Monday, July 23, 2007

Let's Take A Minute to Laugh at the Bible

It's Monday, and I have two papers due tomorrow and am pretty tired. So as I was sipping my coffee and talking to my four year old son, I was wondering what I should write about. After thinking a bit, I thought it would be easiest today (being lazy as I am today) to just write about some of the absolute absurdities in the Bible. Now, these are probably the easiest things for Christians to defend, as they can mostly use the cop-out of "Well, God can overcome physics" (or whatever other natural law is being broken) that many Christians use so often when they don't know how the heck to explain something ridiculous in the bible. My response to this is that why would God have created this supposedly (so say Christians) ordered universe, with all of its laws and mechanics, only to break them over and over? That makes no sense, but of course this is met with the other great Christian cop-out of, "Well we can't always understand God."

Real quick before I forget (remember, I'm groggy still), when I spoke a second ago about explaining what is not understood, it reminded me of the quote by Betty Sue Flowers, an American poet and scholar, in which she said, "God is a holding place for everything we don't understand." To me, this is one of the most poignant quotes I know of regarding god. If you really look at our history as race, and the way our philosophies and sciences have developed, you will see that the concept of a god was always simply something to explain away that which was not understood.

What is that flashing and pounding in the sky? God.

Oh wait, no it's just lightning.

What are those bright specks in the sky at night, and that huge bright orb in the sky during the day? God.

Oh wait, no it's just the stars and our star, Sol.

What shape is the world? It's flat because the Bible says it is.

Oh wait, no it's not, it's round.

The stars spin around us because God made us at the center of the universe.

Oh wait, no they don't.

Anyways, I could go on and on but you get the point I'm sure. I'll get back to what I originally started to write about.

So here are a few absolute ridiculous things in the bible.

The first one is great. On the third day, god makes the plants; however, it is not until the fourth day that he makes the sun! Without the sun, how are these plants, which require photosynthesis, supposed to survive? Some may say that a plant can live for a day without light, which is true, and I will give you that. On the other hand, remember that most Christians nowadays, especially Christian Apologetics, do not believe that these "days" were actual twenty-four hour days. Many believe that these days were actually ages of thousands of years. In this case, it is plain to see that the plants would not have lived. (Genesis 1: 11 and 14-19)

Later, in Genesis chapter four, we hear about Adam and Eve and their two children, Cain and Abel. You know, the ones where one killed the other because he got jealous about god liking the other one more? In any case, it is clearly stated that Adam and Eve have two children, Cain and Abel. Later, when Cain flees to the land of Nod after killing his brother Abel, he has children! How is this possible? Where did his wife come from, if Adam and Eve were the first people on Earth, and they just had two children, both males? I guess it is also funny when earlier, the bible says that Cain cried that "Every one who finds me shall slay me." (Genesis 4:14), considering there were only two people on the entire planet.

In the gospels, we hear Jesus say, "There be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." (Matthew 5:29-30) A eunuch is a male that castrates himself for various reasons. That's right, it is good to cut off your penis, men. Remember, Jesus also taught in Matthew, chapter five, that you should cut your eye out if it causes you to think about sex when you look at a woman. Good thing our eyes never cause that to happen, right guys?

Here's a good one. In Matthew, chapter five, Jesus tells us not to swear by anything, or in other words to take oaths. "But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne" What's the first thing Christians do when they go to testify in court? They place their hand on the bible.

When Jesus walks on water in Matthew, chapter fourteen, Peter sees him, Peter tries to walk out on the water to Jesus. Peter, of course, sinks. Jesus calls him "thou of little faith" (Matthew 14:31). I guess if we have more than a "little faith" we could walk on water? Try it next time you go deep sea fishing. Let me know how it goes.

In Micah, chapters two and three, Micah says, "Woe to them that devise iniquity..." (Micah 2:1). A mere two verses later, he says, "against this family do I devise an evil" (Micah 2:3) Make up your mind! I mean, he's supposed to be a prophet, you know, a mouth-piece for god.

Oh, and remember, God will never allow good people to be hungry. Oh, and he will never allow the wicked to be wealthy. Hah! That's a good one. (Proverbs 10:3)

I hope you enjoyed today's lesson! Have a nice day. I'm off to do my homework.

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Blogger byron said...

Hi Rick,
Thanks for your email invitation. I thought I'd offer a few thoughts on this post.

I was particularly struck by this quote: God is a holding place for everything we don't understand. This is almost exactly what I have blogged about a number of times. This caricature of 'god' is known as the god-of-the-gaps and historically has been very common. The God and Father of Jesus is not the god-of-the-gaps - he is not the popular idea of god at all, but very surprising, which is why many believers get quite confused when they try to put him together with half-formed cultural ideas of god (which are rightly rejected).

Indeed, the highly poetic opening chapters of Genesis you mock are themselves a literary critique of such popular conceptions of God that would identify him with some powerful and/or mysterious element in our experience. It is God who creates the lightning, the stars (including Sol), and the earth. In a cultural context where these were all treated as divine, Genesis debunks these myths, effectively freeing up the created order for rational inquiry. While the stars are considered semi-divine (as they were on an Aristotelian world-view), their movements must be controlled by rationality. It is the Judaeo-Christian doctrine of creation (as it was reflected upon over the centuries and gradually undermined the West's inherited Aristotelian assumptions) that affirms the contingency of creation. And it is contingency that means we have to look at what actually is the case, rather than trying to decide what it must be a priori. Simple caricatures of history or belief are easy to ridicule; looking closer is much more interesting. A great book on this topic is Gunton's The Triune Creator.

A few brief thoughts on some of the specific passages you mentioned. The opening chapters of Genesis must be read according to genre: a mythical, poetic, polemical account where snakes talk and nobody is surprised by this fact. Compare the Gospels, where people are shocked and amazed when Jesus performs powerful signs.

Castration is removal of the testicles, not the penis - and Jesus is speaking metaphorically about those who choose to remain single and celibate. Jesus doesn't say to cut out your eye if it makes you think of sex, but if it causes you to sin. Sex is not sin. Sex is a good gift of God. It is the misuse of this powerful gift which concerns Jesus, because when sex goes wrong, people get hurt deeply.

Micah's deliberate juxtaposition is ironic. God is giving them a taste of their own medicine, allowing them to experience something of the pain they cause others.

6:56 PM  
Blogger ramatheson said...

I do not agree that the opening chapters of Genesis are meant to be poetic. I'm not going to list the countless passages that could be listed as "poetic" and therefore not to be read as literal. If one part of the bible is "poetry" and not to be taken as cold, hard fact, then the entire book is subject to dissection and completely open to one person's own interpretation of what is true and what is simply metaphor.

With this line of logic, one could simply say that Jesus himself was simply a metaphor for god's love, and therefore never even lived; he simply was a creation in the minds of men. One could say this about the entire bible then. If one part of the book isn't literal, then the entire book is subject to debate and, if I can make the word up, "metaphorizing."

"Simple caricatures of history or belief..." I would contend again that if part of the book is a caricature, then the entire thing might be, depending on one's viewpoint.

Regarding the passages about casting out your eye if it causes sin, the whole point here is that it shows the bible is open to interpretation. It shows that it is completely rediculous to think that an omnipotent being would chose the media of language to communicate with us. Language, with its thousands of variations, dialects, accents, faulty translations, loss of meanings in translations, and on and on, is by far the worst possible way to communicate.

Jesus says, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (Matthew 5:28-29) It is entirely clear here that even looking at a woman and thinking of sexual things is a sin, and if one does that, the eye should be taken out. I think you missed my point, but I will repeat it again.

"Remember, Jesus also taught in Matthew, chapter five, that you should cut your eye out if it causes you to think about sex when you look at a woman. Good thing our eyes never cause that to happen, right guys?"

Remember, looking at a woman and thinking of sex is adultery, which is a sin.

The commentary on Micah is entirely opinion and interpretation.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Amarantos Everlasting said...

I was 16 years old, sitting up front at church on a Sunday with my bible and my notebook in hand. I was taking notes as I always did and when we read the story of Cain and Abel and about how Cain was cast out and later on he married, (which there was even a name for her, I think) and had a son...I wrote "?" in my notebook. I couldn't understand how he had married when he and his brother were the only children of Adam and Eve, who were the first people on earth. "Where did she come from?" I asked my pastor right after the sermon and he acted as if he hadn't noticed that...he then told me that this was another bible mystery he was going to have to ask god about when he died. I was unsatisfied with his answer and began reading the whole bible by myself...shortly after that I came to realize many things and I left the church for good. I don't regret my desicion.

I find it odd that to this day not one christian has been able to give me a reasonable answer to this "mystery". Either the bible is not the word of god or god is lying. I really can't see how some people "read" the bible and ignore this part completely, as if it wasn't there.

1:41 AM  
Blogger ramatheson said...

Thank you for reading, and the excellent comment, Amarantos.

6:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can laugh at the BIBLE till your blue in the face its not going to do anything for you.

can you do me a favor when you get the chance look up this scripture
Psalms 14:1
"it'll stimulate your brain and heart."

10:29 PM  
Blogger ramatheson said...

Funny, because in Matthew 5:22, Jesus warns that anyone who calls others "fool" will burn in hell.

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

According to this, Paul is going to hell also. He calls people fools in Romans :21-22.

Which is it?

7:23 AM  
Blogger ramatheson said...

THAT is stimulating your brain, not simply regurgitating text from the Bible to people that disagree with you.

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

its funny but if you look at what i wrote you in the comment closely i never physically told you you were a fool, i told you to read it for yourself.

in the beggining of matthew 5:22 it says if you are angry or habor malice against your brother you will be unable to escape punishment, but i am certainly not angry or habor malice towards you i am actually sad for you because you are lost but God can ceratinly save you.

i am telling you this out of love, beacuse God has showed me tremendous love, and i want to spread the love to others so they can also feel like i have.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

obviously you have believed in the faith at one time because you know your word so well.
if you want real explanations for pauls words study the hebrew that it is written in and you'd find that the word fool is totally different than the word fool that we use today.
stop trying to make excuses and stick to the basics and that's that JESUS CHRIST DIED ON THE CROSS FOR YOUR SINS SO THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.

11:30 PM  
Blogger ramatheson said...

I WILL TYPE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT MAKES MY POINT BETTER. I never said you called me a fool.

I did have faith at one time. Unfortunately, I DID study the Bible (unlike most xtians) and the original languages, and then studies the history of the god damned book, and that is when I lost my faith, THANK GOD.

On a side-note, I don't want eternal life. You see, we atheists believe that this is all we have, and therefore try to make the most of it, instead of patronizing people and society into making things in this life more difficult in order to make another one better.

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

geeze... thats too bad that the devil has lied to you and decieved you into thinking that this life is all we have.

there is soooo much more than this life. a life where we could live in peace, love, and harmony. a place where we could praise the LORD forever. and how do I know? "cause the bible tells me so"

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cierra is a CHRISTIAN.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, wow. Some serious tension here methinks ; )

You seem, the atheist to take the whole Christian business a little too.. personally.

Now I'm an atheist, and can tell you that I have found the books within the Judaeo-Christian "bible" to be very informative. From the Abraham Paradox to the leveling of man and woman, I've found every word tantalizing. I say, or in this case type, tantalizing, because simply the history of these works, and how these words on some daffty old pages changed the human sphere of thought is amazing.

Now Ive gotten off topic...

"then the entire book is subject to dissection and completely open to one person's own interpretation of what is true and what is simply metaphor."

"then the entire book is subject to debate and, if I can make the word up, "metaphorizing.""


But if I might add, then your problem is not with the actual bible, your problem is a "knowledge problem" or a "theory of knowledge" problem.


1:29 AM  
Blogger ramatheson said...

I'm not sure what exactly you mean when you say a "knowledge problem" or a "theory of knowledge."

Could you clarify?

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The where-did-Cain-get-his-wife question has been answered very satisfactorily for a long time. The Scriptures also say that Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters. Cain and Abel were not the only ones.
I can hear it already "disgusting, marrying their own sister..." blah blah blah. This early in the development of the gene pool, it wouldn't have been a problem. And there was no stigma yet attached to such behavior, nor was it commanded against yet. Further, if Adam and Eve lived many hundreds of years, they may have had potentially hundreds of daughters.

It always amazes me when Bible disbelievers try to argue against Christians by quoting Scripture. In Matthew 5:22 Jesus is talking about that dangers of allowing yourself to be angry with people. The point is that anger leads to malicious thoughts, and malicious thoughts lead to murder. Hence the true Spirit of the Old Testament law is to not even allow yourself to be angry over a period of time. Rather, you should forgive and reconcile. Paul was not referring to people as foolish because of dangerous anger in his heart - he was referring to people who truly behave foolishly. You might not understand this, but the teachings of Scripture flow together, and must be understood in their context. Jesus was teaching a series of moral statements, you managed to pluck one part out of a larger theme. No wonder you always misunderstand the Bible.

11:06 AM  
Blogger ramatheson said...

Why would genetics not have been an issue that early on?

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The short answer is that when man was created, he was originally created without any defect. Mutations pass on through the generations, but the first generation of people had no defective genes. Sin resulted in a curse put on the entire creation (not just mankind), and as a result genetic defects have accumulated in the human gene pool up until this day.
This line of thinking also provides a simple explanation to the problem of millions of creatures on Noah's ark. Originally, there was one "dog" and it was probably fairly large and robust. Mutations and selective breeding over the centuries have produced things like chihuahuas and dachsunds. These are "dogs" that have lost quite a bit of genetic information from their original ancestor.

6:47 AM  
Anonymous Cliff said...

You say that with such authority that it seems as if you assume those things to be true without any evidence to back it up. Those are all just theories justifying the allegories of the bible. And in my opinion you are putting yourself in God's shoes and supplying an answer that (If he exists at all) only he would know. Where are you getting all these ideas from?

12:48 AM  
Anonymous Rhys said...


A fair question to ask, so let me point out a few things.

I am committed to the idea that the Word of God is literal and truth. Although the Bible was never intended to be a scientific treatise, when the Bible speaks in scientific areas I believe it is absolutely correct and can be defended logically. But it is primarily a historical document -- it records the history of God's actions, especially relating to His creation, chosen people, etc.
Having said that, the issue of Adam and Eve and their children is a historical issue. But events in the historical account may bring up logical scientific questions. An example is such a question as was posted: "where did Cain get his wife?" It is not unreasonable for me to provide a logical scientific response to such a question/objection. Contrary to what people are taught by Dawkins and others of his stripe, Creationists are not anti-scientific. We believe science plays a very important role in understanding the world we live in.
The "authority" that you speak of is elementary level. It is based upon simple concepts of genetics/gene pools, etc. I would hardly classify this as "putting myself in God's shoes." It seems that what you are really suggesting is that creationists should never be able to respond with logical scientific evidences, for that is the realm of evolutionists. Where do I get all my ideas from? From other creationists who have PhD's in scientific fields such as Genetics.
Ah, and I must say something about your "allegories" comment. An allegory needs no theory to justify it. An allegory teaches a spiritual truth, not an actual real, physical one. I, of course, would suggest that Adam, Eve, Cain, and his siblings were real historical people.

6:29 AM  

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