Saturday, September 19, 2015
In my ongoing quest to re-invent my career yet again, I have stumbled upon yet more Bible verses which prove that not everything written therein is accurate. This time, it chanced upon me in the form of a very boring booklet which my welding theory class is forcing me to read. The author (whom I will graciously not name here) recounted many Bible passages detailing how the early Philistines and Israelites show the progression of the invention and use of forged iron and steel. At times, he seems almost enamored of how many Bible passages confirm his hypothesis. And yet, the very first Bible passage he quotes presents him with a very serious problem, if he would bother to think it through.
The verse he initially quotes is the Genesis reference to a man named Tubal-Cain. In this part of the Bible, a very long and boring genealogy is spun which details names of the first artisans, all of whom are descended from Cain, the slayer of Abel. Cain, after his exile, fathered Enoch, who fathered Irad, who fathered Mehujael, who fathered Methusael, who fathered Lamech. And Lamech, it is then revealed, had two wives, Adah and Zillah. Adah bore him Jabal, who was the forefather of all nomadic cattle-herders who lived in tents, and Jubal, who was the forefather of all those who played musical instruments. Now, at this point, it is self-evident that we are dealing with a kind of caricature of history in which various professions are all ascribed to one particular mythical figure out of folklore, But this particular author overlooks that. Zillah, the other wife, bore Lamech his other son, Tubal-Cain, and this man, according to Genesis 4:22, "instructed all those who forged bronze and iron." From this, my needlessly wordy author concludes, the forging and use of metals is steeped very early in human history. While this is undoubtedly true, there are better and more relevant evidences than scripture which can be cited to make this point.
The problem arises in the earliest known uses of bronze and the earliest known uses of iron. Bronze began to be used around 3,300 B.C.E., whereas iron and steel did not make their earliest appearances until about 1,100 B.C.E. - a difference of well over a millennium. It is therefore highly unlikely that the same individual, living in a time which pre-dated Noah's purported flood, developed and used both bronze and iron technologies, even if Methuselah did live to be over 800 years old (which is highly suspect). And what's more, the dates I just cited are cited by this very same author as well, meaning that he should have been able to spot the discrepancy staring him right in the face!
Now, I know first-hand how difficult it is to see a contradiction within one's own dogma and/or scripture when it happens to be part of the religion you were raised upon. After all, every Christmas we see nativity scenes showing the baby Jesus beneath the Star of the East, not even realizing that this is a clear depiction of astrology, which not only is obvious pseudo-scientific bunkum, it is a practice of divination forbidden by the Law of Moses - proving the story to be of Roman rather than Jewish origin. Nevertheless, this particular author completely misses the Tubal-Cain contradiction, not bothering to question how the same man could be the progenitor of two separate metallurgical arts eleven centuries apart. Now, other Bible versions, such as the NIV, attempt to soften this problem by saying that Tubal-Cain forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron without bothering to name him as the first instructor or inventor. But this hardly erases the problem, as the flood of Noah came at 2,400 B.C.E. according to the Bible, and Tubal-Cain and all his students would be killed off. The bronze and iron arts would then have to have been revived or re-invented by Noah's sons, Shem, Ham or Japeth, and the span of time found between bronze artifacts and iron artifacts according to modern archaeology would not jibe with the Bible either.
It's really amazing how many Bible errors pop up where they are least expected. I sincerely doubt this particular author is anything more than a layperson when it comes to Biblical scholarship, nor do I expect many would-be welders are particularly astute in theology. Nevertheless, even in the world of blue-collar skill trades, there are ample opportunities to see the errors of fundamentalist Biblical literalism, if one simply bothers to look.
One wonders how it remains such a profound influence among politicians.
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Sometimes, other brilliant people confirm the brilliant things I say on this blog. Such as Daniel Pipes. For those who aren't aware who this guy is, let me give a little background: Dan Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum, a conservative think-tank that promotes American interests in the Middle East. Unlike most conservative hawks, Pipes is at least an expert on the cultures of the region, and knows a thing or two outside the five second sound-byte.
And what does he agree with me on? Why, he agrees with me on the Iran deal! No, he doesn't agree that the deal is a good thing. In fact, he's quite staunchly opposed to it. But he does agree that the deal paves the way for a potential Arab Spring event within Iran, something I previously argued on this blog way back in May, when I called for the 47 U.S. Senators who sent a letter to Iran to be impeached for treason. I also briefly made this argument in April on the Sacred Cow Wursthaus Podcast for April 4th. You can read the Daniel Pipes blog post here for comparison.
Now, Pipes is a conservative hawk. He wants democracy for all the nations of the Middle East. He simply thinks that the best way to achieve this is by outright warfare and/or overthrowing the governments covertly. He also feels that Islamic culture is not ready to instill such democracy itself because Islamic religious extremism stands in the way. But democracy cannot be imposed from the outside. It must be earned from within. We learned that the hard way after World War II, and not just with the conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Democracy must be earned from the inside. Fortunately, we have many people inside Iran, citizens of that great Persian culture, who are highly educated, who love the West, and who desire democracy themselves. Back in 2010, they nearly revolted against their government. With the United States no longer their looming enemy, they are more likely to do so again. After all, the government is now their only enemy, aside from the possibility of a preventative strike by Israel.
In my original blog post, I cited another expert on Iran named Bruce Bueno De Mesquita, who essentially argued the same point. (There was much more to his talk, but that was the essence of it.) Again, I include his speech at TED here for comparison.
Isn't it interesting when people on the left and the right, having nothing in common except an intimate knowledge of Iran's people and culture, both come to the same conclusions? Other people making this same point include Iranian-Americans, such as noted comedian Maz Jobrani. These people of Iranian descent are split regarding the deal themselves, but they all agree that it gives Iran a better chance at democracy than no deal at all. The chance for democratic revolution is agreed upon by both sides, pro and con. The only difference is that Pipes thinks it's merely a silver lining, and Bruce De Mesquita and I think it's the whole damned point!
And by the way, that's why those 47 Senators should still be impeached and tried for treason! Not only have they betrayed democracy in the U.S., they've betrayed it in Iran as well.
P.S. For those who really want to know about this debate, there is an Intelligence Squared session in which those in favor argued directly with those opposed. Experts on both sides duke it out over the issue, leaving neither side convinced, but all of us who watched better informed. You can watch the debate here. (And I strongly suggest you do so!)