Pharyngula

It seems to be all over the place, with both the Discovery Institute and the various overtly (as opposed to the DI’s stealthy) religious creationists. It’s the one message they are all pounding out consistently.

It, of course, is the argumentum ad consequentiam, the Great Godwinization of the debate, the constant claim that Charles Darwin was the evil monster responsible for the Holocaust, all modern racism and oppression, anti-semitism, whites-only seating on buses, slavery, eugenics, abortion, man-on-pig sex, gun control, job discrimination, illegal aliens, feminism, the birth control pill, hedonism, Mexicans, atheism, hippies, and anything other than the average social mores of 1950s America, and therefore evolution is false.

Anyone with half a brain can see right through this argument: Darwin could have been a baby-raping cannibal and it wouldn’t have affected the validity of his arguments one whit. That Darwin was actually a fairly conservative British gentleman who was also an abolitionist and advocate for fair treatment of all races (although, admittedly, not equality of all races) similarly doesn’t affect the status of his theory, but does allow us to comfortably celebrate the man, and not just the work.

Furthermore, it is ahistorical nonsense. Darwin’s ideas were a relatively late addition to Western culture, arising in the last half of the 19th century. Many of the evils Darwin is blamed for, like slavery and anti-semitism, preceded his birth, and many are even literally endorsed by by a book the liars for Jesus revere, the Bible.

This is an argument that relies entirely on a deep and all encompassing ignorance on the part of the listener to be accepted — they have to be oblivious to the rules of basic logic, they have to be complete blanks on even the roughest outline of history, and they have to be willing to allow visceral reactions to the key words the creationists are spitting out to be tied to unrelated concepts. They have to be stupid and uneducated. This is the state the creationists must perpetuate if their argument is to succeed.

Who is making these transparently idiotic claims? John West, Ken Ham, Geoffrey Simmons, D. James Kennedy, and Tom DeRosa to name just a few. These are people leading a campaign to keep your children stupid.

The latest to jump on the Darwin-caused-Hitler bandwagon is — and I dislike linking to her bad prose and pathetically transparent inbred link-farm — is Denyse O’Leary. Watch how quickly she spirals into lunacy in a single paragraph.

Darwin was instrumental in discrediting the traditional way of looking at human beings. This is a fact that everyone admits and many celebrate. How often have you heard that Darwin’s great achievement was to knock humanity off its pedestal and show that we are merely evolved animals, accidentally evolved at that? And that had everything to do with the Holocaust.

It is true that one thing Darwin accomplished was to challenge the traditional exceptionalist view of human beings as somehow privileged — a hierarchical view that was also used to rank races within the human species — and this was a good thing. While he didn’t always meet his own standard to “never speak of higher and lower,” it was a commendable goal.

But notice how O’Leary twists it: we are merely evolved animals, as if our status as animals somehow excuses our abuses of our fellows. I always wonder if people who make this argument also pull the wings off flies. Darwin did not demote humanity, he elevated it and all life on earth to the exalted position of equal products of long eras of evolutionary history.

This had nothing to do with the Holocaust.

The idea of making Jews extinct in the sense that the dinosaurs are extinct – as the Nazis tried to do – was derived culturally from Darwin, not from the Church. Also derived from Darwin and his supporters – rather than the Church – was the view of Jews as simply a gene pool rather than a race/religion/culture/Jesus’s family/God’s chosen people/essential part of history/essential part of our neighbourhood/people we know. The stew of traditional issues sometimes overflows into violence, but not into a eugenics program.

Look right there, in O’Leary’s preferred view: Jews are “God’s chosen people.” Some people, apparently, are better than other people; we are therefore justified in exterminating those other people if they get in the way of the chosen ones. And who gets to say who are the chosen ones? Why, the chosen ones themselves.

The biological view that arose from Darwinian thought is that there are no specially preferred groups. Jews are as unique and valuable as Palestinians, Chinese, Basque, Germans, Italians, Swedes, New Guineans, Inuit, or Canadians. “Simply a gene pool”? What nonsense. If the other is “simply a gene pool,” then so are we, and none of us have grounds for demanding privileged status.

As for the claim that the Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews was derived from Darwin, all we have to do is look at Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies to see how false that claim is. Luther published in 1543, 316 years before Darwin, and in that little pamphlet lays down an 8-point plan for destroying the Jews.

  1. “First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. …”
  2. “Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. …”
  3. “Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. …”
  4. “Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. …”
  5. “Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. …”
  6. “Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them. … Such money should now be used in … the following [way]… Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed [a certain amount]…”
  7. “Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow… For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.”
  8. “If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews’ blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country” and “we must drive them out like mad dogs.”

In the blinkered, shuttered, moldy attic of O’Leary’s mind, the fact that Darwin used the word “race” in the title of his book is far more evil than the fact that an influential leader of the church ranted openly about hating the Jews and published specific plans for their destruction.

Here’s what’s really appalling. This whole argument on their part is so blatantly stupid and false, yet somehow the diverse group of leaders of creationism in this country have all informally reached a consensus that their followers are ignorant enough that they will actually accept it. Sense, reason, history, logic, the plain and documented facts can all be ignored — they can delude themselves and lie, lie, lie, and the state of the creationist mind is so abysmally benighted that they can reliably expect a large following to believe them.

Comments

  1. #1 J
    February 23, 2008

    Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, so do they want to throw out the First Amendment?

    Oh, wait…bad example.

  2. #2 Delta Whisky
    February 23, 2008

    “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord”(Hitler 1943, 65).

    “The undermining of the existence of human culture by the destruction of its bearer seems in the eyes of a folkish philosophy the most execrable crime. Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord commits sacrilege against the benevolent Creator of this miracle and contributes to the expulsion from paradise.” (Hitler 1943, 383)

    Hmmmmm….

    Instead of blaming other things, people need to start taking personal responsibility.

  3. #3 J
    February 23, 2008

    From D’OL:

    The idea of making Jews extinct in the sense that the dinosaurs are extinct – as the Nazis tried to do – was derived culturally from Darwin, not from the Church.

    Right, that explains this clearly Darwinian motto.

  4. #4 MAJeff
    February 23, 2008

    The idea of making Jews extinct in the sense that the dinosaurs are extinct – as the Nazis tried to do – was derived culturally from Darwin, not from the Church.

    Then what was that whole Inquisition and Expulsion thing about?

    There is truly something wrong with these people.

  5. #5 raven
    February 23, 2008

    The fundies strategy of blaming the Nazis and Hitler on Darwin is a loser.

    Most serious historians as opposed to fundies Making Stuff Up trace this movement to German Xianity. As noted in the post, Luther was a rabid antisemite who proposed a final solution 400 years ago. Hitler himself invoked god and Jesus often and those writings are widely known, available, and quoted.

    Nothing says fundies can’t lie but nothing says anyone has to believe poorly crafted and easily refuted lies. The truth is out there and Xianity has got some explaining to do about WWII.

  6. #6 Graculus
    February 23, 2008

    ..or Canadians

    That may be going a little too far, eh?

  7. #7 J Myers
    February 23, 2008

    …they have to be oblivious to the rules of basic logic, they have to be complete blanks on even the roughest outline of history, and they have to be willing to allow visceral reactions to the key words the creationists are spitting out to be tied to unrelated concepts. They have to be stupid and uneducated. This is the state the creationists must perpetuate if their argument is to succeed.

    Check… check… check… check…

    Shit.

  8. #8 I have none
    February 23, 2008

    Martin Luther also called the jews ” a brood of vipers”, a term Hitler adopted happily.

  9. #9 Fernando Magyar
    February 23, 2008

    #16 MAJeff,

    They’re the intellectual equivalents of David Irving.

    Yup! (how’s that for understatement?)

  10. #10 Sastra
    February 23, 2008

    The creationists don’t have to rely on people being “stupid” — they only have to rely on a religion-soaked culture resulting in a populace which frames everything in terms of “faith” and “choice.” It can take a clever mind to do this well.

    How do you know which church or group of people are REALLY trying to understand God as God, and not just distorting God in order to follow their own desires? Oh, that’s just so easy. You look to see how they behave. You look at the consequences. If you can see good results from believing in God, or believing in Jesus — or believing in Church or Synagogue or Mosque or Coven X — then this is where you find Truth. Show people you have Truth by being Good. That’s how they “choose” God. And “choose” a religion.

    As PZ points out, they’re framing science theories just like they’re framing faiths. Having faith is important. Choosing to believe means you’ve got good character. And you choose to believe in whatever “makes you a better person.” If the religious belief leads to bad things, it must be wrong. Militant Muslims with suicide bombs cannot possibly have TRUE religion. Unless, of course, you’re on the other side, where people who allow too much freedom cannot possibly have TRUE religion. Consequences, consequences.

    People who start out with this desire for the Good Outcome as the basis for figuring out what is true are easily lead into the view “if the science theory leads to bad things, then it must be wrong.” It’s the most familiar approach, after all.

  11. #11 gerald spezio
    February 23, 2008

    PZ, I am confident that you haven’t forgotten long suffering professor of Disinformation DOCTOR Nisbet.
    Last year our charming champion of yuppie framing skills gave us the rock-em-sock-em definition of the mystical powers of framing.
    Unfortunately, there is no way out of its repeat application to sweet church lady O’Leary’s recent engineered agit-prop;

    Again here is DOCTOR Nisbet at his UNABASHED best:

    “That’s the power and influence of framing when it resonates with an individual’s social identity. It plays on human nature by allowing a citizen to make up their minds in the absence of knowledge, and importantly, to articulate an opinion. It’s definitely not the scientific or democratic ideal, but it’s how things work in society.”

    A more glaring plea for elitism, manipulation, racism, anti-science, anti-objectivity, & anti-humanism, would be hard to find.

    For a tenured professor to make such a glaring argument for “making up their minds in the absence of knowledge” ( knowledge that he proposes to deliver!) has to rank as a modern classic of trained unadulterated intellectualism gone mad.

    But DOCTOR Joseph Goebbels, a modern precursor & master, comes close when he waxed framingly in 1934;

    “Political propaganda in principle is active and revolutionary. It is aimed at the broad masses. It speaks the language of the people because it wants to be understood by the people. Its task is the highest creative art of putting sometimes complicated events and facts in a way simple enough to be understood by the man on the street. Its foundation is that there is nothing the people cannot understand, but rather things must be put in a way that they can understand. It is a question of making it clear to him by using the proper approach, evidence, and language.”

  12. #12 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 23, 2008

    WTF. What do you have against Arial? Arial is clarity itself — that’s why it’s used for Wikipedia –, so it’s no good for obscurantism.

    What about Banjoman or Century Gothic?

  13. #13 Carlie
    February 23, 2008

    Do they honestly think that the concept of genocide for “inferior” groups didn’t exist before the 1850s?
    Gosh, I seem to remember one really clear older example of a group in power who didn’t like another group living near them, and put them into slavery, and treated them badly, and tried to thin out their numbers by killing off all the male babies, and then tried to throw them out of the country, and then hunted them down to kill them all. You know, genocide, the kind that Hitler could easily have used as inspiration. I just can’t remember exactly where I read about that one…

  14. #14 Joe Mc Faul
    February 23, 2008

    Intelligent design. These people really are Holocaust denialists.

  15. #15 uncle frogy
    February 23, 2008

    the last paragraph echoes my feelings with all the arguments against science. I am so amazed by the arguments as to be speechless.
    My first reaction is to defend as in this case it would be Darwin which is actually mostly ineffective and very unsatisfactory. With the second “tactic” as in this example I have much more fun. I do not fool myself into thinking I am going to convince “my opponent” to change their mind in any way so I want to have some fun anyway. I admit my mastery of all the facts is not perfect by any means but I realize that the “fundy” does not even understand what the facts are anyway so I question the facts in this case what is the history of slavery and racism and how does that bare on the made up conclusions and causes. It does best when you can get an actual response.
    I am mostly completely dumb founded!!!

  16. #16 uncle frogy
    February 23, 2008

    the last paragraph echoes my feelings with all the arguments against science. I am so amazed by the arguments as to be speechless.
    My first reaction is to defend as in this case it would be Darwin which is actually mostly ineffective and very unsatisfactory. With the second “tactic” as in this example I have much more fun. I do not fool myself into thinking I am going to convince “my opponent” to change their mind in any way so I want to have some fun anyway. I admit my mastery of all the facts is not perfect by any means but I realize that the “fundy” does not even understand what the facts are anyway so I question the facts in this case what is the history of slavery and racism and how does that bare on the made up conclusions and causes. It does best when you can get an actual response.
    I am mostly completely dumb founded!!!

  17. #17 Reginald Selkirk
    February 23, 2008

    Darwin could have been a baby-raping cannibal

    Now you just know you’re going to get quote-mined on that one.

  18. #18 ndt
    February 23, 2008

    Some of you expressed optimism that this strategy by the creationists is doomed to fail. I do not share it. Lies can get entrenched in cultures for long periods of time – look at the longevity of jingoism in the US, or the Jewish blood libel in many Muslim countries. Most of the Muslim world regressed from intellectual sophistication to backwards ignorance centuries ago, and it’s stayed that way since. And that’s just one example of intellectual regression.

    If this ignorance and dishonesty does fail, it will be because people like PZ and the commenters here fought it tooth and nail, not because we waited patiently for it do die out on its own.

  19. #19 Holydust
    February 23, 2008

    Michael X: consider also that along with the points you brought up, there are occasions where totally “pious” people just happen to get AIDS — like say a rare accident giving blood or during a hospital stay. When that happens, they rarely are willing to stick with the “you’re just sinful, so you got AIDS” ideology.

    I wonder what they do think in such a case?

  20. #20 Holydust
    February 23, 2008

    Beowulff: Ah. No, you’re absolutely right. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it, but that’s probably the only possible conclusion they could come to in that situation. Sad. :(

  21. #21 foxfire
    February 23, 2008

    *Sigh* Let’s try this again (sorry folks):

    Speaking of John West, right now (5:33pm PST) he on on CSPAN’S Book TV, peddling his new book. Now he is claiming that teaching evolution is teaching theology.

    It’s on again tomorrow at 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM (see fur yerself:) http://www.booktv.org/program.aspx?ProgramId=9088&SectionName=&PlayMedia=No

    What a freekin’ weenie nut-job.

  22. #22 Stevie_C
    February 23, 2008

    what a dumbass.

  23. #23 arachnophilia
    February 24, 2008

    pz,

    i’m not sure we could blame the bible for anti-semitism, as your statement above (accidentally?) implies. i’d need a good argument that such is the case, and it’s not merely misrepresentation as people are so eager to do. slavery, i’ll grant you.

    but i’ll go one step further on your luther argument. you go right from exterminating races to luther — why not tie it back in nicely with the bible, like you seem to have set up earlier, with the bit about many of the ill blamed on darwin being endorsed by the bible?

    But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.

    deuteronomy 20:16-18. genocide — the elimination of an entire race… SIX entire races, commanded by the bible. not darwin, the bible.

    and skip the whole luther thing. it’s a little over the heads of a lot of people. i’d surprised if many lutherans knew who martin luther was or why he was important. with this sort of ahistorical argument, i’d go right for the jugular here. because blaming human nature (and our more animalistic tendencies) on someone who simply described how nature works, well. it sure doesn’t explain how these things existed beforehand, does it? these people clearly don’t understand or know much about history, and trying to use it against them will never work.

    and i wouldn’t go blaming it on religion, either. if one recognizes the pattern here, the social darwininists existing before darwin and such, we should realize that perhaps these sort of things are merely excuses and pseudo-rationalizations for existing behaviours. the danger of religion is in its usefulness as an excuse — but people will commit genocide with other excuses long after religion is gone. people are the problem, really.

  24. #24 Morgan-LynnGriggs Lamberth
    February 24, 2008

    So, had he the power Luther would have made the Holocaust himself! He and Calvin were evil. And while their evil is separate from their doctrines, those doctrines in themselves are evil!
    D.James Kennedy is a nut.
    By the way, Kenneth Miller,not only let intelligent design in by the back door when he let it out the front door in “Finding Darwin’s God” as Amiel Rossow @ Talk Reason notes, but now he wants to put design in evolution. We see patterns, not designs or designoid. Designs imply purpose and that begs the question.Causalism implies no purpose and that is what we discern.
    P.Z., please help dispel Miller’s notion! Thanks for everything1

  25. #25 negentropyeater
    February 24, 2008

    Gee, Denise O’Leary is also adept of similar practices as Ken Ham and this 62 yold bulgarian farmer ?

    Wow, this is really starting to get interesting.

    You guys should show a little bit of respect, there’s nothing wrong with that, afterall, let’s not forget that St Anthony was the patron saint of swineherds.

  26. #26 Tony Jeremiah
    February 24, 2008

    @Arachnophilia(#90)

    Interesting info arachnophilia.

    The Old/New distinction I suggested is based on what I read on Wikipedia. It looks like it is based on books written before and after Jesus. From the info you provided, it seems as though the torah, the nevi’im, the kethuvim, the apocrypha* and pseudepigraphica* would be classified as Old Testament (OT) books, and the gospels/acts, the episples, and revelations would be classified as New Testament (NT) books.

    At any rate, I just did a Bible study of a scientific kind. I have the NIV (New International Version–Red Letter Edition) Bible, which has a handy feature at the back that allows you to quickly locate particular topics/words throughout the Bible. So using this feature, I did a quick content analysis, which is a technique used in the social sciences that allows one to determine whether there are particular themes and biases within various forms of communication.

    So I looked for how many times on average the word law, commandments (which seem like authoritarian terms) and love (a presumably non-authoritarian term) are used in books classified as OT and NT. The OT books referenced use the words law 2.4 times (on average), while the NT books uses the word law 5.7 times. The word commandment is used in the OT 2.3 times, and 1.9 times in the NT. The highest frequency for the word law in the OT is in Psalms (11 times) and in the NT, Romans (35 times). The highest frequency for the word commandment in the OT is in Deuteronomy (6 times), and in the NT, John (4 times).

    The word love is referenced in the OT books 3.3 times (on average); and in the NT books, it appears 3.0 times. The highest frequency for the word love appears in Genesis (8 times), and for the NT, John (19 times).

    One cannot be assured that this sampling from the back of the NIV accurately reflects the actual average use of these words (it would be easier to do this with an online Bible, whereby the software tallies up how many times particular words are used). However, if we go with this data, it appears that (on average), use of the word love and commandment decrease from the OT to the NT, while (on average), use of the word law increases. The pattern remains the same for the words law and commandment when we look at the highest frequency use of these words in the OT and NT. However, the highest frequency of the word love can be found in the OT (Genesis) and NT (John)–basically starting with God and ending with Jesus. Furthe, when we look at these two books only, use of the word love increases in frequency.

    This leads me to believe that there are two different voices speaking in the Bible. One seems to speak about the law of love (highest use of the word in both the OT and NT) and the other about authoritarian (commandment) laws.

    Jesus’ words in Matt 22:37-40 suggests that Bible readers should be paying more attention to the law of love.

  27. #27 Longtime Lurker
    February 24, 2008

    I could not help being struck by this gratuitous nod to the current fad of Islamofascism obsession:

    “When I was a dhimmi for Darwin”

    Bizarre, the way they seem to think that secularism is some sort of Trojan Horse for the imposition of sharia law on God-fearin’ Merkins… though Chuck D. did have a classic Taliban-style beard.

  28. #28 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 25, 2008

    With one exception, the Song of Solomon. However did erotica get in the canon???

    By being attributed to Solomon.

    How did the Revelation to John and the Letter from John get into the canon? By being attributed to John the Evangelist.

    because you had to wash your hands afterwards. well, that was the argument, anyways.

    LOL! Or maybe that’s it. :-D

    The Old/New distinction I suggested is based on what I read on Wikipedia. It looks like it is based on books written before and after Jesus.

    Uh… what do you mean “it looks like”? Didn’t you know that that’s what it is? Didn’t you know that the OT alone is the Jewish Bible?

    From the info you provided, it seems as though the torah, the nevi’im, the kethuvim, the apocrypha* and pseudepigraphica* would be classified as Old Testament (OT) books, and the gospels/acts, the epis[t]les, and revelations would be classified as New Testament (NT) books.

    Of course.

    Interesting idea for a study, though!

    On The Origins of Species were among the books banned by the Nazi government.

    Really? Wow. Do you have a source for that?

    1st century apocalyptic descriptions of hades/hell/Gehenna

    I recently saw on TV that Ge-Hinnom was the valley that served as the city dump of Jerusalem.

    the Aryans, a Semitic culture

    Er… no. :-|

  29. #29 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 25, 2008

    With one exception, the Song of Solomon. However did erotica get in the canon???

    By being attributed to Solomon.

    How did the Revelation to John and the Letter from John get into the canon? By being attributed to John the Evangelist.

    because you had to wash your hands afterwards. well, that was the argument, anyways.

    LOL! Or maybe that’s it. :-D

    The Old/New distinction I suggested is based on what I read on Wikipedia. It looks like it is based on books written before and after Jesus.

    Uh… what do you mean “it looks like”? Didn’t you know that that’s what it is? Didn’t you know that the OT alone is the Jewish Bible?

    From the info you provided, it seems as though the torah, the nevi’im, the kethuvim, the apocrypha* and pseudepigraphica* would be classified as Old Testament (OT) books, and the gospels/acts, the epis[t]les, and revelations would be classified as New Testament (NT) books.

    Of course.

    Interesting idea for a study, though!

    On The Origins of Species were among the books banned by the Nazi government.

    Really? Wow. Do you have a source for that?

    1st century apocalyptic descriptions of hades/hell/Gehenna

    I recently saw on TV that Ge-Hinnom was the valley that served as the city dump of Jerusalem.

    the Aryans, a Semitic culture

    Er… no. :-|

  30. #30 arachnophilia
    February 25, 2008

    @stanton: (#108)

    Arachnophilia, I agree that Mein Kampf is unsuitable reading material, if only because Hitler does very little beyond rant about how it’s the rest of the world’s, especially the Jews’, fault about how the German people, aka “God’s Chosen,” have yet to conquer the entire world, and him waxing poetic about how the German people are destined to rule the world because God said so.

    yes, well, have you read much of the bible?

    @tony: (#110)

    It’s somewhat difficult to explain, but my reason for choosing the words love, law, and commandment, was to examine the relationship between these three words. What I was getting at was determining whether law is being used throughout in an authoritarian (i.e., justice) sense; if so, there should be a (positive) correlation between the words law and commandment

    well, that’s precisely my objection. you’re missing the context. for instance many of the christian writings tend to view the law as a curse, because it sets forth requirements that no one can keep at all times. but jews tend to view the law as a blessing, because it’s their end of their relationship with god, and it is what sets them apart as special. just counting the words does not necessarily reflect how they are being used. look at how people will speak of something like marriage — some as a blessing, some as a curse. i suppose there’s a reason jesus compares religion to marriage, lol.

    What’s the jewish word for commandment, in more of a rule following, authoritarian sense?

    “jewish” isn’t a language, hebrew is. i’m not sure of the particular connotations (not an expert here), but you can also use mishpat, chuq, and kelal. those are generally used for secular laws, not religious laws, i believe. for instance, in genesis 47, joseph makes an agricultural law for pharaoh, and the word used is chuq. but “authoritarian” will always be subjective, and open for debate. every ordered society — even the non-authoritarian ones — have laws governing that society. it takes a more qualitative analysis to say what is and what is not authoritarian.

    when, where, and by what group.

    Have no idea. That was me thinking out loud.

    no, i was agreeing and adding more. there is a change in tone in various biblical texts based on when they were written — but ALSO based on where they were written (judah vs. israel), and by what group. in fact, there are rather large ideological disputes between texts. job, for instance, argues against the wisdom movement, which was responsible for many of the major prophetic works.

    @David Marjanovi?, OM: (#113)

    By being attributed to Solomon. How did the Revelation to John and the Letter from John get into the canon? By being attributed to John the Evangelist.

    not a good reason. there are very many religious works that are attributed to important biblical figures, but did NOT make it into the bible, such as the gospels of thomas, mary magdeline, the other apocrypha of john, etc. for the NT, the answer is rather surprising: “democracy.” the NT list was compiled by polling the various churches and seeing what was in their libraries, and the ones that where in just about everyone’s church were kept. lesser used texts were deemed heretical. so the real question isn’t “how’d it get into the bible” but “how’d it come to be in so many churches?”

    as for solomon, the “wash your hands” bit above was something of a crude joke, but actually quite true and having to do with ritual cleanliness. holy texts would require hand-washing after reading or handling (why not before? i dunno, but i didn’t make it up). and when rabbis got together to discuss why or why not to include texts in the kethuvim, this is the argument that apparently won — song of songs is the “holiest” of texts, requiring a lot of hand-washing. the attribution to solomon may not even be relevent, really — rabbis were certainly arguing against it, in spite of the attribution.

    I recently saw on TV that Ge-Hinnom was the valley that served as the city dump of Jerusalem.

    yes, it is, and trash was typically burned there. it is one of the sources of the dogmatic christian “hell.” the other obvious sources being the lake of fire in revelation, the jewish grave (sheol), which slowly evolved into a more helenistic hades, and hades itself.

    @tourettist: (#114)

    The Bible itself has passages that say believing in Christ gives you freedom to do anything.

    and passages that say the law is still in effect. even in paul’s sake, i don’t think he meant you could (and should) do anything you want, he just meant to shift the focus from following the law to having morality, as jesus tried to do. james, on the other hand, spells it out in the second chapter of his epistle: faith without works is “dead.”

    christians like to use to say that people like adolf hitler were “not really christians.” much debate ensues.