Circumcision (Conversation Series)

I heard Dennis Prager mention he hadn’t mentioned kids under 18 having top surgery when discussing The Young Turks mentioning of his article. I wasn’t sure if he didn’t have a solid example or if he just didn’t think it necessary for the article. So on PragerU’s Facebook I posted this video with this comment just in case he needed a solid example:

Dennis Prager, here is an example [for future use] of a child butcher: a surgeon operating on 12-to-14-year olds — Scott Mosser

non sequitur challenge/statement

I got this reply… JOE M.:

  • and add to that example Jews doing genital mutilation of infant boys thru circumcision.

I will share my response while in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 405, as well as adding more for my readers. RELIGIO-POLITICAL TALK (RPT) TO JOE M:

MY 405 FREEWAY RESPONSE

The Bible prescribes certain things things that end up being healthy or beneficial to the person themself. Often not realized A millennia or more later. For instance:

  • Male circumcision can reduce a man’s risk of acquiring HIV infection by 50 to 60 percent during sex with HIV-infected female partners, according to data from three clinical trials.

OR


The Book of Leviticus in the Bible was probably the first recording of laws concerning public health. The Hebrew people were told to practice personal hygiene by washing and keeping clean. They were also instructed to bury their waste material away from their campsites, to isolate those who were sick, and to burn soiled dressings. They were prohibited from eating animals that had died of natural causes. The procedure for killing an animal was clearly described, and the edible parts were designated.

Gwendolyn R.W. Burton and Paul G. Engelkirk, Microbiology for the Health Sciences, 6th Edition (New York, NY: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2000), 9.


And really your point is a non sequitur for the most part.

That was it. Mind you, I am responding merely with the seemingly advanced knowledge of germs the Bible tells Israel to avoid through ritual. Here are additions for my readers:

HEALTH BENEFITS OF CIRCUMCISION

….The preventive and public health benefits associated with newborn male circumcision, however, “warrant third-party reimbursement of the procedure,” including Medicaid, says AAP. It goes on to recommend that circumcision in infancy be performed by “trained and competent providers, using sterile techniques and effective pain management.”

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, a flap of skin that covers the tip of the penis. The first revision of its circumcision stance in 13 years, the AAP’s new policy takes into account significant studies, including a recent one from Johns Hopkins, that link circumcision to decreased risk over a lifetime for some forms of cancer, including penile and cervical, and the spread and heterosexual acquisition of HIV, human papilloma virus (HPV), genital herpes and syphilis. Much of the new scientific research, since the previous AAP policy of 1999, has taken place in Africa, where the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, HIV in particular, is high and increasing.

Such newly and widely documented health benefits, says the AAP in related literature, are great enough that the insurance should cover the cost of circumcision, “which would increase access to the procedure for families who choose it.”

A recent Johns Hopkins study (Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, online, Aug. 20) goes further. Declining rates of U.S. infant male circumcision will lead to dramatically higher rates of sexually transmitted disease and related cancers in men and their female partners, researchers warn, and add up to more than $4.4 billion in avoidable costs if circumcision rates in the U.S., now averaging 55 percent (down from 76 percent in the 1970s and 1980s), drop to levels now seen in Europe (around 10 percent on average) over the next decade….

(JOHN HOPKINS MEDICINE)

8th DAY?

Why doe the Bible prescribe the eight day as the day to be circumcised?

This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants. (Genesis 17:10-12 NASB)

Abraham followed this prescription with his son Isaac:

Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. (Genesis 21:4 NASB; cf. Acts 7:8)

Some 600 years later Yahweh gave Moses the same instruction for the Israelites:

On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. (Leviticus 12:3 NASB)

Why did Yahweh order circumcision on the 8th day for Abraham’s male descendants? Why not sooner or later? Why did it need to be on Day Eight?

#SCIENCE

Good question. The same article at EVIDENCE FOR THE BIBLE responds:

….In the 1930s, Danish researcher Henrik Dam and American researcher Edward Doisy found that which was required for blood to clot. They shared the 1943 Nobel Prize in Medicine for this research.

The human body has 2 blood clotting elements. One of them is called Vitamin K. Vitamin K is not formed in the body up until the 5th to the 7th day.

The 2nd clotting factor which is essential is called Prothrombin. It surprisingly enough develops to 30% of normal by the 3rd day of life and after that with seeming in-consequence, peaks at 110% on the 8th day, just before leveling off at 100% of normal.

If vitamin K is not present when a baby boy is circumcised, the baby will bleed to death. The reason why Yahweh established Day Eight for circumcision is that vitamin K peaks in a newborn at 8 days of age. The 8th day is the optimum day for circumcision because of the highest presence of the clotting factor vitamin K.

Today when baby boys are circumcised within a couple of days of birth, they are administered vitamin K to help with blood clotting….

See more via Apologetics Press (PDF) as well as the 3rd edition of the book, None Of These Diseases. Speaking to the eighth day this excellent summation is well worth the read. Again, APOLOGETIC PRESS:

CIRCUMCISION

The inclusion of this medical, surgical practice provides another excellent example of the medical acumen of the biblical text. Two significant aspects of biblical circumcision need to be noted. First, from what modern medicine has been able to gather, circumcision can lessen the chances of getting certain diseases and infections. Pediatrician, Dorothy Greenbaum noted in regard to the health benefits of circumcision: “Medically, circumcision is healthful because it substantially reduces the incidence of urinary tract infection in boys, especially those under one year of age. Some studies cited in the pediatric policy statement report 10 to 20 times more urinary tract infection in uncircumcised compared with circumcised boys.” She further noted that sexually transmitted diseases are passed more readily among men who have not been circumcised (2006). In addition, circumcision virtually eliminates the chance of penile cancer. In an article titled “Benefits of Circumcision,” the text stated: “Neonatal circumcision virtually abolishes the risk [of penile cancer—KB]” and “penile cancer occurs almost entirely in uncircumcised men” (Morris, 2006). [NOTE: Morris’ work is of particular interest due to the fact that it has an evolutionary bias and was in no way written to buttress belief in the biblical record.]

Not only can a litany of health benefits be amassed to encourage the practice of infant circumcision, but the day on which the biblical record commands the practice to be implemented is of extreme importance as well. The encyclopedic work Holt Pediatrics remains today one of the most influential works ever written about child care, pediatric disease, and other health concerns as they relate to children. First written in 1896 by L. Emmet Holt, Jr. and going through several revisions until the year 1953, the nearly 1,500-page work is a master compilation of the “modern” medicine of its day. One section, starting on page 125 of the twelfth edition, is titled “Hemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn.” The information included in the section details the occurrence of occasional spontaneous bleeding among newborns that can sometimes cause severe damage to major organs such as the brain, and even death. In the discussion pertaining to the reasons for such bleeding, the authors note that the excessive bleeding is primarily caused by a decreased level of prothrombin, which in turn is caused by insufficient levels of vitamin K. The text also notes that children’s susceptibility is “peculiar” (meaning “higher”) “between the second and fifth days of life” (1953, p. 126).

In chart form, Holt Pediatrics illustrates that the percent of available prothrombin in a newborn dips from about 90% of normal on its day of birth to about 35% on its third day of life outside the womb. After the third day, the available prothrombin begins to climb. By the eighth day of the child’s life, the available prothrombin level is approximately 110% of normal, about 20% higher than it was on the first day, and about 10% more than it will be during of the child’s life. Such data prove that the eighth day is the perfect day on which to perform a major surgery such as circumcision.

How did Moses know such detailed data about newborn hemorrhaging? Some have suggested that the early Hebrews carried out extensive observations on newborns to determine the perfect day for surgery. But such an idea has little merit. McMillen and Stern noted:

Modern medical textbooks sometimes suggest that the Hebrews conducted careful observations of bleeding tendencies. Yet what is the evidence? Severe bleeding occurs at most in only 1 out of 200 babies. Determining the safest day for circumcision would have required careful experiments, observing thousands of circumcisions. Could Abraham (a primitive, desert-dwelling nomad) have done that (2000, p. 84)?

In fact, such amazing medical accuracy cannot be accounted for on the basis of human ingenuity in the ancient world. If circumcision was the only example of such accuracy, and the Hebrew writings were laced with incorrect, detrimental medical prescriptions, such an explanation might be plausible. But the fact that the entire Old Testament contains medical practices that would still be useful in third world countries, without a hint of error in regard to a single prescription; divine oversight remains the only reasonable answer.