Sunday, 13 March 2016

BI and the demonisation of Germany

The Armstrong version of British Israelism incorporated more than a jingoism based on the hopeful fiction that America and Britain were the favourite sons of prophecy, the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim respectively. There was a devious pretender in the European bloodline. The French might be Reuben and the Dutch Zebulon, lesser tribes but Israelites nonetheless. However, the Germans were decidedly non-Israelite, descended from the warlike ancient Assyrians and predestined to rise once again to enslave their neighbours. In other words, the bad guys.

All of this is nonsense of course, but Armstrong confidently taught it - whipping up a fear of the End Times - and many of his followers still continue in that delusion. It might have been a crowd pleaser in the wake of two world wars, but times have changed. Most COGs now relegate the German connection to the deeper waters of prophecy, still trotting out the proof texts when required, but preferring not to talk about it too openly. Not so the Modesto-based Church of God EIM and its leading spokesman Steven LeBlanc.

LeBlanc has swallowed the BI myth hook, line and sinker and regurgitated the anti-German claims in a booklet called Germany & Prophecy.

Over more than fifty pages LeBlanc pounds home his message. We have been very, very naughty. God is very, very angry. God (who obviously lacks much imagination in choosing such a brutal strategy) is going to send the nasty Germans to punish us. You have been warned.

BI believers loudly proclaim that their pet doctrine isn't racist, oh my goodness no. Reading through LeBlanc's booklet you might think otherwise. The racism here isn't however based on colour, it's based on a wretched misrepresentation of national origins.
The Biblical genealogy shows the ancestor of the great majority of Germans and Austrians (modern-day descendants of the Assyrians) is Asshur, the grandson of Noah through Shem (Genesis 10:22). The Assyrian Empire developed from the city-state of Assur (named for Asshur, a son of Shem – one of Noah’s three sons – see Genesis 10:1, 22). Asshur was a brother of Arphaxad, an ancestor of Abraham, who was the father of the Hebrews (Genesis 11:10–26). Most of the ancient Assyrians eventually moved westward from the Bible lands into Europe. (p.44)
Once you accept that, you can then co-opt ancient biblical passages as prophecies which, by clicking your heels together and wishing hard, can be applied to today.
The Bible states that God will use the end-time German-led Beast power as a “rod” to punish the United States, Britain, and much of northwestern Europe.
I'm glad he left New Zealand and Australia out of it. Mind you, I think that was probably just an oversight.
Anciently, God used Assyria as “the rod of (His) anger” to conquer and deport the rebellious house of Israel in 721 B.C (II Kings 17:6). Later, God used Babylon as His tool to conquer the sinful house of Judah and to take them captive (Jeremiah 20:4). These punishments serve as types of the end-time punishments that will fall upon the United States and Britain. Notice the prophecy in Hosea 11:5: “…But the Assyrian shall be his king because they refused to repent.” Hosea 9:3 reveals that Britain will actually be conquered by Germany and taken into captivity before Christ returns. (p.52)
I'm not sure exactly where those multiple millions of captive people would be taken to. Germany has enough logistical difficulty just taking in refugees from Syria at the moment. But why let that spoil LeBlanc's turgid fantasy?

Yet BI is still a doctrinal distinctive in most of the COGs, firmly attached to a colourful but totally wrong-headed reading of prophecy. Can you think of one such group (exempting GCI and CoG7) which isn't still invested in this nightmare eschatology?

The problem for LeBlanc - along with every other COG that holds to the Beast Power German invasion scenario - is that it's just not credible. Not on any level, genetic, biblical, historical or realpolitik. More than that, it's laughable.

It's a ticket to oblivion.

37 comments:

Miller Jones said...

Bravo!

Black Ops Mikey said...

You graphologists -- take a look at his signature in the booklet: What do you see? And French to boot (the HR department would never let me get away with this while I was still working with the County [I wanted to call Francois a 'narcissist' but HR wouldn't let me because he was French -- from France and everything... let's just say that as a network engineer, with his carelessness, most of us would have preferred that he be half as smart and twice as careful -- and not to put too fine a point on it, the same could be said of the author of the literary abomination concerning Germany]).

BI is proliferating and some of suspect it is to drown us after having thoroughly debunking it.

Germany in prophecy. Bah. Humbug. These people know nothing. It would be more impressive to have a booklet, "Lichtenstein in Prophecy" where the little nation state city comes to rule the world because it's descended from obscure tribe which was some how related to one briefly mentioned in the Old Testament.

LeBlank should go back to France and dig for truffles (using pigs to find them).

Byker Bob said...

Those of former Armstrongist background freely use the label "British Israelism", but the second racial component which supposedly unlocked prophecy was "German Assyrianism". The problem with German Assyrianism is that Assyrians actually walk the face of the Earth today. I've actually met some of them, living in my own town. There are sufficient numbers that an Assyrian Christian Church actually exists a few miles away. And these folks in no way appear to be Nordic or Aryan as do the majority of the Germans.

Herbert W. Armstrong's theories would have been vastly more credible if he had referred to these identities as being poetic, as stating that WASPs around the world were today's spiritual equivalent of the Israelites, and that the Germans were destined to be the spiritual equivalent of the Assyrians. He still would have been wrong, but at least not to such a self-defeating extent as insisting that his prophetic theories relied on long forgotten genetics.

The world, based on increased mobility, improved communication, and international commerce and humanitarianiam, is a much different place than it was when HWA's deducements were able to be seen as being possibly credible. The world of advanced civilizations has increasingly become a melting pot. Yet some who have invested generations of lives in HWA's prophetic nonsense continue to optimistically trot it out, in spite of the great disappointment of 1975. It makes no sense at all, unless one understands the mentality or pathology of Armstrongism.

German Assyrianism is racist. And, Armstrong adherents forget that the majority dna of the American population is actually not Anglo Saxon, but in fact German. All of Europe is populated with ancestry spawned by the once called "Germanic tribes". The British royal family is actually German. These are factors which should be impossible for Armstrongites to ignore.

BB

Connie Schmidt said...

HOGAN"S HEROES aka "ISRAELITE HEROES"...

Don't miss this week's exciting and hilarious episode!...



All goes well when Hogan's Israelite gang, while bamboozling Sgt. Schultz, steals Klink's "Assyrian Prophecy" code book from his safe, photograph the contents, and returns it to its proper place. But there's a small hitch - Carter forgets to load the camera with film!

Anonymous said...

@ Byker Bod,

Careful what you say or your Assyrian neighbors might carry you off into captivity for blaspheming his lordship Herbert W Armstrong. You know, speaking out against ol' Herbie is heresy. lol

@ Connie,

I can't wait to watch that episode of Hogan's Heroes.

Minimalist said...

BB: ..the majority dna of the American population is actually not Anglo Saxon, but in fact German

Yes, this is a surprising fact that few, including dimwitted HWA, are cognizant of.
The southern Great Lakes, centering around Detroit, were/are a replication of German industrialization.

But what need for learning, teachers, High School, pastors.. did HWA feel? None.

Redfox712 said...

Many years ago I read Religion and the Racist Right by Michael Barkun (1996). According to him it was World War I that caused the ideologues of British Israelism to recast Germany as the villain. Before 1914 British Israelism tended to view the Germans as like brethren with the British. But that charged during the terrible war of 1914-8. During the war Germany was recast as the villain.

This vilification of Germans among the COGs ultimately stems from World War I. The genocidal horrors and atrocities of Nazism reinforced this hostility against Germans within the British Israel movement but the hostility to Germans predated the rise of Nazism.

Byker Bob said...

It was during World War I that King George V changed the German name of the British royal family to Windsor, due to rampant anti-German sentiments.

The posters from the Armstrong camp with whom we've attempted to share this type of information have done everything they could to preserve a state of willfull ignorance.

BB

Stephen said...

"Armstrong adherents forget that the majority dna of the American population is actually not Anglo Saxon, but in fact German."

Confused...At first blush, this appears to make no sense, as stated. It is roughly the equivalent of saying that most rain is not water, but is in fact hydrogen and oxygen. Not all Germanic people are Angles or Saxons, but all Angles and Saxons are Germanic. Is this result supposed to have arisen, from the DNA studies of living persons, or from archaeological DNA sequencing studies? Googling a wide array of search terms gave me no satisfaction.

Did you mean the majority DNA of the American population is not British, but Germanic, as the influx of Germanic tribes into the British Isles such as Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Frisii did not leave nearly as big a mark on the British genome as has historically been assumed. Instead of being Germanic, the majority of British DNA is traceable to peoples from the Iberian peninsula who emigrated between 15,000 and 7,500 years ago, making the British genome distinct from the Germanic genome.

Miller Jones said...

As someone who has engaged in extensive research into his genealogy and had professional analysis of his DNA (paternal-Y, autosomal & mitochondrial) performed, I am living proof that "e pluribus unum" fits us like a glove! In addition to my Western, Eastern Northern and Southern European DNA, I have Middle Eastern, African and Native American ancestry. And BB is correct, a significant portion of my European ancestry is German (I'm not talking Anglo-Saxon either - I mean Heidelberg and large areas of Hesse).

Pam said...

I don't know what the original post was implying, but the comparison of "Anglo Saxon" and "German" lines up with this information from the Wikipedia article on "Race and Ethnicity in the United States" if you consider "Anglo-Saxon" to be another word, at least in common discussions, for British.

"Self-identified German Americans made up 17.1% of the U.S. population, followed by Irish Americans at 12%, as reported in the 2000 U.S. Census.

This makes German the largest, and Irish the second-largest, self-reported ancestry groups in the U.S.

Both groups had high rates of immigration to the US beginning in the mid-19th century, triggered by the Great Potato Famine in Ireland and the failed 1848 Revolution in Germany.

However, English-Americans and British-Americans are still considered the second largest ethnic group due to a serious under count following the 2000 census whereby many English and British Americans self-identified under the new category entry 'American' considering themselves 'indigenous' because their families had resided in the US for so long or, if of mixed European ancestry, identified with a more recent and differentiated ethnic group."

Pam said...

And then of course, messing up the "perfectly Aryan" theories of lots of racists is the fact that recent genome research has shown that most Europeans and Asians have from 1 to 4% of Neanderthal DNA. "Race mixing" has a very, very long history.

I know a few religious ranters that I am suspicious may have a bit more than 4%. :)

It turns out that Sub-Saharan black Africans have NO Neanderthal DNA, probably because they never got around to migrating through Neanderthal territory.

Stephen said...

@ Miller Jones:

That's nice, and I have no doubts about your anecdotal story, but it does nothing to support BB's sweeping general claim.

@ Pam:

So, you're saying BB's statement may not be based upon DNA at all, but immigration figures of one sort or another?

Pam said...

@ Pam:

So, you're saying BB's statement may not be based upon DNA at all, but immigration figures of one sort or another?
****

As I said, I have no way of knowing specifically what he was referring to. He can come back and clarify that for himself. But when you said, "Googling a wide array of search terms gave me no satisfaction," I just thought I'd see what I'd get if I tried the same thing. I googled "Ethnic Groups in America" and came up immediately with that Wiki entry in the search results. I was surprised myself to see them list German and Irish before British in the census reports.

The reality is that B-I promoters have never been into worrying about "DNA evidence." :-) It has always run contrary to their theories as far as I have been able to determine. Besides, the "doctrine" or "movement" started back in the 1800s long before DNA was discovered. So they used terms much more loosely than we would now. And of course HWA was no scientist. He just absorbed the ridiculous "historical claims" of B-I with all the vague anecdotal stories of ancient migrations and such, and dependence on Irish mythology or whatever. "Tea Tephi" and "Stone of Scone" and all that.

Gavin R said...

Stephen, I think BB's comments were clear enough. The Assyrian connection is untenable. American immigration patterns are merely illustrative. The reality is that populations in the US, Canada, Australia, NZ, Britain etc. are incredibly diverse in the 21st century. To imagine that you can trace ethnicities (let alone modern nationalities) back to the etiologies in Genesis - which is the core issue here - is ludicrous. Putting genetics to one side, BI falls apart on even a basic understanding of the genres of biblical literature, and LeBlanc is demonstrably ignorant of those issues. But, hey, if you can find a credible ethnologist who's willing to support BI then we'd all be interested (as well as incredulous). Or a qualified contemporary biblical scholar (rather than some guy juggling proof texts).

Miller Jones said...

Stephen, I supplied some of the details of my own ancestral roots because they are not atypical for "White" Americans. I've also performed a great deal of research on the ancestry of other families and arrived at similar configurations for them. Just as most African Americans have significant percentages of European ancestry (as demonstrated by widespread testing of their DNA), there are very few White Americans who can point to a "pure" British ancestry. The evidence (both scientific and genealogical) supports the diversity (including a healthy infusion of German heritage) alluded to by BB and Gavin. Moreover, if one considers the Y and mitochondrial haplogroups, the diversity of our deep origins becomes even more apparent.

Byker Bob said...

Wow, take a nap, and wake up to a whole new discussion! The available and immediately citeable source for my information was indeed the article in Wikipedia which Pam cited. About ten years ago, an article had appeared in a major newspaper listing these ethnic percentages, actually based not on self-identification, but on broad cross-section dna sampling. I had been extremely surprised to note that German dna was listed as #1. This was at the very least, counterintuitive, until I considered the huge number of German surnames of which one becomes aware in daily life.

The original newspaper article had come out at a time when the Human Genome Project was relatively new, and many studies were being funded and undertaken.

Fast-forwarding the tape, probably two or three years ago, while having a discussion with some anonymous Armstrongite who was championing BI, I had cited the newspaper article, and was asked to support my contention by providing a link to the original newspaper article. In doing a web search, I was unable to find the original article, but the Wiki article already cited did come up. Shortly after providing the link to Wiki, the blog discussion abruptly closed. I realized from that that it was simple enough, and accessible enough for the ACOG "man on the street" type who had no comprehension of y chromosomes or haplotypes to understand. Usually when these individuals had been confronted with deeper dna science in the past, they had had countered with "we don't accept your science, we believe God instead." basically meaning that they had mentally equated HWA's theories with what God had said. It was plain that, as happens with so many juries, they were confused by the science.

There is really nothing "sweeping" about the statements in the Wikipedia article, or the original newspaper article, or the other very thorough dna studies which demolish British Israelism. But, "sweeping" is the type of language which people often use in an attempt to impeach an opposing viewpoint. It's posturing that makes people sound intellectual, and an attempt to give their side of the argument more weight. What is sweeping is to teach that Manasseh and Ephraim were preserved as intact tribes through thousands of years, and somehow managed to separate and to remain immune to dilution from intermarriage from the founding of the colonies onward.

BB

Stephen said...

Sorry, not intending to impeach any opposing viewpoints, be quarrelsome, support BI, or sound "intellectual." Nor do Herbert's vacuous claims about "Assyria" have anything to do with this for me. Making a claim about the genetics of 300M people is "sweeping" in my parlance relative to Miller Jones' citation of the genetics his individual background. Sorry if "sweeping" carries a connotation that I wasn't particularly aware of. Just trying to make sense out of a statement that does not appear to make any sense regarding the DNA of "Germans" vs. the DNA of "Anglo-Saxons."

Pam's cited Wiki only reproduces self reported census data, as she said, and doesn't support any claims about DNA one way or another. You might be correct in your DNA claim, BB, but if so, nothing I've seen so far should be the reason why I think so. If I can point to how I reasonably know it's a fact, then it becomes knowledge and I can use it, but with no support, it's not something I can do anything with. It's remains at the level of a factoid that I heard once. I can't responsibly repeat it.

I'll leave it at this. The reason why I ask is because it's a claim I hadn't heard before, and the support for it appears, at first blush, not to make sense, as all Angles and Saxons are Germanic, but not all Germanic people are necessarily Angles or Saxons. Moreover, the terms "German" and "Anglo-Saxon" are for the purposes of this discussion, undefined. Do you mean German DNA as defined by a genetic survey of modern Germany or defined as genomes sequenced from individuals who can credibly be identified as belonging to a historical Germanic tribe as defined by the Romans such as the Cherusci, Suebii, or Alemani? Saxon DNA, for example, as defined by living persons from both Britain and Saxony or from archaeological sources? I feel initially skeptical that there's any consensus on a definition of "Anglo-Saxon" DNA. If there is, I'd like to know about the ongoing research into staking out this territory.

If all we have is a non-DNA claim here based on census data, then that's fine. I'm just trying to figure out if there's an actual DNA claim here or not, because if so, I'd be excited to know about it.

Stephen said...

Steve LeBlanc is a name I haven’t heard in a long time. I remember him from the 80’s in Pasadena, and I assume this is the same one. I didn’t know what had become of him. Now I guess I know. This booklet reminds me of a relevant conversation I had recently.

Not long ago I was talking with an old friend still in the COGs about my deconversion, and in the process, he shared what he thought was his conversion story. He spoke about his minimally religious upbringing, and how as a youth he had picked up a bible and started to read it, more out of curiosity than anything, and how the books of Daniel and Revelation impacted him in ways he had not expected. Shortly thereafter, he happened upon a man on the radio dial explaining these very things. Intrigued, not really believing in coincidences, and wanting to learn more, he responded via the information provided at the end of the broadcast, and the rest is history. Not wanting to cause trouble unnecessarily, all I proffered in response was that I understood where he was coming from. But the truth is, he hadn't told me his conversion story at all. Not the one that mattered at least.

Despite the lack of an overtly religious upbringing, his conversion, not to Armstrongism perhaps, but to christianity in general, happened much earlier than he realized. It began to happen the day he was born into a christian cultural milieu that instilled within him certain specifically christian assumptions, certain specific beliefs about the protestant canon, and the perception of near-certainty that one, and only one specific book might contain reliable information about the future. With those beliefs already in place, unrecognized, in the background, he was already primed to be frightened by reading only the christian bible, and upon being frightened, to act to presumably protect himself from uncertainties* surrounding one very specific eschatology. And therein lies the conceit of my tale for today. He might not have realized he was already a firm believer in christian dogma, but he was. And it is those pre-Armstrong beliefs that are his raison d’ĂȘtre within Armstrongism to this day, much more than anything Herbert himself might have said. In fact, were those christian beliefs not already in place, neither reading the bible nor hearing Herbert Armstrong screeching over the airwaves would have had any noticeable effect.

Back in the present, lo, these decades later, he is still caught up in an endless and vicious cycle of trying to bring what he still perceives as an imminent scary future under some control. Even after decades of concerted effort to this end, at this late date, coming up with any quantification of the success of this endeavor is impossible. In all this time has he reached the first milestone in his journey toward its achievement? That sort of presupposes the christian "journey" has anything in common with a road trip. In fact, the practice of christianity defies all goal-setting. Some would even tell you that this sort of christian goal-setting shouldn't be possible as the very idea is antithetical to christianity because it is predicated upon legalistic heresies. Heresy-shmeresy, it would be nice to have some reassurance that one isn't wasting their time and throwing good money after bad. One could surmise such reassurances don't top the list of urgent issues for the other 1.3 billion christians who have also "bet the farm" on a 2,000 year-old tip.

Stephen said...

Among serious betting folks, there's two categories of probabilities for future events, those which can be measured, called risks and those that cannot, called uncertainties.* Even the most sophisticated risk metrics employed by Wall Street can't take all unknowns into account. How do financial houses leveraged 34-to-1 insure themselves against potentials for events they can’t quantify? Usually they can’t. So "risk neutrality" does not mean that a trading desk has managed to isolate itself from every potential loss or gain. And that's why even the most serious of the serious of betting folks still get themselves into real trouble on occasion. With this in mind, we cannot call any future eschatological possibilities "risks." They are "uncertainties." They defy attempts to get serious about insuring them. This is why attempts to make progress toward controlling for this eschatological uncertainty is a fool's errand. And that's not even the worst of it.

Had my old friend been born into a different culture, he might have been scared to death by some other escatology altogether. He might have spent the last several decades attempting to curry favor with a different god through the performance of different rituals intended to demonstrate his purity and devotion. Had he been born in India and begun to read a Puranas, he might have been frightened by the spectre of the end of the age being ushered in by a supernatural figure on a white horse wielding a flaming sword, but that figure would not be Jesus, but instead Kalki. Had he been born in China, and begun to read a Taoist Divine Incantations he might have sought to be among the chosen people raptured by Li Hong. Had he been born in the middle east, he might have begun to read the hadiths and been frightened by the signs proving the return of the mahdi is imminent. And if this had been the case, he may have acted to protect himself from a different uncertainty, meanwhile, had he read the protestant canon, he would have no more concern about the weight of Daniel and Revelation than he currently has for all other eschatologies he dismisses. But, as it is, he has invested no resources in even attempting to mitigate the uncertainties of other eschatologies simply because he was never culturally primed to be frightened by them. While we can't quantify christian eschatological uncertainty, we can say it is so greatly diluted by thousands of other possible eschatological uncertainties as to be but a drop in the proverbial bucket. Blaise may have been a good mathematician, but he was a terrible philosopher.

At the end of the day, what is the probability that either my old friend, or indeed Steve LeBlanc, have managed to insure themselves against even just one eschatology, out of a plethora of eschatologies? It is impossible to even offer any guidance. What have my old friends accomplished? The odds that they have accomplished anything at all must be on the order of winning the lotto jackpot. At this scale, the difference between impossible and improbable are virtually infinitesimal. And yet, the distance such analysis or conclusions are from my entrenched friends, you would think some of the basic facts underpinning my analysis were disputed. No, more than once I have heard the conclusion that I've thrown the baby out with the bathwater. To which I can only say, to myself mind you, "What baby?"

Byker Bob said...

As a follow-up, I did attempt, once again last evening, to find the original newspaper article in question. Though it may be available somewhere, the majority of the dna information which is readily accessible on the internet pertains to African Americans and Native Americans. Those affected by Armstrongism would be more inclined towards information on British and German dna influences, but the world around us seems to have a different perception as to what is "hot" and timely.

Also, the ways in which Anglo Saxon is defined and understood today (white, English-speaking peoples) has been defined in different manners at different points in history. The original Germanic Angle and Saxon tribes from central Europe overran England in the 5th century, completely supplanting the native culture, and bringing Christianity with them in the process. The dna profiles of the Irish, Welsh, and Scots vary in many ways from those of the English. There are diverse influences and distinct cultures populating the islands influenced by various mixtures of the Picts, Gaels, Celts, Basques, Normans, Vikings, Angles, and Saxons. The history and interaction of these peoples is somewhat convoluted and complex, but there have been multiple ethnicities involved in the ongoing process throughout post-indiginous times. Britain is and was a melting pot.

Germans began arriving in the American colonies in the 1670s. From 1820 to World War I, there was a huge German migration to the USA, at one point causing the US population total to nearly double. For much of the US history, people of German heritage have been a large influence, often chief rivals to the English. Properly considering the Angles and Saxons to be Germanic, and taking into account this part of the heretage of the English colonists, we can easily appreciate the level of German dna present amongst the general population of the USA. Most of the people who have experienced Armstrongism were totally unaware of the factually verifiable ethnic histories of the nations involved in the HWA prophecy mold. How would one have verified? Where would a non-academic have even known to look for answers? We now have all of this information at our fingertips, meaning there is no excuse for Armstrongism in the twenty-first century. Teachings with which one might have gotten away from 1934-1995 are presently all but impossible to preserve as immune to challenge with the enhancement of intelligence provided by the internet, and the ubiquitousness of personal computing devices.

BB

Anonymous said...

Stephen has again demonstrated why he is one of the most enthralling,thoughtful and formidable commentators on these blogs He focuses on the key,big issues and does not miss the forest for the tress ,as do all too many on these blogs He clearly possesses a sharp intellect and I am not surprised that in rejecting Armstrongism he eschewed the detour into the various versions of Christianity(a dead-end in my view) ,but instead threw out revealed religion A far more sensible exchange,I opine Ian Boyne

Redfox712 said...

I took a look at the booklet. There is no mailing address listed in it.

Anonymous said...

I would be most interested in Stephen's deconversion story ,if he can spare the time Ian Boyne

Stephen said...

Thank you for your kind words, Ian. IMHO, there is no way to tell a deconversion story that does justice to the true facts. In effect, deconverstion isn't really something that lends itself to a story, or, at least, not a single story. Deconversion is a catalog of realizations, each leading to a separate argument against the probability of a possibility. The above contains a certain perspective on the argument from unmanageability. There were many other arguments against, each running in parallel, prior to extricating myself from Armstrongism.

Stephen said...

Thanks for your efforts to try to locate the original article, BB. The problem is one of equating haplogroups with historical labels, even ones as specific as "Saxon," for example. Since nobody ever had the ability to peer into one's genetic code before, historical labels described groups of people in geopolitical terms and don't tend to be very useful for describing them in genetic terms. To unravel the genetic complexity behind a label like "Saxon" would require not just modern surveys, but sufficient numbers of data points from skeletal DNA as well, I would think, and that would take time. If there is a story there, I would be surprised to find it cropping up that early.

Stephen said...

"The original Germanic Angle and Saxon tribes from central Europe overran England in the 5th century, completely supplanting the native culture..."

That's what everyone assumed happened, just going by what you can glean from the emigrations and political histories. The genetics tells a totally different story.

Byker Bob said...

Stephen, that was a great article from 2006. However, I had based the statement you referenced above on a March 2015 article, avaliable at

www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/18/genetic-study-30percent-white-british-dna-german-ancestry

This type of research is being refined on a continuing basis.

BB

Anonymous said...

@Stephen What you call unmanageability and which is called in the philosophical literature The Problem of iReligious Disagreement or the Many Gods Objection plagues me occasionally as well. That is,what is the probability that a weird,obscurantist sect founded by a high school dropout in the 1930s which disintegrated after his death really constitutes the plain truth??? The apparent incredulity,even absurdity, of this nags me sometimes. But then some insights from your own earlier post supplies a part of my answer Arnstrongism,and this would be news to the unsophisticated HWA, is not made nade of whole cloth It is a derivation from the rich traditions of Judaism and orthodox Christianity The high school dropout dud not just think up these things outside if any religious tradition The ingenious blend that is Armstrongism adds to the weight of its possibility of being truth But I don't want to pull out the rabid anti-Armstrongutes so let's stick to philosoohy. The fact is ,as William James points out ,some questions are live forced and momentous We have to choice We can't not choose. Even if one subscribes to global scepticism, he has to make choices in the real world In fact to live at all one has to leave his Humean skepticism at his desk So despite what you call unmanageability, Stephen, you have to make philosophical choices There is no epistemically neutral ground,no
Archimedean point. What are the chances the western, rationalist methods represent the only
option ?You might say certainly higher than Armstrongusm!But that still dies not amount to certain You can't go beyond rational probability Have you ever questioned whether it is your geography or stage in history why you presently hold certainl beliefs?Dont you present beliefs reflect certain philosophical influences ? But have you rejected empiricism or,the scientific method or rationalism just because of that,?I suspect not So the problem of religious pluralism or epistemic pluralism need not lead one to reject his own philosophical position It does not have to lead to agnosticism No more than disagreement among epistemic peers argues against warrant for one's own belief I Would like to hear some of your other reasons for moving away from religion and Armstrongism But I think you have seen what I have posited on these blogsThat a bigger problem than Armstrongism--- Indeed the elephant in the room ---is revealed religion,holy books etc Armstrongism which ex-members are obsessed with is really subsidiary The people whom Gavin, Gary, Douglas and others help out if Armstrongism usually find themselves in some other ditch for the fundamental issues are unaddressed tBut then probably we are back with the myth of Sisyphus Ian Boyne

Byker Bob said...

This is just terrible. But we've all been biting our tongues on this one for long enough. My deep philosophical question is this: What thought processes would lead a man to join in the ministry of a serial adulterer and date rapist?

BB

Anonymous said...

@BBThe same that led me to accept a book which had a schemer and deceiver par excellence as the man after whom its alleged author(God)named His chosen nation Israel(Jacob);the same that led me to accept that the true God could continue to use Abraham and David after their lying, adultery and warmonger history (as in David's case);the same that led me to accept the genocidal actions of a nation whose holy book attributed those actions to its God;the same that led me to accept that a mass murderer and bigot was God's Apostle(Paul);that a racist like Peter was being used by God and that a so-called chosen nation could so consistently commit abominable sins and will still be accepted after Christ returns because of Abraham's faith. Finally ,the unmistakable teaching of salvation by grace through alone, and not through merit--whether by simple layman or apostle--made me vulnerable and predisposed me to join a ministry by a serial adulterer and date rapist I hope this satisfies. Assuming the question was not simply rhetorical Ian Boyne

Anonymous said...

Salvation by faith through grace alone,it should have read Ian Boyne

Gavin R said...

Herb Armstrong, Joseph Smith, Jim Jones, Creflo Dollar... no problem? With all due respect Ian, knowing that you're a man who has thought all this through carefully, it seems to me that you'd follow Elmer Gantry into the fires of hell if you liked his theology.

Citing biblical figures doesn't help much. The OT characters were created to serve a national literature, there's not much real history there. Paul, as the story goes, was 'converted' from his past. To call Peter a racist is hardly fair, he was simply following Jewish cultural norms - to call that racist is anachronistic at best.

I'm intrigued by the plea for salvation by grace alone. Are you suggesting Herb taught this? Armstrong's message was surely "grace plus". Grace plus sabbath, grace plus holy days, grace plus tithing, grace plus the 'forgotten key' of biblical prophecy...

Grace plus isn't grace alone.

Byker Bob said...

Thanks, Ian. It was not a rhetorical question. There are those who would invoke 1 Timothy 3:2-12, and conclude that GTA had disqualified himself as a minister. Those were very popular verses in Pasadena at the height of the scandal which had prompted his ultimate removal from WCG. I must admit that I find greater credibility in the verses in 1 Tim. than I do in comparing leaders of the WCG and their sins and faults to Biblical figures. I admired GTA for a number of reasons, but believe his multiple incident behavior caused a mockery of the gospel which he preached. He literally did not outgrow that pathology until he became too old to act upon it. Fortunately, it is not my calling or responsibility to function as his judge. I do believe in forgiveness, but also believe there are acts which can be committed which disqualify us from certain responsibilities.

BB

Minimalist said...

Irony:
Herbie's home town of Des Moines & state of Iowa is very heavily German
Where are "Israelite" majority?

Stephen said...

Hi, BB, I will have to read that 2015 article. I got a 404 when I pasted it into my browser window, but I am sure I can come up with the story even if that link is dead. Good call. It might be too old, or it might have been flawed research to begin with.

Stephen said...

Ian-

Ah, yes, my story actually contains two arguments against. It also contains the Many Gods Problem in addition to the unmanageability problem.

The Many Gods Problem may be the single most powerful argument against, although others might give that title to the Problem of Evil. The Many Gods Problem reveals the utterly biased nature of one who adheres to any specific religious belief system, except perhaps for deism on the basis of its agnosticism. To worship one god or pantheon, one must reject others on the basis of nothing more substantial than special pleading. Now, William Craig often tries to argue around this by attempting to make some case that christianity is, on the basis of this or that criteria, more probable by some unspecifiable quantity than, well, than what? Than every other belief system that has ever been? It's a nice try, for those in the audience who are already in lock-step with him. But for the rest of us, we know he's claiming to have achieved something that he's light-years from achieving. If he were to try to bring any rigor to his argument, by, say, using Bayes' Theorem, which is proven to work, and translates into English as basically, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," it would be immediately apparent that his "logic" actually runs totally contrary to tried and true logical tools, since the quality of his evidence wouldn't even be acceptable in court, and thus he is, in fact, pulling a fast one. Really, we're just looking at a creative attempt at special pleading. But conflating the possible with the probable is nothing new. It's the staple of every junk documentary on aliens and conspiracies.

You say "global skepticism" like it's a bad thing. What you call "global skepticism" I call consistency. And yes, global skepticism is the null epistemic position which you claim doesn't exist. Saying it somehow isn't possible not to pick one religion or another out of a hat upon which to bestow a privileged position in one's mind overlooks that not only is it possible, there's a significant and growing segment of the population doing exactly that. And conflating the epistemic merits of unevidenced belief with the skeptical rejection of it is the same sort of junk reasoning as conflating the probable with the merely possible, and constitutes an attempt to shift the burden of proof.