Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Conservapedia to form their own schism

Right now, lots and lots of people are emailing us to make absolutely sure that we've heard the exciting news that the geniuses behind Conservapedia want to rewrite the Bible without all the bits that they consider too liberal. To be blunt, it reminds me of trying to rewrite Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds by removing the ones who wet their nests. (And to see opinions I've already rendered on Conservapedia, check out this older post at Kazim's Korner.)

I have to say, when I first saw this at Pharyngula I immediately assumed it was a hoax. Then I saw the actual page on Conservapedia (which at the time of this writing is down, probably flooded by hilarity-seeking atheists). But I still imagined that somebody had punked them. I mean, anyone can edit the site, and their famous objective standards are a bit, hmmmm, what's the word, nonexistent. So clearly some silly person was seeing what he could slip by the censors.

Then I saw the discussion page. It may or may not be a joke, but enough of the regulars there take it seriously that it looks like it's taken on a life of its own.

So, okay. A nontrivial number of Conservapedians really think that their Bible should be improved. After all, if you leave the Bible in its current inferior form, then terrible liberals like E. J. Dionne are free to claim that the book actually supports their point of view, which is clearly ridiculous and unthinkable.

Now, you might say that this is an act of tremendous hubris, but I say, really, what's the big deal? It's not like it is without precedent, for a group of people to write or rewrite some holy text to suit their convenience, and claim the end result to be unchanging eternal truth. I mean, for starters, we've got the original authors of the Bible, unless you accept that they were divinely inspired. Then you've got the Council of Nicea, who went through all the books that were candidates for inclusion at the time and decided which ones did and didn't fit in with their conception of what the Bible should be.

Then you have the big Catholic/Protestant split in the 16th century, which by now has spawned alternate versions of the Bible. You have the Book of Mormon, supposedly dictated by an angel, and you have L. Ron Hubbard who specifically announced his (highly successful) intention to start his own religion.

What I'm saying is that, to borrow a description from the great George Carlin, it's all bullshit anyway. What difference does it make whether you take a 2000 year old book and claim that it is infallible as written literally, or you retranslate it and claim that the translation is infallible, or you make up some entirely new bullshit and claim THAT'S infallible? It's all bullshit, and the beauty of this Conservapedia project is how close they come to flatly admitting that it doesn't matter.

Don't tell me you take any of this stuff seriously anyway.


  1. It is true that some passages of the NT sounds if Jesus was a radical socialist: there is all that thing about giving all one's possess the the poor and following him and about living in poverty to have a treasure in Heaven. He was pretty hard on those merchants in the Temple too. Of course, he was motivated by very different reasons than our modern day socialists: who needed money when the end of the world was coming?

    They might have to rewrite many other things too, as the New Testament often seems to be anti-family (the disciples leave theirs to follow Jesus) and even pro gay (there is that "favourite disciple", isn't it?).

  2. If you are going to continue to turn a profit (prophet?) than it would be a really good idea to delete that commie hippie and his egalitarian ideas. You also need to get the money changers back in the temple where they belong.

    The "Christ" of the bible really did not say enough about the need for mega-churches and super rich clergy. You just can't have a holy book that does not support your life style. Better to do a rewrite before someone actually reads more than the clergy selected passages.

  3. From Conservapedia's Main Page:

    "Liberal hypocrisy anyone? In their condemnation of the Conservative Bible Translation Project, the critics have forgotten their praise for last year's "Green Bible", an eco-friendly edition made from recycled paper, processed soy ink, and the words of nature - not Christ - in green"

    Don't you love it when someone else tells you your opinion on an issue you had never heard of?

    But I have thought for a while now that far right republicans worship Reagan first, and Jesus, as long as he doesn't contradict the Holy Gipper.

  4. From the CBP page:

    liberals will oppose this effort, but they will have to read the Bible to criticize this, and that will open their minds

    So the liberals have managed to distort the meaning of the entire Bible without ever having read it in the first place.

    I'm probably overthinking this, in the sense that I'm thinking at all. After all, I'm one of da lib'ruls.

  5. What they are implying is that for centuries the Bible has been used in its liberal form by organisations such as the Catholic Church and the Church of England. Yeah, Benedict XVIth and Queen Elizabeth II are such hippies! Funny, as the "liberal" teaching of the Bible I received as a child and teenager was irrelevant to my deconversion. It might have made the Bible more appealing and somewhat more moral than this new "conservative" version, but I still ended up questioning its claims.

  6. This is great! They're going all Winston Smith on their own holy book! Here is my favorite line so far:

    Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the "social justice" movement among Christians.

    Booooo social justice! Get that shit out of our Bible! We don't want that pansy-ass "love everyone" Jesus in our Bible! We want the one from the Ricky Bobby dinner scene.

    Seriously, this is hilarious to me. Good stuff.

  7. It's true, they are making Winston Smith of themselves. Heck, they are using Ingsoc methods! Brilliant!

    A few questions about it: can those conservatives be considered heretics, even schismatic? And if so, to what extend? Can they still be considered Christians of they decide to modify the freaking book that is supposed to be Christianity's final authority, whatever the particular denomination? I mean, there were differences of translations before, and some rewritings, partially due to ideological interpretations, but nothing of the sort. It is a bit like Francis Ford Coppola making his pseudo Dracula, claiming he made the most faithful adaptation, while he made something completely different.

  8. Two things to note: First, this is not a parody. The project is being run by Andrew Schlafly who runs Conservapedia.

    Second,much of what they've done or are doing demonstrate serious lack of understanding of the basic source text. For example, Andrew stated that they would:

    Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

    He was apparently unaware that the myriad terms used are precisely because the texts (especially the Hebrew texts of the Old Testament) use multiple different terms for God. Frankly, this struck me as a sort of more or less basic knowledge issue about the Bible. After I pointed it out to Andrew he then went on a tangent about how "evolutionists" don't pay attention to the Bible which is an amazing pot-kettleism.

  9. @Joshua:

    That's the whole point. The whole "closer to the originals" thing is just bullshit they put in to make the people who will read this feel like it has credibility. Frankly, I think they should just write it in newspeak. I think it'll be fun to read. I wonder if they'll stick Sarah Palin in there just for fun, or maybe Glenn Beck will be written in as a disciple. This whole thing I honestly do find highly amusing. It sort of makes sense if you think about it...they're going to interpret it that way anyway. Part of me wants to say "hats off" to them for taking the next step and just rewriting it themselves.

    Oh, and I also like how "wordiness" is liberal. Get them scary words outta ar bahhhhble! Words is fur fagit libruhls! Just make Jesus like...a robot with chainsaws or somethin', that'd be sweeeeet.

  10. "Don't tell me you take any of this stuff seriously anyway."

    I take it seriously as far as opposing partisan pseudo-scholarship, whether from the Left or the Right.

    The importance of the Bible to Western history and culture - yes, even today - cannot be overstated and we must approach its translation as accurately and honestly as possible.

    The Bible says what it says. Some parts are rather obtuse, sure, while others are readily comprehended. (Indeed, some of most appalling parts are the most clear!)

    The Bible does NOT say that either Capitalism or Socialism (as reckoned by moderns) has a divine imprimatur. What Conservo-tards like Schlafly are doing is historical revisionism akin to those infamous airbrushed Soviet Russian photos - and oh, what a sweet irony THAT is, eh?

    More proof the all ideologues, whatever their faction, ultimately resort to the same tricks.

    One thing, Kaz... the Council Of Nicea (AD 325) did not focus on the Biblical canon as far as we know. The main item on the agenda was the relationship of Jesus the "Son" to God the "Father" - in other words, what to do about Arius and his growing band of followers.

    The idea that the Council drew up or approved a "Table of Contents" for the Bible has been banging around for a long time. I recall no less than Voltaire writing something along those lines.

    But when we hit the books and try to source this... the trail goes cold. It's probably fair to say that SOME manner of canon argument went on during Nicea but the only thing we can assert with confidence is that Arius' writings and those of his camp were anathematized. There's no evidence that the Book of Daniel, for example, was revised or expanded to clean up the prophecies therein or that anything similar occurred with the Gospels.

  11. Damnit, George. There you go, ruining our fun with "facts" and "knowledge" again. Sheesh.

  12. Blast! This shows up in Google Reader, I have a slight correction to make, and by the time I get here George has already beat me to it! Dammit! (Indignation aside, thanks, George!)

    I recently made a similar comment on my blog (http://startleddisbelief.blogspot.com/2009/09/biblical-unity.html), and was corrected by a Christian, so I was just going to pass along that the First Council of Nicaea didn't have the Biblical Canon on its agenda.

  13. So there we go. We know for a fact that even if GOD HIMSELF told these people they were wrong they'd ignore him.

  14. In my re-write of the Bible, the God-character says "eh, it's good enough" after minimal effort on his first six-day week.

    On the seventh day, he abandons the project and never gives it another thought.

    What a slacker! heh.

  15. Instead of my usual lurking, I'll try to add something.
    I think this project proves morality does NOT come from the bible. Otherwise it wouldn't need to be changed. These people do not think clearly, if at all.


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