Thursday, February 12, 2009


By a lie, a man...annihilates his dignity as a man.
-Immanuel Kant

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time unless they are religious.
-Saint Brian the Godless


I’ve been having an email argument with a Christian biblical literalist, on and off for the last few days.

It’s been fascinating… And a lot of laughs. But this one was the best.

We were arguing about the supposed inerrancy of the Holy Bible.

And then he sent me this gem:

Leonard R. Brand
Chairman, Department of Biology
Loma Linda University

Origins 4(2):102-104 (1977).
Related page — | IN A FEW WORDS | Leviticus 11:6 is sometimes used as an example of an error in the Bible; it states that hares chew the cud. Hares are not usually known as cud-chewing, or ruminating, animals. Is this really an error in the Bible, or did Moses know what he was talking about?
When a cow swallows a mouthful of grass, it goes first of all to one compartment of the stomach referred to as the rumen. The culture of microorganisms that exists in the rumen digests the grass and converts much of it into nutrients which the cow can utilize. Then the cow brings the microorganisms and leftover grass back to her mouth, one mouthful at a time. She chews it and sends it on through the rest of her digestive tract. Thus the cow really doesn't subsist directly on grass alone, but also on the protozoa and bacteria that she breeds in her rumen (Carles 1977).

The process of digestion of grass by microorganisms is referred to as fermentation, and it occurs in many other animals besides the cloven-hoofed ruminating animals. Special forestomachs for fermentation are also found in kangaroos, whales, dugongs, hippopotamus, sloths, and colobid monkeys (McBee 1971). Other modifications of the stomach or some part of the intestines to provide a fermentation chamber are found in rodents, rabbits and hares, gallinaceous birds, horses, hyrax (McBee 1971), and in mallards (Miller 1976).

Some herbivorous animals consume part of their own feces, thus recovering fermentation products that have passed through the digestive tract. This process of reingestion of feces occurs in many rodents (Thacker and Brandt 1955) and in all genera of hares and rabbits (Carles 1977; Hamilton 1955; Kirkpatrick 1956; Lechleitner 1957; McBee 1971; Myers 1955; Southern 1940; Watson 1954; Watson and Taylor 1955). Reingestion of feces is an especially well-developed practice in Lagomorphs (rabbits and hares) and is important for their adequate nutrition.

Lagomorphs produce two kinds of fecal pellets which are produced at different times during the day. When the animals are active and feeding they produce the familiar hard pellets. When they cease their activity and retire to their burrows or resting areas, they begin producing soft pellets which they eat as soon as they are passed (Myers 1955). Rabbits reingest 54-82% of their feces (Eden 1940), which they apparently swallow whole, without chewing (Watson 1954). The soft pellets are composed of material from the fermentation chamber, which in the Lagomorphs is located in the cecum, a blind pouch at the beginning of the large intestine (McBee 1971). The soft pellets are composed mainly of bacteria, mixed with some plant material, and each pellet is enclosed in a proteinaceous membrane secreted posterior to the colon. These tough membranes remain intact for at least six hours after reingestion. When swallowed they pass to the fundus portion of the stomach, where they remain for several hours (Griffiths and Davies 1963). Other food that is swallowed moves past the accumulation of soft pellets and goes on through the digestive tract. The membranes around the pellets and a buffering solution in the pellets control the pH, so that fermentation continues in the pellets even though the rest of the stomach is acid (Griffiths and Davies 1963).

The process of cecal fermentation and reingestion helps the rabbit in several ways. Amino acids and proteins are synthesized by the bacteria in the cecum, using nonprotein nitrogen (perhaps urea). Amino acids are absorbed directly through the walls of the cecum and provide 4.4-21.8% of the animal's daily energy requirement (McBee 1971). Proteins synthesized in the cecum are carried to the stomach in the soft pellets. This protein is important to the nutrition of the rabbit. Experiments have shown that "nitrogen balance in the rabbit was reduced 50% if soft feces were not eaten" (McBee 1971). Fermentation and reingestion also improve utilization of sodium and potassium and provide 83% more niacin, 100% more riboflavin, 165% more pantothenic acid, and 42% more vitamin B12 than would be available if soft feces were not consumed (McBee 1971; Myers 1955).
Is this special digestive process analogous to the rumination, or cud-chewing, in cows? There are both similarities and differences between the two processes. The rabbits are different in that they do not have a four-part stomach with a rumen, and the material that reaches their fermentation chamber has already been chewed and partially digested. Cows and rabbits are similar in that they both have a fermentation chamber with microorganisms that digest otherwise indigestible plant material and convert it to nutrients. Some of the rabbit microorganisms are different from those in cows, but many of them are the same or similar (McBee 1971). Both cows and rabbits also have a mechanism to pass the contents of their fermentation chamber back to the mouth and then on through the digestive tract.
Madsen (1939) wrote an article entitled "Does the Rabbit Chew the Cud?" Southern (1940) concluded that reingestion has an advantage to the rabbit "equivalent to 'chewing the cud'." Griffiths and Davies (1963) concluded that "we consider that the fundus of the rabbit stomach, loaded with soft pellets, is analogous to the rumens of sheep and cattle."

Carles (1977) compared cows and rabbits and reached the conclusion that rumination should not be defined from an anatomical point of view (the presence of a four-part stomach), but rather on presence of an adaptation for breeding bacteria to improve food. On this basis he stated that "it is difficult to deny that rabbits are ruminants."

What is the correct explanation for Leviticus 11:6 — is it an error in the Bible, or is it evidence that Moses had a source of information far ahead of his time? Since rabbits and hares have a process that is so similar to cow rumination that it becomes a question of the technicalities of one's definition of rumination, it would be difficult to justify interpreting Leviticus 11:6 as an error in the Bible.

Salient part of above article: "The rabbits are different in that they do not have a four-part stomach with a rumen..."


So, because a rabbit eats its own shit, it’s a ruminant! Voila!

It HAS to be a ruminant.

Because the Bible says so.

Whenever belief comes into conflict with cold, hard facts, belief wins every time.

So what if the scientific classification of a ruminant is very clear? So what? All one has to do is look for the one or two scientists that disagree with convention and have their own agendas, being Christians themselves… And quote them as if they were a part of the mainstream. As if one uncorroborated source is equivalent in value to established, peer-reviewed, generally accepted science.

I find this particular Desperation Obfuscation uniquely entertaining. Because it would seem that ingesting fecal pellets is not the sole province of the lagomorpha. Many Christians do it too. And apparently they also think that regurgitation is the equivalent of defecation, and so it often is, for them. When they regurgitate scripture and dogma, it’s all crap to me.

Further note on above article:
The rabbit doesn't even chew the fecal pellet. It swallows it whole. So no cud chewing of any kind. Even if you define "cud" as their own poop.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


For among Judeans there are three forms of philosophy.
Now Pharisees are one sect, Sadducees another,
But in fact the third, called Essenes, seems to be the most reverential discipline.
- Josephus, Jewish War 2.119

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.
-Charlotte Bronte



Jesus warned people of Pharisees in the Bible, often speaking of them in a negative light. But what was it about them specifically that He found so offensive? He was actually quite clear on the matter:


Luke 18 (King James Version)
1And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
3And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
5Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
9And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.


Luke 11:37-54 (King James Version)
37And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.
38And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
39And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness
40Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
41But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.
42But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
43Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.
44Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.


Matthew 23 (King James Version)
1Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
13But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
14Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
16Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
17Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
18And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
19Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
20Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
21And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
22And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
23Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
24Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
25Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
29Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
34Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
35That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
36Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
37O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.


So while the actual term “Pharisee” merely refers to a Jewish sect, when Jesus spoke of that sect in a negative light what part of being a Pharisee was he talking about? What common discerning features of the Pharisees seemed to really annoy Jesus?

In the first story it is plain that Jesus is pointing out how the Pharisee was too proud and thought himself superior to the lowly Publican. This is made especially clear in the last line: “for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

In the second story Jesus openly rants against Pharisee *hypocrisy.* He even uses the exact word, calling them “hypocrites!” with an exclamation point. He also speaks of their egotism throughout.

In the third similar example from Matthew again we see the phrase “12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” But we also have “13But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” And many additional cries of “hypocrites!” to be found throughout.

I’m sorry that my “Luke’s” are out of order. I hope it’s not a sin or anything.

So what are our common denominators here? What is it about the Pharisees of His day that Jesus found so personally repellant?

Going by the Bible, the only source available, we would have to conclude that it’s a mixture of hypocrisy, egotism, and pride.

Now, I’ve spoken of the evils of Pride before. How subtle a sin it is. How the proud are never aware that they are the proud, and think of themselves as the humble. They’re even proud of being humble, ironically enough. And excessive pride naturally begets hypocrisy. So they do go rather hand-in-hand, is the point.

In order to really excel at being a modern Pharisee one has only to be proud of their religion, and how righteous belonging to it makes them, how much less sinful than those *other* people they are.

Speaking incessantly (and proudly) of Jesus and His path of love and inclusion and yet living the opposite one of pride and exclusion is in my opinion the defining hypocrisy of the modern Pharisee.

Judging others when you yourself are lacking is another distinctive feature.

To call one’s self a Christian requires nothing. But to actually be a Christian, you have to follow the path of Jesus Christ. And that path is the narrow path of love. Of loving all others, no matter how different they are, no matter what you think of their way of life, no matter how sinful they look to you.

Because it’s not our place to judge.

I’ve never been against the path of Jesus Christ. It’s a good path. One of the very best, in fact. There’s nothing better than all-inclusive love. Jesus is more than just all right by me.

It would seem however that the path of the Pharisee is much more popular nowadays.

The wide, easy path. The one that goes in a spiritual circle.

People are weak. The path of Christ is the difficult path, so it’s no wonder that so few Christians are capable of following it.

I wish they’d at least realize that they’ve strayed from it, but the pride keeps them blind to that forever.

For the ignorant are always ignorant enough not to be able to see that they’re ignorant, and the proud are always proud enough not to be able to see that they’re proud.

Such is the nature of human folly.

So to any Christians reading this: If you’re a proud Christian that feels that people of other faiths (or none at all) are somehow inferior…

Congratulations! You just might be a Pharisee!