Case law, Statute Law, Fiat law... and Rape

I was asked to explain my views on rape and the unmarried virgin the other day, and my simple explanation proved confusing. Of course, it isn't a simple view, and not very modern and politically correct.
So I thought I would make a whole post...


One of the big problems with looking at God's law is that we have a perverted and confused notion of what 'law' is. We have torn down all jurisdictions and authorities except for man's civil realm and the result is a perversion of our idea of what law is.
Biblically speaking there are three realms of jurisdiction: the family, the church, and the state. All three have authority, with the authority of the family being foundational to the other two.
And then, above all of these, there is God and His law. All other commandments, all other authorities, bow in submission to that law. Only that law is law. All other law is dependent on that law... commands outlining how that law is to be  implemented among a given jurisdiction.

Fiat Law

What we normally think of as 'law' is in fact unBiblical 'fiat law': law invented by man outside of any legitimate interpretation of God's law. It is no law at all and only represents God's law if it falls under Romans 13 as legitimate expressions of God's will for us via the rulers he has set up. To the extent it expands, limits, or contradicts God's actual law, it fails this test.

Case law vs Statute law

The next problem we have in understanding God's law is the issue of statute vs case law. This is a confusing subject, but not an unfamiliar one. Even man's fiat law operates with the idea of statute and case law as two differing types of law, two different ways of telling man how he should live.
A 'statute' law is what we normally think of as a law. God, or a legislature, writes something down in clear black and white terms. Thou shalt do this, thou shalt not do that.
A case law, on the other hand, is law derived from a particular case. Or, as we find it in the Torah, it is a case which explains a statute law.

Thou shalt not commit Adultery

So let me explain how I see this playing out in the case of rape in the Scriptures.
The Statute: Thou shalt not commit adultery
That is, I believe, the statute that covers all of sexual expression.  I could be wrong, Scripture doesn't label it as such, but I think the implication is clear. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Sexual expression has a place, and is forbidden outside of that place.
But what is that place? What happens if the law is violated? What exceptions are there? These issues, as I see is, are handled by the case law. Individual examples that give us the broad lines, that judges are then intended to work out.
The Scriptures had told the Israelites, "Honor the Sabbath". But it was up to Moses to decided exactly how to handle the case of the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath.

The Case of Rape

So, when it comes to the question of rape, what do we find in the case laws? Well, most scholars agree that there are dozens of case law that control the issue of adultery (including incest and the like) but one of the clearest in the area of Rape is Deuteronomy 22:13-30

The problem in this text is that it deals with several different cases, none of which are exactly parallel. To the person looking for statute law, this is very confusing. Looked at from the standpoint of case law, however, I believe it all becomes clear.

Deuteronomy 22: 13-21 : The Case of the Hated Wife

Issues: Hatred in marriage, deception in betrothal, adultery, fornication, the role of the father in marriage, penalty for adultery/deception regarding virginity, importance of virginity, false accusation, proper trial procedure, penalty for false accusation.

Deuteronomy 22:22: Adultery

Issues: Adultery, penalty for adultery

Deuteronomy 22:23-27: Adultery and the Betrothed woman

Issues: Adultery, Betrothal, penalty for adultery, penalty for rape, evidence for rape, rape vs adultery

Deuteronomy 22: 28-29

Issues: Fornication, betrothal, bride price, role of the father in marriage.

So the way I believe these case laws work together is by searching, between them, for the principles that apply to the issue that we have at hand. I don't believe that every case is specifically laid out here, but I believe that all of the principles that we need are here.

So how would I see, for example, the issue of a married woman being raped. Looked at as statute law one either has to say that it isn't covered, or that she is to be killed! But looked at as case laws we discover:
1) The penalty for adultery is death, thus the man must die.
2) The woman is presumed to have been raped, not to have committed adultery, if the event happens outside the city.
3) The principle behind 'outside the city' would also apply to other situations where the woman was unable to cry out/resist (for example, the date rape drug).
4) The woman is required to resist when possible; her resistance is even assumed when it cannot be witnessed.
5) The woman who could have resisted but did not implicitly consented.

By seeing that the various laws place the 'betrothed' and 'married' woman in the same class, it is a no brainer to apply the same 'rape' rules to a married woman. But what about the unmarried woman who is not even betrothed. What should be the rules for raping her?

This is a harder case, but I believe the law is clear there, too. First of all, I don't believe that the law of fornication covers this case. In the law of fornication it seems clear that both the man and woman are guilty. We learn from the law of the hated wife that the girl must confess this act. If she does not do so, and her later husband finds her not to be a virgin, she is to be killed at her father's doorstep.
Which means that, at the very least, fornication plus deception is a death penalty offense. Given that illicit sex via force already mandates the death penalty in the case of the betrothed woman, and by implication for the married woman, I believe the summary of the case laws thus implies that fornication plus force yields death.
The case gets stronger when you see that many other forms of illicit sex also yeild death, even where both parties are willing; namely Sodomy and several forms of  incest (see Leviticus 20).
But there does seem to be at least one caveat implied in these and other texts. The only witness to the 'force' of the sexual encounter is the woman. And if she confesses to a voluntary sexual encounter, or refuses to testify against the man, it would seem that the other possibilities (bride price plus constrained marriage) would, instead, apply. Given the circumstances of the rape there might be (there historically have been) many girls who would choose marriage over the humiliation of admitting to having been raped.


This, then, is how I see the case laws as needing to be applied. Not as statutes which define law itself, but as cases which bring forward its principles. And I believe the best way to apply that principle in this case is by declaring that the forcible rape of an unmarried, unbetrothed, virgin girl can bring the death penalty, where the girl and her father insist on it.

.. Note to the Canadian Human Rights Commission: This article may cause people to have contempt for certain groups, including those who murder innocent children, 214th District Court Judge Jose Longoria, Judge Keith Dean , and members of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. I support The Constitution Party. Items copied from Life Site News are: Copyright © LifeSiteNews.com. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives License. You may republish this article or portions of it without request provided the content is not altered and it is clearly attributed to "LifeSiteNews.com". Any website publishing of complete or large portions of original LifeSiteNews articles MUST additionally include a live link to www.LifeSiteNews.com. The link is not required for excerpts. Republishing of articles on LifeSiteNews.com from other sources as noted is subject to the conditions of those sources.


Forge II: Interview with Dennis Nielsen, Board Member, Forge Ministries

We have gotten off track today. The family is being weakened, marriage is being redefined, the church no longer speaks out about sin or repentance, the church no longer addresses the issues plaguing our country, and the state is reaching farther and farther into our lives.
We need to return to the true foundation: the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to confess our sins, repent, take our section just like the people in Nehemiah did, and begin laying the stones.
Each member of the body of Christ is essential in accomplishing God’s redemptive purpose. All of God’s people are needed to rebuild the walls!

We were pleased to be offered the opportunity to interview Dennis Neilsen, a board member[1] with 'Forge Ministries', to talk about their conference upcoming September 4-6, 2014.[2]
So, Dennis, tell us about yourself. How did you get involved with Forge?

My wife and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, have seven children, and have been homeschooling for over 20 years. While I have worked in the science/engineering field for over 20 years, my heart is in leading my family, serving my church, and ministering to homeschool parents who desire to disciple their own children.

It is my goal to glorify the Lord in all that I do.

I got involved with FORGE when Michael Moody approached me with a vision he had about forming a ministry that would provide conferences with compelling speakers and themes to educate parents so that they would be better equipped to disciple and teach their children. This vision resonated with me, and I committed to do what I could to assist him in forming this ministry.

Reading the Forge webpage it seems like this year’s Forge conference is designed to address several rather dramatic issues: the definition of marriage, the death of the family, sin, repentance, the issues plaguing our country, and the over reach of the state. How does this conference intend to address these issues? How do you see people's lives being changed as a result?

Kevin Swanson at 'Engage the Battle'
Building upon our 2013 “Engage the Battle” conference, we are excited to announce the 2014 FORGE Ministries Conference: “Rebuilding the Wall for a Godly Heritage”. At this conference we will dig deep into Nehemiah and speak to men, woman,
children, and families about returning to the foundation. We want to urge them to help rebuild the walls of the family, the church, and the community. These and many other issues are being addressed in sessions like: Rebuilding Generational Faithfulness; Secret Sin: A Breach in the Wall (a message on sin); Confession and Repentance: The People’s Example (a message on repentance); Christian Influence in Politics; and Wait Till It's Free: A Christian Analysis of Socialized Medicine.

What speakers are you going to have, and how do you see each one addressing these issues?

Two of the speakers we have lined up for this year’s conference are R.C. Sproul Jr. and Kevin Swanson. Some of the topics Mr. Sproul will be addressing are: how God works sovereignly through His people; the importance of rebuilding your section of the wall; and confession and repentance. Some of the topics Mr. Swanson will be addressing are: going back to the foundation of Jesus Christ; how to teach your children to worship God; and how to raise beautiful women of God. One of the sessions of the conference will be devoted to a panel discussion where the panel will address specific questions submitted by the attendees.[3]

What has the feedback been from the last conference? What are you going to 'fix' from last time, and what parts do you see as staying the same?

All the feedback I heard from last year’s conference was very positive. Some even stated that last year’s conference was the best conference they had ever attended. We find that very humbling because we know it was all the Lord’s doing. Others commented that the talks addressed issues that are plaguing our country.

One change we are making from last year’s conference is that we will be having more keynote talks and fewer breakout sessions. Another change we are making is that we have built into this year’s schedule “Fellowship Times” each day of the conference to provide families the opportunity to network with each other. [4]

What vendors are coming, and how do they fit into the goal of this year’s Forge conference?

A few of the exhibitors we will be having at this year’s conference include Chalcedon, Generations With Vision, and Highlands Ministry. The exhibitors are there to provide resources that will enhance and reinforce what people learn at the conference.[5]

In our interview with him last year, Michael mentioned that a lot of homeschoolers were 'losing' their children to the world, have you heard any news from that front? Are things getting better or worse?

God's Word: the only solution.
Things haven't changed and you could argue that some things have gotten worse. The only remedy for sin is a true turn in repentance, and a belief in Jesus Christ. Individuals and families need to return to the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ, confess their sins, repent, take their section of the wall just like the people in Nehemiah did, and begin laying the stones. All of God’s people are needed to rebuild the walls. Now is the time for families to take their section and start rebuilding.

So, what's next for Forge after this conference?

 We hope to be able to have another conference in 2015, but as always, we will do whatever the Lord directs us to do.

Well, our thanks to Dennis for submitting to this interview. We hope to be able to attend Forge this year, and hope to see a lot of our friends there. Our country, indeed our world, is undergoing a tremendous time of trial right now, and only God, with His law and His gospel, offer any hope for this hurting world.

We are particularly looking forward to seeing Colin Gunn's newest movie: Wait Till It's Free.

[1] http://www.forgeministries.org/about/meet-our-board/
[2] http://www.forgeministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Rebuilding-the-Wall-distribution-flyer-FULL.pdf
[3] http://www.forgeministries.org/events/2014-conference/2014-speakers/
[4] http://www.forgeministries.org/events/2014-conference/2014-schedule/
[5] http://www.forgeministries.org/events/2014-conference/2014-exhibitors/

. Note to the Canadian Human Rights Commission: This article may cause people to have contempt for certain groups, including those who murder innocent children, 214th District Court Judge Jose Longoria, Judge Keith Dean , and members of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. I support The Constitution Party. Items copied from Life Site News are: Copyright © LifeSiteNews.com. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives License. You may republish this article or portions of it without request provided the content is not altered and it is clearly attributed to "LifeSiteNews.com". Any website publishing of complete or large portions of original LifeSiteNews articles MUST additionally include a live link to www.LifeSiteNews.com. The link is not required for excerpts. Republishing of articles on LifeSiteNews.com from other sources as noted is subject to the conditions of those sources.


Delete that video!!

Here's brilliance for you. Texas Judge Keith Dean, faced with video revealing his own incompetence and the utter barbarism of CPS, has ordered... the video be taken down. How convenient being a judge and just getting to make up the rules as you you.

From a theonomic standpoint it should be noted that CPS is an organization dedicated in opposition to God's law. From a constitutional standpoint it stands against every principle of American jurisprudence. But from the standpoint of the modern police state I suppose this stuff makes sense. Oppression works much better if it is hidden.

. Note to the Canadian Human Rights Commission: This article may cause people to have contempt for certain groups, including those who murder innocent children, 214th District Court Judge Jose Longoria, and members of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. I support The Constitution Party. Items copied from Life Site News are: Copyright © LifeSiteNews.com. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives License. You may republish this article or portions of it without request provided the content is not altered and it is clearly attributed to "LifeSiteNews.com". Any website publishing of complete or large portions of original LifeSiteNews articles MUST additionally include a live link to www.LifeSiteNews.com. The link is not required for excerpts. Republishing of articles on LifeSiteNews.com from other sources as noted is subject to the conditions of those sources.


In Defense of Patriarchy

It has been fascinating to me, and rather annoying, to watch the reaction of various commentators on the issue of Doug Phillips and his supposed 'patriarchy'. Let me be clear: Doug Phillips was no patriarch. Or, to put it more accurately and less generally:  Doug Phillips denied some of the fundamental principles of patriarchy as taught in Scripture and by the church historical.

What is Patriarchy?

The word 'patriarch' in its literal Greek is used in the following four verses:

Act_2:29  Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 

Act_7:8  And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.
Act_7:9  And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 

Heb_7:4  Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 

Taken at its most literal, then, the Scriptures only list fourteen patriarchs: Abraham, the twelve sons of Jacob, and David. I know of no one, however, who has ever  used that definition. The underlying meaning of the word is 'father-ruler' or 'lineage-ruler'.

One very impressive 'father ruler', one that receives an entire chapter of Scripture, is Jonadab the son of Rechab. God Himself brought the obedience of the sons of Rechab. Generation after generation of the sons of Jondad's sons obeyed his commands until, one day, God had them brought into the temple for a 'final exam'. God's own holy prophet, at the direct command of God Himself, offered them wine. and, based on their obedience to the command of their long, long dead great-great-grandfather... they declined.

And then God Himself congratulated them. Congratulated them. And blessed their father, their long, long dead great great grandfather, with a blessing almost unequaled in Scripture. God said:

Jer 35:18  And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:
Jer 35:19  Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever. 

Quite a blessing. There are few to match it in Scripture. But it needs to be mentioned that Doug Phillips did not believe it. That is, Doug Phillips specifically ascribed to documents which denied that a father had any authority of the Jer 35 type over his sons once they were married, let alone their great, great grandchildren. Doug Phillips was no patriarch.

Brotherly Opposition

One type of  reaction to Mr. Phillip's fall can be found in Chris Jeub's article 'Patriarchy has to go'. I find that article a bit amusing, too, since the title suggests that Mr. Jeub is just now, in the wake of the Doug Phillips scandal, coming to the reluctant realization that we need to jettison 'patriarchy'. The article itself, and the comments, makes it very clear that he left 'patriarchy' (even as Mr. Phillips taught it) a long time ago. It is therefore disingenuous for him to imply that Doug Phillip's fall called him to question patriarchy.

And, indeed, his blog makes it obvious that his current theology is not the sort to support the kind of difficult Biblical doctrine that patriarchy is. He lacks the commitment to Biblical inerrancy and sufficiency required to digest a difficult, counter-cultural, issue like patriarchy. He thus joins a list of others, such as Michael Farris, who, never supporters of the Biblical principles of father-headship in the first place, now basically feel free to say 'I told you so'.

As a result of their complete misunderstanding of the Biblical doctrine and church history on this issue, however, these types of blog posts are completely unhelpful in dealing with the sexual issue raised in the Doug Phillips case. If all they have to say is that the whole thing was caused by 'patriarchy', then they have nothing helpful to say. Patriarchy, as a  Biblical doctrine, is not going to go away. Indeed patriarchy, even as a human doctrine, arises again and again and brings civilizations to prominence.

Neither Fish nor Fowl

There are a lot of ways in which I respect Kevin Swanson, but his post on Patriarchy[1]  in the light of the Doug Phillips controversy is, at its best, sloppy. And it does, as a result, a great disservice to the discussion on patriarchy.

For example he starts out by saying:
I have never been a patriarchal-ist, and I’ve never called myself a patriarchal-ist, and here are a few reasons:
1. The Bible employs the Greek word “patriarchy” to refer to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Acts 2:29; 7:8,9;, Heb. 7:4), and I’m not Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. I’m some guy named Kevin Swanson. It would be arrogant for me to assume that I will bear the influence of men like this over the next 2000 years.

Just to start by being very pedantic, in the very verses he quotes, there are fourteen patriarchs listed, not three: Abraham, David, and the twelve son's of Jacob. Issac and Jacob are not mentioned as patriarchs[2]. But, as I say, pedantic. It doesn't bode well, however, for a post attempting to speak seriously about a Biblical issue when it begins by literally misquoting Scripture.

The serious point of contention in this first point is his equivocation between being called a patriarch in the Scriptures and being a 'patriarchalist' (ie one who believes in the Biblical doctrine of patriarchy). Anyone would be a fool who proclaimed themselves, in 2014, to be someone who would, three thousand or so years from now, have as many ancestors, or as much influence, as the fourteen  men listed in Scripture as patriarchs. But they would be equally a fool who rejected the concept of father-rule (patriarchy) merely on that basis. Patriarchy either is or isn't a Biblical doctrine, our own standing vis a vis being a patriarch is literally irrelevant.

Mr. Swanson goes on to say:

2. Actually, the Bible calls the husband (me), the “head” as Christ is head of the church (Eph. 5:23). This is clear biblical language, and for those still out there who believe the Bible, it’s okay to use biblical language.

Except for the word 'actually' this is a great statement. We can add it to the one above. Both 'patriarch' and 'head' are Biblical words. And I would argue they both represent the same concept, from different angles. The idea of 'head' is a very immediate concept. The husband is the 'head' of the wife. He is her direct leader, they are one flesh.

The patriarch is a much more distant leader. The word 'patria' is translated by Strongs as 'lineage' [3]. God said of Abraham:
Gen 18:19  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
 The patriarch 'leads' or 'rules' his entire lineage.

Mr. Swanson then says:

3. I don’t like movements that narrow applications and tout highly niched agendas. However I still cotton to any true Spirit-filled movement of God where there is a revival of biblical principles like fearing God and loving God with heart, soul, mind, and strength (and sincerely endeavoring to learn and apply the commandments of God).
As a statement of what Mr. Swanson doesn't like, I suppose this is OK. However in a discussion of the Biblical doctrine of patriarchy, it is odd. Patriarchy is a doctrine, or a series of doctrines, not a movement. Vision Forum was a movement, I suppose. But when he talks about a 'Spirit filled revival of Biblical principles' he might be speaking specifically about the long held and now forgotten doctrines of father-leadership. Our world has few if any Rechab's or Jonadabs... and even fewer of their children.

The next part of his article is purely factual (basically 'people treat 'patriarchy' as a dirty word'). 

The part after that is a mere list of things that Mr. Swanson, with no Biblical support or even supporting arguments, states 'aren't sins'. I would agree with some, disagree with others, but none have any Biblical support given in the article.

Then he equally states a list of things he agrees with, again without Biblical support, however one might agree or disagree with some of them.

But in the second to last paragraph he brings forward a phrase that is dramatically unBiblical. The phrase 'nuclear family'. To summarize here something that I am more than willing to prove, Biblically, in a voluminous fashion: Scripture never speaks of, deals with, or even hints at, such a thing as a 'nuclear family'. The 'family' words in Scripture are hardly nuclear.

Hangers On

Another type of reaction  is the kind that didn't really learn anything from the great fall. An example of this might be Nathaniel Darnell's article on the subject. Basically, "Yes, Doug Phillips did the wrong thing, but we need to not talk about it much, and hope that Christian reconciliation goes on behind the scenes." While someone that should be expected to do the hard exegesis needed to learn from this situation, he instead takes refuge in the wholly inappropriate text of Matt 18.

The church cannot afford to merely sweep these scandals under the rug. These rugs, and all of the other rugs, need to be picked up, taken outside, and beaten. (I might be willing to suggest that Doug Phillips, Bill Gothard, and some others should be taken outside and beaten.)


As much as the opponents of patriarchy would like to think so, Doug Phillip's moral failures did not represent an outworking of patriarchy, any more than Bill Clinton's moral failures represented a failure of constitutional government. As Bill Clinton didn't believe in the Constitution, so Doug Phillips rejected what the Scriptures have to say about patriarchy. Just as Republicans and Democrats, Libertarians and Greens have all used political advantage for sexual advantage, so have Reformed, Arminian, Baptists and Presbyterians. Sexual sin knows no denominational boundaries  nor any doctrinal ones. Powerful and charismatic leaders of all types have lured interns into compromising situations.

Two things need to happen in the wake of the Doug Phillip's scandal:

1) The church needs to examine how Scripture tells us to prevent/limit such things and
2) The church needs to examine how Scripture tells us such things should be dealt with.

I will go into more detail on both of those, but one note for the present is that (2) Biblically speaking, adds to (1). Having a grievous sin punished, and seen to be punished by the world and the church, is a good deterrent. We all know that our driving habits improve dramatically, or at least subtly, during the time immediately after we pass a police car with someone pulled over. Contrariwise, a failure to properly and publicly punish someone will lead to an increase in temptation for others tempted in the same way.

[1]  Patriarchy vs. The Biblical Word “Headship one should note that 'patriarchy' is a Biblical word and, to the best of my knowledge, 'headship' isn't

[2] I'm not saying they aren't patriarchs, by any means. I'm just saying that if we are literally going by these verses they aren't listed as patriarchs.

[3] G3965
As if feminine of a derivative of G3962; paternal descent, that is, (concretely) a group of families or a whole race (nation): - family, kindred, lineage.

. Note to the Canadian Human Rights Commission: This article may cause people to have contempt for certain groups, including those who murder innocent children, 214th District Court Judge Jose Longoria, and members of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. I support The Constitution Party. Items copied from Life Site News are: Copyright © LifeSiteNews.com. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives License. You may republish this article or portions of it without request provided the content is not altered and it is clearly attributed to "LifeSiteNews.com". Any website publishing of complete or large portions of original LifeSiteNews articles MUST additionally include a live link to www.LifeSiteNews.com. The link is not required for excerpts. Republishing of articles on LifeSiteNews.com from other sources as noted is subject to the conditions of those sources.


Consider Further

The Israeli war in Gaza has spawned a lot of print. One such article wasAmerican Vision's Whose side should Christians take in the Israel-Palestine conflict?, which Von, being an avid follower of American Vision, read. This article linked to 7 Things to Consider Before Choosing Sides in the Middle East Conflict in the Huffington Post, which Von then read, and began discussing with Russ. Both agreeing that, for an article in such a liberal rag it was amazingly balanced, they both, nonetheless, saw huge holes in that second article. So, being people who like to write, we decided to write a joint ‘response’.
By way of introduction Russ is an Orthodox Jew and Von a theonomic, reformed, conservative Christian. Russ begins his intro with a joke…
Russ' Intro
One joke that scientists and mathematicians like to tell pertains to observations and generalizations:
An astronomer, a physicist and a mathematician are on a train in Scotland. The astronomer looks out of the window, sees a black sheep standing in a field, and remarks, "How odd. The sheep in Scotland are black!" "No, no, no!" says the physicist. "In Scotland, some sheep are black." The mathematician rolls his eyes at his companions' muddled thinking and says, "In Scotland, there is at least one sheep, at least one side of which appears to be black from here some of the time.
While the joke intends to poke fun at mathematicians’ purported detachment from reality, it also drives home a point about assumptions. The astronomer is mocked for assuming that since the only sheep he has seen so far is black, he can assume that this is true for all Scottish sheep. The mathematician, on the other hand, refuses to make any assumptions at all. But generalized assumptions are an essential part of life.
We learn from experience to expect the future to be similar to the past. The Scottish philosopher David Hume argued that this expectation is not inherently rational - the future could well be different, yet virtually all human beings assume, for example, that the sun will rise each morning.
Certainly, we need to make such assumptions. Our ancestors had to associate certain signs with evidence of danger. It would not have been very useful to conclude that a bear was dangerous only after he had bitten you. Learning that bear tracks were a good prediction of a need to be wary doubtless kept primitive men alive long enough to procreate.
Similarly, we assume that similar things in different places will behave the same as do things in known places. Astronomy, for example, assumes that the laws of physics that we know on earth apply throughout the universe, and have always done so. This is not directly testable, but most of what we believe that we know about the universe and its history takes this as a given. It produces results that are internally consistent, so we don’t tend to question it. Thus, our joke depicts an astronomer as making an unwarranted generalization.
The trap, of course, is that we are not generally aware of our assumptions, but they affect our reflexes. Some years ago, a coworker and I were in the non-smoking section of a restaurant, when I noticed a man smoking nearby. I accordingly went over and pointed out the sign and asked him to stop. My friend freaked out - he’d grown up in an environment in which one simply didn’t challenge others like that, since they were as likely as not to treat such challenges as threats requiring retaliation. His life experiences, and therefore his assumptions, were different than mine.
I had a conversation recently with a former college classmate about the conflict between Israel and Hamas. She insisted that if they could simply sit down, possibly with outsiders, and agree on economic principles such as minimum wage laws, the conflict could be resolved easily. I was incredulous. She admitted that she didn’t know very much about the conflict, but that focusing on economic issues was how she had been able to survive in a very difficult and sometimes violent environment. She assumed, therefore, that the same approach would work elsewhere, and in particular, would work in Gaza. The idea of willful genocide for religious reasons was simply out of her ken.
When examining any analysis of a problem, then, it is essential to attempt to understand the assumptions that the author is making. One can make a game of it: Spot the hidden assumption. Frequently, people incorrectly assume that the unfamiliar is similar to the familiar. In a sense, this is the opposite of Von’s National Geographic Effect, where the unfamiliar and distant is assumed to follow different rules.

Von's Intro
Years ago, in a debate, William F Buckley castigated the liberal side in debate over the ‘cold war’. “The other side,” he said, “treats the US and the USSR as if they were moral equivalents because they are both ‘superpowers’. This is the same as saying that the man who pushes a little old lady in front of a bus, and the man who pushes the little old lady out from in front of a bus, are both men who push little old ladies around.”
There is a mistake that everyone makes, concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict: the mistake of treating both sides ‘the same’. Ironically we treat them the same in precisely the areas where they are not the same, and we treat them as different in exactly the areas where they are the same. These perversions color our entire perception of the conflict.
And this perversion of our view is not limited to those who are ‘anti-Israel’. Every day Israeli politicians and supporters can be heard giving interviews in which they make the exact same mistakes, treating like things as very unlike, and unlike things as if they were exactly the same.
I grew up in a middle class suburb. White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. Independent Baptist, church attending, the whole nine yards.
So we were ‘conservative’; especially when it came to raising kids. I never, ever heard a cuss word around my house. I had to have them explained to me when I accidentally said one. I never saw anyone drunk, on drugs, or the like.
And, after a certain age, I never saw a naked girl. Years later some buddies showed me pictures in a store somewhere, but growing up, never. Even our sex-ed books just had line drawings.
But there was one exception that every single red blooded suburban American boy knew about: National Geographic. In almost every single issue of National Geographic, or so it seemed to my young mind, there was a picture of topless women. Topless African women, that is. Or from Brazil. Or Papua New Guinea. Never white American women, like lived on our street. Not even black or hispanic women from the United States. Always women who lived a long ways away, and lived in huts in the jungle or some such.
And somehow our mothers, who read National Geographic, actually allowed us to see those pictures. In fact, they were always pleased when we read National Geographic. Said it was ‘educational’… which I agreed with!
There was something about the fact that these women lived a long way away, in grass huts, in the jungle, and were a whole different culture and color from us, that made these pictures ‘OK’. If I had read a magazine with the exact same pictures of American women going about their daily business, I would have gotten my bottom tanned, but my parents actually bought us a subscription to National Geographic!
There are several issues which pervert the whole Israel v Arab conflict out of recognition. The Muslims have their religious foundation. The PC crowd has their innate and unalterable prejudices. Christians can go either way due to their religious beliefs.
But for the average American, European, Australian, etc. there is also the ‘National Geographic’ effect. We read that some Arab or African dictator murdered half of their population by hanging them naked upside down in baskets and we yawn… it is the kind of thing we expect from ‘them’. But we read of a modern European style nation killing a rock throwing boy with a rubber bullet, and we are shocked out of our minds.
At literally the very same time as the latest conflict in Israel is going on, Muslims are killing, beheading, crucifying dozens of Christians in Arab countries… and the world yawns. Hundreds of Africans are dying of a virulent contagious disease, and Drudge seems alone in carrying the story.
Not only is the state of coverage different because Israel is involved instead of third world natives, but in this conflict between the first and third world, the coverage is one-eyed. Hamas can declare their desire to kill every Jew, after first raping his wife and daughter; while Israel states that they want peace but the rockets need to stop; and this is called a ‘disagreement’ that needs to be ‘negotiated’.
So here are some areas where, in my opinion, the two sides are basically the same, but we treat them differently:
1) Power
It is almost an axiom of the discussion concerning ‘the Palestinians’ versus ‘the Israelis’ that the ‘power’ is all on one side. It is repeated ad nauseum by everyone on all sides that the ‘Palestinians’ are poor, starving, persecuted weaklings. In modern parlance, ‘victims’.
But this is false. Indeed it is a deliberate falsehood foisted on the world by the Palestinians and their allies, their co-religionists and co-Ishmaelites. In reality the Arab world is awash in money and people. And many of the other ‘lacks’ they have are due to their culture, not some victimhood.
Indeed their victimhood is entirely of their own making.  To quote CS Lewis, they ‘castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful’. Faced with the prospect of thousands of refugees fleeing from arab lands, the Jews of Israel rapidly integrated them into the Israeli society and, a few years later, they were functioning members of society, producing goods and services.
The Arabs, on the other hand, built fences around the refugees that came to their land, and started soliciting donations and pity. And, like African beggars, it would do not good if the beggars looked well off, so the Arabs ensure that they aren’t.
Time and again, in ways too numerous to outline in a simple article, the Arabs have deliberately made themselves look powerless; including deliberately wasting money that could be spent to improve the economy of their citizens.
2) Responsibility before God and man
Similarly we tend to look at the Arabs and the Jews as if they were in some way different, morally. As if somehow the Arabs, like toddlers, had less moral culpability for their actions.
In reality God judges everyone according to His Holy Law. We all have the responsibility to be peacemakers, to defend the widow and orphan, to live peaceably with our neighbors… and to worship God rightly. As a Christian I do not believe that the Jews do, indeed, worship God rightly. But the Muslims worship a false God.
Areas where they are different, but we treat them the same:
1) The nature of their goals
The stated goal of Hamas is the death of every Jew. The stated goal of Israel is peace (through strength and secure borders). Some in Gaza wish for peace, and some in Israel want a return to the Davidic or Solomonic borders.
But what is important is that these goals are not only not the same (which is obviously a factor in every conflict) but they are in no sense equivalent. The goal of Hamas is not one which Israel can ever even partly accept. There can be no legitimate compromise with Hamas,
2) The nature of their actions
Much has been made, recently of the fact that the death toll among Israelis is predominantly among the military, and that of Gaza among civilians. The implication in this propaganda is that the IDF is targeting civilians in particular.
The truth is that Hamas admits, indeed boasts, in a policy of using human shields; including deliberately leaving civilians defenseless, hiding weapons and soldiers in heavily populated areas. Whereas Israel has a huge system of civilian defense, including the ‘Iron Dome’ missile defense system, air raid warnings, and civil defense bunkers.
This when a Hamas militant first his weapon, his only available target is a soldier. When the IDF fires, each military target is surrounded by civilians.
3) The nature of their religions
Speaking specifically and only to Christians right now, regardless of your eschatology, we need to remember that Paul wrote:
Rom 9:1-5  I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;  Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
We do need to remember that Muslim’s are ‘people too’; but we also need to remember that Allah is an anti-Christ. The Jews have rejected the Messiah, the Muslims worship one of His opponents.

Russ on Settlements
Von’s approach here is a fair bit different from mine; I suspect we are writing for different audiences. I prefer not to focus on theological claims and counter-claims, but rather on errors of things directly observable in the conflict.
One such issue that stands out for me is Mr. Rizvi’s approach to settlements. He expresses some confusion on the subject of Israeli settlements in the disputed territories:
When is the last time you heard a good rational, secular argument supporting settlement expansion in the West Bank? - point 2
Settlement expansion is simply incomprehensible. No one really understands the point of it. … There is no justification for it except a Biblical one - point 7
Yet people have been settling conquered lands for about as long as human beings have existed. Very few nations have had the same  borders for thousands of years, and conquest is a major reason why. So it seems actually more surprising that he is surprised.
Lands have been settled for various reasons, including the need to hold territory for strategic purposes, and a simple desire for more living space. Both make sense for Israel, and those reasons should be more than adequate.
Strategically, many experts have stated that the armistice lines established after the 1948 war are not truly defensible. The late Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban referred to them as “Auschwitz borders.” In recognition of this, UN resolution 242 calls for Israel, as part of “a just and lasting peace,” which includes the “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force,” to withdraw its troops, “from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” During the drafting of the resolution, the wording “the territories” was proposed and rejecting. Israel therefore has a reasonable expectation that it will retain at least some of the land in question, as needed for security purposes.
In addition, settling territory puts pressure on the Arabs who would like some of the land for their own state. While settlements can always be uprooted as part of an agreement, their presence establishes “facts on the ground” which can strengthen Israel’s negotiating position, both because the more settlements there are, the greater the concessions Israel can demand for dismantling them, and because it can feel to the Palestinians that their options are shrinking.
So with these explanations, why is Mr. Rizvi convinced that there is no rational argument for settlement expansion? Let’s play spot the hidden assumptions.
The first assumption would seem to be that settling land makes peace more difficult to obtain. But at present, the sum total of all Israeli settlements covers just 1.7% of the West Bank, almost all of that close to the likely borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state. Of course, this claim that settlements make a solution impossible is a common excuse by the Palestinian Authority, despite the fact that Israel has not actually expanded settlements in a decade; any building has been within the existing settlement boundaries.
A second assumption may be that all of the land will need to be given to the Palestinians. As noted above, that is not actually required by Resolution 242. And Mr. Rizvi states,
Let's face it, the land belongs to both of them now. Israel was carved out of Palestine for Jews with help from the British in the late 1940s just like my own birthplace of Pakistan was carved out of India for Muslims around the same time. The process was painful, and displaced millions in both instances.
Actually, Israel was originally carved out of a portion carved out of the original Mandate for Palestine. There wasn’t ever actually a nation by that name, as there was in India, but it is true that there were refugees on both sides: about 650,000 Palestinian Arabs, and about 850,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries. But India was a very large nation; after the division, it covers over 1.2 million square miles, and Pakistan is over 300,000 square miles. By contrast, Israel plus the disputed territories is tiny: only about 10,000 square miles. If that is to be carved into two nations, they are going to need to have extremely good and peaceful relations.
And that brings us to a third assumption that Mr. Rizvi seems to be making: that after a division, if Israel withdraws completely from all of the disputed territories, the Palestinians will live in peace with Israel. The problem is that every bit of evidence we have suggests otherwise. Two decades after the Oslo accords, which were supposed to plan the implementation of Resolution 242, not a single Palestinian leader has stated a willingness to live in peace alongside a sovereign Jewish state. Hamas, which has controlled Gaza for most of the past decade, has consistently declared via word and deed, its intention to destroy Israel and commit genocide against the Jewish people.
Resolution 242 does not simply call for territorial concessions. It also insists on peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force. There is no particular reason to believe that the Palestinians are offering that. Hamas is certainly not offering it.

Von on Assumptions

Both of the articles we are replying to make certain assumptions, which come from the underlying world view and cultural settings of the men involved. These assumptions do not work, do not reflect the reality of the situation. For example, Mr. Rizvi asks the amazing question:

Why is everything worse when there are Jews involved?
After I got over my shock at a question being asked that was so, well, how can it possibly not be anti-semitic? I began thinking about the 'answer':
Romans 11:18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
First of all everything is 'worse' when Jews are involved because anti-semitism is not dead. The Muslims are overtly anti-semitic. Many Christians are all but anti-Semitic in their replacement theology that seems to go beyond replacement into opposition. And many liberal politically correct types fall naturally into anti-semitism because the Jews, and Israel in particular, shatter their collectivist illusions.
And then, on the flip side, many liberals have a peculiar blindness when it comes to Muslims. Somehow their minority status blinds them to the fact that Muslims are about the most illiberal people, in all senses, on Earth. American Christians may refuse to bake cakes for Sodomites; Muslim’s routinely slaughter them. American Conservatives might believe in women staying home and raising many children: Muslim women do all that and cover themselves from head to toe when out shopping.
He then goes on to ask a related question
Why do people pretend this is not a religious conflict?
Psalm 137:5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
First of all, anyone that thinks that everyone is clueless, or pretends to be clueless, about the religious nature of this conflict has obviously never read anything written by a modern American Evangelical on the subject. They hold whole conferences on the religious nature of the Middle Eastern wars.
What the writer might be referring to is the medial coverage from the modern, liberal, politically correct media. He is perfectly correct there, especially when he uses the word ‘pretend’.
The politically correct world has to pretend that religion is not a factor in the middle eastern wars because, according to their theory of history, religion is a thing of the past. So it is literally inconceivable that modern, even civilized, people would be still having ‘religious wars’.
And, if they were to admit that the war was religious, they would also be forced (one assumes. Liberals are capable of amazing things) to acknowledge that religion was, therefore, important in some people’s lives. Most liberals spend a great deal of time and energy trying to deny this core truty.
And so somehow the modern, liberal, politically correct world is forced to bend over backwards ignoring or even denying the religious nature not only of the war, but of the warriors. To edit out ‘Allahu Akbar!!” from the battle cry of those killing Israelis.

Von's Conclusion
Mr Risvi concludes his article asking why, if the facts are as (even) he presents them, why isn't everyone pro-Israel?
The truth is that the mentality of the Palestinians, like the topless Africans, is so beyond the ability of most people in the west to comprehend that we are unable to reason logically in examining this concept. Let me propose a definition for ‘terrorism’ and show how, in this one area, this conflict is incomprehensible to us:
Terrorism: A deliberate use or threat of violence against civilian/soft targets in order to bring about a change of policy via popular pressure against the government (or even having these actions/threats change the mind of the government).
A common, but wildly misinformed, statement made nowadays is that *both* Israel *and* Hamas/Muslims etc are terrorists. The reasoning has to do with who is dying, and is aided by bloody pictures. But in reality *neither* the Israelis *nor* Hamas are terrorists, by the definition above.
Let us start with the Israelis. Not only do they know that the deaths of civilian/soft targets amongst their opponents will not bring about any change in their  policy (or, at least, not at the level that the Israelis would be willing to impose. Stalin might be able to succeed.) But also they have the ability to inflict far more civilian casualties than they do, easily.
But, and here is the real difference between a terrorist and a true military, if Israel was able to kill just as many Hamas militants with every single strike as they now kill civilians (let alone as many as they are capable of killing) they would do so. Gladly. And, having killed all of the Hamas militants, suicide bombers, and the like, they would gladly go back to living their normal life.
Now let us turn to Hamas. Hamas is not even really trying to limit themselves to military targets. No one who has really studied the subject suggests they are; or that if they were able to, they would do so.
And what no one really doubts, and what Hamas actually says, is that if Hamas were to succeed in killing every single Israeli soldier, policeman, etc… they would then go on to killing all the rest of the Jews.
I suggest a different definition for what Hamas is doing:
Genocidalism: The deliberate targeting of civilian/soft targets with the ultimate goal of killing all of your opponent.
It has been said, and I believe it, that if Hamas would all lay down their arms, there would be no war; but if Israel would lay down their arms, there would be no Israel.
Leaving aside the blindness we bring out above, the anti-semitism, the refusal to recognize the religious nature of the conflict; the core goal of the Palestinians is not something that most Americans or Europeans are able to grasp. The idea of a genocidal goal is simply not something that can enter into their consciousness. Thus they continue a vain and deceptive search for 'reasons' for the 'conflict' that simply aren't there.
Unless and until we are able to overcome this hurdle, the West will be worse than useless  in their 'diplomacy' in this area.

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