Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing …

by John Holbo on October 7, 2009

More translation mysteries tonight. Conservapedia is calling for a Conservative Bible Project.

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[2]

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”;[5] using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
10. 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.”

They are basically planning to start with the King James Bible and then just make it say what they think it should. Not only do they apparently regard it as inessential to involve anyone with knowledge of the original texts – although they off-handedly contemplate this as a possibility – they are touting ‘mastery of English’ as one of the benefits those who help with the project can expect to reap. What can one say? I find it hard to believe the whole thing isn’t some sort of elaborate, Borat-style hoax. Could it be? (Is Conservapedia for real?) Discuss.

via Sadly, No!

{ 104 comments }

1

ed 10.07.09 at 4:40 pm

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing …

Oh, they know what they’re doing. They’re trying to further shape the sheep. It’s not a new thing. This is what organized religion does.

2

bryan 10.07.09 at 4:44 pm

more than a decade ago I was watching Politically Incorrect and one of the guests was some Republican shill whose new book on the true meanings of the bible and whatnot was being touted (another guest was Little Richard, who only freaked out once), anyway at one point the shill started saying how one of the Jesus’ disciples had been a publican, which was the archaic version of our modern word Republican – hence Jesus liked Republicans. (Maher gave him a look, oooo wow it was a really bad look though)

so anyway – “Is Conservapedia for real?”

I believe it is.

3

Salient 10.07.09 at 4:44 pm

Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story

I can only express my response to this in punctuation. Even then, it’s tricky. I will get back to you all once I have figured out the exact best combination of question marks and exclamation points to employ.

4

Jeff R. 10.07.09 at 4:46 pm

I myself would be stunned to learn that Conservapedia’s active membership was any less than 50% infiltrators and trolls…

5

Chris Dornan 10.07.09 at 4:48 pm

Priceless John, thanks!

6

Salient 10.07.09 at 4:53 pm

Of course, what these folks are really demonstrating is unfamiliarity with their local Borders’ bible bookshelf, which (if it’s anything like my local Borders’ bible bookshelf) has all kinds of hard-line translations.

But to take advantage of the invite to Discuss, I’m going to go ahead and troll a little bit:

consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”

Why not consistent use of the word God?

7

Substance McGravitas 10.07.09 at 4:57 pm

You go to hell with the sins you have, not the sins you wish you had.

8

Stuart 10.07.09 at 5:09 pm

Why not consistent use of the word God?

Isn’t the main claim of the constitution being “Christian” that is has “in the year of our Lord” or similar in it? Maybe the aim here is to support that interpretation (obviously you have to ignore the “separation of Church and State” bit, but that is a given).

9

Hidari 10.07.09 at 5:13 pm

The bible so that American Conservatives can understand it? But it’s already been done!

http://www.lolcatbible.com/index.php?title=Genesis_1

Still a bit librl though.

10

Steve LaBonne 10.07.09 at 5:18 pm

Why does Jesus hate America?

11

Scott Martens 10.07.09 at 5:21 pm

Geez, even Joseph Smith settled for just footnoting the KJV.

12

Walt 10.07.09 at 5:22 pm

That has _got_ to be a joke.

13

rosmar 10.07.09 at 5:25 pm

I really like this one, which has ratings already assigned:

http://www.thebricktestament.com/

14

alex 10.07.09 at 5:28 pm

If it were a joke, it would be funnier.

15

Substance McGravitas 10.07.09 at 5:36 pm

The talk page is interesting. Andy Schlafly is all over it.

http://conservapedia.com/Talk:Conservative_Bible_Project

16

John 10.07.09 at 5:45 pm

I guess they are following in the tradition of the KJV but more ineptly. After all, one of its design points was to exalt Authority, specifically royal and episcopal authority. At least the translators though worked from the original texts. Conservatives in those days were rather better educated than the Yahoos driving this silliness..

17

mart 10.07.09 at 5:56 pm

Must be a spoof. Consider the following…

“3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]”

and

“updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word””

Genius.

18

hardindr 10.07.09 at 5:58 pm

19

mart 10.07.09 at 6:05 pm

did some browsing on Conservapedia because of this, and found this brilliant list for questions about “open-mindedness”:

1. Do you resist admitting the possibility that a conservative approach to education is far more effective for students than a liberal one?
2. Do you resist admitting that something you accepted for over a decade is, in fact, completely false?
3. Do you resist the possibility that Hollywood values result in significant harm for those who believe in them, and to innocent bystanders?
4. Do you think it is impossible that increased gun ownership reduces the rate of crime?
5. When President Ronald Reagan told Mr. Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, did you think that it was impossible for the Berlin Wall to be torn down?
6. Did you think, or still think, that the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) is impossible?
7. Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is authentic?
8. Do you think that there must be a material explanation for remarkable homing and migration behavior of birds and butterflies?
9. Do you think that it is impossible for the speed of light to have been different in the past?
10. Do you think that it is impossible to measure openmindedness?
11. Do you think that evolution [2] must have occurred?
12. Do you think that is impossible for the power of 2 in Newtonian gravity, whereby the gravitational force is proportional to 1/r2, to be more precise with an exponent that is slightly different from 2, such as a gravitational force proportional to 1/r2.00000001?
13. Do you resist admitting that some things taught to you in school are completely false, and even known to be false by some responsible for the material?

It must be a spoof.

20

Steve LaBonne 10.07.09 at 6:07 pm

mart- that’s even funnier than the Bible project.

21

Alex 10.07.09 at 6:15 pm

updating words which have a change in meaning, such as … “peace”

“Slavery”, “freedom”, “ignorance”, “strength” will be updated in due course.

22

roac 10.07.09 at 6:22 pm

For a fascinating account of the origin of the King James Version, see this treatise.

23

NomadUK 10.07.09 at 6:34 pm

Do you think that is impossible for the power of 2 in Newtonian gravity, whereby the gravitational force is proportional to 1/r2, to be more precise with an exponent that is slightly different from 2, such as a gravitational force proportional to 1/r2.00000001?

I — um — er —

What the fucking fuck?

24

Richard J 10.07.09 at 6:39 pm

I think that’s something to do with Conservopedia’s strange dislike of Einstein’s theories.

25

Steve LaBonne 10.07.09 at 6:49 pm

I think that’s something to do with Conservopedia’s strange dislike of Einstein’s theories.

Well, he was a Jewish soc!alist. (Kind of like Jesus.) So how could he have been right?

26

Substance McGravitas 10.07.09 at 6:53 pm

27

lemuel pitkin 10.07.09 at 6:55 pm

Conservapedia is jsut the Andy Schlafy show, I think. IIRC he and his students are the main contributors; to a first approximation it’s just a reference site for his homeschool program. I’d be wary of assuming this represents any larger trend.

28

Keith 10.07.09 at 7:06 pm

Unlike most of physics, the theories of relativity consist of complex mathematical equations relying on several hypotheses.

This is from the Theory of Relativity page on Conservapedia. It’s… breathtaking. The whole article is basically a long, overwrought argument for how relativity is false because it can’t be tested, violates Newtonian theories and somehow leads to moral relativism.

It occurs to me that Conservapedia is exactly what critics feared Wikipedia would become: a vast collection of idiotic babble masquerading as authoritative information.

29

Sebastian 10.07.09 at 7:12 pm

I’m with Jeff (#4) – Conservapedia is just too much every smart-ass fun-at-wingnuts pocking liberals wet dream to be true.

30

lemuel pitkin 10.07.09 at 7:12 pm

Conservapedia is exactly what critics feared Wikipedia would become: a vast collection of idiotic babble masquerading as authoritative information.

No it’s not.

Idiotic, yes, but it’s the product of one idiot, not a vast babble. Try calling up a dozen random Conservapedia pages and check the history — you’ll see the majority of entries were created by Andy Schlafly. A significant fraction of them are actually coursework for his students.

Conservapedia may present itself as the wikipedia of the right, but it’s as comically wrong about that as about as everything else.

31

C.S. Lewis 10.07.09 at 7:24 pm

It is amusing, but it’s not just Republicans who do this. Recall the Jefferson Bible, the Tolstoy Bible, the 4-color Bible, …. Curiously, the authors all tend to find that the real Jesus agreed with them. Here we go again.

32

Michael 10.07.09 at 7:42 pm

Apparantly the media isn’t the only thing with a liberal bias.

33

Nick Barnes 10.07.09 at 7:52 pm

The Conservative Bible Project is the rebirth of the Bible Retranslation Project. That totally failed to get off the ground, possibly because an actually knowledgeable person DeniseM got involved, and started asking Schlafly questions which he is plainly unequipped to handle, such as “How do people want to transliterate אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ?” or “how do people here render ויהי בימי אחשורוש הוא אחשורוש המלך מהדו ועד כוש שבע ועשרים ומאה מדינה?”. To get an entirely fair and balanced impression of Schlafly, read some of the discussions on the previous project’s talk page. For instance, the conversation he has about teenagers.
I already did some ranting/gloating about the new project, and how it spells the end of the Republican Grand Alliance, on my blog.

34

Chris 10.07.09 at 7:55 pm

@19: Some of those questions are actually interesting. For example,

8. Do you think that there must be a material explanation for remarkable homing and migration behavior of birds and butterflies?

I think there *is* such an explanation, but does that mean there *must* be one? That sounds like a claim of modal necessity. Clearly it’s not *necessary* that birds and butterflies exist at all, let alone exhibit those behaviors, let alone do so in a materially explained way. All those things are contingently true.

On the other hand, I can’t really take that approach to

7. Do you think that it is impossible that the Shroud of Turin is authentic?

ISTM that “the Shroud of Turin” refers to the specific, proven fake one, and that if some other universe had an authentic shroud in Turin (alternate-Turin?), it wouldn’t be *the* Shroud of Turin that the question is about. So the fakeness of the Shroud of Turin is necessary in a sense that the material explainability of migration isn’t.

I think this stems from the fact that “birds” is a category, not an identification of a specific object; if another universe contained organisms that looked and acted like Earth birds except that they didn’t migrate or did so for nonmaterial reasons (whatever that means — and did the author of this quiz really believe that migratory birds are guided by angels or something?), I might still be willing to accept them as birds, but an alternate-universe genuine shroud wouldn’t be *the* Shroud of Turin (although they might call it that in that universe).

There’s a lot more philosophical depth than you might expect from such a blatantly self-serving list.

35

John Quiggin 10.07.09 at 8:01 pm

LP, I did your test. Of a dozen random pages, two were created by Schlafly and one was a homework page for the students. So, it’s not just a Schlafly project, but it’s certainly not a large-scale collaboration like Wikipedia.It’s apparently ranked #37 for traffic among conservative sites between Powerline and Redstate

http://newsjunkiepost.com/2009/10/07/top-50-conservative-websites-reveal-alarming-patterns/

36

matthew kuzma 10.07.09 at 8:09 pm

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.”

This guideline is awfully cluttered with Liberal Wordiness. First, concision is more concise than conciseness by two letters. Also, few ambiguities are necessary, so why the extra qualifier? Finally, “style of high word-to-substance ratio” means the same thing as “wordiness” and it’s more concise and consistent. At that point your first clause is just a repeat of the topic title and can be omitted. Clarifying statements are liberal wordiness.

This whole topic reminds me of a Bill Hicks line: “They claim the Bible is the word of God… then they change the Bible!”

37

etbnc 10.07.09 at 8:15 pm

38

Substance McGravitas 10.07.09 at 8:22 pm

I confess to past contributions to the Conservapedia, although not lightly enough for continued inclusion.

39

mollymooly 10.07.09 at 8:38 pm

It seems they’re only redoing the New Testament. I guess even Conservapedia feels the Old Testament doesn’t have enough liberal bias to worry about. Or maybe its because “Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages” would otherwise apply to the entire NT.

40

Keith 10.07.09 at 8:42 pm

LP@30:

Way back in the mists of 2005 or so, when Wkipedia was first getting noticed, a lot of the concerns I heard (from skeptical librarians and academics, especially) was that there was no obvious mechanism to stop Wikipedia from being hijacked by a group of people who would then skew all the articles towards their personal bias. (The clincher here was that there was and is a mechanism to prevent this from happening in Wikipedia, just not one obvious to non-tech people circa 2005). I was just suggesting, in an off hand way, that Conservapedia took that concern and ran with it as their playbook.

But about this Conservative Bible project– wow. That takes just the right amount of chutzpah, ignorance and skin-deep self awareness to not just conceive of it but decide that it should become a reality. But then, that’s pretty much the YEC home school crowd all over.

41

bianca steele 10.07.09 at 8:42 pm

Yes, it’s hard to believe it’s not a joke. I mean, you try really, really hard to figure out a way it could make sense, and then you look again, and sadly, no.

And yes, on the Interwebs “open-minded” now means being willing to reject all the librul stuff they teach in schools and universities (except–presumably–Notre Dame). If it’s a home-schooling thing, that’s news to me, but I guess it isn’t surprising either, since propagandists aren’t likely to identify themselves as such.

42

sg 10.07.09 at 8:49 pm

A conservative Bible uses the richness provided in part by conservative language to fully convey the concepts. The original Greek and Hebrew may help sometimes, or they may be inadequate. “Logos” in the beginning of John illustrates this point, as the term is merely the best the Greek has to offer. “Truth” as fully understood and used today, as developed and popularized by the conservative movement (it’s rarely used by the Left), is a better term to convey the concept.–Andy Schlafly 16:56, 18 August 2009 (EDT)

From the talk page. These people are classic. They even have their own language, “conservative language” and liberals don’t use the word “truth”.

w00t

43

sg 10.07.09 at 8:59 pm

also, I noticed on the talk page Nick Barnes linked to that andy schafly’s first comment was on xmas day. Surely a good christian like him should be doing something else on xmas day?

44

Gene O'Grady 10.07.09 at 9:16 pm

On the animus toward Einstein, years ago when I used to browse “Christian” book stores in the hope of occasionally finding something of interest I found a place on old Calle Principal in Monterey, home of many wonderful small bookstores over the years, that indicted the six guys who had wrecked the modern world — Wellhausen, Einstein, Freud, Keynes, Marx, and I can’t remember the other one. So the association is an old one.

I was, however, impressed that they had heard of Wellhausen.

45

Keith 10.07.09 at 9:22 pm

…the six guys who had wrecked the modern world—Wellhausen, Einstein, Freud, Keynes, Marx, and I can’t remember the other one.

Kinsey? Given the Conservative preoccupation with Teh Gay, and sex in general, I can see why they might think Al was bad news.

46

Substance McGravitas 10.07.09 at 9:25 pm

“Logos” in the beginning of John illustrates this point, as the term is merely the best the Greek has to offer.

Comment at Sadly, No:

Thorlac and the Swampy Nether Regions said,
October 5, 2009 at 21:45

[…]

Yeah, Greek was such a naive language as the speakers were unconcerned with matters of morality or, even, philosophy.

47

Anderson 10.07.09 at 9:29 pm

FWIW, they’re idiots, but the title of the post quotes Luke 23:34, which really is a dubious verse — Codex Vaticanus doesn’t have it, for instance. Non-wacky translations like the NRSV note this.

… Now, the idea that there were Bible-emending “liberals” in the fourth century A.D. requires some ‘splainin’ ….

48

Salient 10.07.09 at 9:34 pm

Well, names like Revised Standard and New Revised Standard are taken already.

They can call this edition the Revised American Standard.

49

Anderson 10.07.09 at 9:35 pm

(Luke 23:34 exculpates the Roman soldiers who actually crucified Jesus, so it looks very much like the kind of verse that a persecuted church trying to make nice with the Roman authorities would slip in … or, contrariwise, the kind of verse that some angry victims of Roman persecution would omit.)

50

CJColucci 10.07.09 at 9:36 pm

Who, exactly, is going to find this ConservaTestament useful or — to use its creators’ ultimate test of value — worth paying for? No recognized religion will adopt it, and tell its flock to use it, so it will lack religious authority. No reputable biblical scholar or linguist will endorse it, so it will lack scholarly credibility. If Andy Schlafly is writing it, it will lack aesthetic merit. And for those who might actually like the “ideas” in it, it is quite unnecessary, since their existing concept of the Bible’s content is an incoherent mash-up of Ben-Hur, Paradise Lost, The Divine Comedy, and whatever moral, political, or social beliefs they picked up off the street and read back into scripture. The Greeks had a word for this kind of project.

51

Glen Tomkins 10.07.09 at 9:38 pm

This is hardly new

This is somewhat more inartful than the standard fundamentalist approach to the Bible, in that the intent to fix the text around the pre-existent bias is made more explicit and programatic than is usually the case. But it is in no other way unusual. And the fundamentalist approach to the Bible has already met this objection, at least to its own satisfaction, so this criticism will be like water off a duck’s back. The problem is that they don’t experience their pre-existent biases as anything but a manifestation of God’s will.
Fundamentalists believe that there is straightforward, unambiguous moral order in this world. The Christian branch of the tribe believes that the Bible is, as they themselves put it, “The Owner’s Manual for the Soul”, the set of specific instructions for how we all need to live our lives in this world given to us by God. As sort of a backup source of order, and an aid to understanding the manual’s prescriptions, God also gave us each a conscience, which the fundamentalists believe tells all of us the same thing, and what our consciences tell us all to do is the same as what the Bible commands. How could it be otherwise, from a God who wants His order to reign on earth as it does in Heaven? How could He not make His Bible-written commandments for how He wants us to live both complete and sufficient to please Him, and also completely compatible with His commandments as written in our hearts?

So, of course, every unexamined prejudice written in the hearts of the fundamentalists must find its expression in the Bible as they understand it. Modern self-styled Christians hate fags, therefore that passage in Leviticus about sleeping not with a man in a womanly bed has got to be about the filthy and disgusting practices of gay men. It doesn’t matter at all, it doesn’t raise the least suspicion in their minds that they are distorting the text to fit their prejudices, that generations of ancient Jewish commentators, who, at least by the time of the Maccabees, were almost certainly fairly homophobic themselves, failed to see a condemnation of homosexuality here, failed to understand WTF the passage refers to, in fact. Similarly, the Sodom and Gomorrah story just has to mean that homosexuality was the Sin of Sodom, no matter that Talmudic scholars did not read this into this story either, no matter that such a reading makes Lot’s offer of his daughters to the mob in place of the angels distinctly comical. What — he’s lived among them 50 years, and hasn’t figured out that his neighbors are gay yet?

If you’re a movement conservative, you have to believe that there’s this thing called Liberalism that is basically the root of all evil. If you’re also a fundamentalist Christian, you have to believe that God wouldn’t endorse liberal positions in the Owner’s Manual that He wrote for us. If conservative principles are a true guide to right living, then the Owner’s Manual, the One True Way, must, if propperly translated and interpreted, endorse conservative principles and deny liberal ones. Therefore anything in the Bible that seems liberal is either a mistranslation, or at the very least poor wording that creates the impression that liberal positions are not uniformly anathema. They wouldn’t see as at all distortion of the Bible, a project aimed at removing what they would see as the detritus and dross allowed to grow over the underlying, movement conservative, truth of the Bible by translations that were either intentionally biased by those liberal academics who produced them, or at least were produced in earlier eras that were not as perspicuous about wording things so as to prevent misunderstanding of the Bible as promoting liberalism.

52

Substance McGravitas 10.07.09 at 9:39 pm

Who, exactly, is going to find this ConservaTestament useful or—to use its creators’ ultimate test of value—worth paying for?

Pay? I predict Guideline 11: Keep every sentence under 140 characters.

53

Anderson 10.07.09 at 9:40 pm

I predict Guideline 11: Keep every sentence under 140 characters.

What Would Jesus Twitter?

54

sg 10.07.09 at 10:17 pm

No CJColucci, the Greeks had a “truth” for this sort of project. “Word” has been devalued, didn’t you get the memo?

55

mollymooly 10.07.09 at 10:27 pm

six guys who had wrecked the modern world—Wellhausen, Einstein, Freud, Keynes, Marx, and I can’t remember the other one.

The closest google match is Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave Dave Breese. Paperback 235 pages. Moody Press, 1990.

“The seven men are Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Julius Wellhausen, Sigmund Freud, John Dewey, John Maynard Keynes, and Soren Kierkegaard. Needless to say, these are men who, in Breese’s estimation, have influenced society for the worse. Because of this categorization, an eighth man given space in this book, Albert Einstein, is not listed with the other seven. Breese contends that Einstein did not deliberately attempt to influence society adversely, but others misconstrued his theories.”

56

Uncle Kvetch 10.07.09 at 10:43 pm

Breese contends that Einstein did not deliberately attempt to influence society adversely, but others misconstrued his theories.

Kinda how I feel about Led Zeppelin.

57

Ex-PD 10.07.09 at 11:03 pm

I’m still trying to figure out the thing about inverse-square equations.

58

Phil 10.07.09 at 11:11 pm

The seven men are Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Julius Wellhausen, Sigmund Freud, John Dewey, John Maynard Keynes, and Soren Kierkegaard.

You know, you could do a lot worse. Marx, Freud and Dewey are a killer team, and adding Kierkegaard – whoa.

(No, really.)

59

Evil Bender 10.07.09 at 11:25 pm

I honestly haven’t been able to stop chuckling over this translation project. As one raised in evangelical Christianity, I’ve known for decades that bible translation is routinely twisted by those seeking to defend otherwise indefensible positions.

I just never thought I’d see anyone be so up-front about admitting their agenda. When people like this say what they really think is where insight–and humor–arise.

60

Down and Out of Sài Gòn 10.07.09 at 11:39 pm

I’m still trying to figure out the thing about inverse-square equations.

Many fundamentalists know Newton’s inverse-square equations already and like the way you can solve Gravity with a simple calculator. They feel bringing in tensor calculus is over-complicating things, and unnecessary over-complication is a mark of the devil to mislead and deceive the unwary.

61

kid bitzer 10.08.09 at 12:27 am

actually, i thought the question about the inverse square law was (possibly) pretty interesting.

i mean–i take it that the fact that gravity happens to work via an inverse square law in our universe is a nomological necessity, but a metaphysical contingency. it could have been an inverse cube. (lots of other physical relations go by an inverse cube).

so i’m happy to say that i do *not* “think that is impossible for the power of 2 in Newtonian gravity, whereby the gravitational force is proportional to 1/r2″ to be the power of 3, for instance. of course, it’s actually 2. but it could have been 3. that sounds right to me.

and given that, i don’t see why i shouldn’t say that it could have been 2.0001 or whatever they say. sure; that would have been a less elegant world. but the elegance of the world is not a necessity; some of it (at least) is contingent.

(would the physical relation that obtained in this alternate scenario still be *gravity*? i’m inclined to say “yes”, provided that it still attracts masses to each other, still varies with the masses, still bends light, etc. but maybe others will want to argue that it is essential to gravity–our gravity–that it should go by an inverse square rather than by a cube.)

now–i don’t think this line of reasoning is what the conservapedia nuts are on about, because they phrase it in terms of whether it is “impossible…for it to be more precise” as 2.000blahblah rather than 2. that’s a claim that 2 might be an imprecise measurement of our own, actual gravity. that’s more an epistemic question; is it possible that we are wrong in our current measurements? well, yeah; sure.

but that conversation would take us in the direction of, say, experimental evidence, data, measurements, etc., and i’m pretty sure that the schlaffers don’t want to go there, either.

oh–and on the right-wing hatred of einstein: there’s a great quote from jacobo timerman about how the torturers in the argentinian junta told him that everything was the fault of marx, freud, and einstein.

62

Steve LaBonne 10.08.09 at 12:45 am

Actually, unbeknownst to idiot Schafly, physicists are perfectly aware of the possibility of small deviations from the inverse-square law of gravity and new tests of it are performed from time to time. Thus far no such deviation has been detected.

oh—and on the right-wing hatred of einstein: there’s a great quote from jacobo timerman about how the torturers in the argentinian junta told him that everything was the fault of marx, freud, and einstein.

Gee, what do those three have in common. Thinking, thinking…

63

bad Jim 10.08.09 at 3:39 am

Since the conservative answer to each of the “open-mindedness” questions appears to be no, I’d surmise that some deviation from the inverse-square law is required by a particular creationist theory, just as a variable speed of light is required by a 6,000 year old universe. These guys probably do have a beef with Einstein, but I’d bet that all they know about relativity is its name. Some of them even have a beef with Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle notwithstanding its originator’s gentile ancestry.

64

Salient 10.08.09 at 3:56 am

I’d surmise that some deviation from the inverse-square law is required by a particular creationist theory,

Is the “deviation from the inverse-square law” thing not widely recognized?

If I recall correctly, that was some kind of pre-relativity conjecture, I think originating in Maxwell’s time. Its origins are not quackery, IIRC; if memory serves I first heard about it in high school in the context of “how scientists first tried to accommodate experimental data that didn’t fit the model” as a lead into the 20th-century physics overview. Anyhow. Lots of folks seem very interested, so I’ll seek out some more specific details tomorrow.

65

Barbar 10.08.09 at 4:08 am

Whenever Conservapedia comes up I feel compelled to point out that Schafly was Barack Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law.

66

bad Jim 10.08.09 at 5:04 am

I’m not going to argue that deviation isn’t being proposed as an alternative to Einstein. I was making a guess that it was a solution to a problem raised by the young earth hypothesis. It might conceivably be a politically correct approach to the issues of dark matter and dark energy instead.

The inverse square laws for gravity and electromagnetism used to be seen as straightforward confirmation of the 3-dimensional Euclidean geometry of the universe, as obvious as the formula for the area of the surface of a sphere, which suggests that, whether they know it or not, they’re arguing for a slight curve to space-time.

67

Alex 10.08.09 at 8:14 am

Hilariously, whilst the torturers of the Naval Mechanics’ School were at work on Timerman, up the road, Argentina was frantically building a gaseous diffusion plant to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb. Einstein! (In fact, as came up on Armscontrolwonk earlier this week, they never got it working and had to buy from the Soviet Union to fulfil their contract to supply the Tehran research reactor. The things you learn from blogs.)

Anyway, what really horrifies me about this is that they want to start with the prose of the King James version and monkey it down to the standards of Pastor Swank.

68

ajay 10.08.09 at 10:33 am

The seven men are Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Julius Wellhausen, Sigmund Freud, John Dewey, John Maynard Keynes, and Soren Kierkegaard.

I’m seeing Yul Brynner as Keynes, James Coburn as Darwin, Robert Vaughn as Kierkegaard, Steve McQueen as Freud, Charles Bronson as Marx…

“John, we go up against Calvera and his men, a lot of us are going to come back dead.”
“Karl, you know what I always say: in the long run, we’re all dead.”

69

Stuart 10.08.09 at 11:42 am

From the talk page. These people are classic. They even have their own language, “conservative language” and liberals don’t use the word “truth”.

I wonder if they have watched “A Few Good Men” too many times, and imagine conservatives as hard bitten realists who know the “Truth” is too difficult and all the woolly liberals have to hide from it?

70

chris y 10.08.09 at 11:52 am

Chris @34. Some of these questions might be interesting if they were asked in good faith, but if you tried to explain to the Schlafly gang what was interesting about them, they’d simply accuse you of changing the subject, or else twist your ideas out of recognition. In dealing with people of this kidney, the answer to -

Do you think that there must be a material explanation for remarkable homing and migration behavior of birds and butterflies?

is, “Yes. If you had the moral compass of a demented magpie, I might qualify that answer, but you don’t deserve that I do.”

71

Saul Kripke 10.08.09 at 12:42 pm

… an alternate-universe genuine shroud wouldn’t be the Shroud of Turin (although they might call it that in that universe).

False.

72

Michael Drake 10.08.09 at 1:02 pm

The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the Wiki has no such concern.

73

Kenny Easwaran 10.08.09 at 1:22 pm

When I googled Andy Schlafly to see if he was in fact related to Phyllis Schlafly (he turns out to be her son) I was impressed at the number of wiki “encyclopedias” that came up. This is probably the only search I’ve done where more than one such wiki encyclopedia came up in the first page of results. It starts with Wikipedia and Conservapedia, as one might expect, but continues with Rationalwiki, Encyclopedia Dramatica, Wikiality, and Uncyclopedia, among others. Can anyone come up with another search term that brings up a similar list of earnest and/or satire encyclopedias on the first page?

74

Ginger Yellow 10.08.09 at 2:06 pm

I would imagine that “wiki” works fairly well.

75

roac 10.08.09 at 2:31 pm

I’m seeing Yul Brynner as Keynes, James Coburn as Darwin, Robert Vaughn as Kierkegaard, Steve McQueen as Freud, Charles Bronson as Marx…

Ha! Ajay couldn’t remember Brad Dexter as Willhausen! I win!

76

Chris 10.08.09 at 2:43 pm

@72: I haven’t tried, but would suggest either “Wikipedia” or the names of one of the other alternate wikis or their founders. They seem to spend a lot of time and attention sniping at each other and otherwise differentiating themselves from the Big One. (Splitters.)

WP is big enough that it seems to create a polarization for or against it, and most of the alternative wikis are founded by people of the “against” persuasion. (Obviously including Conservapedia.) Often they devote quite a bit of attention to the thing they are reacting against.

77

Mike C 10.08.09 at 2:46 pm

I agree with them, in the sense that any translation of the Bible will inherently contain the bias of whomever was charged with reconciling the language barrier. Obviously, their translation won’t be any better (well, obviously to us). I think I’ll footnote this exact instance next time I’m called upon to explain my agnosticism.

On an unrelated note, if they’re still looking for a title, I nominate the Revised American Translation, Standardization And Supervised Selection.

78

MarkUp 10.08.09 at 3:07 pm

Think we’ll be able to read the first draft Thursday Next?

BTW, I’ll personcott any film version w/o Mad Max Mel in the lead.

79

alex 10.08.09 at 3:19 pm

“I’ll personcott…”

*Sigh*. An eponym is a terrible thing to lose…

Since we’re talking Wikis:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Boycott

80

Anderson 10.08.09 at 4:30 pm

When I googled Andy Schlafly to see if he was in fact related to Phyllis Schlafly (he turns out to be her son)

Wow. Gotta feel for the poor kid.

81

Uncle Kvetch 10.08.09 at 4:46 pm

Wow. Gotta feel for the poor kid.

She has another son who is arguably even more unfortunate.

82

MarkUp 10.08.09 at 5:09 pm

#79 “Sigh. An eponym is a terrible thing to lose…”

Yes, I openly admit to failing guideline rule #2, as well it seems, having a sense of humor or the ability to do the google thingy. I will revise my behavior, with your consent of course.

83

Salient 10.08.09 at 5:33 pm

Minute deviation from the inverse-square law is indeed a modern attempt to accommodate dark energy, but it’s nothing new (an entertaining and accessible history of the deviation-from-Newton’s-laws problem is here.)

Example research dealing directly with the topic: a 1999 paper titled “Deviations from the 1/r2 Newton law due to extra dimensions” by A. Kehagias and K. Sfetsos, and a 2003 paper titled “Correction terms to Newton law due to induced gravity in AdS background” by Masato Ito, are two papers I found interesting (and more or less readable). They’re findable on ScienceDirect for those with access.

I don’t know if this paper and a few others like it, which I’ll be spending the rest of my afternoon making sense of, qualify.

I’ll be honest, from my far-more-naive-than-it-ought-to-be perspective, deviation from the inverse-square law in extreme cases seems about as inevitable as deviation from F = ma in extreme cases.

84

Stuart 10.08.09 at 5:59 pm

Maybe my understanding of science is incomplete, but if there are deviations from a law in extreme cases, doesn’t that make it not a law, but rather a useful empirical observation for the vast majority of cases?

85

Jon H 10.08.09 at 6:44 pm

Schlafly also believes there was no genuine humor before Christ.

(Because, really, nothing gets a room laughing like a good scourging and crucifixion, amirite?)

86

Substance McGravitas 10.08.09 at 6:46 pm

Schlafly also believes there was no genuine humor before Christ.

No cream pies. Duh.

87

Robert P. 10.08.09 at 6:59 pm

That business about tiny deviations from the inverse square law is an old obsession of
Andy Schlafly’s. He argued about it endlessly on usenet (sci.astro) some years ago. He
wanted to adjust the exponent so as to explain the precession of the perihelion of Mercury without recourse to General Relativity.

Any also has strong opinions about pure mathematics. He seems to hate the Axiom of Choice for some obscure reason.

88

Salient 10.08.09 at 7:06 pm

Maybe my understanding of science is incomplete, but if there are deviations from a law in extreme cases, doesn’t that make it not a law…

Not at all. Fick’s laws are a canonical example. (And we still call Newton’s laws of motion “laws” despite their inaccuracy in extreme cases.)

89

neil 10.08.09 at 7:37 pm

Conservapedia is fully for real (though probably not all of the articles are). Andy Schlafly fought his own personal culture war on Wikipedia for many years until he finally got sick of the other editors’ inability to recognize the truth of his writings, and started his own site where the correctness of his ideas was the guiding principle.

90

Ex-PD 10.08.09 at 9:16 pm

87, 89

What an obsessive weirdo.

91

Anderson 10.08.09 at 9:38 pm

He seems to hate the Axiom of Choice for some obscure reason.

Liberal names! “Axiom of Life” would clearly be superior.

92

Ricosquirrel 10.08.09 at 10:33 pm

Hmm…this seems like an excellent project. For too long the Word has been diluted by well meaning liberals and cultural- relatavists.

I am so excited I’m off to commit the Sin of Onan.

93

Scott 10.09.09 at 12:38 am

“He seems to hate the Axiom of Choice for some obscure reason.”

So he can’t swallow the Banach-Tarsky paradox. What’s so odd about that?

94

Peter Fisk 10.09.09 at 6:46 am

Al Franken already beat the wingnuts to it:

95

Salient 10.09.09 at 12:21 pm

So he can’t swallow the Banach-Tarsky paradox. What’s so odd about that?

I confess to having thought, in response to Robert P’s comment, “eh, as opposed to the straightforward reasons the rest of us are vaguely bothered by it?”

Wikipedia is delightfully incisive about this: “The existence of nonmeasurable sets, such as those in the Banach–Tarski paradox, has been used as an argument against the axiom of choice. Nevertheless, most mathematicians are willing to tolerate the existence of nonmeasurable sets, given that the axiom of choice has many other mathematically useful consequences.”

Willing to tolerate sounds about right — granted I’m just an apprentice at this point, but that seems consonant with folks’ feelings. Isn’t the purpose of axiom selection to maximize the mathematically useful consequences we can achieve, under the constraints of parsimony and consistency?

96

kid bitzer 10.09.09 at 1:25 pm

you remember that footnote in sokal, right?

“Just as liberal feminists are frequently content with a minimal agenda of legal and social equality for women and ‘pro-choice’, so liberal (and even some socialist) mathematicians are often content to work within the hegemonic Zermelo-Fraenkel framework (which, reflecting its nineteenth-century liberal origins, already incorporates the axiom of equality) supplemented only by the axiom of choice.”

i’m thinking that schlaffers never figured out the sokal hoax is a hoax.

97

Keith M Ellis 10.09.09 at 2:59 pm

So, they are taking the KJV as authoritative and “re-translating” the NT from it? Wow. That indicates a stunning degree of ignorance, as anyone with even a small degree of competence in koine greek knows that the KJV is not a very good translation to begin with. (Not their fault, really.) Well, maybe I should say it’s not a very reliable translation, but it is a good translation—with “good” including things like literary merit.

BTW, Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible and the Revolution It Inspired is a pretty good history of the King James bible.

Given that the context here is supposedly “scholarly”—that is, Conservapedia intends to be some kind of reliable authority—I think it is extremely revealing that they would even contemplate a bible translation outside of competency in the language of the original texts. This makes it clear that they are intellectual frauds.

At least a lot of evangelicals attempt to learn some koine—my experience is that they tend to be much less competent than they think they are, but still—and so it’s not as if Conservapedia couldn’t enlist people who have at least a small clue about what they’re attempting. But then, of course, any knowledge of the original texts would tie their hands to some degree, wouldn’t it?

98

CJColucci 10.09.09 at 8:22 pm

If nothing else good comes of this, I at least had reason to learn about Julius Wellhausen.

99

John Quiggin 10.09.09 at 10:21 pm

@CJColucci Me too

100

J 10.09.09 at 11:41 pm

Following up Mart #19

After those who doubted George Bush have been proven wrong over and over again, after he has been vindicated in every particular, do you still find yourself doubting that he is a genius anointed by God (sorry the Lord!) to rule humankind? If so, don’t you think to open your mind to the truth free of liberal bias?

101

splashy 10.11.09 at 10:01 am

Sounds like Constatine all over again, only on steroids. If you look at the history of the Bible, you will see that this has been done before, to emphasize authority and the rule of “betters.”

So, will they take out the Sermon on the Mount, with lines like “Blessed are the peacemakers” which seem pretty liberal to me?

102

ajay 10.12.09 at 9:34 am

If nothing else good comes of this, I at least had reason to learn about Julius Wellhausen.

Me too! The other six I knew about and could more or less understand as hate figures:
Charles Darwin – obviously, suggested people descended from MONKEYS
Karl Marx – invented international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify America
Sigmund Freud – implied honest people have naughty thoughts
John Dewey – a bit less sure; but I’m guessing that he offended Christian glassblowers by classifying glass-blowing as 6.66 in his system of library classification.
John Maynard Keynes – invented socialism
Soren Kierkegaard – bit the heads off ferrets.

103

hoi polloi 10.12.09 at 3:20 pm

@ajay — assuming you know that John is not responsible for the Dewey Decimal System.

The key question viz. library classification is why the Library of Congress puts the Bible under BS.

104

Geoff 10.12.09 at 6:01 pm

To paraphrase the Rumsfeld-esque Assistant Secretary of State for Policy in In The Loop, they want to make the Bible reflect was was intended to have been said, rather than what was actually said.

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