It ain't necessarily soOddly enough, his first example, David slaying the Giant, Goliath of Gath, isn't particularly unlikely. That someone of gigantic statuture - 6ft 3in would qualify at the time - might be a Phillistine General, and Lord of Gath (then a Phillistine fief), is quire plausible. Based upon the known accuracy of much of the Hebrew Histories, military historians take this story at face value, and more probably true than not. But I digress.
It ain't necessarily so
The t'ings dat yo' li'ble
To read in de Bible,
It ain't necessarily so.
Over at Tim Blair's place, I wrote an extensive comment about Islam. So extensive I've decided it's worth it's own post. Here 'tis.
Quick summary for a background of Islam, leaving potloads out.
- There's the Koran (The Direct Word of God, it says so on the label).
- There's the hadiths (sort of like the new testament), traditions of what Mohammed(pbuh) is supposed to have said and done.
- There's no central structure, it's not even as organised as the Southern Baptist Conference - which ranges from the relatively sane and sensible (who just want to ban Rock'n'Roll and dancing of any kind as "immoral") to the Snake Handlers and Arch-Fundamentalist Flat Earthers.
- There are huge arguments over which hadiths are "reliable", and which are bogus. Pick the right subset, you can make Islam into almost anything you want, from BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD to pacifist mysticism. Which one is taught at the local Mosque sometimes changes with every new Imam.
- As in the Torah and Bible, there's lots of contradictory and evil stuff in the Koran. There's even a huge branch of Islamic Scholarship that does nothing but figure out which bits are superceded by which other bits.
(A good source for the original in Hebrew and a literal translation is here)
Jews don't go around stoning to death all proven unbelievers, nor selling their daughters, whatever the situation might have been 3000 years ago. No, not even the Ultra-Ultra-Ultra Orthodox "stone anyone travelling by Car on a Saturday" types that infest tiny parts of Israel.
And what about Matthew 10:34-36 ? So much for family values.
I'm not criticising Judaism, nor Christianity. The vast majority of Jews and Christians don't go around killing kids who smart-mouth their parents ( Leviticus 20:9 ). Both Judaism and Christianity are, in the main, sane. Some parts of the Bible/Torah are emphasised, some so totally ignored that few adherents are aware of their existence, or consider that they have any relevance if they know about them.
The tiny minority that take every word absolutely literally (as opposed to the much larger but still minority group who say they do) are usually put in mental hospitals, sometimes before, sometimes after they put the baby in the oven to "cast out demons" etc.
The trouble is, the same can't be said of Islam. There's a sizeable minority, rather than one in a million, it's more like one in a hundred, who go around actually slaughtering the unbelievers, engaging in slavery etc etc. And a much larger proportion who, while never thinking of doing such a thing themselves, can't bring themselves to condemn those barbarities too much, because of what the Koran and Hadiths say.
Should anyone stand up at an execution of an adulteress by stoning in Iran today, and say "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone", the authorities are likely to have them executed too, on some trumped-up charge or other. There's precedent. It's just that some religions have outgrown this stuff, and a long time ago.
What's really sad is that in some ways, Islam has gone backwards. Had anyone dropped in to 14th century Tehran, vs 14th century Rome, it's unlikely they'd predict correctly who the more tolerant of the two would be in 2005.
So for those who say the problem is inherent in Islam, I say the problem is no more inherent there than in Christianity pr Judaism. Of the three, Judaism is historically the best in practice, but the worst in theory. Christianity is the best in theory, but there's little things like the 30 years war (17th century, Catholic vs Protestant, depopulated much of Germany, slaughter and rapine rampant) and Tai-Ping rebellion (19th century Chinese Christian Loony Sect Goes REALLY Nuts, Kills 30-50 million) that argue that until the 20th century, they were the worst.
Then there's the little matter of the Shoah. Most guards at the Death Camps either came from a Christian background, or even considered themselves Christian. The same with Stalin's Gulags. But as Stalinism and Nazism were both rather down against Christianity, I'll leave the "until the 20th century" cavil unchanged.
The trouble with universally condemning Islam is that first you must ignore or be unwilling to see that most Muslims are just people. Like most Arch-Baptist "Rock'n'Roll is Mortal Sin" Hellfire-And-Damnation "Creation Science" types are just people, some of them quite good people. Often more loyal, charitable, hard-working, honourable and honest than those less pious around them. Sometimes just hypocrites.
You and I may think they're terminally wrong, but as they don't go around actually bombing abortion clinics and beating up gays (however much they may remain silent when asked to uniquivocally condemn these activities), you shouldn't be in fear of them. Unless they get in power. Most Muslims are no worse than the "Moral Majority", they have the same vices and the same virtues.
The trouble with defending Islam is that the number of Arch-Baptist "Rock'n'Roll is Mortal Sin" etc etc etc types is small worldwide, and the number who bomb abortion clinics so tiny as to be worth massive media attention.
Most Islamic countries, if they became democracies, would be no worse than they'd be if Anti-Evolutionist Literal-Word-Of-The-Bible-Belter Fundamentalist Christians were in charge, and where the majority of the population agreed wholeheartedly with them. Churchgoing, Godfearing, Closed-Minded and Repressive.
But there are entire countries where Islamic versions of the Homicidal Maniac fringe are numbered in the millions, or where they control the government, or have tremendous political clout. Sometimes all three.
You may now say "And that's supposed to *comfort* me????" Hey, I calls 'em how I sees 'em. It's the way things are.