Tag Archives: bible

God Personified

Why is it that the Christian God is supposed to be all-powerful and yet it took him a full 6 days to create the world? Shouldn’t he have been able to do it with a snap of his metaphysical fingers? A real god should be able to think it and it happens. And while we are at it, if God is so all-powerful, why does he have to rest on the seventh day? Humans need rest, not gods.

However, the people who created god could have simply personified nature and if that were the case, than since people do rest, a personified deity might need to rest too. In the ancient world, deities like Zeus lived on Mount Olympus and deities like Odin lived Valhalla. So where does Yahweh live? Heaven. But God’s don’t really need to live anywhere, right? I mean isn’t an all-powerful deity supposed to be everywhere?

As you can see, Yahweh like all the other gods that have come before him are all personifications. Ancient people who couldn’t understand the world used these deities as an attempt to explain the world. They created elaborate stories and gave their deity of choice personalities based on human stories and personalities. That is why God is a jealous God, a vengeful God, a wrathful God, a Just God, etc. These are all human traits. The war in Heaven is based off wars on Earth. God has a son? Humans have sons. God’s live forever and always were and always will be, so how can they give birth to a divine child?

These are ancient stories told to explain what was unexplainable. Now science can explain much of what was unexplainable and so now God is forced to fill the gaps. However, even though science can’t explain everything we should be mature enough as a race to simply say that we don’t know the answers to all the questions without the need to make up answers with stories of divine intrigue. God is no longer even needed to fill the gaps as long as we are mature enough to accept the gaps and curious enough to attempt to fill those gaps through the continued exploration of science and philosophy.

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The Anti-Intellectualism of Christianity

One of the biggest issues that I have with Christianity is the anti-intellectualism that it perpetuates. It isn’t hard to miss. For starters, the majority of Christians in America are ignorant and proud. The fact that the most idiotic President in our nation’s history was elected mainly because of the support of the Christian Right, speaks volumes. A quick look back at history also shows that the Church and various organized religions have done everything they could to restrict science and knowledge. At every stage of scientific achievement, Christians were always their persecuting those who wish to expand human knowledge and human progress. One of the Humanities biggest loses came pretty early on too. In 415 CE a Christian mob brutally murdered Hypatia of Alexandria (I would go into more details about the brutality of that murder, but it is a bit graphic) who was one the bright lights of Science in her time. Even today, almost half of Christianity stands against the science of evolution and medical stem cell research.

The fact is that the more religious someone is, the less value they tend to place on science and education. According to the National Academy of Sciences, 93% of scientists express disbelief or doubt in the existence of a personal deity. 72% outright disbelieve in a personified deity. These are among the brightest minds on Earth. Both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking (widely considered the two smartest men who every lived) had issue with the personified deity of Christianity. These men joined the company of many of the most intellectual founding fathers such as Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and other.

The concept of “faith” is a slap in the face to science and intellectual curiosity. Faith stops questions while science encourages questions. Faith provides dishonest, unsupportable, and unquestioned certainty while science leaves every conclusion open to change with additional evidence and discoveries. With faith, no education is necessary because education is often a determent to faith. This is one of the biggest reasons why Christian fundamentalists are so keen on censorship and control. Even in the Bible, the character of Jesus elevates blind faith above intellectual rigor, reason, and evidence.

“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.” – John 20: 29

This is not the only instance in which the Bible attacks the intellect. Corinthians is full of such examples. “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise” – 1 Corinthians 1:27 and 5 “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 2:5, etc.

Science, reason, and intellectualism support the concepts of continued questioning, education, and human curiosity. Through the scientific method, the rules of logic, and the thirst to understand, people of reason are continually pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and helping to make life better and longer for us all. Yet, example after example, the Bible and Christianity stand against the intellect and continue to propagate ignorance, fear, and unreason. Between the Creation Museum and the absolute unquestioning certainty of a divine deity, Christianity remains one of the biggest oppositions to human progress and the greatest threat to intellectualism.

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Christians: Read Your Bible Again… For The First Time

I find that most Christians get so wrapped up in their bronze aged mythology that they seem to have a really hard time taking an objective look from a non-Christian perspective. There is an old saying about walking a mile (or some such distance) in someone else’s shoes or something. The fact is that the Abrahamic religions have so much influence in the world today that most atheists were at one point or another in their lives a believer in some type of deity. Many atheists were even hardcore believers who studied to be in the profession of religion. So we know what it is like to walk in the shoes of belief.

Some Christians will claim that there was a time when they didn’t believe in the Bible and Jesus and I don’t want to take away from their claims of atheism. But at the same time, those Christians also live in a society in which the Bible is taken somewhat seriously. There was never a time in which we came upon the Bible without knowledge of the vast numbers of people who believe in it. Billions of people can’t be wrong right? If over a billion people believe in something, we tend to think that maybe there is something to it. In other words, most Christians have never really stepped back from the Bible and viewed it as alien.

I think it might be helpful for a Christian to take off their Christian hat for a little while and pretend that they are reading some other religion’s holy book. Maybe they should pretend that it is an alien being’s holy book or a tribe from an obscure African country’s holy book. Perhaps we can even forget that it is a holy book at all. Imagine if you will, that you found this book in the fiction section of your local Boarders Bookstore and you never heard of it before.

I want Christians to read their Bible again… for the first time. Does it sound like a plausible story? Is it entertaining? Would you pick it up off the bookshelf and after reading it think that perhaps it doesn’t belong in the fiction section, but seems to instead fit in with non-fictions books? Christians should remember to keep their Christian caps off. From an objective standpoint doesn’t the Bible really seem pretty silly? Be honest.

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My Favorite Bible Verse

Many people think that because I believe that the Bible is fiction that it automatically means that I haven’t read it or that I do not like it. The fact is that I love the Bible… as a book if bronze aged fiction. As a book claiming to be divine and historical truth I think it is a pretty weak book. To demonstrate just how weak a book the Bible is on those grounds, I will take a page from one of America’s greatest patriots, Thomas Paine. In Paine’s work, “The Age of Reason part II” I discovered my favorite Bible verse. It seems that Paine found it amusing too:

“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” – Numbers 31:17-18

Out of all the verses in the Bible this one is my absolute favorite. The reason? It is the most indefensible verse in the entire Bible. Here God has ordered Moses to murder then entire Midianites village except the virgins and then to rape the virgins. I try to bring this verse to the attention of many Christians that I talk to and over the years I have gotten a variety of attempts to explain away this most indefensible verse.

One Christian response that I have gotten a few times was, “it was war and shit happened.” But if Barack Obama or George W. Bush had told our US Generals to take the troops into Baghdad and kill ALL the men and ALL the women except the virgin women and then to have sex with the virgin women (i.e. rape) we would surely think that our leaders were horrible people. There is no way our soldiers would even follow those orders because those orders would seem so immoral and would be completely illegal. The President would be impeached in a second and on trial for war crimes. But if God gave those orders (and he did according to the Bible) no one seems to have a problem with that? In fact, people would still worship a perfect being that gave such a completely morally reprehensible order?

Then I get the “Context” argument from many Christians who seem to think this the argument for anything an atheist like me has to say about the Bible. The Bible clearly gives the context for why God gave the order of genocide and rape. The Midianites didn’t “hate” the Jews. They didn’t care about the Jews at all. They worshiped Ba’al Zebul a fertility God. Yahweh (aka Yam) was jealous God (by his own admission) and decided to order his people (the Hebrews) to wage war. The raping of the virgins was like an extra fuck you to Ba’al Zebul. Yahweh is your God. While the Bible makes mention of sexual atrocities that Midianites committed in the name of their deity that was very clearly not the reason Yahweh gave for his command. Besides, what possible injustice could anyone do in which mass murder and rape would someone be considered Just? I can think of no possible context, which would bring me to the conclusion that, “Oh mass murder and rape was a well deserved divine punishment for those people.” Rape is one of the few things in which there is no justifiable context for.

Next we have yet another attempted defense of this indefensible verse. This horrific verse is old. It was in the Old Testament and not the New Testament and for some reason we should ignore some of the verses, which we really don’t like, that are in the Old Testament despite the obvious fact that God is supposed to be perfect and some Bible verses even say that he can’t change, these Christians are claiming that even though he ordered this horrific act (and many similarly horrific acts in the Old Testament) now he is different. If Hitler were alive today and didn’t bother to say that he was sorry for the Holocaust, but just went around and told people to “turn the other cheek” should we forgive him for the Holocaust? Let me ask, how many times in the Bible did Jesus say Rape and Genocide were bad? The answer is zero, zip, zilch, none, not a one. Instead, Jesus defends the actions of Yahweh (God) many times. He even stated:

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18

The Christian claim that the Old Testament doesn’t count, but Jesus seems to think it does count. He seems to be saying that ever “jot” of it still counts. Besides, it is quite a big leap for God to claim that rape is cool and then to for him not to say anything against rape later and for Christians to somehow interpret that to mean that rape is sinful. Plus, Jesus always talks about doing his father’s work. If Yahweh were my father, I certainly wouldn’t be doing his work if he ordered genocide and rape to a bunch of people who worshiped Cupid.

And what about the big Ten Commandments? They are in the Old Testament and not a one of them states that, “Thou shall not rape.” Besides most Christians still think that the Ten Commandments are pretty worthy of following despite the fact that they are in the Old Testament.

Finally, some Christians claim that atheists take the Bible too literally. The whole claim to fame of the Bible was that it was written/inspired (through the holy ghost) by God the most perfect being to ever exist. Clearly, when the Bible talks about Jesus not coming to send peace but instead coming with a sword (Matthew 10:34) that is not to mean that Jesus is literally holding a sword. It is a metaphor. But what is it a metaphor for? If he had said that he came with a rose, I would assume that he meant love. But one does not love with a sword. A sword is a weapon of violence. Plus Jesus specifically stated that he didn’t come to bring peace. So that makes his metaphor pretty clear to me. And with my favorite verse, I think that story is supposed to be some sort of literal history and if that wasn’t the purpose, than I am at a loss for what such a metaphor would be saying. Moses is clearly the good guy in the story. We are supposed to be routing for him.

Fortunately, there has never been any evidence that suggests that the story of Numbers actually is a true account. Like the Mormon accounts of religious wars in the Americas, not one shred of archeological evidence has turned up to confirm these atrocities. But still, Numbers 31: 17-18 remains my favorite verse even though I am reasonably certain that it is a fictional account and that the Bible as a whole is fiction.

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Out of Context

“People say that I hate chocolate. That’s not true, I love chocolate. It tastes sweet.”

If someone were to claim that I said, “I hate chocolate,” Then they are clearly taking my words out of context. If someone said that, “I love chocolate” they are also taking my words out of context. However in the second instance, they have accurately summed up my opinion, while in the first instance, they are misrepresenting my opinion but in both cases they have taken my words out of context.

Many times Christians will make the claim that I am quoting a Bible verse out of context. Of course that is true, but I am not misrepresenting what was said, but rather summarizing it. For example, one of my favorite verse is Numbers 31: 17-18 which states:

“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

The context of this verse is that God ordered Moses to rape and murder the entire Midianite village because the villagers worshiped Ba’al Zebul instead of Yahweh. Some Christians will claim that God didn’t use the words “rape” and “murder” but it is fairly clear from the context of the verse that was the meaning. Some Christians have even pointed out that the villagers were engaging in sexual rituals that were quite cruel. This is true according to the Bible, but that wasn’t the reason why God gave the order to Moses. According to the context, the Midianites broke the first commandment.

Now I am sure some Christians are going to respond and try to rationalize this away and that is fine, but that isn’t the point of this blog. The point of this blog is to discuss context. Context does matter, but it doesn’t matter all the time. Sometimes, one can quote a verse and the context is obvious. Sometimes people put in their own context to misinterpret what was said to suit their needs. Sometimes, that is fine (like when talking about poetry or music). Sometimes it isn’t fine. One has to look at the context to know if context is important or not.

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Faith Based Fuel

A lot of times in my discussions with Christians of various degrees on the wacko scale, I am told that I just need to have faith. Faith is seen by the vast majority of Christians (from liberal to fundamental) as a virtue. Let me re-state that because it bears re-stating. Belief without evidence (the definition of faith) is seen as a good thing. It has been my experience that most Christians (even the liberal ones) would agree that belief without evidence (i.e. faith) is actually a more virtuous thing than belief with evidence and of course the Bible supports this line of “reasoning.”

“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed.”
John 20: 29

Aside from the problem of faith in relation to faith itself, this “virtue” creates a much larger problem, which Sam Harris has often talked about. Faith is the fuel for Armageddon. While many Christians don’t agree with their more fundamentalist “Brothers in Christ” about a whole host of issues the fact is that it is religious faith itself which provides the context in which we are forced to actually debate in a serious manner whether or not the Devil made someone do it, or whether stem cells have souls, or is it better to die of AIDS and go to Heaven rather than to use a condom, live, and go to Hell. These are extreme examples of course and like I said, there are many Christians who don’t believe homosexuality is a sin or that the world is 6000 years old, but the fact is that it is because of religious faith that people of reason need to tread carefully when we through these ridiculous fictions out of academia and out of public policy.

It is in large part due to the more liberal Christians who don’t believe these things yet who get defensive whenever these ideas of laughed at that we still have to fight against Dark Aged thinking. Faith (all Christian faith) keeps these beliefs in our culture and in our lives. And so the fundamentalists have a silent partner on their side in this Culture War. At the end of the day, belief in Demons, Satan, and Creationism have the same validity as belief in God and Jesus. So when modernity and secular society reject the fundamentalist we are in a sense also threatening the beliefs of those on the other side of the Christian scale. Faith has linked this diverse group of people together against science, reason, and honest criticism.