Bearing false witness

For religious folks of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic persuasion, lying is generally treated as a sin. The most succinct and famous religious law in the Abrahamic tradition is the Ten Commandments, and one of them reads (NASB): “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” If the Ten Commandments version isn’t your bag (the phrasing leaves open the possibility that it’s more about justice than lying; maybe “witness” really just means you’re not allowed to lie in court, you know?), then what about Proverbs 6:16-19?

16 There are six things which the Lord hates,
Yes, seven which are an abomination [a]to Him:
17 Haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
And hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that run rapidly to evil,
19 A false witness who utters lies,
And one who [b]spreads strife among brothers.

Huh. Seems like Yahweh doesn’t care for liars.* So, then, how to explain this?

The newly-released trailer for The Principle promises film audiences commentary from prominent scientists and features the recognizable voice of former Star Trek: Voyager star Kate Mulgrew narrating. But while the onetime Starfleet captain announces that “everything we think we know about our universe is wrong,” it appears that everything she and several of the world’s top cosmologists thought about the film was also incorrect: they now say they were tricked into participation in a film on the widely-debunked geocentrism theory (that the Earth is, in fact, the center of universe and that the sun really revolves around it).

On Monday, Raw Story reported that the film, funded by noted geocentrist and Holocaust skeptic Robert Sungenis, featured narration by Mulgrew — a staunch Democrat and a star of the Netflix hit Orange Is The New Black.

Tuesday morning, Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss of Arizona State University tweeted that he had not consented to participate in the film and strongly opposed its message…

Two other experts used in the film told ThinkProgress that they were mislead [sic] into participating

Dr. George Ellis of the University of Capetown in South Africa said that the film was “not presented” as geocentrism to him

Tuesday afternoon, Mulgrew posted on Facebook that she too was duped into participation

Now, I suppose it’s possible that all of these people secretly adhere to a model of the universe that has been thoroughly debunked over the past five centuries give or take, and that they’re lying about their “participation” in this film because…because, but I’m betting that Dr. Sungenis, who as a Catholic scholar presumably knows about the whole “lying BAD” thing, lied to nearly everybody he got to appear in his production.

Also, too, what about this, from Michael Peroutka, founder of something called the Institute on the Constitution and apparently a very religious guy?

The Declaration of Independence sets forth the American view of law and government–that is to say, the political philosophy of America. Now, briefly, that can be described like this, and I’m quoting the Declaration–I’m paraphrasing the Declaration

There exists a creator God. He is the God of the Bible. He is not Allah, nor any of the million Hindu deities, nor is he the God that is in the wind or in the trees or some other impersonal force. He created us. We did not evolve from apes or slimy, swampy things.

Pro-tip: When you’re listening to someone speak, and they downshift from “I’m quoting” to “I’m paraphrasing” in the same sentence, whatever comes out of their mouths next has a high probability of being made up, or as some people might say, “a lie.”

I guess the word “paraphrasing” is doing a lot of work there, because there’s literally nothing in the Declaration of Independence about evolution or comparative theology, you know? What a strange document that would have been: “Yeah, sure, we want out of England, that’s key, but seriously what the hell is up with those Hindus? I mean, how many arms does one god need? And Jesus, this Darwin guy who won’t even be born for another 33 years, what a putz, am I right? Anyway, yeah, the King of England, major a-hole. Not as big a jerk as Abdülhamid I, mind you, but still, um, where was I?”

So yeah, it might be nice if our religious exemplars did a little less lying, maybe.

* There are obviously exceptions, but they typically involve lying for preservation of self or others. Shiʿi Islam teaches the idea of taqiyah, or “dissimulation,” whereby adherents are allowed to pretend to deny their faith, even to the point of committing blasphemy, if openly upholding their religious convictions would put them risk of being put to death. Along the same lines, Christians who were enslaved by the Barbary Pirates might convert to Islam to try to win their freedom (this almost never worked) or at least get on their masters’ good side, then if they were able to escape or eventually were freed they might return to Europe and try to convert back to Christianity.


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