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The Bible

Costco and Bible Fiction

Nov 19, 2013 - Tags:

The folks over at FOX News are running an article about a Costco outlet that sold Bibles with a sticker that identified them as fiction. This was followed up with the expected outpouring of outrage and Costco changing the stickers on at least some of the bibles. 

Why are you an atheist? An answer in Corinthians.

Nov 05, 2013 - Tags:

A religious answer to the question, "Why are you an atheist?" can be found in countless places in the Bible (or Quran or Talmud). The various holy books are, if people actually bother to read them, the best manuals for creating atheists that you can find. In my life, I've read the Bible three times in its entirety and every time, it has strengthened my disbelief. Since I know the Bible better than the other Abrahamic holy books, that is where I find a good deal of my inspiration.

Jesus Was a Racist

Oct 25, 2013 - Tags:

There is no good in this world, done under the name of religion, that could not have been done by good people who hold no religious belief. Any good and moral action that has been done in religion's name has been done in spite of religion, not because of it. Good people will, given the chance, do good. And most people are good. 

What does the Bible consider a traditional marriage?

May 24, 2013 - Tags:

We hear a lot from the religious people out there about the evils of same-sex marriage. The warnings against such evil usually come with pronouncements about how the very foundations of our very way of life will crumble should same sex marriage become accepted everywhere, especially in the United States. We are told that God really has no time for this kind of guy on guy or girl on girl action. We are told that God and Jesus and maybe even the Holy Spirit have made it pretty clear that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Today's Bible Quote Examined : Kings 2:23-25

If you've every wondered whether God and his prophets have a sense of humour, wonder no further. Harken to the word . . . 

23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

Apparently, having your bald head insulted was too much for Elisha who was on his way from Jericho to Bethel. He calls on God to do his worse and God puts on quite a show indeed.

The quote is from the King James version of the Bible. In the New American Version, the word "children" is substituted with "young lads" but the story is the same. This is, I suppose, to make the punishment of having a bear tear forthy-two kids apart seem a little less harsh. The religiously squeamish (e.g. many Catholics) can point to the verse and say, "See? they weren't children. More like teenagers." and somehow that makes the punishment fit the crime.

Yes, God so loved the little children that he had them torn apart by a wild beast. Sorry, I meant teenagers.

Jesus and the Parable of "The Good Samaritan"

The parable of the "the Good Samaritan" was always one of those stories that stuck out as being 'wrong', precisely because it sounded like a racist slur or stereotyping a country and its people. You know what I'm talking about. The cheap Jew. The drunk Irishman. Here in Canada, we used to have stupid Newfie jokes.

In that way, the parable of the Good Samaritan is much like telling the story of the Sober Irishman, which is worth mentioning only because, well . . . can you really imagine a sober Irishman? How about the story of the rich Jew who gives a lot to charity? Or the Newfie with a Ph. D.

Seriously? We could come up with something totally unbelievable, like a Newfie with a Ph. D. who invents something important, like a gas mask! Let's include that one in the next edition of the Bible, shall we?

Today's Bible quote examined . . . Matthew 5:27-28

Jan 19, 2013 - Tags:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." 

So homosexual males are off the hook here since they're just looking at other guys lustfully. Lesbians aren't so lucky because they're fantasizing about other women. If you are bisexual, I suppose it depends on how you roll that day as to whether you're sinning or not.

Other considerations of the above must include whether sins are cumulative. Is committing adultery just once as bad as having committed adultery a thousand times? 

Slavery in the Bible

Nov 08, 2012 - Tags:

 

Chrstians, as I've said more than once, are largely hypocrites, and I consider this an exceptionally good thing. Those people who would hold the Bible up as the perfect word of God and ask us to consider each word and paragraph as divine Truth are preaching a scary doctrine indeed. The Bible is a collection of highly questionable accounts with some real historical significance but only occasional accuracy. Put another way, it's a collection of fairy tales with as much truth buried in the pages as does Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass". Accepting that the Bible isn't the absolute word of God is hard for some, but it's the truth. My religious friends and family selective pick and choose from the Bible all the time, accepting some passages and rejecting others. In other words, they don't truly believe that it is the unnerring word of God. They are, at best, agnostics. They are leaning over the edge looking down into atheism. And so, from time to time, I like to remind them of their selective belief in the so-called "Good Book".

Most people today think that slavery is a bad idea and few would suggest that we should take our Negro brothers and sisters, shackle them, and sell them in the public square. Of course, if we all followed the word of God as outlined in the Bible, we'd still have slavery, and we would support it because God, through the perfect word of the Bible, says it's okay.

Slaves are pretty cool in the bible -- you could pass them and their families to your children as wedding gifts and the like. As in Leviticus 25:44-46:

Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life.

For life? That doesn't sound much like a short work term. Incidentally, slaves in ancient Israel were automatically emancipated after 6 years of slavery, but only if they were Jewish (you knew there was a catch). However, if the slave owner "gave" the slave a wife, the owner could keep the wife and any children as his property. You knew there'd be a loophole too.

In most cases slavery is to be offered to others as a means of getting out of debt - the practice of selling yourself to your debtor, working for him for 7 years, and then being released from both slavery and debt." A friend once pointed out to me that slavery is a pervasive reality in all recorded human history and it still exists today, as though that made it okay. Granted, he was trying to make the Bible look a little less evil. But that doesn't make it right, nor did it ever make it right. Using that as an argument is asking to forgive the authors of the bible for being people of their time. Fair enough. But that doesn't mean they weren't violating basic human rights.

Here are a few more:

Exodus 21:20-21 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

So you could beat your slave as much as you wanted, so long as it only incapacitated him/her for a couple of days. Okay . . . actually Exodus has a lot of advice on how to buy and sell slaves. As usual, women get the short end because women, biblically speaking, are inferior to men, even when it comes to slavery. Did you know you can sell your daughter into slavery? But there are rules to follow.

Exodus 21:7-8 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.

As you might expect, sometimes families happen with slaves as with real people. And sometimes they have babies. What if you give your male slave a female and they have babies? When he goes free, you get to keep the wife and kids. If he complains because he loves his wife and kids, you can bore a hole through his ear with an aul. Cool, huh?

Exodus 21:4-6  If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself.  And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:  Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

But we were talking about how to deal with slaves that, God forbid, don't like the idea of being slaves. Let's head on over to Ephesians.

Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.

In other words, treat your human masters as though they are gods (in the case, Christ), with fear and trembling.

This sentiment is heard again in Paul's Epistle to Titus, or just plain old Titus, if you prefer.

Titus 2:9-10 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

The savior . . . that would be Jesus. So just how did Jesus feel about slavery? Did he preach it was wrong? Let's wrap up with Colossians 3, verses 22-25 where Jesus says the following.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

Et tu, Jesus?

The Rape of Mary. Legitimate or not?

Image via WikipediaLast week was the week where the world was introduced to the concept of "legitimate rape". In case you missed it, Todd Akin, a US Senate hopeful for Missouri, suggested that in the case of 'legitimate rape', a woman rarely ever gets pregnant, because her body somehow knows this isn't the guy she wants to have babies with at which point it just fights off the invading sperm. Or something like that. Akin, a Republican, was trying to shore up his party's no-exception position on abortion by explaining that even in the case of rape, abortion isn't necessary because a woman wouldn't get pregnant. 

If she does, she's probably lying.

Outside a deep-seated hatred of women, the reasoning behind Republican and right-wing Christian America comes from the Holy Bible. The Bible, being filled with sex and violence, plenty of rape, and some good old-fashioned incest, is an excellent source of mysogenistic writing and does tend to explain how the brains of guys like Akin work. Or don't work as the case may be. That old collection of stories is also where they learn about science and reproductive biology.

Thinking about the Bible's richness on the subject of rape and the general sanctity of life, I was drawn to thinking about the most famous case of rape in the Bible, the rape of Mary, mother of Jesus. Technically, she was just a girl, so in our modern Western world, forcing a 14 year old girl to give birth to  your baby is statutory rape. But these were dark times, well before satellite television or the Internet. There were lots of 14 year old mothers around. 

Still, Mary was bethrothed to Joseph when God came calling. Did Mary's body know it had been raped? You would think it didn't because her body still got pregnant & gave birth to Jesus. So, in the logic of Akin, it wasn't a legitimate rape. I'm saying it had to have been rape because Mary didn't have a choice in the matter. Did she really have the opportunity to refuse? Could she? Let's take a look in the Bible and see what it had to say on the matter.

Working on the Sabbath is a Deadly Mistake

Aug 15, 2012 - Tags:

When the weekend comes, I like to avoid work as much as possible. And that's probably a good thing because working on either Saturday or Sunday could get you killed by friends, neighbors, and possibly your loved ones, assuming they are devout Christians. Or Jews. You see, in the Bible, it specifically states that working on the Sabbath is a no-no punishable by death. Death by stoning no less. 

Harken to the word;

Numbers 15:32-35
King James Version (KJV)

32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.

33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.

34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.

35 And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses.

According to the Bible, the perfect and unchanging word of God, it's okay to kill someone for working on the Sabbath because God says so.

Now I have to say that I find this just a wee bit harsh. The guy was collecting sticks. I grant you that not being a Christian, I may be a little more forgiving about these sorts of transgressions, but killing someone for gathering sticks on a Saturday just seems over the top and maybe even uncalled for. There could have plenty of good reasons for this guy to be collecting sticks. Maybe the meat had gone off and rather than throw it out, he wanted to cook it, perhaps to feed his wife and eight kids (who were then fatherless).

Of course, back then Saturday was the Sabbath.These days, if you're a Christian, you probably want to avoid any kind of labour on Sunday because that's what the Catholic church changed the Sabbath to; Sunday.  

If you're curious about this change, follow this link to the Catholic Mirror, "official organ of Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893".  Interestingly enough, most Protestant Christian groups just went along with the Catholic renaming of the Sabbath, or at least didn't kick up much of a fuss. Sunday as the Sabbath wasn't made official until January of 1910 when Pope Pius X gave it his 'apostolic blessing'.  About the only Protestants who really don't like this whole Sabbath on a Sunday thing are the Seventh Day Adventists. 

So whether you are looking to do a little work around the yard on Saturday or Sunday, just make sure you do it out of sight of your Christian (or Jewish) friends, family, or neighbours. In 2012, they probably won't stone you in the public square, but you sure as heck wouldn't want to be wrong on this one, even if they can no longer attend church because Jesus said it was a bad idea.

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There is no such thing as “Islamophobia.” This is a term of propaganda designed to protect Islam from the forces of secularism by conflating all criticism of it with racism and xenophobia.

Sam Harris