Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Addendum to Open Letter: The Dietary Question

In yesterday's post I noted that I had responded separately to a question on Biblical dietary practices, namely:
*Is out of logic that God know that a thing is harmful and don't order man not to get close to it?!!!!Sure not,but science proved that beers and pig are harmful for a man,but I didn't see a verse in Bible ordering not to eat or drink them.
A copy of that response follows, just as an FYI. [I have taken my reponses from my notes and not from the combox, as I have difficulty copying from there. Thus there may be some minor differences between this text and the combox text. Mohamed's reply has been copied directly from the combox.]

The view of pigs as unclean predates Islam by millenia; it's a tenet of Juadaism at least from the earliest books of the Bible. In Genesis, God instructs Noah:

Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs,...and of the unclean animals, one pair...
(Gen. 7:2)
In Leviticus, food prohibitions are plainly laid out for the Children of Israel:
All hoofed animals that are not cloven-footed or do not chew the cud are unclean for you...
(Lev. 11:26)

This practice is now believed to be one of humanity's earliest health laws. If you know much of vertebrate biology, you know that pigs have some physiological similarities to humans (I may get an earful over that statement) that results in them being hosts to a number of the worst human parasites. Eating uncooked or undercooked pork is extremely dangerous. Also, pigs tend to be omnivorous, eating meat as well as plants, and garbage feeders,eating dead and decomposing matter which can be rife with disease.

Contact with other cultures when Palestine was part of the Roman Empire led to increasing contact with people who did not follow the Levitical food practices. When many Non-Jews began to take an interest in Christianity in the years following the Resurrection, this became a problem for the Jewish Christians, as increased contact with interested Gentiles put them at risk of having to eat 'unclean' food. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter, then leader of the new church, reports a vision that resolves this problem for him: God shows him all the earth's four-legged animals and invites him to eat. When Peter objects, God replies,
'What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.'
(Acts 10:15)

In fact, Orthodox Jews and some Christian denominations (such as Seventh-Day Adventists) still adhere to the Levitical dietary laws, for religious but not sanitary reasons. Pork, properly handled and cooked, is safe to eat.

As for the beer question, Proverbs 31 immediately came to mind:
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
not for kings to drink wine;
strong drink is not for princes!
(Prov. 31:4)

Other than this I can't think of any other Biblical prohibition on alcohol, although examples abound (Noah, Lot, Samson,Holofernes) of the hazards of drinking to excess.

Sanitation issues, again have to be considered: If you drank water in many places at these times, you took your life into your hands. Ditto any fruit juice that wasn't fermented. A little alcohol went a long way to preserving the lives of these early people by killing the germs that would otherwise have infested their drinking supply.

That's my two bits' worth. I'll go over the rest when I can. What is the rationale against pork and alcohol in the Qu'ran?

I was answered as follows:

What're you talking about?!!!!I didn't understand what was your point in this long message?!!!!
You just narrated a history.

Is it prohibited for you or not?!!!
I understood from...egypeter that it's not prohibited,and from you I understood that it's not good in Torah,SO?!!!!

Sorry,but who eat any meat without cooking?!!!!
And if we assumed that it's healthy to eat it,will you accept to eat it after knowing what it eats?!!!!
You must know that it eat rubbish,wastes of human and drink dirty water,and flesh of an animal is formed from what it eat!
So,when a man eats pork,it's like eating rubbish.
As for me,I don't accept by my nature to eat it.
And if we assumed that it's cooked,don't you know that it's cooked quickly that it don't have the enough time to kill germs?!!!!!!

Any way if you want to know where Qur'an prohibited pork and beer...

[Here Suras 2:172-173 and 5:90 of the Qu'ran are cited]

I responded thus:

*Is out of logic that God know that a thing is harmful and don't order man not to get close to it?!!!!Sure not,but science proved that beers and pig are harmful for a man,but I didn't see a verse in Bible ordering not to eat or drink them.

You didn't ask me if pork and beer were prohibited for me; you made the above statement, which I answered by supplying several Biblical citations. Those citations also, incidentally, answered the question you apparently expected me to telepathically divinate from your ramblings and explained why this was the case. Please refer to the citation from Acts if you are unsure of my meaning.

I am trying to be patient, and deal with the statements you make in a Biblical and historical context, but my patience only goes so far. If you want to discuss religion with me, I advise you to organize your thoughts, sort out what is religion from what is your own personal idiosyncracy, and don't try to change the question when you don't like my answer. Unlike yourself, I do not have all kinds of time to waste churning out reams of nonsense and if your intent is to lead me into roundabouts, I won't play that game.

For your information, quite a few cultures around the world eat some raw meat; I understand that in some parts of China raw pork is a delicacy. Furthermore, farm-raised pork is not fed garbage; if it wasn't perfectly clear in my comment, I was giving a historical context for the prohibition.

Your verses are interesting, but fail to answer my question. What is the Qu'ranic rationale for not consuming pork and beer? 'Just don't do it' doesn't explain that. I know what the rationale is for the Levitical prohibitions and for the lifting of those prohibitions; I explained them in my comment. Why was your rule instituted?

There has been no further discussion on this topic since.



Blogger The unconventional mother said...

Hesitated to comment on this...but it kind of reminds me of the strict creationists around here that believe the Earth is only 3000 years old. You can't argue with them because they don't believe a man walked on the moon or that dinosaurs really existed. The don't believe in fossil records or carbon dating. Baically they don't believe in reason and it is hard to reason with someone that doesn't believe in reason.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Bent El Neel said...

well you gonna luuuuuuurve this:
apparently Syrian "scientists" have "proven" that birds and cattle that are killed in the approved Islamic fashion (halal) which menas to say "Allah Akbar" (Allah is great) as you kill them...well they appear to have microbial contamination, and less blood in their edible tissue than animals that are not killed halal.

Which prompted a friend to ask the Muslim lady who posted this "fact" on the forum:
How come all the Western infidels are in much better health than people in Islamic countries???


6:23 AM  
Blogger CMinor said...

Good point! I'm assuming that 'halal' slaughter, like kosher slaughter, is by exsanguination (cutting the throat) as opposed to the mechanized western slaughterhouse knock on the head. So I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the tissues retained less blood. If there is a difference in microbial content, it could be due to farming and corralling practices, which out here often involve staggering numbers of animals. I imagine the infection rates of stock at small family farms in the West are lower than those at huge factory farms as well. At any rate, it makes little difference as long as you cook it properly.

9:24 AM  
Blogger CMinor said...

Note to Unconventional: Astute observation re reason--we'll have to compare notes sometime.

Your comment seems to have double posted itself, so D went ahead and deleted the extra. Now he just needs to clear out those "comment deleted" boxes.

9:31 AM  

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