Camels, the Bible, and Belief

Domesticated CamelsThere’s an article making the rounds about how domesticated camels are mentioned in biblical books all the way from Genesis forward.

Here’s the problem. According to archeological, scientific, and written records; the beasts weren’t domesticated at that time. The first evidence of camels being used in a domesticated fashion comes in the 10th century BCE. This invalidates all biblical accounts which mention domesticated camels before that time.

The biblical scholars who admit this anachronism say that just because camels were interjected incorrectly into early biblical stories doesn’t mean that anything else in the stories is inaccurate. Really? This seems to fly in the face of logic. If the people who wrote the bible decided to add contemporary facts to an existing account doesn’t that mean the entire account is likely fiction? Sure, there could be parts that are accurate but it is clear that whoever wrote the books of the bible in question wrote them hundreds and possibly thousands of years after the events they depict. How can that be considered accurate?

Normally the fact that the bible is filled with inaccuracies is not something that I’d blog about. It’s evident to me that the thing is largely fiction. I’m also not bothered by religious fanatics who claim that the overwhelming evidence of camel domestication is incorrect because the stories in the bible overrule any scientific or archaeological findings. Those people are insane. I can’t reason with them nor will I try.

My problem is with those who want to believe the bible tells true stories but admit that the camel business is a mistake. It’s not one mistake. Domesticated camels are mentioned more than twenty times in early biblical stories at a time before they were actually domesticated. This means that whoever wrote those stories had no idea what they were talking about.

If I wrote a story about the Roman Empire that mentioned combustion engine driven trucks transporting goods across the Empire would you take the rest of my accounts seriously? No, of course not. Everything I wrote about would be immediately cast in doubt, and rightly so.

I see this brain trick more and more these days. Perhaps I’m just getting old and it’s been around for as long as the domesticated camel, or longer. It just seems to me that people are more willing to ignore facts so that they can believe what they want to be true. The old Is-Ought fallacy. I suppose the fact that David Hume came up with this idea some 300 years ago would suggest we are, perhaps, not living in unusual times. Maybe people have always used this little trick of the mind.

Even so, it is something my brain can’t understand. When someone brings facts forward that I had not considered; I adjust my position accordingly. To do otherwise would be to lie to myself. It would be to base my logical conclusions on my beliefs, not the other way around.

Anyway, I realize I’m not going to convince anyone today. Have a great Valentine’s Day!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne


Afghanistan Adultery Murder – The Bible

stoningA lot of people are up in arms about the execution of a woman in Afghanistan. As is my want I’m not going to go after an easy target. The people who would do this are vile. We all agree. Let’s take a look at the mentality that justifies such acts.

Old Testament

Leviticus 20:10 – If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

Deut. 22:23 – If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her.

Deut. 22:24 – Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

The Reported Words of Jesus

Matthew 5:28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:32 – But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.


Sura 24 (An-Nur), ayat 2 – The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication,- flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment.

Interestingly I had been badly misled about adultery cases. To be convicted of adultery the accused woman must be testified against by four witnesses who saw the act in question. I had alway heard that the woman had to produce four witnesses to prove she was raped but it is, in fact, the other way around. If four witnesses don’t confirm the original accusation the accusers is to be whipped.

Sura 24 (An-Nur), ayat 4-5 – And those who accuse free women then do not bring four witnesses, flog them, (giving) eighty stripes, and do not admit any evidence from them ever; and these it is that are the transgressors.Except those who repent after this and act aright, for surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

The religious case against adultery is clear. It is evil and wrong and punishable by stoning in Jewish/Christian faith and whipping or stoning in Islamic faith. And, according to Jesus, if you look at a woman with lust you have committed adultery in your heart. Not a lot of wiggle room there.

Of course, this is madness. Few, if any, Christians agree with the punishment although almost all agree that it is a crime; despite often being flagrant violators of it.

The biggest issues comes with literalism as contrasted with Biblical Criticism. Basically you either believe the bible or quran is the absolutely literal truth or believe it is in need of interpretation according to the times.

Literalism is most closely associated with Evangelical Christians in the United States and proponents of Sharia law amongst Muslims.

If the words of the holy book are literal truths and adultery, even looking lustfully at a woman, is a capital offense there seems to be only one solution. Kill all men, except the gay ones, oh wait, gotta kill them too!

This is one reason I’m proud to stand in front of any group and proclaim that my faith is in the Constitution of the United States. That the holy books were written by people. That I am an Atheist. There is no god and certainly the exact words of the supposed god and saviors are unmitigated insanity. There are others who think differently. Some of those others kill women for the crime of adultery.

Where to you stand? Let me know in the comments.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
New Release: The Hammer of Fire