Pharyngula

I guess that explains it

The Jews have been waiting for a messiah for a few thousand years. What’s the hold-up? It seems that abortions have been causing a “delay [of] the messianic redemption”. This sounds like a fine idea to me — thank you, ladies, for your efforts to scare away the boogeyman.

Comments

  1. #1 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    December 29, 2009

    So the collective action of women can block the actions of the big sky daddy. Cool.

  2. #2 Islander
    December 29, 2009

    Abortions save the world!

  3. #3 Kel, OM
    December 29, 2009

    lol, are they serious?

  4. #4 arachnophilia
    December 29, 2009

    it’s not so much abortions in general, it’s just that every time a virgin gets pregnant these days…

  5. #5 Pygmy Loris
    December 29, 2009

    WTF?

  6. #6 Arnold T Pants
    December 29, 2009

    Of course, they don’t seem to care that almost half of abortions each year (in Israel, according to their own numbers) are performed illegally, and presumably unsafely. Illegal and unsafe abortions increase as access to legal and safe abortions are restricted. Women’s health always takes a backseat to dogma.

  7. #7 JennieL
    December 29, 2009

    Heh.
    The article doesn’t say, but presumably they think that god keeps putting messiah-fetuses (fetii?) in women’s uteruses, but women keep aborting them.

    Rotten luck, that this happens every time. God should be choosing some evangelical christian woman – say, one who pickets abortion clinics – to make sure that the pregnancy would be carried to term. And that would be sure to work. Unless, that is, pro-life women terminate their pregnancies at about the same rate as other women.

    . . . Nah, that couldn’t be.

  8. #8 Sioux Laris
    December 29, 2009

    That is one feeble, impotent “Almighty Jehovah” the Rabbi worships! That “Book of Job” character has really lost his titanic balls (from “Hairy Thunderer” to “Cosmic Muffin”, so to speak.)

    BTW, I for one would appreciate a warning before being unwittingly sent to such places as the sock-filled-with-manure, if-only-Hitler-had-another-name! Telegraph, Fecks Noise, Mooney Time, etc. ‘Cos I don’t usually want to be there, even by accident.

  9. #9 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 29, 2009

    For additional eyeball-rolling exercise, check out the unexplained pictures of 2009. Golly, a pancake!

  10. #10 Capital Dan
    December 29, 2009

    God needs to stop knocking up virgins. He really should be a little more realistic with his standards.

  11. #11 People's Front of Judea
    December 29, 2009

    Why is it that us non-religious folks are unable to come up with such incisive logic? I feel somewhat inadequate.
    I think I am developing religious lunacy jealousy.

    So is the sky daddy sitting there with a to-do list?
    1. Beget messiah
    2. have him born of a virgin

    Doh!

    try again

    1. beget new messiah
    2. have him born of virgin

    Doh!

    Who needs Lucifer, when the plans of the almighty can be foiled by a backyard medical procedure?

  12. #12 Zeno
    December 29, 2009

    As biblical scholars (which most of us nonbelievers seem to be) will recall, Jesus said “this generation will by no means pass away” before his glorious return. If “this” means anything, he was talking about the people standing in front of him and their contemporaries. Oops!

    Of course, the excuse about abortion makes sense, now that I come to think of it. Planned Parenthood established its first clinics in the Holy Land in 40 CE, right? (Jesus could never have foreseen that!)

    Way to save us all from the stupid Rapture!

  13. #13 natural cynic
    December 29, 2009

    Sioux Laris @8:

    That is one feeble, impotent “Almighty Jehovah” the Rabbi worships! That “Book of Job” character has really lost his titanic balls (from “Hairy Thunderer” to “Cosmic Muffin”, so to speak.)

    Not true. In Job, Satan makes Jehovah do it. YHWH can’t resist gambling.

    And women should have as many babies as they can, so one of them will solve the overpopulation crisis.

  14. #14 Joshua Zelinsky
    December 29, 2009

    This actually shows how much ultra-orthodox Judaism and orthodox Judaism as a whole have been influenced by Christianity. The Talmud has very little problem with abortion. It clearly doesn’t consider it to be as grave a sin as murder. So um, yeah…

  15. #15 Capital Dan
    December 29, 2009

    Why did he give us the knowledge needed to build stairs then?

  16. #16 bc23.5
    December 29, 2009

    Just another reason for the pious to hate wimmin.

  17. #17 Insightful Ape
    December 29, 2009

    Now I know how to keep the gods off! Thanks PZ, I needed a few laughs.

  18. #18 Newfie
    December 29, 2009

    Man, that Yahwie dude lost all of his magical powers or somethin’, if he can’t just create a ‘real’ Messiah out of something else… ulna or radius comes to mind… tibia?

  19. #19 Brian S.
    December 29, 2009

    That, and the chariots of iron.

  20. #20 WowbaggerOM
    December 29, 2009

    Echoing the comments upthread: Why is their god so fucking incompetent?

    I seem to remember a quote from Mother Theresa that went along the lines of ‘God sent us someone who would grow up to discover the cure for cancer but he was aborted.’

    But if their god doesn’t like abortions, why didn’t he make it so humans couldn’t abort? All he’d have to have done is come up with some way that we wouldn’t be able to do them and bam! No abortions – ever. Piece of piss for an omniscient, omnipotent being.

  21. #21 Uncle Glenny
    December 29, 2009

    Maybe if He didn’t spontaneously abort so many the Messiah would have Come already.

    Man, that Yahwie dude lost all of his magical powers or somethin’, if he can’t just create a ‘real’ Messiah out of something else… ulna or radius comes to mind… tibia?

    Insert joke based on “bone” here.

  22. #22 cylusys
    December 29, 2009

    For additional eyeball-rolling exercise, check out the unexplained pictures of 2009. Golly, a pancake!

    I seem to recall that a British editor used to fill slow news days by sending the work experience journo off to take a picture of a slice of toast/coffee stain or muffin and then invite his readership if this was ‘the face of Jesus’. Or Mary etc.
    Who knew that being a cynical bastard would always pay off?

  23. #23 Antiochus Epimanes
    December 29, 2009

    So Yahweh is delaying the end of the world so people can create and slaughter (in the fundie view) even MORE babies?After 3,000 years, he’s still a contradictory old prick.

  24. #24 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    December 29, 2009

    You’d think the Messiah would have the sense to enter a woman who wants to bear him (Or her, I suppose) to term.

  25. #25 jomiku
    December 29, 2009

    This kind of crap has been coming out of their mouths for a long time. A few years back, one of them said that Israeli soldiers die because their houses don’t have the proper mezzuzahs in the doorways. A few years before that, another chief Rabbi blamed the existence of Reform and non-devout Jews for the Holocaust.

    In a religious context, they’re misusing the ancient codes of contamination versus holy. The Torah specifically divides the acceptable from the unacceptable – though it is silent on abortion – and there are often penalties that include expulsion and death. BUT and this is a big BUT, the actions of individuals were not considered as contaminating the community as, say, those of a high priest. An example is the Samaritan story because the first two people were ritually unable to check the person lying there because contact with the dead would render the entire community unclean.

    If you or I do something, that has consequences under the ancient scheme for us but not for everyone. On another level, the concept is to be a “holy people” but there is nothing in there, nothing at all which says that adhering to the rules and duties of a “holy people” means the Messiah comes. That is pure invention.

    On yet another level, the idea that abortion somehow matters to God is unclear in even the old texts. Abortion has had a mixed run in Judaism, so it isn’t even clear that it’s wrong (or right or just whatever).

    And fundamentally, a basic idea in the conception of God in Judaism is that we don’t know the mind of God. So how do these old men know what God intends about the Messiah? (The answer is nothing.) This again is a form of folk religion.

  26. #26 Antiochus Epiphanes
    December 29, 2009

    I have a proposal. If we can slow the coming of the messiah by maintaining a high abortion rate, theoretically, we may be able to actually reverse time, with an even higher abortion rate. Here is my thinking on the matter. Keeping a messiah from coming is just a slower way of keeping one from coming who was already here…get it? If we perform enough abortions, eventually, we will reverse time and prevent the messiah from having come the first time. No more turning the other cheek. Nobel prize, here I come.

  27. #27 mazement0
    December 29, 2009

    Honestly! Why is this so hard for people to understand?

    It’s not that the Messiah keeps getting aborted, it’s that God won’t permit the Messiah to emerge until human sinfulness drops below some threshhold. (We know that the threshhold is non-zero; if humanity became sinless then there’d be no need for a Messiah.)

    So, what can we as individuals do to reduce human sinfulness? Well, obviously if we worried about all the possible sins at the same time, then we’d get overwhelmed and wouldn’t be able to do a good job of fighting any of them. So it’s better for each of us to focus on one or two particular sins.

    But which sin to focus on? If it’s a sin that we commit ourselves, then we’d have to change our behavior, and that can be a lot of hard work! So it’s better to pick a sin that we aren’t tempted to commit, or, even better, a sin that we’re not capable of committing. Then all we need to do is run around telling other people not to commit that sin. That takes a lot less energy, which means it’s more efficient.

  28. #28 Michelle R
    December 29, 2009

    The Jewish Messiah was aborted??? Wow, God doesn’t think his things through.

  29. #29 raven
    December 29, 2009

    What’s this about the all powerful deity?

    He can’t deal with iron chariots. He can’t deal with abortions even though he himself aborts half of all conceptions.

    Jesus the cracker couldn’t even turn PZ Myers into a frog.

    Zeus would just start tossing lightning bolts.

    Starting to look like the long term absence of god is being noticed by his fans. They are starting to act like maybe he is gone for good.

  30. #30 Gyeong Hwa Pak, the Pikachu of Anthropology
    December 29, 2009

    They are starting to act like maybe he is gone for good.

    I really do hope that he is gone. I’ve had enough of his minions lies. Maybe his disappearance will humble them (or send them into a frenzy which would be hilarious.)

  31. #31 Carlie
    December 29, 2009

    So if there are abortions, the messiah won’t come.
    I see the problem.
    Cart, horse.

  32. #32 black-wolf72
    December 29, 2009

    Strange this YHVH guy. Somehow he never appears more intelligent than the people who relate his word to us.
    Couldn’t he have come up with something really ingenious, or at least uncannily clever, to be delivered by some 2nd grade dropout?
    Well, that’s about what happens in the stories of Abrahamic religions every other Tuesday, except that somehow the ingenuity of it all gets lost with the first written documentation.
    I guess he has some chronically poor judgment going on.

  33. #33 Tuxedo Cartman
    December 29, 2009

    Last time around, he at least sent a messenger on wings of light in a big, flashy display to let the poor girl know who knocked her up. Maybe if he kept with the old school theatrics, modern girls wouldn’t be so quick to scrape god-ick out of their wombs.

    As for the theory of a sin-threshold that must be lowered before the messiah returns, that sounds about right. Just when a society has gotten peaceful and harmonious, some religious figure show up to ruin it all.

  34. #34 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    December 29, 2009

    @26:
    Your theory is flawed. You’re thinking of the Messiah as the term as Christians understand it, where it refers to exactly one dude. The Jewish idea of Messiah involves either warrior kings who kick ass and take names for the Jews, or prophets who tell you what ways you’re supposed to kick ass in after the Kings pass.

  35. #35 scooterKPFT
    December 29, 2009

    thank you, ladies, for your efforts to scare away the boogeyman.

    Ha, they could never have done it without us guys.
    - thumbs in suspenders

  36. #36 'Tis Himself, OM
    December 29, 2009

    Newfie #18

    Man, that Yahwie dude lost all of his magical powers or somethin’, if he can’t just create a ‘real’ Messiah out of something else… ulna or radius comes to mind… tibia?

    Yahweh has been losing his powers steadily over the years. 6000 year ago he was powerful enough to create the whole universe in just six days. Shortly thereafter he wasn’t able to do a restart so he just flooded the Earth and killed everyone except for one family and a bunch of animals.* Later on it took him three days to resurrect just one person. His miracles kept getting less powerful until nowadays he’s reduced to appearing on slices of toast and having his mother show up in condoms.

    The abortion thing is just some rabbis trying to explain away why Yahweh isn’t capable of clocking in as the messiah. In reality, he’s just not up to materializing any more.

    *We even have an explanation as to why there aren’t any unicorns.

  37. #37 Rorschach
    December 29, 2009

    The rabbi’s statement is slightly confusing given the fact that their god himself aborts an estimated two thirds of all occurring pregnancies before 6-8 weeks gestation.

  38. #38 Antiochus Epiphanes
    December 29, 2009

    @34…no, no, no. You missed the point. I’m thinking about reversing time by increasing the abortion rate. Doesn’t matter how many Messiahs there are, if they are kings or prophets, or sons of God.

    With that, I have become a Poe. Good day to you all.

  39. #39 amphiox
    December 29, 2009

    So what about abortions performed IN iron chariots?

  40. #40 amphiox
    December 29, 2009

    Or, in keeping with an older post about metaphors in genesis, maybe, just maybe, “iron chariot” is a metaphor for a gynecologic speculum, or something like that?

  41. #41 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk37JCvgymEvnutQ9IRGzc3hk4-Y501neo
    December 29, 2009

    No, no, no. The problem is different. God promised Abraham that Abraham would have as many descendents as there are stars in the sky and grains of sand on the sea shore, something on the order of 10^22. Until Abraham has that many descendents, God will not have fulfilled His promise, the founding promise of the Abrahamic Religions.

    So yes, reducing the Jewish birthrate does delay the time for Abraham to have 10^22 descendents, but at 1 million births per year it will take 10^16 years. With a lifetime on the main sequence of ~10^10 years, God will still have to replace the sun a million times.

  42. #42 Bruno in Paris
    December 29, 2009

    The two rabbis who teach the rest of us how to behave are known for their very ethical conduct :
    Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger has been accused of sexual assault, and Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar was involve in a kidnapping scandal. See their Wikipedia notices for details.

  43. #43 Meathead
    December 30, 2009

    Every time an abortion happens an angel gets his wings. Isn’t that right Clarence.

  44. #44 Jud
    December 30, 2009

    Y’know I hate being so pedantic as to try to correctly explain this looniness, but here goes:

    #27 is correct, it isn’t that the Messiah is being aborted, it’s that God won’t send the Messiah as long as humanity is sinful.

    And Josh (#14), it’s not that orthodox Judaism is being influenced by Christianity, it is that fundamentalist paternalists tend to “literally” interpret certain Old Testament passages similarly, whether they are Jewish or Christian fundamentalist paternalists.

    All this stuff about being born of a virgin is beside the point – it isn’t necessary for a Jewish messiah. In fact, it’s contrary to Jewish Messianic tradition, which holds that the Messiah will come from the ancestral line of King David. This is why Joseph is described as being part of the Davidic lineage. Of course, after Christian ideology grew more divergent from Judaism, and the doctrine of original sin arose, Jesus could not be contaminated by that, so he was then held to be born of a virgin. (No original sin in Judaism – you can be forgiven by God if you do good deeds, so no particular reason for acceptance of Christ. Thus the utility of the concept of original sin for Christianity.)

    So Jesus was simultaneously born of a virgin and of the House of David, one of numerous contradictions about the nature of Jesus resulting from Christian foundational documents having been written at various points along the divergence between Judaism and Christianity.

    Back to the Israeli rabbinate and the religious bureaucracy in general, my favorite bizarre ruling was the refusal to approve use of a kosher symbol by a brand of yogurt that had the temerity to show dinosaurs on the container (back when Jurassic Park was popular), since there ain’t no dinos in Genesis.

  45. #45 davem
    December 30, 2009

    Ha, they could never have done it without us guys.
    - thumbs in suspenders

    This side of the pond, that means quite something else. You might want to edit that statement :0)

  46. #46 Carlie
    December 30, 2009

    God won’t send the Messiah as long as humanity is sinful.

    Won’t that be too late, then? Why have a Messiah if people have already figured out how to get along? I would think that humanity needs to get MORE sinful if they want a Messiah to come around.

  47. #47 redmonster
    December 30, 2009

    If God didn’t want us to have abortions, he should have thought about that when he Intelligently Designed us to get knocked up so damn easily with kids we could frankly do without.

  48. #48 sqlrob
    December 30, 2009

    So what about abortions performed IN iron chariots?

    Maybe too many people are getting busy in cars and he can’t influence it to make the messiah?

  49. #49 Forbidden Snowflake
    December 30, 2009

    Israeli rabbies:
    making sure Americans aren’t the only ones facepalming for their country on this fine blog.

    *facepalm*
    *headdesk*
    *handpanties*

  50. #50 raven
    December 30, 2009

    #27 is correct, it isn’t that the Messiah is being aborted, it’s that God won’t send the Messiah as long as humanity is sinful.

    Doesn’t make any sense. If humanity wasn’t sinful, why would they even need a Messiah?

    Considering the god of the OT, if humanity achieved a state approaching that of Eden, god would just send down another smart ass talking snake.

  51. #51 amphiox
    December 30, 2009

    re: #41

    Well, there we have it. The Bible prophecies a Star Trek future.

  52. #52 Jud
    December 30, 2009

    Carlie (#47) and Raven (#50) ask why there is a need for a Messiah if humanity has ceased to be sinful.

    Legitimate question.

    The Jewish Messianic tradition didn’t come from the Bible (the Torah doesn’t speak of a Messiah). The desire for a figure who will create peace on Earth under the rule of God arose naturally out of the Jews getting their asses kicked all over the Middle East by superior military powers. So the Jewish Messiah concept was (and still is to a great degree) along the lines that if “we, the Chosen People” just behave well enough, God will send the Anointed One, the Messiah, and the Chosen People can stop getting their butts kicked.

    The need for Jews to act better is frequently described these days in more PC terms as the need for humanity-at-large to act better, so I’m guilty of slipping into that jargon.

  53. #53 amphiox
    December 30, 2009

    #50:

    This is perfectly consistent behavior. Just learning the difference between good and evil gets humanity kicked out of eden. Becoming completely free of sin, naturally, would bring the Messiah and Armageddon.

    Humans aren’t allowed to become too similar to god.

  54. #54 CJO
    December 30, 2009

    raven,
    Doesn’t make any sense. If humanity wasn’t sinful, why would they even need a Messiah?

    Because the earlier conception(s) of the Jewish messiah had nothing to do with the later Christian adaptation/corruption of it. Redemption, forgiveness of sin, all this. It’s not the messiah’s problem. In one way or another, the messiah (or messiahs — expectation of two, a priestly one descended from Aaron and a kingly one descended from David, is attested in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other “intertestamental” literature) is/are supposed to come to establish YHWH’s rule on Earth: A New Israel, for everybody, like it or not.

    The earliest (Judeo-)Christians simply tweaked this eschatology a little, likely because Roman occupation made the earlier Seleucid rule (under which messianic eschatology got started) look positively beneficent. The very absurdity of a home-grown political uprising against the Romans led a pietistic revival movement under the influence of various prophetic and apocalyptic literature to conceive of a “servant” messiah whose eschatology, the way in which he would change the world and create the kingdom of God, was ethical and social, not military and political. Now, you have a messiah figure who comes “for the sinners, not for the righteous”, as they had Jesus say.

    And Jud, re: #44, it’s possible that the doctrine of original sin postdates the idea of a virgin birth, instead of having led to it. The synoptic gospels, presenting a universalist servant messiah figure with intended appeal to “godfearers” (gentile proselytes), very intentionally oppose their messianic figure to the Emperor, who was commonly held to be a “Son of God,” reverence of whom was mandatory throughout the empire. The author of Mark co-opts the vernacular of such pronouncements up front, introducing his tract as “euangellion”, the “good news”, heralding the ascent of a new king. Since miraculous births were a necessary element of the biography of a semi-divine Hellenistic ruler/savior, so Jesus needed his virgin birth, which was, however tenuously, justified also in diaspora Jewish eyes by reference to the Greek translation of Isaiah. Either way, “numerous contradictions about the nature of Jesus resulting from Christian foundational documents having been written at various points along the divergence between Judaism and Christianity” is well put.

  55. #55 CatBallou
    December 30, 2009

    Jud @ 44,

    I don’t think that the doctrine of original sin is related to the idea that Jesus was born to a virgin.
    Instead, the doctrine required that Mary be born without OS–”immaculately conceived”–so that she would be a suitable “vessel” for carrying the son of god.

  56. #56 Carrie Poppy
    December 31, 2009

    This really makes me feel like I’m not doing my part. =(

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