scott bailey on acts 1:9-11 (astronaut jesus’ ascencion into heaven) and why it’s important

Scott Bailey recently had a good post on the ascension episode in Acts 1:9-11. Scott pointed out an aspect of this story that has been largely debunked by modern science, but has received less scrutiny as a story lacking any possible historical viability. Scott’s post is as follows:

For those not down with the liturgical calendar Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated on a Thursday, forty days after Easter Sunday. Then, 10 days after Ascension Day is Pentecost, when the disciples were the first to be en fuego.

As James pointed out earlier this week, Ascension Day and the story which inspires it challenges the claims of any person to read the Bible literally.

And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

There’s two aspects to this story I’d like to comment on. First, if we were to take the story literally then the two men in white clothing ask perhaps one of the silliest questions in the Bible. I can just imagine one of the disciples turning around and sarcastically replying, “Well, Jesus came back to life and started walking through walls and stuff, and now he just floated to heaven on a cloud… so yeah, I’m trying to get my head around this for a minute if you don’t mind.”

Second, and more importantly, we can’t really take this story literally for a variety of reasons. Literally, Jesus goes up to heaven in the story. This ‘perspective’ is built on the cosmology of first century persons:

However, as we all now know, heaven is not ‘up’, and if everyone on earth were to be raptured ‘up’ to heaven they would go in a variety of different directions in our solar system as we are on a planet orbiting the sun, while rotating at 23.5 degrees. Which one of these persons would fly ‘up’ to heaven?

So according to the story, astronaut Jesus flies his cloud up, and I assume we are to believe that he no longer needs oxygen in his resurrected body and that he is impervious to the vacuum of space. But, where would Jesus be traveling to if we know that it’s not just a short trip ‘up’ to get to heaven?

This is a picture of our galaxy:

Our galaxy is 100,000 light years across, so that means if traveling at the speed of light, “We now know that, if [Jesus] began ascending two thousand years ago, he would not yet have left the Milky Way (unless he attained warp speed).” ~ Keith Ward (The Big Questions in Science and Religion p.107, via James McGrath].

On the one hand it surprises me looking back at my earlier cognitive categories for reading and understanding biblical narratives that I could hear and read this story with absolutely no skepticism whatsoever. Jesus flew to heaven. Check. Flip the page to the Upper Room story without even considering some of the problematic issues in the ascension narrative.

Now of course there are theological ‘explanations’ for the story, but what I am referring to in this post is the material difficulties, simply put: it cannot be read literally and made to cohere with what we now know about our planet, solar system, and galaxy.

Scott brings to mind something I have been kicking around in my mind for some time (and touched upon here at the FRDB).

Modern Christianity is presently crippled by the fact that in the first few centuries of the faith, those who allegorized many of the Bible’s claims lost out to the literalists and those who claimed textual (and therefore historical) inerrancy. (See Tatian’s attack on allegorizing Christianity’s stories in chapter 21 of his Address to the Greeks: “Believe me now, O Greeks, and do not resolve your myths and gods into allegory…”) Today, many Christians are attempting to return to allegorical explanations as solutions to the increasing number of textual discrepancies and refutations brought to light by literary criticism and modern science. Again, if heaven is a real, physical place, and Jesus physically ascended there (so say the two men in white in Acts 1:11) in a real, human, resurrected body, and not simply a spirit (cf. the Corinthian heresy in 1 Cor. 15 and the Apostles’ Creed), then even if Jesus were to travel at the speed of light (the physical maximum of our universe for a physical, fully-human body not in a Star Wars or Star Trek movie), given the size of our universe, he’d still be on his way there today! But, attempts to allegorize this and other stories are held hostage by the earliest of Christian authors, who condemned the practice. Early Christian apologists won out (Constantine and his armies may have had something to do with it) precisely because they argued for the historical accuracy and inerrancy of the text – the very two ideals (historical accuracy and textual inerrancy/infallibility) that are causing the majority of problems for fundamentalist Christians today.

So we are left with three options: 1) denying logic and science and adhering to Christian fundamentalism (which claims historical accuracy and textual inerrancy/infallibility), 2) abandoning Christianity altogether because of the belief that the stories must be factual/historical or else the entire Bible must be discarded, or 3) finding a middle ground that acknowledges that the earliest Christian writers (i.e., the “Church Fathers”) may have screwed up a thing or two, upon which later Christian scholars (with the benefit of the advent of modern science) can improve. Of course, this would lead to a rethinking of every sacred Christian doctrine, which in turn would make church leaders in every denomination very uncomfortable (not to mention would undermine their powerful positions of “keepers of the(ir particular brand of) faith”), but the alternative is to watch Christianity continue with obviously irreconcilable errors.

This is what critical biblical scholarship is trying to do.

Instead of relying on the thoughts of men who lived in a pre-scientific age and saw their purpose as one of an apologetic defense of the historicity of all biblical claims and the harmonization of these oft contradictory claims into what we today refer to as “systematic theology,” why not rethink Christianity from the formation of the text forward (that is, pre-canon), abandoning obviously incompatible claims of early Christian authors (even if they were influential for their time), and approach Christianity from a modern perspective of critical analysis. Why can’t Christianity be relevant to modern society and compatible with a modern scientific understanding of the universe? Why hold Christianity hostage to ancient, obviously errant opinions and doctrines?

Can we at least ask the questions?

Or, must Christian scholars continue to sign confessional statements of faith and/or attend particular denominations in their private lives  in order to get the jobs that allow them to teach and study religion? If you force scholars to sign confessional statements in order to teach at a university, don’t be surprised if the results of their “research” continue to perpetuate the errant doctrines of old. (And don’t be surprised if state universities and private colleges that do not require such confessional statements continue to outperform and outrank confessional schools.)

It is only a matter of time before many Americans (including many Christians) realize there is little difference between Islamic fundamentalists who believe that their “inerrant” religious text (the Qur’an) should be the law of the land, and fundamentalist Christians who believe that their “inerrant” religious text (the Bible) should determine and guide our secular laws. Until there comes a time when rational thought, removed from fundamentalist, literal interpretations of a so-thought “inerrant” text, comes to guide and inform our nation’s laws, our nation (and Christianity itself) will continue to suffer.

via: Ascension Day and Astronaut Jesus.

fake study: men who stare at breasts live longer, healthier

Fox News reports German "Staring at Breasts" Study

Really? German study says "staring at breasts" increases men's health.

According to an old fake German study making the rounds again, the healthiest men are those who stare at a woman’s breasts for at least ten minutes a day. And myFox Boston fell for it, and even provided video:

Five-hundred men participated in the German study. Half were told to refrain from looking at breasts for five years, the other half were told to ogle them daily.

The study claimed that men who stared at breasts more often showed lower rates of heart problems, a lower resting heart rate and lower blood pressure.

The authors of the study recommend that men stare at breasts for 10 minutes a day.

Really? REALLY? There is some German study that gives men an “excuse” to ogle women (like they need one)?

The purported author of the study, gerontologist Dr. Karen Weatherby (yes, a woman to make the story more believable), supposedly argues that gawking at women’s breasts is a healthy practice, equivalent to an intense exercise regime.

She added, “Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms of a well-endowed female, is roughly equivalent to a 30-minute aerobics work-out.”

Seriously? Staring at a woman’s breasts for 10 minutes is the equivalent of a 30 minute workout???!!! This simply cannot be true. How do I know? If staring at women’s breasts for 10 minutes was the equivalent of a 30-minute workout, bibliobloggers would be the most physically fit people on earth. And this is simply not the case. And I know – I’ve seen them all together in a room together.

I shake my head. In fact, I have a few questions that arise from a “scientific study” like this one:

  • How does one muster enough nerve to propose a study like this?
  • Who actually funded this study, the porn industry?
  • Is the decreased heart rate due to the process of looking at the breasts, or some correlated physical activity that may immediately follow the ogling?
  • Who volunteered to be in this study? (And how did they react when they were told they’d be in the control group?)
  • How do women decrease their resting heart rate?

Seriously, I can hear it now: “Honey, I have to. Doctor’s orders.”

HT: RC

Update: This appears to be a recurring hoax, which MyFoxBoston fell for.

conversations on science and religion

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Logo

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Christian Brady has brought my attention to a wonderful June 17, 2010 article by David Moltz at Inside Higher Ed entitled, “Science Gets Religion.” The article examines the real tension between faith and science within academic circles. Simply put, there are just as many scientists that dismiss out of hand anyone espousing any form of faith or belief in a god whatsoever as there are fundamentalists of all faiths who dismiss science as a manner of understanding the world. Those of us standing somewhere in between the two extremes experience difficulty arguing in support of the need for dialogue between these two worldviews. Just as moderate politicians often find themselves defending against attacks from both sides, often (and unfortunately) resulting in their gravitating towards one pole or the other in an effort to maximize financial support and minimize political exposure, so to do many scholars gravitate towards one extreme or another, often for the same reasons. Rational dialogue is sacrificed for political and/or religious ideology and institutional funding.

The AAAS’s new Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER) will assist with facilitating dialogue between the two groups. It will be interesting to see what kinds of discussions this group produces. Will it be junk science disguising religious fundamentalism pretending to be science? Will it become a target for attack from Dawkins’ “militant atheists?” Or, will the group ask for honesty from both sides and discuss matters of ethics and faith without sacrificing the fundamental principles of science?

The article is worth a read.

(via christian brady)

michael specter on the danger of science denial

you absolutely must watch this ted video. michael specter discusses the danger of denying what science offers us. (spoiler alert: it’s not about religion. watch.)

the guardians of the dead sea scrolls

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor view a mounted Dead Sea Scrolls being prepared for exhibition in the Israel Antiquities Authority's Artifacts Treatment and Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor holding a photographic reproduction of the Deuteronomy scroll containing the 10 Commandments, in the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem.

there is a great new article in ha’aretz by nir hassan that talks about the guardians of the dead sea scrolls: four tireless women who restore and preserve the dead sea scrolls for future generations. lead by pnina shor, these scientists – tania treiger, asia vexler, tanya bitler, and lena libman – painstakingly work on the scrolls and scroll fragments to make sure they do not succumb to the elements. as the article states:

But without the work of the four women in the conservation laboratory, Israel and Jordan would have nothing left to squabble over a few years from now. Innocent mistakes made in storing the scrolls led to their deterioration and disintegration over the years. Treiger and her colleagues are constantly fighting every source of damage to these 2,000-year-old treasures, including light, chemicals and heat.

Overseeing the efforts is Pnina Shor, head of Artifacts Treatment and Conservation at the authority. Shor is soon to be the first director of a special unit that will handle all the work on the Dead Sea Scrolls. “There is no other collection like this in the world, with such problems and such importance,” she says.

i had the honor of meeting many of them in their lab just last week. the article goes on to clarify:

Treiger, whose tools include Q-tips, tweezers and lots of patience, is one of four “guardians” of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These four women, all from the former Soviet Union, are the only people in the world permitted to touch the scrolls.

i repeat: they are the only ones permitted to touch the scrolls (and they do a very effective job of policing that policy!)

below are some of the pictures i took in the lab.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor at the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem.

Not a Dead Sea Scroll, but a Bar-Kokhba Letter presently in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Not a Dead Sea Scroll, but a Bar-Kokhba Letter presently in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

IAA Conservation Lab

Lena Libman, Head of the DSS Conservation lab of the IAA.

IAA Conservation Lab

Asia Vexler, DSS Conservator, treats the phylacteries.

Tefillin or phylacteries being restored in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Tefillin or phylacteries being restored in the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Tefillin or phylacteries being restored in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Tefillin or phylacteries being restored in the Dead Sea Scrolls Conservation Lab of the Israel Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Dr. Robert Cargill and Dr. Pnina Shor read a section of a mounted Dead Sea Scroll in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor read a section of a photographic reproduction of the Deuteronomy scroll containing the 10 Commandments, in the IAA DSS Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Dr. Robert Cargill and Dr. Pnina Shor read a section of a mounted Dead Sea Scroll in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor read a section of a photographic reproduction of the Deuteronomy scroll containing the 10 Commandments, in the IAA DSS Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Dr. Robert Cargill and Dr. Pnina Shor read a section of a mounted Dead Sea Scroll in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Robert Cargill and Pnina Shor, Head of the Department for the Treatment and Conservation of Artifacts, in the IAA Conservation lab in Jerusalem.

Tefillin Fragment. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

Tefillin Fragment. Photo by Robert R. Cargill.

congrats to the iaa conservation lab team on their work. and thanx to ha’aretz for highlighting their work!!

you have got to watch this: the worst christian children’s show ever

i’m not even going to describe it. i’m just going to let scott bailey describe it.

go to scott’s site. read the post. watch the videos. two hints: watch the top video first. then watch the bottom video, which is a bbc exposé of the program. i’ve reposted them here.

it’s absolutely hilarious in a very, very bad theology sort of way. you can see the puppeteer. and listen to him sing. david liebe hart has a decent voice in a ridiculous kind of way. opera? really?? i don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but either way, i leave being very afraid, yet coming back to watch it again. it’s the train wreck of christian cable access programming.

(with thanx (methinks) to scott.)

highlights from raphael golb’s initial police interview

Raphael and Norman Golb

Raphael Golb and his father, University of Chicago historian Dr. Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, identity theft, impersonation, and aggravated harassment of several Dead Sea Scrolls scholars.

the following are some of the more noteworthy statements made by raphael golb during his police interview immediately following his march 5, 2009 arrest.

I WON’T ANSWER WHETHER I HAVE POSTED ANY ARTICLES ON THE INTERNET ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS. I WON’T ANSWER BECAUSE I THINK SCHIFFMAN IS OUT TO GET MY FATHER. HE MIGHT SUE ME.

so… you won’t answer, because if you do answer the question truthfully, you might get sued. got it.

THE CONFERENCES ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS ARE USUALLY MONOPOLIZED BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE SAME VIEW AS SCHIFFMAN.

really? schiffman’s view of a zadokite/sadducean origin of the scrolls was/is commonly held by the majority?? methinks raphael is mistaken. for a long time, dr. schiffman’s view was very much a minority view. only recently has scholarship come to embrace his theories about the scrolls, but still many do not.

AM I ANGRY AT DR. SCHIFFMAN? I’M MY FATHER’S SON.

truer words have never been spoken.

I’M ESPECIALLY ANGRY WITH DR. SCHIFFMAN IF HE FILED THIS COMPLAINT AGAINST ME. I FIND THE GUY A BIT NAUSEATING TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH.

yeah, that’s not gonna help you with the whole ‘motive’ thing…

I THINK I MIGHT ONCE HAVE POSTED A REMARK ON THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS USING MY OWN NAME, A LITTLE REMARK ABOUT A MUSEUM EXHIBIT OR SOMETHING.

ya, maybe once. maybe just once.

THERE’S BEEN A WHOLE SERIES OF MUSEUM EXHIBITS ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS WHERE THEY’VE BEEN EXCLUDING THE VIEWPOINT OF SOME. DR. SCHIFFMAN KEEPS APPEARING AT THESE MUSEUM EXHIBITS, SPEAKING AT THEM, GIVING LECTURES AT THEM. MY FATHER HAS ATTACKED THEM IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON THE ORIENTAL WEBSITE.

again, not gonna help you with the whole ‘motive’ thing, raphael. dr. schiffman keeps getting invited to speak as a distinguished lecturer, but your dad doesn’t. sounds like a retributive motive to me. at least you acknowledge that your own father is ‘attacking’ museum exhibitions. so thanx for that.

ALL OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE EXCLUDED MY FATHER FROM THESE MUSEUM EXHIBITS.

once again, thanx for openly declaring (apparently) at least part of your motive.

I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I HAVE POSTED BLOGS ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS USING NAMES OTHER THAN MY OWN, FOR FEAR OF LAWSUITS.

at this point, i feel raphael golb does not realize that the answers he is giving aren’t helping him. he doesn’t want to answer because he’s afraid he’ll get sued. that’s why he used aliases – because he knew what he was doing was wrong and he would be sued for it. well, guess what raphael….

I NEVER PRETENDED TO BE LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN, I NEVER OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME, I NEVER SENT EMAILS PRETENDING TO BE HIM. I NEVER AUTHORED A BLOG ACCUSING DR. SCHIFFMAN OF PLAGIARISM. I READ IT, BUT DIDN’T WRITE IT.

um… yeah, about this statement: perhaps we can read the emails described here (see section 19-32 on p. 8-11). now, would you like to rethink your previous statement?

I DIDN’T OPEN AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN THE NAME OF STEPHEN GORANSON. I THINK I KNOW WHO HE IS – SOMEBODY SMEARING MY FATHER. I THINK HE IS A VERY SAD CASE. I DON’T THINK HE HAS AN ACADEMIC POSITION.

ok. here’s a little constructive criticism, rapha. when under arrest for aggravated harassment against someone, it’s probably not a good idea – while in the midst of your denial – to make fun of the victim. just my two cents worth, but you can have that advice for free. seriously, do you really believe someone’s worth and value rests upon whether or not one holds an academic position like daddy?

for the record, i met stephen goranson this past march at duke. he is a wonderful, kind, and quite humble man, and an excellent scholar. likewise, he is well respected at duke by the faculty. golb’s attacks on goranson were part of the reason i went public with my data. the attacks were undeserved. yet, even while he was under arrest, raphael golb still found the time to rip his victim. unbelievable!

I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I HAVE EVER OPENED UP EMAIL ACCOUNTS IN NAMES OTHER THAN MY OWN. I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO MY NICKNAMES. I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I BLOGGED UNDER THE NAME CHARLES GADDA.

and why is that again?

FAMILY MEMBERS PROBABLY DON’T WANT PEOPLE MAKING FUN OF THEIR PARENTS, POSTING THINGS ON THE INTERNET.

i’m guessing the same goes for scholars, advisors, and colleagues.

ROBERT CARGILL COMPLAINED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO TO GET MY FATHER’S ARTICLE ABOUT HIS FILM REMOVED FROM THE WEB SITE. HE WAS ATTACKED. I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I DID ANY BLOGS ABOUT ROBERT CARGILL.

oh goodness, where to begin? yes, i did write to the university of chicago. yes, they removed norman golb’s critique of my unpublished script. yes, the university’s legal counsel knew that despite golb’s claims, there was no way on earth citing the marginal notes of a grad student’s unpublished script would meet the criteria for ‘fair use,’ especially in the face of two separate warnings that no portion of the script may be reproduced. the university lawyers knew they were vulnerable and made norman golb remove his critique, which violated copyright. and again, you are probably right about getting sued if it’s proved that you spammed my ucla faculty to suggest that they not grant me my ph.d. because i didn’t agree with your father’s conclusions.

OBVIOUSLY I DON’T LIKE PEOPLE WHO SMEAR MY FATHER, WHO PLAGIARIZE MY FATHER, WHO MISREPRESENT HIS VIEWS. IT’S VERY FRUSTRATING.

again, this speaks to motive.

IF I HAD AN INTEREST IN THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS SCANDAL, IT WOULD BE MUSEUM EXHIBITS.

like this and this and this and this and this?

I DON’T WANT TO GET INTO HOW MUCH I KNOW ABOUT THE INTERNET. I DON’T KNOW WHAT AN INTERNET PROTOCOL ADDRESS IS.

let me answer for you. at the beginning, you didn’t know the difference between an ‘ip’ and a ‘teepee.’ you had no idea that yahoo emails stored the ip address in the header, while gmail (where you’d eventually migrate) did a better job of disguising the ips. at the beginning, you didn’t know about the ip address at your home, and you didn’t know about ip ranges at the bobst. you didn’t know that you could be tracked until some bloggers spelled it out for you. you’d respond with ridiculous comments about three friends sharing a computer around a table. remember that? i do. you didn’t know about vpn and dynamic ip addresses until it was too late and i already had your ip addresses.

there’s something to be said for non-retaliation and silence. you didn’t know what i was doing. ironically, for the first year of your attacks against me and others, all i did was ‘write it all down.’ non-engagement does not mean disinterest. non-retaliation does not mean ignorance, apathy, or impotence. there is tremendous power in non-retaliation. methinks you’re beginning to understand that now.

MY BROTHER IS JOEL GOLB. HE HAS A SNAFU EMAIL ACCOUNT.

well, this helps. again, we appreciate you bringing your brother joel into this, since i left him out.

I DON’T WANT TO GET INTO WHETHER I DID IT FOR MY FATHER. I DON’T WANT TO BE SUED BY LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN.

um, i don’t want to say it again, but failing to answer for fear of a civil suit says much about your motives.

I HAVE COMMUNICATED WITH JOEL GOLB AND MY FATHER ABOUT THESE BLOGS.

uh oh. you mean like this? (see section 72-82 entitled ‘potential involvement of others’) are you really admitting that your father and brother knew about this? they were in on it?

I’M NOT GOING TO ANSWER WHETHER THE CHARLES GADDA ALIAS IS ME. IF IN THEORY I WERE CHARLES GADDA…

this is just rich. i’ll say nothing more.

THEY WOULD SAY THAT MY FATHER IS DOING IT OR ASKING ME TO DO IT. MY FATHER CERTAINLY NEVER ASKED ME TO DO ANYTHING OF THE KIND. NOR WOULD HE ENCOURAGE ME OR APPROVE OF ME DOING ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

um, i’m guessing this (see section 72-82 entitled ‘potential involvement of others’) is going to cast some doubt on this statement.

PETER KAUFMAN – IS THAT THE NAME OF THE PERSON WHO PUBLISHED THE ARTICLE ABOUT SCHIFFMAN ON THE NOW PUBLIC BLOGSITE? I’M NOT GOING TO GET INTO WHETHER I OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME.

and probably for good reason.

UNDER THE SUPPOSITION THAT I PUBLISHED ARTICLES ABOUT CARGILL’S FILM, THAT WAS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING ABOUT A SERIOUS MATTER INVOLVING MISCONDUCT IN THE MUSEUM BY A PROFESSOR AT UCLA.

yes, you’re a great ‘investigative reporter,’ raphael. how many ‘investigative reporters’ are arrested for forgery, identity theft, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment??

no wonder you’re seeking to dismiss this evidence. lol.

if you’re not guilty, why offer to plead guilty?

Raphael Golb

Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, identity theft, impersonation, and aggravated harassment.

question: if you’re not guilty, why offer to plead guilty? why did raphael golb’s attorney offer a plea deal where raphael golb would plead guilty to lesser misdemeanor charges? according to the new york district attorney’s affirmation in response to the defense’s omnibus motion,  p. 2, fn 2, raphael golb’s attorney offered to have raphael golb plead guilty to all counts if the more serious felony counts were reduced to misdemeanors. apparently, the new york district attorney’s office declined.

2 Defendant’s gratuitous comment that “the People dragged their heels for more than 3 months before they indicted this matter” makes for entertaining reading, yet is inaccurate and invites a response. See Defendant’s Affirmation p. 2, par 5. First, the Criminal Procedure Law provides for speedy trial time periods, the People are well within these limits, and defendant cites no legal authority regarding his complaint of “foot dragging”. Thus defendant’s comment is without any legal basis. Second, the comment is without any factual basis. Defense counsel’s own requests to resolve this case with a misdemeanor guilty plea were one factor that helped delay the indictment. Given that defendant requested a misdemeanor plea offer, he should have been pleased that the People didn’t seek an indictment immediately. Finally, defendant is aware of the complexity of this case, voluminous search warrant material recovered on the date of arrest, and some of the results of the digital evidence examination. Thus, this matter was presented to the Grand Jury after careful consideration, planning, and preparation.

this raises the question: why did raphael golb(‘s lawyer) offer to plead guilty to lesser charges?  if you are guilty of misdemeanor counts in the case, you are still guilty! if you committed a crime, you committed a crime, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony.

again, as the evidence continues to comes out, the truth of the golbs’ entire campaign of deception and defamation is being laid bare.

text of raphael golb’s police interview immediately following his arrest

Raphael Golb

Raphael Golb, accused of multiple counts of forgery, identity theft, aggravated harassment, and impersonation

the following is the transcript of raphael haim golb’s interview with new york police immediately following his march 5, 2009 arrest.

the following information is a portion of publicly available documents associated with the case of:

‘the people of the state of new york vs. raphael golb’ (indictment no. 2721/2009, docket no. 2009ny018004).

  • doc: people’s voluntary disclosure form
  • date: march 5, 2009
  • time: 10:46 am to 12:36 pm
  • location: n.y. co. district attorney’s office, ecab
  • substance: see exhibit b: summary of defendant’s video statement

EXHIBIT B

SUMMARY OF DEFENDANT’S VIDEO STATEMENT

A FEW MONTHS AGO, I HEARD AT A DINNER PARTY, THAT A PROFESSOR AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN, SAID THAT I WOULD HAVE LEGAL PROBLEMS BECAUSE I AM USING FALSE NAMES. I THINK HE FILED A FALSE COMPLAINT AGAINST ME.

THERE’S A CHAPTER IN MY FATHER’S BOOK, WHO WROTE THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS, ABOUT LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN. IT DESTROYS SCHIFFMAN’S THEORY. IT SHOWS THAT SCHIFFMAN PLAGIARIZED MY FATHER AND THAT SCHIFFMAN MISREPRESENTED HIS THEORIES. AN ARTICLE CAME OUT ON THE INTERNET – I DIDN’T WRITE THAT ARTICLE.

SOMEBODY PUBLISHED SOMETHING ON THE INTERNET. APPARENTLY DR. SCHIFFMAN BELIEVES IT’S ME AND HE’S FILED A COMPLAINT AGAINST ME. THE REASON HE’S FILING A COMPLAINT AGAINST ME IS TO GET BACK AT MY FATHER. IT’S OUT OF MALICIOUSNESS TOWARDS MY FATHER. HE CAN’T GET BACK AT MY FATHER FOR HIS BOOK SO HE’S GETTING AT HIS SON.

I WON’T ANSWER WHETHER I HAVE POSTED ANY ARTICLES ON THE INTERNET ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS. I WON’T ANSWER BECAUSE I THINK SCHIFFMAN IS OUT TO GET MY FATHER. HE MIGHT SUE ME.

THERE WAS AN ARTICLE CALLED SOMETHING, SOMETHING WITH PLAGIARISM IN IT, SCHIFFMAN, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, THAT’S ALL I REMEMBER. BUT IF YOU READ THAT ARTICLE, YOU’LL SEE THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SCHIFFMAN. YOU’VE SEEN THAT THEY WERE RAISED BY AN ISRAELI JOURNALIST. THIS WAS IN MY FATHER’S BOOK. EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT THIS.

MY SITUATION IS THAT I FEAR THAT DR. SCHIFFMAN COMPLAINED AGAINST ME. I FIND HIM TO BE A VERY FRIGHTENING PERSON FOR VARIOUS REASONS. HE DESTROYED THE CAREER OF MY FATHER’S BEST STUDENT, MICHAEL WISE. HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO AND THERE WAS THIS CONFERENCE ON THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS IN NEW YORK. I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT YEAR, 1992 OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. I WENT TO THE CONFERENCE. MY FATHER ORGANIZED THIS CONFERENCE WITH ANOTHER PROFESSOR AND IT WAS THE FIRST CONFERENCE EVER HELD ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS IN WHICH THEY INVITED PEOPLE WITH A DIFFERENT OPINION. THE CONFERENCES ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS ARE USUALLY MONOPOLIZED BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE SAME VIEW AS SCHIFFMAN. SO MY FATHER ORGANIZED A CONFERENCE AT WHICH PEOPLE WHO HAD DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW WOULD DEBATE THE EVIDENCE FOR THE FIRST TIME. AROUND THAT TIME STUDENT OF MY FATHER HAD PUBLISHED A BOOK WITH ANOTHER PROFESSOR IN CALIFORNIA.

THEY MOUNTED THIS CAMPAIGN. SCHIFFMAN WROTE A PRESS RELEASE. HE CONTACTED JOURNALISTS AND PUT A STATEMENT OUT ABOUT THIS BOOK OF MY FATHER’S STUDENT. SMEARING HIM, ATTACKING THE BOOK SAYING THAT IT WAS UNETHICAL AND ALL KINDS OF STUFF, WHICH IT WASN’T. THEY ACCUSED HIM OF BIBLIOGRAPHIC INACCURACIES – NOT CITING SOURCES. HE WAS ON TRACK TO GET TENURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO AND HE DIDN’T GET IT.

AM I ANGRY AT DR. SCHIFFMAN? I’M MY FATHER’S SON. I’M ESPECIALLY ANGRY WITH DR. SCHIFFMAN IF HE FILED THIS COMPLAINT AGAINST ME. I FIND THE GUY A BIT NAUSEATING TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH. I KNOW THAT HE WOULD STOP AT NOTHING TO GET AT MY FATHER.

FOR YEARS I’VE DONE GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR MY FATHER’S NAME. IT’S FILLED WITH ALL KINDS OF SMEARS AGAINST MY FATHER FOR YEARS.

I THINK I MIGHT ONCE HAVE POSTED A REMARK ON THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS USING MY OWN NAME, A LITTLE REMARK ABOUT A MUSEUM EXHIBIT OR SOMETHING. MAYBE THREE YEARS AGO.

THERE’S BEEN A WHOLE SERIES OF MUSEUM EXHIBITS ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS WHERE THEY’VE BEEN EXCLUDING THE VIEWPOINT OF SOME. DR. SCHIFFMAN KEEPS APPEARING AT THESE MUSEUM EXHIBITS, SPEAKING AT THEM, GIVING LECTURES AT THEM. MY FATHER HAS ATTACKED THEM IN A SERIES OF ARTICLES ON THE ORIENTAL WEBSITE.

THESE PEOPLE ARE OBVIOUSLY DEEPLY ENRAGED AT MY FATHER AND THEY ARE VERY WORRIED. THEIR TACTIC WITH RESPECT TO MY FATHER INITIALLY WAS SIMPLY TO IGNORE HIM. THEN THEIR TACTIC WAS THAT HE WAS AN ISOLATED PERSON. HE WAS ONLY ONE PERSON, WHO WAS ENTITLED TO HAVE HIS POINT OF VIEW.

ALL OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE EXCLUDED MY FATHER FROM THESE MUSEUM EXHIBITS. AND THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE AFRAID OF. THEY’RE AFRAID THAT THEY ARE GOING TO BE OBLIGED TO STOP DOING THAT. TO START PRESENTING THE TRUTH TO THE PUBLIC THAT THERE WERE TWO DIFFERENT THEORIES. THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED AT THE JEWISH MUSEUM. THE JEWISH MUSEUM SAW WHAT WAS GOING ON AND THEY HAD AN EXHIBIT. I DIDN’T GO TO IT. BUT MY FATHER WROTE A REVIEW OF IT BECAUSE THEY SUPPLIED HIM WITH ALL THE MATERIAL. I BELIEVE DR. SCHIFFMAN SPOKE AT THAT, BUT I WASN’T THERE.

I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I HAVE POSTED BLOGS ABOUT THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS USING NAMES OTHER THAN MY OWN, FOR FEAR OF LAWSUITS.

I NEVER PRETENDED TO BE LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN, I NEVER OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME, I NEVER SENT EMAILS PRETENDING TO BE HIM. I NEVER AUTHORED A BLOG ACCUSING DR. SCHIFFMAN OF PLAGIARISM. I READ IT, BUT DIDN’T WRITE IT.

I DIDN’T OPEN AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN THE NAME OF STEPHEN GORANSON. I THINK I KNOW WHO HE IS – SOMEBODY SMEARING MY FATHER. I THINK HE IS A VERY SAD CASE. I DON’T THINK HE HAS AN ACADEMIC POSITION. I THINK THAT HE’S ONE OF THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST MY FATHER FOR MANY YEARS GOING BACK TO THE 1990’S.

I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I HAVE EVER OPENED UP EMAIL ACCOUNTS IN NAMES OTHER THAN MY OWN. I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO MY NICKNAMES. I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I BLOGGED UNDER THE NAME CHARLES GADDA. WHOEVER WROTE BLOGS UNDER THE NAME CHARLES GADDA HAS A CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO WRITE BLOGS UNDER THE NAME CHARLES GADDA.

FAMILY MEMBERS PROBABLY DON’T WANT PEOPLE MAKING FUN OF THEIR PARENTS, POSTING THINGS ON THE INTERNET.

ROBERT CARGILL COMPLAINED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO TO GET MY FATHER’S ARTICLE ABOUT HIS FILM REMOVED FROM THE WEB SITE. HE WAS ATTACKED. I’D RATHER NOT GET INTO WHETHER I DID ANY BLOGS ABOUT ROBERT CARGILL.

I AM SORRY FOR DR. SCHIFFMAN IF SOMEONE OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT USING HIS NAME. BUT THAT WASN’T ME. OBVIOUSLY I DON’T LIKE PEOPLE WHO SMEAR MY FATHER, WHO PLAGIARIZE MY FATHER, WHO MISREPRESENT HIS VIEWS. IT’S VERY FRUSTRATING. I MEAN HE DID IT IN HIS BOOK AND EVERYTHING. IT WAS FRUSTRATING. I WOULDN’T OPEN UP AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME.

IF I HAD AN INTEREST IN THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS SCANDAL, IT WOULD BE MUSEUM EXHIBITS.

I WENT TO HARVARD UNIVERSITY AND NYU LAW SCHOOL AND OBERLIN COLLEGE. I’VE BEEN WRITING A BOOK ON THE FRENCH OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS. I DO REAL ESTATE LAW. I LIVE AT 206 THOMPSON ST. I AM A LAWYER AND AUTHOR.

I HAVE INTERNET AT HOME. MAYBE ON OCCASION I HAVE ACCESSED THE INTERNET AT NYU. WHEN I AM AT THE BOBST LIBRARY. I AM WRITING A BOOK AT BOBST LIBRARY. I HARDLY EVER CHECK MY EMAILS AT NYU. I LIVE RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER FROM THE PLACE. WHEN I GO THERE, IT’S TO WORK ON MY BOOK. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY TIMES I’VE USED THE NYU COMPUTERS. I USE THEM BECAUSE I DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE WRITING MY BOOK AT HOME. I STORE MY BOOK ON A MEMORY STICK.

I DON’T WANT TO GET INTO HOW MUCH I KNOW ABOUT THE INTERNET. I DON’T KNOW WHAT AN INTERNET PROTOCOL ADDRESS IS.

MY BROTHER IS JOEL GOLB. HE HAS A SNAFU EMAIL ACCOUNT. MY EMAIL ACCOUNT IS RAPHAEL.G AT GMAIL.COM MY FATHER’S EMAIL ADDRESS IS N-GOLB@UCHICAGO.EDU. MY FATHER DOESN’T BLOG. I DON’T WANT TO GET INTO WHETHER I DID IT FOR MY FATHER. I DON’T WANT TO BE SUED BY LAWRENCE SCHIFFMAN. I AM NOT INVOLVED IN OPENING UP EMAIL ADDRESSES IN SCHIFFMAN’S NAME AND I AM NOT INVOLVED IN BLOGGING ABOUT SCHIFFMAN. TO MY KNOWLEDGE, JOEL GOLB IS NOT INVOLVED IN BLOGGING ABOUT SCHIFFMAN, BUT ASK HIM. I HAVE COMMUNICATED WITH JOEL GOLB AND MY FATHER ABOUT THESE BLOGS. I WON’T GET INTO THE POSTING OF THE BLOGS. IT WAS NOT MY BROTHER JOEL WHO OPENED THE LARRY.SCHLFFMAN EMAIL ACCOUNT AS FAR AS I KNOW. I CAN’T SEE MY FATHER DOING IT. THAT WOULD BE PREPOSTEROUS. I’M SURE DR. SCHIFFMAN HAS LOTS OF ENEMIES

I’M NOT GOING TO ANSWER WHETHER THE CHARLES GADDA ALIAS IS ME. IF IN THEORY I WERE CHARLES GADDA, THAT FACT WOULD BE USED TO SMEAR MY FATHER. THEY WOULD SAY THAT MY FATHER IS DOING IT OR ASKING ME TO DO IT. MY FATHER CERTAINLY NEVER ASKED ME TO DO ANYTHING OF THE KIND. NOR WOULD HE ENCOURAGE ME OR APPROVE OF ME DOING ANYTHING LIKE THAT. HE MIGHT NOT APPROVE OF SOME OF THE THINGS THAT CHARLES GADDA HAS SAID. CHARLES GADDA HAS EMPHASIZED RELIGIOUS ASPECTS OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLL SCANDAL. MY FATHER’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND THIS WHOLE THING IS THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PROTECTING A THEORY. HE’S A SCIENTIST. HIS INTEREST IS IN A SCIENTIFIC PROBLEM.

FRANK CROSS IS A FAMOUS DEAD SEA SCROLLS SCHOLAR. I DON’T BELIEVE I OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME. PETER KAUFMAN – IS THAT THE NAME OF THE PERSON WHO PUBLISHED THE ARTICLE ABOUT SCHIFFMAN ON THE NOW PUBLIC BLOGSITE? I’M NOT GOING TO GET INTO WHETHER I OPENED AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME.

JEFFREY GIBSON? THERE’S A WEBSITE CALLED ALIASES OF JEFFREY GIBSON. I BELIEVE JEFFREY GIBSON IS IN CHICAGO AND HE IS INVOLVED IN SOME BIBLICAL STUFF. I DIDN’T OPEN AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME

IF I WERE INTERESTED IN THIS, IT’S WITH RESPECT TO MUSEUM EXHIBITS AND NOT DR. SCHIFFMAN. I SUSPECT THERE’S SOMEONE WHO HATES HIM AND DECIDED TO GIVE IT TO HIM AND USED THE PLAGIARISM TO DO IT. THERE COULD BE PEOPLE ALL OVER NEW YORK WHO DISLIKE HIM.

I DON’T KNOW A JONATHAN SEIDEL. I DIDN’T OPEN AN EMAIL ACCOUNT IN HIS NAME, TO MY MEMORY.

UNDER THE SUPPOSITION THAT I PUBLISHED ARTICLES ABOUT CARGILL’S FILM, THAT WAS INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING ABOUT A SERIOUS MATTER INVOLVING MISCONDUCT IN THE MUSEUM BY A PROFESSOR AT UCLA.

==end of transcript==

on the balancing act between faith and credible archaeology

i recently received a letter via facebook that asked an intriguing question: how does one do archaeology and still retain one’s faith?

the question alone gave me pause because it implied that doing science will ultimately lead one to renounce one’s belief in god, or at the very least shatter one’s theological understanding of the world.

this issue comes up again and again with students. essentially, archaeology students soon learn that while some of the passages and claims made within the bible are consistent with archaeological findings, many others are not. this quickly leads a person of faith to make one of two choices: either to cling to one’s faith and begin to look for alternate ‘methodologies’ that could explain the bible’s claims that are inconsistent with the archaeological evidence, or, to accept the scientific data and re-examine one’s religious preconceptions. afraid to admit that what they were taught or have believed for so long might be wrong, many students opt for clinging to their belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the bible and seek out new ways to interpret the data so that it is congruent with their preconceived beliefs. yet, this methodology leads only to poor science, even poorer interpretations of the data, and ultimately to misleading claims about the nature of the remains.

sometimes, archaeology is nothing more than boring rocks in the ground. but the true archaeologist does not seek out the big discovery that changes all we know in one amazing find, but rather gives his or her life to seasons of excavation and discovery, letting the evidence speak for itself until the larger picture of the social, economic, and yes, at times, religious makeup of the society is slowly revealed.

so for those seeking to balance faith and archaeology, here are a few tips:

  1. follow the data wherever it leads. sometimes the data doesn’t line up with the text of the bible. this is true about many sites and many verses. in some places, the text just isn’t supported by the evidence. this does not mean that the bible does not contain truth in other places, but it does tell us a lot about the author and the message the author was attempting to convey. remember, even the early church father origen offered a straightforward explanation of the preservation of factual truth within documents edited by human hands. in his commentary on john 10:4, origen says, ‘the spiritual truth was often preserved, as one might say, in material falsehood.’ just because a factual error exists in the text of the bible doesn’t mean that truth cannot still be conveyed.
  2. follow sound scientific methodology. if your methodology is good, your claims will be better received, and you (and/or your organization) will retain credibility. don’t fudge. take good notes, log everything (especially if it is contrary to your hypothesis), and don’t cut corners. methodical monotony is boring, but will be your friend in the long run. baby steps, small turns, an inch at a time. it is by the archaeological method employed that the academy will judge an archaeologist. credibility is earned over a long period of time, not with a single find.
  3. not every ‘biblical archaeology’ object is the same. just because noah’s ark and the holy grail are most likely legendary, doesn’t mean the ancient israelites didn’t carry a gold covered wooden box (the ark of the covenant) around in front of them when they marched into battle (like every other army at the time). each object is unique and should be treated as such. walls and pots are often (read: usually) more important than gold and silver. treat every object with respect, wash every sherd, and always check for writing.
  4. partner up. the best way to earn credibility as an archaeologist is to partner with and work for an established, credible archaeologist or excavation. don’t seek to strike out on your own too quickly. this requires substantial fundraising and once you begin asking for funds more than you dig, scholars begin to question your motives, your credibility drops, and your conclusions will be questioned more often. be humble. pay your dues. earn your stripes. and then, when you have established the credibility and education you need, work with the authorities to secure your own excavation.
  5. never, ever search for the ark of the covenant, noah’s ark, or the holy grail. adventure quests will always bring immediate derision and condemnation from the academy. never claim to be the first to discover anything; someone else has already done something similar. cite them! remember that most scholars rightly reject any primordial notion of god destroying the earth with a flood; they opt instead to see this story as a parallel to the gilgamesh epic or some other early flood narrative. sensational claims are the quickest way to expose oneself as a fundamentalist. know the literature, read, and always see what your opponents have to say before you make a claim.
  6. submit to the peer-review process. the most credible archaeologists submit to the peer-review process and allow their findings to be critiqued by the academy. submit articles for publication in refereed journals and present papers at national conferences. welcome criticism and feedback. this is the only way to ensure your that interpretations will gain the traction they need to become the accepted consensus.

ultimately, it’s not about what you believe, or even what you can prove. rather, a credible archaeologist or archaeology program is judged by the methodology it uses to reach its conclusions. if the science is good, and the results are published in credible journals, the program as well as the scholar will be a success.

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