This document is approximately 6,522 words long.
This essay is LiteraShare.
That means that it isn't for sale and that it isn't protected by a formal
establishment copyright. As the author, I ask you to extend to me
the courtesy that is reasonably due. If you copy the essay, then
copy all of it including my name and address as shown on each page, and
this LiteraShare Statement. I invite you to provide such copies for
other readers. If you quote from the essay, then do so accurately
and give me credit. If you care to make a voluntary contribution
to me, then I prefer cash. For checks, money orders, or PayPal payments,
It's interesting that we're told in the Holy Bible that God confused the language, and then we're told that the Holy Bible is the Inspired Word of God. If the Holy Bible really is the Inspired Word of God, then we have to believe everything that's in it. Right? Then we have to believe the part about the Tower of Babel. But how much confidence can we have in something written and translated by people who were using confused languages, and Inspired by the God who confused those languages? Kind of confusing, isn't it? If somebody tells you "everything that I say is an absolute lie, including my present statement," then what do you believe?
Who says that the Holy Bible is the inspired word of God? The people who wrote it? What would you expect them to say? They wrote it. What about the preachers? Shouldn't they know? After all, they went to seminary.1 If I told you that this present essay is the Inspired Word of God, would that make it so? The fact is that unless you heard it from the Horse's Mouth, then the only proof that you have is what somebody told you. If you claim that you heard it from the Horse's Mouth then, with equal authority, so did I.
Let's look at this from somebody else's point of view. Here's
What can you say to that? Like Father, like Son, I suppose. Chip off tha ol' Block, I guess. All the way from Genesis to Matthew and they're still playing mind games. I'd like to mention in passing that many people who say that the Holy Bible is the Inspired Word of God are making a living from that belief. That doesn't necessarily prove that they're lying but it might make you wonder. Incidentally, I don't charge anything for my essays.
The "Some Things Can't Be Put Into Writing" Department
Examine this simple verse.
Something so simple would seem to be unambiguous. Yet, verbal intonation might give the verse many possible meanings, none of which are visible in the written form. For example, an emphasis on the conjunction and might imply that surviving both a theology and a war were necessary for the beginning of understanding. An emphasis on the word survived might imply that the survival was important, but that it need not necessarily have been both a war and a theology. After all, how does one survive a theology? (On second thought, it might be easier to survive a war.) An emphasis on the word I might imply a dispute over who was beginning to understand, and the survival of the war and the theology might be a supporting argument in favor of the speaker. Even different meanings might follow from an emphasis on beginning or understand. None of that can be determined by reading the written version and, indeed, in the written verse the potential ambiguity is invisible. The statement appears to be clear and simple. Even the context might not reveal all possible meanings, or even the intended meaning. And now ...
Those two translations might seem to agree but are they identical? No. Then they probably don't say the same thing. The King James Version indicates some sort of emphasis on is in two places, while no such emphasis occurs in the Revised Standard Version. Also, "… that ye enter not into temptation …." might be taken as a command or at least as an assurance but "… that ye may not enter into temptation …." could
very well be a conditional statement indicating uncertainty as to the outcome. Clearly, we don't know exactly what the Nazarene intended by the statement. Any ambiguity, however small, is significant in a body of belief that has resulted in wars, pogroms, persecutions, excommunications, and executions, all in the name of heresy. Assumptions regarding emphasis can radically transform the meaning yet, even today, Christians continue to pursue, judge, and condemn sin and heresy, based on such translations.
Understanding Christianity Through Newspeak
If you can control what people think, then you can control what people do. Such control has been attempted, sometimes successfully, throughout history. An example of such control was eloquently fictionalized in the novel 1984, by George Orwell. Depicted therein is a secular system of control, called Ingsoc, that employed all of the traditional tools of religion.
Significantly, one of the primary goals of Ingsoc was the control of
language. Ingsoc's primary tool for such control was the Newspeak
Dictionary. The philosophy of the Newspeak Dictionary
was eloquently summarized by Orwell through a fictional character named
Control of language implies control of thought. Religion has been attempting to do that at least since the book of Genesis, and Christianity at least since the writings of Matthew.
Efforts to control what people think are more likely to succeed if the
fear of some overpowering authority can be invoked. In Ingsoc, it
was the Thought Police. In Christianity, it is God. The similarity
is easier to recognize if Christianity is viewed in terms of Newspeak.
When people are prevented from saying certain things, or using certain words, that's an attempt at thought control. Some words are branded as obscene, then some statements are branded as blasphemous, and finally some actions are prohibited as sinful. God is invoked, and Presto! The people are being controlled.
How about sin? How do Christians feel about it? Let's get our answers from the Inspired Word of God. One thing that Christians believe about sin is that they can't avoid it.
They can't deny it.
They also believe that their unavoidable, undeniable sins caused their hero to get crucified.
Christians are taught that not only are they unavoidably sinners, but that it's their fault that their hero got killed. Drummed into them is the message that Jesus died for sinners living today, for the sins that they routinely commit. No wonder they're so defensive. How could they not be? They're taught that they're so rotten that the only way that God could save them was to have somebody else die for them. They're so incredibly rotten that not just anybody would do. It had the be Jesus Himself.
It would be ludicrous if it didn't have such a devastating effect on people. Here again, the ugly hand of Christianity can be seen more clearly in its fictional analog.
Substitute the word church for the word party and you'll pretty much get the idea.
So what's the result of the doctrine of sin? Does it make people nicer? No. It creates fear and guilt. Christians must fear themselves and the sins that they'll surely commit and they must feel guilty when they commit them. The doctrine of sin doesn't cause Christians to behave any better. It only forces them to choose between suppressing their desires or feeling guilty. In practice, they usually fail at the suppression and make up for it by succeeding at the guilt.
What eventually becomes clear is that when people are controlled by
sin, rather than by love, they don't become pure. They become sinners.
Human sexuality could, if uncorrupted by the idea of sin, be the greatest
physical expression of human love. Unfortunately, Christians have
not been content to degrade their own sexuality but have exported the contagion.
Thus, not only Christians but all people can be disgusted by one of their
most innate and irrepressible characteristics. Ultimately, a culture
composed of such people is a fundamentally sick culture.
So Christians are unavoidably and undeniably sinners and, because of that, Jesus died. Tithing and going to church don't relieve the guilt so how do Christians deal with the ongoing process of sin? One way is to shift the blame. It isn't the Christians' fault. The Devil Made Them Do It. Christian's are Tempted and they yield. They're still sinners but they don't have to be responsible.
Grammar Was Tense, But She Was Past Perfect
Some grammarians3 acknowledge six tenses in the English language: present tense, past tense, future tense, present perfect tense, past perfect tense, and future perfect tense. There are also so-called progressive forms of verbs, emphatic forms of verbs, simple futurity, using shall and will, determination, threat, or promise, using will and shall (they arbitrarily reverse places in the conjugation with respect to simple futurity), and special cases of shall, will, should, and would. I wouldn't be surprised if the grammarians are more tense than the verbs are.
There are a lot of gaps and inconsistencies in the structure of English tenses and I believe that the grammarians are wrong in some cases. Consider this simple sentence.
The tense of the verb form have earned will be described by a grammarian as present perfect.5 However, it describes something that is done, over with, finished, and in the past. If it's completed, then it's past. Now, consider this sentence.
By the time that I became pregnant, I had earned a reputation.
The tense of the verb form had earned will be described as past perfect. The only difference between the so-called present perfect and the so-called past perfect is that the past perfect must follow some other past tense verb. I believe that both tenses are past tenses and need new names. The more you examine English tenses, the more bizarre it gets.
How about the past perfect progressive got-caught-ive tense "I had been seen?" How about the present perfect progressive got-caught-ive tense "I have been seen"? They ain't even in the table! You see what I mean? Should you have seen what I meant? Shall you have been seeing what I will mean?
Each language handles tenses differently. For example, the past
tense of Russian inflects by gender: byl, I (masculine) was;
I (feminine) was; and bylo, I (neuter) was. Every verbal
concept in Russian is either perfective or imperfective and therefore requires
at least two verbs. Some verbal concepts in Russian require a third
verb to indicate that an action is usual or habitual. The English
verb walk, for example, has three conjugations in Russian: idti
(to be in the act of walking),
paidti (to have completed the act
of walking), and khodit (to walk frequently or habitually).
According to one source, in Japanese there aren't any plurals. If
that is really true, then the same Japanese sentence could just as easily
mean "The man propositions the woman," "The men proposition the woman,"
"The man propositions the women," or "The men proposition the women."
The implications, as they say, are astounding. Clearly, there are
things that cannot be translated exactly from one language into another.8
Christians claim to be loving, forgiving, and non-judgemental, yet they believe that God is going to send non-believers to Hell. That might make it a little difficult for a Christian to love his enemy, to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile, and so forth. However, it makes it really easy for him to justify why missionaries ought to go forth and preach the Word.
You've heard of the missionaries. They're the ones who save the
heathens of the world. The heathens are the ones who have cultures
evolved over many generations, societies that have survived for hundreds
of years, and who don't know about Jesus. Missionaries go teach those
folks how to live. At this point, I'd like to mention psychoneurosis.
Maybe. Maybe not. But with sex being such a big sin, it does give you something to ponder. Missionary-mania might not represent a re-direction of a repressed sex drive but clearly Christians haven't yet learned how to run their own affairs. That being the case, it's presumptuous beyond belief that they send out missionaries.
Why don't they practice what they preach?
Christian missionaries don't even restrict their intrusions to so-called
heathens. They try to tell all of us that our beliefs are false,
that we will suffer eternal punishment for our actions, and that what we've
been doing for pleasure and procreation is a disgusting, filthy sin.
It's a sad comment on the gullibility of people that so many have been
converted. It's a surprising example of uncharacteristic tolerance
that so many missionaries have survived.
When you consider that life is already sufficiently filled with anguish, then it's appalling that Christian missionaries insist upon adding theirs, along with all of the other burdens that we must already bear.
The sign was modified by local boys.
Another example was reported to me by a chemistry professor, Dr. Cottingham I believe, at San Antonio Junior College. During his study of chemistry, he attempted to reproduce an experiment that was documented in his class workbook. He reached a point at which the instruction was to add to his concoction one drop of Bromine, which he did. The beaker immediately disintegrated into smithereens. He picked himself up, dusted himself off, and took a second look at the instruction. It happened that Bromine was the last word on the page and then he noticed that there wasn't a period after the word. He turned the page and the sentence continued. The instruction had been to use Bromine solution, diluted to a specified concentration. Finally, here's an extra example, free of charge. Notice the different meanings (and the very different implications) of these two sentences.
For yet another example, notice in the following translations of scripture two differences in punctuation.
In the King James Version, the comma sets off "that ye enter not into temptation" as a nonrestrictive clause. A nonrestrictive clause isn't essential to complete the meaning of the sentence. According to that comma the King James translation could have been, without an essential change in meaning:
In the Revised Standard Version, the part about temptation is an essential part of the first clause and cannot be eliminated.
Since "Watch and pray" is set apart in the King James Version, it appears that both watching and praying are prerequisites to not entering temptation. The Revised Standard Version, however, lacks that comma. In that translation, the statement about temptation has a definite connection with pray but not necessarily with watch. That is, it could be two separate instructions, depending upon how you interpret the grammar. The statement might tell us to watch and also tell us to pray that we may not enter into temptation. In that case, we don't know what we're supposed to watch.
In the King James Version, the main clauses are separated by a colon. The second main clause is therefore an appositive clause and explains or supports the first clause. Presumably, weak flesh explains the need to watch and pray. The Revised Standard Version uses a semicolon. That means that the second clause does not directly support the first one but only provides further information. In that translation, it appears that weak flesh is incidental to the need to pray but is perhaps of interest for other reasons.
Christians ignore such disparities between translations yet persist
in claiming that the Holy Bible is the Inspired Word of God.
Indeed, some Christians collect as many versions of the Holy Bible
as possible and search out the differences. They believe that by
examining the evidence of faulty translation they are achieving a better
understanding of God's True Word. George Orwell might have referred
to such mental gymnastics as Doublethink. I refer to them as Utter
What use is Hell to a loving, forgiving God? Good question. If He was malicious, sadistic, and hateful then He might want a place for folks who didn't appease His frail ego with sufficient supplications, offerings, prostrations, and effacements. On the other hand, if God is self-confident, secure in His position, understanding, loving, supportive, forgiving, and considerate, then He doesn't need to resort to spiteful, vengeful retribution. So, what use is Hell to God? You guessed it. None.
What use is Hell, on the other hand, to a preacher who's losing his
grip on his congregation? Maybe he can use Hell to scare the pants
back onto them. Maybe he can keep the offering plate full, and thereby
his own belly. Maybe he can keep the pews loaded. Hell could
be a real motivator for people who might otherwise carouse on Saturday
night and sleep late on Sunday morning.
Orwell's description seems less abstract, more plausible, and (I dare say) more familiar, when slightly modified.
There's nothing wrong with reading the Holy Bible and deriving
from it whatever comfort, wisdom, pleasure, or entertainment might be contained
therein. However, there
have been many translations of the Holy Bible into English, every one of them different from the others.10 If one of them was accomplished under Divine Inspiration, then which one was it? If they all were, then God has indeed created a Tower of Bible and confounded man's understanding. Comfort, wisdom, pleasure, and entertainment are all well and good but what of judgment and execution of non-believers? What of coercive control of people's behavior? What of condemnation and corruption of the beliefs of others? I think not.
What can you conclude from all of this? Anything that you want. I guess that's the point, isn't it? One of my conclusions is that an exact translation of the Holy Bible into English from the original spoken word would be a more profound miracle than the resurrection itself. The record of events and statements in the Holy Bible (you choose the version) cannot possibly be a true, accurate, and unambiguous account of actual events. We can't reliably know what happened yesterday. How can anybody presume to know accurately what happened 2000 years ago? Nobody knows what was originally said, or done, at or before the time of the Nazarene. Given that, I think that Christians are way out of line to act so holy. Their claim to be God's pipeline to man is insolent beyond belief. Their persistent persecution of unbelievers is well within the bounds of criminal mania.
If God speaks to men, then it is when and as He chooses. He might speak directly, through others, through events, or in ways that we never imagined. No one has unique access to God and no one has a charter more sacred than my own to save me from sin, from damnation, or from myself. The most useful lesson to be learned from 2000 years of Christianity is to be wary of someone who wants to save your soul. He probably wants to use it for his own purposes.
I'll close with a bit of advice from the work of William Shakespeare.
I have my own version of that advice, modified into a warning specifically for Christians.
Here are some additional examples of language translation problems, sent to me by an associate on June 25, 2004.
The American Dairy Association was so successful with its "Got Milk?" campaign, that it was decided to extend the ads to Mexico. Unfortunately, the Spanish translation was "Are you lactating?"
Electrolux, a Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer, used this ad in the U.S.: "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux."
Colgate introduced a toothpaste called "Cue" in France, but it turned out to be the same name as a well-known porno magazine.
When Braniff translated a slogan touting its upholstery, "Fly in leather," it came out in Spanish as "Fly naked."
Coors put its slogan, "Turn it loose," into Spanish, where it was read as "Suffer from diarrhea."
Chicken magnate Frank Perdue's line, "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken," sounds much more interesting in Spanish: "It takes a sexually stimulated man to make a chicken affectionate."
Bacardi concocted a fruity drink with the name "Pavian" to suggest French chic ... but "pavian" means "baboon" in German.
A hair products company, Clairol, introduced the "Mist Stick", a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that mist is slang for manure.
When Kentucky Fried Chicken entered the Chinese market, to their horror they discovered that their slogan "finger lickin' good" came out as "eat your fingers off."
Parker Pens translated the slogan for its ink, "Avoid Embarrassment — Use Quink" into Spanish as "Evite Embarazos — Use Quink" ... which also means, "Avoid Pregnancy — Use Quink."
When Pepsi started marketing its products in China a few years back, they translated their slogan, "Pepsi Brings You Back to Life" pretty literally. The slogan in Chinese really meant, "Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back from the Grave."
In Italy, a campaign for "Schweppes Tonic Water" translated the name into the much less thirst quenching "Schweppes Toilet Water."
Chinese translation proved difficult for Coke, which took two tries
to get it right. They first tried Ke-kou-ke-la because when pronounced
it sounded roughly like Coca-Cola. It wasn't until after thousands
of signs had been printed that they discovered that the phrase means "bite
the wax tadpole" or "female horse stuffed with wax," depending on the dialect.
Second time around things worked out much better. After researching
40,000 Chinese characters, Coke came up with "ko-kou-ko-le" which translates
roughly to the much more appropriate "happiness in the mouth."
The Chevy Nova never sold well in Spanish speaking countries. "No va" means "it doesn't go" in Spanish.
When Gerber first started selling baby food in Africa, they used the
same packaging as here in the USA — with the cute baby on the label.
Later they found out that in Africa companies routinely put pictures on
the label of what's inside since most people can't read.