Sunday, March 13, 2011

Biblical Mistranslation and Special Interest Groups

I was driving home with a friend after last week’s rain and she noticed a beautiful rainbow over the trees to the east.  It was probably the brightest one I have ever seen.  I pulled the van off the road to admire it before it faded away.  It was amazing.    

After watching the rainbow for a while she commented that she really didn’t understand how rainbows hang in the sky like that.  I felt obliged to explain it to her and started to give her the history of rainbows.  I explained that they were a product of the U.S. military and why they were invented in 1947.  She abruptly cut me off.  She exclaimed that although she may not know how they work, she knew they have been around for  thousands of years.  She gently reminded me that it was in the Bible that God created rainbows after the Flood to show the world that he would never destroy the earth by flood again.

She was referring to Genesis 9:13 which reads in the New International Version, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”  I couldn’t blame her.  It is a common, although misguided thought.  The translators of the NIV made a mistake.  If we look at the King James Version, it reads, “I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”  The King James translates the Hebrew word קשת correctly.  Unfortunately, there has been a misconception of what a bow is.  The word has evolved and has not been used in this manner for several centuries.

The word bow according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary when used as a verb means “to cease from competition or resistance.”  You can check the definition here.  While this word is now only used as a verb, at one time it was used as a noun.  When used as a noun, it meant a “cessation of substance” or “area of lower density.”

Therefore, when Genesis says that God created a bow, it referred to an area of less or no rain in the midst of rain.  A rainbow and a rain bow are not the same thing.  While a rainbow is the colorful arc caused after a rain by the refraction and reflection of the sun’s rays in raindrops, spray, or mist, a rain bow is a place in the middle of a storm where there is no rain.  When you are driving in the rain and it stops for a moment and then starts again, that was a bow in the rain, or a rain bow.  It is the same as when you can see it raining across the street, but it is not raining where you are.  This is a rain bow.  Now that we have that cleared up, let’s get back to the origin of rainbows like the one we were looking at last week.

Rainbows were invented by military scientists at the Roswell Army Air Field in Roswell, New Mexico.  The air field had a national security issue in the mid-1940’s that needed to be promptly resolved.  Roswell was the leading manufacturer of experimental aircraft for the military and often tested their new developments late at night when most people would be asleep.  Unfortunately, the unusual lights in the sky were frequently spotted by people who worked late and insomniacs.

Military scientists and engineers brainstormed to come up with a solution.  They needed to prevent civilians from witnessing the test flights and possibly discovering military secrets.  They concluded that building a wall two miles tall around the entire base would not be cost-effective and relocating the civilians within eyesight would take too long.  It was in this brainstorming session that they came up with Project R.A.I.N.B.O.W.

Radio-Active Iridescent Nuclear Bio-Optical Weapon

While not actually a weapon, the idea was to create something bright and beautiful in the sky in the opposite direction of the planes doing their test flights.  This would cause people to be distracted and not notice the planes.  This brilliant concept still works today.  When someone sees a rainbow, they always point it out to other people and those people always look.  Some people even go as far as to make a phone call to tell people to look out their window at the beautiful rainbow.  A bank could get robbed and it would not be noticed if there was a rainbow glowing in the sky in the opposite direction.

After spending millions of dollars, Project R.A.I.N.B.O.W. was almost scrapped after it’s first test run.  On July 9, 1947 the local newspaper Roswell Daily Record reported that a high-altitude weather balloon crashed on a ranch near the airfield.  There was much speculation and many rumors milling around the area about what had actually crashed, but the newspaper story was correct.  It was a weather balloon, but the military did not release the rest of the story.

The weather balloon went down because a test pilot collided with it in mid-air.  He had been temporarily blinded when a bright flash of colors shot up from the ground.  The blinded pilot veered off-course and struck the weather balloon.  The pilot and plane were fine, but the balloon crashed to the earth.  After a few more test runs with similar near disastrous results, the scientists made a few adjustments and re-engineered their new invention to work during the day.  From this point on all test flights were done in broad daylight while people were mesmerized by the pretty colors on the other side of the horizon.

After several years of successful test flights without incident the generals in the Pentagon were looking for a more destructive, military-type use for the rainbows.  They wanted to use them strategically in war situations.  Since the rainbow had no destructive power, the generals decided to use it in the same manner it had been used successfully for the last several years.  It makes a wonderful distraction.  It could be implemented outside an enemy air field keeping enemy pilots from reaching their destination.  It could also be turned on in the middle of a fierce land battle.  Unsuccessful tests were conducted to produce special lenses that could be worn by American soldiers so they would not be distracted by it’s brilliance.

In the mid-50’s, they had their answer.  Computers had become sophisticated enough that scientists installed the rainbows with artificial intelligence.  With an independent intelligence, the rainbows' computers could make split-second decisions on the battlefield to determine the most strategic place to illuminate.  The research laboratory was brimming with excitement as the programmers awaited the results of the field test.

Things did not go the way the generals, engineers, and programmers had planned.   It seemed that the rainbows could not determine the difference between domestic and foreign soldiers.  They distracted every moving thing on the battlefield.  With these disappointing results and the recent dismantling of the Roswell experimental flight program, Washington decided to bury the project.  However, the newly intelligent rainbows were not ready to be put down.  The rainbows' failure on the battlefield was due to the fact that they were now only interested in self-preservation.  They saw every person as an enemy to themselves with no regard for who may be an American.  The rainbows used their new intelligence to formulate a plan to escape from the base and power themselves.

The military launched a full-scale assault against the rainbows to no avail.  Rainbows cannot be destroyed since they are only a refraction of light.  Despite the best efforts of the military the rainbows remained at large and even began to reproduce themselves.  Within weeks there were sightings of rogue rainbows in every state in the country.

Although rainbows could not be destroyed, they did not enjoy being attacked all the time.  Using their computer-speed intelligence they came up with a plan to get back at the people that were trying to destroy them.  Since they had no actual defenses and could not do any damage they decided to retaliate by creating a nuisance that could not be ignored.  Rainbows understood that they were beautiful creations that people loved to stare at.  They decided to make something devoid of color that people would not want to see or experience.  It needed to be something that would make people cringe at the very thought.  The rainbows had their plan and they released their creation onto the world: MIMES!!!

Just as the rainbows had planned, they were soon forgotten about.  Mimes were everywhere.  They infiltrated birthday parties, state carnivals, and public parks.  People could not walk through a park without being imitated by one of these black and white abominations.  Worldwide public outrage prompted a quick response from governments all over the world.  The United States, facing international pressure, lead the way in trying to eradicate the Mime Invasion.

Since mimes are similar in appearance to humans, they could not be killed without protests from various human rights organizations.  Congress passed laws forbidding people from feeding them, housing them, or offering them employment.  Countries around the world quickly followed suit.  France, however, offered mimes asylum and they congregated there by the thousands.

Around the world most mimes died within a few months and their bodies littered the streets.  The smell of decaying mimes was too much for the public to bear.  The same problem was occurring in France despite the special statutes protecting them, because due to the huge numbers of mimes in the country as a result of the protective sanctuary that was offered to them, there was not sufficient mime food to feed them all.  Nevertheless, the smell didn’t seem to bother the French.  In other parts of the world Mime Rights groups were starting to form.  One organization even succeeded in getting mimes established as their own race.

Since mimes are not particularly intelligent, unlike their creators, most just died off, but some of the craftier ones banded together to survive.  A few even became part of paramilitary resistance groups.  In Waco, Texas a mime resistance group formed calling themselves Fighters Against Racial Tension (FART).  They were silent, but deadly.  In their last stand, they held off ATF agents for 50 days before being burned out and gunned down.  This marked the end of guerrilla mime warfare.

Public outrage forced Congress to pursue a new tactic.  Lawmakers knew that the mime scourge still had to be squashed, but it had to be done discreetly.  All laws restricting travel, lodging, and commerce were lifted and the government even provided jobs for every mime.  Call centers were set up all over the country and the mimes were put to work as telemarketers.  The scheme was brilliant.  The government had provided jobs and given them a way to support themselves.  No one could legitimately complain.

The telemarketing jobs offered fantastic compensation, but it was based on commission only.  If the mimes wanted to get paid they had to make sales.  The program would take care of itself.  The mime population has been dropping steadily ever since.  There are very few left today.  The world is possibly one generation away from putting this dark period behind us.

However, if you are one of those bleeding heart types that feels sorry for them, remember this next time you get one of those phone calls and there is no one on the other end.  It may just be a mime trying to feed his family.  When you get that call just say, “I’ll take two,” and then give your credit card information.  You may just save a life.