535 Gen. 1:1 "Amanfang schuff Gott Himel und Erden." Singular
1540 Dietenberger Bible- hymmel- singular
1556 Himel- singular
1591 Himmel- singular
1599 Luther Bible- Hemmel- singular

 The FIRST "bible" I can find that uses "heavens" plural in 1:1 is the 1553 Spanish "Inquisition Approved Old Testament" -"En Principio crio el dio alos cielos y ala tierra."  Plural. Catholic Spanish Inquisition... Hmmm?  Satan plans lo-o-o-o-ong term!

 The first English one I can find that says heavens -plural- in Gen. 1:1 is the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV) which was based on the recently completed perversion of the Bible by two British cultists (and Darwin admirers) named Westcott and Hort in 1881.  They chose the manuscript found in the Vatican basement in 1481 (on leather in "EXCELLENT SHAPE") as the basis for their text in spite of the fact that it did NOT have: the first 45 1/2 chapters of Genesis, Psalms 106-138, I & II Tim. and Titus, nearly 5 chapters from Hebrews and all of Revelation.  It was also missing numerous individual verses and had thousands of individual word changes.  It had been rejected as corrupt by most scholars.

 They filled in the missing chapters from 2 even MORE corrupt Egyptian texts and ignored the reading in over 5,000 ancient texts because they didn't fit their theology!  Since those two evil men resurrected and synthesized the 3 corrupt Alexandrian manuscripts and published it in 1881 there have been nearly 1,000 English translations of this altered and perverted text. NIV, NKJV, etc. There are SCORES of great books on the King James controversy for those who wish to look further.  I know full well that some don't WANT to "look further" into this issue because they LIKE the freedom to alter God's "unchangeable Words" if need be and they LIKE the feeling of power and prestige they get when people have to come to THEM to know what the Word REALLY says on a topic.  But, IF you are honest and seeking truth see www.chick.com & www.avpublications.com for starters or my Seminar Part 7.

 ALL new Bible (per)versions I have seen after 1901 including the "New King James" Paul quotes in his article have "heavens" in the plural in verse 1. Hmmm?  I can't even read 7 WORDS into the Bible without finding that somebody changed the "unchangeable" Word!  This is NOT a minor point! (I used to think it was) Which Bible you BASE your theology and SCIENCE on reflects on scores of things later, including the "canopy theory" as we will see.  Just that one letter "s" changing singular to plural totally changes the meaning.

 Satan took just three words- "God hath said..." and only changed the ORDER to "Hath God said...?" and fooled Eve in a PERFECT world!  ALL the new "bibles" I have seen (even NKJV) change ONE LETTER in Rev. 13:16 and 14:9 from saying the mark of the beast goes "IN the hand" to make it say "ON the hand."  Ya think Satan will use THAT to fool folks into getting "micro-chipped" soon?

 LITTLE details like a small "O" ring on the space shuttle can make a BIG difference!  Ask NASA!

 Jesus said "netS" and Peter left off the "s." See Lk. 5:4-5

 Ya'll can do what you want, and you will, but I'm not going to sit by and let ANYONE change ONE letter in my Bible.  Satan is too slick and he can even get good, godly, sweet, mild-mannered, kind, intelligent men who "love the Lord" to work for him.  He did it with Peter.  Even if NO other creation ministries want to take a stand on the Bible version issue I WILL!  Any ministry I have will not only "defend the Bible from the very first verse" but will be able to hand you a copy of it.

 "Heaven" is SINGULAR in Gen. 1:1 in the REAL unchangeable Word of God and THAT is a beginning point for discussing the canopy.  "Heaven" is used 7 times in Gen. 1 in the KJB.

 Genesis 2:1 in nearly ALL versions I have seen including KJB have "heavens" in the plural so the translators listed above who used "heaven" singular in Genesis 1:1 certainly KNEW the difference between singular and plural.  Why did they ALL choose the singular?  Were they stupid?  Were they waiting for a "modern scholar" to show them the truth and the light?  OR, did someone change it?

 If God's Word is "unchangeable" how did it change from singular to plural found only in a few corrupt Catholic versions?  Which is right?  Before we get into a discussion or debate about God's Word and what it means on ANY topic (including the canopy) we must first be sure we are all on the same page and talking about the same Bible!

 In my Seminar Part 4, I explain the importance of defining the slippery word "evolution" BEFORE proceeding with the discussion.  It is ESSENTIAL to define terms in a discussion or debate.  Do WE have authority over the Word of God or does IT have authority over us?  Do I need some guru to tell me what the Word REALLY says or can I just read it on my own and not be misled?  To discuss or debate the canopy only to have the opponent say, "What this verse really means..." is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall!

 For about 28 years of my Christian life I used, promoted and defended many of the new "Bible" versions.  I have a huge collection of them at home.  About 15 years ago I devoted hundreds of hours to the study and I was forced by the overwhelming evidence to agree with millions of other Christians before me that God preserved His very Words (as He promised in Ps. 12:6-7) for the English speaking world in the King James.  So, I agree with Paul that God's Word is "never up for review" but I take it further and can actually hand you a copy of God's Word.  I don't think Paul or any of those who use other modern versions can do that.  I know that some like the feeling of being superior to the Word when they say, "What this really means in the Hebrew (or Greek) ..."  The Pharisees loved the greetings in the marketplace and to be called Rabbi... Mt 23:2-7

 These new Bible versions are always "correcting" the KJB and will hinder people from simply trusting God's Word and His ability to preserve it for us today.  They even change Ps. 12:6-7 where God promised to preserve HIS WORDS!  Hmmm?

Problems with Paul Taylor's article on the Canopy Theory.

1. I already mentioned the false dichotomy Paul creates in the first sentence of his article.  If I find a problem with one of the old canopy models does that proves them all wrong?  Does one flat tire prove tires don't work?

2. PT- "The Canopy Theory is an honorable attempt to interpret Scripture correctly and also to account for the waters of the flood." p. 22.

KH- I agree that the canopy theory is an honorable attempt to interpret scripture and, as we will see in part 3 of my answer, is still very likely the correct way to interpret it but the canopy water/ice probably contributed VERY little to the flood.  Most creationists believe and teach the flood waters came from inside the earth when the fountains of the deep (Gen. 7:11; 8:2; Job 38:8, 16; Ps. 24:1; 33:7 133:6; Pr 8:28) broke open.

3. "The basis of the Canopy Theory is that the firmament represents earth's atmosphere."

KH- I AGREE on this one.  No scripture is to be interpreted privately (II Pt. 1:20) and Gen. 1:20 tells us clearly that the "fowl (birds) that may fly ABOVE the earth IN the open firmament of heaven."  That would be clear biblical evidence that the "firmament" is the atmosphere we are breathing now and the birds fly in.

4. "It is thought that this canopy could have been the source, or at least a source, for the waters of the Flood. The Flood would have been initiated, therefore, by the collapse of this canopy." p. 23

KH- NO! This is but another example of why we need to settle on the Word of God first!  The KJB clearly says "the fountains of the great deep" broke up FIRST and THEN "the windows of heaven were opened." Gen. 7:11.  The Canopy collapsing did NOT initiate the flood. The breaking open of the great deep did.  This may have triggered the collapse of the canopy however.

5. "the pre-Flood canopy would have caused conditions of environment and weather before the Flood to be very different from those of today."

KH- I AGREE!  It is obvious to all, creationists and evolutionists alike, that the earth was VERY different in the past.  Giant Red Wood tree stumps are found in the arctic circle. Coal (from trees) is found near the South Pole.  The Sahara was a forest at one time.  HUGE animals and insects of nearly all kinds are found as fossils.  They could not grow that large today. Some argue about WHEN it was different with evolutionists claiming it was during the mythical "Jurassic" period but all agree it was different.  Nearly all Young Earth Creationists agree these giant animals including dinosaurs lived before the flood and maybe even after the flood for a while with smaller specimens possibly alive today!  See Seminar Part 2.

6. "My rejection of their support for the Canopy Theory is merely an indication that our understanding moves on." p. 24

KH- WOW!  "My rejection" and "our understanding".  Hmmm?  Would that imply that if anyone still believes there was a canopy they lack understanding enough to move on?  I sort of resent that insinuation!

7. "In 1976 Morris was satisfied that such a vapor canopy would provide the water required for the Flood." p. 24

KH- As I recall Dr. Morris always taught that flood waters came from inside the earth and only part of it from the canopy.  Even so- 1976?  Our understanding moves on.  The purpose of the canopy was not to be a source of water to later flood the world but to provide perfect living conditions.  If Dr. Morris had a wrong idea about the size of the canopy that doesn't prove the entire idea wrong.  Edison had about 1,000 FAILED attempts to make a light bulb.  Does that prove it can't be done or that the theory needs tweaked.  Let me turn on my light to study this one!  Don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

8. "Some creationists, however, have suggested a canopy of ice.  Carl Baugh, for example, suggests a crystalline canopy.  In this theory, the ice would be made either of ice crystals or of a solid, metallic-hydrogen lattice, suspended above the earth by magnetic levitation.  This specific crystalline canopy has particular problems.  Magnetic levitation would not work on molecules like water or hydrogen..."

KH. Are you sure magnetic levitation won't work on super cold ice?  You may want to follow the latest research on that. Visit www.creationevidence.org ; Dr. Baugh- 254-897-3200 to see scores of articles that disagree with this statement.  More about that in part 3 below.

9. "a solid lattice of ice would make it difficult or impossible to see the stars." p. 25

KH. What?  Who says?  Does a "solid lattice" of melted sand (i.e. glass) make it impossible to see the stars?  NO! Glass is used for lenses to ENHANCE our vision of the stars.  Telescopes and microscopes use lenses and mirrors to great effect.  An ice canopy that compressed the atmosphere to say, 10 miles rather than the current 60+, would eliminate most atmospheric distortion (twinkle) as well.  Under a solid clear crystalline canopy the pre-flood people would see the stars even more clearly than we can today!

10.  "Finally, hydrogen can exhibit metallic properties only under extreme conditions of high pressure and temperatures near absolute zero."

KH- And?  Outer space IS near absolute zero, +3K or -170 C or - 456+F.  A canopy of ice in contact with outer space would act like an Eskimo's igloo.  He can build a fire inside and not melt the ice roof because it conducts heat to the frigid outside.  You can also boil water in a paper cup because of the same effect.  Maybe the canopy provided a way to transfer heat and prevent "global warming" or the "greenhouse effect" some seem so worried about a canopy producing?

11. "Canopy theorists have also claimed that the giant insects seen in the fossil record would not have been able to breathe without increased oxygen partial pressure.  Again, this position can be shown to not be the case."

KH- OK, I'd like to see where it has been "shown not to be the case."  I'd also like Paul's explanation for the giant insects.  They did live on earth once and they don't now.  He offers no explanation.  Giant insects have a surface area to volume problem explained in Part 3 below.

12. "increased oxygen partial pressure can actually be shown to have a deleterious effect on longevity of humans."

KH- I'm gonna have to see proof of that!  Hundreds if not thousands of hospitals and sports teams use hyperbaric chambers every day where people get 100% oxygen at triple pressure with GREAT results.  I've done it.  It is true that over 35% oxygen can be bad long term but 1.5 ATM and 25-30% oxygen has GREAT positive effects and no "deleterious effect" on humans or animals or plants.  No one knows what pressure and % oxygen the pre-flood world had but I would bet God made it "just right" since God Himself pronounced it "very good" when He was done. (in the KJB- I didn't and won't check all the others on that one.)

13. "it has been suggested that the longevity of humans before the flood was due to greater atmospheric pressure.  However, a better explanation of this longevity is the comparative absence of mutations among the human gene pool.  The level of mutations would have greatly increased after the Flood; so, this could explain the rapid decrease in longevity."

KH- What??  I have never heard that one suggested by anyone nor do I think the sudden drop from 912 avg to 70-80 within a short time can be explained by mutations!  That's quite a stretch!  Noah lived to be 950 and Shem lived to 600.  How would Shem inherit a mutation that made him live 35% less than his dad since Shem was conceived and born 100 years BEFORE the flood?  Noah lived 350 years AFTER the flood.  Did this same mythical mutation problem affect all the animals and plants since they are all smaller now too?  I'd like to see the evidence for that claim!

14. "any vapor canopy would trap heat from the sun, leading to increased temperatures at earth's surface." p. 25

KH- And???  What is the problem here?  It's -10F wind chill outside in NH right now as I write this.  I'd LOVE an increase in temperature!  A LARGE % of earth's surface is too cold to raise crops or support any significant # of humans today due to the cold.  Antarctica is bigger than America I believe and NOBODY can live there without LOTS of outside support.  Estimates are that 3% of the earth is habitable today yet the Bible says God "formed it to be inhabited." Is. 45:18. SOMETHING must have changed since then.  An increase in temperature with a system to keep the temperature evenly distributed worldwide would lead to the earth being habitable from pole to pole.  Sounds good to me!  No one has demonstrated that a canopy would create a serious temperature problem at the surface.  See #10 above.

15. "A better model for how the Flood began is the Catastrophic Plate Tectonics model, which shows that the major source of water would probably have been the mantle." p. 26

KH- I MAY agree with him on this one if I heard his details but that would NOT mean there wasn't a canopy as well.

16. "Dr. Russell Humphreys has suggested a cosmology based on the stretching of space.  In this cosmology, Humphreys has suggested that the firmament, which divides the waters above from the waters below, in Genesis 1:6-8, represents the stretching universe. ... a side effect of this theory is that the waters above would therefore be beyond the stars.."

KH- Ps. 148:4 says "the waters THAT BE above the heavens."  Based on that verse I believe the entire universe we see is inside a water canopy right now.  That would not negate the idea that there was also one over the first heaven as we will cover in part 3.  The birds fly in the firmament (KJB).  That means it is the air not the stretching.  I do agree the heavens have been or are being stretched.  The Bible says they are at least 11 times.

17. "Second, some have pointed to birds flying in the canopy, as pointing to the canopy being at the edge of the atmosphere.  However, if the canopy were at the edge of the universe, this position would not contradict this verse (Genesis 1:20).  Moreover, the Hebrew version actually talks about the "face of the firmament."

KH- First the Bible says the birds fly in the firmament NOT the canopy.  The waters were ABOVE the firmament where the birds fly.  This is why point 1 about which Bible to use must be agreed on first!  The Bible does NOT say the birds fly in the "face of the firmament."  We don't need any Hebrew or helper to understand exactly what it says.  Birds fly in the firmament. Gen. 1:20.

18. "Some versions, such as the NKJV, refer to this statement: 'let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.' So, the birds are not actually in the firmament but flying across the face of it."

KH- Do you see why I had to make point #1 first!  ERIC!  Please DON'T fall for any of this!  This is why I have been harping for 15 years now that we must first find God's Words BEFORE we can claim we are defending them!  Defending WHAT EXACTLY?  Is it heaven or heavens?  I found God's exact Words!  I had them all along but it was various "Bible scholars" and Bible correctors that made me doubt for 28 years!  After spending hundreds of hours studying the Bible version issue it was such a relief when I FINALLY got through that jungle of wondering "what the Bible REALLY meant."  I remember sitting on my bed with my Bible in hand and saying, "This is it!  I'm holding God's Words."  I got down on my knees and told God I was sorry for doubting His ability to preserve His Words and I thanked Him for letting me have a copy!  I pray you and Paul come to that point one day soon.

Nehemiah 8:8 has the right sequence.  A. Read the Word as it is.  B. Explain it all you want.  C. Help the people understand.  DON'T change the Words and THEN explain your new version of them!

19. "Scriptural analysis and modern scientific understandings both show that the canopy model is not necessary." p. 27

KH- WHAT?  You sure didn't do that in this article!  You never did explain the giant insects or long life spans.  You never did give a model to explain red wood trees in the arctic or coal at the South Pole.  I'd sure be willing to examine any theories you put forth but please don't think you "demolished the canopy theory" with this post.

20. "It seems today that the effects, for which the Canopy Theory was developed to explain, are actually better explained by other means."

KH- Such as???  Paul is right that some older models of the canopy theory have serious flaws and are most likely unworkable but don't be too hasty here!  After 1,000 failures at making a light bulb Tom knew 1,000 ways that didn't work so he knew he must be closer to finding the right way!  Hmmm?  Go Tom!  Ditto the canopy.

In part 3 of this way to long response I will present what I teach about the canopy.

THE ORIGINAL CREATION-HOVIND'S CANOPY THEORY
What was the original creation like?  Why did they live 900+ years before the flood (Gen. 5)?  Where do dinosaurs fit in?  Why don't we live to be 900?

Let's look at the facts from Scripture, Science and History and see if we can make a reasonable theory to explain it all. This is indeed a theory and subject to change as new data is obtained.  The Bible is not subject to change.

BIBLE FACTS:
 Genesis 1:6-7, "And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.  And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so."

 We see from this passage that this "firmament" -whatever that is, divides the waters.  Some water is UNDER it and other water is ABOVE it.  The Bible normally interprets itself if you keep reading so let’s look at the next time the firmament is mentioned.

 Genesis 1:20 "...and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven."  Here we learn that the birds fly in it.  That would mean it must be the air.  We also see that the firmament is called heaven.  Water ABOVE the air?  Hmmm?

 Genesis 1:1 told us God created the heaven-singular.  Now, starting in verse 6-7 He is starting to divide it up into heavens-plural.  It would be WRONG to say there were heavens -plural- in verse 1.  The Bible does NOT tell us how MUCH water was above the firmament nor does it tell us if it was solid, liquid or gas nor does it tell us what held it up nor does us tell us WHY God put it there.  It DOES tell us there WAS water ABOVE the firmament.  I may never be able to UNDERSTAND all the details but the Bible says it was there.  Case closed for me.

 Gen. 1:14-18 says stars are in the heavens.  Psalm 148:4 says "ye waters THAT BE above the heavens."  David wrote this about 1,000 B.C. so there must STILL be water beyond the stars.

1. The Bible says there was water above the firmament (not across the face of it as some bible perversions say).  Above means--are you ready?-- above.
2. The word "firmament" is used 9 times in Genesis 1!  I think God is trying to get our attention to study that word!  It is used 17 times in the Bible. (THAT #17 is a study in itself!  See my blog on that!)  By looking at these 17 references we see: it divides the waters above from the waters below (Gen. 1:6-7); birds fly in it (Gen. 1:20); stars are in it (Gen. 1:14-18); it shows God's handiwork (Ps. 19:1); We can praise God in the firmament (Ps. 150:1); it is associated with a "color of the terrible crystal, stretched over their heads above" (Ez. 1:22-23); a throne (of God?) is above the firmament (Ez. 1:26-27: 10:1); the ones who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament (Dan. 12:3)
3. The average age recorded before the flood was 912.  After the flood it dropped to 600, then 400's then 200's and today very few make it to 100.  Something that GREATLY affected life spans must have happened at the time of the flood.
4. The Bible clearly teaches there are three heavens today and Paul was caught up to the 3rd one (II Cor. 12:2).

SCIENCE FACTS TO CONSIDER:
1. Fossils of GIANT insects have been found like: 2' grasshoppers, 18" cockroaches, 3' spiders, 50" dragonflies etc.  See Sem. Part 2 for more on that.
2. Insect size is limited due to their surface area to volume ratio problem since they breathe through their skin.  For example-a 1 inch cube has a volume of 1 cu. in. and a surface area (SA) of 6 sq. inches. 6/1 ratio.  A 2 inch cube has a vol. of 8 cu. in. and a SA of 24 sq. in. 3/1 ratio.  Hmmm?  If the interior must be supplied with oxygen through the skin the bigger it is the more of a problem this becomes.  They don't have enough surface to supply the air for the volume.  Giant insects would need greater air pressure or higher oxygen % or both.
3. Air bubbles trapped in amber are often found to have 30-35% oxygen rather than the 21% we breathe today. We can reasonably presume the air trapped is pre-flood air.
4. An atmosphere of oxygen beyond 35% can create problems but below that is beneficial.
5. Hundreds of hospitals and sports teams have hyperbaric chambers to give people 100% oxygen under double or triple normal pressure and have great results with health and healing.
6. Fossils of giant dinosaurs indicate they had small nostrils and small lungs.  This would be a problem in today's atmosphere but if there was higher % of oxygen or higher pressure (or both) they could breathe just fine.
7. HUGE bird (and flying insect) fossils have been found.  It would be difficult if not impossible for them to fly in today's "thin" atmosphere.
8. Most reptiles never stop growing. If they could live long enough we would call them dinosaurs.
9. The earth's magnetic field is getting weaker fast!  NASA estimates it is losing half of its strength every 800-1400 years.  6,000 years ago it would have been up to 20 times stronger than it is today.  At this intensity humans have enough iron in their blood to have a built in compass and "feel" which way is North.  A built in GPS!  You could never get lost or disoriented.
10. HUGE inflatable buildings are used all the time.  In a windless environment they can be held up with very little internal pressure. The Minnesota Viking's Football Stadium- The Metro dome is inflated.
11. A 3" layer of ice would weigh about 15 pounds /sq. ft.  It would only take 1.1 ATM (a 10% increase) to support that over the whole earth.
12. Squeezing the current 60 miles of air down to 10 miles inside a canopy of ice with metallic strength would be very feasible.
13. Ice at extremely low temperatures becomes laminated, metallic and magnetic.  It becomes a photo-amplifier and will act like a crystal radio and change radio waves to audible frequencies.  The music of the stars?  See Job 38:7.  See www.creationevidence.org (P.O. Box 309 Glen Rose, TX 76043; 254-897-3200) for more on that.  Magnetic lines tend to concentrate in laminated metals.
 I would also highly recommend the somewhat technical book "God Created the Earth-Genesis of Creation Chemistry" by Dr. Edward Boudreaux and Eric Baxter from Rocky Mountain Creation Fellowship, PO Box 3451, Littleton, CO 80161; eaboudre@yahoo.com.  Their explanation of God using water (Genesis 1:2) to form ALL of the elements is fabulous!  So is their evidence that high temperature, pressure and magnetic fields all shortened radioactive element's half lives from billions of years to minutes!  They calculate that the pressure inside the ice canopy would be about double what it is now.  That explains a lot of things we find as fossils.
14. Outer space is near absolute 0 Kelvin which is -459.6 F.
15. Greater air pressure creates "thicker" air making it easier for all insects, birds and even a few fish, snakes and mammals to fly or soar through the air.  It also allows bigger ones to fly like the 50 ft wingspan pterodactyls that have been found. They could not fly in today's atmosphere.
16. A layer of metallic ice would also filter out many harmful rays like ultraviolet (UV) that comes from the sun and can damage skin and body cells.
17. With uniformly higher pressure world-wide storms and wild weather would be impossible.  Watch the weather channel-high pressure? Clear skies.  Low pressure? rain, tornados, hurricanes, thunderstorms etc.
18. The earth may not have been tilted 23.5 degrees like it is today.  This also evens out the weather to spring like conditions everywhere.
19. Today's atmosphere has .06% Carbon Dioxide (CO2).  A 50% boost to .09% would make plants grow MUCH faster, bigger and produce more fruit.  Fossils of club moss are found 150 feet tall.  Today they reach about 1.5 feet.  SOMETHING was different!

HISTORY FACTS TO CONSIDER:
1. MANY ancient cultures have legends of a "Golden Age" where people lived to be 1,000 years old.
2. Many cultures have taught the earth is only a few thousand years old.
3. The Jews taught there was a crystalline canopy over the earth. The 1st century Jewish historian Josephus said, "After this, on the second day, He placed the heavens over the whole world, and separated it from the other parts: and determined that it should stand by itself.  He also placed a crystalline firmament around it, and put together in a manner agreeable to the earth, and fitted it for giving moisture and rain, and for affording the advantage of dews." Flavius Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 1.
4. Another Jewish text states, "and God made the firmament, its thickness being three fingers between (separating) the limits of the heavens (atmosphere) and the waters of the oceans." J. Bowers, D. S. Joanthgan translation, The Taroums and Rabbinin Literature, Cambridge University Press, 1969, P. 95.  (My three fingers total 2.4 inches in thickness.)

So, Here is the "Hovind version" of the "canopy theory."

 I believe God created everything in 6 literal 24 hours days exactly as recorded in Genesis 1 in the KJB. In verse one there was just the earth and one "heaven."  Starting in v. 6 God began dividing the heaven into 3 heavens by placing a "crystalline sphere" above the first heaven (atmosphere) and then another one above the second heaven where the stars are (Ps. 148:4).  The first canopy fell down or condensed at the flood and the second "canopy" is still there beyond the stars.  The entire universe that we marvel at is probably a little snow globe on God's dresser.  In the Wizard of OZ the witch watched Dorothy in one of those.  Hmmm? Satan always imitates the Most High. See Isaiah 14:13-14.

 This first canopy made in Gen. 1:6-7 was probably super cold (-450F?) perfectly clear crystalline ice about 3 inches thick and maybe 10 miles above the ground but containing all the atmosphere.  3" of ice weighs about 15 lbs/sq ft so 1.1 atmospheres would support it without the magnetic field helping.  However, it was probably also held up by the earth's magnetic field which was MUCH stronger 6,000 years ago.

 The second "Canopy" is probably also clear crystalline ice beyond the stars and is still there today.  See. EZ. 1:22-27.  No one knows where space ends.  I think God did that so we would say, like David in Ps. 8, When I consider the heavens...what is man...?

 The Bible clearly teaches there was water UNDER the crust of the earth in Ps. 24:1-2; 33:7; 136:7.  Earth's crust varies from 3-25 miles thick today.  This water under the crust came gushing out like water out of a womb (Job 38:8) when the fountains of the great deep broke open in Genesis 7:11.  THIS is where the flood water AND the 40 days of rain came from!

 The crust of the earth would sink into the void as the water left further flooding the surface and trapping huge pockets of hot water that STILL shoot up into the bottom of the ocean in tens of thousands of hot water springs along the mid-Atlantic ridge and various fault lines.  God asked Job if he had entered into the springs of the sea (38:16).  These were not discovered until 1977!  More about the waters under the crust in Appendix 2 of my book "What on Earth is About to Happen for Heaven's Sake?" (due out in March, 2013) or in Creation Seminar Part 6 and in Dr. Walt Brown's book, "In the Beginning".

 The crust sinking in would also speed up the earth's spin.  Maybe there were 360 days/year originally and 365.2422 today?  THAT would explain ancient calendars and other phenomenon-but that's for another book! Japan's 2011 tsunami and underwater land slide sped up the earth 1/1000th of a second.

 Under the first canopy of ice the people, plants and animals would live MUCH longer and grow MUCH bigger!  Fossils of giant animals have been found like: 6' beavers, 1,500 lb guinea pigs, 15' tall camels, 10' Kangaroos and 50' crocodiles.  Reptiles which never stop growing would become dinosaurs.

 Adam and Eve could see the stars MUCH more clearly and even hear the music of the stars as they sang together. Job 38:7.

 The flood began with the fountains of the deep breaking open. (Gen. 7:11; 8:2; Pro. 8:28).  Dr. Walt Brown offers convincing evidence that 10 miles of rock on top of the subterranean waters (which would have a pressure of about 10 million pounds/square foot) would jet water, mud and rock into orbit!  The canopy of ice may have been destroyed and collapsed at this time.  3 inches of ice would contribute VERY little to the flood itself.

 Both the waters above and most of the waters below are now on the surface.  Oceans cover 70% of the earth God created to be inhabited.  Redistributing this mass of rock and water may have caused the earth to wobble and SLOWLY change its tilt from maybe 0 degrees (causing more uniform spring-like temperatures from pole to pole preflood) to 23.5 degrees today (which causes our seasons).  Hmmm??

SUMMARY

Tom, thanks for reading this LONG post.  I pray it will better explain my position and passion for the Word of God.  Please post it or print it if you like.  Your magazine is a GREAT blessing to many and makes and EXCELLENT gift for those wondering how they can influence others for Christ.  I pray that MANY who read my blogs will go to www.creationillustrated.com and get a subscription for themselves and a loved one.  I'm sorry the article by Paul made me give this public response.  I'd sure much rather solve differences without the whole world watching if possible but it was too late for that this time.

Eric (and Paul and any who have ears to hear), the two MAJOR reasons some otherwise intelligent fellow creationists do NOT believe there was a canopy above the originally created atmosphere is because:
1. they are not studying the right Bible and
2. they have the wrong canopy model.

1. As we have seen, some don't believe they have God's exact Words to even begin to evaluate the canopy topic or, if they have His Words they don't trust them or feel that they must submit to them.  In every article I have read by those who oppose the idea of a canopy above the atmosphere the author is always changing the words in Genesis from the KJB to fit his theory rather than changing his theory to fit the Word of God.

   Hundreds of great books have been written on the King James topic already.  I implore you to study this topic.  You will NEED a SOLID WORD to hold to in the tribulation time that is coming here soon.  I can clearly remember the feeling I got in about 1998 or so when, after pouring scores of hours into the study of the issue, I became convinced by the overwhelming evidence that God DID preserve His Words as He promised He would in Ps. 12:6-7.  I remember when I knelt by my bed and held my Bible and looked at it for a minute as my rebellious spirit softened.  Finally I prayed, "Lord, I'm sorry for the way I have treated Your Word all these years.  I have always been quick to adjust it or change it if I felt the need to make it match what I believed or wanted to believe.  I felt superior to Your Word rather than trusting it as my inflexible perfect standard.  Starting today It is my master, I am not its master.  Thank you for all the millions of saints over the years who have given their lives so I can hold a copy of your perfect Word.  Please guide me as I preach to defend it against all attacks.  In Jesus' Name. Amen."

   Once you get the issue settled that we have the Perfect Word of God, the rest is easy.  Just read it and try to rightly divide it.  You can't even read 7 WORDS into the various Bible versions before there is a profound difference!  KJB says "heaven" and almost all the others say "heavens."  Somebody is WRONG!  Ditto with the canopy teaching.  The Bible could not be more clear when it says there was water ABOVE the firmament (Gen. 1:6-7).  Verse 20 is clear that the firmament is where the birds fly-i.e. the atmosphere.  If there was no canopy what does that mean?

  I'm not sure which part of the word "above" the critics don't understand.  Is it the "a" part or the "bove" part?  These verses CANNOT be referring to clouds IN the atmosphere or "across the face of" or "the stretching" like some foolishly claim.  The Bible does NOT say there was 20 feet of water up there.  Nor does it say the flood water came from the water above the heaven.  We covered that.  It came from INSIDE the earth.

   If the Word says it, we are to believe it even if it has no scientific explanation.  I believe in the creation, resurrection and all the miracles WITHOUT any scientific explanation.  It is the same with the idea of "water above the firmament."  I believe it because it says it.  Now, with that said, that does NOT mean I cannot try to study and understand HOW God did it.  He WANTS us to "study to shew ourselves approved unto God."  I try HARD to do that!  I know you do too.

  I think anyone is authorized to give their "opinion" or "theories" about what God's Word says and means (but keep James 3:1 in mind!) but they are NOT authorized to "change the Words" themselves and THEN give their ideas about what THEIR translation says or means.  The Word says there was water above the firmament.  That issue is closed for me.

  The New King James (NKJV) Paul used to critique the canopy also says people "are being saved" (Catholic teaching) rather than "are saved" (KJB) in I Cor. 1:18.  Is Jesus God's SON (KJB Acts 3:26) or His Servant (NKJV)?  Will God provide Himself as the lamb (Gen 22:8) which has a double meaning or does God need to provide FOR Himself a lamb as if He sinned and needs a sacrifice (NKJV)?  Did God tell Noah to COME into the ark (God's inside and going with on the trip) Gen. 7:1 KJB or GO into the ark (NIV) like, "see ya later Noah-hope ya make it?"  This Bible version issue is MUCH more serious than most realize.  PLEASE seek His face on it Eric and Paul (and all others!)

2. They are studying the wrong model.  Jesus' critics said no prophet comes from Galilee. (Jn. 7:52)  They challenged those who believed he was a prophet to go home and study for themselves!  They were searching in vain for the wrong thing!  Jesus was born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth.  I think Paul may have rightly criticized flaws with some older canopy models but he threw out the baby with the bath water.  More and more evidence is coming in to support the idea of a 3" canopy of super cold ice above the atmosphere.  This would be true to the Bible AND answer loads of questions about the world and the pre-flood world.

  I may not have all the details about the water above the firmament perfect myself.  I would gladly hear any reasonable criticism of my canopy theory.  It may need to be adjusted and modified many times.  That is fine if it stays in the parameters of God's infallible Word.  I started with assumption that I held the perfect Word and sought for a model that would stay true to that standard.  I think the God who sees the heart will like that.  I suggest you do the same.

Kent Hovind