Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jesus the Bartender

For fun, I lurk around Fundies Say the Darndest Things. That particular link will take you to the following quote by Andy Schlafly, Phillis Schlafly's brain-dead son and, um ... author of Conservapedia. Follow the link if you want to see the rest of the commentary.

"The second chapter of the Gospel of John describes the conversion of water into wine by Jesus at a wedding reception. Intuitively one would expect the conversion to occur before anyone tasted the drink. But under quantum mechanics, it is not until observation that matter acquires a definite state. John 2:9 describes this precisely as required by quantum mechanics, and the KJV misses this subtle issue of timing in the conversion." - Andy Schlafly, Conservapedia, Biblical scientific foreknowledge

Of course, trying to derive quantum mechanics from a Bible quote is like trying to get a signed prenuptial agreement from a blow-up doll. Really, there are just so many levels of fail! Here, thanks to another poster on FSTDT, is what the Bible passage says.

John 2:7-10

7 Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." So they filled them up to the brim.
8 And He said to them, "Draw some out now and take it to the steward." So they took it to him.
9 When the steward tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom,
10 and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now."


My first comment was to state that this is an often-repeated parlor trick that has nothing to do with magic and/or miracles. So many people have reproduced this that I can't understand why anyone would pay any credence to this. I fear I was less than diplomatic. My exact words were:

It's an f-ing parlor trick you dipshit. How many people have to repeat it before you admit that it isn't magic? It's fraud!

Water: H-O-H
Wine: A complex mixture of water, alcohol, esters, organic components of grapes, Lactobacillus vini, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and other agents of fermentation. It is a product of the controlled decomposition of juice pressed from grapes. You don't happen across it. You find it in barrels, casks, bottles and boxes because humans made it and put it there.

Maybe you should try to explain it with cold fusion, or wormholes to a parallel universe.

Andy: ever the dipshit.

This comment drew the following observation from a poster going by the name of nutbunny.

@ breakerslion:
He is Jesus.
He can do anything.
Chemistry means nothing when God decides to fuck around.

That got me thinking about this in a whole different way. What proof could one offer directly from the narrative that this was a gimmick and not a miracle? This is what I came up with.

(Yes, but) starting with that premise opens up a larger can of worms.

1. Is the end product real wine or synthetic pseudowine? (edit: To be clear, is this a whomped-up, exact chemical copy of wine, or did it come from grapes?)

2. If real, where did it come from?

3. If synthetic, why was it necessary to start with water? Where did all the other elements come from (Carbon, Nitrogen, Misc other trace)?

4. If real, why was it necessary to start with water? Was this some kind of "packrat" teleportation, and some poor slob wound up with several wine jars full of water? Stealing is not all that miraculous.

5. Why allow your minions to get close enough to fuck with it? A really impressive miracle would be, "Go pick up that empty wine jar," and hey presto! it's full again!

In short, if this is a miracle, why did it need a stage magician's set up?

There is one explanation that occurs to me that does not require chicanery on the part of the god-man alleged to be Jesus in this story. The story is pure fiction, written from the perspective of a first century storyteller. Water is a necessary ingredient in the transmutation into wine because water is one of the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water. At the time this story was circulated, people believed that anything could be created from the proper combination of these four "elements". Wine being liquid, the closest "element" to wine is water, and this becomes the natural starting point for any being incapable of grasping all the ramifications of "all-powerful".

Unfortunately for the credibility of our storyteller, no matter which way you look at it, the universe doesn't work that way.