I love to write my Sunday sermons. I am especially uplifted and filled with the Spirit when I can debunk a set of ‘Truths’ upon which the oh-so righteous evangelicals base their bigotry. I hope that Toledo’s most-righteous bigot continues to read my blog because, Barb, this one’s for you. Naturally, I do not expect her nor any of her righteous Bible-thumpers to change their mind, but I do enjoy deflating their morally impeccable balloons.
Take that tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, for example, in Genesis 19:24-28. Genesis, to the righteous, resolute Bible literalists, was a series of ‘historic’ events penned by Moses around 1300 BCE. On the other hand, modern [unbiased] biblical scholars regard Genesis as a set of tall tales and epic heroes woven together as homiletic midrash written by rabbis in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. Quite a contrast indeed.
According to Wikipedia, ‘Midrash is a way of interpreting biblical stories that goes beyond simple distillation of religious, legal or moral teachings. It fills in many gaps left in the biblical narrative regarding events and personalities that are only hinted at.’ In other words, it is religious spin. Enter the tale referred to as Sodom and Gomorrah. Christian fundamentalists love this story, this midrash, because to them it ‘justifies’ their homophobia, their hatred of gays and lesbians. For the Bible says…
Well, the Bible says lots of stuff, most of which is non-historic. Take Noah as a perfect example. How many dinosaurs fit on his ark? Enough said. But what about the Sodom and Gomorrah tale? Evangelicals site this story as God’s rebuke of homosexuality.
Science tells a quite different story. Science? Gulp! Naturally, evangelicals dismiss science because scientists have been presenting quite a bit of data lately which contradict tales in the Bible. Is this why most of the GOP presidential candidates dismiss science??
The latest scientific investigation of this Bible story suggests that the story is believed to describe an asteroid impact in 3123 BC in Köfels Austria. Austria? Yes, in the Austrian Alps. Rather than the Deity reigning down fire and brimstone upon a sinful set of towns, impenitent sin, and a lesson of God’s wrath, the fire and brimstone were debris from the impact which drifted south to the Mediterranean area. Cinders from the debris cloud no doubt incinerated flammable materials [wooden structures, roofs, clothes and hair] as it fell to earth.
The clue to this discovery came from a cuneiform clay tablet known as “the Planisphere” [link]
It is a copy of the night notebook of a Sumerian astronomer as he records the events in the sky before dawn on the 29 June 3123 BC (Julian calendar). Half the tablet records planet positions and cloud cover, the same as any other night, but the other half of the tablet records an object large enough for its shape to be noted even though it is still in space. The astronomers made an accurate note of its trajectory relative to the stars, which to an error better than one degree is consistent with an impact at Köfels.
Don’t you just love science! By the way, the ‘story’ of this impact and the resultant ‘fire and brimstone’ could have fostered the ancient Greek myth of how Phaeton, son of Helios, fell into the River Eridanus after losing control of his father’s sun chariot. To the non-scientific mind, the impact of 3123 BCE provides a pool of interpretive wealth from which tales, myths and midrash can be built.
So, the next time you hear some oh-so righteous fundamentalist talk about the biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah and its ‘link’ to homosexuality, retort: Sodom and Gomorrah my ass!
[no doubt, in a few hours, there will be a retort of this post on the most-righteous blogs with a plethora of biblical references as ‘proof’ that it was God’s wrath rather than an asteroid. But then, what else would you expect from a science-denying, ‘believer’?]