Finally catching up on Hutton's latest, let's start with this little gem:
Issues like evolution, abortion and gays are important, and we should have Biblical views on them, but people's need of personal salvation come first.
Quite why anyone should have a view on abortion and LGBT rights is beyond me. In any sane world, what a person wants to do with their own body, and who they might want to do it with, should be none of my, your, or Bob's business. And that's my "view" on abortion and people acting on their sexuality in a nutshell; people are free to do whatever the hell they want, regardless of whether I'd want to do it or not, and what doesn't affect me, is none of my business. Fact is, if those nosy-parkers like Bob, who think that they need to have a view on matters which are none of their bloody business (and why is it that such people always turn out to be anti-whatever-it-is-they-have-a-view-on?), would realise that it is, in fact, none of their business and that they have no right to tell others how to behave in these matters, then no one else would need to be bothered about it either.
And evolution? The correct way to assess a scientific theory is to study the science, not look to an ancient book of tribal mythology and morality tales. The world is what you can show it to be, not what you want it to be or would like to claim it to be. Using the Bible to judge the correctness of the theory of evolution makes no more sense than seeking a nutritionist's opinion on the practicality of your design for a suspension bridge. Ludicrous!
Moving on, apparently…
…we see a huge number of Old Testament prophecies and how they are fulfilled in Christ.
Bob. Please read this, then come back to me with an essay on why you continue to act as if people are able to make choices in the free-will-incompatible, prophecy-enabling universe which you claim we live in. Please also provide a study of the physics and practical methodology of the receipt of information from the future (in other words, a form of time-travel), limiting the engineering aspects to technology available in the middle east during Old Testament times.
Bob wants to talk about prophecies regarding the re-emergence of the land of Israel…
There are other prophecies in the OT that relate, not to the cross, but to Israel and, while we must not be sidetracked from the Gospel, it does us good to see how they have been fulfilled even in our day and generation. One such prophecy is found in the last two verses of the book of Amos. This prophecy states that the Jewish people would return to the land (meaning, of course, Israel) and "would never again be uprooted". After the ransacking of Jerusalem in 70AD, and the dispersion of the Jews, it appeared that they were finished as a race. Humanly speaking, they would simply assimilate into the nations they went to, and, through intermarriage, would eventually die out.
He then gives us a potted history of the Jewish Diaspora, culminating in the highly immoral theft of land which is euphemised as the formation of the modern state of Israel, and adds:
This is a stunning fulfilment of prophecy and should encourage the faith of people, like myself, who believe that the Bible is true in every detail.
Well, at least his misinterpretation of Amos makes a change from the usual misrepresentation of Isaiah. Let's take a look at those last two verses:
And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.
Well it certainly looks like an attempt at prediction, if not prophecy. Taking a look at the history of the period should give us some context, and yes, it turns out to be pretty easy to see what Amos is talking about. Wikipedia puts it quite succinctly:
Most scholars believe that Amos gave his message in the autumn of 750 BC or 749 BC. Leading up to this time, Assyrian armies battled against Damascus for a number of years, which greatly diminished Syria's threat to Israel. As a result of the fighting amongst its neighbors, Israel had the benefit of increasing its borders almost to those of the time of David and Solomon.
[Wikipedia has a "citation needed" on the dating, presumably because of the rather dubious exactness of that given. Most sources appear to agree that the book was written somewhere around 760–750 BCE, however.]
So there's two things going on here. Firstly, Amos would appear to be one of those reforming-preachers who appear regularly in the Old Testament, railing against the equally regular Israeli and Judean fall into religious bad practice (and, as an aside, it's interesting to ponder on whether Jesus would have been seen as yet another such, if no claims to his Messiah-hood had been made). Secondly, his "prophecy" of a re-invigorated Israel/Judea would appear to be nothing more than a recognition of the political realities of his time. The Syrian cat is away, and the mice of Israel and Judea are free to play. In light of those two things, he's saying God's setting about restoring the two nations to their former (possibly even once-again-united) greatness, but not without cost to all those amoral backsliders.
What Amos is talking about is the religion and politics of his time, with a little heavenly fire-and-thunder thrown in for good measure. He is the Pat Robinson of his day. What he is quite plainly not talking about is some nebulous far-future series of events beginning eight-hundred-odd years in his future, and lasting until at least the best part of two-thousand years later. He is not the Olaf Stapledon of his day.
As an aside, I have to say that I find the Christian re-interpretation of Jewish lore both amusing and at the same time insulting. It's amusing because of the stretches one has to make in order to deny the obvious meaning and intent of the various "prophecies," along with the highly selective nature or it. I mean, the cherry-picking is stupendous, with most interpretations depending on no more than a verse or two; four, maybe five sentences plucked from the context of the chapters they appear in. It's insulting to me, because it assumes that I wont spot that cherry-picking or have the sense to check the Biblical and historical contexts. It's insulting because there's never any attempt made to explain how prophecy is supposed to actually work—the physical mechanism of it. And it's insulting to the original writers, who, for the most part, were addressing religio-political questions of their day, not writing far-future fantasies in order that others may come along centuries later and use it to justify a religion which would actively persecute the writers' descendants for nearly two millenia.
And to finish on a slightly different tack, Bob adds a caveat before praising his lord for allowing blatant and high-handed theft of land from the native Palestinians:
In stating the above I am aware that sometimes the IDF (Israeli Defence Force) carry out attacks that lead to tragic loss of civilian life
No, Bob, those attacks do not just happen to "lead to" civilians being tragically killed. Civilians, all too often, are the fucking targets. If the officers who ordered those killings and the soldiers who carried out those immoral and illegal orders, can be saved from punishment by having just "let Jesus into their hearts," while the unarmed civilian Muslims who were killed in cold blood by them will be punished merely for not doing so, Bob, then all I can say is that the god you worship is the most amoral, vain, pettily-vindictive bastard I ever hope not to meet. And you should be ashamed to utter a single word in praise of this vile creature.
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