Pig Latin Bible

My first experiment as a publisher was a Pig Latin translation of the Book of Psalms and the Book of Proverbs. I have not been very public about this project, but as the months have passed I’ve gradually grown more comfortable with the idea of letting people know about it. I will say that it’s an amusing book and would make a good gift to a friend or relative with a blasphemous sense of humor.

To me the book itself has a certain significance as a demonstration of the godlessness of technology and the power of technology to overwhelm what is sacred. The translation was done by a javascript program, and I turned it into a book using more software. Quite a contrast from the Bible of John Wycliffe.

Anway, what else can I say? Good Christmas gift. There’s even a poem on the copyright page.

13 comments on “Pig Latin Bible

  1. “godlessness of technology”

    Wow – seriously? Perhaps you could explain this position a little more. Thanks.

  2. It’s not a new idea. In fact it is a very old idea. The story of Prometheus had great echoes in 18th century Europe, when a new, godless way of looking at the world (modern science) began producing technological marvels. Technology is how humans control nature. Traditionalists, religious people, have always been uncomfortable with the power of technology, because of the sense that we are messing with things that we shouldn’t be messing with. When we say “technology” now the first thing most of us think of is commputers, and this book is an example of the capacity of the computer to mess with a sacred text, but the real technological revolution in terms of giving us new power over nature is bioscience. Germline genetic engineering has given us the power to change what a human being is. This gives humans the power of God, for those who believe in God and believe that He is our creator. Technological breakthroughs have always seemed to give us the power of God, in giving us power over a realm where we formerly had no power.

  3. Rory,

    Yes, I understand what you are saying. I am one of those more traditional, religious folks who, I think, is keenly aware of the dangers science presents.

    And yet – to flat out say that “technology is godless” seems a bit of a stretch to me. It seems to me that modern science (as opposed to the science before it, that was primarily descriptive of the world out there – and at its more sophisticated levels, was really focused on rationally organizing the world into sensible categories) has indeed given us some operational control over nature, but that this, in many cases, has been used to promote good, and not evil.

    In other words, in one sense, modern science can never be a “neutral tool” as it is always in the hands of mend and women who do good and evil. In another sense, it does give us some knowledge (although within limited constraints) about how the world out there “works”, in a more or less “objective” (for lack of a better term) sense (here I am thinking more along the lines of the sciences that deal with matter, and not living entities).

    I think the origins of modern science have their roots in Christian belief, actually. Since, despite all of its dreadful ambiguities, the universe at bottom was not chaotic but rather ordered, reasonable, purposeful,(being made by a good Creator) actively searching, via *experimentation and observation*, for patterns of order which could be “captured” (via analogy, visual representation, mathematical formulae and the like) and *later practically utilized* was not a waste of time.

    From the Christian perspective – as is appropriate to God’s creatures – we should both be in awe of the universe and *also recognize its fallen state* – not being afraid to mold and shape it to degree to serve mankind where it does not naturally do so. Hence, the Christian is not fatalistic in regards to diseases and the like, but fight against them with this knowledge, knowing that life is good (though death cannot forever be avoided) and that healing in this life can act as a sign to healing in the next.

  4. I’m sorry, but I think the viewpoint you express is simply a compromise between religion and modernity, and you’re avoiding the essence of technology. But I think it’s maybe a necessary compromise… that kind of “half humanism” really is our culture.

  5. Rory,

    Thanks for the engagement here. You are helping me think through many things at a deeper level.

    Hmm… What is the “essence of technology”? I think writing could even be considered a technology. You?

    Anyway, no need to be sorry. We disagree, that’s all. 🙂 I suppose you could say that it is a necessary compromise of sorts – but I don’t think that it is one between “religion” and “modernity” as you put it. These categories, I think, can only help us so far. I think many of the fruits of “modernity” are gifts that God has given us (to use properly and responsibly), and that they have *often* been used as a rather “emancipating force” (from tasks we label “drudgery”, “backbreaking”, or “toil” for example – among the creatures, only man must plant seed and toil for his bread) in the world. You, after all, I’m sure appreciate modern medicine and technology and the things it allows you to do *and to serve others*, correct? 🙂 – even as you are rightly wary of the misuse of power re: these things. So, I don’t think technology, but sinful human beings, are at fault.

    John Calvin may have disagreed – and large parts of the RC. Church may have resisted it for a while – but individual Christians like Roger (14th c. – by the way, I think by the end of the 14 c. the western world was already the leader in technology [which is distinct from modern science]) and Francis Bacon (17th c.) for example, believed that the effects of the Fall into sin and resulting curse (Hugh of St. Victor [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_of_St_Victor ] listed how man was affected: defective mind, morals, and bodies), could and *should* be alleviated through right knowledge (of us, God, creation) and right living (love fulfilling the Law), and this, of course, included the knowledge of the world and how things *generally* occur in it (see above), and how we can use this knowledge to our advantage – what we today call *modern science* (of course, there is no hard and fast reason that this necessarily excludes God from the picture).

    Their view of the world was so different than the modern view – and part of their views were surely what propelled modern science. They saw things like aging, for example as the *unnatural result* of Adam’s fall into sin. Therefore, men like Francis Bacon, for all of the flaws in his thinking, “addressed the ancient problem of the fall into sin, which effectively sundered godly relations between humankind and nature. Toil and suffering, the ruined earth, affliction with drought and storm, insects and disease, were the consequences of the Fall” ( http://science.jrank.org/pages/10450/Nature-Nature-during-Scientific-Revolution.html ) Since Christians never believed the spirits in the entities of the at times frightening world of nature needed to be appeased/placated (they were God’s “good”, though fallen creation), the way was clear for modern science to really be created, bloom, and be promoted by Francis Bacon.

    So…in this view, the “compromise” is simply that in a rational, *real* (vs. maya) and *good* world that has fallen, God has given persons the tools to deal with the imperfections of the world that we brought upon ourselves through original sin (these “works of mercy” however, should not come at the expense of living *from*, and proclaiming, the whole counsel of God). In this line of thinking, the help that both modern science and technology can bring us ought to be seen not as a way of being God – or removing our need for Him and His provision – but as a gift from God made available through the hard work and inquiry of *others* – and as a sign that points to God’s final “making right” of all things at the resurrection of the dead (of whom Christ is the firstfruits).

    Another reason I don’t think “modern science” necessarily contradicts religion is because there is a great deal of *often unrealized mixing* (tacit) of these two things in the actual praxis of science (our current president is not the only one not disposed to the concept of “nuance”). For example, scientists who think belief in an “Intelligent Designer” has nothing to do with their work inconsistently (they are consistently inconsistent) consider the world like “as if” it were a deliberate work of genius -having depth, harmony, precision, intelligibility, elegance, beauty, order, meaning – i.e. having an underlying natural order. They seek for all this much like the careful reader of Shakespeare who searches diligently for layers of meaning. Given the premise that “science” properly defined only includes natural causes, this seems a little strange, don’t you think?

    So, ironically, if scientists want to be God they first have to, in some sense, *read* him (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/11/AR2007111101066.html – note the words “code,” “letters,” “transcription,” “translation,” “read,” “instruction,” “message” ) – even if they are the most ardent atheist.

    Some have recently said that science has a “marketing problem” these days. I think “angry atheists” might have something to do with that. ? In any case, as I’m sure you know, science grounded in purely naturalistic assumptions doesn’t just have a marketing problem, it has a moral problem, i.e. that you can’t go from “is” to *ought*. As people increasingly lack firm moral convictions themselves, it seems to me that science’s advertising will get better though. Of course, by that time, perhaps it will increasingly be seen as that which we previously labeled “magic” (i.e. something completely dependent on the powers of the one doing it)

    Rory, thanks for the engagement on these all important ideas. I would love to hear some more of your further thoughts / rejoinders. I am certainly open to other ideas.

  6. First, I’m curious to know what version of the bible you based your translation on.

    Second, as far as the history of 19th century science and philosophy in a nutshell, extricating science from religion was a conscious movement.


    The likes of Thomas H Huxley in particular purposefully moved science away from the political oversight of the church. In doing so, the religious framework for science was also stripped away, and we consider this today to have been necessary for the advancement of science.

    But as far as technology goes, as *applied science*, you’re calling it godless is moot and inflammatory, though very clever and I admit it made me chuckle. You are applying/denying a exclusively human characteristic (religion) to a non-human object. People certainly embrace technology in the absence of god and vice versa, but each is an object of human culture, not of the other.

    I assume that in the future, some reconciliation of science and technology with religion will be necessary, for the advancement of both. Pseudo-science movements like ‘intelligent design’ aside, not everything has yet been explained by science, and not everything ever will be. To assume otherwise is a flaw of modernity.

  7. Nathan – Thanks for engaging in this discussion in such depth. I apologize for not participating further – I really don’t have the time. In answer to your question, yes, I do believe writing is a technology. In fact I rather view it as the ur-technology and I think it led to an alteration in the way that we think that led to science. I like Walter Ong on writing as a technology.

    Esseffen – King James Version, only because it was easy to find in machine form.

  8. “In fact I rather view it as the ur-technology and I think it led to an alteration in the way that we think that led to science. I like Walter Ong on writing as a technology.”

    I think you are on to something here. I read some Ong in one of my LIS classes. Very good stuff.

  9. Rory,

    Some more thoughts here. Since Christians presume that people are created in the image of God, we are to behave like God. I’m thinking this means *as creators* – of science and technology, for example. So humans properly should be *like* God, using these tools they create for good, not ill. Utilizing science and tech to “play God” or “be God” or course, would be evil.

  10. Nathan,

    Two things in response. First, in terms of technology, I think it’s not so easy to make a distinction between “being like God” and “playing God” (or “being God”). It seems to me that it’s the former when people are comfortable with it, and it’s the latter when it’s something that causes such rapid change that people have anxiety about it. What makes antibiotics “being like God” and germline genetic engineering “playing God,” for example? What is your distinction? I don’t see one that doesn’t have a degree of arbitrariness to it.

    Second, I can tell you what I think “playing God” is. I think “playing God” is standing before a bunch of people and telling them, as though you know better than they do, the contents of God’s mind and God’s rules for living. People place themselves in God’s shoes all the time when they tell others what is Godly and what is not, how God would judge them. If the question is about staying in a human being’s place, this is the issue, this is “playing God.”

  11. Rory,

    I tend to be a bit of a “speciest” myself, thinking that humans are unique (created in the image of God) 🙂 – so that drives most of my thinking (I know this will probably sound terribly unsophisticated and simplistic to your ears). I also think its clear that though we have dominion over nature, we are not to be tyrants (see “Dominion” by Scully).

    As for this statement: “Second, I can tell you what I think “playing God” is. I think “playing God” is standing before a bunch of people and telling them, as though you know better than they do, the contents of God’s mind and God’s rules for living”, I understand your frustrations here, but if a person really believes that an empirical Jesus Christ is risen indeed, for example (go to the ProQuest database and see the editorial written by John Robson of the Ottawa Citizen from Sep. 13, 2000: “Why taking history seriously can make you very cross”), then surely you can understand why they might take this all rather seriously and believe that it is not irresponsible of them to live according to these beliefs (which does not mean that others should be “forced” to inwardly or outwardly conform to them).

    It seems to me clear that 1) adherents of some religions are more worrisome than others. 2) even non-religious who say that they don’t hear from God in practice act like others must conform to a certain philosophy that will be clear to everyone if they are just given the right environment to learn it and reason through it.

    I say we are all ideologues – the question is simply what kind of ideologue we are (which means praxis is crucial).

    Gotta run Rory. Take care.

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