flagellant www

Of the many things I like or dislike about the Bible, most are 'dislikes’. I have compiled a representative list, from the Authorised Version. This is in no sense exhaustive.

Let’s do it in chronological order; first Genesis 2: 21-22

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
Dislike: Even if we think of the Bible as metaphor, Adam should have been made from Eve's rib, not vice versa, since female is the primary sex.

Then, there are the horrific instructions 'from God’ to Abraham: Genesis 22: 2

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
Dislike: Even given the final outcome – a ram is substituted for Isaac at the last minute – the very test is a pretty nasty one for a loving God to set. Don’t you agree?

Then, there are more nasty, cavalier instructions 'from God’ about the treatment of homosexuals (Leviticus 18:22), and the encouragement of slavery (Lev. 25:40-48). Dislike: What a nasty person this 'God’ is, together with the male-power clique that wage war/interpret/preach for him.

So what about the New Testament? Have a look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, specifically I Cor 7:9

But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
What a charming, misogynist sentiment! Is there nothing likable to be found?

In I Corinthians 13, Paul redeems himself with the highly poetic “Faith Hope & Charity”:http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=I%20Corinthians%2013;&version=9; piece:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
Phew! I thought it was going to be a clean sweep for my antipathy. I actually like this piece.

Finally, a bit more from Corinthians I: 17

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel.
I’m not sure if I like this one or not; it probably suggests that those sects that believe in baptism have got it a bit wrong, don’t you think?

I have been honest here; the things that I like about the Bible are things of which I think 'bibliolatrists’ should be proud. At the same time, those things which I dislike are things which the religiosi should eschew. And many of the criticisms made by atheists have been incorporated in the teachings of more realistic and up-to-date clergymen.

Although it may appear that we have made their postions more secure – it has become more difficult for us to criticize their theology in detail – we have made the more general point 'If you reject certain teachings for their outright nastiness, and others on empirical grounds, e.g. virgin birth, miracles, and resurrection of the body, how can you possibly believe any of the rest?’

Posted: April 5th 2009

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George Ricker www

Those of us raised in a culture dominated by various Christian sects are accustomed to think of the Bible as a single document, standing alone and unique, when it is actually a collection of tales fashioned around the mythic strains that were dominant in the cultural milieus in which it developed.

When the Bible is appreciated for what it is, then it becomes useful. Human myth reveals much about human nature. The stories told by the ancients and shaped and refashioned by succeeding generations contain much that is of interest, much that is important to the understanding of who we are and how we got that way. Paradoxically it is the biblical literalist who robs the document of its vitality and its usefulness. In insisting on the inerrant accuracy of everything in a book filled with variant retellings of the same stories, historical inaccuracies, contradictions and fables, the literalist destroys its value and forces it into a rigidity that subverts any credibility it might have as a record of human longing and aspiration.

I am most familiar with the King James version of the Bible because it is the translation I grew up with. In spite of some rather egregious translation errors, I can still enjoy the poetic quality of some of the language. But it always must be remembered that the Bible most Christians read has been through translation piled on translation. The original sources of the texts we now have simply do not exist in any form. The Bible, especially the King James version, is a necessary resource for studying the culture of Western civilization, especially literature.

When all is said and done, however, my opinion of the Bible is best reflected by the words of Tom Paine who described the Old Testament this way: “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

What I dislike most about the book is the perverse ways in which it has been used to justify the promotion of ignorance, the oppression of people based on gender, race, and creed and the moral blindness of authoritarian absolutism.

Posted: March 30th 2009

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My Catholic upbringing did not focus on the Bible. Only once did it surface as a means to guide actions. That was when my mother asked a priest for advice regarding her troubled and problematic marriage. Dutifully doing what she was told, she read some old testament passages that the priest prescribed. Horrified, she told me (a teenager at that time) that they were disgustingly immoral and no help at all. She went on and got a legal separation from her husband. I chuckle every time I remember this little bit of family history.

Regarding the bible as a means to improve one’s life is a total and complete joke. I firmly dislike that the bible is used as a basis for morality. I go around shocked that people who consider themselves moral actually think highly of this cobbled-together collection of contradictory, meaningless, verbose vignettes. I dislike that many follow it blindly as an authoritative source for anything.

However, Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, p 341) writes:

But the main reason the English bible needs to be part of our education is that it is a major source book for literary culture. The same applies to the legends of the Greek and Roman gods, and we learn about them without being asked to believe in them.

And though I learned with great interest the Roman and Greeks Gods and mythology, I was unable to embrace the mythology and literary references in the Bible because of the insane requirement that I must somehow regard the writing as holy, perfect in its whole, and its so-called divine inspiration as being real. Here are some very commonly used expressions coming from the Bible (selected from TGD: pp 341-343):

Be fruitful and multiply, East of Eden, Adam’s Rib, Am I my brother’s keeper, sold his birthright, coat of many colors, stranger in a strange, burning bush, a land flowing with milk and honey, let my people go, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the apple of his eye, out of the strong came sweetness, Philistine, a man after his own heart, like David and Jonathan, how are the mighty fallen, Jezebel, Queen of Sheba, wisdom of Solomon, man shall not live by bread alone, den of thieves, sign of the times, suffer the little children, physician heal thyself, good Samaritan, grapes of wrath, lost sheep, prodigal son, whose shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose, cast the first stone, greater love hath no man than this, doubting Thomas, road to Damascus, a law unto himself, through a glass darkly, a thorn in the flesh, the root of all evil, fight the good fight.

These excerpts are quite arresting in their literary power. But, I do not find the Bible as a whole well written (as it is horribly 'edited,’ a mishmash of nonsense with no plot, poorly developed characters—you got to work so hard to get anything of coherent and lasting value out of it, and there is so much better literature around!)

I also like that the Bible shows that our morality has progressed (our courts no longer give any credence to the scape goat mentality and the immoral craziness of people being guilty for their ancestors actions as represented by the ridiculous Jesus saga), and it points to the reality that it will keep progressing, all without god(s).

Posted: March 29th 2009

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