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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Needs More Velociraptors!

Noah” is an insult to Bible-believing Christians, an insult to the character of Noah, and most of all, an insult to the God of the Bible. As a result, I believe Hollywood will have a much harder time in marketing future biblically themed movies to Christians.
    
- Ken Ham, president of Answers In Genesis, Time Magazine March 28, 2014

 

In 1957, Paramount Pictures released The Ten Commandments

It was an instant blockbuster.

Directed by Cecil B. DeMille and famously starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Yvonne De Carlo, Edward G. Robinson, Vincent Price (all huge Hollywood stars of their day – well, except for the then little known Heston, who became a huge star specifically for his role as Moses), a literal “cast of thousands,” and filmed on the largest, most expensive set ever constructed, The Ten Commandments became one of most financially successful movies ever made.

The film chronicles the life of Moses – the principal character in the Biblical book of Exodus.

The Ten Commandments has been released four times in theaters, and continues to be popular on cable movie channels to this very day. In 1999 the film was declared “culturally significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for inclusion in the National Film Registry and thus the original cellulose print is preserved in a refrigerated vault beneath the Blue Ridge Mountains near Culpeper, Virginia in a former Cold War nuclear bunker nowadays known as the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation.

The film is still popular, particularly with Christians – strangely including fundamentalists.

A quick web search shows numerous listings for the movie, it’s particularly popular on Easter weekend, especially on large screen TVs in church basements.

Despite DeMille’s efforts towards historical accuracy, the film takes a number of liberties with the story. 

In an interesting note, the Christian Bible doesn’t contain much detail regarding the life of Moses, especially the first 30 years of his life, and so DeMille turned to another holy book that does, the Muslim Quran. DeMille also extensively used Jewish texts to fill out Moses’ biography.

And yet I’m unable to find any reference to a prominent Christian leader referring to DeMille’s epic as “an insult to Bible-believing Christians, an insult to the Character of [Moses], and most of all, an insult to the God of the Bible.”

How odd.

Far from being insulted, Christians are perfectly willing to overlook the historical and/or biblical inaccuracies of the film, and in large part loved it.

Funny thing, that, don’t you think?

“Hey, God, you know, you’re kind of a dick when you’re in a movie with Russell Crowe and you’re the one with anger issues.”
       — Bill Maher, Real Time with Bill Maher
            
Talking about the new Paramount Pictures movie Noah

“I think it’s time to bring back blasphemy laws.”
       — Tristan Emmanuel, CEO of Freedom Press Canada Inc. BarbWire
             In response to Bill Maher’s comment

Now, it’s quite likely that I’m the least religious or spiritual person you know, but I enjoy the hell (heh heh) out of the The Ten Commandments and the occasional biblically themed movie doesn’t offend me in the least (You want to offend me? Let Paul Verhoeven make another “adaption” of Robert Heinlein, there’s a special place waiting in hell for what he did to Starship Troopers).

And in that vein, I went to see the movie Noah.

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the movie stars Russell Crowe in the titular role, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, and Ray Winstone as the baddy. Also if you pay very close attention, you just might recognize Nick Nolte’s gravelly voice emanating from, well, a pile of gravel.

It’s your basic feel good Old Testament Bible story.  You know, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, they fall in love, there’s a large angry bearded man who spends a lot of time scowling mightily and shaking his fist, a bunch of people in robes who look like they’ve never heard of soap and water run around slaughtering each other for no particular reason, and then God kills everybody who’s left. Also, there’s a boat and some snakes. Amen.

I liked it.

It wasn’t great.

It wasn’t bad.

It’s certainly no Ten Commandments, but Noah is an entertaining movie with decent acting by a bunch of really attractive people (and Russell Crowe).

If I have a complaint, it’s that the movie depends heavily on CGI, unfortunately computer generated characters cost a lot of money and Aronofsky is no James Cameron when it comes to prying cash out of the studio, so Noah’s CGI is closer to the crappy cartoonish animation of The Hobbit than the believable and fully immersive Avatar, but I didn’t find it terribly distracting – though others apparently have. When it comes to CGI, you pays your money and you takes your chances, frankly, I’ve seen a hell of a lot worse (and I’m looking at you, I Am Legend).

But, of course, nobody cares about the acting or the special effects.

It’s the plot.

All Christians learn the story of Noah and his Ark early on.  Heck, even if you’re not a Christian (or a member of the various other religions that incorporate a global flood myth), you’re familiar with the story.  According to the generic Christian version, God gets fed up with sinful humanity and decides on a do-over. He tells Noah to build a big wooden boat and put several of each kind of animal onboard.  Then God makes it rain for a month and drowns every single living thing on the planet except for Noah and his family and the animals on the Ark (and the fish, I guess).  The Ark floats around for a year or so and eventually comes to rest on a mountaintop as the waters recede. Noah releases the animals, then the Ark’s crew spends the next several hundred years fornicating like hyperactive hamsters in an effort to repopulate the world. Now free of sin and properly chastised by God’s murderous wrath, the reborn human race lives happily ever after in Godly peace and pious enlightenment.

Okay, I might have just made up that last bit, but the rest of it is the generally accepted biblical version of the Noah story.

Like most of the Old Testament (and much of the new), it’s a damned grim story.  And the only real lesson is that part where the faithful get to lay awake at night wondering if their deity might just up and decide to randomly off their narrow asses at any given moment so you’d better be good for goodness sake. Or something. Ok, maybe I’m not exactly clear on what the lesson is here.

Now, I’m sure that when the various parts of the Christian Bible were written, given the state of knowledge at the time, Noah’s story seemed like a perfectly plausible scenario. However, over the last thousand or so years we’ve learned a bit more about how our universe works, and the story of Noah and his big boat of salvation long ago started to show some significant problems.  Even if you end every sentence with “God did it!” the story simply doesn’t hold water (Yep, I said it. I’m not sorry).  No part of the Great Flood narrative works as anything other than a tall tale. None of it, from the volume of water to the geology to the timeframe to the number of animals to the staggering logistics to the amount of food and wastes to the utterly impossible task of one man and his kids building a rugged seaworthy ship the size of a World War II aircraft carrier out of wood using only primitive hand tools to the genetic limitations of the miniscule breeding pool to … well, it just goes on and on right up to the part where God completely and utterly fails to accomplish his stated goal of resetting humanity, since human nature of today is pretty much exactly the same as described in the Bible prior to the flood. Taking the story at face value and given the evidence at hand, it would appear that God brutally killed millions and millions of people for no reason whatsoever – and you sure would think He would have seen that coming, wouldn’t you? (What? There’s still sin? So I offed the unicorns for nothing? Motherfu…ur, I mean somebody is getting a plague of boils for this).

Beginning around the time of the Renaissance and the advent of empirical science, Christians started having to come to terms with the fact that not everything in their Bible could be taken literally – most especially the Great Flood. And a lot of Christians eventually became more or less comfortable with that idea and evolved (I’m not sorry) into the kind of people who don’t go around lighting other people on fire and whom you don’t mind having for neighbors or on your local school board.

But not all.

Young Earth Creationism, the belief that the earth is only 6000 years old and the Bible, usually a strict interpretation of the King James Version, has been around for a long time. But it really got going in America during the Reagan administration. Today anywhere between 40% and 50% of adults in the US identify with Young Earth Creationism and roughly 30% claim a literal interpretation of the Bible as history.

And the Great Flood is the entire foundation of Young Earth Creationism.

Everything depends on it, everything.

Without a literal interpretation of the biblical Deluge, all of Young Earth Creationism and its various offshoots simply falls apart.

It’s unsurprising therefore that Biblical literalists have gone to absolutely ridiculous lengths attempting to rationalize the irrational, up to and including incorporating dinosaurs into their narrative by putting coconut eating vegetarian Tyrannosaurs in the Garden of Eden and velociraptors on the Ark.  And Creationists were willing to spend an enormous amount of money building a museum (and soon a supposed full sized and functional replica of the biblical Ark) in Kentucky.

 

And this, right here, is why they simply cannot tolerate a movie like Noah.

Young Earth Creationists have constructed a house of cards so flimsy and so utterly ludicrous, that should it be questioned in any way, should any deviation in belief be allowed to exist, should any adherent engage in anything but absolute blind belief, the entire structure will collapse of its own ridiculous weight.

Canadian Creationist Tristan Emmanuel wrote an article on the anti-gay site Barbwire and posted a video on YouTube entitled “Bill-asphemy” where he suggested that non-believers such as comedian Bill Maher, who did a humorous and irreverent review of Noah on his show, be publically whipped for not respecting fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

Whipped.

Christians should unanimously condemn Maher. There was a time when a generation of believers actually believed in defending the honor of God and would have done just that — condemn Maher. Back then Maher would have faced stiff penalties for his slanderous crimes against God and country. And the reasons were clear: slander the ultimate authority of a nation — God — and you ridicule the very foundation of its laws, values, public institutions and leadership.

Emmanuel went on to quote religious law from no less than the Massachusetts Bay Colony to describe what those “stiff penalties” should be:

“…everyone so offending shall be punished by imprisonment, not exceeding six months, and until they find sureties for good behaviours; by sitting in pillory; by whipping; boaring thorow the tongue, with a red hot iron; or sitting upon the gallows with a rope about their neck; at the discretion of the court…”

Whipping. The pillory. A hole bored through the tongue with a red hot iron. And the threat of hanging.

And you thought the Taliban was a bunch of assholes, eh? It would appear that they’ve got nothing on Canadian religious extremism, who knew, right?

Needless to say, Emmanuel was unhappy with Noah.

Creationist Ken Ham, he of the Bill Nye evolution debate and the shrill voice behind the aforementioned Creation Museum, called Noah “the worst film I’ve ever seen.”

Ham was aggrieved by the movie’s fallen angels (which admittedly did look a lot like the bastard offspring of the rock monster from Galaxy Quest and Treebeard from The Two Towers, but come on, you’ve got Adam and Eve chumming around with brontosaurs and you can’t handle a pile of magic rocks?), the depiction of the Ark itself which Ham didn’t think looked enough like the barn shaped renderings from junior Sunday school, and especially the movie’s liberal depiction of human sin.  Despite the fact that nearly every scene involves human beings acting like complete assholes, for Ken Ham there just wasn’t enough greed and selfishness and plunder and debauchery and gluttony and rape and murder and cannibalism. And though the lead baddie repeatedly flouts biblical law to a degree that makes Bill Maher look like a rank amateur, Ham was upset because Noah liked animals better than people – because apparently God wouldn’t send a man who values animals above people as the guy to, you know, save all the animals.

But Ham was particularly put out by the movie’s portrayal of Noah as a religious lunatic:

Noah’s misanthropy is revealed many times in the film. For example, when the girlfriend of Noah’s son Ham is caught in a trap and is about to be overtaken by some marauders, Noah leaves the girl to die at their hands. The film’s Noah wants to totally destroy the human race and doesn’t want his sons to have children. In perhaps the most shocking part of the film, Noah plans to kill his unborn grandchild, the child of Shem’s wife, if it is a girl. As Noah values his animals on board more than people and rants about it, he becomes a psychopath. Hollywood’s Noah is not the righteous man described in Hebrews 11 and other scriptures.

For a guy who prides himself on being the world’s bestest Christian, Ham sure missed the boat on that one (still not sorry).

Look, Noah supposedly hears the voice of God telling him to drop everything and build a giant floating zoo. So he does, and it takes years. Decades. He meets angels. He sees miracles. The hand of God is upon him.  He fills the Ark with animals, locks himself inside, and rides out the end of the world. And even with the dying screams of humanity echoing in his ears he remains resolute in his divine task – now you’ve got to figure that this guy is dedicated. He believes, man, he believes. And what’s God’s message to Noah here? Right, people suck. God is like Liam Neeson in Taken, I will find you and I will kill you! I’ll kill you all. And so, in the movie, Noah decides that he must commit murder in order to carry out God’s will. And the thing is that like any fundamentalist, he cannot be swayed by the voice of reason. His wife, his sons, his daughter in law, none of them can convince him that he’s wrong, that he’s acting like a deluded jackass – even though he obviously is.

No wonder Creationists like Ken Ham hate the movie. 

Like Emmanuel, Ham complains that he can’t simply forbid people from seeing the movie.  He recommends Young Earth Creationists track down any Christian who’s been exposed to the movie and “communicate biblical truths and undo the possible damage that might be caused by this sci-fi fantasy, one that is making a mockery of the Word of God and its true account of Noah, the Flood, and the Ark.”

I doubt Ham has much to worry about, if the comments under the World Net Daily’s review (Movie Depicts Evolution and Black Magic! Run for your lives, Everybody!) are any indication. Young Earth Creationists already know everything they need to know:

It is simply a badly done movie. Not seen it but I trust what I've heard.

I haven’t seen it, but I hate it!  There’s that evidence based science creationists are so well known for.

I don't have to "see" it to know it's another piece of atheist garbage.

That’s not how you use quote marks. Here let me give you a proper example: Jeremiah 5:21, “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.” That clear it up?

Stay away from disgusting things like this... and that includes the many shows on TV that promote homosexuality. If it has homos in it, count me out. It's not an alternative life style, it's an abomination.

Hmmmm, maybe I missed that part where queer animals were led onto the Ark in fabulous pairs of same sex couples…

Don't attend such trash. Too bad Hollywood stars are not in mudslide areas. Cruel but they get what they dish out! Not swallowing their crappola any more!

Question, wasn’t it God who was dishing out the mudslides? And, well, you know, I guess if you believe your God murdered an entire planet because people pissed him off, praying for him to whack a few movie stars you don’t like is small potatoes.

People and even clergy of today are manipulating the word of God to suite themselves and what their evil hearts desire. I have a saying that goes Like this:"People shouldn't manipulate the word of God to suit themselves.[sic]

I have a saying too, but it involves less of quoting of myself and a lot more facepalming.

And my personal favorite:

The script writers inserted the words "the Creator" wherever the word God should have been. They just didn't want to upset people by using that word. Another case of editing/revising a biblical story. The leftists of the film-making industry had to be satisfied! The film will make money, that is the intent of having made it with such an expensive cast, however I can guarantee there will be one individual who won't purchase a ticket to see it. "The Creator" could mean Lucifer/Satan. Freemasons, the upper echelon adepts not the lower initiates, believe in a "creator god" but his name is Lucifer, not God of the Bible. Be careful how they use language that could be referring to something other than the point of reference you may have in your own mind. Our leaders today, especially shadow government, are Luciferian. Once the NWO/One world religion is ushered in, all will have to take the Luciferian initiation or lose his/her life. I know my choice; have you considered yours?

Have I considered my choices? Why yes I have, I’m considering having another beer … or just switching to whiskey right out of the bottle.

Luciferian initiation, folks. Luciferian initiation.

I mean, come on, you can buy New World Order, but can’t sit still for a goddamned movie without foaming at the mouth?

Honestly, if your religious beliefs can’t let you enjoy a movie without a crisis of faith, well maybe you ought to give that some serious thought.

You know, there are days I find myself wishing that a few of those flesh eating dinosaurs had indeed survived the voyage.

Because the herd could use a little thinning out.

If you know what I mean.

He speaks to you. You must trust that He speaks in a way that you can understand.
-
Methuselah, Paramount Pictures Noah, 2014

140 comments:

  1. Dang but you're good, Jim. My very logical husband absolutely detests bad science and giant holes in movie plots. He was wondering whether we should go see the movie. After reading your review, I suspect his blood pressure will be well up over the usual - unless, of course, he's busted a gut laughing!

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  2. Well - I wasn't going to see it, but if it pisses them off THIS bad, then I just may do so in an effort of support. And what you said about Starship Troopers. I am forever telling people to forget the movie - just go read the damn BOOK.

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    1. I watched it twice for the shower scene. You can't see naked people in books that are available at the library.

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  3. LOL. Loved it.

    Pedantic point: The position that parts of the Old Testament are no longer valid dates from the very beginning of Christianity. The apostle St. Peter had a vision telling him that the Old Testament dietary laws and, by implication, other OT laws were not applicable to Christians. St. Augustine (4ᵗʰ cy CE) argued that the creation account in Genesis was allegorical. (But he also argued for instant creation and a young earth, oh well.) There's almost nothing that can be said about the bible that hasn't been said before.

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  4. Enjoyed (and agreed with) this essay, but wondering that you didn't manage to fit in "that ship has already sailed".

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  5. Wow, if I live long enough to see the NWO, I hope I can pass that Luciferian initiation ...

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  6. Hilarious! I love it, as I love many of your articles. This one is magnificently funny, while others (MH370) are full of sensible truth and common-sense, while yet others (Iditerod) are eye-wateringly moving for very different reasons. You're a great writer, with great, sensible insights, and I love reading your blog. I've been checking in every day or so for the past two weeks, just to see if you'd posted another yet.

    I haven't seen the movie, and wasn't planning to as it's a Christian movie and I'm not a Christian - but as JackC said, "if it pisses them off this much, I may do so."

    However, you're wrong about one thing: there actually was a flood. There was an enormous flood, which entered the histories of a number of different civilizations around the globe at about the same time. I've always viewed the story of Noah as being a cultural explanation of a historical event which killed (almost) everyone. There may even have been a real Noah - like if there is a massive disaster tomorrow, it'll probably be the Zombie Apocalypse survivalists who will survive, and get to tell the tale.

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    1. The thing with the flood is it all depends on what the referent is for "the whole world" - in reality, most likely a couple of valleys, but if that's the only place you've ever been or heard of, then for you it *is* the whole world.

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    2. IIRC the original version of the flood story, at least that's recorded for us to read, is in the tale of Gilgamesh.
      OTOH there are two floods that might also explain things. There's when the Mediterranean sea broke through into the Black Sea and raised the water level by some 300 feet. And there's when the Ice Age ended and the world sea levels went up by some 200 feet. Either one of those probably left an indelible mark on those who lived at the time. (Not that the Ice Age melt came quickly, but it did force everyone away from their sea shore cities / towns.)

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    3. I agree with the likelihood of some geological events that have given a certain credence and respectability to the flood myths (i.e., Ice Age melts and the Black Sea), however, one of the most common declarations that I hear from the Creationist crowd is the supposed universality of flood myths throughout all cultures. I'm usually caught flat footed by such pendantic statements of certitude because, quite frankly, I don't have an extra weekend of free time to do the necessary research. However, I do know that statements like that just don't pass the 'smell test'. My response is usually just, "Oh, bullshit!"

      The other day, with some free time on my hands, I decided to take a cursory look at at the question of 'the universality of flood myths'. I found out that there were actually quite a few (well over a hundred references to floods with common themes of a 'deity' and 'divine retribution' and 'rebirth'). Hundreds of cultures have made such references, however, the nature, and especially, the timing of 'the events' are foggy at best. (see Wikipedia reference on "List of Flood Myths").

      Most of these 'myths' originated as oral histories, and a typical story would start out like this: "Back in the day ..... insert flood myth here ..... and then, things got better."

      In my mind, it doesn't seem unusual at all that a flood would be the most popular form of disaster to help tell theses tales. Most all early civilizations sprang up around coastal areas, inland seas, lakes and large rivers. Given the early cultures preferences for large bodies of water and the universal law of Nature that states, "shit happens", it's just a story waiting to be told. Even desert cultures have flood myths, the result of finding sea shells and ancient debris mixed into the sand resulted in the obvious conclusion that, "somewhere, 'back in the day', some shit happened here, and it must have been a flood.

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    4. Both China and India's civilizations pre-date the time of the Biblical flood. Neither has histories recording anything like such an event. The Yellow River in China and the Ganges River in India both experience floods, but nothing approaching wiping out their respective civilizations and populations. Someone would have to really stretch those natural events to match the Biblical myth, so much so that that person might as well discard reality and be a young earth creationist.

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    5. Actually, the earliest traces of Chinese and Indian civilizations pre-date Biblical young Earth creation itself (around 4000 BC). The Fundies don't like to talk about that, either.

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    6. Actually, if you do a Google search on Chinese flood myths and Hindu flood myths, there are a number of references to both of them but, they're pretty vague and obviously meant to be allegorical.

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  7. The episode of 'Cosmos' earlier this evening had a beautiful line about how if the Earth and universe is really only about 6000 years old, you'd effectively shut off the lights in the vast majority of space. (Meaning that there's no way we could see the light of most of the stars we can see because the speed of light proves that they are far, far older... but honestly, I just liked the statement.) So much for velociraptors on the ark.

    Then again, Jurassic Park 5BC? I'd watch it. :D

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    1. But... but... Invisible Sky Spirit/Demon created all those lights in the sky *just to fuck with our heads*. Just like He created all those billion-year-old radioactive isotopes and their decay particles in already-pre-decayed form just, like, 'cause he'd been smoking a huge doobie and it seemed like a huge joke to play on the humans He was about to create.

      If the world is really only 6,000 years old, in other words, God is a practical joker and a liar. Which means God isn't actually a beneficent deity. God is actually, well, Satan.

      That's the only way you can make that 6,000 years thing work -- if God is a demon. Good luck mentioning that to a young earth creationist, though!

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    2. I also like the 2nd Cosmos episode with the discussion of evolution. I thought they were pretty clever. They led through the story of 300? breeds of dogs all from wolves, all carefully selected by humans and then after the audience presumably accepts that they move into the story of natural selection as a very similar type of idea. Slickly done.

      Unfortunately, not to rain on their parade (I'm not sorry either) they are probably preaching to the converted (not sorry this time either). I still thought it was a clever way to introduce evolution.

      I wasn't really planning to see the movie. Maybe I should - just because I have some bordering-on-fundamentalist relatives. I try to avoid any discussions on religion and politics. It's just not worth it. And how do you argue with "I don't care what your personal experience is, I know it's wrong" Pick a subject, but that one was on radioactive dating and my personal experience is a career as a nuclear engineer, so I've done measurements of radioactivity, measurements confirming half lives, measurements of radioactive dating. But don't trust the guy with 3 degrees and 30 years of first hand experience. Because I've been "fooled" into actually believing all that science is true (I kid you not).

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    3. Dave, that's exactly how I feel when conservatives who've never served themselves show up here to explain to me how I don't understand the military. Insert faceplam here, right?

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    4. Yeah, I get some of that too. ( ex - 82d Airbn)

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  8. Want to see this just to support the director. Especially as it's ticking off those who claim they can read God's mind and know all the truth that are true, etc. I am sad to hear that velociraptors were not a prominent part of the plot. Can you imagine? A rough wave and a cage pops open in the night... claws click across the wooden deck planks and just like that, the hunter-killer reptiles are on the loose. Hiding amongst the rafters or piles of supplies in the sunlight...because they only come out at night, mostly. One by one the supporting cast is picked off until we are only left with our raggedy band of heroes. Ham and his staff, Ila with a lasso and mad ninja skills, and Noah, with his builder's tools, a hammer and axe, taking down the dinos with the skill of Abe Lincoln turned loose on vampires!

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    1. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredMarch 31, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      Raptors in the rafters?!?! LMAO!

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  9. .

    Hilarious. Really.

    You know the lines of comedy just write themselves.

    As for the FUNdamentalist's issues with "god", one has to finally come to terms with the whole bible thing as a whole. How is it possible to be a "christian" and swallow the 'old testament' literally?

    This of course leads one to ask, "Is it possible to get Christ back into being "christians"?"

    Ema Nymton
    ~@:o?
    .

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    1. Ack. You're right. My editor's autocorrect attempted to change the original post to "Ewan Bremmer" (don't ask me why, who understands autocorrect?). Changing it back I ended up garbling Bynner's name anyway.

      It's fixed.

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  11. I've given up with religious debates. Far too many people believe in things instead of making an effort to know more things.

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  12. "Tristan Emmanuel, CEO of Freedom Press Canada Inc"
    Because "freedom", "blasphemy laws", and "publicly whipped" belong in the same sentence!

    Bruce

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    1. I'm still giggling about that one, too.

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  13. Side issue here I know but.... I read Starship Troopers as a teenager and again a few years later. I loved it and took it all in like a bucket. Thinking about it now as an adult a couple of years older than you I see it as just a little bit more preposterous - on so many counts. Just imagine infantrymen routinely equipped with personal nuclear weapons for example. I think that a "straight" adaptation would have been near impossible to pull off and would have exposed some of the serious problems with Heinlein's world view. As it was Paul Verhoeven took the book as a jumping off point and made a fair to good sci fi romp. The book is still there for those who care about it.

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    1. Heinlein's story was about 'Brothers under Arms', so could have been set anywhere.

      What Verhoeven did was turn the story into a 'Gung-Ho, Ra Ra Ra, Go America!' POS that ranks up there with ess aitch one tea ee movies like 'Red Dawn'.

      It was a travesty.

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    2. Wait... you know the whole movie is satire, right? It's a joke, making fun of fascism, xenophobia, and propaganda - Verhoeven has said as much. It's a ridiculous movie, and not at all faithful to the book, but it's definitely doesn't deserve to be ranked down with Red Dawn.

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    3. Yes it does have to be ranked down. Aside from the fact it is rubbish, how dare Verhoeven take a book and twist it to his own 'satirical' end? The book wasn't a satire about fascism, it was about the bonds that exist between people under arms. Something both Jim and I know about, and something about which the average 'Civie' knows the square root of bugger all.

      As such, as I said before, it could have been set against any (wartime) backdrop. Heinlein being a Sci Fi writer set it against a Sci Fi wartime backdrop.

      QED

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    4. There is theoretically nothing wrong with the movie Verhoeven made, aside from calling it "Starship Troopers" and suggesting it's adapted on the Heinlein book of that name. (The running joke amongst my friends is "Based on the title of a novel by Robert A. Heinlein.")

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    5. Like any artistic work, people bring their own experiences and thought to the novel. For you the main theme was comradeship in arms. For me as a teenager it was the whizz bang future fighting technology. To some extent for Heinlein I think it was a political treatise. Lots of comparisons between his imagined society and the America of the 1950s, with contemporary America coming off worse. Many people are of the opinion that Heinlein was describing a basically fascist state in the Terran Federation. I'm not so sure of that especially given some of his later novels but it could certainly be read that way if you had a mind to. This is what Verhoeven chose to satirise, believing that a straight retelling of the story would be unacceptable to audiences in the 21st century. We may yet see, as I have just read on that impeccable source Wikipedia that there are plans afoot for a remake that will be "much closer to the original novel". Let's see.

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    6. ^^
      Couldn't agree more Rob. I too was shocked at Starship Troopers until I quickly realized it was satire. You can enjoy it once you sit back and can laugh at it. I now get a kick out of it every time it comes on TV. I'm guessing Verhoeven wasn't trying to be disrespectful to Heinlein when he made it.

      "The film included visual allusions to propaganda films such as Why We Fight, Triumph of the Will, and wartime newsreels."

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    7. Heinlein himself said, in a letter, that Starship Troopers "is a dead serious (but incomplete) inquiry into why men fight."

      John Brunner, in The Jagged Orbit, asked the question of what would happen if such combat armor was marketed to civilians the way firearms are currently marketed in the USA. That book has dated badly—it was topical in 1969—, but Brunner got a lot right.

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  14. Of course, the problem I have with the whole Noah story, and God wiping out everything so as to get rid of all sin is:

    What about the evil seagulls?

    (Google it I DARE you!)


    Actually I prefer the Eddie Izzard take on it (it REALLY pisses of the Fundies):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4bfl8GAMtQ

    Indeed, Eddie Izzard is a bit of an expert on a whole raft (see what I did there?) of Bible Studies.

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    1. love Eddie! "I am an evil herbivore..."

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    2. I LOVE Eddie Izzard! This is one I havent seen before! Thanks for the heads up! :LOL!
      & Evil Seaguls ... I have a book somewhere ... rather a collection of books ... picture books mostly ... "Disapproving Rabbits", "Why Paint Cats", "Naughty Chickens", Swimming Chickens" (see a theme here?). I think they appealed to my daughter's sensibilities when shopping for Mother's Day gifts for their VERY critter crazy Momma! LOL! But there you have it! Perhaps that is why my friends call my place "Noahette's Ark"!

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  15. "Honestly, if your religious beliefs can’t let you enjoy a movie without a crisis of faith, well maybe you ought to give that some serious thought."

    This, right here, is the most important point anyone ever should have drilled into them in Sunday School. I've had my fellow Christians tell me I'm going to hell because I don't speak in tongues. I've had fellow Christians tell me I'm a bad Christian because I tell jokes with God in them. I've had fellow Christians tell me I'm going to hell for not being a creationist. (I started college as an astrophysicist, and I call tell you with reasonable certainty how old the universe is and multiple reasons why. Hint: it's more than 6000 years.)

    My response to all of them, "What the fuck does it matter?" Honestly, the whole point of the Gospel is that we're never going to be good enough on our own, and that we can't believe our way out of a paper bag. This performance-based Christianity is so damned terrified that if they don't take every word literally that they might get their Jesus cards taken away.

    I just don't get it. Why the fuck would anyone willingly sign up for a life of fear and misery that at any step you might make a teensy mistake of belief and have God mug you in a back alley for it?

    I'm a man of faith, and I've had to learn to take the Bible seriously, but not literally, and every book as its own thing. Hell, Genesis itself (though attributed to Moses,) most likely had dozens of authors spanning thousands of years. The scholarship is pretty clear on it. Every different bit has to be looked at for what it is.

    One of my mentors in faith said it best. A fundamentalist is someone who is no fun and mainly mental.

    Great work, as always, Jim. Time for me to go have some more Christian brethren condemn me for having an unbeliever agree with me.

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    1. As a fellow Christian ... I have to thank you for your words!

      Can well all just try to make a distinction between Fundamentalists & People of FAITH?

      Really folks! Fundamentalists are NOT Christians! They have hijacked our religion & conflated faith, religion & doctrine.

      Talk about LIMITING God!

      I have a degree in Earth Science. I see God IN the details & it confirms my faith every day! Sadly, I take just as much crap from BOTH ends of the spectrum: the atheists & the fundies, but I do not feel the need to defend myself to either, as both are lost in the pedantic details of proving themselves "right", rather than embracing the vertical relationship that opens one up to real faith.
      The bible is a guide. It points to a relationship with Christ. It is not an object to be worshiped in place of God. But that is what Fundamentalists do! They WORSHIP the Bible! They WORSHIP the Cross. They WORSHIP their pastors. They WORSHIP their own declarations of Christianity. They worship their Church buildings. They WORSHIP their own displays of piety. They WORSHIP their particular sect's doctrine. They do not WORSHIP God! They are FALSE profits! It greatly pains my heart that my fellow Christians have missed the boat & have pissed off & chased off others who might otherwise know the true spirit of God ... to LOVE one another.

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    2. Bravo, well said, fellow persons of faith! The Old Testament writings were versions of oral stories going back into the mists of time, back when nomadic peoples didn't read or write or know about the word "science". They used these tales to explain the world around them because they were aware that a greater intelligence (creator, if you will) was at work. I think the fundamentalist movement, as a whole, has done more to turn young people away from a life of faith that any other area of influence. My daughter who started life in a church and faith shown at home became an avowed atheist after she went to college. That makes me sad because I think she's missing the point, but it's her life, not mine.

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    3. Bodacius Tomboy: You gave me a big chuckle in the fourth line up from the end of your comment:
      "The are FALSE profits!"
      In the context of the previous sentences, I think you meant to say "prophets".
      I sense a really cool Freudian Error here!

      Keep an open mind and permit Earth Science to guide you...

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    4. False profits seems legit, at least from this recovering Catholic-socialist's perspective.

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    5. "Why the fuck would anyone willingly sign up for a life of fear and misery that at any step you might make a teensy mistake of belief and have God mug you in a back alley for it?"

      Comics artist and mystic Alan Moore answered this one: "The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting." People would rather believe in a hell they understand than a heaven which they don't. (This is another way of saying that these people secretly despair of god's love.)

      Which, really, explains much of the spirit of our times.

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    6. Not trying to start a fight (really, I'm not) but the thing I have never understood is how does one legitimately pick and choose which parts of the Bible to take literally and which can be dismissed as just-so tales? If not Noah, then Jesus's resurrection? Really? This was one of the biggest issues which ultimately enabled my own deconversion (for which I am extremely grateful!) If nothing else one has to give the literalists credit for trying to be consistent.

      April

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    7. April, I know that moderate Christians theologian do have answers to such questions, but being an outsider and a dilettante of such things, I don't know them, certainly not well enough to put them persuasively. As an outsider, I can only observe that if one proclaims the literal truth of the whole biblical text (and in what version, anyway?), one is going to get into, well, exactly the problem you have: if one part is found false, the whole thing falls.

      If you'd like serious answers to that question you might wander by Fred Clark's place at Slacktivist and Gordon Atkinson's at Tertium Squid, who seem to have good ideas about such things. They're good reading, even if you're not looking for answers.

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    8. Thanks! I will!

      April

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    9. April, I read something a few years ago about a "drug"/ tonic? called Nepenthe, that could make someone appear dead and it would/could last for three days or so...I actually read it from a book... I know...

      Ray Hoopie, the half-breed from Texas

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  16. Love your take on the Creationist reaction to the movie. However, one of your points did bother me a bit:

    "In an interesting note, the Christian Bible doesn’t contain much detail regarding the life of Moses, especially the first 30 years of his life, and so DeMille turned to another holy book that does, the Muslim Quran. DeMille also extensively used Jewish texts to fill out Moses’ biography."

    Um, Jim, the "Christian" Bible doesn't talk about Moses at all. The entire Old Testament is JEWISH. Christians adopted it, but Jews wrote it and still consider it THE Bible. Only the New Testament is exclusively Christian. IMO this is one of the problems with fundamentalist Christianity - they try to twist the OT into a Christian tract so they can believe it all literally, and it really doesn't work well for that. That's why, for instance, they have a hard time with the Song of Songs. Unlike the parts of the OT they claim to believe literally happened and are true, they try to make Solomon's soft core porn into an allegory about love of the church, or of Mary, which always struck me as slightly hilarious.

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    1. Well, yes, but Jews were retconning Tanakh (A Hebrew acronym for "Law, Prophets, Writings"—more or less what Christians call the Old Testament) long before Jesus came along, though orthodox Jews find this view blasphemous.

      Jews, BTW, generally regard the cooptation of their sacred writings by a religion and culture which has oppressed them for 1600 years as offensive.

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    2. "Jews, BTW, generally regard the cooptation of their sacred writings by a religion and culture which has oppressed them for 1600 years as offensive."

      We do indeed.

      Torah--the correct name for what Christians call the Pentateuch--literally means a teaching. It is not a history, it is not a mathematics text, it is not a geology book. It is a TEACHING. It is a work from which to learn about how to live in this world.

      Personally, I take it as unbelievably arrogant for people--any people--to take it upon themselves to tell God that He could not create the world through the mechanism of evolution. Who told them? Not the Torah, really not. The creation stories (Yes, stories. There are two of them in Genesis. Really. Read it.) have earlier analogs in the region of Mesopotamia, and it can just as well be taken as a way of saying, "You know this story? I am that creator. And you know that other story? I am that creator, too. I am THE creator, whatever the story you know."

      I also find it very odd that some Christians find it so easy to believe in the literal truth of the stories in the Pentateuch, but happily throw out all the laws they find inconvenient. The laws, after all, cannot in any way be interpreted as allegory!

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    3. @Karen,

      Moses is mentioned in the New Testament so I don't really understand your point.

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  17. Third grade. That's when I decided that the Bible was allegory, especially the Creation story, because dinosaurs.

    That is all.

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  18. Peter Kruger, while you are at it, please tell them that they make your religion look rediculous to the rest of us. I respect Christians who try to live in a Christlike manner. But those who use the Bible as a stick with which to beat me about the head and shoulders are a major turn off to the religion.

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  19. Loved your essay today, Jim. I try to be as tolerant as possible when it comes to respecting other's religious beliefs, but when you have leaders spewing such silliness, and followers piling on, it becomes quite difficult.

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  20. Jim, how does your server withstand the onslaught of yellow-eyed, booger-eating, spittle-flecked insanity you subject it to with every post in which you discuss religious dogma and unthinking fanaticism? You MUST have posted this as a load test for your upcoming ruminations on Sibelius v. Hobby Lobby. Get ready for some righteous Jeremiads, or as the gospel according to Clark W. Griswold, Jr. would have it, excoriation from right-minded, bible-believing, "cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sacks of monkey shit" who believe they know God and Jeebus betterer than you do, you godless heathen...

    ...Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?"

    Here endeth the lesson. Seriously, providers of firewall protection need to put you on retainer. You could benchmark-test their products against a real-time load of stark, raving insanity.

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  21. This is a great movie review. I just have one quibble: when you say that the Flood was ineffective because "human nature of today is pretty much exactly the same as described in the Bible prior to the flood."
    The Bible says how long people (or at least men) lived, and the lifespans were trending longer and longer, with Anthony Hopkins living the longest of all. Then the Flood happens, and suddenly the days of our years are threescore years and ten. Maybe that's all "the Creator" was going for.

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    1. So in response to the wickedness of the human race, by this omnipotent, omniscient god was to shorten their lives, but do nothing to change their ways. Makes perfect sense to me...or more accurately, it's a type of logic on a par with the rest of the "logic" used by the young Earth crowd.

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  22. Jim, awesome rant/review. Thanks for writing so well, it is a distinct pleasure to read you.

    PS, there's an 'a' missing in the sentence, "I have saying too...."

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  23. My wife is a fundamentalist. It is her right. It is also entertaining.

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  24. I never go to movies, but think I'll try this one. That is if they show it in our Christian-dominated community. The Old Testament is nothing but hatred and brutality...loving God? Not in my book. BTW, I like Russell Crowe....

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  25. At the risk of sounding like an evidence-based Creationist, I had no intention of "seeing" the movie, but you almost make me want to with this wonderful review!

    I'm a geologist, and as you so correctly point out the Flood Myth (at least as written) is nonsensical. There may have been a vast flood around the Black Sea area within the reach of oral histories, but a lot more archaeology and geology (much of it underwater) needs to be done to substantiate it. The current Crimea situation won't make this any easier to accomplish any time soon.

    After reading your review, I wondered if perhaps the Young Earthers and Fundamentalists are upset not because of any liberties the movie took with the Genesis account of the Flood itself, but because it delves into the mental make-up of what a man like Noah might have been like. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that he might have been an extremist and a zealot, but that image conflicts mightily with the Sunday School caricature of the man. Shining the cold light of Psychology on Noah is every bit as disturbing to people like the esteemed Mr. Ham as shining the cold light of Geology.

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  26. Typo in 1st paragraph: Cecil B. DeMille, not CecilE. :)

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    1. Urf. That one is all mine. It's fixed. Thanks

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    2. Not to put too fine a point on it but, what kind of response is 'Urf' from an ex-Navy man. Shouldn't it be 'Arg' ?

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  27. Absolutely hilarious. Your analysis is spot on, a complete batshit crazy zealot hears the voice of god and promptly goes off the rails, except he is right, and god does want to murder everyone for pissing him off. I was laughing my ass off while reading every juicy salvo fired in the direction of Ham. I look forward to the deluge of idiots commenting on your post in the near future, and providing the rest of us with endless amusement.

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  28. I see retired Navy just can't refrain from boat jokes...why apologize? they be funny...and spot on...

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  29. I just wish that someone would point out that even a bare-beginning science class teaches that the earth is a closed environment. IF there was enough water to cover the earth in their handy-dandy genocidal story? It would all still be here. So where the hell IS it, why aren't we all still living like a worse movie (Waterworld) floating about on boats doing bonsai tomatoes to stay alive? I am so tired of the constant frothing of the allegedly 'scientific' creationists --- but the comedy would be great if they weren't neighbors on the same planet.

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    1. Thank you Syrbal/Labrys, I'm going to have to quote you: "...why aren't we all still floating around on boats doing bonsai tomatoes to stay alive?" May I???

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    2. When I was in college, 25 years ago, I went to a lecture put on by a creationist group because the girl I was dating thought it would be an amusing way to spend the evening.

      Afterwards, I asked the very question you are asking to the presenter, and he looked me right in the eye and said "The water froze and became the polar ice caps."

      I said, "But, water expands when it freezes."

      And he blinked, looked slightly confused, and said "No, I think you're wrong about that." and turned to talk to someone else.

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    3. Obviously it poured into the hollow earth.

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    4. ...and every once in a while Thar She Blows, and we get Old Faithful at Yellowstone.

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    5. Rob -- oh, yeah; I've had that same conversation. And then, lately, of course with estimates of the ice caps melting, got to ask them why the earth would therefore not be entirely flooded again. Blank dead shark eye looks abounded.

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  30. Well, there's Noah accounting for taste.

    I'm not ashamed.

    John G

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  31. The Bible is composed of four things, history, poetry, prophesy, and narrative. But where do you draw the lines? And someone needs to redo "Starship Troopers".

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  32. You sure this movie wasn't a remake of The Mosquito Coast?

    Dr. Phil

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  33. Another masterpiece. I would like to point out that we, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, have evolved. We don't do the tongue thing unless it's in a properly licensed piercing and tattoo parlor.

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  34. Good as always, and there is SO much I could say about the movie in question. But alI can say to those who rant against the alteration of the "true" biblical version of this story is GILGAMESH! The Epic of Gilgamesh is, perhaps, the oldest written story on Earth. It comes to us from Ancient Sumeria, and was originally written on 12 clay tablets in cunieform script. It predates Noah and is not even by some accounts the original version...the Noah story is a badly plagiarized variation, so Christians can complain all they want, they have no right to the story to begin with! Oh, and WHICH version did the movie do? 2 of every animal? 7 of the clean animals? Taking the Bible literally is NOT possible, it is a mix of conflicting stories with no clear version of any of them!

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    1. The biblical literalists have the only good reply to your history. Well, not good, exactly, since they typically invoke threats of violence. Say anything about how Jesus wasn't mentioned in any contemporary Roman histories, or how the Jesus stories sound so much like other local god-rising-from-the-dead stories, or how Yahweh was a originally fire-mountain god (especially from Exodus), and they elevate to death threats. Gotta protect their religion of love and peace, after all.

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    2. The Epic of Gilgamesh is also much more interesting, and most translations/compilations are also better written.

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  35. I agree. It's Reagan ' s fault.

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    1. I don't think it's Reagan's fault per se. But his administration did take creationism from the fringe and move it into the political mainstream, which is why I used him as a benchmark.

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  36. This post reminded me of a wonderful story that appeared on 'Selected Shorts' last year. A clever twist on the Abraham and Isaac episode. It's called "Sara's Story. Well worth the listen:

    http://www.selectedshorts.org/2013/06/alternative-endings-with-guest-host-jane-curtin/

    Annie Fitt

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  37. If you're going to make a movie about the lead up to the Flood, it's best to read The Book of Enoch, an apocryphal text which explains why that mess came about. (But do not ever, ever read any forum where folks are discussing said book, because that is undiluted crazy.) Still, fallen angels taking up with human women and creating giant half-angel spawn whose favorite pastime is wreaking havoc far and wide? Please tell me that's in Noah and I will be there in a heartbeat.

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    1. RR, Noah has fallen Angels. And they do wreck major havoc.

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    2. But that's the problem. The angels didn't. Their sons did, and the angel dads did nothing about it, so part of the reason for the flood was to wipe the nephilim from the face of the earth, because they were an abomination. It wasn't really about how terrible mankind was - although that was certainly a mitigating factor - but rather that God didn't want to risk the seed of the nephilim spreading and mucking up his funny little species with yucky angel blood. So it's an even more awful story than just 'God was mad because people were being jerks.' Instead, it was 'God was mad because his employees who were just supposed to be watching the experiment actually got busy with the test subjects and the results were predictably (if you're God) horrific. I mean, if he'd really wanted to, he could have just wiped it all out and started over with a snap of the fingers, but apparently he wanted to torment Noah and his family and then make those twisted individuals the progenitors of a re-imagined (vaguely inbred) mankind. Because that's so much better than just starting fresh and not giving us any damned apples.

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    3. (Sidenote: If you look into the Biblical Eden story, apples aren't mentioned. The only fruit specifically identified is the fig, and that only as the foliage Adam and Eve used as clothing.)

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  38. My understanding was that God caused the flood specifically to kill off the Nephilim.

    It wasn't to make humans less sinful, it wa more like an ethnic cleansing.

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    1. Helluva way to enforce "His" apparent "no fraternization" policy, what?

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    2. Meh, their god is a jealous god.

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    3. Mine too, as I expounded upon above. Glad I'm not alone in that reading!

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  39. I'm wondering when all the moderate Christians will start forsaking the extremists Christians just like the Muslim moderates were supposed to denounce Muslim extremists. Somehow I doubt that Bill O'Reilly and his ilk will be starting such a movement.

    Peace
    Chris in South Jersey

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    1. They already are. But what is largely happening is that more moderate younger people are being driven away from Christianity entirely. What they will do when climate change really starts to hit, and real life starts looking Old Testament, I have no idea.

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    2. We shall see what happens. But as of right now moderate Christians need to speak out more and vociferously denounce these wackos. In public. It's time THEY were shamed.

      Peace

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    3. Nick formerly from the O.C.March 31, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      I don't know about moderate Christians. The ones I hang out with tend to be self-described "progressive Christians" dedicated to social justice.

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    4. And there may even be more progressive Christians than there are right-wing. But the wingers get all the press. Heck, often enough they own the press.

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    5. I'm not the only one calling out moderate Christians - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ronald-a-lindsay/noah-flood-story_b_5066016.html

      Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. I know, Huffington Post, low hanging fruit, etc etc etc. But the author makes a number of good points including WHY moderates fail to speak out (I'm assuming these points can be extended to other religions, ideologies, viewpoints).

      Chris in South Jersey

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  40. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredMarch 31, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    In case anyone missed Bill Maher's rant on the New Rules segment of Real Time a couple of weeks ago that is referenced here. It's entertaining in its entirety. http://crooksandliars.com/2014/03/bill-maher-disses-noah

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  41. "You want to offend me? Let Paul Verhoeven make another “adaption” of Robert Heinlein, there’s a special place waiting in hell for what he did to Starship Troopers"

    Ditto 'The Hobbit'. (shaking my fist in Peter Jackson's direction). After the last installment, it may as well be titled, "A Hobbit. And 13 Dwarves. And Elves and Orcs who continually show up where they shouldn't be, and for no good reason. And Goldmember the Dragon."

    I know I may not be on chummy terms with the almighty, these days, but any chance I could order up one of those biblical mudslides? Just a little one?

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    1. Nick formerly from the O.C.March 31, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      Oh, you textual purists are so amusing! You get so offended when those New Zealand filmmaker types take liberties with your book.

      You really think the Hobbit was literally written by the hand of Tolkein, don't you?

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    2. I don't care if it was written by unicorns from the planet Zul and delivered to Tolkein via an anal probe. PJ didn't take liberties with the story, he wrote a completely freaking - and bad, did I mention, really, really, terribly bad - story and tried to pawn it off as 'The Hobbit'. I get it. Books & film are two different mediums, and I agree that there's a definite danger in hewing too closely to the storyline of the text in a cinematic adaptation. But, great googledy-moogledy, pass around whatever he was smoking before we enter the theater and get that sprung on us, will ya?

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    3. Actually, you should lay this at the feet of Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh. They are also responsible for the execrable Two Towers. If you listen to the directors' extra on the extended version of LOTR, Boyens says that the moment when she realized that she could write a different story, as long as it was in the same framework as the book, was very freeing. So freeing, aparently, that she wrote a completely different story, that just happens to share a name.

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  42. Hi, Jim,

    Thanks so much for sharing. Like others in your crowd here, I had pretty much decided not see Noah, but if it causes so much grief to the Young Earth Creationists out there, I am marching down to buy a ticket. And I agree with you and Debbie about Starship Troopers the movie....

    Only found two typos, which I will pass on just to ensure a cleaner copy in your archives.

    First is towards the beginning, where you refer to the principle rather than principal character in Exodus.

    Second further down with a spurious suite rather than suit. See:

    People and even clergy of today are manipulating the word of God to suite themselves and what their evil hearts desire. I have a saying that goes Like this:"People shouldn't manipulate the word of God to suit themselves.”

    Thanks again for all you write for us, Shipmate!

    Fair winds and following seas,

    Old Navy Comm O

    PS For the sci fi fans out there, especially those who love Star Trek, check out:

    www.startrekaxanar.com

    Also if you have not yet discovered:

    www.startreknewvoyages.com

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    1. Principle, principal, I always make that mistake. I comfort myself with knowing that at least I'm consistent. Sooner or later that particular brain circuit will die, then I'll be upset.

      The suite/suit is a quote from a comment on WND. I added a [sic] to clear things up.

      Thanks for the assist. // Jim

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    2. Apparently you didn't have a principal who always started assemblies with "I'm your princiPAL because I'm your pal." He wasn't, actually, but at least I never confuse those two.

      Now, "then" and "than" is another thing.

      April

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    3. And don't get me started on "than/from"...

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  43. Like I said in November: http://idlehandsdept.blogspot.com/2013/11/geography-div.html

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    1. I'll convert that to an active hyperlink in order to make it easier for readers to follow your link, Bear.

      Idle Hands Dep't, Geography Div

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  44. >>Hmmmm, maybe I missed that part where queer animals were led onto the Ark in fabulous pairs of same sex couples…<<
    Really? You missed the part where the two male unicorns entered the arc? That is the true reason why we don't have any unicorns on this planet any more.

    Brilliant article, Jim! I haven't seen the movie yet, nor have I any contact to any fundamentalists, but I trust what I read. :)

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  45. Are there Surf Nazis? Sounds like it could really use Surf Nazis.

    Haven't seen it yet, don't know that I will until it's on TV (it's a fair hike to the theaters, so I usually have to really want to see something), though if it annoys that many people, it might be worth the effort.

    This has inspired me to visit Ham's establishment, since it's an easy day's drive from here. Hopefully they have T shirts, that sort of thing is sort of an SVP tradition.

    Agree on Van der Hoeven, it struck me that if they could expend the funding to CGI the bugs, they could've done the powered armor, which is almost a character itself in the novel. He pretty much missed all the points of the novel, such as why the training was tough. I saw a good discussion somewhere of how the movie was set in the future and tactics had evolved, for the MI to those of the Greek Phalanx and for the Navy to that of Salamis (then again Star Wars ground pounders seem to have returned to the methods of Frederick the Great).

    Shadow

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    1. Verhoeven is quoted as saying they had a choice with the CGI money: he could go with the powered armor, or he could go with lotsa bugs. He chose the bugs, and that was the decision that ruined the movie, IMHO, more than any other. I mean, it just made a completely different story out of it, by making it a completely different war.

      Then too, there's the test audiences:

      Test audience reactions led to several minor changes before the film was released. Originally, it was clear that Carmen was torn between Rico and Zander. Test audiences, regardless of gender, strongly felt that a woman could not love two men at once so scenes which portrayed this were cut.

      So why was "Torn Between Two Lovers" a #1 hit?

      These audiences also felt it was immoral for Carmen to choose a career ahead of being loyal to Rico to the extent that many commented that, in so doing, Carmen should have been the one to die, instead of Dizzy. While admitting it may have been a bad commercial decision not to change the film to accommodate this, the directors did cut a scene from after Zander's death where Carmen and Rico kiss, which the audience believed made the previous betrayal even more immoral.[5]

      Jeezis, who's picking those TAs for ya, Pat Robertson? Maybe y'all need to rethink the whole "test audience" concept, anyway...

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    2. Probably wandering WAY off-topic by this point - but what decided me against seeing STARSHIP TROOPERS in the theater (and turned me off it within the first hour on cable) was the total fucking hypocrisy of the pre-launch hype and the movie itself.

      Verhoeven and his flacks hit multiple websites in the runup to release. On some of them, it was "We're doing this as faithfully to Heinlein as we can!" On others, it was "Haha, we're taking the piss out of Heinlein as much as we can!"

      Yeah, no. ST (the book) is largely the 1950s product of a failed USN officer with a Rudyard Kipling fetish (srsly, Kipling is my all-time favorite writer - but I'll take his work neat, thenkew, not filtered thru 'Commodore' RH'), whose Navy experience belonged more to the 19th century than the 20th. But I can deal with that far better than I can deal with the movie's bad attempt to simultaneously posit "War Is Horrible!" and "Please Enjoy Us Blowing Up Many Human and Non-Human Things for Your Entertainment!"

      (And anyone who didn't see that hypocrisy coming wasn't paying attention. ROBOCOP's background - "I'd buy THAT for a dollar!" - was a vision of a cheap, ugly and brutalized society...one that the film itself did no little to contribute to. I won't go on with SHOWGIRLS, except to say that the principle [heh] seemed to be "Tits and ass?! How awful! Here, have some more!")

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  46. I have this theory: "It's never about what it's about."

    Dad is not yellilng because you came home at 2 am, he's yelling because HIS rules were broken.

    The bully is not beating you up because you're a "queer," he's showing off to increase HIS power.

    Well, the funny-demented-alists aren't screaming because Hollywood has insulted God or misquoted the Bible. No, they're feignin outrage over non-existent slurs to build and solidify their voter base so as to insure elected officials are "good Christians" like ... Sarah Palin.

    Speaking of whom, this past week her daughter -- insightful commentator and learned theologian, Bristol -- provided further evidence of my theory by announcing via Facebook "I love reading my Bible" and, apparently to prove it, provided her "unique" interpretation of a verse which "jumped out" at her: according to Proverbs 10:11, anyone supporting women's reproductive rights is evil and violent!

    Proverbs 10:11 states: "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.”

    Setting aside for a moment the interpretive gymnastics necessary to make that verse mean what Bristol claims, the REALLY astounding thing is what did NOT "jump out" at her: the verses just AFTER and just BEFORE the one she cherry-picked.

    Had either of them ALSO exhibited the behavior of Mexican jumping beans, Bristol might have noticed they both amazingly -- one might almost say "miraculous" -- negate her harangue as well as mother's addiction to same.

    Proverbs 10:12: "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins."

    (No wacky interpretation necessary with this one, Brissy -- this verse of the Bible you claim to "love" is unquestionably telling you to shut up.)

    Proverbs 10:10: "Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin."

    ("Malicious, winking, chattering fool" pretty well describes how Sarah Palin's succeeded in branding herself.)

    Sadly, It would take as long to expose ALL of the funny-demented-alists' similarly pathetic attempts to twist the Bible into pretzels of piety as it's taken to write, compile and edit that book (especially when you consider that with each new "revised" edition, the latter is STILL ongoing).

    The simple, short-cut solution is for rational people to keep reminding them -- loudly and often -- to check out the Simple Theological Facts University -- aka STFU?

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  47. One small thing popped out at me from Jim's essay, about the assumption that fish would have survived. I've read a biologists' comments about the biblical flood. He said the fresh water fish would have died early on due to river & lake water mixing with the oceans, and the salt water fish would have died later on from all the rain diluting the oceans. The flood supposedly lasted for a year, because it took that long for the water to subside. In that time, basically everything in the oceans and rivers would have died due to mud and silt being churned up and washed around, even the plants. There's *nothing* in the flood myth that bears up under even the slightest scrutiny.

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    1. I was waiting to see if anyone would point this out. Everyone forgets about the fish, and the plants. Because of which, Noah's group would have had nothing to eat once they got off the boat.
      And lets not forget bacteria and viruses. Even with their rapid mutations, SOME form of them would have to have been on the boat. Without killing anything.

      As always, excellent essay, Jim!

      April

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    2. Yeah, apparently god didn't tell Noah to build an aquarium on his ark.

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  48. Thanks. Another brilliant essay, but now I can't get Liam Neeson out of my head as the voice of a very angry Old Testament god, although come to think of it, he did play Zeus.
    M

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    1. "I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career of being an angry God. Skills that make me a nightmare for humanity. If you start doing what I want right now, that will be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill all of you."

      Now I can't get him out my head either.

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  49. Occasionally, we Canadians need to be reminded that we have our own nut cases (Tristan Emmanuel) up here too.
    Oh, and Rob Ford.

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  50. My mother still tells the story of sneaking out with a friend to go watch the Ten Commandments in a theater as a teenager. It wasn't the content her parents had a problem with; their church considered all theaters sinful. I always boggled at that logic, but at least it makes more sense than Ham and his kind.

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  51. I'm not a anthropologist (actually a marine biologist),

    but my take on the existence of the universal flood myth comes from observation of early man.
    Finding marine fossils in inland areas and on hillsides/mountainsides. Man is very curious by nature and he seeks answers (it's what separates us from the domestic cat - he mainly seeks snackie)- early man finds a shell fossil, "where the heck did this come from? The sea is 4 days walk from here." People observe rivers rise and fall from snow melt, storms. Coastal people observe the tides, storm surge, seiche. They understand that flooding is one part of hydrology.

    Early man reasons "OK, I guess a big flood must have happened and put all those shells up on the hillside". Perfectly logical deduction given the information he has to work with (not knowing about continental drift, rise and fall of sea level from the ice ages, etc)

    But then he starts to think "why would there have been such a big flood to put those shells up on the hill?"

    And since he knows flood as by their nature destructive, a god that created such a large flood must have been angry for some reason.

    Peter

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    1. oops, hit publish before finished editing. Man creates gods to explain the natural world. A god that created such a large flood, it can be assumed by early man, must have done that action out of some anger, since floods for the most part are destructive in nature.
      My two cents on an early Tuesday.

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  52. "(What? There’s still sin? So I offed the unicorns for nothing? Motherfu…ur, I mean somebody is getting a plague of boils for this)."

    What you're not saying fuck out loud and proud now Jim? Despite all the warnings already on the site? Officially surprised (which is natch one step above merely flippin', ok, *fucken* surprised.) I am allowed to swear still here yeah?

    Otherwise, well said. You almost make me want to see this movie now an' that's sayin' something. Although I'm sure that's of No'ah'count.

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  53. Just waiting for the tide of bible-thumpers to come flooding in, screaming bloody murder about sin, hellfire, and leprosy. When I was younger, I'd try to find a way to reason with people like that, but that ship has sailed.

    Oh well, there's always more fish in the sea (all puns intended with malicious aforethought).

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  54. I always wondered why god spent forty days saving the animals when it only took a day to make 'em.

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    1. Oh, if you're going to get all Logical, then why didn't the Creator just wave his hand and make anything that displeased him just poof, vanish? Or struck by lightning, if he wanted to be dramatic and remind the few survivors that he was mad? No, humanity had to learn the lesson through worldwide genocide, mass extinction. Boy, we sure learned that lesson, so much so that religious people kept repeating it.

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  55. Still like the T shirt I saw better.

    Too many christians, so few lions.

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  56. According to Augustine of Hippo, each verse of the bible can be understood in a fourfold manner: literally, symbolically, allegorically, and anagogically. He then proves this in an interpretation of the first book of Genesis. It's the last book of his *Confessions*, for anyone interested. And it's a lovely bit of interpretation done by a master of the art. Note that he was also a master of rhetoric, so his arguments are *supposed* to sound plausible.

    At any rate, according to Aug, the literal level is the lowest level of reading comprehension, and is suitable for children and those of little understanding, whereas the anagogical is the closest to the divine and is reserved to those who have studied theology.
    Thus, the bible is always True, because the anagogical reading is always True.
    The literal reading suffers from too many inconsistencies to be true, even with a small 't'.

    Not that I expect the evangelical fundies to know or have read one of the great Christian theologians, because, well, Augustine was Black.

    Twisting bible verses and cherry picking has a long tradition in Christian religious history, which I study. So, the fundies don't bother me so much when they do that, since it's sort of a cult sport. I figure I can cherry pick in response. I also casually denigrate their chosen translations, because, you know, that's not what is says there in the original Greek, or Aramaic, or Hebrew, or Latin.

    As for those asking why the mainline Protestant churches aren't denouncing the fundies: they are. People of faith are already on the barricades supporting social justice. They just don't have the same platform that the megachurch fundies do, and many actually respect the separation of church and state and don't preach politics from the pulpit. They also tend to act with interfaith councils to address issues instead of standing on a soap box screaming frothily about the spittle-flecked fundies. They don't spend a lot of time talking to the media about 'what it means to be a real Christian', because they are actually doing it. There's no drama in interviewing rational people who lack the zealot's insistance that the earth is flat and instead believe that geology and astrophysics and evoltuion provide rational methods for looking at the world.

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  57. If anyone is interested in what Aronofsky has to say about it.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-raushenbush/noah-the-movie_b_5022132.html

    Raving religious lunatics. Can't live with 'em, can't kill 'em & bury them in the back yard.

    Pam in PA

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  58. I've seen The Ten Commandments multiple times, but I think my favorite version of the flood will always be Bill Cosby's.

    "Noah"
    "Whaaaaat?"
    "How long can you tread water? Ha ha ha ha"

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    1. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredApril 1, 2014 at 7:36 PM

      Worth a listen - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgsFCyD4nEw

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  59. Excellent review.
    Just to add: Ham writes "The script writers inserted the words "the Creator" wherever the word God should have been. They just didn't want to upset people by using that word". Or maybe they were just respecting the fact that everyone in the movie is Jewish, and as such would have a rule against ever speaking the name of God.

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  60. Now here is an interesting interpretation:

    http://drbrianmattson.com/journal/2014/3/31/sympathy-for-the-devil

    I know nearly nothing about Gnosticism, so really can't evaluate what is said here. But it sure makes me want to read up a bit on it.

    Bruce

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  61. Verrrry interesting... Actually makes me want to see it now.

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    1. Sent the link to my sis, and she said the same thing. Maybe they should put that in the ads?

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  62. You'd have been better off seeing the new Captain America movie, Jim.

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