Get your King James Bible

Just for the fun of it, I’ve uploaded a copy of the King James Version of the Holy Bible to my Comcast web page, the one that you get for free with every Comcast Internet account. It’s for Robb Topolski and all the good people at the EFF.

PS: Actually should have been for the AP, according to Robb’s comments on the post and an e-mail from the EFF. So many details, so little time.

Scientology v. Internet

I have to congratulate Gawker Media honcho Nick Denton for the courageous stand he’s taken against Scientology. Nick is standing tall and refusing to take down the video of a rambling and incoherent Tom Cruise doing $cieno-babble, while the rest of the Internet has been cowed by threats. The Scientology empire will sue, so their threats aren’t idle.

Scientology is a dangerous cult, and we need more Nick Dentons fighting the good fight.

It’s about time: Genarlow Wilson Freed

Cheers to the Georgia Supreme Court for finally getting around to freeing Genarlow Wilson:

ATLANTA, Oct. 26 — The Georgia Supreme Court today ended the 10-year prison sentence of a man who was convicted in 2003 of having consensual oral sex with another teenager. The court said the harsh sentence violated the Constitution’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

In a 4-to-3 ruling, the court’s majority said the sentence was “grossly disproportionate” to the crime, which the justices said “did not rise to the level of culpability of adults who prey on children.”

The dude was essentially molested by a drunk 15-year-old at a football party, and had been sentenced to ten years in stir for not saying no. It’s amazing that things like this (the prosecution, not the blow job) still take place in America.

The World’s First Wikipedia Article

This is a cold analysis of the Bible:

“Those who call the King James Version of the Bible the unerring word of God,” writes reviewer Doug Brown, “have a slight problem. The New Testament of the KJV (as the King James Version is usually referred) was translated into English from a version of the Greek New Testament that had been collected from 12th-century copies by Erasmus. Where Erasmus couldn’t find Greek manuscripts, he translated to Greek from the Latin Vulgate (which itself had been translated from Greek back in the fourth century). Here the problem splits into two problems. First, Jesus spoke Aramaic — his actual words, never recorded, were only rendered in Greek in the original gospels. Thus, the KJV consists of Jesus’s words twice refracted through the prism of translation. Second, Erasmus’s Greek New Testament was based on handwritten copies of copies of copies of copies, etc., going back over a millennium, and today is considered one of the poorer Greek New Testaments.”

Consider this just one example of a “sacred text” treated almost as a farcical text in regard to its having a single, coherent, intentional, shaping, authorial, divine mind behind it. Is the Bible, in one counting, the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, the 73 books of the Roman Catholic Bible, or the 77 books of the Eastern Orthodox Bible?

After a litany of examples of intercopy disagreements, scribal clarifications, arbitrary decisions on what is canonical and what is apocryphal, and putative scribal addenda such as the controversial last twelve verses of Mark (16:9-20) with their references to snake handling and speaking in tongues, it is difficult to think of such texts as sacred as opposed to much-handled — compilations over time by committee. If you’d been told recently that the seventh and final volume of the Harry Potter series had gone through changes at the hands of 10 copyists and editors, not to mention been translated through several languages before reaching English, would you feel confident it was J.K. Rowling’s sacred conclusion to her tale? Writes Brown, “In many respects, the Bible was the world’s first Wikipedia article.”

Unfortunately for religious fundamentalists, it’s largely correct as well.

An Act of Deception

Intelligent Design is a deceitful critique of Darwinian descent with modification that attempts to undermine the commitment of science to find natural causes for natural phenomena. Its apparent goal is to have public school science classes teach Divine Intervention as an alternative to natural causes. One of the favorite complaints of Intelligent Design advocates is that they’re persecuted and denied free speech whenever the absence of any rational basis for their claims is exposed, and their favorite method is deception. Once again, the deception has come to the surface in a story in the New York Times on their upcoming film “Expelled.” The film’s producers obtained interviews with several prominent scientists by claiming to be doing a documentary on the intersection of science and faith rather than a propaganda piece for anti-scientism.

As the Times correctly surmises, there isn’t really any great scientific controversy over the subject matter:

There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. And while individual scientists may embrace religious faith, the scientific enterprise looks to nature to answer questions about nature. As scientists at Iowa State University put it last year, supernatural explanations are “not within the scope or abilities of science.”

Hence the claims of persecution are groundless. But we Americans love the underdog, so some will root for the ID’ers anyway.


See Volokh and Reason for more.

Predictably, the ID response is riddled with falsehoods. The Discovery Institute claims there’s an active scientific dispute over descent with modification (there isn’t) and that Richard Sternberg and Guillermo Gonzalez suffered reprisals from the science establishment for their support of creationist ideas, Sternberg at the Smithsonian and Gonzalez at Iowa State University. In fact, Sternberg was never employed by the Smithsonian and Gonzalez’ failure to win tenure was based on his thin publication record.

But we already knew that.

Michael Vick is misunderstood

Everybody in the world is piling-on poor Michael Vick about his unique attitude toward his animal compansions, so this balanced news story deserves some play:

ATLANTA–Michael Vick’s attorney, Billy Martin, spoke today at length about the dog-killing allegations leveled against his client and insisted that Vick ate “every single dog” that was killed on his property, dispelling the notion the dogs were killed merely for sport.

“Michael would never just kill an animal for the sake of sport,” Martin told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “That’s wrong and it’s disgusting. The fact is, he ate all those dogs after he killed them. He cut them up and cooked them on his grill. They’re actually quite delectable if you apply the proper seasoning. So Michael’s really no different than your average hunter.”

Martin did admit that Vick’s methods of killing the animals were slightly different from those used by hunters, but contended that the methods were “merely a technicality.”

Indeed. Now read the whole thing or I’ll have Instapundit pay you a visit with his puppy-blender.

No free ride for reincarnators

China once again demonstrates vision that’s all too rare in the modern state by extending the reach of regulation into the supernatural:

China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

We’ll do better in the US, of course, by simply levying a huge tax on these irresponsible reincarnators. This must be the lobby that repealed the death tax.