Man Gave Names to all the Animals

The beavers are hard at work out where I walk the dog. I wonder if they will cause back up flooding at the apartments where I don’t live. That outcome doesn’t concern them in the slightest. They will drive in upright poles and then fetch branches and sticks for the horizontal. Ponds form, and they use the waterways to float food and debris so as to build homes entered from below.

They are all of them skilled engineers, all of them graduates of Dam U. When the kids were small and we would camp at Allegheny State Park, visiting beaver dams was one of the attractions. You had to go early in the morning and be very quiet—alarm them and they will dive out of sight after slapping the water with their tails to alert their buddies.

Now Jehovah God had been forming from the ground every wild animal of the field and every flying creature of the heavens, and he began bringing them to the man to see what he would call each one; and whatever the man would call each living creature, that became its name.” - Genesis 2:19

Bob Dylan has explained just how this worked:

He saw an animal that liked to growl, Big furry paws and he liked to howl, Great big furry back and furry hair. "Ah, think I'll call it a bear."

He saw an animal up on a hill, Chewing up so much grass until she was filled. He saw milk comin' out but he didn't know how. "Ah, think I'll call it a cow."

He saw an animal that liked to snort, Horns on his head and they weren't too short. It looked like there wasn't nothin' that he couldn't pull. "Ah, think I'll call it a bull."

He saw an animal leavin' a muddy trail, Real dirty face and a curly tail. He wasn't too small and he wasn't too big. "Ah, think I'll call it a pig."

Next animal that he did meet. Had wool on his back and hooves on his feet, Eating grass on a mountainside so steep. "Ah, think I'll call it a sheep."

So it was pretty much like that. The Watchtower—no doubt others have said it as well—has written that Adam would have taken his time, observed unique characteristics, before naming names.

Let me see if I can do one:

He saw an animal that was great and gray, Swimming about freely every day. Catching its food without a fuss, “Ah, think I’ll call it a hippopotamus.”

And God said to Himself, ’Oh, come on!’ but he went with it.

And just to bring this full circle:

He saw an animal building dams, flooding just like a jailbird on the lam, carving up waterways like with a cleaver. ”Ah,” think I’ll call it a beaver

5B4E37D6-FEA2-423C-B86C-F57138B98049

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“Does God Care About Women?”—“No”...Really? Where is Quality Control When You Need Them?

Oh, for crying out loud! Where is Quality Control on these things?

From The Watchtower, September 1, 2012: “Does God Really Care About Women?”

“No” is the answer, as reproduced in the Research Guide, followed by: “Genesis 1:27 states: ‘God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.’ So from the very beginning, humans—both male and female—were created with the ability to reflect God’s qualities. Although Adam and Eve had their own unique emotional and physical makeup, they both received the same commission and enjoyed the same rights before their Maker. (Genesis 1:28-31)

This explanation accords with a ‘Yes’ answer, not a ‘No’ answer. Something is goofy. What is going on?

Look up that September 1 Watchtower and you will see a heading that is not reproduced: “Did God Create Woman Inferior to Man?” Ah—this clears it up. The answer to the missing heading is “No.” But why is that paragraph cited without the heading that explains it all? What’s with THAT? It is the collection of bloopers in the movie that appears as the credits roll—except this one has been left in the movie! So it is the scene of George Washington crossing the Delaware and the actor playing George has neglected to remove his wristwatch! Quality control, if you please? Find that brother and assign him potato-peeling duty in the HQ basement for the next 20 years, right next to the fellow who thought it a fine idea to hang out at the UN library.

My first reaction was mortification. I told a certain pal who seems to know every other person in Bethel—to have them make corrections. But he just laughed his sides off. Whether he did it or not I do not know. Then I said, “Nah—leave it in. They’ll discover it soon enough and the next update will make changes.” Leave it in so the rabid JW detractors can zero in, highlight it, gleefully sing it to the heavens, and then look like utter fools when anyone with a brain can go to the source and see the missing heading. Even if the Watchtower did feel in their heart of hearts that women are second class citizens—What! They are going to run a headline: “Does God Care About Women? No.” I don’t think so. Let those detractors go way way out on a limb with it, the same way they did with that article on women dealing with a difficult home life—the crash will be all the more spectacular when it comes.

The fact of the matter is that Jesus does this kind of thing all the time, and he does it deliberately—not exactly this sort of thing, but close enough in my book. He does it when he likens God to that unrighteous judge who will grant justice but only when you pester him to death. (Luke 18:6) He does it when he likens his ideal follower to the crook who robs his master blind and the master praises him for his use of “practical wisdom”—even adding: “for the sons of this system of things are wiser in a practical way toward their own generation than the sons of the light are!” (Luke 16:8)

What in the world is Jesus thinking? My guess is that he gives the “wise and intellectual ones” rope with which they can hang themselves. They mock the verse for its logical inconsistency and miss entirely the greater lesson taught! It is not unlike—sorry to switch to politics here—when Trump tweets that North Korea has launched its missels and anyone with common sense runs for the hills. The “wise and intellectual ones,” however, run to their keyboards to point out that the idiot can’t even spell the word right! It may be deliberate. Or it may just mean that he can’t spell—It is not JWs who buy into that concept of Trump the “flawed messiah”—that is the evangelicals that you are thinking of.

“I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children,” said Jesus at Matthew 11:25. I think he uses hyperbole as a tool in his toolbox because humble, honest, and hungry ones will instantly get the sense of it but the critical thinkers will not. “He catches the wise in their own cunning, so that the plans of the shrewd are thwarted,” is the thought expressed at Job 5:13.

I think that is what Jesus is doing—I don’t know it. Others may take it differently. “Why would he deliberately mislead people?” one atheist flung at me. The answer is that “he catches the wise in their own cunning.” Look to your heart. Note from that same Research Guide the commentary on Genesis 1:31, this one from the 1/1/2008 Watchtower:

“Evolution presents modern man as an improving animal. The Bible presents modern man as the degenerating descendant of a perfect man.”

Though the Watchtower does not make the application, I believe this explains why the essentially “top-down” approach of the JW organization resonates with its members—the “top” of the human organization taking the mantel of the “older men in Jerusalem” who had brought Christianity to the rank and file in the first place. “Critical thinking,” on the other hand, is far more in keeping with the approach of man as an “improving animal”—developing powerful skills of thought to lift us all up by our own bootstraps. It is not that the tool is valueless. It is that it should not be relied upon as the be-all and end-all—which is the way humanists usually do think of it. Let them debate themselves right off the deck of the ship before it reaches Port Newsystem.

Now, to be sure, The Watchtower is not inspired, nor is the Research Guide where I first discovered this blooper, a commentary on Genesis 1:27. It is not even as clever (sorry—politics again) as the trap Trump laid for his enemies in calling a press conference—and boy, did they come running!—expecting him to duck out of the 2016 presidential race after his ‘grab them by the you-know-what’ remark* came to light, but instead, they found him flanked with the three women that had accused President Clinton of gross misconduct! No. This one from the Watchtower is just pure clumsiness. It might even be deliberate—a prank by some immature kid at Bethel to see what he could get away with. It will be corrected soon enough—and I, having the rare “collector’s edition,” will sell it to Nemo for $100K.

It has not been a good week for Witness enemies—Nemo will be pulling his hair out. They were putting huge stock in that multi-million dollar verdict against Watchtower in a child sexual abuse matter and now that verdict has been reversed without a single dissenting vote. One of them muttered how they must be “celebrating this victory” at Watchtower HQ. But they showed no sign of it. The Witness attorney said, “there are no winners in a case involving child abuse. ‘No child should ever be subjected to such a debased crime,...Tragically, it happens, and when it does Jehovah's Witnesses follow the law. This is what the Montana Supreme Court has established.’” Obviously if one is on the hook for several million dollars and then no longer is, they will not mourn over it. But the focus is kept on the victim, as it should be. Ideally, she gets full justice from the perpetrator directly responsible.

If the actual requirement is that Witnesses or anyone else go “beyond the law,” then make that the law—Witnesses have demonstrated themselves pretty good at following law—and the problem is solved. Ones who want to bring the Watchtower down on this pretext are hardly out of bullets, but they are continually frustrated. Their efforts to put Witness stories above all others gain little traction because the pattern elsewhere is that the leaders of organizations, religious or otherwise, are the abusers, something rarely true with the Witness organization, and also that child sexual abuse appears to be the primary export of the planet, crowding out stories of “lesser” significance. With Watchtower (as in Montana) the situation is that of abuse within a step-family and Witness leaders come under the gun for evoking law and not reporting it, leaving that up to the persons involved—sometimes they do but often they don’t. History may well judge that harshly, but it does not hold a candle to leaders actually committing the abuse themselves. The class action suit in Quebec that I wrote about was similarly dismissed.

It is the common and accepted legal practice to go as high up on the food chain as possible with regard to any lawsuit—everyone knows this and judges it an unremarkable fact of life. How much did whoever “know or should have known” is the legal expression that carries the day and effectively amounts to a tax on the common person. Governments raise taxes. Businesses raise prices. When I hear that my neighbor’s lawyer secured him millions of dollars for his auto accident, I rejoice with him—then I open my insurance premium bill.

As people become ever more debased, just where does this end? Women on airlines are reporting sexual abuse. Even rape has been reported, and passengers being packed in like sardines, attendants expected to monitor this are caught unawares Do they “know or should have known?” In an increasingly depraved world, your guess is as good as mine.

...*

The President’s wife passed off her husband’s remarks to Billy Bush as “locker room talk.” Given that the media was every day trying to take him out and had apparently been sitting on that sound bite for ages, waiting for just the right moment, I made up a broadcast (in No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash) that I named: Live From the Locker Room:

Good evening. We’re broadcasting live from the locker room tonight to reveal to America just what goes on in this previously obscure culture that has so suddenly thrust itself upon the national stage. We’ll interview some players in this intriguing venue. Ah, here’s comes a jock now. “Hey! Yo! Whazzup? We’d like to ask you some questions.”

“Why, good evening sirs, madam. You must be members of the news media. Welcome to our humble locker room. It’s not much, but please make yourself at home. There are refreshments in the adjacent room, just past the gentleman snapping his neighbor’s buns with the wet towel.”

“Charlie, it is as we thought. ‘Locker room talk’ is but a lame excuse. They’re not crude at all here. They are quite refined and sensitive and…”

Hey, ya wanna get your crap outta here?! I can’t get to my @%!# locker!”

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How Long Are the Creative Days of Genesis - With a Nod to the Sean Carrolls

Let scientists be scientists and Bible teachers be Bible teachers. Don’t squabble unless there is a reason to.

That there is not a reason to in some battlegrounds is highlighted in the downloadable Research Guide to accompany the NWT Study Bible. Regarding Genesis 1:14 and the creative days, there is a link to a 9-year old Watchtower article:

These are not 24-hour days but are epochs. On the first creative day, Jehovah caused light to begin to appear at the earth’s surface. That process would be completed when the sun and the moon later became discernible from the earth. (Gen 1:3,14) On the second day, the atmosphere began to be formed. (Gen 1:6) Earth then had water, light, and air but still no dry land. Early on the third creative day, Jehovah used his holy spirit to produce dry land, perhaps harnessing powerful geologic forces to push continents up out of the global sea. (Gen 1:9) There would be other astounding developments on the third day and during later creative periods.”

I made reference to this article in my own post, entitled “Epochs and Aeons,” after reading the Sean B Carroll book, “The Making of the Fittest - DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution.” You have to use the middle initial of Sean Carroll, a ‘B’, because there is another well-known contemporary scientist with an ‘M’ for a middle initial—this one specializing in physics. It’s surprising, but no more surprising than to consider that the public face of JW persecution in Russia—the first one to be sentenced (to six year’s imprisonment) has a surname (Christensen) that evokes both his Lord and his Lord’s profession.

It turns out that there is also a local broadcaster by that name—Sean Carroll—who has since moved to Syracuse. I followed them all on Twitter and introduced them to each other. They hit it off and began to talk baseball! Then I made some remark about the trinity and in what way the three men might foreshadow that. All three Seans fell silent at that. Who can blame them?

They would have fallen more silent still had I tweeted the skit that I inserted in No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash:

Crack! “Mike Behe hits a grounder to shortstop! Sean Carroll scoops it up and flips it to Sean Carroll at second base – one out! Sean Carroll fires it to Sean Carroll at first – double play! And the Denver Denyers lose to the Cincinnati Smarts! Jock, those Smarts have one helluva team this year. I almost think Sean Carroll will be named MVP.” “Yeah, and if not Sean Carroll, then maybe Sean Carroll! Or maybe even Sean Carroll!”

Oh, and I also like this link to a 2004 Awake with regard to verse 16:

How could God produce light on the first day if the luminaries were not made until the fourth day?” is the question. The answer is that the Hebrew word rendered “make” in 16 is not the same as the word for “create” in 1, 21, and 27. The bodies that are the source of light were created before any of those creative days began. Their light did not reach the earth, however, until the early impenetrable atmosphere began to clear. Not surprisingly, Genesis is written from the standpoint of someone on earth, not someone hovering in space.

 

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The downloadable research guide is going to add much to the current cycle of Bible reading.

The downloadable research guide is going to add much to the current cycle of Bible reading.

Already with Genesis 1:1 are links to articles observing that there is no reason to quarrel about the age of the earth. Scientists say 4 billion years? Let them. There is no objection, since “in the beginning” is BEFORE the creative days begin.

Nor is there any objection to a ‘big bang’ as a means to which God created the cosmos. Let scientists be scientists and Bible teachers be Bible teachers. Don’t manufacture conflicts until there are some.

Genesis 1:3 I have always loved: “and God’s active force [spirit] was moving about over the surface of the waters”—as though saying, “okay—ready, here—gimme something to do.”

“The riot squad is restless; they need somewhere to go.” - Bob Dylan. Nah, it doesn’t really fit, but I do like Bob Dylan.

And, technially, my prediction that the system should have ended yesterday since JWs have reached the end of their multi-year Bible reading cycle and it would be too inconveiniest to make them start all over again still holds, since I know of no mid-week meetings that falls on Monday.

[Edit: Within a half hour of this post, two persons contacted me to say they new of some Monday meetings. Rats. So much for home-baked prophesy.]

The following represents my taking my eye off the ball, to be sure, but not to worry—it’s my blog and I will not forget what it is about: My quote of Dylan recalled to mind some history.

My all time peak in internet hits came in response to a review of a Bob Dylan concert at Gordon Field House linked to above—some Dylan site picked it up & I had 1000+ hits in a day—nothing for some people I follow but a big deal for me. For a post or two, Morristotle and I played with idea of whether we could make lightening strike twice, and we sprinkled in Dylan references where they had no conceivable place. The lightning never did strike again, and we both resumed normal activity.

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"We Are Wise and Learned Adults, Far Too Clever to Be Sold Adam and Eve. What's Next - Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?

I like the way Paul deliberately dialed back on the ‘wisdom.’ Most of his contemporaries would have had to because they didn’t have it. Not so Paul, who was highly educated, and could have gone toe to toe with these characters. He deliberately chose not to. 

And so I, when I came to you brothers, did not come with an extravagance of speech or of wisdom declaring the sacred secret of God to you. For I decided not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and him impaled.  And I came to you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling; and my speech and what I preached were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of spirit and power,  that your faith might be, not in men’s wisdom, but in God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:2-5)

The upshot is that you treat a highly educated person pretty much like anyone else, with only minor adjustments. They just as much as anyone else, have no clue as to why there is suffering, why people die, what happens when they do, why governments suck & so forth. The explanation for them too will lie in discerning what "Jesus Christ, and him impaled" means in practical terms. People do not understand this. Even religious people, as they say to you "Christ died for our sins" are almost always unable to explain just how and why that works.

Show the high-brow people something about Adam & Eve from Genesis, for example, and there is no reason that you can not present it as a metaphor, its underlying message to be deciphered. Let me tell you, there are many people who will be intrigued, rise to the challenge, and even be flattered that you count them smart enough to figure it out. Whereas if you said from the get-go that it was all literal to people conditioned to reject the idea, you know what the reaction would be: “We are wise and learned adults, far too clever to be sold Adam and Eve. What’s next? Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?”

Focus on the meaning of the account itself (Genesis 3:1-5) without regard to whether it is literal or not. Sometimes when people see how much sense something makes, they reappraise their initial assumptions. 

For a concise explanation of the subject itself, without regard for whether it is metaphor or not - in fact, taking for granted that it is not - I don't think you can do much better than the short clip presented on the JW website:

 

 

 

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A Get Rich Quick Scheme From Genesis - It Works For Me!

Abraham and his household left Ur and traveled via the Fertile Crescent—up the Euphrates and down the east side of the Mediterranean—to reach the land God said would one day belong to his offspring. He overshot his destination for Egypt because there was a famine in the region shortly after arrival. (Did he say even a little: “Some promised land!”? He had had no problem with famine back home.)

When he eventually returned from Egypt, he was a wealthy man. Where did he get his wealth? From Pharoah! Pick up the account at Genesis 12:10

“Now a famine arose in the land, and Abram went down toward Egypt to reside there for a while, because the famine in the land was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai: “Please listen! I know what a beautiful woman you are. So when the Egyptians see you, they will surely say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but keep you alive. Please say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and my life will be spared.”

I understand this concern because my wife is also drop-dead gorgeous. I mean, heads snap around when cars pass her by—she nearly causes accidents. And being killed on account of men wanting her? I worry about this every time I venture into Walmart.

“As soon as Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians noticed that the woman was very beautiful. And the princes of Pharaoh also saw her, and they began praising her to Pharaoh, so that the woman was taken to the house of Pharaoh. He treated Abram well because of her, and he acquired sheep, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.”

Wow! And she was such a looker, and Abram was so scared of the Egyptians that he figured they would kill him so as to take his wife, as though wife-stealing was something they would never commit, but murder was. (I gave a talk once in which I observed that Abram was then scared for his wife and his life—I liked the rhyming) This, too, only a man like me, whose wife is also a looker, would understand.

“Then Jehovah struck Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. So Pharaoh called Abram and said: “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister, so that I was about to take her as my wife? Here is your wife. Take her and go!” So Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had.”

As observed previously, he had a lot by then. He had cleaned out Pharoah!

Now, I do nothing but study my Bible and I immediately put into practice anything I read. I travel to cities where there are wealthy and powerful men, like Binghamton and Watertown, and introduce my wife to them as my sister. Their eyes bug out of their heads, of course, as soon as they see her, and they lead me to their wall safes on her account, open them up, and tell me to take anything I want. As it turns out, I want quite a bit.

Then they try to put the moves on my wife. She plays it cool, staying just outside of their grasp—we’ve run this scam many times before. Then I manage to let it slip, as though by accident, that she is actually my wife and not my sister at all. They get all nervous thinking that God is going to smite them. Next thing you know, the two of us are on the road, a few million dollars richer, heading to search out another sucker in another city.

Don’t tell me that there is no value in Bible study. Just don’t go there.

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Why Do Bad Things Happen? Updated for Atheists, Sort of

When Moristotle the Atheist read my post ‘Why Bad Things Happen,’ he almost threw up. He declared it a “fantasy,” aspects of which were “utterly repulsive,” and the rest “not only not nice at all, nor even adolescent, but simply infantile.” If we could only get this fellow to say what he really thinks and stop pussyfooting around, he might amount to something!

Still, I took his concerns to heart. It’s not pleasant throwing up—it just isn’t. Was there a way to write essentially the same thing in a way that he and his would find more palatable? After all, he declared a related post of mine “profound.” True, he was just being nice, he later pointed out, but at least there was no gag reflex, or at least he overcame it.

It may not be possible to make this stuff more palatable for a certain type of person. Any discussion as to why God tolerates evil must necessarily link to Adam and Eve, and link to them rather substantially. They simply are that key of a building block. And so you have to overcome the ‘We are wise and learned adults, far too clever to be sold Adam and Eve. What’s next, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck?’ syndrome. It occurred to me only much later that you could invite such persons to consider it as a symbolism that need not be taken literally. That almost works better. Certain types love being thought perceptive enough to be entrusted with such an interpretive task—leave it on the shelf till later whether it actually happened or not. Still, I did not realize this at the time. My job was not going to be easy.

Let’s start with some common ground, just like Paul did at the Areopagus. Moristotle had recently trotted out a Greek named Diagoras, who is apparently the world’s first recorded atheist. There was a little quibbling over that, but I eventually conceded the point. Okay. Here goes. Wish me luck.

 

***~~~***

 

Was Diagoras the world’s first atheist? He is credited that way. Read up on him and you will find that he is remembered as Diagoras the Atheist. Isn’t he the fellow who used a wooden statue of Hercules as fuel to cook his turnips? If Hercules didn’t like it—well, let him do something about it. And how did Diagoras end up an atheist? Wikipedia tells us: “He became an atheist after an [unspecified] incident that happened against him went unpunished by the gods”

Why wasn’t it punished? Why didn’t God fix it? He’s God, after all. Isn’t he supposed to be all-powerful? We hear this all the time from atheists, agnostics and even believers. Why didn’t he solve Diagoras’s problem and stop the man from going atheist?

It’s because he’d never be able to do anything else. He’d be sticking band-aid after never-ending band-aid on a system of things that is inherently unjust, even designedly so. Instead, in keeping with his original purpose, he purposes to replace this system of things with one of his own design. Injustice in that system of things will be a memory only.

After all, what is the injustice that caused Diagoras such soul-searching? Only the one that touched him personally! Had he not witnessed hundreds of injustices in his lifetime? To say nothing of ones his society was built upon. We positively slobber over Greeks as cradle of wisdom, birthplace of democracy, mecca of free thinkers, and so forth, yet they enjoyed their privileged status only on the backs of others. That society embraced slavery. It treated women abominably. And weren’t Greeks the original pedophiles? The same sexual molestation of children so roundly condemned today was enshrined in respectable Greek society. Are these among the injustices Diagoras was concerned with? Did he even recognize them as injustices? Possibly, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Let’s face it, few situations of this world today are win-win. Generally, someone pays the price when we win. Hopefully, for politicians and Pollyannas, it is someone we don’t see in another land or another class. But there is somebody most often and we usually don’t even know about it. The system is designed that way. Get the sufferer as far away from the privileged one as possible so that the latter does not see the link and declares any such talk as but crybaby whining. Don’t think that any political party owns the problem. It is inherent with human self-rule. A new system of things is in keeping with the Bible’s premise that humans were not designed to be independent of God.

Things might have turned out differently. The Adam and Eve and Garden of Eden account, brief though it is, demonstrates God’s original intent. “Further, God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it,’” says Genesis 1:28. The very name Eden means “pleasure;” garden of Eden becomes, when translated into Greek, “paradise of pleasure,” and “subduing the earth” is code for spreading those conditions earth wide. Had humans, starting with the first pair, remained content to live under God’s direction, life today would be a far cry from what it is today. But almost from the start, they balked.

Consider Genesis chapter 3: “Now the serpent proved to be the most cautious of all the wild beasts of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it began to say to the woman: ‘Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?’ At this the woman said to the serpent: ‘Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But as for [eating] of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has said, “you must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it that you do not die.”’

“At this the serpent said to the woman: ‘You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.’ Consequently the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something to be longed for to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses understand the “knowing good and bad” of verse five to be a matter of declaring independence. “You don’t need God telling you what is good and what is bad. You can decide such things yourself and thus be “like God.” The serpent even portrays God as having selfish motive, as though trying to stifle the first couple—a sure way to engender discontent. The ploy was successful. Those first humans chose a course of independence, with far-ranging consequences that have cascaded down to our day.

After a lengthy time interval allowed by God so that all can see the end course of a world run independent of him, he purposes to bring it again under his oversight. This is what the prophet Daniel refers to: “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Daniel 2:44)

Jesus refers to it, too, in The Lord’s Prayer: “...Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:10) Does anybody seriously expect God’s will to be done on earth under the present system? Here and there, one can see a glimmer, of course, but to predominate? The time for God’s will to be done is when his kingdom comes.

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God’s permission of injustice, even evil, is bound up with this trial period of human rule, soon to end. In a sense, the modern-day atheist counterparts of Diagoras have voted for the wrong party. They voted Republicans out of office in favor of Democrats (or vice versa) and they are now incensed that Republicans aren’t delivering on their promises! God’s kingdom is the arrangement that will end injustice. But they continue to vote for human rule. Does anyone think that humans will end injustice?

What the upset ones really want is, not so much an end of injustice, but an end to the symptoms of injustice, mostly the ones that affect them personally, just like with Diagoras. But human rule itself is the source of injustice. We’re simply not designed with the ability to “rule” ourselves. Is it “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely?” God’s Kingdom will not treat the symptoms of injustice; it will uproot the source. (February 2008)

From the book TrueTom vs the Apostates!

Injustice

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You Don't Have to Rub Their Noses in It

So much understanding of basics as: Why does God permit #suffering and the concept of relative freedom lies in understanding of the book of Genesis ...Adam and Eve... but when you refer to it, people roll their eyes...it is a religious fable to them. You get as much #bangforthebuck with such folk by suggesting that they take it as metaphor.

You may get even more, for people love metaphors and they love the idea of proving themselves sensitive and smart by discerning the underlying message.

You don't have to rub their noses in it and insist they take it literally. Go for the underlying message. It is all order of presentation. You can clean up the rest later.

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Epochs and Aeons

Tack as many zeroes as you want onto Earth's age. Jehovah's Witnesses have no issue with it. A billion years? Ten billion? One hundred billion? More? Not a problem. That's not to say we endorse it, necessarily. But we'll have no issue with it. Let scientists be scientists.

“In [the] beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” reads the Bible's first verse. This is before the series of creative days commence, that period during which the earth fills with life. Whether each of those days are 24 hours in length, or 24 millenia, or 24 seconds.....it make no difference to the age of “the heavens and the earth.” They were created before.

However, as to the days themselves, what say Jehovah's Witnesses as to that? Even many JWs themselves may not be up to speed, for it was once thought that each day lasted 7000 years...it seemed to fit some prophetic patterns. But that view has been abandoned. (A flip-flop!! I can hear Vic Vomodog screaming now.)

Now, however, each day is described as an “epoch.” And the sum total of them: "aeons":

From the Watchtower of Feb 15, 2011 pp 8-9)

“The Bible goes on to describe what God did during a series of creative days. These are not 24 hour days but are epochs…....By means of his holy spirit, during creative days three through six, God created an astounding variety of plants and animals. …....After aeons had passed and God had produced innumerable animate and inanimate works, the earth was no longer “formless and waste.”

This revision of “day” stems from recognition that the Hebrew word need not refer to only the 24 hour variety. Even on the first creative “day,” “God began calling the light Day, but the darkness he called Night,” apparently as the thick clouds enshrouding the earth began to clear, allowing sunlight to reach the surface. So the entire period is a “day,” and also a portion of it is a “day!” Furthermore, after all six creative days are described, the Genesis account refers to all of it as a “day':

This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.    Gen 2:4

Okay? “Day” need not be 24 hours. It can be simply an non specific period of time. Even in English, we've all suffered old-timers carrying on about life “back in my day.” And if scripture doesn't insist otherwise, why squabble when scientists put forth numbers on life's development? We're not anti-science. Science is a powerful tool of discovery. We've nothing against it. To be sure, we don't see it as the be-all and end-all, and when scientists say “jump!” we don't instantly respond “how high?” But we're willing to acquiesce where there's no Biblical conflict. And in the matter of “days”, there is none. Far from being rigid (a frequent criticism), the Witness stand allows for incorporating findings of science.

So it appears with this piece that I might conclude my Sean B Carroll trilogy, the prior two installments of which are here and here. His book impressed me....a book from an evolutionist published post genome mapping. I wonder if our stand on Genesis is good enough for him. Probably not, for he appears to want no trace of God in any evolutionary goings on, whereas we've said  (above) “by means of his holy spirit, during creative days three through six, God created an astounding variety of plants and animals.” But when Sean is muttering about the denyers....yes, yes, I know its a misspelling, but he apparently does it for the silly reasons given here, and I am this close to being equally silly and calling the other guys evolootionists....you know....'loo', the British term for toilet......but I just can't make myself be that juvenile, at least not yet. At any rate, Sean laments the denyers are “those straitjacketed by biblically based interpretations of the age of the Earth.” Like most everyone else, he takes for granted that fundamentalists truly represent the Bible....an assumption that burns me up to no end.

Of course, we're not that way. Straitjacketed, I mean. We're not 24 hour people. We've no problem with epochs and aeons. Ought that not make Sean happy?

Now, it occurs to me that if the Biblical days are as long as scientists say they are, well....that allows plenty of time for the evolutionary goings on that Sean Carroll talks about to go on....with the consequence that evolution, in the main, is a battle that we need not fight. Not that we have to endorse it. But much like the age of the “heavens and the earth,” we need not take much exception to it. As that Feb 2011 Watchtower states, “by means of his holy spirit, during creative days three through six, God created an astounding variety of plants and animals.” That's not very specific as to method, is it? Might the method through which holy spirit delivers be the one scientists describe? Dunno if that is the case, or to what extent, but I do know that if God molded each “kind” like a potter molding clay on a potter's wheel....well.....he could do that in a literal 24 hour day. So what's the point of the epochs and aeons? Frankly, life programmed to adapt via accumulation of genetic change strikes me as no less miraculous than potter-created life.

No one's being dogmatic, here. Science is accommodated to the maximum extent without ignoring Scripture, which we ultimately consider the most reliable guide to life. The 2010 brochure Was Life Created? states: (page 27) ImagesCAVUV1FW Were these original “kinds” of plants and animals programmed with the ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions? What defines the boundary of a “kind”? The Bible does not say. However, it does state that living creatures “swarmed forth according to their kinds.” (Genesis 1:21) This statement implies that there is a limit to the amount of variation that can occur within a “kind.” [bolded print mine] Thus, our current view allows for what's described as micro-evolution (within a “kind”) but not macro-evolution (outside of a kind). But “implies” is not an ironclad word, is it? The point is, for the Christian, if the time element for developing life is indeed epochs and aeons, you need not squabble much with scientists who describe it. Let scientists be scientists. We'll teach the Bible.

What about this statement immediately preceding the lines quoted above: Does this progressive appearance of plants and animals imply that God used evolution to produce the vast diversity of living things? No. The record clearly states that God created all the basic “kinds” of plant and animal life. (Genesis 1:11, 12, 20-25) “Evolution”, as Sean Carroll and others like to describe it, strictly excludes all hints of “programming,” and they positively choke on any mention of “holy spirit.” But if you go and retrieve those words from the dumpster into which they've been tossed, you'll do just fine. For today we recognize a strong (and unnecessary) anti-God element among the evolutionists. From the same brochure (Was Life Created?  page 22):

Why do many prominent evolutionists insist that macroevolution is a fact? Richard Lewontin, an influential evolutionist, candidly wrote that many scientists are willing to accept unproven scientific claims because they “have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.” Many scientists refuse even to consider the possibility of an intelligent Designer because, as Lewontin writes, “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

 In this regard, sociologist Rodney Stark is quoted in Scientific American as saying: “There’s been 200 years of marketing that if you want to be a scientific person you’ve got to keep your mind free of the fetters of religion.” He further notes that in research universities, “the religious people keep their mouths shut.”  

Now, I admit, I'm a bit fearful of using these quotes lest grousers suppose I'm implying that the above fellows reject evolution. They don't. “Quote mining” is the charge grousers may level, and who wants to be guilty of that? But I've already dealt with the subject here. I don't know what else I can do. You should never play the God/no-God game with atheists according to their rules, since their primary rule is that you can't move any of your pieces.

But with the acceptance of epochs and aeons, vast areas of conflict between the science camp and the JW camp vanish, and others become largely immaterial. Not all, to be sure. The creation of Adam remains a topic on which I don't yet see grounds for agreement. From that same Feb 15th Watchtower: “Yet, Jehovah had not finished using his spirit for creative purposes. He was about to produce his highest earthly creation. Toward the end of the sixth creative day, God created man. How did Jehovah do so? By using his holy spirit and the elements of the earth.”

Yet if the Watchtower has taken to interviewing guys like Michael Behe, who accepts evolution in the main, but acknowledges it has limits, well.....I mean.....they wouldn't do that if the two hated each others' guts. Our people are not being dogmatic here. They recognize where other views can be accommodated, and are not so presumptuous as to try to instruct scientists on their own turf.

I thought I might be the first to blog such a subject, but no! When googled 'Michael Behe' and 'Awake interview', I find there is a discussion some time ago on “is the Watchtower preparing to accept evolution?” I suppose I should link to it, but I'm not going to. It's a sorehead grouser site, largely populated by those who've abandoned spiritual things upon discovery that God is not Santa Claus....that he does more than just give us stuff, that he has requirements, that the Christian course involves sacrifice and self-discipline, and is not just opening presents, and....gasp!....it involves human organization, which may sometimes decide matters contrary to one's individual preference!.....a violation of freedom and independence!!!! These type of guys exasperate me. Find them yourselves if you must.

Plus, they view any such adjustment in JW viewpoint as a slick marketing ploy. For me any modification of view stems from recent scientific ability to read the genome....to grow fast-reproducing goo and slime, and to track each and every gene involved and spot which ones have reproduced faithfully and which ones have not and what are the accumulated effects of those that did not. It's a major tangible advance for science, and while fundamentalists might ignore it, we don't.

Well, if you were impressed with Sean Carroll's book so much, Mr Sheepandgoats, then why don't you let him dictate everything to you....he makes no allowance for programming or God or holy spirit. The answer is that I've chosen the Christian course represented by Jehovah's Witnesses based upon several lines of reason, present scientific opinion being but one of them.

In the main, it becomes apparent that the greater conflict is not between the Bible (and us) and science. It's between the fundamentalists and science. These religious characters do the same with “day” that they do with trinity and hellfire. They take words and phrases literally....words which in any other context they would instantly recognize as metaphor. If they read of someone shedding “crocodile tears” in a novel, they know exactly what that expression means. If they read it in the Bible, they take it as PROOF that the shedder is a crocodile, since the Bible MEANS what is SAYS and SAYS what it MEANS. They exasperate me to no end, since they make the Bible an object of ridicule to anyone deciding to use the brain God gave us.

 

[edit: 1/20/2012,  see interview between New Republic's John McWhorter and Michael Behe. Sean Carroll & his work comes in for mention, around the 11-12, 22-24 minute marks. He's a nice guy, Behe says.]

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Tom Irregardless and Me                     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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