Conservapedia to form their own schism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Big Book of Multiple Choice, now with more choices!

God’s inerrant Word is getting a makeover yet again. The NIV “will be revised to reflect changes in English usage and advances in Biblical scholarship,” apparently.

This is interesting. Many fundies cling like wet Kleenex to the original KJV, I suppose because they think English that sounds Shakespearean best conveys the gravitas God’s Word requires. What many believers seem to object to in the NIV are PC-ish edits making some passages more gender-neutral. For instance…

It was the TNIV that ushered in changes from “sons of God” to “children of God,” or “brothers” to “brothers and sisters.” In Genesis I, God created “human beings” in his own image instead of “man.”

I can see how this might be threatening to those kinds of fundamentalists who want the Bible to endorse a strictly patriarchal social system.

Still, here’s what intrigues me: Why don’t they just ask, you know, God? I mean, he supposedly authored the thing, dictating to human scribes, which seems a fairly inefficient way for an omnipotent author to go about his business, but there you are. But it seems to me this is a prime opportunity for God to put in an appearance and make his editorial desires known. After all, if the Bible is God’s inerrant Word, then doesn’t screwing with it in any way run the risk of spreading a completely botched version of God’s message, one that could lead more people to perdition and woe than salvation and grace? I mean, it seems like God ought to be more — oh, what’s that idiotic term — proactive here? I mean, he sure was with that whole Flood thing. I’d think making sure his Bible was error-free would be at least as important, you know?