Homosexuality, the Bible, Satire, and Knowledge: Let's Bring It All Together, 'kay?

Dave's recent thread on the Creationist Science Fair brought to mind other examples of internet-circulated satirizations of knowledge and the public. These are, to me, issues of science and society, because they are about argument, reasoning, persuasion, and sources. They are also thus about credibility -- whose sources? for example, as with the anti-abortion posting that was using The Onion as a source -- and argumentative rigor -- how is the argument framed and rebutted? (and there's probably an easier way to phrase that, since argumentative rigor has, what, seven syllables? and now I've written it twice, and you had to say it twice). Both of those matters lay at the core of science.

So that old "An Open Letter to Dr. Laura," which first circulated in Spring 2000, thus comes back around for us to appreciate here. If you haven't seen it before, enjoy. If you read it, and now get the chance to re-appreciate it, enjoy.

It actually also brings together several other posts of late, about nature and homosexuality, about genetics and homosexuality, about research programs along those lines, and makes them fit into the same category as the Creationist Science Fair. They're all about either the pursuit or the obstruction of knowledge, or, more commonly, the active promotion of ignorance (the mantra of Bush and Friends) -- that we shall not know or even try to know.

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Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted disciple and adoring fan.

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Let the record reflect that President Josiah Bartlet raised similar questions in an episode of The West Wing (season 1, if memory serves).

A related question: What are you if God smites you? Not smitten. Smote?

"A related question: What are you if God smites you? Not smitten. Smote?"

Indeed you have been smitten, because God smote you. Now if God had not smitten you, you would, apparently, still be in good enough condition to smite others.

Janet's got two PhDs *and* impressive TV recall! I looked this up and saw this from snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/drlaura.asp), about the Open Letter: "October 2000 was not Dr. Laura's month. A few weeks after she issued her apology, a version of the "Letter to Dr. Laura" was incorporated into the 18 October episode of the political television drama The West Wing. In "The Midterms," President Bartlet used his own detailed knowledge of the Bible to make a Schlessinger-esque character named Jenna Jacobs look ridiculous."

But what do we say about Homer's cry to God, in Homer the Heretic, asking, "Oh spiteful One, tell me who to smite and he shall be smoten!!"

TV is a vice I can afford, and trivia sticks better in my head than important stuff.

I always thought "smitten" was the state of having a stupid crush on someone, usually someone unattainable. If God is omniscient, omnipotent, and infinitely loving, why would He condemn someone to this state? (That's more of a Cupid move, it seems to me.)

Yes, when Cupid smites, he (or she) who is smitten falls madly in love. On the other hand, if the one who smote was an overly assertive two year old, the smitten person may just develop a lump on the head. Presumably, if God is the smiter, the results are both more negative and more serious for the smitten.

Aren't verb forms fun?