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Jan 21 2012

The Bible is the Bad Book

Jonathan Kay is some conservative Canadian columnist who doesn’t think much, but has nonetheless managed to write something that amused me. It’s an article in which he proposes his solution to just about everything: Everyone should read the Bible (especially atheists). I know already that a lot of you are already giggling: we have read the bible, that’s why many of us are atheists. But as you’ll see, it’s not just the title, but the whole article has this smugly unaware air — he hasn’t thought at all deeply about this subject, but he can wag his finger and lecture us sternly on the conventional wisdom with blissful pomposity.

You might be wondering why he’s taking special pains to hector the atheists. It’s because we’re especially annoying — he was driven to write his article because some damned atheist, Michael Arsenault, is campaigning against the Gideons invading public schools to hand out bibles.

Religious extremists often frighten me, offend me, disgust me. But in terms of provoking irritation, none compare to the militantly godless.

Wait…the Gideons are the ones pushing their faith on schoolkids; Arsenault is only asking them to stop doing that. How is it he’s the irritating one? Kay’s logic is awesome: it’s because religious fanatics believe that the omnipotent lord of the universe has told them to do that, but atheists do it all on their lonesome, without that excuse. Atheists using their brain = massively irritating. Christians slavishly obeying ranting preacher = well that’s all right then.

But there’s even more cluelessness! We are apparently supposed to worship the bible, no matter what our religious beliefs, and Mr Kay obligingly gives us an abbreviated summary of the basic Biblical concepts we must master.

I am not a Christian. But I still keep on my National Post desk a well-thumbed copy of the King James Bible I received from my Moral & Religious Education teacher in 1979. I can’t claim to have read the whole thing, but I have read enough of it to understand basic concepts, such as the genealogy of Abraham’s immediate descendants; the flight of the Israelites from Egypt; the description of Jesus’ life and death contained in the Gospels; and the eschatology of Revelation. Even atheists must understand these concepts if they are to have an educated understanding of our world, for they have a direct bearing on everything from the modern Middle East, to the popularity of Rick Santorum, to the plot of Justin Cronin zombie novels.

So one of the important things we atheists should learn is Abraham’s genealogy? Why? I also suspect some blithe ignorance on Kay’s part: the notorious begats of Genesis 5 are the descendants of Adam; the further begats of Genesis 10 are the descendants of Noah. There are some complicated summaries of Abraham’s descendants, for instance in Genesis 25:

Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Ketu’rah.

And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Mid’i-an, and Ishbak, and Shu’ah.

And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were As’shurim, and Let’ushim, and Le’ummim.

And the sons of Mid’i-an; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abi’dah, and Elda’ah. All these were the children of Ketu’rah.

And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

So what, exactly, is the basic concept here? Are we supposed to memorize these names? What is the relevance of Ishbak, Let’ushim, and Elda’ah? Would Canada be a better place with a greater appreciation of the unimportance of Abraham’s many nameless concubines?

Does Mr Kay know that the flight of the Israelites from Egypt was a myth of an event that didn’t happen? There is no archaeological evidence to support the story in Exodus. And again, spell out the relevance, please. It’s a scrap of pseudohistory.

Similarly, vague umbly-mumbly about Jesus’ life is nonsense about a god-man who did not exist, a collection of legends with no primary sources, and no reason to trust the veracity of the authors, who were all religious fanatics with motivation to inflate the grains of truth in the story. We’d be better off throwing that garbage on the trash heap.

And seriously, we’re supposed to know the eschatology of the book of Revelation? I’ve read it for laughs — that stuff is insane. All we need to know is that there is a body of deranged literature which deluded fanatics use to justify violence and a hope for the imminent destruction of the universe; there are no truths in the prophecies at all, and the only people who really need to know them in detail are the experts in psychopathology who are trying to untangle the delusions that drive dangerous human beings.

Here’s the one great truth you need to know. The bible is a bad book. It’s a nearly unreadable mess of contradictory stories, ancient political propaganda, arcane tribalisms, bizarre rituals, and the bragging of petty provincial bullies. There are occasional scraps of genuine literary quality imbedded in it, but it is 95% shit…and unfortunately, the book has been granted such extravagantly unwarranted reverence that people refuse to recognize the shit and worship it all uncritically. Which leads to columnists telling us to read the bible for the genealogies and Revelation, rather than Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, and whole American industries striving to replace all of science with a few paragraphs from Genesis.

Kay also makes the tiresome argument that the King James Bible is full of idioms that have common currency in the English, therefore…what? I would not deny that the bible has been influential in Western history, but then, so has cholera — I think recognition of the importance of both is essential for an educated person, but I do not endorse being inoculated with either.

In his 2010 book, Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language, David Crystal concluded that the King James Bible alone created twice as many modern English idioms (think “fly in the ointment”) as all of Shakespeare’s work combined. And even these are only a small fraction of the thousands of idioms given to us by predecessor Bibles, such as the Tyndale, Bishops’ and Geneva variants. The English we speak today and the English of the Bible are inseparable. A common phrase such as “brother’s keeper,” for instance, loses its meaning to someone ignorant of the story of Cain and Abel.

This is a false argument. You certainly can understand that simple phrase without reading the Bible, and you can read the Bible without understanding the phrase. How often have you heard “Am I my brother’s keeper?” used by Christians as an excuse to avoid responsibility, vs. recognizing that it was a transparent rationalization by a murderer? I’d argue instead that many of these well-worn idioms have acquired meanings independent of their sources, and that trying to tie them to Christianity or Judaism ignores their modern usage.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there is a great deal of our modern language that arose from the Bible — evolutionary biologists do not deny the significance of antecedents! But that is not sufficient cause to demand that everyone must learn from the archaic and often irrelevant original source.

That more idioms arose from the Bible than Shakespeare is no virtue. Imagine a table with two books: a copy of the Bible, and the very least of Shakespeare’s plays — say, Troilus and Cressida. Which do you think will be better written, more interesting, more humane, and more coherent? Shakespeare, hands down. Shakespeare was an author who was certainly informed by the Bible, but he was also a literary genius who used the clever 5% and left out the 95% shit, plucking the gems out of the dungheap and giving us a better story and a better morality.

Kay ought to recognize this fact; he even gives an example that ought to have alerted him that his thoughtless assumption that the Bible was a good book was wrong.

My children are too young for the Bible (as I learned from an unsuccessful and unintentionally terrifying experiment at bed-time reading with Robert Crumb’s illustrated Book of Genesis) — so I had to explain concepts like “wickedness” to them as they arose in Montgomery’s text. [He was also reading them Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables--pzm]

I love Crumb’s Genesis — most people have not actually read the Bible at all, and translating it into a different medium — especially a particularly faithful translation — can jar them into looking at it more closely. And what you learn from Genesis is that it is a truly awful, evil, wretched little book. Kay’s children could see that. Now why can’t Kay himself?

138 comments

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  1. 1
    canadiancynic

    At the risk of being NSFW self-serving, I wrote about the Gideons here in Canada some years ago here. What’s weird is that the situation seems to have gotten worse, since now you seem to have to opt out to not get a Bible.

    Grrrrrr …

  2. 2
    fiveacres

    I am pretty sure reading the biblical account of the Flight of the Israelites was the start of my deconversion. When I got to the “..and God hardened Pharoah’s heart” leading to the deaths of all the first born in Egypt, I was all “WTF?” God punished Egypt for something God had done. This was supposed to be a good thing? I think I was about nine at the time.

  3. 3
    daddystegosaurus

    Who the hell reads Robert Crumb to their children? I am, admittedly, not familiar with his entire body of work, but what I have seen, I would not read to any child not old enough to read.

  4. 4
    gman

    I think everyone should read the bible too. Not because it’s chockablock with wisdom, but because, for better or worse, it’s one of the founding documents of western culture. you can’t imagine how many fervent Christians I’ve taught who almost completely ignorant of the contents of this book. They are inevitably stunned when I show them the more obvious absurdities.

    And for the same reason, people should also read Shakespeare, Plato’s Republic, and Darwin.

    Oh, and the famous quotations thing? Yeah, the Bible beats out Shakespeare, but ‘Anonymous’ is catching up.

  5. 5
    Thomas Sea

    I am currently reading David Vs Saul at The Brick Testament, and I can certainly attest to the fact that illustrations highlight the absurdity of the text.

    Really, imagine if medieval illuminated texts of the big doorstopper illustrated every ridiculous plot point. That would be some hilarious shit right there.

  6. 6
    otrame

    It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.

    —-Mark Twain

    I would make it “blood-drenched pseudo-history” and mention psychotic, petulant deities, but the above is pretty much my view of the bible. I am fond of it, though. Reading it is what made me an atheist at a very young age and saved me a lot of time and trouble.

    I think Aronra nailed it for me, when he implied in one of his videos that fundamentalists worship the bible, not god. And yet they don’t pay any attention to the “kinder, gentler” passages. They ignore “what you have done to the least of these you have done also unto me” and they think that such is the kingdom of heaven.

  7. 7
    cleothemuse

    Religious extremists often frighten me, offend me, disgust me. But in terms of provoking irritation, none compare to the militantly godless.

    Oh, we’re just SOOO much more irritating. While running errands yesterday, I was approached outside two different stores by middle-aged women hawking those overpriced “gourmet” lollipops for a church fundraiser. Both shopping centers had posted “no solicitation” notices, but, ya know, church groups are above the rules.

  8. 8
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Kay also makes the tiresome argument that the King James Bible is full of idioms that have common currency in the English,

    It’s even more tiresome given that Dawkins discussed this in TGD, even including a long list of idioms (some of which aren’t common in the US and were not familiar to me). It’s not exactly a new argument to atheists. (The Bible is also the origin of numerous idioms in other European languages – translations, of course, from the original English. :))

  9. 9
    ChristineRose

    Um, yeah. If you give serious attention to the eschatology of Revelation you’ll realize that it’s all about the Roman empire and is failed prophecy. You’ll then realize that Harold Camping et al don’t care about what the Bible really says at all but rather are obsessed with warping the text to fit their own ego-driven agenda. Honestly, that’s not that much of an “educated understanding of our world.” Sure, go ahead and study Revelation if you’re curious but the more you trace the various attempts to fit it to whatever period the author was born into the more you realize that there’s no relevance to the modern world.

  10. 10
    georgewiman

    Religious extremists often frighten me, offend me, disgust me. But in terms of provoking irritation, none compare to the militantly godless.

    “Militant” atheists teach their children to approach questions based on evidence and many are ethical humanists. Even moderate Christians lead their children in the morality of invisible phantoms that murder first-born children in response to actions the phantoms themselves maneuvered them into.

    Who is frightening, again?

  11. 11
    Sastra

    If all you got out of a study of Shakespeare’s plays is the origin of a few common expressions and references (“a modern day Romeo and Juliet”) then his plays would not really be worth studying. Edward Bulwer-Lytton originated the immortal phrase “It was a dark and stormy night” but few critics have concluded that his novel Paul Clifford is therefore worth reading.

    In general atheists don’t really object to the study of the Bible as literature or the Bible as comparative religion. While it’s not great literature (probably the most over-rated work in the world) it is part of the cultural heritage and contains a lot of stories it’s good to be familiar with. But evangelists passing out Bibles for proselytization purposes shouldn’t be happily included in that category. Nor should it be forgotten that, in practice, teaching the Bible ‘as literature’ often morphs into teaching the word of God ‘as Truth.’

    I think Jesus Christ is one of the most over-rated characters in fiction. When I finally got around to reading the New Testament in its entirety (after just having completed a BA in English lit) I was shocked at how the Jesus actually depicted differed so wildly from the Jesus I had expected to find.

    To say that people read profundity and ethics into him is to state it mildly. When I once mentioned to a friend that the Jesus of the NT seemed to be a gloomy and morose sort of person she immediately told me that I couldn’t be more off base: Jesus smiled and laughed throughout the NT, a very role model of jolly good humor and warm fun. When asked to provide an example, though, the best she could do was point to the passage where Jesus asks that the children be brought to him. Evidently, they wouldn’t have come willingly if he hadn’t been beaming like a genial ancient Mid-east version of Mr. Rogers.

    No evidence, of course, that they did come willingly. And no evidence that my friend had any clue whatsoever about the child-rearing practices of the ancient Mid-east, either.

    People project their own values into Jesus and the Bible like mad — and then assume that this is where the values came from. They apparently expect all readers to be equally eager to bend over backwards to find meaning and personal application. The Bible is a bit like a cold reading given by a psychic. You do all the work and then hand over all the credit.

  12. 12
    shouldbeworking

    I have read the bible. The violence, hatred and sin in it convinced me as yoke eager that it couldn’t be True, and if it was, somehow, true, why would anyone want to worship that god, except out of fear?

    But the author works for National Post, Canada’s print version of Fakes News. What would he know about the real world?

  13. 13
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Religious extremists often frighten me, offend me, disgust me. But in terms of provoking irritation, none compare to the militantly godless.

    I love this bit. You can just feel the smug contempt for people challenging the status quo whenever you read this – as you frequently will – about feminists, gay activists, etc. It never seems to occur to these people how awful it makes them look, how skewed their moral priorities, that they’re focusing on the people who simply irritate them rather than those who frighten, offend, and disgust them and cause serious harm.

  14. 14
    Sastra

    Religious extremists often frighten me, offend me, disgust me. But in terms of provoking irritation, none compare to the militantly godless.

    Oh, look, he’s in the middle between the extremes. Whew! Why, surely this reasonable man can now be trusted.

    Hey, I’m also irritated by the militantly godless, too. It’s just that my definition of “militantly godless” is more limited than this writer’s. I’d pretty much confine it to those atheists who were actually … you know …. militant. Like with guns, bombs, and laws forcing the closure of churches and confiscation of holy books. I make petty distinctions. I am not holistic.

  15. 15
    richardcarpenter

    I’ve been trying to find some information on the historicity (or lack thereof) of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt. Any suggestions?

  16. 16
    andyo

    I am not a Christian. But

    Ah, yes, of course. Also, has an atheist friend.

  17. 17
    raven

    To say that people read profundity and ethics into him is to state it mildly. When I once mentioned to a friend that the Jesus of the NT seemed to be a gloomy and morose sort of person she immediately

    Worse than that. There seem to be more than a few jesus’s running around in the New Testament. Some are OK, some are decidely a bit hostile and crazy. Jesus isn’t a single much less a coherent character.

    “I come not to bring peace but a sword.”

    “Anyone who won’t worship me as king will be killed”.

    “Hate your family. Let the dead bury the dead”.

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?”

    “Feed the poor and hungry.”

    This isn’t surprising. The NT is a work of fiction by many authors. And jesus is just their sockpuppet for whatever they want to say. It’s ironic that some xians hate the word evolution. Jesus himself evolves over time as the NT got written.

  18. 18
    tfkreference

    Apparently he didn’t see last year’s study showing how much more atheists know about these things than the religious.

  19. 19
    Zeno

    The Bible enables smarmy shake-down artists who offer you a sincere smile while they dig into your pockets.

  20. 20
    Ing

    I think Jesus Christ is one of the most over-rated characters in fiction. When I finally got around to reading the New Testament in its entirety (after just having completed a BA in English lit) I was shocked at how the Jesus actually depicted differed so wildly from the Jesus I had expected to find.

    Not to toot my own horn so much, but did you by any chance get an opportunity to read the blog post I had on that? I was somewhat proud of it but would like any criticism.

  21. 21
    raven

    Matthew 19:

    11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

    One of the Jesus’s recommends that men cut off their testicles “if they can accept this”.

    The fundies never, ever bother to quote this one much less cut off their gonads. Bunch of weak hypocrites. Who would jesus castrate?

    Origen, an early church theologian was reputed to have done this. He later recommends that people ignore this advice.

    In another section, jesus has advice on how to beat your slaves and when.

    As a godman, the various jesus’s aren’t very coherent, but some of them are decidely not very nice.

  22. 22
    Ing

    @Raven

    I question your interpretation but frankly the quote is just so weird.

  23. 23
    raven

    NIV Matthew 19:

    11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—

    and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

    The one who can accept this should accept it.”

    LOL. I just noticed that the fundies rewrote this part. The NIV version is a fundie translation and they keep trying to rewrite some of the more gruesome and crazy parts of the bible.

    So much for their claims that it is inerrant.

    KJV Matthew 19:

    12For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men:

    and 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.

    Compare the bolded section in the Kings James with the bolded section in the fundie NIV.

  24. 24
    Ing

    @Raven

    I *THINK* it means that people should accept their lot in life whatever it is, not promoting castration.

    It’s still a bad message but a slightly less ballsy one

  25. 25
    raven

    @Raven

    I question your interpretation but frankly the quote is just so weird.

    Well question away. Far as I’m concerned it is all just a lot of multi-author fiction.

    But you have to remember that to the fundies, there is no interpreting. They are self proclaimed biblical literalists. If jesus tells them to castrate themselves “if they can accept this”, then that is what he means.

    If the bible tells them to beat their children, then they beat them and beat them some more. Until oops, lately some of their kids have ended up beaten to death.

    Fundies: “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

  26. 26
    Glen Davidson

    hakespeare was an author who was certainly informed by the Bible, but he was also a literary genius who used the clever 5% and left out the 95% shit, plucking the gems out of the dungheap and giving us a better story and a better morality.

    No, he just made references that were apropos.

    And by no means can a book, or a collection of books, be simply considered to be 95% shit. The Bible is just a selection of worked over books of a religion/tribe, not all of which is great literature, but most (if not more) of which is historically relevant–if often devilishly difficult to understand contextually.

    It’s a culturally important book, no question.

    What, really, does this have to do with Gideons giving out Bibles at schools, though? Very little, at best.

    Glen Davidson

  27. 27
    Ing

    @Raven

    Sorry but your quote is out of context

    Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

    4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

    7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

    8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

    10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

    11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

    What he’s saying is that One Man One Woman THE END. You should castrate yourself before having a divorce.

    It’s not an order to castrate, it’s a condemnation of divorce using hyperbole.

  28. 28
    Ing

    And by no means can a book, or a collection of books, be simply considered to be 95% shit.

    Twilight

    @Raven

    You’re using a too literal interpretation of the passage out of context here. It is however, worth criticizing because Jesus here is basically saying that The Bible was wrong and made concessions to human weakness. This probably is going to be a passage liberal Christians use to defend the “it was the OT thing”, but it’s still a head spinning internal contradiction.

  29. 29
    raven

    @Raven

    I *THINK* it means that people should accept their lot in life whatever it is, not promoting castration.

    It’s still a bad message but a slightly less ballsy one

    No, sorry. Go to biblegateway. com and read the chapter Matthew 19 in context.

    It says no such thing, even if try to stretch it.

    When confronted with the craziness of the bible, the fundies start playing Biblical Rorschach Ink Blot, Whack-a-mole, and just plain lie a lot. You don’t have to do that though unless you have suddenly gone xian.

    It might have made more sense 2,000 years ago. We’ve moved on a lot since those days. These days if you beat your slaves, in the USA you would be doing a few decades in prison.

  30. 30
    Ing

    @Raven

    Read the rest of the surrounding passages. Don’t criticize it OOC especially when it’s full of legitimate bullshit to criticize.

  31. 31
    'Tis Himself

    Who the hell reads Robert Crumb to their children?

    There are people who don’t?

  32. 32
    Glen Davidson

    Twilight

    ‘K, was thinking of a “book like the Bible,” but didn’t actually say so.

    Glen Davidson

  33. 33
    lactosefermenter

    “I would not deny that the bible has been influential in Western history, but then, so has cholera — I think recognition of the importance of both is essential for an educated person, but I do not endorse being inoculated with either.”

    That quote belongs in the Pantheon of Atheist Quotes.

    And if there isn’t one we should erect one if for no other reson than to house this quote.

  34. 34
    Ing

    @Glen

    The bible is like “Merry X-mas” or public prayer. It wouldn’t be offensive or a problem if there wasn’t outside context making it horrible.

    Without actual believes of it the Bible would be as entertaining and amusing as Greek Mythology.

  35. 35
    raven

    google captures:

    Origen – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaen.wikipedia.org/wiki/OrigenCached – Similar
    You +1′d this publicly. Undo
    .Eusebius reported that Origen, following Matthew 19:12 literally, castrated himself. This story was accepted during the Middle Ages and was cited by Abelard in …

    Etymology – Life – Works – ViewsCastration – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaen.wikipedia.org/wiki/CastrationCached – Similar
    You +1′d this publicly. Undo
    Origen is reported by Eusebius to have castrated himself based on his reading of the Gospel of Matthew 19:12 and other passages in Matthew and Mark that …

    Origen was one of the founders of the xian church. One of the first biblical theologians and scholars.

    He is reported to have castrated himself following the advice of Matthew 19:12.

    When jesus says to castrate yourself, he means you should castrate yourself. That is the plain meaning of the text. It has been accepted as meaning that for most of the last 2,000 years.

    Ing, if you want to play fundie xian and just make stuff up, fine. I’m not interested in playing those games today.

  36. 36
    Glen Davidson

    Quite, Ing.

    Glen Davidson

  37. 37
    Erp

    @richardcarpenter, on the historicity of the Exodus, you might find Finkelstein and Silberman “The Bible Unearthed” interesting reading.

    Personally I think people should be familiar with the Bible stories just as they should be familiar with the Greek myths (reading the Bible [or parts of it] being somewhat akin to reading the Iliad and the Odyssey and Hesiod).

    As to Abraham’s genealogy much of it was to ‘explain’ the different peoples. His youngest sons who were sent away are eponymous for various countries (e.g., Sheba for Sheba which was in area now known as Yemen [see Queen of Sheba]). Abraham’s grandsons, Esau and Jacob, had other names (Edom and Israel) that were eponymous for two neighboring countries and so on. I would love to know what the Edomites’ or Moabites stories about their supposed ancestors were (my guess is they were similar to but different from the stories the Israelites (especially Moab where the Israelite story seems an obvious slur on the Moabites’ supposed ancestry)).

  38. 38
    Ing

    Ing, if you want to play fundie xian and just make stuff up, fine. I’m not interested in playing those games today.

    Raven, What the fuck? Did you even READ the rest of the passage.

    Pharisees ask about divorce law. Moses clearly lays out guidelines for it

    Jesus says no, divorce was wrong and that MOSES was wrong

    Pharisees counter that without divorce it would be better to avoid marriage and just castrate

    Jesus says Yes it would be because divorce is that bad. Jesus is clearly saying that divorce is bad and that it isn’t open to question. It’s better to be a eunuch than divorce.

    It’s right there in the passage. Origin was a church founder, but he’s not an authority against what the actual fucking book says. You can’t just cut off the preceding verses which clearly frame this as an argument with the pharisees! It changes the whole meaning of the quote.

    What you’re doing is basically taking a quote OOC like “Well then I don’t want to be right” and ignoring the preceding line of “If loving my husband is wrong” and using it to argue that this person was an admitted evil evil man!

    I’m trying to be polite here, but read it. It’s pretty clear.

  39. 39
    Ing

    Most annoyingly by doing this you’re missing a far bigger criticism.

    Jesus is saying that the laws of Moses given down by GOD HIMSELF are wrong.

  40. 40
    scottrobb

    I don’t get one thing, how was the west founded on principles or values of Christianity?!

    The first European settlers came to North America to flee persecution by the hand of Chritians!!! Christopher Columbus himself sailed here to prove the world was round after being tried and convicted of heresy for suggesting it!!! The sentence was originally death, but he had recommended he be allowed to prove his claims that the world was round, and if he were wrong he’d sail of the edge of the earth!!!

    Even American law (from 1797, and unanimously pasted) states, in Article 11, that America was in NO WAY based on Christian values!!!

    North America represented an atheistic state originally… until the doors were opened to anyone to enter and claim land, at which time the Christian-right started claiming things that were not true!!!

  41. 41
    peterh

    “A little learning is a dangerous thing,” as Kay amply demonstrates.

  42. 42
    Jadehawk

    How often have you heard “Am I my brother’s keeper?” used by Christians as an excuse to avoid responsibility, vs. recognizing that it was a transparent rationalization by a murderer?

    that reminds me of one of Glenn Beck’s rants about how some early 20′th century American or another was an Ebil Communist and whining about the display of such ebil communist ideas as “beating swords into ploughshares”

  43. 43
    ChristineRose

    My fav take on the eunuch passage is that for “eunuch” read “homosexual” and take it as an invitation to join the gay sex temple.

    There’s been consensus on the castration passage over the years. It’s just too weird. Comments like “It’s better not to marry than to marry then cheat” do not naturally flow into “and oh, you can castrate yourself.” There’s a huge gap between being unmarried and being castrated. To say that there’s an obvious meaning to the passage is to deny that millions of people have read the passage over the years and haven’t been able to make any sense out of it. Origen was not stupid, and he had access to sources that we don’t, and he thought it meant you should castrate yourself.

    Only a crazy person would drop castration into the mix without context and explanation. Maybe whoever was reporting the oral tradition didn’t know, maybe it was lost, maybe two unrelated narratives got mixed, maybe Jesus was influenced by a pro-castration cult (which we know existed), maybe Jesus really was just crazy. In any case no one throughout history except that Heaven’s Gate guy recommends castration as a good alternative to unhappy marriages and divorce. Which should tell you something.

  44. 44
    Ing

    Oh I’m sorry it is Jesus who brought in the eunuch, but it’s still clearly contrasted as a better option to divorce.

    It might be an option but it is clearly being given as a better option than divorce with monogamy as the superior choice. The crux of it thought is clearly anti-divorce, not pro castration.

  45. 45
    Rey Fox

    I am not a Christian. But I still keep on my National Post desk a well-thumbed copy of the King James Bible I received from my Moral & Religious Education teacher in 1979. I can’t claim to have read the whole thing, but I have read enough of it to understand basic concepts, such as the genealogy of Abraham’s immediate descendants; the flight of the Israelites from Egypt; the description of Jesus’ life and death contained in the Gospels; and the eschatology of Revelation. Even atheists must understand these concepts if they are to have an educated understanding of our world, for they have a direct bearing on everything from the modern Middle East, to the popularity of Rick Santorum, to the plot of Justin Cronin zombie novels.

    The world sucks.

    One of the biggest applause lines from Greta Christina’s talk at Skepticon was “I’m angry that I have to know your fucking religion better than you do.” I would just complain, “I’m just angry that I have to read your shit-ass book!”

    ‘Cause everybody’s doing it. Thank heaven jumping off a cliff isn’t one of the biggest foundations of western culture.

    My children are too young for the Bible (as I learned from an unsuccessful and unintentionally terrifying experiment at bed-time reading with Robert Crumb’s illustrated Book of Genesis)

    This guy isn’t the brightest bulb in the drawer, is he?

    — so I had to explain concepts like “wickedness” to them as they arose in Montgomery’s text.

    Wickedness: A convenient excuse for a deity to slaughter massive numbers of people.

    Oh, look, he’s in the middle between the extremes. Whew! Why, surely this reasonable man can now be trusted.

    He only wants to kill HALF of the kittens!

  46. 46
    Ing

    Only a crazy person would drop castration into the mix without context and explanation.

    Godwin’s law anyone?

    It seems pretty clear that Jesus is saying “well if you can’t be committed to one woman and can’t keep it in your pants you can cut off your balls” Whether it’s meant as a literal suggestion or hyperbole it still isn’t the focus of the passage which is that divorce is wrong.

  47. 47
    Ing

    Also Origin was also not a creationist, so despite being a founder you can’t really say that his reading of the scripture is a 100% good authority. It didn’t become the Orthodoxy.

  48. 48
    Ing

    Sorry he was a creationist but not literalist because of logical problems in Genesis.

  49. 49
    stonyground

    As has already been mentioned, lots of atheists are atheists because they read the Bible. I was an atheist before I read it, but at least I did read it. This guy is pontificating and saying other people should read it while admitting that he hasn’t read it himself.

    The examples he gives as parts of it that are important are pretty wierd. Geneologies? just lists of names with no surrounding context about who any of them were. Anyone who thinks that there is something relevant to modern life in The Revelation of St. John the magic mushroom eater has got to having a laugh.

  50. 50
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Well, bible translation has played an important role in making the European languages ready for science. Because before, it wasn’t just the bible which was written in Latin, but also science and philosophy.

    This is an important step in the process of making a language “fit for the purposes of science and academia”, you need a sufficiently developed vocabulary for that. And the bible translations were the first step in that (or at least one of the first steps). Martin Luther did that for the German language.

    One shouldn’t neither over nor underestimate their contributions.

    I’m also split on the question whether one would need to know the bible intimately or whether it’d suffice to just learn the meanings for the idioms.

    In Chinese, traditional idioms play a much higher role (this is admittedly a subjective notion) than in English, and school children have to memorise 3000-4000 of them, many of them taken from ancient Confucian, Taoist and Legalist texts, but even there they don’t really study all these philosophical texts, they just memorise the meanings of the idioms by rote…

  51. 51
    ChristineRose

    Godwin’s law anyone?

    It seems pretty clear that Jesus is saying “well if you can’t be committed to one woman and can’t keep it in your pants you can cut off your balls” Whether it’s meant as a literal suggestion or hyperbole it still isn’t the focus of the passage which is that divorce is wrong.

    Godwin’s law is for Nazis. And if you still insist that the meaning of the passage is clear you’re just ignoring the opinion of thousands of smart and sincere people who have given the passage a great deal of thought. I’m sorry, but you’re coming at it with the idea that it must make good sense to a modern Christian because it’s in the Bible and twisting what’s there until it agrees with your own point of view.

  52. 52
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    So much wrong here, Where to start?

    I don’t get one thing, how was the west founded on principles or values of Christianity?!

    Just about all religions codify how human society works. That alone should be enough to point out that christianity is hardly unique in encouraging ethical behavior.

    The first European settlers came to North America to flee persecution by the hand of Chritians!!!

    Wrong, they came here to make money. And they used the fact that the natives of the New World were not christian as an excuse to enslave them. Columbus chopped off the hands of Taintos who did not provide enough gold tribute. It was excused because they were “heathens”

    Christopher Columbus himself sailed here to prove the world was round after being tried and convicted of heresy for suggesting it!!! The sentence was originally death, but he had recommended he be allowed to prove his claims that the world was round, and if he were wrong he’d sail of the edge of the earth!!!

    More educated Europeans know the world was round. The problem was logistics. The sailors had no idea where the land masses were and had no idea how much supplies were needed. The problem was not the fear of falling off the edge of the Earth. The problem was dying of starvation or dehydration before supplies could be found.

    Even American law (from 1797, and unanimously pasted) states, in Article 11, that America was in NO WAY based on Christian values!!!

    This was not an expression of atheism. It was an expression of secularism. That not one sect of christianity would reign supreme over other sects as many of the North American colonies were.

    North America represented an atheistic state originally… until the doors were opened to anyone to enter and claim land, at which time the Christian-right started claiming things that were not true!!!

    Before we can condemn the christian right for embracing a myth, we have to make sure that we are also not embracing a myth. There was nothing factual about what you wrote.

  53. 53
    'Tis Himself

    scottrobb #40

    Christopher Columbus himself sailed here to prove the world was round after being tried and convicted of heresy for suggesting it!!!

    It wasn’t heretical in the late 1400s to say the Earth was round. Educated Europeans had known that for centuries and the Catholic Church didn’t say anything about it. Also educated Europeans had a better idea of the size of the Earth than Columbus had. That’s why Columbus had problems getting funding for his explorations. To his dying day he thought he had sailed westward to Asia, which we all know now he hadn’t.

    In 1500 Columbus was arrested by the civil authorities on charges of corruption and mistreatment of Spanish citizens while governor of Hispaniola. He was found not guilty at a civil trial. He was never tried for heresy.

  54. 54
    Avicenna

    Just because a text gave us various idioms doesn’t mean it is real. I mean Midsummernight’s Dream is pretty quotable but I don’t see why I should believe in Fairies.

  55. 55
    rogerallen

    ‘God, isn’t God a shit!’
    Randolph Churchill’s opinion when he first read the bible.

  56. 56
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Christopher Columbus himself sailed here to prove the world was round

    He actually held that it was pear-shaped…with a nipple.

  57. 57
    julietdefarge

    Surely, the genealogy of Horsa and Hengist or any of the early Germanic warlords is far more relevant than any of the personages in the Bible.

  58. 58
    magistramarla

    As a Latin teacher, I’ve always found it much more fun to read The Iliad, The Odyssey and the Aeneid for the origins of many of the idioms in the English language. The Greeks were damn good storytellers and Virgil, the Roman, did a good job of imitating them. Shakespeare was greatly influenced by these stories, too. I’ve had a better understanding of his writing after studying Greek and Latin.

  59. 59
    timgueguen

    I can’t help but think a supposed non-Christian writing for the National Post is pushing the Bible for a simple reason. He figures Christianity is needed to keep the duller segments of society in line. Intelligent people like hime don’t need it of course.

  60. 60
    richcon

    flight of the Israelites from Egypt

    … to Canaan to conquer the entire region and commit mass genocide against the people living there, killing every living human being in a glorified orgy of blood save one prostitute who had aided their spies in Jericho and one city whose inhabitants are turned into a slave race for the Israelites. All this is done following the order of Moses and the leadership of his lieutenant/successor Joshua, against a people who had done nothing other than living in the place the Israelites wanted for their own promised kingdom of God.

    What’s the grand lesson or morality we should be learning from this?

  61. 61
    feralboy12

    What’s the grand lesson or morality we should be learning from this?

    One should always take care to be born in the right place and time. Screw that up, and your life might suck.

  62. 62
    ricardocastro

    @Ing @Raven

    What he’s saying is that One Man One Woman THE END. You should castrate yourself before having a divorce.

    I never analysed that text but the passage seems to use “being an eunuch” as an analogy for not having affairs outside of your marriage, with a lady beyond the lady you married (even if you’re tempted to divorce that lady). Probably because at the time men (oh men, we never change) would say “how can I resist (that young girl who flirts with me), I am not an eunuch!”.

    I am an atheist. I am married. And I am not an eunuch. Yet I resist. I can relate.

  63. 63
    paulroub

    It’s extremely significant and meaningful, and somehow the foundation of so many very important things, and he’s had this copy over 30 years, but…

    … I can’t claim to have read the whole thing…

    How does he not, at this point, delete the draft-in-progress and go for a walk or something? Not that I’m going to take him seriously, but neither, it would seem, does he.

  64. 64
    Aquaria

    11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

    Whoa, whoa, whoa–you’re getting way ahead of yourself, Ing.

    1) There is some of the “accept yourself as you are stuff going on here. However

    2) I don’t think you realize how shocking this passage is, in the context of the entire babble. Jesus is blatantly rejecting a decided no-no in Deuteronomy 23:1, which specifically and explicitly states that no man who has his testicles crushed or his male organs removed can enter the assembly of the Lord–i.e., a church service.

    To even bring this up means that he’s rejecting Deuteronomy, and is saying that castrated men are welcome in his group, whether they have been castrated by birth (which would include the intersex), by accident, or even by willfully doing so to oneself. It’s a radical departure from the T’orah to condone this action at all.

    So, yes, he is supporting castrating yourself for gawd, if that’s what floats your boat. And that is a shocking and sickening thing to support.

  65. 65
    Inaji

    I love Crumb’s Genesis

    So do I. The day I bought it, I read it in one sitting, it was utterly fascinating, in the way a train wreck is fascinating. It had been a very long time since I had read Genesis and I’d forgotten what an immoral and stupid stew it all happens to be.

    It’s a pity Kay won’t sit down and read it himself, he might learn something if he did.

  66. 66
    Ing

    Godwin’s law is for Nazis. And if you still insist that the meaning of the passage is clear you’re just ignoring the opinion of thousands of smart and sincere people who have given the passage a great deal of thought. I’m sorry, but you’re coming at it with the idea that it must make good sense to a modern Christian because it’s in the Bible and twisting what’s there until it agrees with your own point of view.

    Cite them. Which ones say that this is Jesus literally proscribing castration.

    From source of all knowledge

    Eusebius reported that Origen, following Matthew 19:12 literally, castrated himself.[9] This story was accepted during the Middle Ages and was cited by Abelard in his 12th century letters to Heloise.[10] Scholars within the past century have questioned this, surmising that this may have been a rumor circulated by his detractors.[11] The 1903 Catholic Encyclopedia does not report this.[12] However, renowned historian of late antiquity Peter Brown finds no reason to deny the truth of Eusebius’ claims.

    Not that it matters. Way too much time spent looking up commentary on those passages already.

  67. 67
    Ing

    2) I don’t think you realize how shocking this passage is, in the context of the entire babble. Jesus is blatantly rejecting a decided no-no in Deuteronomy 23:1, which specifically and explicitly states that no man who has his testicles crushed or his male organs removed can enter the assembly of the Lord–i.e., a church service.

    I thought I already mentioned that the real criticism should be that Jesus is saying Moses/god is wrong

  68. 68
    ddenning

    As a Canadian, I’m disgusted by the distribution of bibles to students in our schools. And being one of those ‘militant’ atheists, as Jonathan Kay describes us, I thought of a counter campaign that I would gladly get behind. How about for every copy of the bible distributed in schools, we buy and distribute an equal number of copies of “God Is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens?

    Better yet — can the publisher and the heirs to Hitchins estate be talked into making “God Is Not Great” a free eBook and free smart phone App?

    In good educational settings, with proper sources of reasoned argument, logic and reason is bound to trump nonsense brainwashing.

  69. 69
    Midnight Rambler

    Jesus says Yes it would be because divorce is that bad. Jesus is clearly saying that divorce is bad and that it isn’t open to question. It’s better to be a eunuch than divorce.

    Actually it seems to be even more than that – he says that is the best thing, but not everyone is able to do it (v. 11). Hence, “He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” Also, “eunuch” can figuratively mean sexless or unmarried, not necessarily actually castrated.

    (can’t believe I’m debating Biblical minutiae…)

  70. 70
    Ing

    @Midnight Rambler

    Same here.

    Here’s part of the problem. The damn thing is either written or translated so as to be unspeakably vague and difficult to read.

  71. 71
    Inaji

    daddystegosaurus:

    Who the hell reads Robert Crumb to their children?

    In this particular case, all Kay would be reading to his children would be the book of Genesis. All Crumb did was illustrate it, as he decided nothing he could write could possibly be more weird or fucked up than what’s already there.

  72. 72
    saguhh00

    Watch the last 3 minutes for some wonderful biblical science.

  73. 73
    unclefrogy

    I do not understand how studying the bible seriously and taking any of it as true is even possible when there are so many different interpretations about what it says by people who profess to believe it is the inspired word of god.
    That it has been part of the history of “western civilization” is a fact but it has not been the only thing that is a part and influence of “western civilization”

    These guys who purport to stand in between the religious make me sick. I think they are just trying to protect themselves by trying to kiss ass to the religious believers who they see as the powerful ones. There whole line of crap smells of fear.

    I thought that the main thing to get out of the bible was you better do what the god of the jews says or you will be punished now and later. the only motivation I ever saw was fear of god. the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
    I felt trapped until I realized that it was made up!
    uncle frogy

  74. 74
    Sastra

    We Are Ing #20 wrote:

    Not to toot my own horn so much, but did you by any chance get an opportunity to read the blog post I had on that (Jesus is overrated)?

    No, but I just went and read it (I assume you mean “Bigger than Jesus”.) Very good indeed — turns out it’s not that hard to find better messiah figures.

    Though I like the idea of Robocop vs. Jesus, I think the nice buddhist Guanyin — who sacrifices her own attainment of heaven so the damned can be freed — comes closest to blowing the Biblical version out of the water.

    IIRC, in a debate with Christians atheist Mark Vuletic once described how he, as a Bible-believing child, used to cry at night thinking of the fate of the damned, all the while praying to God to send him to Hell and let everyone else go. Afterwards, a Christian who had been deeply touched by the story came up to him and told him he thought Mark was one of the most Christ-like people he had ever met. It is a bit curious that he would make that comparison, though — seeing that the simple solution of a child didn’t seem to occur to the actual Christ, who is apparently fine with Hell remaining slightly less full of the damned than it might have been.

    The top secular humanist version of a christ that out-christ Christ would probably have to be Prometheus. He sacrificed himself in order to give human beings the benefit of knowledge. Makes a nice contrast to the God who had to sacrifice Himself to save humanity from His punishment for the terrible sin of knowledge.

  75. 75
    ohioobserver

    Fine. It gives me insight into the way Rick Santorum thinks. Yuch.

    It doesn’t change the fact that THE WHOLE FUCKING THING IS MADE UP!

    There. I said it. I feel much better now.

  76. 76
    Nick Gotts

    Surely, the genealogy of Horsa and Hengist – julietdefarge

    As 1066 And All That has it:

    Memorable among the Saxon warriors were Hengist and his wife (? or horse) Horsa. Hengist made himself King in the South. Thus Hengist was the first English King and his wife (or horse), Horsa, the first English Queen (or horse).

  77. 77
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Ing:

    one short note about Guanyin: Guanyin did NOT start out as Miao Shan, as far as I understand it, this was just one of the many incarnations of Guanyin, who could choose to appear as a man, or as a woman, or even other lifeforms. Interesting enough in India, Guanyin (or rather Avalokiteśvara) is usually portrayed as male, but in East Asia as female.

    My favourite Buddha however is Amitābha, who is revered by the Pure Lands Sect of Buddhism. I was once present at a death commemoration event of someone who belonged to this sect of Buddhism, and the priest was saying that Amitābha will forgive you and bring you to heaven, whoever you are, and whatever you’ve done (apparently the only thing you have to do is to repeat his name ten times, or something). Relatives present who belonged to other, less generous sects, like Zen, then went on and on about this how this was all rubbish after the priest had left.

    Some people say that Jesus stands for universal love, maybe they should try Amitābha instead (if they can’t live without religion).

  78. 78
    Nick Gotts

    Amitābha will forgive you and bring you to heaven, whoever you are, and whatever you’ve done (apparently the only thing you have to do is to repeat his name ten times, or something). – pelamun

    Now there’s a version of Pascal’s wager worth taking up :-p

  79. 79
    Ing

    one short note about Guanyin: Guanyin did NOT start out as Miao Shan, as far as I understand it, this was just one of the many incarnations of Guanyin, who could choose to appear as a man, or as a woman, or even other lifeforms. Interesting enough in India, Guanyin (or rather Avalokiteśvara) is usually portrayed as male, but in East Asia as female.

    Thank you. It was my understanding that one version of her myth has her starting out as Maio Shan as her first incarnation and became enlightened in that life.

  80. 80
    Ing

    Another story from the Precious Scroll of Fragrant Mountain describes an incarnation of Guanyin as the daughter of a cruel king who wanted her to marry a wealthy but uncaring man. The story is usually ascribed to the research of the Buddhist monk Chiang Chih-ch’i during the 11th century CE. The story is likely to have a Taoist origin. Chiang Chih-ch’i, when he penned the work, believed that the Guanyin we know today was actually a Buddhist princess called Miaoshan (妙善), who had a religious following on Fragrant Mountain. Despite this there are many variants of the story in Chinese mythology.

    Ok I see, I misread. Doesn’t make that much difference though as it follows the Jesus story closely and leads to the same ending.

  81. 81
    madknitter

    The King James Version of the Bible is not the Bible. It is merely a translation of the Bible. And not a very good one at that. While arguments can me made about how the KJV was a unifying force for the English language the fact remains that the translators deliberately made the language sound archaic (no one really talked like that), and when they couldn’t translate a specific Hebrew word/phrase, would turn to the Greek Septuagint, which is a really wretched translation itself. And since most people have no idea that the ancient myths out of Canaan are remarkably similar to the many of the myths and stories found in the Bible, including some of the titles that God acquired. If you can find a copy, Ancient Canaanite Myth and Epic, edited by Michael Coogan, is a good read (well, if you like reading ancient Semitic myths that aren’t exactly the Bible but are close).

  82. 82
    speedweasel

    Man, if they think atheists are irritating now, wait until we actually start winning.

  83. 83
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Ing:

    my knowledge of Buddhist scripture is extremely limited as I spent all my Classical Chinese credits on the Spring and Autumn stuff from before 700 B.C.E., aka Confucius & co.

    Miàoshàn is said to have been a princess in the 6th century C.E., in a small fiefdom called Fùchéng. The only source given is a Buddhist text, so I don’t know if she was a historical figure or not.

    Most of the Lotus Sutra which mentions Guanyin, was created by the 2nd c. C.E., so this would rule out Miào Shàn as the first “body” as it were, though I’m no expert in Buddhist exegesis.

    Her most important appearance in literature however, in the Journey to the West, would also work with Miào Shàn as first “body”, because the Journey takes places during the Tang era, so after Miào Shàn is supposed to lived.

    I like the story how my Buddha hero, Amitabha, once gave Guanyin eleven arms, or was it eleven heads… It’s one of them…

  84. 84
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    (Correction: the era of Confucius&co was 771-476 B.C.E.)

  85. 85
    johnmarley

    I can’t claim to have read the whole thing

    I can. For me, his argument fails right there.

  86. 86
    Ing

    Most of the Lotus Sutra which mentions Guanyin, was created by the 2nd c. C.E., so this would rule out Miào Shàn as the first “body” as it were, though I’m no expert in Buddhist exegesis.

    Thank you.

    It doesn’t change the story that much though but I’ll make an edit.

    From what I read it seems more that some of the Guanyin stories started out as about other mythological figures and got assimilated into the Guanyin’s incarnations.

  87. 87
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Ing:

    I guess the single most important factor is that Guanyin (aka Avalokiteśvara) is from a Sanskrit text, but Miào Shàn is not. A Sanskrit text would not have a Chinese princess.

    And you’re right, there seems to be some mixing going on, some Taoist legends have her as an Immortal (and once we get to the Immortals, we are already firmly in Wuxia territory)

  88. 88
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    For instance take my favourite Taoist goddess (also about the only one I know) Mazu:

    Over time, the religions of Buddhism and Taoism borrowed popular deities from each other in attempts to attract devotees to their temples. In order to justify Mazu’s presence in Buddhist temples, legends were circulated claiming that Mazu’s parents prayed to Guan Yin for a son, but Guanyin answered their prayers with the birth of yet another daughter. It was then believed that Mazu was a reincarnation of Guanyin on earth, and it is Guanyin she is said to have been especially devoted to as a child.[6] As a result, Mazu is recognized and respected in both the Taoist and Buddhist pantheons of deities, while some Buddhists believe Mazu to be one of Guanyin’s many manifestations.

    Ironically enough: after drowning in the sea, Mazu was “promoted” to godhood and became the Taoist goddess of the… sea.

  89. 89
    jaycubed

    As an atheist I love much of the bible myself. The Jewish Bible (Old Testament) and Revelations (a bizarre psychedelic rant) in particular. Most of the New Testament is inferior writing, but as a whole, “The Bible(s)” is a unique human document that describes the actual behavior, justifications for that behavior, and the Fairy Tales of an evolving cultural group(s) running from the late Paleolithic to the Classical period of antiquity. There is nothing else in human literature like it in scope.

    It is a wonderful guide to how people actually behave & think. It provides clear evidence that there is little change in human behavior during the last 3-4K years. We haven’t learned very much as a species: despite the incredible gains in knowledge created by human enterprise, we remain stupid monkeys as a whole.

    Do not look at the Bible(s) for a guide either as to how one Should behave or what Reality is.

    It is a dreadful guide for how people should behave & think. The precepts of The Bible and its offshoot addendum The Koran are the antithesis of ethics and form the justification for “Morality”.

    Understand that Morality is evil & destructive behavior towards others/oneself, but done under the auspices/approval of The Big Fairy or The Bible(Book).

    Morality = Approved Evil

    Morality is the opposite of “ethics”. It is the excuse one makes to oneself or to others to justify one’s own unethical behavior. Morality is an evolved Pan/Man strategy to overrule an evolved hard-wired behavior, particularly the one prohibiting a social animal killing one of its own kind, with a Justification for defining & then allowing the killing/abuse of “The Other”.

    People who behave ethically towards each other would never behave Morally towards each other. They wouldn’t need the excuse.

    In simple terms, I find the Bible(s) a horrible guide for How To Behave, and a terrific guide to How We Actually Behave.

    My favorite Bible, and then one I would suggest to anyone young or old, is The Brick Testament: direct transfers of all the parts of the Bible done in LEGOS (where do they find all that blood?).

    http://www.thebricktestament.com/

    It is always remarkable to me how ignorant of their own Holy Book most Bible-Thumpers are about what they profess to Believe in.

    Ministers & Priests are little better. I have a lot of fun with Lay-Ministers who try to “Testify” yet can be easily flabbergasted by using their Bible as a tool to demonstrate their arrogance & ignorance.

  90. 90
    atheistpolitic

    My school forced me to read parts of the Bible in ninth grade as part of the English curriculum. I understand why it was part of the curriculum; we read it because Biblical references come up a lot in literature, and are frequently important in understanding scenes and characters, even if I thougth the material was boring.

    In fact, the only times I was even mildly engaged were when we were discussing what I had been forced to memorize in Hebrew for my bat mitzvah (Genesis 28:10-32:3 according to Google, in Hebrew it’s called Vayetzei).

    My portion was the story of Jacob’s traveling to Haran to marry his cousin Rachel, and started at when Jacob lies down for the night to sleep (using a rock for a pillow – wtf?) when he sees a stairway to heaven with angels all up and down it, and then god tells him that eventually he’ll be receiving all the land he can see before him, which is a lot. Skip ahead to where my long-ass parsha ended when Jacob finally escapes with both of his cousin-wives away from his Uncle Laban with Laban’s flock. Which is funny, because I’d never noticed until now that the angel that visits Jacob and tells him to breed the spotted/multicolored sheep with the white sheep to make many more spotted sheep (which were Jacob’s sheep under a deal he struck with Laban). Which is funny because this means that if this whole ridiculous scenario had actually been real, the angel had probably been sent on a mission by god, “Hey, we kinda really fucked Jacob over with that fourteen years of labor and a wife he didn’t want and the warring wives thing… Do something nice for him that also fucks Laban over.” And so as the overworked and underpaid secretary that angels of god must be in my new made-up universe, the angel plotted and plotted until they came up with this idea, and then started doing Punnett squares to figure out which wool-genes were dominant and likely to result in speckled sheep.

    But seriously, that sounds like a hilarious story. If anyone would care to write it, I’d love to see that piece of blasphemy. :D

  91. 91
    Ing

    I guess the single most important factor is that Guanyin (aka Avalokiteśvara) is from a Sanskrit text, but Miào Shàn is not. A Sanskrit text would not have a Chinese princess.

    Good point. I’ll correct it but it doesn’t really change the story too much.

    Makes it more similar on how God became Jesus who died and became Jesus Christ the Living God.

  92. 92
    consciousness razor

    running from the late Paleolithic to the Classical period of antiquity.

    I don’t know where you got the idea that any of the Bible documents anything about the late Paleolithic, which was over 10,000 years ago.

    It is a wonderful guide to how people actually behave & think. [...] Do not look at the Bible(s) for a guide either as to how one Should behave or what Reality is.

    The way people behave and think is part of what reality is (with or without the capital ‘R’).

    Morality is the opposite of “ethics”.

    No it isn’t. They’re basically synonyms, but ethics is generally regarded as more systematic.

  93. 93
    jaycubed

    (PZ)
    And (if) what you learn from Genesis is that it is a truly awful, evil, wretched little book. . .

    . . don’t act so surprised: isn’t it is the Creation of some of our fellow “truly awful, evil, wretched” species?

    The level of rancor directed at the Bible(s) by some atheists is quite disturbing. Why should any Book cause such violent internal stimulation. The Bible(s) are books. They exist as books, not as Holy Documents, which is how you treat them if you get so strongly emotionally involved.

    By giving them such power over your mind & body (as evidenced by their ability to provoke such powerful feelings) you act as if The Big Fairy and his Book are reality rather than fiction.

    Sadly, many atheists are nowhere near Free from their Religious pasts. They become just as slavish in mindless negative reaction to the same stimuli that provokes the same type of slavishly mindless positive reaction as the True Believers.

    Don’t get angry at a book. Get angry at ignorant people who use a book to justify their cruelty & stupidity.

  94. 94
    Ing

    The level of rancor directed at the Bible(s) by some atheists is quite disturbing. Why should any Book cause such violent internal stimulation. The Bible(s) are books. They exist as books, not as Holy Documents, which is how you treat them if you get so strongly emotionally involved.

    By giving them such power over your mind & body (as evidenced by their ability to provoke such powerful feelings) you act as if The Big Fairy and his Book are reality rather than fiction.

    I suppose I must also believe in Edward Cullen because I fucking hate those books.

    You are a ……

    grrrrrrrr 3 post rule.

    You’re being silly. Reread what you said and consider it. It doesn’t make sense.

  95. 95
    consciousness razor

    . . don’t act so surprised: isn’t it is the Creation of some of our fellow “truly awful, evil, wretched” species?

    No, it isn’t, because the creation story in Genesis is a fucking myth, and human beings aren’t nearly as awful, evil, or wretched as the book makes us out to be.

    The level of rancor directed at the Bible(s) by some atheists is quite disturbing. Why should any Book cause such violent internal stimulation.

    What’s your problem exactly?

    For the record, the Bible and other holy books are completely irrelevant to my life. No rancor or “violent internal stimulation” on my end, as far as I can tell. I just don’t understand your reaction.

  96. 96
    chigau (違う)

    I have no violent emotions about the bible, either.
    And I don’t see any in this thread.

  97. 97
    jaycubed

    I don’t know where you got the idea that any of the Bible documents anything about the late Paleolithic, which was over 10,000 years ago.
    consciousness razor

    You are absolutely correct, I meant to write Late Neolithic. Brain fart.

    .

    The way people behave and think is part of what reality is (with or without the capital ‘R’).

    It would seem rather obvious from the context:

    Do not look at the Bible(s) for a guide either as to how one Should behave or what Reality is.

    That I am referring to the purported strictures of the Bible(s) in both cases. The Bible(s) claim to describe both the nature of what reality is and what people should do. I contend that in both cases it is incorrect and that destructive behavior by Believers has followed.

    .

    I contend that, with the exception of the start of a sentence, whenever one finds a word capitalized then one has found a lie/euphemism/dysphemism and one should be extremely watchful in trying to understand such usage. I use the process of using such capital letters in my writing to point out the difference between words such as Faith (the belief in Fairies) and faith (the belief in statistics).

    .

    Morality is the opposite of “ethics”.

    No it isn’t. They’re basically synonyms, but ethics is generally regarded as more systematic.

    All you got is “No it isn’t.” Pitiful. I provide a clear & distinct way to distinguish between the two quite different & prevalent forms of human behavior.

  98. 98
    feralboy12

    Sadly, many atheists are nowhere near Free from their Religious pasts.

    Intense indoctrination in childhood has a way of hanging around.

    They become just as slavish in mindless negative reaction to the same stimuli that provokes the same type of slavishly mindless positive reaction as the True Believers.

    Maybe something to do with having half their lives wasted? And how exactly is pointing out the countless flaws, inconsistencies, and immoralities masquerading as the Word of God “mindless?”
    (That was my nice response. I don’t have a three post rule, especially when someone throws around insults like “mindless.”)

  99. 99
    lither

    I’m not sure I’d include Ecclesiastes amongst the good bits. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” nearly put me off folk music for life.

  100. 100
    Ing

    More emotionless meat robot than thou

  101. 101
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    The level of rancor directed at the Bible(s) by some atheists is quite disturbing. Why should any Book cause such violent internal stimulation.

    Obviously, I can’t speak for others here, but my dislike of that particular collection of books is caused not by the bible itself, but by people who insist that their belief about what they think is written there gives them permission to tell me, and others, what they can and cannot do.

    Don’t get angry at a book. Get angry at ignorant people who use a book to justify their cruelty & stupidity.

    I am, and, I suspect, so are the others here.

  102. 102
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The Bible(s) are books. They exist as books, not as Holy Documents, which is how you treat them if you get so strongly emotionally involved.

    Why should books of mythology/fiction bother us, unless other people believe they are inerrant and try to force their inane beliefs upon us by legislation??? If they kept to themselves, no problem…

  103. 103
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Also, jaycubed, mocking is not animosity. Lots of things get mocked around these here parts: peas, horses, movies, music, politicians, ice cream flavours, poorly thought out arguments, cars, fashion, you name it, it gets mocked by someone. But if I mock something, it does not necessarily mean that I hold a great deal of animosity, or any, for that matter, towards what it is, or who it is, that I mock.

  104. 104
    consciousness razor

    jaycubed, is English your first language? I don’t mean this as any kind of insult, but it may help explain some of the quirks in your writing.

    I use the process of using such capital letters in my writing to point out the difference between words such as Faith (the belief in Fairies) and faith (the belief in statistics).

    If and when you provide each usage with a meaningful definition or context, that is what makes your distinctions identifiable. You didn’t do that. You apparently just expect us to already have your distinctions sorted out and agree with them.

    For example, “belief in statistics” has nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of “faith.”

    All you got is “No it isn’t.” Pitiful. I provide a clear & distinct way to distinguish between the two quite different & prevalent forms of human behavior.

    Your distinct way of distinguishing them is incoherent and idiosyncratic. Ask a moralist or an ethicist, or just look up either in any English thesaurus. You’ll find out that they are not, in fact, the opposite of one another.

  105. 105
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Oy! Why you mock horses? Horses is good people!

    Anyone who doesn’t like horses is welcome to step outside with me.

  106. 106
    Ing

    @Consciousness Razor

    sure they are, just like Opaque and Transparent!

  107. 107
    anat

    The begats from Adam to Noah are based on a list of mythological Sumerian kings, except the originals were said to have lived much longer than the 900+ years of the biblical characters. See, the Bible is of-so much more reasonable, while still having very long-lived ancestors, so that when God regrets creating humans he can give them a shorter and more realistic lifespan.

    The begats after Noah, including much of the lineage from Noah to Abraham, is a list of nations and tribes. According to someone who studied this really deeply (a poster by the name of ‘spin’ on FRDB) the time in history when all those nations were in existence was the time of the Assyrian rule, 7th century BCE. In other words, those are clues to the time when that part of the story got written down as well as clues to the political views of the authors (who was not included? who was grouped with whom?).

    Abraham, his cousins and his descendants similarly reflect authors’ view of neighboring nations and where their own fit in – a work of propaganda. Present day relevance – nil.

    One can dig up the occasional timeless message from among the dross – say, the occasional demand for social justice from one prophet or the other, but it is easier to come up with a wholesome, non-self-contradictory message by writing a modern text from scratch, for the plain reason that it would be written by a present day person writing in a way that reflects hir own morals without needing to fit archaic ways of thinking.

  108. 108
    consciousness razor

    sure they are, just like Opaque and Transparent!

    Well, obviously Opaque and Transparent are opposites, but opaque and transparent mean the same thing.

    And I have no idea what opaque and transparent mean.

  109. 109
    chigau (違う)

    We Are Ing
    We should try to work Translucent into the discussion this time.

  110. 110
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Ing and chigau:

    Both translucent and transparent are anathema as they contain a bad word. GLBT is not biblical. And the idea of a trans parent? The horror!

  111. 111
    jaycubed

    I lucked into a few more minutes so for a few responses.
    Both to consciousness razor

    For example, “belief in statistics” has nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of “faith.”

    One has Faith that God will cause the sun to rise in the morning. That person has No Doubt that Fairies exist. This Belief is not falsifiable.

    One has faith that that there is a near certain chance that the sun will rise in the morning. This is based upon knowledge. This knowledge is based initially upon observation. These observations are testable. From this we humans have developed strategies to exploit this accumulated knowledge. This knowledge is falsifiable. From this, I have varying degrees of statistical certitude in all the vast array of direct & indirect forms found. This is the basis of my personal faith.

    jaycubed, is English your first language? I don’t mean this as any kind of insult, but it may help explain some of the quirks in your writing.
    If and when you provide each usage with a meaningful definition or context, that is what makes your distinctions identifiable. You didn’t do that. You apparently just expect us to already have your distinctions sorted out and agree with them.

    Your distinct way of distinguishing them is incoherent and idiosyncratic. Ask a moralist or an ethicist, or just look up either in any English thesaurus. You’ll find out that they are not, in fact, the opposite of one another.

    No. I expect the audience here to be well read, hopefully have a few dictionaries (Every English speaker should have the OED Compact), pay attention to the depth of meaning & history that a word possesses, follow the general gist of an argument.

    Instead you present a dysphemistic personal attack, appeals to authority, a nonsensical manufactured “consistency” (opaque-transparent) & an apparent desire to ignore much of my (granted limited in this time & place) argument.

    ‘night all.

  112. 112
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    jaycubed:

    An expectation that an event (the sun rising in the morning) which is based on physical, replicable, and falsifiable evidence is not faith.

    pay attention to the depth of meaning & history that a word possesses

    Two things. First, did it ever occur to you that it is possible that commenters understand what you mean and still disagree? Second, in the short time (relatively) that I have been commenting here, there have been quite a few commenters who have come in and started raging arguments by using their own definitions of words. if you are using a word and expect people to read one, and only one, definition into it, do not use the word, use the definition. It will reduce the chances that anyone will wonder about your use of language. It will not reduce the chance that anyone disagrees with your argument, but it will avoid the language issue (percieved or not).

  113. 113
    feralboy12

    No. I expect the audience here to be well read, hopefully have a few dictionaries (Every English speaker should have the OED Compact), pay attention to the depth of meaning & history that a word possesses, follow the general gist of an argument.

    Sorry. I thought you were making an Argument, so I took everything to mean the opposite of what you wrote.

  114. 114
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    In late to solve The Great Eunuch Debate….Jesus said it was better to live *LIKE* a eunuch. Just as Paul said it was better for a man not to marry…they both have to do with sexual purity, not with literally castrating oneself, jesus christ! I grew up fundy and EVERYONE understood that. It’s contextual. Ing is right…the passage isn’t literal. It’s about the evil of divorce and how sexuality outside of marriage is forbidden. *sheesh*

  115. 115
    chigau (違う)

    I looked up pretentious git in the online OED.

  116. 116
    raven

    The level of rancor directed at the Bible(s) by some atheists is quite disturbing. Why should any Book cause such violent internal stimulation.

    This is wrong and silly.

    We aren’t angry at the gods. They don’t even exist. We do have lots and lots of problems with their followers and self proclaimed spokespeople though. Many of them are plain evil and destructive as well, all hell.

    It’s the same with the bible. It’s just a kludgy old book without a whole lot to offer moderns. Which is why the xians call it their magic book and never read it.

    We do have a problem with people who claim justifications from their magic book to do horrible and warped things. Which they do every day. Hate gays, it’s in the bible. Subjugate women, it’s in the bible. Keep slaves. It’s in the bible. Beat your kids almost and sometimes past death. It’s in the bible. Vote Democrat. You are going to hell, it’s in the bible

    Everything is in the bible if you get a little creative. The bible is as much a sockpuppet as jesus or god.

    PS While it is a kludgy old book of mythology and fiction, as document itself, it is fascinating. This is one of the most complete records we have of the ancient mind. 98% of what I know about the bible I learned myself with a library card, wikipedia, and google after dropping out of xianity.

  117. 117
    raven

    That last comment is probably too long, didn’ read, especially if any fundies are trying to sound out the big words.

    Our negativity isn’t towards the bible but towards those who pretend or claim that it has much of anything worthwhile and redeeming to say about how to live and how to function in a modern civilization.

    It doesn’t. The whole Enlightenment was trading religious rule and thinking for reason and democracy. A lot of xians to this day absolutely hate the Enightenment.

  118. 118
    raven

    KJV Matthew 19:

    12For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men:

    and 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.</blockquote.

    In late to solve The Great Eunuch Debate….Jesus said it was better to live *LIKE* a eunuch.

    It doesn’t say that at all. Read it yourself, it is cut and pasted once again. You are merely repeating a lie that was told to you long ago.

    I grew up fundy and EVERYONE understood that. It’s contextual.

    So what. Irrelevant. Xians always, always lie about what is in the bible*. Because it doesn’t make sense otherwise. Basically you just pointed out that fundies have an agreed upon set of lies that they repeat. We all knew that.

    WL Craig basically just strings those lies together and calls it apologetics. The Canaanites deserved their genocide and a zillion other ones. The bible is true because it says its true. The earth is 6,000 years old.

    When confronted with the horrible stuff, the contradictions, and the senselesss parts, all xians can do is lie and then lie some more. We’ve all seen it ad infinitum. Which you just did again.

  119. 119
    raven

    KJV:

    and 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.

    Well, searching through my collection of the fundie xian Talmud and I now know what this really means.

    What jesus really meant by recommending self castration was that you should check your engine oil monthly and change it every 3,000 miles.

    Jerry Foulwell however claims that it means that you should never serve red wine with fish.

    Sarah Failin claims that it really means that you shouldn’t mix whites and colors in the same washing machine cycle.

    Robert Jeffres says that it means Mormons are Fake Xians, the Catholic church is run by satan, and you should send him some of your money.

    A lot of xians will never admit that the bible is anything other than some perfect, magic document, the literal word of god as they claim often. Confronted with the facts, they just make excuses, lie a lot, and play whack-a-mole. It isn’t even hard for people who think the earth is 6,000 years old and Noah had a boatload full of dinosaurs.

  120. 120
    crocswsocks

    Here’s a better idea: everyone should watch selected clips from Star Trek: The Next Generation. First up: the whole second half of season 3 episode 4, “Who Watches the Watchers.”

  121. 121
    AlanMac

    @richardcarpenter #15

    Here’s an interesting NOVA documentary on the Pentateuch

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/bibles-buried-secrets.html

  122. 122
    Duth Olec

    What the heck does “fly in the ointment” mean?
    What the heck is a “brother’s keeper”?
    Clearly the Bible needs to update its language. I suggest 30% more lols, 65% more w00ts, over 9000% more leetspeak, replace every instance of God and other such variants with “omg”, replace every instance of “demon” with “troll”, refer to eating as “om nom nom”, and refer to baby Jesus as a brony. Wasn’t he born in a stable or something?

  123. 123
    aliceshortcake

    You mock PEAS?!!!

  124. 124
    strange gods before me ॐ

    The level of rancor directed at the Bible(s) by some atheists is quite disturbing. Why should any Book cause such violent internal stimulation.

    You sound like you haven’t even heard the way we talk about that piece of shit movie Battlefield Earth.

  125. 125
    jbhodges7

    Re. the understanding of what is meant in Matthew 19:
    I did a study of the gospels focusing on the ethical teachings of Jesus
    See http://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/the-ethics-of-jesus
    and found that much of it was extreme and radically unworldly, but it made sense given that Jesus expected that the end of the world and Judgment Day were imminent. It was clear to me that recommending self-castration was part of a larger theme of over-fulfilling the Law of Moses, following the spirit as well as the letter, following inside as well as out. Matthew chapter 5 and Luke chapter 6 express this theme clearly. We should not only abstain from killing but also from anger; not only abstain from theft but also from coveting; not only abstain from swearing false oaths, abstain from swearing oaths at all. Not only abstain from adultery but also from lust. “He who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. As I see it, Jesus recommends self-castration as a way of avoiding lustful thoughts, if you find it impossible otherwise, and can bring yourself to do the deed.

    From the essay:
    Making yourself a eunuch sounds extreme, but Jesus says you should do
    whatever it takes to live a sinless life, even cut off body parts that
    tempt you to sin. Matthew 5:
    27 “You have heard that it was said, `You shall not commit adultery.’ 28
    But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has
    already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye
    causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you
    lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
    30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it
    away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your
    whole body go into hell.

    There is one member in particular that might tempt you to sin, but it
    would be vulgar to mention it in a speech, so Jesus speaks instead of
    the eye and hand. But he seems to really mean it, when he speaks of
    making yourself a eunuch for the kingdom of Heaven’s sake.

    Certainly he opposes divorce; if you have sworn a vow before God, certainly you should keep it. But nowhere does he ever recommend getting married in the first place; on the contrary he recommends forsaking your earthly family, giving your loyalty instead to your TRUE family, which is your fellow believers. (Also, by the way, nowhere in the Bible is there anything in support of “one man one woman.” The OT is full of polygamy and concubines, the NT ideal is complete abstinence. )

  126. 126
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @^ jbhodges7 & 119. raven says:

    KJV: and 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.

    As youcan see from this youtube clip :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbG80SjrOnQ

    from ‘Bible Verses Never Read in Church’ series by DionysusVoice unfortunately there’s a bit of a catch.

  127. 127
    jbhodges7

    I don’t have an original source for the following, but for what it’s worth:
    ——–

    Greg Erwin wrote:
    It is the fervent belief of the Pure Land Buddhist sect that simply hearing the mantra “Om namo amitabhayya buddhaya”, or in Japanese “Om namu amida butsu”, which can be abbreviated to “nembutsu”, guarantees your entry straight into paradise… oops, sorry, if you didn’t want to go there, but reading it works too. And unlike Christianity, this does not require that you believe in it or have faith in it.

  128. 128
    'Tis Himself

    raven #117

    The whole Enlightenment was trading religious rule and thinking for reason and democracy. A lot of xians to this day absolutely hate the Enightenment.

    Modern science grew out of the Enlightenment. That’s why so many fundies hate evolution and try to replace it with religious myths.

  129. 129
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    jbhodges7,

    see #77.

    There are also various folk stories about the mantra, which can be further contracted to “nanmaida”. One junior monk was in a temple haunted by demons and wrote the mantra all over his body so he would not be seen by them, but forgot his ears, so the demons took his ears.

  130. 130
    octopod

    Aquaria @64, that seems like a fairly unobjectionable sentiment to me — “go ahead and castrate yourself if you damn well feel like it, I won’t throw you out” — what’s so utterly horrible about that?

  131. 131
    kirillov

    raven wrote:

    One of the Jesus’s recommends that men cut off their testicles “if they can accept this”.

    The fundies never, ever bother to quote this one much less cut off their gonads. Bunch of weak hypocrites. Who would jesus castrate?

    Origen, an early church theologian was reputed to have done this. He later recommends that people ignore this advice.

    The Skoptsy took this advice literally and even dreamt up an entry ticket for women, so they wouldn’t need to feel left out.

  132. 132
    NitricAcid

    That’s about what i expect from the National Compost.

  133. 133
    jaycubed

    Denephew Ogvorbis, OM says:

    jaycubed:

    An expectation that an event (the sun rising in the morning) which is based on physical, replicable, and falsifiable evidence is not faith.

    There is nothing particularly unusual in my usage or definitions. In fact, my definitions are typically based on the primary dictionary definitions and the etymology of the word.

    For example, if your were to read a good dictionary you would find that my meaning fits clearly within the primary definition of the word “faith”:

    (1)Confidence or trust in another thing, faith in another’s ability

    Your definition matches the the secondary meaning:

    (2)Belief which is not based on proof. (and the variations on this theme in citations 3-8)

    (from) Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary

    Perhaps your confusion stems from the near certainty of the event described. Lets try some less likely events. I have faith that if I flip a fair coin a number of times that it will come out even about half the time. That faith is strong. I don’t have faith that the coin will fall either heads or tails on any throw. A gambler has Faith that he will roll a seven. Whether that person’s Faith is strong or not, I have faith that his Faith will not influence the roll of the dice.

    -

    pay attention to the depth of meaning & history that a word possesses

    Two things. First, did it ever occur to you that it is possible that commenters(sic) understand what you mean and still disagree? Second, in the short time (relatively) that I have been commenting here, there have been quite a few commenters(sic) who have come in and started raging arguments by using their own definitions of words. if you are using a word and expect people to read one, and only one, definition into it, do not use the word, use the definition. It will reduce the chances that anyone will wonder about your use of language. It will not reduce the chance that anyone disagrees with your argument, but it will avoid the language issue (percieved(sic) or not).

    Two things:
    (1) The etymology of the word “faith” is from the Latin root fid-, as in fidus, “trustworthy”, and fidere, “trust”. The -th probably refers to “truth”. The secondary meaning relating to religious faith is due to the translation of a Greek cognate into Latin during the composition of the Vulgate Bible.
    (from the Shorter OED, another brain fart earlier when I suggested the compact OED, I always mix those two up.)

    (2) One general response has been unsupported naysaying, such as your initial comment. To paraphrase, “That’s not what that word means.” In fact, my usages are accurate as I have demonstrated. The other general response has been in attempts to personalize, insult & generate conflict. Neither actions have demonstrated any awareness of the ideas expressed in my post.

    And in honor of Rick Perry, dropout. . .

    (3) Yes it had occurred to me. And you still don’t seem to have a clue as to the basic idea I have presented as evidenced by your statement, “if you are using a word and expect people to read one, and only one, definition into it”. I expect people to understand that words have ranges/variations of meaning and should pay attention to the appropriate use from the context. My capitalization practice is to suggest that one pay attention to the context & usage. It is meant to illustrate the danger of mindlessly accepting the usual 3rd Grade meaning of a word.

  134. 134
    jaycubed

    No. I expect the audience here to be well read, hopefully have a few dictionaries (Every English speaker should have the OED Compact), pay attention to the depth of meaning & history that a word possesses, follow the general gist of an argument.

    Sorry. I thought you were making an Argument, so I took everything to mean the opposite of what you wrote.
    feralboy12

    Precisely.

  135. 135
    Rolan le Gargéac

    We Are Ing @24

    It’s still a bad message but a slightly less ballsy one

    For that comment you should be taken to the top of Big Ben and tossed off !

  136. 136
    jaycubed

    feralboy12 says:

    No. I expect the audience here to be well read, hopefully have a few dictionaries (Every English speaker should have the Shorter OED), pay attention to the depth of meaning & history that a word possesses, follow the general gist of an argument.

    Sorry. I thought you were making an Argument, so I took everything to mean the opposite of what you wrote.

    —-
    After further consideration I will have to retract the “precisely” and replace it with, “You’ve got the idea.” Perhaps a more accurate form, in this case, would be to use the Cain! technique.

    “Sorry. I thought you were making an argument!, so I took everything to mean the opposite of what you wrote.”

    And thanks for paying attention & having a functional sense of humor. Keep playing with dolls and staining your Chick Tracts.

  137. 137
    TimKO,,.,,

    @40
    Christopher Columbus himself sailed here to prove the world was round after being tried and convicted of heresy for suggesting it!!! ”

    WTF!!! Who told you that one? Washington Irving? Michener? Made it up?
    Sailors knew the Earth was round a millenia before Colombo.

    wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

    He was arrested and tried for his atrocities, poor governship, and contractual disputes. Not guilty.

    wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus#Governorship_and_arrest

    There’s plenty of absurdity to discuss concerning that subject while still having the facts straight. Columbus had a hard time with sponsorship simply becase it was a feat of incredible daring
    a)Profit-wise
    b)Endurance-wise; high death ratio on even a good trip
    c)Possibly no return winds; indeed, look up Horse Latitudes and Trade Winds history

  138. 138
    jaycubed

    Colombus, the Basque con-man, sold the Spanish Crown on one specific lie: that the Earth was much smaller than it was known to have been (since Eratosthenes). That lie, which Colombus appeared to believe, was what sold the Spanish to invest in his non-existent “short cut”.

    Even if the Americas weren’t in the way, it still would have been “shorter” to the Indies to sail East around Africa.

    p.s. Colombus had probably already sailed to the North American continent with one of the Basque fishing fleets that spent half the year fishing & drying their cod catch on the coast of Maritime Canada from prior to 1450. He knew there was land to the West.

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