Monday, December 8, 2014

The Bible is inerrant - sort of, sometimes, if you close your eyes and wish

I used to know a young man who was very religious. Unlike some of that ilk, he wasn't annoying about it: you could talk to him for long periods without the subject coming up at all. Over time, however, enough leaked out to make it plain that he took his Christianity very seriously.
One day we happened to be talking about books we had read and he mentioned the Bible, almost apologetically, but still asserting that this had to be the "greatest book of all".
Curious, I asked him why he would say that. Without hesitation, he answered.
"Because I've never found it to be wrong."
I hesitated. That word "wrong" can have such slippery meaning in the world of religion. Depending upon who is saying it, it can mean that that they literally believe everything the Bible says. More usually it means something akin to "I believe what the Bible teaches me", which leaves all the contradictions, inconsistencies and plain errors of fact to be as they are.

Inerrant

"Do you mean the Bible is inerrant?", I asked.
That actually means very little. Biblical inerrancy cheerfully ignores errors, inaccuracy and contradiction. I just wanted to see how much attention he was paying to his religious leader.
He agreed that he thought the Bible to be inerrant. I asked a more direct question.
"Are there any contradictions in the Bible?"
To my surprise, he immediately answered in the negative. That's unusual, because a person insisting on that plainly has not paid close attention to their reading - or may not have read at all. I decided to find out.
"Have you ever read it?", I asked.

Of course I have read it

That question set him back a bit. His retort was as expected - of course he had read it.
I asked him if he had his Bible with him. He had a copy back at his desk and we went to fetch it. I thumbed through it and found the first passage I wanted.
I had him read that out loud and then flipped to another section. This is John telling the same story. It's a bit different from Matthew's version.

So which is it? Did Jesus sullenly refuse to answer or was he a smart aleck?
I know that "inerrancy" doesn't require these passages to match, but this young man did not. He was embarrassed, so I took it upon myself to explain to him the slippery nature of these claims and advised him to go have a talk with his pastor for further explanation.
I don't know that he did and, if he did, who knows what his paster might have said? He might just dismiss it with "The Devil can quote Scripture" or he might have simply noted that the different accounts are designed to teach different things. He might have also insisted that the refusal was one part of the questioning and that the answers came later. It hardly matters: there is always some way to wipe away any contradiction or error.

The purpose of the Gospels

A Christian may easily forget (or may not even know) that those who wrote these stories had no idea that they would someday be bound together in the New Testament. The earlier writers certainly wouldn't have been aware of the embellishments and contradictions of later writers and those later writers might not have had access to the same version of an earlier work that you can read today.
The New Testament has just four gospels, but there were many more. In a time when truth in advertising was unknown, people rewrote stories to suit their own purposes. If you hated Jews, you made them responsible for the death of Jesus. If you hated the Romans, the Jews would get a more sympathetic treatment. Each story had its own flavor and prejudice.
Much later, the early churches gathered together the stories they liked and tossed out the ones they did not. They may have even tried to destroy some stories that they deemed unfitting for any eyes. There is a controversial story that might imply homosexual practices, for example, but even works far less insulting were suppressed or ignored.
For all these reasons, most intelligent Christians acknowledge the contradictions and fall back to a more reasonable position that each writer was trying to impart important truth in the best way they could. If we substitute "political spin" for "important truth", that is exactly what they were doing and the selection of those four accounts out of dozens was yet more "spin".

Just for fun

With the idea firmly in mind that none of this matters except to the most ignorant, it is still fun to look for amusing glitches in the Bible. I want to present to you just one of my favorites.
Remember, this is just for fun. I know that it is unimportant to any intelligent Christian. It should not be thought that I am presenting this to attack your faith. I just find these things amusing.

Feeding the multitudes

The story of Jesus feeding large crowds is well known to Christians. The more skeptical atheists will note that those stories are likely lifted right out of Kings in the Old Testament:


When the gospel writers are singing the praises of Jesus, they describe a similar miracle - two of them, in fact. On one occasion Jesus feeds four thousand with seven loaves of bread and some fish and on another he feeds five thousand with five loaves and two fish.
You might think that these two stories are suspiciously similar. However, both appear in Mark, so we can't argue that one gospel writer accidentally changed a few facts or just heard them differently. Mark makes it plain that these are separate instances and they are quite close together also.




Say what?

What's amusing about this is that the disciples had plainly seen Jesus do this bit of magic previously. And yet they are baffled both times as to how the crowd will be fed. The same bafflement that Elisha's servant expressed in the Old Testament story, of course.
Again, that's meaningless. Many Christians might even laughingly accept that the stories probably did come from the same source and that even the Kings version has antecedents in older religions. They might say that it is the concept of charity and giving that is important, not any details written by unknown authors at different times.
I don't have any problem with that. As I said, picking out these little glitches is just mild fun with no malice intended. Well, unless I'm actually dealing with some crazed person who insists that it all must be literally true, of course. That's a very different sort of "fun".

Your favorites?

Do you have any favorite inconsistency or flat out error? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.
To the moderate Christians: you really don't need to point out how none of these things matter, but if you really must, then go ahead. I'm already in agreement, but you might feel I haven't presented your particular take or haven't expressed it forcefully enough. I'm sure you'll forgive my poor attempts, of course.
In fairness, I'd have to offer the same opportunity to any literalist who wants to pretend that this word was mistranslated or that the Devil affected all versions but the secret one that will now be revealed to us - I shudder to think what we might get by allowing that, but I suppose I must.
All I ask of anyone is to try not to be too repetitive. I know that's hard in these circumstances - nuance can be so important when waving away Biblical problems. I'll try to be fair, but if you really haven't added to the conversation, I might have to delete your comment in the interests of saving space.
Other than that, have at it!




Friday, December 5, 2014

Intelligent Design - The really odd looking watch

William Paley's "Watchmaker" argument for intelligent design pops up constantly whenever the subject of religion arises. It's often invoked in more poetic ways, but the basic premise is what Paley proposed: "X" is complex and beautiful, it must have a designer.
It should hardly need to be noted that expressions of this sort tend to cause involuntary eye rolling and soft sighs of frustration. Most who have traveled this path with a true believer or two know that there is really no point in arguing - at some point you'll just have to give up, accepting the fact that you haven't moved their mind even one inch from its original position.
Foolishly, we keep trying. We hope that somehow we can find the words that will break through the ignorance. Experience may tell us that the hope is futile, but we try once again. What follows might be seen as just such an effort, set forth with hope and yet with foreknowledge of failure.
Actually, I'm off on a slightly different slant with another purpose in mind. I recognize that this won't change any minds and assure you that such is not my purpose.
Let's just go over the background, though.

Would you give this designer a job?

We do have the benefit of knowing much more about biology than poor Mr. Paley. It doesn't take much effort today to convince Google to spit out examples of how unintelligent the "design" of life often is. Wikipedia has a decent overview in their "Argument from poor design" piece and one of the most telling examples is to contrast the inferior eye "design" of invertebrates with that of cephalods.
Of course the true believers are unmoved by all that. It's either our defect in understanding (it had to be done that way even if sad little creatures like us are incapable of seeing why), part of the punishment for "original sin", or a cosmic joke designed to befuddle us. True believers always have an answer. Even those who accept evolution will find a way to bring "design" into play.

The Universe

For the more scientific theist, evolution and even the Big Bang Theory may be accepted. The designer is moved back to be a spinner of physics rather than a molder of worlds. These evolved theists won't concern themselves with the unfortunate design of a solar system that leaves dangerously large rocks around for a rapidly moving Earth to encounter, with disastrous results. Nor will they notice the unfortunate design of our own planet with its earthquakes, magma flows and super volcanoes. Extinction events happened, but not through fault of the Designer, as this marvelous and quite impossible creature was only responsible for the physics that drives it all.
We can wryly observe how cramped the corner these particular theists have painted themselves into really is, but they will stand there, arms drawn in, shoes pressed tightly together, glaring defiantly from the little bit of dry floor they have left themselves. This is the "Fine Tuned Universe" theory and it truly must be quite uncomfortable standing there.
Let's just leave them, though. Cornered animals are quite dangerous and I came here to talk about that watch.

The watch

When the "watchmaker" argument is deployed, a picture similar to that at the right is often shown or at least summoned to be imagined.
With absolutely no hope of changing anyone's mind - least of all the "wound it up" folks giving me nasty looks from their unpainted corner - I'd like to point out that this image is not what Mr. Paley would find on that beach.
The real watch, the watch of evolution, would be a confused hodgepodge. It would contain an unused hourglass, several burned out candles and a sundial that is no longer exposed to the sun. These strange parts would be misshapen now as they mostly have been repurposed to serve other functions. For example, we might still have a spring that drives the mechanism, but that spring is now wound by a battery powered motor and the stem that used to wind it now spins loosely as it is attached to nothing. It was attached for some time after the motor took over, but when it broke, nobody noticed.
That's the miraculous "watch" that Paley would have actually been looking at.

I know, it doesn't matter

I could have not bothered writing this for all the minds it will change. I know that. I just found myself amused by the thought of a watch that actually showed the history of its evolution when taken apart. I was even tempted to try to draw a sketch of what it might look like, but my drawing skills are insufficient for the task.
It would be a worthy project, however. At the very least, it would be amusing and, properly done, might even be quite instructive. Consider this as inspiration for someone with more skill.
Should you come up with something like this, I'd be happy to reproduce it here or link to wherever you'd like to put it. I hope somebody does take up the project!
If you are as challenged by sketching as I am, you can still help by suggesting other elements of "design" that Paley's watch might contain. Would it have the now silent trumpets that were part of early church clocks? Would pendulums swing impotently in some inner chamber or would they have been repurposed somehow? You might have a lot of fun with this.
Feel free to leave comments or links if you want to expound at length on this idea, but please don't bother with Creationist nonsense as I have no intention of cluttering this bit of whimsy with that.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Crimes in the name of a god

In "Travels in Siberia", Ian Frazier describes finding Old Believers in a remote part of Russia. These are people who broke off from what they considered to be a corruption of the Orthodox Church more than 400 years ago. The major distinction visible to outsiders is that the Old Believers make the sign of the cross with just two fingers while the "new" practice added the thumb to touch the other two fingers.
Ian found that the anger and hatred that had begun all those centuries ago had been carefully preserved, lovingly handed down from parent to child. The Old Believers still know who is their enemy, even if their enemies have long forgotten them.
Of course there was much more to it than just fingers and thumbs. There always is: what may look to outsiders to be simply a ridiculous argument about very minor things actually almost always really involves power and money, lust, politics and pride. The fingers and anything else just helps you know where to direct your anger. The reason for that anger is surely found elsewhere.

Heretics and schisms, antipopes and Saints

The Catholic Church is full of similar splits. The Orthodox Church that the Old Believers left (or that left them, from their point of view) split off from the rest many centuries before - barely after Christianity had begun.
The history of the arguing that caused these splits and rejoining and more splits again is complex and torturous and would be highly amusing if it really were only about fingers or what day of the week to worship.
This creed's heretic might be the founder of another creed or might have earlier been highly respected and praised in the same group that now reviles him. A false Pope who was deposed and replaced might still be made into a Saint by another Pope. The twists and turns are truly fascinating.
The Catholics are hardly alone, however. Roger Williams was convicted by Massachusetts of sedition and religious heresy in October of 1635. Rather than face banishment, he high-tailed it into the woods and thereafter had a lot to do with settling Rhode Island. That the Indian population living there no doubt had settled it quite satisfactorily centuries earlier is a different story, of course.

Power and money

The "dangerous opinions" (that's how the General Court of Massachusetts phrased it) of Roger Williams included the idea of separation of Church and State. He felt that people should be free to practice whatever religious beliefs they might hold and that the State shouldn't enforce its particular beliefs on others. The Puritans, having left England for exactly those reasons, were remarkably unsympathetic.
They surely didn't care for his negative thoughts about the virtues of stealing land from Indians by fiat, either. Dangerous opinions, indeed.
But dangerous to what? Dangerous to established power, of course. Roger Williams leanings toward anabaptism may have caused some self-righteous harrumphing at some dinner tables, but the true problem was the threat to established power. Landowners, church collection plates, political influence over minds wielded from the pulpit - those are the things that always matter.
The history of religion is always interwoven with power. Kings became Popes, kings rebelled against popes, wealthy families provided bishops and priests. Those same families may have had other financial arrangements where the Church sheltered their wealth from taxation by the State - while taxing itself, of course. Schisms over doctrine almost always have a deeper and darker origin.

A rich subject area

I think it might be fun to look more closely at some of the religious power struggles. There are amusing flip-flops and impassioned arguments, but the root cause isn't always easy to determine. Making it even more difficult is that the victors in these squabbles have often felt no distaste at all for rewriting history to support their goals and that fired up true believers may have joined the fray with great enthusiasm while never understanding what was really happening behind the public face of moral outrage.
Perhaps I'll look into some of those another day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Follower of Christ or fundamentalist - does it really matter?

Those of us without religious belief sometimes will casually say things like "It's all the same babble to me", implying that arguments between theists as to which religion is "better" are silly.
That has some truth in it, but it also isn't quite right. Certainly we see "soft" religious belief as far less threatening than fundamentalist Bible /Koran /Whatever thumping. At the far extreme where some Deists live ("some god created the Universe and hasn't been around since"), there's no threat at all and if there is "threat" from someone who says they admire the "teachings of Christ", it's a threat of being tolerant and non-judgmental. That might (ironically) upset some of my Right Wing friends, but it is no threat to me. I rather like it, actually.

Admirer of Christ?

Yet I can't help feeling some dismay when "soft" theists say that they "follow" or "admire" Jesus Christ.
If we take away all the silly walking on water, water to wine and resurrection stuff and only look at the philosophy without the religious trappings, sure, I could be a fan. I admire the intent.
But I admire the philosophy of Robert A. Heinlein in a "Stranger in a Strange Land" too and this "Jesus" character is likely every bit as fictional.
No, I'm not saying there might not have been some wandering preacher with this or a similar name who might have sparked or helped spread early Christianity. That part could be true. But the rest?
Any intelligent person should know that all the "miracles" never happened, so that part of the story is obvious fiction and many of the softer theists will agree. They do hang on the words, though, and that's a place that I have more trouble.

The Gospels

We don't know where these stories came from. We note that the Christian Bible titles them as "The Gospel according to..", which implies that Mark, Luke and the rest were writing down material from some other source. Given that they were writing long after the supposed time of their character's supposed life, they had to be using other sources, oral or written.
None of the pleasant and lovable philosophies in the words they wrote are unique. These ideas didn't suddenly spring into being with Jesus - they all existed in prior religions and prior thoughts. Even if this particular preacher did mouth some of them or even all of them, they didn't necessarily originate with him. He may have learned them elsewhere, refined them, and spit them back out. He may have tied a lot of ideas together into a specific philosophy, but realistically it seems more likely that the Gospel writers put words in his mouth - literally.

The Other Gospels

Many Christians are aware that what their sect considers as its Bible may not match what another sect has. Most should be aware that all of these Bibles were put together by human beings who selected specific part from religious writings.
For example, consider The Gospel of Mary. You can probably easily imagine why this was rejected as being suitable for the official Bibles, but why should it have been disregarded? Did those doing the assembly know that it was false or was it just that it didn't fit with the story they wanted to tell? I would say the latter is the more likely explanation.
What of The Gospel of Thomas? Why was that left out? It is probably older, but it's just things Jesus supposedly said, with little context or narrative. It could very well have been a framework around which the later story tellers wove their tales - they took a very few words (which may not even have been factual, of course) and spun them into something longer and more exciting.

Admire the words of whom?

So what we have is people who admire the supposed life of someone who might never have existed at all. If he did exist, everything that we can read about him is second hand hearsay or utter fiction.
Even the Gospels that are in traditional Bibles contradict one another in small and even large ways, so the fiction charge is rather unavoidable. This is a story just like "Stranger in a Strange Land" and I'd think it rather funny if you told me that you are a Heinleinist or (more in keeping with his story) a Valentinist. Yet that's exactly what the miracle-rejecting "soft Christians" are doing.
Of course they can convincingly argue that calling themselves "Christian" or a "follower of Christ" is just a convenient short hand - we know what to expect without getting into great detail. I can agree with that.

All the same babble?

No, it isn't. I'm not entirely convinced that all of these people really should label themselves as they do, but labels are their business, not mine. I think it might help delineate ideas and philosophies better if they were more accurate or just made up some other label entirely - like "Christishian", to be somewhat facetious.
Overall, I like these "Christishians" much more than those who label themselves as Catholics or Pentecostals or whatever - though I also realize that for many, the church they go to is just a place to see their friends and their real beliefs may differ widely from what their sect says they should believe, so I might like them as individuals also.
Religion is so complicated for those of us without it.

The Holy Spam, Book IV

o The maiden Eleanor worked in her father's fields, and tended the crops, and pulled the weeds, and hauled the water, and her father saw that she was good, and did not beat her.

o One morning Paul passed the field where Eleanor toiled, and saw her virtue, and his staff did quicken, and he did approach Eleanor, and beckoned her to come to his bed.

o But Eleanor refused Paul, and said that too much work awaited her, and that she was a virgin, and that she had no sisters to help her in the fields, and that her brothers were at the hunt, and that her father was testing the wine.

o That night, Paul dreamt, and in his dream Eleanor was beside him, and upon him, and beneath him, and consumed him, and emptied him, and Paul knew that it was good.

o And Paul awoke and thought upon his dream, and called the people to come and hear it.

o Paul told the people that Invisible Pal wished to send His Holy Son to Earth, and that His son would be born to the virgin Eleanor, and that Paul must take Eleanor as his own wife, and that Invisible Pal's seed would flow through Paul's own staff.

o And the people were awed, and praised Paul, and ran to the fields and brought Eleanor unto him, and told her the Good News.

o And Eleanor was confused, and blushed, and made to run away, but the people stopped her and asked "Why do you run from the desires of Invisible Pal?"

o And Eleanor told them that she was not a virgin, and had lied to Paul. And the people made to stone her, but Paul bade them stop, and said that Invisible Pal was speaking unto him even now, and Paul closed his eyes so that he could hear Invisible Pal the better.

o And Paul told the people that Invisible Pal had not said that Eleanor was a virgin, but that only Paul had assumed that, and Invisible Pal still wished for His Son to be born to Eleanor. And some say that this is the Third Mystery, but it is not.

o And Paul took Eleanor as his wife, and was with her, and beside her, and above her, and below her, and when Invisible Pal's seed flowed from Paul's staff, he cried aloud "Oh My Pal!" and the people knew that Invisible Pal was within Paul.

o And Paul was with Eleanor every night, and was with her every morning, and Invisible Pal commanded that they contort themselves in many unusual ways, and Invisible Pal's seed flowed splendidly from Paul's staff.

o But the summer passed, and Eleanor was barren, and not with child, and some of the people spoke against Paul, and he stoned them, and no more did any speak against Paul.

o And the winter passed, and the spring, and yet another summer, and Eleanor was still barren and not with child.

o And Paul went forth again into the wilderness, and built a hut, and was not with Eleanor for three hundred and seven days, and when he returned, Eleanor was with child. And Paul rejoiced, and the people rejoiced, and this is the Third Mystery.

The Holy Spam, Book III

o Ruth, daughter of Jesus, ruled for sixty years. Her wisdom was praised, and the people prospered. She taught them the use of the spear, and the bow, and much game was caught and the people were fat.

o Ruth taught rotation of crops, and the harvest was bountiful, and the people praised Ruth and prayed for her soul.

o Ruth taught the washing of hands, and not to defecate upstream, and full cooking of pork, and the people were healthy and praised Ruth and prayed for her soul.

o Ruth taught the virtue of Law, and trial by a jury of peers, and sat as judge, and her fairness was praised, and the people prayed for her soul.

o In her sixtieth year of rule, Ruth taught the people that women should not be beaten, and were equal to men in the eyes of the Moon Goddess.

o And the people prayed for her soul, and stoned her, and tore her body asunder, and left the scraps for the dogs.

o Then Paul went out into the wilderness, and the Holy IPU was there, and Paul fell to his knees and was blinded by her Pinkness.

o The Holy IPU spake unto Paul. "Man, go away. I blow my nose on a dung heap, come back four billion years later, and the place is crawling with you horrid, ugly things. I have not the slightest interest in you or anything you do, and the sooner you catch on, the better off you will be. Now go away."

o And Paul went away, and he slept, and he dreamt, and in his dream Invisible Pal came to him in a burning bush, and promised him much power and riches, and free choice of comely women, if Paul would lead his people into the promised land.

o And in the dream, Invisible Pal gave Paul one hundred rules that the people must follow, and two hundred rituals that they must practice every day, and promised again that Paul could have whatever women he would choose.

o And Paul awoke, and thought upon his dream, and could not remember the hundred rules, nor the two hundred rituals, but he kneweth that he should lead his people through the wilderness, and he kneweth that he would get his choice of women.

o And Paul thought briefly of the IPU, but decided he would know her not, and he took up some clay tablets and inscribed upon the clay everything that he could remember that Ruth had said, but not the heresy concerning women, and he baked the tablets and brought them back unto the people and proclaimed that Invisible Pal had given him the tablets upon a high mountain, and had threatened the people with locusts and floods, and the people listened, and were awed, and groveled most virtuously, and the women looked upon Paul as marked by Invisible Pal, and wished to be closer to him.

o Paul led his people into the wilderness, and after many days of travel they came unto the land of the Balthazites. And the land was fair, the fruit grew heavy upon the trees, and the forest abounded with animals, and the Balthazites were friendly unto Paul's people, and welcomed them, and bade them welcome, and to share in their food and thir plenty.

o But the Balthazites knew not Invisible Pal, and knew not the Moon Goddess, and knew not the Sun God, and laughed at Paul when he made Invisible Pal known unto them.

o And Paul warned them of the locusts and the floods, and other dire consequences, but the Balthazites said to Paul that they had survived locusts, and had survived floods, and did not need an Invisible Pal.

o So Paul drew up his army, and he slew the Balthazites, slew their warriors, slew their women, slew their maidens, and slew every child in its crib and every dog on its leash.

o And the people rejoiced, for they saw the power of Invisible Pal, and knew that it was good, and just, and that the Balthazites would not be tormented by locusts and floods.

The Holy Spam, Book II

o And the Man's name was Mo-hab, and he was the first Man, and he knew not the Holy IPU and he worshipped the Moon and the Sun.

o Mo-hab took unto himself a Wife, and her name is not important, for she shamed Mo-hab by fornication with his brother, and Mo-hab stoned her, and beat her, and cursed her, and left her to die.

o Mo-hab took under himself a second Wife, and her name was Beth-she-dah, and Beth-she-dah was virtuous, and circumspect.

o Beth-she-dah bore Mo-hab two sons, and two daughters, and the names of the sons were Ah-mel and Randy, and the names of the daughters are unimportant.

o And Mo-hab's first wife did not die, and lived in Sin with Mo-hab's brother, and Mo-hab called upon the Moon Goddess for vengeance, but his prayers were not heard.

o So Mo-hab took up a stone, and killed his brother, and went into his first wife and she bore him another son, Art.

o And Mo-hab went into his daughters, and they bore him more daughters whose names are unimportant, and a son whose name was Ka-mel.

o And Art went into Mo-hab's daughters, and Ah-mel went into Mo-hab's first Wife, and two more sons were born, and their names were Kin-tew and Fre-lat.

o And Art lay with Ka-mel as with a woman, and Mo-hab was shamed and Mo-hab stoned Art and Ka-mel and left them to die.

o Then Mo-hab was very old, and his staff would not rise and his seed would not flow and he was weary. Beth-she-dah came to him and made to lay with him, but he would not. And Beth-she-dah came again to lay with him, but he would not. Each night for forty nights, and each morning for forty mornings, Beth-she-dah came to lay with Mo-hab but his staff would not rise.

o And Beth-she-dah ripened with child, and Mo-hab praised his virtuous wife, and gave presents unto her, and promised his kingdom if the child were a male. And this is the Second Mystery, for Mo=hab's staff had never risen.

o And the child was born, and it was male, and Mo-hab was pleased and stoned no one that day.

o And the child's name was Jesus, and he worshipped not the Moon Goddess, and spake of the Invisible Pal, and the people were suspicious, and angry, and they stoned him, but he did not die.

o And the people tied his hands, and bound his feet, and filled his pockets with stones, and tossed him into the River, but he did not die.

o And the people muttered about the Invisible Pal, and some began to worship unto It, and the people were more angry and they took him, and beat him, and nailed him to a tree, but he did not die.

o Then Mo-hab arose from his bed and spake unto his son Jesus. "I have given you my kingdom. My staff will no longer rise, and my seed will not flow. You add to my miseries with your insufferable Invisible Pal."

o And Jesus repented, and sacrificed his first daughter to the Moon Goddess, and anointed his first son with her blood, and promised that the generations of Jesus would not worship Invisible Pal.

o But Jesus was not truthful in his heart, and in the next winter he stole into his parent's tent and stoned Mo-hab and Beth-she-dah, and killed them both, and then he owned the Kingdom and he spake unto his people and told them to worship Invisible Pal or they would die. And the people listened, and knew the truth.

o And Jesus ruled for forty years, and the people worshipped Invisible Pal and none worshipped the Moon Goddess at all.

o Then Jesus walked amongst the people, and tripped upon a root, and fell to the earth, and he was dead. And the people stoned the root, and burned the tree from which it grew, and gnashed their teeth and beat their wives and daughters. And they all forgot about Invisible Pal and made sacrifice to the Moon Goddess again.

o And then Her Holiness returned to the Earth, and looked upon the people and said "What is this? Hairless apes? Fricking ugliest things I've ever seen!". And the people prostrated themselves to Her Holiness, and gnashed their teeth, and groveled most virtuously, and the Holy IPU looked upon them and said "Get a life!", and she left yet again.