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megpie71: "Well, when I was a little girl, I thought I'd like to become a scientist, so I became a scientist" (feminism)
Monday, May 14th, 2012 08:48 am
I was busy reading through a lovely little article on the ABC this morning about a group of doctors who have submitted a statement to the Senate enquiry into marriage equality here in Australia. The position of this group of doctors (about 150 in all, one of whom is a member of the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission) is that "marriage between a man and a woman is the "basis for a healthy society"."

Their contention is that ""It's well proven that children who grow up with a mother and a father in a biological mother-and-father family do better than children who don't have the opportunity to grow up in that kind of family,"

Now, my immediate thought when faced with this was along the following lines:

Show me the research - This is always my response to ninety percent of these sorts of statements in news articles. I want to see the studies these people are pulling their quotes from, and actually figure out whether their justification is accurate.

teal deer underneath )

Really, if you get past the first page of their submission, it's just the same sort of small-minded, socially-conservative idiocy that you'd expect from the Christian (Always) Right - "Don't Do It Because We Don't Like It; Our God Says This Is EEEEVUL!!!"[4]. It's a bit disappointing that 150 doctors hold these views, but then again, so long as they don't let their views get in the way of their practice, I've no problems with that. They're entitled to hold opinions as private citizens. It's when they try to use their position as doctors to force those opinions on the rest of the population that I have problems.

Footnotes below )
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 09:32 am
It's May 22. I'm still here. So are my neighbours. So is New Zealand.

But then, I had a problem with Mr Camping's figures from the start - they were based around the whole business of "years from Christ's birth", and the assumption this occurred at some fictitious Year Zero. Now, there's a few small problems with this: firstly, and most importantly, there wasn't a Year Zero at all - in fact, at the time Christ was supposed to have been born, there were two calendars his birth might have been reported on, and one of those was the Hebrew calendar which (at that time[1]) counted years since Seleucus I Nicator returned to Babylon after his Egyptian exile (because Galilee, Judah and surrounding territories fell firmly into the Seleucid empire). The other was the Roman imperial calendar, which counted years since the city of Rome had been founded by Remus in memory of his brother.

The second big problem is that the timing of the birth of Christ wasn't noted in any contemporaneous historical documents (there are three gospel references, all of which post-date the death of Christ by at least 100 years[2]) and therefore it can't be fixed. The best most biblical and historical scholars can do is guess - to a greater or lesser degree of accuracy, depending on the premises they use.

The Anno Domini (or "Year of Our Lord") dating system wasn't actually devised as a way of counting years until approximately 525CE. It was originally created as a way of dating Easter each year, as a replacement for the Diocletian epoch (Diocletian being the the last Roman emperor to go in for serious persecution of Christians, and mass production of Christian martyrs). The only thing which has come down to the present day is the actual conversion table from Diocletian years to AD, and there's no notes available to provide any cross references to other dating systems, or any indication of the calculations used.

Historical research has since been conducted to try and figure out when the actual birth of Christ occurred[3], and the results of this are rather interesting. In effect, the dates for various biblical cross-references can put the date of Christ's birth anywhere in the period between 18BC and 7AD (depending on which of the gospels you believe to be accurate). The most widely accepted figures tend to be between 9 and 6 BCE.

Now, given this, even if we accept every other part of Mr Camping's mathematics to be exact, divinely inspired and absolutely correct, the best guess is that the end of the world would have begun sometime between 2002 and 2005. If this were the case, then clearly we were just all too busy to notice - or there were a lot of people who were expecting to be Raptured who were clearly not as good at this whole Christianity thing as they thought they were.

But hey, dating Christ's birth is an imprecise science. If we take the latest figure possible for Christ's birth (putting his birth at the time of the census of Syria and Iudaea in 6 - 7CE[4]) then we should be looking out for the end of the world in 2017 or 2018. If it hasn't already ended in 2012, as per the Mayan calendar.

[1] The current Hebrew calendar counts the years since the founding of the world as per biblical record, but it's only been doing so since about the 3rd century CE.
[2] Thus they post-date his birth by at least 133 years.
[3] I haven't yet heard of any research into whether it occurred at all - but then, I'm not a theological or archaeological scholar.
[4] Although this is slightly inconsistent with the same gospel writer's record of Christ's conception occurring during the reign of Herod the Great, which ended in 4BCE. Of course, if this is at all accurate, I can understand why the (previously) Virgin Mary is regarded as a saint - an eleven year pregnancy would be trying for anyone, let alone a first-time mother!
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Monday, November 9th, 2009 11:07 pm
It's interesting, really, when so-called "Christian" spokespersons get to talking about other religions in the media. For example, Australia's favourite Christian Democrat (imagine the scare quotes around each of those terms, please), the Reverend Fred Nile, has spoken up following the deaths of thirteen people on the Fort Hood military base in the USA to suggest the following:

"Australians would like to be assured that our defence forces have in place a system of assessment and review which would identify any person whose adherence to any alien ideology might one day override loyalty to mates and loyalty to the Crown." [...]

"There is an argument for suggesting that the safety and morale of our troops may warrant a ban on dedicated Muslims joining the armed forces, who may be influenced by Islamic fundamentalism."
(quoted from the article Muslims in ranks a recipe for disaster: Nile on the ABC news website)

I'm not a Christian by any stretch of the word, but I seem to recall from my reading of the various gospels (and most particularly the gospel of Mark) one of the key things Jesus Christ (remember him?) said about following in Christ's footsteps was you had to put your loyalty to God before your loyalty to anything else - country, posessions, employment, even family. For examples of what Christ had to say on the matter, have a look at the following biblical passages: Mark 9: 43 - 48; Mark 10: 17 - 25; Matthew 5: 29 - 30 (the sermon on the mount); Matthew 6: 19 - 21; Matthew 6: 33 - 34; Matthew 10: 37 - 42.

It should therefore be reasonable to suggest there is an argument (in order to assure the Australian defence forces are able to "identify any person whose adherence to any [..] ideology might one day override loyalty to mates and loyalty to the Crown") for dedicated Christians to be banned from joining the Australian armed forces. Surely this is a more reasonable criterion than banning Muslims, since the religion of Christ, and particularly the version of the religion of Christ created by Saul of Tarsus (aka St Paul), is strongly opposed to the notion of warfare, fighting, and conquest in the first place - and therefore antithetical to the concepts on which the Australian Defence Forces are based.

It might also be reasonable to suggest the best thing the Reverend Fred Nile can do, in all Christian charity with the relatives and friends of those injured or deceased as a result of the Fort Hood shootings, is to shut his bloody gob, and re-read his bible. Maybe this time he could pay more attention to the gospels than to the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus.