Category Archives: Bible

Taking in Syrian Immigrants Immoral?

Recently, I was trying to find non-xenophobic arguments against the US taking in Syrian immigrants. I found a potential case in National Review (assuming the numbers truly are reliable). Two writers from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) argue that it costs an estimated $12,874 per year (for the first 5 years) to resettle Middle-Eastern Refugees in the US while it may cost around $1,057 per year to move them to relative — if temporary — safety in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. Again, if this is true, we could assist roughly twelve times the humans by helping resettle Syrians into neighboring countries with the same resource investment.

But, should we be concerned about this study’s impartiality? Maybe. The same authors published a study last year for CIS warning that immigration in general is a problem, partly because Muslims (who, incidentally, make up less than 1% of the US population) pose a significant security threat. These immigrants will, undoubtedly, “board an airliner and blow it up” according to one co-author*.

The person who said that, Steven Camarota, has remarked on another even more serious immigrant threat very concisely in the past: “[E]ach 10 percent increase in the immigrant share of the county’s population reduced the Republican vote by about six percentage points [over the last 30 years]”*.

Of course, we can’t discount this study/argument simply because the writers may be generally biased against immigration. Hopefully, PolitiFact will have a look at their figures.

Agree or not, there are still solid ways to try to help out the thousands of Syrian civilians in need. Both Charity Navigator and Charity Watch highly rate American Refugee Committee International as an effective charity. GiveWell recommends Doctors Without Borders.


Judges 12:5-6
Young’s Literal Translation

5 And Gilead captureth the passages of the Jordan to Ephraim, and it hath been, when [any of] the fugitives of Ephraim say, `Let me pass over,’ and the men of Gilead say to him, `An Ephramite thou?’ and he saith, `No;’

6 that they say to him, `Say, I pray thee, Shibboleth (שבלת);’ and he saith, `Sibboleth,’ (סבלת) and is not prepared to speak right — and they seize him, and slaughter him at the passages of the Jordan, and there fall at that time, of Ephraim, forty and two chiefs.

Discussion Concerning the Anti-Gay-Marriage Argument from Tradition

The cosmos is about 13.8 billion years old.
The human is about 200,000 years old.
The first recorded marriage involving a human occurred about 2,674 years ago.

Marriage contracts were first recorded in the Late Period (661-332 BC), and continued until the first century AD. They were often drawn up by the husband to establish the rights of both parties to maintenance and possessions. The law did not require a marriage to be recorded.


Appeal to Tradition

The argument supports a position by appealing to long-standing or traditional opinion, as if the past itself were a kind of authority.

Marie  I suppose you don’t consider Adam and Eve to’ve been married?
Mark  Did you snope this already? j/k
Joseph  Whoa whoa whoa … I thought everything was only 6,000 years old. Check your facts, heathen.
Clifton  Marie, this hadn’t actually occurred to me. From what I can gather, the thinking behind such a position is that Eve was "wed" to Adam because she was taken from a part of his body and then added back to him to complete him. If that is what it takes, then I would imagine that no marriage since has been valid. No?

Mark, I didn’t. As always, I am open to contradiction. I claim no expertise. Incidentally, Snopes generally does an excellent job of avoiding the argument from authority, which seems to me to be one of the human’s most abused fallacies.

Joseph, I’m glad you responded. I always wonder why my irreligious friends get married. Perhaps you can explain it to me. From my perspective, if you want to be with somebody, you will do that. Fidelity shouldn’t be a problem because you both agree to certain terms prior to formally entering into your relationship. Continue reading Discussion Concerning the Anti-Gay-Marriage Argument from Tradition

The Shema

Deuteronomy 6: 4–9
דברים פרק ו פסוקים ד-ט

Masoretic Hebrew to
word-by-word English translation,
with audio, romanization,
and English translation

Hashem Israel listen
is one
our God

audio listen
שמע ישראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד׃
romanization Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
English Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

Continue reading The Shema
"Hashem" means "the name." Many Hebrew speakers use "Hashem" or "Adonai" instead of "יהוה" to show their respect to God by not taking his name lightly and only using the proper name in prayers.

Burt Lancaster: Atheist

“I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in a hereafter or a God,” announced Actor Burt Lancaster in London. Or, evidently, in good timing, since Burt’s remarks came just hours before a royal command performance of his movie Moses. Partly recycled from his six-part TV opus Moses The Lawgiver, the feature-length film shows the actor as bearded religious leader rather than dashing ladies’ man. “Since I’m 62, that gets a bit embarrassing,” Lancaster allowed, “although I am still susceptible to the charms of a 19-year-old girl. Like any man, I suppose, I’m still a bit of a ‘dirty old man.’ ”


Bible Clippings

Lot and His Daughters

30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to lie with us, as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then lie with him and preserve our family line through our father.” Continue reading Bible Clippings

Jewish Ethnicity

“We perform a genome-wide population-genetic study of Jewish populations, analyzing 678 autosomal microsatellite loci in 78 individuals from four Jewish groups together with similar data on 321 individuals from 12 non-Jewish Middle Eastern and European populations. … We find that the Jewish populations show a high level of genetic similarity to each other, clustering together in several types of analysis of population structure.


Partial Transcript of Nightline Face-Off: Does God Exist Part II

Martin Bashir: Kirk, in Victor Stenger’s book God: The Failed Hypothesis, he says, “Evolution, by natural selection, is accepted as an observed fact by the great majority of biologists and scientists in related fields and is utilized in every aspect of modern science, including medicine.”

How do you account for the fact that evolution is now the dominant philosophical understanding for so many of the sciences? Continue reading Partial Transcript of Nightline Face-Off: Does God Exist Part II

Christmastime Parable

So, I was walking through the mall the other day and passed by Santa. I happened to overhear him having a conversation with a cute little girl dressed in red and green Christmasy attire, with little ribbons and bows in her hair. Very cute! Well, she had the adorablest question to ask Santa! She said, “Santa, how could I be an elf and go to live at the North Pole forever and ever with you?”

Santa grinned at the little cutey-pie, scooped her up, sat her down on a nearby table and kneeled so he was at eye-level with her and said, “Going to the North Pole and becoming an elf is like a president who set up a birthday party for his daughter. The president sent some of his helpers to those he’d invited to the party to tell them to come, but they refused.

“Then, he sent some more helpers and said, ‘Tell everybody I invited that the party’s ready! There’ll be burgers and cupcakes and confetti, and everything’s ready. Come to the party!’ Continue reading Christmastime Parable