Sunday, June 3, 2018

On John 1:1, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the New World Translation

John 1:1, in most bible translations, reads:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

In the New World Translation (NWT), which is published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), it is:

"In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god."

The fundamental difference between the two is that “The Word” (later identified as Jesus in verse 14) is called “God” in most Bibles but merely “a god” in the Jehovah’s Witnesses version.  The NWT translators cite the absence of the article “” ("ho" in Greek or "the" in English) preceding the word "θεός" ("theos" or "God") as the reason for their translation "a god" as opposed to “God".  (See image above.)

To the NWT translators, "ὁ θεός" is "the God" and "θεός" is "a god."

Now I'm no Greek scholar---and I welcome any criticism from actual experts in Greek---but I did find something that intrigued me in my copy of The NIV Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, by Rev. Alfred Marshall.  In that volume, the Rev. Marshall has a footnote for John 1.1 that states, "But note that the subject has the article and the predicate has it not; hence translate – ‘the Word was God.’"

According to the Rev. Marshall, the article indicates, in this instance anyway, the subject of the phrase.   The subject is "the Word" and the predicate is "was God".   He was able to determine that by the location of the Greek article. 

This got me to wondering if there were other verses in the New Testament where "theos" was the predicate and if so, did it have the article and how was it translated in the NWT?

I actually found many instances, and all such instances that I could find use the same article configuration as John 1:1.

A good example is Hebrews 3:4 - "Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God" (NWT).  In the phrase "he that constructed all things is God", the subject is "he that constructed all things", and the predicate is "is God".  The Greek interlinear has it as “the [one] having prepared all things [is] God”.   The article precedes "the [one] having prepared all things" and the word "theos" in the phrase "is God" does not have the article – just like John 1.1.

Another example can be found in Romans 8:33 - "...God is the One who declares [them] righteous" (NWT). The interlinear says “God [is] the [one] justifying”.   Again, the subject ("the one justifying") has the article and the predicate ("God") does not.  

One more: 1 Corinthians 3.7 as translated in the NWT is “so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes [it] grow”.  The relevant phrase is “but God who makes [it] grow”, rendered in the interlinear as “but God the [one] making to grow”.  Again, the article is with “the [one] making to grow” and not with “God”.

This same subject/article - predicate/no article configuration exists in the following verses:

John 1:18, 8:54
Acts 15:8
Romans 9:5
1 Corinthians 8:4, 8:6
2 Corinthians 1:3, 1:21, 5:5, 5:19, 6:16
Galatians 3:20, 6:7
Ephesians 4:6
Philippians 2:13
1 Thessalonians 2:5
Hebrews 11:16
Revelation 21:7

All are translated as "God" in the NWT except John 1:1.  If the NWT translators were consistent, they would have translated all of these verses as either "a god" like they did in John 1.1, or they would have translated John 1.1 as “God”.

Also, as an interesting aside, false gods are referred to as "ho theos" ("God" with the article) in the Greek in 2 Corinthians 4:4 (Satan), Philippians 3:19 (the belly) and Acts 7:43 (Rompha).  So as regarding the word “theos”, the article seems to have little significance in the Greek, except to identify the subject of the sentence.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Second Amendment and Militia

Many of the left's current gun control arguments focus on the original intent of the framers of the Constitution and their use of the word "militia" in the 2nd amendment. Ignoring the welcome, sudden, midstream shift from 'living document' to 'originalist' constitutional interpretation--albeit purely out of political expediency--we shall focus on the framer's intent in this regard.

First, the text of the amendment.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
There are several questions which need to be answered from the perspective of the times in which the amendment was written.
  1. What was a militia?  
A militia was a group of 'citizen soldiers' pulled from the general population at a moments notice.
  1. Where did the militia get its arms?
The militia's weapons belonged to the individual citizens.
  1. How does a militia compare to a standing army?
A standing army was a group of professional soldiers whose weapons were supplied by their government.
  1. Who would a militia fight against?
A militia would fight against invaders--either standing armies or other militias.
  1. Who has the right to keep and bear arms?
The people.

From this little exercise it is easy to see that the obvious interpretation of the second amendment, from an originalist standpoint, is that the people have the right to keep and bear weaponry sufficient to fight against an aggressor army or militia at a moments notice if called upon to do so.

Perhaps the left should go back to their living document approach.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

How Does Evolution Work?

For the life of me I can't figure out how evolution works.  I mean, I know in theory how it works---mutations, what works is kept, what doesn't is discarded---but I can't figure out how it actually works. 

I've been reading a cellular biology textbook for awhile now, and I find myself asking the same question on every page.  At the subcellular level, life consists of sequences of chemical reactions between all manner of molecular structures, in highly regulated step-by-step processes, interdependent with and coordinated with other processes on the same or higher levels.  How does a strictly regulated, interdependent, coordinated, complex sequence of events evolve?  Does it evolve from another strictly regulated, interdependent, coordinated, complex sequence of events?  How does that happen?  If it's a necessary sequence---as it must be to be there in the first place---you can't just change it so that it does something else with no regulation or coordination; that would be disastrous.  It all has to fit... it all has to work... every step, every time, or else it's discarded - right?

I'm asking the question in all honesty.  Seriously, if anyone has an answer, please comment below.  I want to get specific though.  I want to get into the nuts and bolts of how some existing sequence evolved, every step of the way: what it was previously, what it was at every change and why that would be conserved, and what it is today.  I'm not interested in a 'Creation vs. Evolution' debate, nor will I respond to trolls.  If you don't have an actual answer then please just go away.

Life is Unnatural

Life is unnatural.  Yes I believe that.  The natural state of something is the state in which it would remain if left alone, (think of how gases disseminate, or dust settles).   Life is unnatural because--rather than settle out, or disseminate--the things that work together to make something alive defy nature at every turn. 

Let me give one brief example.  Biological organisms are chock full of molecular structures called 'enzymes' which could be characterized as the 'worker bees' of cellular function: they get things done.  Now, there are certain enzymes that do nothing but facilitate chemical reactions.  We're not talking about everyday, run-of-the-mill, natural chemical reactions.  No, these chemical reactions take place at rates sometimes thousands of times faster and significantly cooler than they would occur 'naturally' (that is, unaided).  Normally, increasing the rate would increase the temperature, but enzymes somehow manage to make these reactions occur at faster rates and cooler temps. 

So you have these molecular structures, with no minds of their own, working together with other molecular structures, to bring about just the right chemical reaction, at just the right rate, and just the right temperature, to sustain life.  Now why would molecules do that?  What possible reason would a molecule have to work together with other molecules for anything?  It's positively unnatural!  Of course it's not just enzymes, there are thousands of molecular complexes throughout the biological realm that are actively working to circumvent nature.

Now if we were to witness unthinking entities doing unnatural things (like say, the brooms in the scene from Fantasia depicted above) we would immediately think "magic"... right?  No, actually "magic" would be the last thing a rational person would think.  We would suspect trickery or some sort of intelligent intervention to give the appearance of magic.  Why?  Because unthinking entities don't do things like that on their own.  It's just not natural.  So why do we give life a pass?  Why do we believe life is some sort of magical miracle and not the result of intelligent intervention?

I don't believe in magic.  Do you?

What Microsoft's Racist Chatbot Teaches Us About Austrian Economics

I'm sure we've all heard by now about Microsoft's failed chatbot experiment (where the Internet corrupted an innocent AI in just one day).  But what does that have to do with Austrian Economics?  Just this: the programmers of "Tay" the chatbot could not have predicted what millions of Internet users were going to do, and this--the unpredictability of human actions--is the central tenet of Austrian Economics.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

It's Time We ALL Vote Third Party!

For the sake of America, we need to end the two party stranglehold on politics in this country.  It is so bad now that even the most independent minded voters parrot the two-party-line that they must not "waste their vote" on a third party.  The thing is, voting for Democrats or Rebublicans is actually wasting a vote because it is just a vote to maintain the status quo.

We voters have been brainwashed into believing that there are significant differences between the two parties - but there are not.  The only real difference is in what they say.  They all appeal to their base - usually promising to spend more money on things their base wants.  As for how they actually govern - well, it's just one big lovefest: both parties in total collusion keeping the war machine going, the big banks happy, and the debt for future generations rising!!!

So why not just do it?   There are more unaffiliated voters in this country than there are Democrats or Republicans.  If every unaffiliated voter refused to vote D or R, that would be it - game over!!  So why don't we ALL vote third party this time around?  It doesn't really matter which third party candidate you vote for - as long as it's not a Democrat or Republican.  Just one election cycle with no votes for Democrats or Rebublicans would be enough to do it.  Congress would be filled with enough new blood, and new ideas, to effectively end crony-capitalism, the military industrial complex, corporate welfare, and all of the other evils perpetrated by the two-party duopoly on America.  If we want to send a loud, clear message to Washington D.C. (and to all our state and local governments as well), then refuse to vote Democrat or Republican.

So vote third party this time - and save America!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

On ISIS, Vietnam and the Military Industrial Complex

Right now, most conservatives truly believe that ISIS, and Islamic jihadists in general, are the greatest threat to American security on the globe.  That is total hogwash.  

Now, does that mean that I don't believe Islamic jihadists are dangerous?  No, I think they're dangerous, just like the communists in Vietnam were dangerous.  Are they 'greatest threat to American security on the globe, engage the entire US war machine' dangerous?  No way.  They are a localized threat to a distant region.  (At least that's all they would be if we left it alone!)  

In Vietnam, we were told by the American military propaganda machine that a failure to engage the communists would have a 'domino effect' - that communism would spread throughout the globe and that freedom everywhere would disappear.  Of course the only way to fight such an evil was with a limited, protracted military engagement that could never realistically be won but was guaranteed to keep the money flowing into corporate coffers.  (Sound familiar?)  And what good did it do?  Not a dang bit.  Saigon fell, we got the heck out, the communists took over and now we have trade and travel between our nations.  

Wait...  What?  

Yep, that's right, the domino effect was a lie.  After Saigon fell and the communists took over, their attempts to imprison the entire nation failed and eventually borders were opened and trade with Western nations was allowed.  And, just like the domino effect, the Islamic jihadist scare is also a lie.  You see, every totalitarian regime will eventually collapse under its own weight.  This is because it is impossible to enslave an entire population.  The average Vietnamese citizen was not a die-hard communist, just like the average Muslim is not a fanatical jihadist.  These are just people.  People with families, businesses, hopes and dreams.  In other words, they're just like us.  And if we, as a people, would rise up, dismantle the Military Industrial Complex, stop the senseless military engagements, bring the troops home and try something like, oh I don't know, free trade, we might just find that the average middle easterner would throw off the shackles the jihadists are trying to impose on them, and that political ideology would collapse under its own weight as well.