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February 06, 2014

The Bible was likely written around 586 B.C.E. says new report out of Israel

New research into the domestication of camels--seriously--suggests that the Bible was authored about 2500 years ago, not 4500 as is usually claimed. All of the early history, the scholars explain, was backfilled from 586 B.C.E. and is not what you what call even remotely historically accurate. Camel Bones and Jerusalem: Archeology Shows Bible written Late, Full of Errors | Informed Comment
But here is proof that the Bible was written late and projects later developments into the distant past: it alleges that people had domesticated camels four millennia ago in what is now Israel. And that assertion, folks, is simply not true. That is the finding of Sapir-Hen and Ben-Yosef. E.g. Genesis 24: 64 says, “Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she dismounted from the camel.” If this encounter happened circa 2026 BC, it was happening a thousand years before anyone was riding camels. The archeologists’ digs near the Jordanian border find evidence of domesticated camels sort of 930-900 BC. But they don’t find that evidence in any settlements older than 930 BC. There is a pretty clear dividing line between the pre-domestic camel and post- domestic camel settlements. Although it was likely based on previous oral tales, the Bible probably wasn’t written down in something like its present form until the Babylonian exile, 586-539 B.C. When those scribes reworked the folk tales of the Canaanites, they projected sixth-century BC realities back into the past. Thus, they had characters riding camels before they were domesticated. Riding a camel was taken for granted in 580 BC. You might think this point is a minor one. But it demonstrates how the scribes worked. They projected recent things into the distant past. The archeological evidence shows that not only weren’t people riding camels in the Levant when the Bible says they were, David and Solomon didn’t have a huge palace in Jerusalem in the 1000s and 900s BC. The Assyrians, the gossips of the ancient world, wrote down everything on their clay tablets. They knew events in the whole Middle East. They did not know anything about a glorious kingdom of David and Solomon at Jerusalem. Indeed, in the 1000s when David is alleged to have lived, Jerusalem seems to have been largely uninhabited, according to the digs that have been done. Jerusalem was not in any case founded by Jews, but by Canaanites in honor of the god Shalem, thousands of years ago. There is no reason to think anyone but Canaanites lived in the area of Jerusalem in the 1000s or 900s BC. Likely some Canaanites became devoted to Y*H*W*H in a monotheistic way during the Babylonian exile when they began inventing Judaism and becoming “Jews” and projecting it back into the distant past.

January 22, 2014

There is a strong correlation between Evangelical communities and divorce

Living near Evangelicals is bad for your marriage. More religiously conservative Protestants? More divorce, study finds - latimes.com
Researchers discovered that higher divorce rates among conservative Protestants were tied to earlier marriages and childbearing – factors known to ramp up divorce. Starting families earlier tends to stop young adults from pursuing more education and depresses their wages, putting more strain on marriages, University of Texas at Austin professor Jennifer Glass said. But the study went a step further: Glass and another researcher also discovered that people living in areas with lots of conservative Protestants were at higher risk of getting divorced, even if they weren’t conservative Protestants themselves. County by county, for every 1% increase in the share of conservative Protestants compared with mainline Protestants, the divorce rate increased 0.02%, the study found. Glass argued that community institutions in such areas might encourage early marriage, affecting divorce rates for everyone who lives there. “Pharmacies might not give out emergency contraception. Schools might only teach abstinence education,” Glass added. On top of that, “if you live in a marriage market where everybody marries young, you postpone marriage at your own risk. The best catches … are going to go first.” The study also found that it was not poverty nor higher rates of marriage, on the whole, that were driving up divorce in “red” counties, as others had theorized.

January 18, 2014

Pope Benedict quietly defrocked 400 priests for raping children, did not turn them over to authorities

It's great that Pope Ratzinger kicked 400 priests out for raping children. It's awful that he didn't turn them over to the police or do anything to help the victims. Pope defrocked 400 priests in 2 years
VATICAN CITY (AP) — A document obtained by The Associated Press on Friday shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for sexually molesting children. The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked. Prior to that, it had only publicly revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received and the number of trials it had authorized. . . . The maximum penalty for a priest convicted by a church tribunal is essentially losing his job: being defrocked, or removed from the clerical state. There are no jail terms and nothing to prevent an offender from raping again.