Friday, September 23, 2005

Desperate Times

The Other Liberal Professor sends me this interesting post from over on the Kos diaries, more fundavangelicals trying to prove that Genesis is, so, literally true:

The sermon was given by a guest speaker, John Walton, who is a professor in old Testament scripture at Wheaton College. He has studied Genesis 1 as much as any scholar, and has some great incite [sic] to offer.

To start with, we have to realize that the Bible was written FOR us, but it was written TO the ancient Jews. So we have to view the text from the viewpoint of the ancient Jews. For the sake of the Creation story, the first thing we have to define is what it means to exist. Of course when a person today reads Genesis 1, we immediately think creation in the physical sense. The Jews at the time of Moses, when Genesis was written had an entirely different view.

To the Mosaic Jews, something exists when it has a purpose. To the Mosaic Jews, the Desert did not exist, because it did not have a purpose. The tribes in distant lands did not exist to the Mosaic Jews, because they served no purpose for the Jews. So everything that had a purpose could be said to exist, and things that had no purpose could be said to not exist.

The problem here, of course, is that this isn't so. In fact, in the Jewish worldview, things do not have to have a function or a purpose for us to recognize that they exist -- that's not just an odd worldview, that's a sociopathic worldview, and it is not, in fact, a Jewish one, nor was it ever. Where this fellow got the idea that it was, I do not know.

Well, yes, in fact,I do. Probably. He made it up. Christian "scholars" like this guy love to make things up. As do Christian Presidents. What are we to do.

But, in fact, to be clear, the desert did exist for those "Mosaic" Jews (I love that "Mosaic Jews," what the fuck is that? As opposed to Dolphin Jews? As opposed to these Evil Jews we have now? What?) and so did the light that God created and so did everything else. Things do not, in fact, have to have a purpose in the Jewish worldview for them to exist.

No. In fact, exactly otherwise. We are told exactly otherwise. We are told not to muzzle the ox when he treads the grain. What does this mean? This means to respect the selfhood of the ox. This means that we are to admit that the ox has a selfhood -- has a purpose beyond what use we can make of him.

God asks Jonah, in fact, if he does well to be angry. The understood answer there is no. What does this mean? It means that the people of Nineveh and the cattle of Nineveh have a selfhood, beyond any use they can serve Jonah, and Jonah should respect their right to exist.

The law says let your serving man go after seven years, but only if he wants to go. What does this mean? This means your serving man has a self, and you must respect it.

The law says slaughter your beasts painlessly -- why? Because they have a self, and they can suffer.

So NO NO NO, it is not all about how the world is there to fulfill a shining purpose for man. It is not all a tool for the Christians.

I'm sorry.

It's not.

Can someone please send these folks a nice big plate of Get Over Yourselves?

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