Did Noah’s Curse Turn Ham’s Skin Black?

April 15th, 2012

The Bible does not specifically refer to Ham being turned black as a result of Noah’s curse. Although the Bible is not definitive on this question, some Bible scholars have come to this conclusion, and I’ll address their lines of reasoning below. The relevant passage is Genesis 9:18-27 which reads as follows:

“18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the whole earth. 20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.’ 26 He also said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27 May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.’”

The key phrases for this discussion are “may Canaan be the slave of Shem” (verse 26), and “may Canaan be the slave of Japheth” in verse 27.

Historians have reasoned that as the descendants of Noah’s three sons relocated and separated (verse 19), they re-populated the world as follows:

- Shem – The Middle East nations
- Ham – The continent of Africa
- Japheth – The European and other western nations

So, it seems to make sense that the descendants of Ham may have re-populated the African nations, and, of course, these nations are predominantly black.

Those who believe that Noah’s curse turned Ham’s skin black will quickly point out that Ham was Canaan’s father (verses 18 & 22), so they stretch this curse to include Ham as well as Canaan. However, Ham had other sons as well, including Cush, Egypt and Put (Genesis 10:6). Nevertheless, it does make some sense that dark-skinned people could have come from Canaan. On the other hand, it might make more sense if dark-skinned people came from the other sons: Cush (modern day Sudan and other African nations), Egypt (obviously, modern day Egypt), and Put (modern day Libya).

However, one caveat to this logic is that the land of Canaan is in the Middle East–not Africa. So, since Noah’s curse was specifically placed upon Canaan, and perhaps not on Cush, Egypt, and Put, then all of this seems somewhat reversed. In addition, there has been much scientific study as to what changes the pigmentation (color) of skin over the course of many generations. Many scientists believe that, in general, skin color is darker for those living closer to the equator, and lighter for those living farther from the equator. So, this could also explain the black skin of the African people.

There is one more thing to consider here. Noah’s curse specifically mentioned Canaan as being the slave of Shem and the slave of Japheth. Over the centuries, it does indeed appear that the descendants of Ham (again, dark-skinned people of Africa, although not necessarily of Canaan) were in many cases the slaves of the descendants of Japheth (the western nations).

Proving God

March 29th, 2012

I recently viewed a DVD from the History Channel entitled Proving God. It looked at the possibilities of reconciling science with faith, and whether or not science might one day be able to prove (or disprove) the existence of God. It talks about the possible discovery of the Theory of Everything (TOE), where some hope to find “the God Particle” to explain gravity, nuclear forces, chemical interactions, electro-magnetism, quantum mechanics, and life itself.

It explained the science behind the proton collision of the Large Hedron Collider (LHC), and the possibility of being able to explain the Big Bang Theory, and what was before the Big Bang. Some hope to be able to either replace God with science or produce evidence of God. To many, evolution offers the best scientific explanation of life. Still there’s much debate about whether or not everything happened by chance, or by necessity. Stephen Hawking as said, “… the universe can and will create itself.” We don’t need God. Others favor the Theory of the Fine-Tuned Universe, with God is the architect.

Of course, science cannot prove God, but He is certainly suggested. So how does one go about trying to find quantifiable proof of a Creator? Is there tangible evidence of God on earth? Can we use science to prove that God exists and that the Bible is the literal Word of God? One suggestion was to find the lost Ark of the Covenant. It was a central treasure to the Jewish religion, and therefore to Judeo-Christian truth. Some believe that it’s locked away in an obscure part of Ethiopia, and they are even trying to do DNA testing on people there to try to trace them back to the nation of Israel. Of course, even discovering the Ark of the Covenant would not constitute enough evidence for some people to see the physical proof of God.

Well, this video sets out to use scientific investigation to prove whether or not certain miracles of the Bible could have occurred. Although we will examine this further below, we first need to discuss the concept of a miracle. What is a miracle? The dictionary defines a miracle as being an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

Click here for the full article.

Economic Generations of the 20th Century

March 28th, 2012

Tom Brokaw coined the term “The Greatest Generation” for that generation that won World War II for us.  I believe that there are some very interesting observations about the various generations of the U.S. in the 20th century, especially from an economic perspective.  We might be able to break down these generations as follows:

The Lost Generations 

Click here for the full article.

Is Social Security an Entitlement?

March 27th, 2012

There has been an e-mail circulating recently where a guy is upset with government spending, and also that the federal government has changed how they’re referring to social security payments. They’re now calling them “Federal Benefit Payments” (on the check themselves). In other words, he’s upset that they’re now officially being referred to as entitlements, but he feels like he has “earned” his payments because of all of the Social Security taxes he paid over the years. He goes on to cite how much more money he could have had if he had been able to invest that money himself. 

Well, I agree that our government is bloated, getting away with too much and spending too much, including what we spend on government employees and pension, foreign aid, etc. I also agree that we would be better off over the course of our lifetimes if we could take our Social Security taxes and invest this in the private sector, leaving the government (and its huge overhead) out of it. (Bush tried this in 2005, and it got nowhere, basically because it was misunderstood as a threat against senior citizens.) 

However, I don’t agree with the assumptions made in this e-mail about how much one would have if he could invest his own Social Security money, because: 1) The 4% and 5% interest rates that are used are unreasonable. Today’s rate on CDs is more like 0.2%. This cuts the assumed amount by about 65% (back to less than what he will collect in Social Security); and, 2) For most people, if they’re not forced to save it, they won’t. 

Also, I do believe that Social Security (along with Medicare) is an entitlement program because the government collects taxes and then (after the overhead) redistributes the (remaining) money to select groups of people. 

However, the main things that I disagreed with were his statements concerning senior citizens: 

- “We’re ‘broke’ and can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, and Homeless.” 

- “Our retired seniors living on a ‘fixed income’ receive no aid nor do they get any breaks…” 

Consider an average elderly man who was born in 1929, and who made average wages all of his life. He entered the workforce in about 1947 and worked for 45 years, retiring in 1992. Even if he reached the maximum SS wage limit each year, he paid a total of only $37,000 into SS. However, during the 20 years that he has been retired, he has received $300,000 in Social Security payments (an 800% return). Also, he paid about $8,000 into Medicare, but Medicare has paid $300,000 of his medical bills (a 3,700% return). 

So, I believe that we do indeed “help our own Seniors,…” I don’t see how anyone can say that our senior citizens don’t receive any aid or that they don’t get any breaks, just because they’re living on a “fixed income,” because: 1) Their income isn’t really fixed, because they receive periodic adjustments for inflation, just like the rest of us who get an occasional 2 or 3% increase; and, 2) Many senior citizens make more money than the rest of us, especially when considering their Social Security payments, Medicare benefits, pensions, and gains on personal savings. 

We also help our veterans with pensions and medical benefits for life. And, we help our orphans and homeless with programs like Public Assistance (welfare), food stamps, Medicaid, and free school lunches. I would argue that we spend one or two trillion dollars every year helping “our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, and Homeless.”

Why We Need to End the Afghanistan War

March 14th, 2012

1) After 11 years, we’re still not willing to win the war.  We haven’t had the will to decisively win a war since WW II. 

2) We have unclear objectives.  We never should have sent troops to either Iraq or Afghanistan.  Here are some of the excuses we used: 

- The bad guys were in Afghanistan.  (Probably as soon as we arrived, most of the Taliban leaders fled to Pakistan.) 

- The bad guys were in Iraq; i.e., Bin Laden and Hussein were allies.  There is still no indication that this was true. 

- Iraq was violating U.N. sanctions.  This is always a good excuse for war, but sometimes we act on it, and other times we don’t (the U.S.S.R.). 

- Iraq was going to develop a nuclear bomb.  There seems to have been no validity to this. 

- Iraq had other weapons of mass destruction.  This was never proven either. 

3) We have now become the aggressors.  The valid reason for going to war is when an aggressor attacks.  Not only did neither of these countries attack us (although the terrorists initially lived in Afghanistan), we have now become the bad guys.  We are the ones who started the Iraqi War.  Iraq finally demanded that we leave, and now Afghanistan doesn’t want us there either. 

4) When we’re not willing to win, and the war is too drawn out, our troops and our citizens become war weary.  Not only have we now become the aggressors, but we have also now become terrorists.  The soldier who murdered 16 Afghan civilians reminded me of the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam in 1968.  When our objectives are unclear, and we’re unwilling to win, everything becomes meaningless and we start acting irrationally. 

5) Neither war has been worth it.  6,396 of our soldiers have been killed, and over 120,000 more have been injured (45,000 battlefield injuries plus 75,000 cases of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other issues after returning home).  Including coalition forces and civilians (mostly Iraqi), hundreds of thousands more have been killed, and still more Iraqi families have been displaced and they’ve had their lives turned upside down.  In addition, these wars have cost trillions of dollars. 

To put it another way:  In order to avenge the deaths of 3,000 people killed on 9/11, we have been willing to sacrifice another 6,396 lives of our own people, and another 120,000 injuries.  The negative impact of all of this has directly affected millions more of our own people (family and friends), not to mention millions more among our allies.  Yet we have not been willing to decisively win either war, and we have not been effective in dismantling the Taliban. 

If we insist on starting more wars (like maybe in Syria or Iran), we should make them air wars and not send any troops there.  We should bring our soldiers home, teach a few of them how to fly bombers, and teach the rest of them how to make bombs.  We should tolerate no more casualties from stepping on IEDs.

How Can We Teach Children How to Go to Heaven?

February 27th, 2012

We need to teach our children how to go to heaven, and what Christianity is all about.  From God’s point of view, our purpose here on earth is to bring glory, honor, and praise to Him.  From our point of view, this means that we need to develop a relationship with God that will last throughout our lifetime on earth, and forever in heaven.  So, it’s only natural that we want to know how to go to heaven. 

There’s a song called “I Wasn’t There, But I Believe It Happened,” and I think that the words of this song explain what Christianity teaches about how to go to heaven, and it does so in a way that children, as well as adults, can understand. 

Click here for the full article. 

On the “Fringe” of Reality

February 15th, 2012

Although I’m not a fanatic, I’ve become interested in the TV show Fringe–especially the biblical metaphors.  Some stand out more than others: 

- The alternate universes – Good vs. evil
- Time travel – Eternity
- Walter Bishop – God
- Peter Bishop – Jesus Christ
- Olivia Dunham – The Holy Spirit
- Observers – Angels
- Shapeshifters – Demons 
- Massive Dynamic – The Bible
- Transporting between universes – Salvation and Death

Click here for the full article. 

Obama is Doing Bad Enough to Get Re-elected

January 19th, 2012

A few months ago, Dr. Walter Williams wrote a column saying that Obama cannot be defeated in 2012, regardless of who the Republican challenger is.  Unfortunately, I have to agree.  Williams noted the economy won’t matter because Obama will simply spend $1B in campaign money to convince us that it’s not his fault, since things were much worse than we understood when he took office.  The majority of liberals, Democrats, Independents, union members, minorities, women, and special interest groups will vote for him simply based either upon his race, charm, inspiration, and convincing speeches, or upon the fact that they won’t vote for a Republican.  Not only that, but his coattails will reach far enough to retain the Senate, and perhaps to regain the House. 

Well, due to the events of the past few months, a few other factors can be added to this argument: 

- Obama brought the troops home from Iraq (even though he had little choice), fulfilling a campaign promise. 

- Obama got Osama Bin Laden, something they’ll say that Bush couldn’t do in eight years. 

However, I believe that there are even more compelling (and ironic) arguments why Obama will be reelected.  We now have 46 million people on Food Stamps, 50 million collecting Social Security benefits, 13 million collecting unemployment, and millions more receiving Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Disability, government pensions, and farm subsidies; and, nearly half of us pay no federal income tax.  The vast majority of these people support for Obama, just so he’ll keep those monthly checks coming in.  That’s well over half of the people in the country–over 150 million people, and it takes only 50 million to win.  In other words, the people collecting money from the government now outnumber the ones paying for all of this with their taxes. 

Obama has us so dependent upon the government that we don’t want to rock the boat.  We assume that our national debt doesn’t matter, and that the government will always find a way to write us that monthly check.  We’ve decided that unemployment is a good thing, since the government pays us when we’re unemployed.  So, who cares how high unemployment is?  We pay no taxes, but we get money from the government, so who wouldn’t want this system to continue? 

I believe that we have reached the point of no return.  Our debt is out of control because there are too many of us collecting money from the government, and too few of us paying taxes.  I now truly believe that we will reelect Obama, and then decline into being a bankrupt third-rate nation in just a few short years. 

How can Obama be defeated?  I see only two ways, but I don’t think they will happen:  1) We could have a low voter turnout because His supporters will be complacent enough not to vote (while Tea Party folks do vote).  2) The money that he spends on ads will backfire, causing people to get tired of him.

A Judge’s Silly Decision on a Prayer Banner

January 14th, 2012

On January 11th, 2012, a federal judge ordered the immediate removal of a prayer mural displayed in the auditorium of a Rhode Island public high school.  A teenage atheist had sued the city of Cranston, RI and Cranston High School West officials, demanding that they remove the banner because it promotes a religion. She called it offensive to non-Christians.  Her attorneys argued that the banner is a violation of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision banning state-mandated prayer in school. 

People just don’t get it.  The separation of church and state in the constitution means that the government cannot mandate a state religion, not that one’s faith cannot be expressed, or that morality cannot be honored.  The 1962 decision banned mandated prayer, not the display of moral encouragement that would have made our founders proud.  Here’s the prayer: 

OUR HEAVENLY FATHER,GRANT US EACH DAY THE DESIRE TO DO OUR BEST,TO GROW MENTALLY AND MORALLY AS WELL AS PHYSICALLY, TO BE KIND AND HELPFUL TO OUR CLASSMATES AND TEACHERS,  TO BE HONEST WITH OURSELVES AS WELL AS WITH OTHERS, HELP US TO BE GOOD SPORTS AND SMILE WHEN WE LOSE AS WELL AS WHEN WE WIN, TEACH US THE VALUE OF TRUE FRIENDSHIP,  HELP US ALWAYS TO CONDUCT OURSELVES SO AS TO BRING CREDIT TO CRANSTON HIGH SCHOOL WEST. AMEN 

Is it offensive to do our best; to grow mentally and morally; to be kind and helpful; to be honest; and, to be good sports?  This is a great prayer, and the judge’s decision is just sad. At least I’m still allowed to post it here.

How Do We Reconcile Science to the Bible?

January 12th, 2012

Below are some typical questions from those trying to reconcile science to the Bible.  

Does the Bible Imply That the Earth is Flat?  

Ezekiel 7:2 and Revelation 7:1 reference “the four corners of the earth.”  Similarly, Isaiah 11:12 references “the four quarters of the earth.”  The Oxford English Dictionary defines “corner” to mean “An extremity or end of the earth; a region, quarter; a direction or quarter from which the wind blows.”  The word “corner” comes from a Latin root “cornu,” meaning “horn,” as seen in words such as “cornet,” “corn,” and “cornucopia.”  So, the four corners of the earth can be interpreted as referring to the four cardinal directions–north, south, east and west.  In addition, the “four corners of the earth” can also be interpreted as four “horns” of the earth.  One obvious example of such a “horn” is Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of South America.  So the usage of the phrase “four corners of the earth” does not necessarily signify a flat, rectangular earth.  

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