Monthly Archives: February 2006

Willful Ignorance

As I sit here typing away, I’m frankly and completely flummoxed. Someone has had the audacity to call me, ME of ALL people Willfully Ignorant. ME?!?!

http://tatteredthread.blogspot.com/2006/02/cosmic-landscape-chapter-7.html#c114089489860259182

The background is somewhat long and drawn out but to summarize, the commenter and I disagree on the Anthropic theory of the Universe. He has invested a lot of time and energy in learning all about the current thinking on the origin of the universe and applying his own interpretation. I can respect that and I heard him out in previous comments (which can still be found on the respective posts) and even spent a significant amount of time trying to understand what he was talking about. In the end, I was relatively unsuccessful but despite his interruptions, the review of the text that started this whole thing, “The Cosmic Landscape” continued.

Apparently, at some key point in the text, my comments on the text disagreed with something he held to be true. Specifically, the Anthropic theory of the universe. At the moment, it really does appear that this theory is yet another attempt by the religious to slip their mythology into our lives in the guise of science. Is this the case? I have no clue, I haven’t had time to finish the book yet. Maybe it doesn’t but as of chapter 6 it certainly appears to be the case. I’m open-minded (despite the claims of certain commenters) and await further developments in the rest of the book.

At this juncture, I am forced to conclude that the person in question is simply a religious fanatic of some sort. Of course that’s his right but I will say that no religion I’m aware of would consider his behavior appropriate. Insults and name-calling are certainly not a Christian ideal. He’s entitled to his opinion and is free to post it as commentary on my blog. I have no problem with people hearing every side of every story. There is no higher ideal than the truth. It’s important to remember, however, that the truth is seldom delivered by people who hurl epithets at their opposition.

More than the irritation at my disagreement though, I’m amazed that anyone could call me willfully ignorant. My highest goal in life is to know as much about everything as possible. I don’t want to be ignorant of anything. To call me Willfully Ignorant is simply astonishing. In this specific instance especially, I don’t see how the argument can be made. The commenter can only be complaining about one of two things that I’m apparently refusing to learn about:

It’s possible he/she believes that I’m not trying hard to enough to learn about physics. To this, I’ll simply point out that I’m reading the book. I’ve read half a dozen others throughout my life and any ignorance of physics (which is considerable) is not willful. Willfully ignorant people don’t read books on the things they’re trying to remain ignorant of.

The other possibility is that he/she believes I’m ignorant of religion. If he or she really is a religious zealot, then the argument would simply be that I’m trying to evade his or her arguments so that I can continue to deny the existence of his or her choice of deity. If that’s the case, it’s just silly. I’ve spent more time reading the Bible than the average Christian and more time with the Qur’an than 99.9% of other non-Muslims so I’m far from ignorant of religion. I’m not denying the existence of anyone’s deity. I don’t subscribe to any deities personally but as I haven’t done an exhaustive survey of the universe I can’t speak as to where yours is.

In any case, to those who disagree, please disagree. But do not post disagreements of the form “you’re a ___” or “what a ___” as they’re just going to get deleted. Back your disagreements with facts, not insults. If I’m wrong I’ll happily admit it, I love to change my mind and do so often. Do not, however, expect me to just change my mind because you said so. In the end, we all have ultimate dominion over our own minds.


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The Bible – Genesis – Chapter 30

Chapter 30: The Sons of Jacob

Seeing all the children Leah gives birth too really has Rachel jealous. She goes to Jacob and says simply, “Give me children, or I shall die.” Jacob responds in a rage that it’s really not within his control; God’s the one that has denied you children. Rachel responds by asking him to have sex with the maid, Bilhah. Bilhah thus bore sons Dan and Naphtali. During all this, Leah had stopped having children so she tells Jacob to have sex with her own maid, Zilpah. Zilpah bears Gad and Asher.

Years later, Reuben (Jacob’s eldest, by Leah) finds some mandrake root. The JSB reports mandrake is an aphrodisiac and the NASB that it induces pregnancy directly. Whatever the intended use, Rachel finds out about the mandrake and asks politely if she can have some. Leah replies snidely in the negative and says she’ll only give Rachel the mandrake if Jacob spends the night in her bed rather than Rachel’s. Rachel agrees and as a consequence of her night with Jacob, Leah bears a fifth son, Issachar and later a sixth son Zebulun and finally a daughter Dinah. During all this, God also remembered Rachel and she bore a son, Joseph.

After all this fruitful multiplying, Jacob asks Laban for leave to return to his homeland. Laban hesitates, he knows that he has profited by Jacob’s presence because of the Lord’s blessing. Laban again asks what wages Jacob would demand to remain in his service. Jacob replies that he demands no wages but that when he does leave, that he be allowed to take every dark-colored sheep and every spotted goat from his flock. Laban deviously agrees to this arrangement.

Leaving Jacob, Laban arranges for every sheep and goat matching Jacob’s description to be removed to the care of his sons miles away. The intention being, of course, to make sure Jacob gets nothing on his departure. Jacob, however, has a plan of his own. It was believed in these days that the offspring of an animal would resemble whatever the parents saw at the time of conception. So Jacob placed white shoots at the place where the normally dark-colored goats mated and arranged for the sheep to see other dark-colored animals while they were mating. By this arrangement, Jacob produced a mighty herd of animals with the appropriate coloration.

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This post is one of a multi-part series. To view the rest of this information or find out what the microscope photos are actually pictures of, visit our main website at http://www.tatteredthread.com/

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The Bible – Genesis – Chapter 29

Chapter 29: Jacob Meets Rachel

Jacob resumes his journey and after a while comes to a well, capped with a huge stone, with three flocks of sheep around it. Jacob asks the herders where they’re from and they respond that they’re from Haran and that they know of Jacob’s uncle. As they say this, Laban’s daughter Rachel comes up to them with her flock. Jacob asks why the flocks are just sitting there; why don’t they water the sheep and then put them back to pasture since it is still early in the day. The herders respond that they can’t water until all the flocks are together; the JSB points out that the rock is too large to move without the help of all the shepherds together.

Jacob sees Rachel for the first time (and the size of his uncle’s flock) and is immediately smitten with both. In a Herculean effort brought about by his passion for Rachel (and the wealth represented by the flock perhaps), he moves the huge rock by himself and waters her flock. With little ceremony, Jacob kisses Rachel right there on the spot and tells her that he’s Rebekah’s son. Excited by the news, Rachel runs to her father who comes out to greet Jacob warmly.

Jacob stayed on with Laban for a month; when asked what he thinks his wages should be, Jacob replies that he would serve Laban for seven years in exchange for the hand of Rachel, his younger daughter. Laban agrees and Jacob serves him for seven years. At the end of the seven years, Jacob says to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is fulfilled, that I may cohabit with her.” Laban executes a huge feast in the couple’s honor and at the end manages to somehow slip Jacob his older and less attractive daughter Leah instead of Rachel. Not noticing the switch, Jacob marries Leah. Both sources explain that this may have been made possible by the cover or darkness or traditional veils worn for such occasions.

After discovering the switch, Jacob confronts Laban who explains coolly that elder daughters are always to be married first. The JSB suggests that perhaps Rachel herself had a hand in this arrangement in an attempt to save her sister the shame of remaining unmarried. Laban calms Jacob by telling him to wait until the bridal week is over and then he shall have Rachel too in exchange for another seven years of labor. As promised, Jacob and Rachel are also married soon after.

God looks down and sees that Leah is unloved so he ‘opens her womb’ but Rachel remains sterile. Leah conceives Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. Apparently she wasn’t all that unloved.

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This post is one of a multi-part series. To view the rest of this information or find out what the microscope photos are actually pictures of, visit our main website at http://www.tatteredthread.com/

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The Bible – Genesis – Chapter 28

In chapter 28, Genesis goes through a big plot reversal and we get a totally different line of reasoning for the departure of Jacob. The JSB attributes this to a change in authorship. The NASB ignores the conflict altogether.

Rebekah bemoans to Isaac that Jacob must not take a Canaanite wife. Isaac calls for Jacob and after giving him yet another blessing and instructing him vehemently that he must not have a Canaanite wife, he sends him to his uncle’s house to find a wife there. His wrath from chapter 27 is missing entirely. Meanwhile, Esau overhears Isaac’s instructions to Jacob and correctly deduces that marriage to the locals (including Hittites) is displeasing to his father. In a misguided attempt to make amends for his previous two marriages, Esau goes to the house of Ishmael and there takes yet another wife. Esau has gone from a vow to kill Jacob to an attempt to emulate him.

Jacob, now on his way to his Uncle’s house, camps for the night and sleeps with a rock for a pillow. That night, he dreams of a stairway (a ziggurat more likely, a stepped pyramid) leading to heaven with angels walking up and down. The Lord comes to him and promises him the land on which he rests for the use of his descendants and reminds him that he will always be with him. Jacob awakens and immediately erects a pillar to God in the place and renames the place Bethel, “house of God.” The chapter closes with Jacob’s somewhat self-serving promise that if the Lord sees him safely back to his father’s house, he will set aside a tithe for him.

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This post is one of a multi-part series. To view the rest of this information or find out what the microscope photos are actually pictures of, visit our main website at http://www.tatteredthread.com/

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The Bible – Genesis – Chapter 27

Years later, Isaac lays dying and blind from old age. He calls Esau to his side and asks him to hunt some game and with it prepare a meal for him with the promise that when he returns, he will give him his final blessing before he dies. Rebekah is listening in the next room and as Esau goes to hunt, she begins plotting with Jacob.

Over Jacob’s objection that they’ll get caught, the two devise a plan by which Jacob can steal Esau’s final blessing from his father. Jacob dresses in Esau’s clothing and fetches a goat for the meal. His mother prepares the goats for the meal while Jacob dresses in their skin to mimic the hairiness of his brother. Their preparations made, Jacob enters his father’s room with the meal. Immediately suspicious, Isaac feels his son’s arms and smells him to confirm his identity. Though the voice is not right, Isaac is apparently assured that he is the correct son and gives Jacob his blessing. In it, Jacob is made master over his brothers. Based on the law of the day, a deathbed blessing such as this was looked upon as legally binding. So despite the deception, it could not be reversed.

Not longer after the deed was done, Esau returns from his hunting and finds quickly that his blessing has been given to his deceitful brother. After much bewailing, Esau is offered a lesser blessing. Esau is doomed to serve his brother but promised that eventually he will break free from his servitude. Furious, Esau vows to kill Jacob. Rebekah overhears this as well and sends Jacob off to stay with his uncle Laban in Haran while his brother cools off. To cover her tracks, Rebekah goes to Isaac and rants that Jacob must not take a Hittite wife and therefore must be sent away.

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The Bible – Genesis – Chapter 26

The land was in the grip of famine so Isaac went to Philistine where Abimelech was king; the Lord directs him to stay out of Egypt but rather to reside in Philistine and he would fulfill the oath he had sworn to Abraham. The usual promise is made, “I will make your heirs as numerous as the stars of heaven,” etc since Abraham kept God’s commandments.

So Isaac stayed in Gerar and, like his father, claimed his wife was his sister to avoid difficulties with the local ruling class. This time, before the usual damage can be done, Abimelech sees the two “fondling” each other and calls Isaac in to explain himself. For a change, the confronted man tells the truth and Abimelech issues an edict that no one is to bother either of them on penalty of death.

Isaac remained there and eventually became exceedingly wealthy. So wealthy in fact that the Philistines became jealous, filled his wells with earth and kick him out altogether. Isaac settles in a nearby valley in which his father had previously encamped but again quarrels with the locals over water rights. After several attempts, they finally find a spot where they can remain unmolested. After they’re settled, they receive a visit from the king. He states simply that, “We now see plainly that the Lord has been with you” and that they have come in search of a truce. Isaac grants the truce and they seal the deal with a feast.

When Esau was forty, he took two wives, both Hittites. Isaac and Rebekah are more than a little displeased that their son married outside his clan.

This post is one of a multi-part series. To view the rest of this information or find out what the microscope photos are actually pictures of, visit our main website at http://www.tatteredthread.com/

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The Bible – Genesis – Chapter 25

After Sarah’s death, Abraham takes another wife, Keturah. She bore him six more children. All of Abraham’s possessions were still willed to Isaac, however. His other sons received gifts while Abraham was still alive. Abraham died at 175 and was buried in the same field with his wife by Isaac and Ishmael.

Twelve sons were born to Ishmael and each formed the head of a tribe. Ishmael lived to 137.

Isaac was 40 when he took Rebekah as his wife; she, like Isaac’s mother, was barren until Isaac pleaded with the Lord on her behalf. When she did conceive, it was with twins. The Lord told Rebekah that the sons within her would both be the originators of a great many people but that the older would be subservient to the younger. The eldest twin was covered with red hair; his name was Esau, the younger, Jacob.

Esau grew to be a skilled outdoorsman while Jacob was a quiet homebody. Isaac favored his eldest son because of his taste for game while his wife favored the quieter son. Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, his brother came in from the field half starved. Esau asked for some of the stew but Jacob refused unless Esau should swear away his birthright to him. Esau impulsively agrees, trading his rich inheritance for a cup of soup.

This post is one of a multi-part series. To view the rest of this information or find out what the microscope photos are actually pictures of, visit our main website at http://www.tatteredthread.com/

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