Reader Edward called my attention to a new video by Dr. Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter with a specialty in the Old Testament (but she knows her Jesus, too). She’s my favorite Biblical scholar because she’s an out-and-out atheist and a strong skeptic, not accepting much of the Old Testament as true. As Wikipedia notes of her:
The main focus of Stavrakopoulou’s research is on the Hebrew bible, and on Israelite and Judahite history and religion.Stavrakopoulou supports the academic consensus that important figures in the Hebrew bible were not historical figures as represented in that text.[ She has further stated that she believes “very little, probably” of the Hebrew bible is historical fact, based on the arguments that ancient writers had an understanding of “fact” and “fiction” very different from a modern understanding, and that the Hebrew bible “wasn’t written to be a factual account of the past”; she concludes, saying she does not believe accounts of Moses and King David in the Hebrew bible to be factual, and that “as an historian of the bible, I think there is very little that is factual”. In her 2021 book, God: An Anatomy, Stavrakopoulou “presents a vividly corporeal image of God: a human-shaped deity who walks and talks and weeps and laughs, who eats, sleeps, feels, and breathes, and who is undeniably male. Here is a portrait–arrived at through the author’s close examination of and research into the Bible–of a god in ancient myths and rituals who was a product of a particular society, at a particular time, made in the image of the people who lived then, shaped by their own circumstances and experience of the world”. This book has been described by John Barton as showing that the non-corporeal God of Judaism and Christianity “was not yet so in the Bible, where God appears in a much more corporeal form”.
I bow deeply to Dr. Stavrakopoulou in Biblical expertise, but I’m wondering how she knows for sure that “the Bible wasn’t written to be a factual account of the past.” I’ll grant that it is fictional, but then why did Church fathers like Augustine the Hippo, Aquinas, and many others take both the Old and New Testaments literally? Were they unaware why the Bible was written? (Granted, some of these theologians saw both a metaphorical and literal meaning of Scripture, but the literal meaning was always there.)
That aside, Dr. Stav (pardon the shortening, but it’s laborious to write her whole name) is discussing her new book and Biblical worldview in this video with Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, an organization much less woke than the American Humanist Association. Her book, which comes out in a week in the U.S., is called God: An Anatomy , and got good reviews in the UK.
I could describe the high points, but I think the whole video worth watching, for you’ll see somebody the addressing the Bible as a work of historical fiction. She also has an engaging style of speaking, why is why she often appears on British t.v. and did a 3-part BBC special that you can find, in bits, on YouTube.
She describes the story of Job as as “God screwing over Job for no reason” (true!), and my favorite bit of chat is at 8:40: “Christianity in particular has done a tremendous job of trying to pretend that there a triune God and that God is one and then three at the same time—what a scam!” How refreshing is that? I wonder if her students are flummoxed when they take her classes and learn that they’re being taught by a total nonbeliever.
As similar nonbelievers, it’s our job to know more about religion than believers themselves, for you can always best them by knowing your Scripture. If you haven’t read the Bible—painful as it is—do it. And read Dr. Stav’s book.
She pulls no punches on Twitter, either:
Remember that stupid ‘research’ about the ‘real’ event shaping the biblical story of Sodom? Here’s why arse-about-face rubbish like that is not only problematic, but damaging 👇
Once again we see the New York Times printing an article that, it says, “bolsters a claim” from the Bible. The claim? The bit in Exodus 3 where Yahweh appears to Moses in the form of a burning bush, telling him that he will set the Jews free from bondage in Egypt. King James version:
3 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
According to the Times, people have been trying to follow up on this for centuries, most notably looking for the mountain where this all occurred. But how would you know? No bush would be alive after all these millennia, and the Tablets would have long since become pebbles. The NYT, however, gives a clue of what Moses might have seen. The funny but sad part is that it’s not a bush at all, but a cave that gets lit up by sunlight on the day of the winter solstice.
Here’s the article, which poses three questions in a way that they could have been answered “yes”. In fact, by saying the new data “bolster the claim” of Moses and the burning bush, they’re implicitly answering “yes”. (Click on screenshot to read.)
Before I go further, the Biblical scholar Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter and a popular writer) answers the questions in a terse five words.
But she added a tweet. (She is, by the way, an atheist.)
So for years people have been looking for Mount Sinai, the reputed site of the burning bush and proffering of the Ten Commandments. Many mountains have been the subject of this clam. Now, however, the Bible-believers are turning to Mount Karkom in Israel’s Negev Desert. That’s because, in 2003, a guide happened to be there on the Winter Solstice and saw this:
A closer view of sunlight reflecting off the walls of the cave:
Yes, the Sun’s angle is such that it lights up the cave entrance on that one day. This of course isn’t a new type of phenomenon: lots of ancient people built structures to help determine when the solstices occurred.
The tsunami of credulousness began:
It was sunlight reflected at a particular angle off the sides of a cave, but the discovery soon made its way to Israeli television and was fancifully named “the burning bush.” Perhaps this, some said, was the supernatural fire that, according to the Book of Exodus, Moses saw on the holy mountain when God first spoke to him, and where he would later receive the Ten Commandments as he led the Israelites out of Egypt.
The burning bush, never consumed by the fire, is symbolic in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other faiths including Baha’i.
But decades before this accidental astronomical discovery, Mount Karkom was already captivating some archaeologists with hints that the site had played an important spiritual role thousands of years ago.
Yes, there are petroglyphs there, too: signs of ancient inhabitants, along with burial sites nearby and migration trails. (The mountain was rich with flint—useful hard stones at a time when there was no metal.) The date-able sites are around the third millennium BCE.
But is a lit-up cave entrance justification for the Biblical story? Of course not! At best, it gives a clue to what might have inspired the Biblical story, but that clue isn’t very convincing. Worse, there’s not a smidgen of evidence for the basis of the whole story: the captivity of the Jews in Egypt and their subsequent Exodus, when, apparently without any GPSs, the Israelites wandered for forty years before settling down. But all that the article says about the Exodus is this:
The Exodus, if it happened, is generally dated to sometime around 1600-1200 B.C.
If it happened? Could the paper possibly have apprised us that there’s no evidence for such an exodus?
But never mind: people who believe that the Bible is true are hell-bent on finding evidence, even though they claim that their beliefs aren’t based on evidence. And so, on weekends, the Israeli Army allows thousands of people to see the site, which of course is packed during the Winter solstice. (Because the area is a few miles from Egypt, and lies on an Israeli Army firing and training area, and because of the danger of terrorist attacks, access is limited):
So, on Solstice Day, the crowds pack in, Christians, Muslims and Jews all seeking evidence that there was some empirical basis for Moses’s “burning bush” story. There are also helicopter flights.
At the end, there’s just one smidgen of doubt expressed by Shahar Silo, “a researcher who manages the Negev Highlands Tourism cooperative”:
Whether this is Mount Sinai and the winter solstice phenomenon the burning bush “is in the eye of the beholder,” Mr. Shilo said.
“But,” he added, “it’s a great myth, you have to admit.”
Meh; no greater than the myth of Peter Pan or Paul Bunyan.
Dr. Stavrokopoulou was right: it’s a big pile of “nopes.” Religion not only poisons everything, but dupes nearly everybody. And I claim once again that religious faith rests on certain factual assertions, which believers seek to confirm to buttress that faith. When confirmation fails, they revert to the familiar and misleading mantra: “The Bible is not a textbook of science.” Our faith isn’t based on “scientific” evidence.
It doesn’t help that the New York Times, with its penchant for touting woo, runs a puffball piece on The Bush That Was Really A Cave.
It’s National Bible Week, which extends from Nov. 21 through the 27th. (Started by Franklin D. Roosevelt, it always occurs the week of Thanksgiving.)
Reader Ginger K. pointed out that the amusing bit of hokum below, honoring Bible week by celebrating the world’s best-selling work of fiction, appeared on the MSN “lifestyle” site in its entirety. And it was taken from the Stars Insider site, a celebrity and entertainment “news” venue.
Being on MSN News brings it a lot of attention, as that site is touted as “the world’s #1 desktop news servic , reaching over 500M users every month in 180 countries and 31 languages across MSN, Bing News, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Launcher, the Windows lock screen, apps for Windows, iOS, and Android, and popular third-party mobile OEMs, mobile carriers, and browsers”. MSN News is also the #2 news and media website in the U.S.—the 31st most popular among all websites in the U.S. That means that this craziness reaches a lot of people.
Click on the screenshot to read. The Intro first:
Like any other religious texts in history, the Bible is open to interpretation and it’s not confirmed by science to be factually accurate in every account. This, however, is not the case for every bit of text in the best-selling book of all time. In fact, some of these verses have been proved by science to be true.
Intrigued? Click through the following gallery and discover the parts of the Bible that have been confirmed by science.
Okay, let’s see which parts science has confirmed.
The quotes from the piece are indented. There are 23 of these; I’ll just pick ten or so.
1.) Earth is round–
While some conspiracy theories might say otherwise, science has confirmed the shape of our planet as round. This is also mentioned in the Bible: “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22).
Are you starting to note that what “science confirms” might be a wonky interpretation of Scripture? I interpret this to mean that the Earth is either a torus (doughnut) or a disk. A circle is not a sphere. Let’s move on:
2.) The great flood likely happened–
The Great Flood and Noah’s Ark is one of the most popular stories of the Bible. And according to geological evidence, the Noachian flood might have actually happened.
Short answer: no, it didn’t. There may have been local floods, even big ones, but no flood that drowned humanity and all the Earth’s creatures.
3.) The ark would have worked–
According to Genesis 6:13-22, God’s instructions to Noah were as follows: “The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.”
It couldn’t have worked for a gazillion reasons, and you could figure some out yourself. A wooden boat that large without metal would be unstable. How did the animals get to the Ark? Where did they house all the animals? What about giraffes and dinosaurs? What did they feed them? What did they do with the poop? How did the marsupials get from Mount Ararat to Australia? And so on. . . .
The best analysis of why the Ark couldn’t work is found on the National Center for Science Education’s website (click on screenshot); the article is pretty funny, too:
4). The universe is made of invisible particles–
Hebrews 11:3 reads: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
Umm. . . the interpretation of this is dead easy, and doesn’t at all imply atoms. It states clearly that God created the Earth from nothing. But a “Universe from nothing may be true from physics”, too, if you accept Krauss’s argument that “nothing” is unstable and particles could spontaneously arise from a quantum vacuum. But even if you don’t buy that, the assertion in Hebrews 11 doesn’t say anything about invisible particles.
5.) David could have actually defeated Goliath–
A slingshot might not be the most powerful weapon, but the stones from Elah Valley were made of barium sulphate, which is extremely dense and these would have easily hurt Goliath.
Note that now they’re arguing that science suggests that parts of the Bible could be true in principle, not necessarily true in reality. For what is the evidence for David and Goliath, who, according to the Bible, was 6 feet nine inches tall? I couldn’t find out much about the geology of the Elah Valley, but I seriously doubt that all the stones there are made from barium sulphate.
But wait, there’s more here!
David could have actually defeated Goliath–
But there’s more. Being a giant, Goliath likely suffered from acromegaly (overproduction of growth hormone). This can cause problems with vision, and peripheral vision can be limited, which would have been handy for David.
Jebus, but these people are really stretching things here. Maybe Goliath had acromegaly (unlikely given that he was a warrior and given he existed, for which we have no evidence), and it’s more likely that Goliath was facing David, not looking to the side.
6.) The Sun actually stopped moving–
Because an eclipsed occurred. Joshua 10:12 reads: “On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.'”
The Sun actually stopped moving–
This was most likely an eclipse, which researchers have dated back to October 30, 1207 BCE.
First of all, the Sun is always moving, rotating slowly around the center of the Milky Way. And it doesn’t stop moving during a solar eclipse, though the page with this “prediction” shows a solar eclipse.
7.) Creatures can’t live without blood–
Most of us are familiar with the Adam and Eve story of the Bible. Humans have, in fact, a female biological ancestor called Mitochondrial Eve, which precedes our species (Homo sapiens). There is, however, one thing that connects all us living creatures: blood.
Everything about this claim is wrong. First, not every animal has blood, for example flatworms, nematodes, and cnidarians (jellyfish and their relatives). This is also true of protozoans. Second, “Mitochondrial Eve” did not precede our species. This maternal ancestor of all present-day humans lived about 150,000 years ago, well after Homo sapiens arose in Africa around 300,000 years ago.
But wait! There’s more!
Creatures can’t live without blood–
“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11).
God apparently didn’t know about flatworms and jellyfish.
8.)Sanitizing is really important–
Leviticus 11:28, for instance, says: “Anyone who picks up their carcasses must wash their clothes, and they will be unclean till evening. These animals are unclean for you.”
What about your HANDS? But if you read two verses earlier, “cleanliness” refers to which animals are considered by God to be off limits, not decaying animals that carry germs (unknown in Biblical times):
The carcass of any animal which divides the foot, but is not cloven-hoofed or does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches it shall be unclean.
And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening.
This all reminds me of the old version of “scientific creationism”, in which the facts of science were supposed to confirm the creation stories of Genesis. Muslims, too, sometimes use wildly misinterpreted passages of the Qur’an to vouch for its scientific truth as well as its history (see discussion in Faith Versus Fact.).
Finally, what about all the parts of the Bible that science does not support at all but refutes: an instantaneous creation, simultaneous existence of Adam and Eve as our original ancestors, the slavery in Egypt and Jews wandering about in the desert for four decades, and the Census of Quirinius, which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem. I could go on and on, but if you’re going to imply that the Bible is true because bits of it are true (and yes, some of the historical figures existed), you have, as Hitchens said, “all your work before you.” That’s because for every bit that’s true, there’s two bits that have been shown to be false.
As we’ve seen, the once-respectable journal Scientific American is circling the drain, with an increasing surfeit of articles pushing a particular ideological point of view—a woke one. Well, this article, by writer Allison Hopper, has a bit of science in it, but it’s mixed with politics in such a toxic way that it’s almost funny. It’s full of unsupported assumptions and false claims, is based on no logic at all, and is false in its main claim for two reasons. Those of you who still subscribe to this rag may want to either write the editor, Laura Helmuth, or cancel your subscription.
Laura had a distinguished career before she took over this journal (she has a Ph.D. from Berkeley in neuroscience and has edited or written for Science, The Washington Post, and Smithsonian). I have no idea why she lets this kind of tripe into her magazine. But she’s less to blame than the author, who doesn’t even have a coherent argument. All Hopper wants to do is show that American creationism has nothing to do with religion, but that white supremacy, not belief in God, is at the core of creationism.
Read and weep: this is a this is a three-hankie article:
Now over the last 12 years I’ve given plenty of evidence that creationism stems from religious belief: belief in the Bible for conservative Jews and Christians, and belief in the Qur’an for Muslims, with both books having their own creation stories. For one thing, I’ve never met a creationist who wasn’t motivated by religion, and all creationist organizations, including the Discovery Institute, are at bottom manifestations of religious belief, regarding evolution as inimical to belief in God. This is so obvious that only someone with a bizarre agenda could deny it.
Well, Hopper does deny it. She says that the roots of creationism really lie in white supremacy and not religion. Here’s the logical connection that leads her to that conclusion.
a. If two falsities are in the Bible, they can be connected as causal.
b. Two falsities that Hopper deals with are Biblical creationism as limned in Genesis, and the claim that humans started out with white skin and then God, marking the descendants of Cain, made them black.
c. The supposedly black descendants of Cain have been historically portrayed as bad people, and then as black people, as the “mark” given to those descendants is said to be black skin.
d. Therefore the Bible evinces white supremacy, since humans, made in God’s image, started out white, but a bad subset of them were turned black.
e. In reality, human ancestors were black, so even the Bible story is wrong.
f. The white supremacy story comes from Genesis (4:15), a book that also tells the creation story.
g. Ergo, creationism stems from white supremacy.
(Note, as I say below, the white supremacy argument is itself based on religion!)
You’ve already noted a number of fallacies in this argument. One is that if two bad things are in the Bible, particularly in the same part of the Bible, they can be connected, and one can assert that one bad part gave rise to the other. Well, there are a number of mass killings in Genesis: beyond the extirpation of humanity by the Flood, there’s also the destruction of the Cities of the Plain, including Sodom and Gomorrah. And of course the Old Testament itself is full of genocide. By this logic, one could say that creationism stems from an impulse to murder. (Indeed, Hopper connects creationism with “lethal effects” on black people!).
The other bit of “evidence” Hopper adduces to draw creationism out of white supremacy is this (I am not making it up):
Well that’s a strong proof, right? No matter that a lot of people who didn’t support the Klan still went after evolution in the 1920s and before.
And that’s all the evidence that Hopper has. She makes no case that creationism comes from a desire of whites to be on top save the occasional depiction of our African ancestors as white people (and, because they’re often men, this shows misogyny as well). But that claim really argues that our view of evolution comes from white supremacy!
Do you think I’m kidding? Here are a few sentences from Hopper’s article:
I want to unmask the lie that evolution denial is about religion and recognize that at its core, it is a form of white supremacy that perpetuates segregation and violence against Black bodies.
. . . At the heart of white evangelical creationism is the mythology of an unbroken white lineage that stretches back to a light-skinned Adam and Eve. In literal interpretations of the Christian Bible, white skin was created in God’s image. Dark skin has a different, more problematic origin. As the biblical story goes, the curse or mark of Cain for killing his brother was a darkening of his descendants’ skin. Historically, many congregations in the U.S. pointed to this story of Cain as evidence that Black skin was created as a punishment.
The fantasy of a continuous line of white descendants segregates white heritage from Black bodies. In the real world, this mythology translates into lethal effects on people who are Black. Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible are part of the “fake news” epidemic that feeds the racial divide in our country.
One bit of advice for Ms. Hopper: besides the obvious one that you’re wrong about where creationism comes from, PLEASE stop using the term “black bodies” for “black people”. Yes, I know the phrase is au courant, but it dehumanizes black people in the same way that “slaves” dehumanizes “enslaved people.” You are using racist language. And what, by the way, are the lethal effects of creationism on black people? Is Hopper speaking metaphorically or literally here?
But I digress.
Hopper is right that the Genesis account of the Bible is creationist, and says that Adam was made in God’s image. But does it say what color Adam was? I don’t think so. It’s just assumed that he was white, but on this point Scripture is silent. In fact, we don’t know, though Hopper asserts it confidently, that the earliest human ancestors were black, though humans certainly split from our closest relatives, the bonobos and chimps, in Africa, and evolved black pigmentation at some point. This is because humans probably evolved from chimplike primates (as “naked apes,” we’re outliers), and chimps happen to have white skin. As the Encyclopedia Brittanica says:
Chimpanzees are covered by a coat of brown or black hair, but their faces are bare except for a short white beard. Skin colour is generally white except for the face, hands, and feet, which are black. The faces of younger animals may be pinkish or whitish. Among older males and females, the forehead often becomes bald and the back becomes gray.
Here’s a photo from Forbes, but you can find lots of photos like this.
It’s entirely possible that the first members of the hominin lineage after it split from the chimp lineage had light skin, and darker skin evolved later via natural selection. If this is the case, Hopper’s argument falls apart. But it doesn’t matter, because, really, who cares besides evolutionists and anthropologists—and energetic anti-racists like Hopper—about the skin color of the earliest hominins? I’m not claiming that the earliest members of the hominin lineage were white, and I’m certainly not making a case for white supremacy, for our later hominin ancestors were surely much darker. All I’m saying is that these early hominins could have been white or gray. Hopper has no way to be sure, and in that case she has no argument.
It is likely that after several million years, hominins in Africa did evolve dark skin, and that those hominins were the ones that gave us fire, tools, and other rudiments of culture. But I don’t see how that buttresses Hopper’s argument. Even if it did, her big fallacy is not assuming that the first hominins were black, but connecting white supremacy supported by some religionists with creationism, with the former giving rise to the latter.
Why does Hopper make this argument? Because she has a goal:
My hope is that if we make the connection between creationism and racist ideology clearer, we will provide more ammunition to get science into the classroom—and into our culture at large.
Good luck with that! Because creationism really comes from religion, and accepting evolution would overturn the faith of many Biblical literalists (about 40% of Americans), you’re not going to change their minds by telling them: “Hey! Your creationism is really a manifestation of white supremacy because the story of Adam and Eve is a tale of white supremacy!”
But were Cain’s descendants really black? Hopper assumes that they were, and that’s how many people have interpreted the story, but let’s read what the Good Book says (King James version; Genesis 4:15).
And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
This is a “mark”, not dark skin, and I can’t find any scholar who interprets the Hebrew as meaning “dark skin”. Furthermore, the “mark” placed on Cain was not to identify him and his descendants as miscreants, but to protect them. Here, from the King James Bible again, are verses 9-16 from Genesis 4:
9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
15 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
The “mark” is clearly given by God to protect Cain, so even if it were dark skin, for which there’s no evidence, it means that dark skin marked Cain and his descendants as people protected by God. How does that comport with Hopper’s narrative?
I’ve already gone on too long picking additional in Hopper’s Swiss cheese of a narrative, but I have one more bit of evidence that tells against her risible theory. And that is this: historically, in the United States black people have been far more creationist than whites. If creationism draws from white supremacy, then haven’t black people heard the news?
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends: an insupportable argument, weakly based on erroneous science, and gracing the pages of what was once America’s premier science magazine. How low the mighty have fallen!
All I want to add in closing is that Hopper is dead wrong in claiming that the roots of creationism are not in religion, but in white supremacy. And, as the supreme irony in her argument, the “white supremacy” argument is rooted in, yes, the Bible! So even her main thesis is wrong. Yes, no matter how you slice it, even Hopper’s way, creationism is an outgrowth of religion.
In case they ditch this article, I’ve archived it here.
While this video by NonStampCollector—a videomaker previously unknown to me—may strike you as a visual comic, it really is a serious attempt to show and explain the differences between two of the canonical gospels: Mark (the first to be written) and Luke (an altered copy of the stories in Mark). Based on sources like Bart Ehrman, Dale Martin, and James Tabor, the video shows someone trying to persuade “Luke” (who of course didn’t write the eponymous gospel), to change the events of Mark to help sell the Gospels in Rome. These changes included sanitizing the role of Romans in Jesus’s crucifixion and putting more blame on the Jews. At many points in the video the discrepancies between Mark and Luke are highlighted.
This is one of NonStampCollector’s many videos deconstructing and also dispelling the Bible and the tenets of Christianity and Judaism. As the maker writes about this video (my emphasis):
. . . to pre-empt the what I predict is the most obvious surface-level objection: I know who the author of Luke is purported to be, generally, and the purpose for his writing his gospel given at its beginning (and in the beginning of Acts). I’m not attempting to assert a fact claim along the lines of that the author of Luke was simply a random rogue copyist of Mark. That’s just a plot device, like satirists often use. I don’t for a second think that the gospel of Luke arose out of a copyist’s desire to simply alter bits and pieces of the text of Mark. What I’m attempting to portray, satirically, is the dissonance between what historians can tell us about the way the gospels were authored, copied, miscopied, and deliberately changed by individuals that we of course can’t know or identify, and the view held by many modern Christians: that each and every verse of each and every gospel is actual historical truth. Far from it: we can identify the agenda and motivations behind obviously deliberate changes that have for thousands of years been passed off as unquestionably true.
This is really Biblical analysis worth watching. Thanks to readers Rob and Aneris for calling this to my attention. Aneris noted the following:
To brighten your day in the less sunny Chicago (welcome “back”), I’d like to make you aware of a humorous Bible Study. The animation short is on the Gospel of Luke (versus Mark) and unmistakably NonStampCollector, who celebrates his comeback. His crude, yet iconic style is a bit of a classic in the atheist scene on YouTube, and his return is a small event.
The older clips are still worth the watch, if you haven’t seen them (for example the Bible Quiz is in a similar vein, or the hilarious Noah’s Ark [part 1 and part 2] where they discuss whether they need extra animals to host pairs of parasites).
Now I haven’t seen this, and Graham didn’t describe its contents, but my question is this: what the hell is National Geographic publishing stuff like this? As I’ve described several times, recently the magazine has been on a pro-religion and pro-Christianity kick, cranking out books, movies, and articles implying that what’s described in the Bible is real. Thanks, Rupert Murdoch! (He and his Fox network bought the magazine.)
Even the Amazon site doesn’t describe the book’s contents. The only substantive discussion of what’s in it is on this i24 broadcast (an Israeli television station). Although the guest, “spiritual mentor” Ronnie Hatchwell says this: “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter whether the stories happened or they didn’t, but they do influence us”, she does pitch the woo later on (“we’re all searching for the god within us”; “we’re always drawn to this bigger power, which is God”, etc.). To judge where Hatchwell’s coming from, here’s what she says on her website:
Ever since I was a little girl In Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harrari, Zimbabwe) and then a teenager in London, England, I have encountered telepathic and out of body experiences. I always felt that there was more to life as we see it.
Sometime in the late 80’s I underwent an experience which was to change the way I perceived life in general.
I began what is known as channeling – it first came about as “automatic writing” where I would receive non stop information. This was an extremely high intelligence which to my knowledge at the time had no resemblance to anything I had ever come across. This information always signed itself off as SOL, which I was later informed to be the initials of SERVICE OF THE LORD -in Kaballah “Malachei Ha”sharet”- I once took the writings to a Kabalist who was quick to say that the information that I receive is exactly that of Kaballah and that because it comes through me the language is easier for the laymen…
Ooookay. . . . What appears to be going on here is that National Geographic, which was hemorrhaging money until it was bought out by Murdoch and his empire, is trying to drum up business by adding a big dose of Christianity to the National Geographic brand. Does anybody here still subscribe to this rag?