5 Responses to Nature, red in tooth and claw

  1. Christian duck says:

    Jeremiah 13:23 King James Version (KJV)
    Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

    • uomatters says:

      Presumably Jeremiah had not read Darwin and is using his mistaken belief in the immutability of physical characteristics to try and argue that psychological traits are also unchangeable. He also seems ignorant of the basic economic principle that the same preferences can lead to different behavior under different incentives.

      But maybe I just don’t understand the meaning of this verse. Can you put it context for me?

  2. Christian duck says:

    “Presumably Jeremiah had not read Darwin”
    That verse is part of what God commanded Jeremiah on what to report back to His people.

    “immutability of physical characteristics”
    A person can gain weight, lose weight, cut their hair, etc. All of these are mutable physical characteristics. A person could even go as far as to avoid sunlight to avoid melanin production or intentionally expose themselves to sunlight to increase melanin production, but can they fundamentally change the color of their skin? Even skin bleaching only does so much. A leopard’s spots are his spots. A genetic Ethiopian will always be a genetic Ethiopian.
    But a person can never change their XY genes into XX genes. That IS immutable. A person can’t change the color of their eyes (you can cover them up with contacts, sure, but that’s a layer of veneer and only vapid morons would argue in bad faith that the intrinsic eye color has actually changed).

    Do you think men who are 5 feet tall choose to be short?

    “psychological traits are also unchangeable”
    Read it again. God is telling people who are used to doing evil to resist their psychological traits and do good. Sounds like he is advocating for change, to me.

    “lead to different behavior under different incentives.”
    That’s exactly what He is talking about. 100% exactly what He is talking about.

    Here is your context, as requested:

    Jeremiah 13 King James Version (KJV)

    13 Thus saith the Lord unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water.

    2 So I got a girdle according to the word of the Lord, and put it on my loins.

    3 And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying,

    4 Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock.

    5 So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.

    6 And it came to pass after many days, that the Lord said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there.

    7 Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.

    8 Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

    9 Thus saith the Lord, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem.

    10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.

    11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.

    12 Therefore thou shalt speak unto them this word; Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Every bottle shall be filled with wine: and they shall say unto thee, Do we not certainly know that every bottle shall be filled with wine?

    13 Then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the kings that sit upon David’s throne, and the priests, and the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, with drunkenness.

    14 And I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the Lord: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.

    15 Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken.

    16 Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.

    17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive.

    18 Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory.

    19 The cities of the south shall be shut up, and none shall open them: Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly carried away captive.

    20 Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the north: where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?

    21 What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee? for thou hast taught them to be captains, and as chief over thee: shall not sorrows take thee, as a woman in travail?

    22 And if thou say in thine heart, Wherefore come these things upon me? For the greatness of thine iniquity are thy skirts discovered, and thy heels made bare.

    23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

    24 Therefore will I scatter them as the stubble that passeth away by the wind of the wilderness.

    25 This is thy lot, the portion of thy measures from me, saith the Lord; because thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood.

    26 Therefore will I discover thy skirts upon thy face, that thy shame may appear.

    27 I have seen thine adulteries, and thy neighings, the lewdness of thy whoredom, and thine abominations on the hills in the fields. Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?

    • uomatters says:

      Thanks very much for this. The Douglass biography I’ve been reading talks a lot about his expertise with the Jeremiad, a form of argumentative speech that exhorts followers who have backslid to stay the path. But I’d never looked up the passage from which the word derives.

  3. Christian duck says:

    You are welcome!

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