Quick Roundup 217

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sloooowly ...

I'm back from Telluride after flying back yesterday afternoon. Great trip but for that wretched cold I caught towards the end. (I slept something like twelve hours for each of my last two days on vacation as a result. Blecch!)

I've turned the corner, which means that I feel much better, but sound much worse. If I need more rest to recuperate over the next few days, I'm taking it! In other words, I may take my time getting completely back on the blogging saddle.

Larger than Art

They say that "Life imitates art."

And then they also sometimes use the phrase, "larger than life".

Whoever "they" are will get a big kick out of Myrhaf's recent "housecleaning", especially if they remember that South Park parody of World of Warcraft and draw some parallels to blogging as they look at his sidebar!

Or maybe it's just me.

(Or should that be, "Maybe I am they"?)

[Update: And, as if that wasn't cryptic enough to begin with, Myrhaf took down the photo I blogged about. Party pooper.]


I enjoyed Andrew Dalton's recent fisking of a particularly inane piece of Green Trash (Hmmm. I like that phrase.) generated by Mark Prescott and dumped onto the web by the Beeb.

Below, Dalton's comments are in bold.

In terms of impressive achievements, it is hard to top the Moon landings.

Although wildly imaginative and ambitious, the objective of getting to the Moon and back enabled everyone involved to focus on a single, highly visible goal.

Yes, and it was also a highly delimited and technical achievement. It is not a universal model that validates the feasibility of anyone's proposed collective "project." (I wonder where this editorial is going ...)
That's a good one to file away for the next time someone tries to pretend that the desirability and feasibility of a great technological achievement both apply to his own pet evil political project.

And there will be a "next time".

The Wikiospel Truth

This book review of Misquoting Jesus I found via Arts and Letters Daily was somewhat amusing for its cleverly pointing out the similarities between the "Word of God" and Wikipedia.
In many respects, the Bible was the world's first Wikipedia article. So many hands have altered and edited the now lost originals that we will never know for sure what those originals said. I find it amusing that the Christian Right in America spends its energy attacking evolution, arguing that teaching evolution is teaching atheism. For Ehrman, learning about the Bible is what caused his belief to change. He still believes in God, but no longer believes the Bible is an inerrant source of the Word. It would be interesting to know how many people became less religiously devout after learning science versus learning about Bible and church history. Instead of convincing believers not to read Dawkins and Darwin, the biblical literalists might better spend their energy keeping folks away from Ehrman (in fact, backlash books attacking Ehrman --- often personally --- and defending Biblical infallibility are already appearing). Ehrman isn't an atheist assaulting belief; he is just a scholarly believer saying he feels the evidence is clear that the gospels were written by men with personal agendas, and both accidentally and intentionally altered over the centuries by other men with agendas of their own. ...
Who knew that Conservapedia was redundant from the get-go?

-- CAV


: (1) Added section on "Wikiospel". (2) Fixed a typo. (3) Updated Myrhaf section.


The Gregor said...

Of course going back as far as 2000 years it’s going to be difficult if not impossible to validate any such work as original. The problem with most scholarly work on the gospels is that they usually begin with the assumption that they were written by actual disciples who actually witnessed an actual man named Jesus. Because the oldest written evidence of the gospels are dated a hundredish years after the events they supposedly recorded and they are written in Greek most scholars have assumed that those are not the oldest copies because most poor ancient Jews did not speak or write Greek.

In a sense these scholars have all begged the question in that they begin their work under the premise that a man named “Jesus” or the disciples actually existed and all of their work sets about supporting this premise which is why they often have to come up with arbitrary theories such as the elusive “q” document. Almost all scholarly work on the gospels has been tainted by this for the past 2000 years.

Once more scholars start to study the gospels objectively as literary works of man, as all words ever written are, only then can we begin to understand the true purpose and context of the gospels not as words of god or a work of history but as a piece of pure fiction created by men for men.

This is exciting because I believe that approaching the surviving evidence of the gospels with the premise that god is arbitrary and his son is too could lead modern scholars to develop fact based theories as to who actually wrote the work and why. There is a reason that this obscure and evil religion spread so fast at that particular point in history and a reason that it has endured for so long and maybe some truly rational theories based in fact can help answer these questions and prevent otherwise rational people from basing their life’s philosophy and especially their ethics on such a vile work of fiction.

Gus Van Horn said...

Given the vast influence Christianity has had on our culture, such studies can prove valuable for explaining some aspects of history.

I am a little less sanguine about their value for preventing anyone from believing a religion.

Many of the myths of Christianity are so preposterous to begin with that digging up even more evidence that Christianity is NOT divinely-inspired isn't going to make a huge amount of difference to those who accept them.

What is really needed to blunt the cultural impact of religion is a wider and deeper respect for reason within the culture at large -- which is precisely what is needed fort anyone to accept such findings in the first place.

(And even then, there remains free will: Notice that the Biblical scholar cited has not exactly completely renounced his faith!)

The Gregor said...

Yes this Biblical scholar still seems to accept the idea of a historical Jesus which there is absolutely no evidence for not to mention “god”. And I hear what you are saying about facts not preventing a person from believing nonsense as someone who does not accept reason cannot be swayed by it however I think that the mistake most people make is not that they really believe in it but that they believe it was created by wise men with good intensions as viable system of ethics instead of what is probably closer to the truth that they were created by wise men with malicious intensions as a means to control and subvert massive amounts of people.

Gus Van Horn said...

What I think would really be a powerful impetus for change in the field of ethics would be for more people to start asking, "How does this help me live my life?" whenever confronted with a new ethical dictum.

It would be powerful, but not alone sufficient, for the answer to that question depends on the answers to deeper questions.

Given the implicit this-worldliness of most Westerners, such a line of questioning would often obviate the need to understand the historical origins of this or that Christian dictate.

Inspector said...

Oh, Myrhaf's... picture... is still up. You have to scroll down. To around the same height as where your comment showed up. I was looking at his blog, thinking "what is Gus talking abou-- ...OH."

Haha! ...Wow.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for the -- chortle -- good news!