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Old 26th July 2005, 05:07 PM   #1
canadarocks
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Testable bible verses

I was skimming through the annotated skeptics bible [url=http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com[/URL] and I found a scientifically testable theory about curing leprosy. It is found in Leviticus 14 (whole chapter).

Quote:
God's treatment for leprosy:
Get two birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one. Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly away. Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of its blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on his right ear, thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally find another pair of birds. Kill one and dip the live bird in the dead bird's blood. Wipe some blood on the patient's right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle the house with blood 7 times. That's all there is to it.
I found this interesting as well as testable. I was wondering if there may be other testable hypothesis in the bible? What are the potential rationalizations that people give to reconcile these testable bits?

Thanks
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Old 26th July 2005, 06:11 PM   #2
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There's that thing about the followers of Christ being able to drink poison
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Old 26th July 2005, 06:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ryokan
There's that thing about the followers of Christ being able to drink poison
...and survive venomous snakebite.
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Old 26th July 2005, 07:32 PM   #4
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Can you give me Ch and Vrs? Curious minds need to know!
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Old 26th July 2005, 09:30 PM   #5
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Re: Testable bible verses

Quote:
Originally posted by canadarocks
I was skimming through the annotated skeptics bible [url=http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com[/URL] and I found a scientifically testable theory about curing leprosy. It is found in Leviticus 14 (whole chapter).

...

I found this interesting as well as testable. I was wondering if there may be other testable hypothesis in the bible? What are the potential rationalizations that people give to reconcile these testable bits?
I got very interested when I read your post, but I must say (not without disappointment) after reading Leviticus 14, it's pretty clear that the chapter doesn't purport to prescribe a cure for leprosy.

Rather, it sets forth the regulations for the removal of the state of ritual uncleanliness from a person who previously suffered from symptoms of leprosy. Notice how verse 13 indicates that the ritual should be carried out on someone only after the priest has examined him and concluded that the "plague of leprosy is healed". Notice also the distinction established between the use of the words "healed" and "cleansed" in Leviticus 14.

For anyone who might have missed it, the chapter's purpose is reiterated in the final verse: "To teach when it is unclean, and when it is clean: this is the law of leprosy." Not to teach when (or how) it is healed and when it is not healed, or any such nonsense.

Certain Mosiac cleansing rituals probably had some actual salutary effect in terms of hygiene, but the leprosy provisions in Leviticus are described as a law, not a medical prescription. Laws affect a person's legal status (in this case, the ceremonial religious law of the ancient Hebrews). They do not affect the physical world (e.g., bodily health) except indirectly. Hebrews living thousands of years ago apparently understood this elementary notion better than the authors of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible.

Which brings me reluctantly to a further point. This is another example of how shockingly badly written and reasoned parts of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible are. It's embarrassing, frankly. One almost wishes words like skeptic and its cognates could be trademarked or otherwise subjected to some kind of use regulation, so that some degree of quality control could be maintained and the movement would not be brought into occasional disrepute.
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Old 27th July 2005, 03:05 AM   #6
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Thanks for the reply and the review of the chapter. I agree with your assessment and, unfortunately, this is no longer a testable claim (I wonder whether there are others like the poison the other posters indicated).

Given your (correct) interpretation, I wonder whether this ritual (or any of the sacrificial rituals in Leviticus) are followed by any Christian/Jewish sects?
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Old 27th July 2005, 05:33 AM   #7
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Quote:
Can you give me Ch and Vrs? Curious minds need to know!
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name [Jesus] shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Mark 16:19 So then after the Lord [Jesus, the Christ] had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord [Jesus, the Christ] working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

But those clever Christians (some protestant sects at least) already claim that part isn’t inerrant, but that doesn’t invalidate the inerrancy of the bible as a whole.

Actually there is already a discussion about those parts going on in the One of my complaints about religion thread.

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Old 27th July 2005, 07:02 AM   #8
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Taken from SAB:

Quote:
Verses 9-20 were are not found in the earlier manuscripts and are therefore considered later additions. So the gospel of Mark ended without a resurrection or the cool stuff about snake handling, drinking poison, or damned non-believers.
There are one-eyebrowed yokels in the mountains of Tennessee who believe this crap - even though it was - in my opinion - inserted by Eusubius - Constantine's bishop.
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Old 27th July 2005, 07:36 AM   #9
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There are one-eyebrowed yokels in the mountains of Tennessee who believe this crap - even though it was - in my opinion - inserted by Eusubius - Constantine's bishop.
Hey I’ve personally visited some of the Appalachian churches, one even when the snake handling was going on. Gives a whole different perspective to biblical inerrancy and those that believe it. And clearly highlights the dangers therein.

Ossai
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Old 27th July 2005, 08:54 AM   #10
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Re: Re: Testable bible verses

Quote:
Originally posted by ceo_esq
Certain Mosiac cleansing rituals probably had some actual salutary effect in terms of hygiene, but the leprosy provisions in Leviticus are described as a law, not a medical prescription. Laws affect a person's legal status (in this case, the ceremonial religious law of the ancient Hebrews). They do not affect the physical world (e.g., bodily health) except indirectly. Hebrews living thousands of years ago apparently understood this elementary notion better than the authors of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible.
Except that the Hebraic viewpoint of people was as a unified whole. They had no notion of the ancient Greek concept of of man being a trinity of body, soul and spirit. It's unlikely that the writers of Mosaic law had any notion of a disease (especially a skin disease) being caused by anything other than personal sin or lack of sufficient piety or not supporting the priesthood or if all else failed, the inscrutible permissive will of God (as in the book of Job).
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Old 27th July 2005, 10:44 AM   #11
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They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
But there is always an out - which makes the whole book untestable. If you get bit, you just didn't have enough faith in Jebus!
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Old 27th July 2005, 01:35 PM   #12
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Re: Re: Re: Testable bible verses

Quote:
Originally posted by Diamond
Except that the Hebraic viewpoint of people was as a unified whole. They had no notion of the ancient Greek concept of of man being a trinity of body, soul and spirit. It's unlikely that the writers of Mosaic law had any notion of a disease (especially a skin disease) being caused by anything other than personal sin or lack of sufficient piety or not supporting the priesthood or if all else failed, the inscrutible permissive will of God (as in the book of Job).
All this, though, is irrelevant to the matter at hand, which is that Leviticus 14 clearly refers to rituals done after the leper was confirmed to have been healed.
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Old 27th July 2005, 03:01 PM   #13
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Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.


We can easily test to see if anyone has the faith of a mustard seed by asking everyone to say to a mountain: "remove hence to yonder place."
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Old 27th July 2005, 11:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
What are the potential rationalizations that people give to reconcile these testable bits?
My experience with even the most literal of people is that they don't take everything literally.
Generally, they use the following principles:
(bases covered)

1: Does the passage make sense literally? If so that is the best choice.

2: What is the context?

3: Is there a higher principle being shown?

4: Just but because we don't understand it does not make it false. (It could be a mystery)

Examples:

Quote:
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31
This sounds real testable, but has elements of all four principles. Mostly, meant to show a higher principle, and is also poetic. If we were to suggest testing it to see if they sprouted wings, that would be silly.

Quote:
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
Psalm 91:4
Despite the two passages showing affinity to feathers and birds above, nobody preaches that God is a giant bird.

It is almost certainly considered a heresy, but I find it useful to think of these things abstractly, like what goes into a painting. A painting involves craftsmanship, and following some rules, but there is still a lot of room for everyone seeing something a little different.

There are limits though - a portrait is not easily promoted as a landscape, and some ideas find more support in scripture than others.
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Old 28th July 2005, 09:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Starrman
But there is always an out - which makes the whole book untestable. If you get bit, you just didn't have enough faith in Jebus!
They don't even have to go that far. Recall when, in the desert for 40 days, Satan says to Jesus, "Throw yourself down on these rocks; for it says the angels shall support his feet."

And what does Jesus say? Huh? He says "Thou shall not put the Lord to the test." Thus if you try to test this stuff, you might very well fail just because God does not want to be proven.

In this way, the Bible hides under the rock with Sylvia and many others. Bible writers were using the anti-Randi arguments 2000 years ago.

Although religion is silent on my next question: What's the spiritual imperative value in believing in something with no proof? Why would anyone, especially a god who can read minds, find that valuable? Oh, sure, we know why mortal thugs value this, but God is supposed to be better than that.
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Old 28th July 2005, 09:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ladewig
Matthew 17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.


We can easily test to see if anyone has the faith of a mustard seed by asking everyone to say to a mountain: "remove hence to yonder place."
I...wouldn't do that if I were you. All it'll do is prove every single person who ever lived (or at least, alive right now) is going straight to ach ee double toothpicks. Sad, but a valid escape clause.
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Old 28th July 2005, 04:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beerina
Although religion is silent on my next question: What's the spiritual imperative value in believing in something with no proof?
To some extent, this is a relatively modern question. The idea of treating "faith" as choosing to believe without proof seems to have come about after what has traditionally been considered to be as evidence for religion, such as the Bible or various philosophical arguments for God, have been found to fall short. Making belief without proof a virtue is a fallback position.
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Old 28th July 2005, 08:40 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Beerina
Although religion is silent on my next question: What's the spiritual imperative value in believing in something with no proof?
On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be anything especially meritorious about believing in something on the basis of abundant proof. That can be expected of almost anyone.
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Old 29th July 2005, 07:27 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by ceo_esq
On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be anything especially meritorious about believing in something on the basis of abundant proof. That can be expected of almost anyone.
Well God gave me the ability to think rationally and logically, and to use reason. It seems odd that he would not expect me to use those gifts. Personally, I think not using those gifts God gave me would be an afront to him. Thus, it seems to me that resorting to FAITH would be a sin.

IOW, if God exists, it would be a sin for me to believe in him.
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Old 30th July 2005, 06:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by pgwenthold
Well God gave me the ability to think rationally and logically, and to use reason. It seems odd that he would not expect me to use those gifts. Personally, I think not using those gifts God gave me would be an afront to him. Thus, it seems to me that resorting to FAITH would be a sin.

IOW, if God exists, it would be a sin for me to believe in him.
That sort of argumentation could work both ways. God (I'm speaking very hypothetically here) also gave you trust and intuition, and the ability to have faith in people and things. Perhaps he also intended those as gifts.

And frankly, neither unbelief nor (under ordinary circumstances) belief is ever going to be subject to proof. So it is very likely that some degree of faith is going to be operating either way.
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Old 30th July 2005, 10:03 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ryokan
There's that thing about the followers of Christ being able to drink poison
You could test that against someone who is not Christian, but has slowly built up an immunity.

As for the snakebites, I don't know if there is a way to guarantee a poisonous snake will inject venom every single bite.
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Old 31st July 2005, 10:39 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by ceo_esq
That sort of argumentation could work both ways. God (I'm speaking very hypothetically here) also gave you trust and intuition, and the ability to have faith in people and things. Perhaps he also intended those as gifts.

Trust and intuition I have, but they are empirical.

Apparently, God (or the Holy Spirit, as the case may be) has not given me the gift of "believing in things without evidence."

I speak for myself. YMMV.
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Old 31st July 2005, 07:43 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by pgwenthold
Trust and intuition I have, but they are empirical.
The notion of "empirical intuition" is a new one to me, since intuition refers to "the faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes"; "immediate apprehension or cognition without reasoning or inferring"; etc.

What does empirical intuition mean, if anything at all?
Quote:
Originally posted by pgwenthold
Apparently, God (or the Holy Spirit, as the case may be) has not given me the gift of "believing in things without evidence."
Aw, don't sell yourself short. Everyone believes in some things that lack evidence, and indeed in some things which cannot possibly be established through evidence. I'm not inclined to attribute this "gift" to God, but it seems fairly certain that everyone has it and uses it.
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Old 1st August 2005, 06:50 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by ceo_esq
The notion of "empirical intuition" is a new one to me, since intuition refers to "the faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes"; "immediate apprehension or cognition without reasoning or inferring"; etc.


Then I don't use intuition. My "intuition" is to apply previous experience to determine a best procedure. Personal, that's what I think _most_ intuition really is, anyway. I don't believe that most people who claim to be acting by intuition are doing it without reasoning or inferring at all.


Quote:


What does empirical intuition mean, if anything at all?
Aw, don't sell yourself short. Everyone believes in some things that lack evidence, and indeed in some things which cannot possibly be established through evidence.
How "established" does it need to be? More likely than not, at the least.

Try me. Tell me something I believe without any evidence or rational basis at all.
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Old 1st August 2005, 07:32 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by c4ts
You could test that against someone who is not Christian, but has slowly built up an immunity.

As for the snakebites, I don't know if there is a way to guarantee a poisonous snake will inject venom every single bite.
Having grown up fairly close the first major (relative term, of course . . . it's mainly just a few closely grouped families) church of this kind, I can tell you a bit about their methods. I'm sure Ossai had a good view, but didn't see a lot of the prep work

First off, the poisons they drink are either generally very dilute, or not substances very toxic to people in small quantities. Strychnine is often cited as a drink of choice, and here's a link concerning toxicty . . . note the bottom of the page, in partcular. Link. Great dilution plus some good prep renders this almost harmless.

As for the snakes, well, snake handling is an old art. Basic herpetology gives you some decent instruction on the matter. I knew students that safely handled copperheads and the like after just a week of classes. Also, the snake storage boxes generally aren't kept all that warm. Lethargic reptiles = more safety. Also, though I haven't witnessed it, I have heard that the snakes being handled are occasionally milked prior to demonstations, thus reducing the amount of venom available.

Interviews with most older members of the church point to very infrequent bites, with medical attention applied to serious ones. Someone might be solid in their faith that they'll be okay, but the organization as a whole can't take that risk with the possibility of being shut down.
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Old 1st November 2005, 01:28 AM   #26
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i remember that right after the flood, god says nobody can live longer than 120 years [Genesis 6:3] -- just find someone over 120 years old, (for a long time, the appologists said the age limit tapered off for a while -- that's why there are people over 120 after the flood).

there was another prophecy that said that an uncircumcised man would never walk the streets of jerusalem, [Isaiah 52:1]. either you could do an "inspection", (ewwww!), or just ask someone who is uncircumcised to get his picture taken standing in jerusalm.
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Old 1st November 2005, 10:31 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by canadarocks View Post
I found this interesting as well as testable. I was wondering if there may be other testable hypothesis in the bible? What are the potential rationalizations that people give to reconcile these testable bits?

Thanks
Canadarocks
Sure, I started a thread awhile back on how God declared Man's lifespan shall be 120 years. Normal fundy vs. athiest argumentation revolves around whether this was before or after the last Patriarch died. Technically, the quote is before, but fundies argue it actually implies after. Or doesn't apply to them. Or applies to a segment of the population and not Mankind in general, or to pigs, or llamas or some such.


Sadly, a real, modern woman lived to be 121.


Current fundamentalist squirming involves:

1. Her records are a lie (by her or someone on behalf of her) or she is confused

2. She's a chick, and the oldest actual man only lived to 120 years, and 120 years includes 120 years and 364 days. And this also may involve lies or confusion

If you ask me, the guy who made up that part of the Bible picked an impossibly old age limit to explain why nobody lived as long as the Patriarchs anymore, assuming nobody would actually live that long.

Bzzzt! Sorry, game over. Thanks for playing.
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Old 1st November 2005, 10:40 AM   #28
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Old 1st November 2005, 11:54 PM   #29
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Actually Ransom - we all "know" from the "science of homoeopathy" that diluting something makes it stronger! These folks must really be on to something!

What we really need is for a fundie to spend three days & nights in the belly of a great fish or whale - any suggestions?

How about Kent Hovind?

YBW
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We'd outgrown the fables, I knew. The sun isn't Apollo's chariot, of course, it's a star that began burning when a god said "Let there be light". Man was not created from clay by Zeus, he was created from clay by Yahweh. Hades didn't restore Euridice to life, please. That would be absurd. Jesus did, of course, restore Lazarus to life.... What morons we were before. How wise we are now. - Dale McGowan
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Old 2nd November 2005, 12:32 AM   #30
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Jesus said "He that believeth on me ... out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38)

So unless some religious christian panatic is spewing a geyser from his navel instead of staring into it, tell him he's obviously not a true believer, and quote that passage.
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Old 2nd November 2005, 12:39 AM   #31
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That was hilarious Leroy
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Old 2nd November 2005, 01:32 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Lev. 14.47
And he that lieth in the house shall wash his clothes; and he that eateth in the house shall wash his clothes.
OK. Ok. I'll do the laundry already! (Fricking Leviticius....)
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Old 2nd November 2005, 04:24 PM   #33
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Here is something I remember Brown pointing out about a year ago, Numbers 5:11-28:

Quote:
The Test for an Unfaithful Wife

11 Then the LORD said to Moses, 12 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If a man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure- 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah [c] of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder offering to draw attention to guilt.
16 " 'The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, "If no other man has slept with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband"- 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse of the oath-"may the LORD cause your people to curse and denounce you when he causes your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell. [d] 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells and your thigh wastes away. [e] "
" 'Then the woman is to say, "Amen. So be it."

23 " 'The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse, it will go into her and cause bitter suffering; her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away, [f] and she will become accursed among her people. 28 If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.
Translation: If a husband suspects his wife of infidelity, he takes her to the local priest where the priest makes the wife drink cursed bitter water. If the woman is innocent, nothing will happen to her; but if she is guilty of infidelity, her leg will rot away and she will become barren.

If you could get it passed the Ethics Committee, these few verses sound simple enough to test.
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Old 5th December 2005, 09:53 AM   #34
Psi Baba
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Originally Posted by ranson View Post
Having grown up fairly close the first major (relative term, of course . . . it's mainly just a few closely grouped families) church of this kind, I can tell you a bit about their methods. I'm sure Ossai had a good view, but didn't see a lot of the prep work

First off, the poisons they drink are either generally very dilute, or not substances very toxic to people in small quantities. Strychnine is often cited as a drink of choice, and here's a link concerning toxicty . . . note the bottom of the page, in partcular. Link. Great dilution plus some good prep renders this almost harmless.

As for the snakes, well, snake handling is an old art. Basic herpetology gives you some decent instruction on the matter. I knew students that safely handled copperheads and the like after just a week of classes. Also, the snake storage boxes generally aren't kept all that warm. Lethargic reptiles = more safety. Also, though I haven't witnessed it, I have heard that the snakes being handled are occasionally milked prior to demonstations, thus reducing the amount of venom available.
That's why instead of using rattlesnakes and weak strychnine, I'd like to see them switch to black mambas and ricin. Now that would garner some attention, I would think! (either way)
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