Entries from November 2008 ↓

News: UK University Supports “Middle Ages” Knowledge

After wandering through some science blogs I found this amusing website from University of Southampton and the recent PhDs awarded.

Name Date awarded Supervisor(s) Title of thesis
Pat Harris May 2007 Jackie Powell Applications of astrology to health psychology: psychological and astrological factors and fertility treatment outcome

I imagine we are talking the same astrology that’s been debunked so many times over so many years. So should we now take star sign reading in the local paper seriously. Or, perhaps do a PhD in the application of alchemy to modern wealth creation methods or to extend current mining practices!

Sorry back to the real world…

Alex McCullie

PS Blog discussion with the above link – Bad Science

News: Unholy Brawl for Jesus

According to the WAtoday.com.au, an Australian newspaper website, monks brawled in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher – supposedly the site of Jesus’ execution and burial (and resurrection, of course).

Israeli police rushed into one of Christianity’s holiest churches and arrested two clergyman after an argument between monks erupted into a brawl next to the site of Jesus’ tomb.

The clash broke out between Armenian and Greek Orthodox monks in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, revered as the site of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. (full article 10 Nov 2008)

Alex McCullie

Comment: Women & the New Testament

9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (1 Timothy 2:9-15, New Testament NIV translation)

Is this the inerrant Word of God?

These quotations present problems for Christians. If they view the Bible as strictly God’s Word and therefore inerrant, how do they can they possibly reject authority of this passage from 1 Timothy of the New Testament. Hopefully most believers do using modern sensibilities about how to treat women. But doing so negates the belief that all the books of the Christian bible are strictly the Word of God. Implicitly they are acknowledging that the Bible books have been written and edited over 1000+ years by people who have the usual range of human weaknesses. It comes down to personal choice which parts believers accept or reject. It sounds like the dreaded “relativism” that religious leaders so commonly rail against.

On the other hand if believers accept this quotation as truth, heaven help women.

Alex McCullie

As a further note many use this passage to proclaim Paul as a misogynist even though his other writings support women having active roles in the early Christian church. Today many biblical scholars believe that 1 Timothy and the anti-female text of 1 Corinthians were not from Paul but fraudently added or assigned at some later period (St. Paul and Women: A Mixed Record).

News: Deadly Mix of Religion and Culture in Somalia

From The Age Online article 4 Nov 2008 a 13 year Somalian girl was stoned to death for being raped.

AN Islamist rebel administration in Somalia has had a girl, 13, stoned to death for adultery after the child’s father reported that three men raped her.

Amnesty International reported that the al-Shabab militia, which controls the southern city of Kismayo, arranged for 50 men to stone Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow in front of about 1000 spectators.

Alex McCullie

News: Muslim Cleric Wedded 12 Year Old Girl

From a BBC report:

A Muslim cleric has caused public outrage in Indonesia after marrying a 12-year-old girl. Pujianto Cahyo Widianto married the girl in the central Java city of Semarang, during an unofficial religious ceremony. He reportedly chose her from a pool of 20 girls, before flying to Singapore with his new bride, as well as his first wife. (full report 27 Oct 2008)

Alex McCullie

Here is a postscript (from another web report – different source) with photos plus a stated intention to marry nine and seven year old girls as well.

News: Obama Quotation – Religion and Rationality

“…Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. It’s the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing…”
(Senator Barack Obama – full speech)

This is reassuring rationality from a 21st century US politician. We are so used to hearing that God gave the President the invasion orders.

Alex McCullie