28 December 2012

Piers Morgan: The Bible is flawed and should be amended

On Christmas Eve, Piers Morgan interviewed Rick Warren. Here are some excerpts:

On slavery:
MORGAN: -- He [Abraham Lincoln] knew instinctively it was just wrong, unfair, unequal.

WARREN: And why did he know that? Because it's in the Bible.

[No it isn't. See here for what the Bible says about slavery.]

On rape:
WARREN: I think the Bible is true; not everything in the Bible that is explained in the Bible does the Bible commend.

For instance, there's rape in the Bible. The Bible's clearly against rape.

[No it isn't. See here for what the Bible says about rape.]

On adultery:
MORGAN: But the Bible says if you commit adultery, you're going to be stoned to death.

WARREN: That's -- that is a, as we said before, that's a civil law for the nation of Israel.

MORGAN: But it's still an element of the Bible that is flawed.

WARREN: Well, evidently, for that generation, that's their -- that's their commandment. ... But it's not one of the moral laws.

[Yes it is. See here for the Bible's (im)moral law on adultery.]

On Amending the Bible:
MORGAN: The Bible and the Constitution were well intentioned, but they are basically inherently flawed. Hence the need to amend it.

My point to you about gay rights, for example, it's time for an amendment to the Bible.

WARREN: Not a chance. What I -- what I believe is flawed is human opinion because it constantly changes. In fact, we do it every eight years in America. We have a -- we have a change in opinion; what was -- what was hot is now not.

And I willingly admit -- willingly admit that I base my world view on the Bible, which I believe is true, and truth -- my definition of truth is if it's new, it's not true. If it was true 1,000 years ago, it'll be true 1,000 years from today. Opinion changes, but truth doesn't.

MORGAN: We're going to agree to disagree on that.

Watch Rick Warren lie and squirm his way out of the obvious truth of Piers Morgan's statements about the Bible.

17 December 2012

The perfect (late) Christmas present!

OK, so it won't be here in time for Christmas.

But you can buy the book and present a card announcing your gift, which is just about as good.

16 December 2012

Mosiah 11: Wicked King Noah

Zeniff's reign was at an end, and he conferred the kingdom upon his son, Noah.  Noah was a wicked king.  Unlike his father, he taxed the people, and spent the tax revenue on concubines, his priests, and a newly-constructed palace filled with precious things.
...Zeniff conferred the kingdom upon Noah 11:1 
...He did not keep the commandments of God ... And he had many wives and concubines. 11:2 
And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed. 11:3 
And all this did he take to support himself, and his wives and his concubines; and also his priests, and their wives and their concubines; thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom. 11:4
And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things. 11:9
 He also built a very high tower, so he could see everything in his kingdom.
And it came to pass that he built a tower near the temple; yea, a very high tower, even so high that he could stand upon the top thereof and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon, which was possessed by the Lamanites; and he could even look over all the land round about. 11:12
Since there is no archaeological evidence, I'm
going to assume that Noah's tower looked like
Sauron's tower, Barad-dûr.  Both towers share
 an equal chance of actually existing in the New
World at the time.

King Noah was so evil that he even became a wine-bibber.
And it came to pass that he planted vineyards round about in the land; and he built wine-presses, and made wine in abundance; and therefore he became a wine-bibber, and also his people.11:15 
Then the Lamanites started attacking Noah's people.  He wasn't very good at protecting them, though.  (He was too busy wine-bibbing with his concubines in his exceedingly high tower.)  He sends out guards, but it is too little, too late.
The Lamanites began to come in upon his people ... to slay them in their fields, and while they were tending their flocks. 11:16  
And king Noah sent guards round about the land to keep them off; but he did not send a sufficient number, and the Lamanites came upon them and killed them. 11:17
They have a battle, and Noah's people win.  They then start boasting, and delighting in the blood of their victory.  Everyone joined in, except a man named Abinadi.  Abinadi began to prophesy unto them, telling them how wicked they all were, and how they should repent (or else).
And now, because of this great victory they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength, saying that their fifty could stand against thousands of the Lamanites; and thus they did boast, and did delight in blood, and the shedding of the blood of their brethren, and this because of the wickedness of their king and priests. 11:19 
And it came to pass that there was a man among them whose name was Abinadi; and he went forth among them, and began to prophesy, saying: Behold, thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me, saying, Go forth, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord -- Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms; and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger. 11:20
After Abinadi was done with his prophesying, the people were angry with him.  They tried to kill him, but God didn't let them.  When King Noah found out about it, he ordered that Abinadi be brought to him so he could kill him.
Now it came to pass that when Abinadi had spoken these words unto them they were wroth with him, and sought to take away his life; but the Lord delivered him out of their hands. 11:26 
Now when king Noah had heard of the words which Abinadi had spoken unto the people, he was also wroth; and he said: Who is Abinadi, that I and my people should be judged of him, or who is the Lord, that shall bring upon my people such great affliction? 11:27

The chapter ends with a cliffhanger.... What will happen to Abinadi?  You'll just have to wait until next time.

11 December 2012

Beta Testing is now closed

Hello Everyone!

Due to the enthusiastic response (and my full inbox), Beta Testing is now closed.

Thanks for the interest!

10 December 2012

iPhone App Beta Testers Needed!

Calling all iPhone/iPad/iPod touch users!  We have been working on a SAB app for some time now, and it's finally time for beta testing.  We're looking for people who are willing to spend some real time with the app, get a feel for it and then send in feedback/corrections to our app designer.  If you are interested and have an iDevice running iOS 5 or later, then send an email to SABappfeedback@gmail.com


Philip and Steve

Mosiah 10: 22 years of peace

After the bloodshed in the last chapter, Zeniff wises up and prepares for the next onslaught of Lamanites.  He tells his people to make every kind of weapon, and he posts guards around the land.
10:1 And it came to pass that we again began to establish the kingdom and we again began to possess the land in peace. And I caused that there should be weapons of war made of every kind, that thereby I might have weapons for my people against the time the Lamanites should come up again to war against my people. 
10:2 And I set guards round about the land, that the Lamanites might not come upon us again unawares and destroy us; and thus I did guard my people and my flocks, and keep them from falling into the hands of our enemies.
Its seemed to work pretty well, too.  They had 22 years of continual peace, which is pretty good for the Book of Mormon.
10:3 And it came to pass that we did inherit the land of our fathers for many years, yea, for the space of twenty and two years.
But when King Laman died, his son began to reign, and he lost no time getting ready for battle.
10:6 And it came to pass that king Laman died, and his son began to reign in his stead. And he began to stir his people up in rebellion against my people; therefore they began to prepare for war, and to come up to battle against my people.
Then Zeniff saw a host of Lamanites on a hill overlooking his land (Lamanites are easy to identify, since they shave their heads and walk around in leather underwear).   Zeniff hid all of the women and children in the woods and armed the men and boys for battle.
10:8 And it came to pass that they came up upon the north of the land of Shilom, with their numerous hosts, men armed with bows, and with arrows, and with swords, and with cimeters, and with stones, and with slings; and they had their heads shaved that they were naked; and they were girded with a leathern girdle about their loins.   
10:9 And it came to pass that I caused that the women and children of my people should be hid in the wilderness; and I also caused that all my old men that could bear arms, and also all my young men that were able to bear arms, should gather themselves together to go to battle against the Lamanites; and I did place them in their ranks, every man according to his age.
Before the battle, Zeniff rouses his troops with a speech about the Lamanites, and why they hate the Nephites so much.  Apparently the Lamanites were wroth with the the Nephites from the beginning, and are still wroth with them today (who would have guessed?).  They still teach their children to hate the Nephites with an "eternal hatred".  So it's best to kill them when you get the chance.  It makes you wonder why Zeniff wanted to defend them so badly last chapter... 
10:12 They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers, which is this -- Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers, and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren, and they were also wronged while crossing the sea;
10:17 And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.

Of course the good guys win the battle, but Zeniff doesn't provide any details.  Instead, he passes the kingdom to his son, Noah.  Then he signs off.
10:20 And it came to pass that we did drive them again out of our land; and we slew them with a great slaughter, even so many that we did not number them.
10:22 And now I, being old, did confer the kingdom upon one of my sons; therefore, I say no more. And may the Lord bless my people. Amen.

The next chapter introduces King Noah, who is a fun character.  He is the preferred villain in the Book of Mormon, so we'll have some fun with him.

08 December 2012

Mosiah 9: The start of the Record of Zeniff

Chapters 9-22 in the Book of Mosiah are a flashback that recount the Record of Zeniff (Zeniff was the first guy to leave Zarahemla to try to find the Nephites.)  If you remember, in the last post, King Limhi presented Ammon with two sets of plates.  The first set of plates were the Record of Zeniff, and the second set of plates were the mysterious plates of pure gold that were found by his people when they were lost, wandering among the ruins in the "land of many waters".  

Got that straight?  Okay, here we go.

Zeniff and his men were originally sent from Zarahemla on a reconnaissance mission to find out the strengths and weaknesses of the Lamanite army. Once Zeniff saw the Lamanites, however, he saw "that which was good among them" and he didn't want them to be destroyed.  Go figure.
9:1 I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers' first inheritance, and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them -- but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed.
Zeniff asked his group's leader to make a treaty with them, but this didn't go so well.  The leader commanded that Zeniff be killed for even suggesting such a thing.  Some sided with Zeniff, and this led to infighting where "father fought against father, and brother fought against brother."  Most of the group died in the fighting.  The rest of the group returned with Zeniff to Zarahemla to tell the cool story to their wives and children.
9:2 Therefore, I contended with my brethren in the wilderness for I would that our ruler should make a treaty with them; but he being an austere and a bloodthirsty man commanded that I should be slain; but I was rescued by the shedding of much blood; for father fought against father, and brother against brother, until the greater number of our army was destroyed in the wilderness; and we returned, those of us that were spared, to the land of Zarahemla, to relate that tale to their wives and their children.
Then they decide to go back.  They wander in the wilderness, and it is a pretty tough journey, since they were "slow to remember God."  God punishes Zeniff's people with famine and sore afflictions, but they make it there eventually.  Maybe next time they will be quicker to remember God.
 9:3 And yet, I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our journey into the wilderness to go up to the land; but we were smitten with famine and sore afflictions; for we were slow to remember the Lord our God.  
9:4 Nevertheless, after many days' wandering in the wilderness we pitched our tents in the place where our brethren were slain, which was near to the land of our fathers.  
Once they set up camp, Zeniff picks four of his men and goes down to meet the Lamanite king.
9:5 And it came to pass that I went again with four of my men into the city, in unto the king, that I might know of the disposition of the king, and that I might know if I might go in with my people and possess the land in peace.
It goes surprisingly well.  The Lamanite king commands his people to clear the land immediately, and he gives the land to Zeniff and his people.  Score! They start repairing walls and growing crops and stuff.
9:6 And I went in unto the king, and he covenanted with me that I might possess the land of Lehi-Nephi, and the land of Shilom.  
9:7 And he also commanded that his people should depart out of the land, and I and my people went into the land that we might possess it.  
9:8 And we began to build buildings, and to repair the walls of the city, yea, even the walls of the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom.
9:9 And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land.
 King Laman had a cunning and crafty plan, though.  He only gave them the land so that he could put them in bondage later.
9:10 Now it was the cunning and the craftiness of king Laman, to bring my people into bondage, that he yielded up the land that we might possess it.
Twelve years later, King Laman enacts his plan.  Zeniff's people are attacked by a host of Lamanites.  The people rush to Zeniff for protection.
9:11 Therefore it came to pass, that after we had dwelt in the land for the space of twelve years that king Laman began to grow uneasy, lest by any means my people should wax strong in the land, and that they could not overpower them and bring them into bondage.
9:13 Therefore it came to pass that king Laman began to stir up his people that they should contend with my people; therefore there began to be wars and contentions in the land.
9:15 Yea, And it came to pass that they fled, all that were not overtaken, even into the city of Nephi, and did call upon me for protection.
Unfortunately for the Lamanites, Zeniff is prepared.  He arms his people with all kinds of weapons (they even invent some) and they cried out mightily to the Lord for help in battle.  The Lord hears them, and they defeat the Lamanites, 3,043 to 279.
9:16 And it came to pass that I did arm them with bows, and with arrows, with swords, and with cimeters, and with clubs, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons which we could invent, and I and my people did go forth against the Lamanites to battle.   
9:17 Yea, in the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle against the Lamanites; for I and my people did cry mightily to the Lord that he would deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, for we were awakened to a remembrance of the deliverance of our fathers.  
9:18 And God did hear our cries and did answer our prayers; and we did go forth in his might; yea, we did go forth against the Lamanites, and in one day and a night we did slay three thousand and forty-three; we did slay them even until we had driven them out of our land.

9:19 And I, myself, with mine own hands, did help to bury their dead. And behold, to our great sorrow and lamentation, two hundred and seventy-nine of our brethren were slain.

In the next chapter, Zeniff wises up and stockpiles weapons in case the Lamanites come back.  Until then...

05 December 2012

God hates Christmas trees

Those who have read the Bible know that the God of love hates many things. And Christmas trees are on his most hated list.

Here's what he has to say about them.
Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen.... For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest ... with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold. Jeremiah 10:2-4
There are a couple other verses that sound like condemnations of Christmas trees, celebrations, fires, and roast beast. But, hey, it's the Bible. Who knows what the hell it means?
The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. He ... chooseth a tree ... to prepare a graven image. Isaiah 40:19-20
He heweth him down cedars ... among the trees of the forest ... yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread ... he maketh it a graven image ... he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire. Isaiah 44:14-16
That's what I was just saying to myself: Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire.

02 December 2012

Mosiah 8: A Seer is Greater Than a Prophet

After King Limhi is done with his speech, he makes Ammon tell everyone what his people have been up to since the time that Zeniff left the land of Zarahemla.  Ammon agrees, and throws in King Benjamin's speech as a bonus.
8:1 And it came to pass that after king Limhi had made an end of speaking to his people, for he spake many things unto them and only a few of them have I written in this book, he told his people all the things concerning their brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla.
8:2 And he caused that Ammon should stand up before the multitude, and rehearse unto them all that had happened unto their brethren from the time that Zeniff went up out of the land even until the time that he himself came up out of the land. 
8:3 And he also rehearsed unto them the last words which king Benjamin had taught them, and explained them to the people of king Limhi, so that they might understand all the words which he spake.
After all of this, King Limhi dismisses his people and the "multitude" go home.
8:4 And it came to pass that after he had done all this, that king Limhi dismissed the multitude, and caused that they should return every one unto his own house.
The fun is only just beginning, though.  Lemhi brings out the plates of his people and makes Ammon read them.
8:5 And it came to pass that he caused that the plates which contained the record of his people from the time that they left the land of Zarahemla, should be brought before Ammon, that he might read them.
After Ammon finishes reading the plates, Limhi asks him if he can interpret languages. Ammon says he can't (although at this point he might just be getting tired of reading plates and giving speeches).
8:6 Now, as soon as Ammon had read the record, the king inquired of him to know if he could interpret languages, and Ammon told him that he could not. 
Then King Limhi launches into another story.  He explains how he sent a search party to find Zarahemla, but they couldn't find it.  They got lost in the wilderness for many days and came upon a land of many waters, which was covered with the bones of men and beasts.  Among the ruins they found 24 golden engraved plates, breastplates of brass and copper, and rusty swords.
8:7 And the king said unto him: Being grieved for the afflictions of my people, I caused that forty and three of my people should take a journey into the wilderness, that thereby they might find the land of Zarahemla, that we might appeal unto our brethren to deliver us out of bondage.
8:8 And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel.  
8:9 And for a testimony that the things that they had said are true they have brought twenty-four plates which are filled with engravings, and they are of pure gold.  
8:10 And behold, also, they have brought breastplates, which are large, and they are of brass and of copper, and are perfectly sound.
Then King Limhi asks him again if he can translate, or if he knows anyone else who can.  Ammon says that the King of Zarahemla could probably do it.  He's a seer, after all.
8:12 And I say unto thee again: Knowest thou of any one that can translate? For I am desirous that these records should be translated into our language. 
8:13 Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer. 
8:14 And behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things, and who has this high gift from God.
King Limhi was happy to have found a seer.  Both Ammon and Limhi agreed that seers are far superior to prophets.  You see, a seer is both a revelator and a prophet.  (Of course, Joseph Smith was all three).
8:15 And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet. A seer is greater than a prophet. He is a revelator with a Divine gift that is greater than all others. 
8:16 And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.
Seers are handy to have around, because they reveal stuff, tell secrets, light up hidden things, make things known, and make other things known that couldn't have been known otherwise.  It's a hard job.
8.17 By them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things with are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.

The next 13 chapters of Mosiah are known as "The Record of Zeniff."  They are a flashback that covers from the time Zeniff left Zarahemla to the time of King Limhi. I'll get to all that in the next exciting episode of the Book of Mormon.