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Jul 12 2012

The most fluid art of Bible interpretation

It’s amazing how many rules Fundagelicals can dredge up out of a few Bible verses. This one organization has taken all of TWO verses from the book of Genesis to determine all kinds of stuff.

27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.

There it is, 3 whole sentences. And what do they mean?

They tell us why:

• Abortion and euthanasia are immoral.

• Marriage is between one man and one woman.

• Sexual promiscuity and homosexuality destroy individuals, families, and society.

• Overpopulation is a myth, and population control is dangerous.

• Earth stewardship, not radical environmentalism, is the path to the flourishing of humanity and all life on Earth.

• People are the greatest natural resource of all.

And best of all, these verses open the door to explaining to a lost generation how we can be restored to true image-bearing through salvation in Jesus Christ.

Also, Obamacare is bad.

Man, that Bible covers everything. I understand that there’s a sentence in Acts that condemns the Smoot-Hawley tariff act, Revelation has a very informative section on gene regulation by Hedgehog, and surprisingly, Job is all about increasing subsidies to the beef industry. You have to learn to read between the lines!

You better watch out, though. I got a fortune cookie — “A warm smile is testimony of a generous nature” — that contains a complete set of engineering instructions for a doomsday device, and the philosophical underpinnings for a new unscrupulous morality that will allow me to use it.

86 comments

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  1. 1
    Crissa

    I don’t get how they say manage to say environmentalism is evil, stewardship is awesome, let’s go spill some oil now and burn some rain forest…

  2. 2
    mcwaffle

    What you’re forgetting is that those passages only mean those things if you take them in the context of the Declaration of Independence. It’s a well known fact that The Founders hated “ObamaCare”. All you have to do is look at the texts, and then do some numerology with the number 1776, wave a flag and say a prayer, and it’ll all become clear.

    Urgh. Too many fascists. And I used to really, really think using that word was an overstatement.

  3. 3
    raven

    Marriage is between one man and one woman.

    All the Patriarchs in the OT had multiple wives and sex slaves.

    Solomon, the hero of the OT had 700 wives and 300 sex slaves.

    I don’t see that Genesis says what they claim at all. These guys routinely talked to and spent time with god, and he never said anything about their polygamy or sex slaves.

    The bible is just one giant Rorschach Inkblot and you can see anything you want in it.

  4. 4
    footface

    This is the kind of thing I’ve never understood. Let’s say god is real, and the bible is an accurate account of what he said and did. Okay.

    He made Adam and Eve. How does that mean that it’s wrong for two men to marry? He could easily have said, “two dudes shouldn’t marry,” but he didn’t.

    How does god approving of X mean that Y is bad, ungodly, abominable, etc.?

    You might as well say it’s sinful not to be made out of some guy’s rib.

  5. 5
    robb

    “So God created mankind in his own image”

    soooo…if men and women are both in god’s image, does that mean god is a hermaphrodite?

  6. 6
    psychodigger

    Perhaps a little off-topic, but since it was mentioned in the post, I’m going to ask anyway.

    I am but a mere Old European, but I do not understand why so many people in the US seem to think it is such a horrible idea that all citizens get access to affordable health care? I am not privy to all the details of the Obamacare legislation and I am sure there are flaws, as you would find in any complicated system, but I do not understand the resistance against even the mere idea behind it. How can that be a bad thing, especially in the minds of al the rabid christians in your country?

  7. 7
    Anthony K

    You highlight this stuff as if it were specific to religious people, PZ. It ain’t. Lemme give you an example: for instance, when I read:

    You better watch out, though. I got a fortune cookie — “A warm smile is testimony of a generous nature” — that contains a complete set of engineering instructions for a doomsday device, and the philosophical underpinnings for a new unscrupulous morality that will allow me to use it.

    I see:

    You better watch out, though. stupid pun/bad joke goes here I got a fortune cookie stupid pun/bad joke goes here — “A warm smile is testimony of a generous nature” stupid pun/bad joke goes here — that contains a complete set of engineering instructions for a doomsday device stupid pun/bad joke goes here, and the philosophical underpinnings for a new unscrupulous morality that will allow me to use it. stupid pun/bad joke goes here.

    For real examples, see every thread I’ve ever commented in.

  8. 8
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    How can that be a bad thing, especially in the minds of al the rabid christians in your country?

    Healthcare for all would (a) mean that the wealthiest would subsidize the poorest (and we all know that Jesus was totally against helping the poor, right?) and (b) would mean that for prophet health care companies would no longer be able to make obscene prophets on the backs of the middle class.

    Among certain sects of Christianity, the New Testament has come to be interpreted as strict Randian libertarianism — those with money will help the deserving poor bootstrap themselves up. Pernicious and downright evil philosophies, such as those equating poverty with disbelief, have made helping most poor families (those who are not white with a mom, a dad, and two children) a sin. After all, according to the Prosperity Gospel, anyone can become wealthy through belief in Jesus Christ, the Ultimate Capitalist!

    This has, for the last 150 to 200 years, been a boon to those who want to convince people that wealth, obscene wealth, malefic wealth, is a religious good. The Bible is so poorly written, transcribed, translated, mistranslated, bowdlerized, and edited that it can, and does, mean anything to anyone. Compare the Southern Baptist reading with the Unitarian reading of the Bible — are they even the same set of myths?

    As can be seen by PZed’s post, a few sentences can, in the hands of a dishonest or biased right wing asshat, be used to justify the destruction of the environment, the destruction of human rights, and the destruction of civilization.

  9. 9
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Heh.

    My Freudian slip is showing.

    “Prophet” should have been “profit”.

    Sorry.

  10. 10
    Glen Davidson

    See, and evolution just teaches us boring science, integrating data and explaining animal guts and things like that.

    It’s completely inferior to the creation story and the creative uses to which it can be put.

    Glen Davidson

  11. 11
    ChristineRose

    I am but a mere Old European, but I do not understand why so many people in the US seem to think it is such a horrible idea that all citizens get access to affordable health care? I am not privy to all the details of the Obamacare legislation and I am sure there are flaws, as you would find in any complicated system, but I do not understand the resistance against even the mere idea behind it. How can that be a bad thing, especially in the minds of al the rabid christians in your country?

    It’s a philosophical thing. People should not get something for nothing, as this leads to laziness, opportunities to cheat the system, people taking stuff they don’t really need or want, etc., etc. These represent moral failings, and encouraging moral failings will always be worse than meeting actual practical needs.

    Also, government should not interfere with religion because religion is always right and government is always wrong and there is a long tradition of religious groups providing health care (sometimes real, sometimes faith healing junk, sometimes real health care mixed in with “spiritual support,” whatever that means). A real single-payer government would be pressured to pay for Scientology and Christian Science and prayer meetings, which it would of course have to resist to keep the costs reasonable.

  12. 12
    hexidecima

    aw, more Chrsitians decideing that they and only they know what their god “really” meant. Always nice to see more OneTrueChristians running about making baseless claims. Pity that none of them will actual compete with another Christian who disagrees with them on seeing who their god will respond to.

  13. 13
    mythbri

    @Ogvorbis

    I thought you did that on purpose! :D

    For my part, my experience with religion in the U.S. has been this:

    God loves everyone. Except for those people.

  14. 14
    johnm55

    Theology and hermeneutics = Making up stuff about made up stuff

  15. 15
    thisisaturingtest

    To me, what defines “faith” is the voluntary relinquishment by a rational person of a certain amount of their rational, reasoning process. I don’t really have a problem with that; I don’t do it myself, but I won’t begrudge someone else their choice to do so, because rationality in humans is not, I don’t think, an indivisible, monolithic process. But this means faith is, by definition, the very opposite of reasoning. So, what baffles me in cases like this is the insistence on an attempt to use reason to reinforce faith- that seems to deny the faith by appealing to its opposite to define it. You either believe, or you don’t.

  16. 16
    Jamie

    How does god approving of X mean that Y is bad, ungodly, abominable, etc.? (footface #4)

    This type of logic would mean that everything in the modern world is abominable. The bible only mentions writing things down, so typing must be evil.

    Also WTF on claiming that stewardship of the earth is great and also doing things that harm the earth. These fundamentalists show absolutely no sign of caring for the planet.

    I don’t agree that God could have been a hermaphrodite. A hermaphrodite would be something separate from male and female. (If I have A, B, and AB, they would all be discrete entities. Even though AB may have mixed characteristics from AB, it makes it neither A nor B.)

    I’m not familiar with bible verses, but was this before or after Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden? I mean maybe after God got pissed, he no longer blessed humans or wanted them to be fruitful and multiply. How do we know those commands aren’t conditional on still living in paradise?

  17. 17
    kurt1

    “So God created mankind in his own image”

    soooo…if men and women are both in god’s image, does that mean god is a hermaphrodite?

    I think the emphasis there is on “man”, because womenkind are ribpeople, or something like that.

    “A warm smile is testimony of a generous nature”

    Cearly it means, that gay people are more generous.

    The abiguity of scripture always allows the “good” christians to dodge, when you point out the sheer cruelty of their holy book. A moral compass that leads you in all directions at once is quite useless.

  18. 18
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    Healthcare for all would (a) mean that the wealthiest would subsidize the poorest (and we all know that Jesus was totally against helping the poor, right?)

    See, Jesus was all about the poor people. According to Jesus, poor=good, rich=evil. So the US health system helps to decrease the amount of evil in the world by increasing poverty.

    Obamacare will lead to more people having more money; hence, it’s evil.(All of those filthy rich people are sacrificing themselves by keeping the wealth away from the rest of us. They are the true heroes.)

  19. 19
    robro

    Ah, yes, I see. Yet another literal translation of the Bible. Love it.

  20. 20
    Deen

    People are the greatest natural resource of all.

    Soylent green is people?

  21. 21
    Loqi

    It’s true. I read something about loving my neighbor in the NT and it taught me everything I know about object oriented programming. Full of useful knowledge, that bible. Provided, of course, you know how to read it.

  22. 22
    robro

    kurt1 — Woman from the rib comes in Genesis 2, the “other” creation story. In this one, Genesis 1, god creates “humanity,” although it’s usually translated as “man,” so men and women are created at the same time and are equal. I’ve read that Genesis 1 is the source of the Lilith myth in Jewish culture, Adam’s first wife. Because she’s an equal and won’t obey Adam, she’s a trouble maker. God makes Adam a new wife, Eve (HWWH), from his rib so she’ll be subservient to him. This is a fairly recent invention however (8th-10th CE). Liliths were demon deities in Mesopotamia.

  23. 23
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I would love to see a debate about the nature of god between a ninth century Byzantine Greek Orthodox and a twenty first century southern baptist form the US.

    Bound to be hilarious.

  24. 24
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    The Typo Monster gets an other offering.

  25. 25
    robro

    Ogvorbis:

    This has, for the last 150 to 200 years, been a boon to those who want to convince people that wealth, obscene wealth, malefic wealth, is a religious good.

    I think this perspective is a lot older than 150-200 years. Religion has always been used to rationalize power. The Christian notion that wealth and power are a blessing and god given a right for good people can be seen in the rise of the “divine right” aristocracy in Europe during the Middle Ages.

  26. 26
    shaggymaniac

    “Man, that Bible covers everything.”

    This is funny for at least two reasons. One, the obvious absurdity of it – and, yes, I know PZ was being facetious. Two, thinking that it’s in any way a surprising/ironic comment on fundamentalists; it’s part of the definition of fundamentalist, isn’t it?

    Don’t get me wrong about “two”, I’m not defending fundamentalism and I don’t buy “enlightened/sophisticated” interpretations of holy books, either. But, it did strike me as funny that it would be thought of as funny that fundamentalists think this way. Duh.

  27. 27
    markr1957

    And yet the fundies manage to ignore the fuck out of this bit:

    Genesis 6: 1-4 KJV Version

    1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
    2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
    3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
    4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

    Apparently if the Jesuses decided to rape (take as wives without asking them first) your daughters that’s all good – amirite? I am having difficulty parsing the first verse where only men are doing any multiplying though – surely this verse tells us that homosexuality is all good with teh lawd?

  28. 28
    Amphiox

    Earth stewardship and “radical” environmentalism are the same thing, really.

  29. 29
    Randomfactor

    Revelation has a very informative section on gene regulation by Hedgehog

    I often wonder whether we can get the GOP to oppose gene regulation in their platform. I’m sure they’d go for it in Texas…

  30. 30
    dianne

    if men and women are both in god’s image, does that mean god is a hermaphrodite?

    This seems to me to be pretty unquestionable, based on the text: “in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” That has to mean that God is both male and female since It created humanity in Its image, male and female.

  31. 31
    briandavis

    You better watch out, though. I got a fortune cookie — “A warm smile is testimony of a generous nature” — that contains a complete set of engineering instructions for a doomsday device, and the philosophical underpinnings for a new unscrupulous morality that will allow me to use it.

    That’s only true if you add “in bed” to the end of the fortune. “Hey baby, is that a doomsday device or are you just happy to see me?”

  32. 32
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Markr:

    I am having difficulty parsing the first verse where only men are doing any multiplying though – surely this verse tells us that homosexuality is all good with teh lawd?

    It’s time for Audley’s favorite bible passage (followed closely by the bit about Xmas trees)!

    1 Samuel 1-4

    1 And it came to pass,when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul,that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David,and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

    2 And Saul took him that day,and would let him go no more home to his father’s house.

    3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant,because he loved him as his own soul.

    4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him,and gave it to David,and his garments,even to his sword,and to his bow,and to his girdle.

    So, if Genesis isn’t making a case for teh gheys, 1 Samuel certainly is!

  33. 33
    truthspeaker

    @psychodigger:

    As others have articulated, the idea is that if the government gives people something for free, it encourages laziness. People will not be motivated to work for a living and will instead live off handouts subsidized by the hardworking taxpayers. And if you say you intend to raise taxes on people who are as wealthy as Mitt Romney, what they hear is that you intend to raise their taxes.

    I saw this in action recently on a friend’s Facebook page. I didn’t comment because the guy being an idiot was her husband. (What I wanted to say: “Congratulations, guys! I had no idea your organism farm was so successful! I’m glad to hear you’re as wealthy as Mitt Romney!”)

    And since you’re a European, I advise vigilance. There are politicians over there who seem dead-set on emulating the policies of American conservatives. You may think your national health systems are sacrosanct, but that’s what we used to think about our Social Security.

    And a global financial crisis provides politicians the perfect excuse to cut or eliminate spending on social welfare. I mean, no matter how noble the goal, if you don’t have the money, you can’t pay for it, right? What do you mean the only reason we don’t have the money is because of long-term financial mismanagement? What are you, a terrorist? Taste the tear gas.

  34. 34
    truthspeaker

    ^organic farm

  35. 35
    steve oberski

    @robb

    soooo…if men and women are both in god’s image, does that mean god is a hermaphrodite?

    Yes, so if you tell xtians that their god can go fuck him/her self you are just being biblically accurate.

  36. 36
    dianne

    your organism farm

    Corrected by the author to “organic”, but so many other possibilities…orgasmic farm? organ farm? origami farm?

  37. 37
    'Tis Himself

    I don’t need a Biblical verse to condemn the Smoot-Hawley Act. I’ve got other, more pragmatic reasons to be against tariff protectionism.

  38. 38
    Rich Woods

    @ChristineRose #11:

    A real single-payer government would be pressured to pay for Scientology and Christian Science and prayer meetings, which it would of course have to resist to keep the costs reasonable.

    And resist, of course, to keep people alive.

  39. 39
    ChasCPeterson

    soooo…if men and women are both in god’s image, does that mean god is a hermaphrodite?

    It doesn;t say the exact image. Maybe it’s like more of an impressionistic image. I think the only thing that can be reasonably concluded is that god is some kind of a tetrapod, probably bipedal.

  40. 40
    Rich Woods

    @Janine #23:

    I would love to see a debate about the nature of god between a ninth century Byzantine Greek Orthodox and a twenty first century southern baptist form the US.

    Bound to be hilarious.

    As long as the Baptist wasn’t allowed his/her AR-15 and had to use a Golden Age axe or sword like the Byzantine’s, I would agree.

  41. 41
    kevinalexander

    I am but a mere Old European, but I do not understand why so many people in the US seem to think it is such a horrible idea that all citizens get access to affordable health care?

    It should also be mentioned that the people who pay the most taxes have an average skin colour that is different than the average skin colour of those who would benefit most from decent heath care.

    I remember when Reagan told Welfare Queen stories. He never mentioned the colour of the fictitious person he had in mind but none of his base got it wrong.

    The dog whistles these days are much more refined.

  42. 42
    Rich Woods

    @truthspeaker #33:

    And since you’re a European, I advise vigilance. There are politicians over there who seem dead-set on emulating the policies of American conservatives. You may think your national health systems are sacrosanct, but that’s what we used to think about our Social Security.

    Your advice is of course appreciated, but many of us are well aware of just how fragile our health services have become. Only today Richard Branson was announced as being the most likely provider of children’s social care services across an entire county. This is all set to be the PFI disaster revisited: taxpayers will pay through the nose for disastrously managed schemes, with money being siphoned into private profit via tax havens. You know, a bit like the banks.

    And I won’t even get started about Branson’s fucking trains, and the game he’s played over the West Coast Main Line…

  43. 43
    Rich Woods

    disaster / disastrously

    Sorry, I normally manage to write a little better than that.

    *takes deep breaths*

    *calms down*

    *(mostly)*

  44. 44
    cleothemuse

    It’s true. I read something about loving my neighbor in the NT and it taught me everything I know about object oriented programming. Full of useful knowledge, that bible. Provided, of course, you know how to read it.

    Ya gotta admit, not only does the NT teach object-oriented programming, but the whole darn thing teaches recursion. LOTS of circular arguments…

  45. 45
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    robb:

    “So God created mankind in his own image”

    soooo…if men and women are both in god’s image, does that mean god is a hermaphrodite?

    Or maybe, if we take this verse literally (as Bible fundamentalists are so fond of doing), then we must infer that God is like humanity,* i.e. diverse and multiple.

    So, pagans must be on to something! ;-)

  46. 46
    joed

    This really nothing to make lite of.
    If someone wants to google “dominionist” or “dominionism” and read a bit, then the dire situation of the american people can be seen.
    the dominions run foreign policy and set public policy too.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominionism
    http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/TheDespoilingOfAmerica.htm

    Dominionism is a natural if unintended extension of Social Darwinism and is frequently called “Christian Reconstructionism.” Its doctrines are shocking to ordinary Christian believers and to most Americans. Journalist Frederick Clarkson, who has written extensively on the subject, warned in 1994 that Dominionism “seeks to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern by imposing their interpretation of ‘Biblical Law.’” He described the ulterior motive of Dominionism is to eliminate “…labor unions, civil rights laws, and public schools.” Clarkson then describes the creation of new classes of citizens:

    “Women would be generally relegated to hearth and home. Insufficiently Christian men would be denied citizenship, perhaps executed. So severe is this theocracy that it would extend capital punishment [to] blasphemy, heresy, adultery, and homosexuality.”[10]

    Today, Dominionists hide their agenda and have resorted to stealth; one investigator who has engaged in internet exchanges with people who identify themselves as religious conservatives said, “They cut and run if I mention the word ‘Dominionism.’”[11] Joan Bokaer, the Director of Theocracy Watch, a project of the Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy at Cornell University wrote, “In March 1986, I was on a speaking tour in Iowa and received a copy of the following memo [Pat] Robertson had distributed to the Iowa Republican County Caucus titled, “How to Participate in a Political Party.”

  47. 47
    sumdum

    Man, I guess the church my parents used to go to was actually pretty progressive. They explained the stewardship thing as taking care of, not raping the fuck out of, earth. Like when someone gives you something for your birthday, they’d be a bit sad too if you trashed it casually and recklessly.

  48. 48
    cleothemuse

    They explained the stewardship thing as taking care of, not raping the fuck out of, earth.

    In my old Catholic church, the only acceptable definition of the word “stewardship” was “give us your money ’til it hurts, then give some more”. And then all the money would be sent off to the archdiocese for them to horde, and my poor little country church would still be holding bake sales to keep the school open (which the archdiocese has since ordered closed).

  49. 49
    cleothemuse

    HOARD, not horde… ugh. This typoitis thing is contagious.

  50. 50
    chigau (違う)

    Most English language bibles use “dominion over” or “rule over” not stewardship.

  51. 51
    Anthony K

    I think the only thing that can be reasonably concluded is that god is some kind of a tetrapod, probably bipedal.

    With a deviated septum, fantastic hair, and a palm-sized collection of Becker’s nevi over his left shoulderblade.

  52. 52
    joed

    Dominionism is real and sets u s foreign policy and u s public policy. it is destroying public schools and labor unions these days.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominionism

  53. 53
    paleotrent

    Growing up in the Deep South in the seventies, I remember other kids at my school telling me that such-and-such verse in the Book of Revelation was referring to the Russians and/or communism. !!!!!Scary!!!!! I’m sure the fundies have since digitized those documents, and subsequently search-and-replaced “communism” with “Islamofascism”, and “Russia” with “Iran” or “the Axis of Evil”.

  54. 54
    Cal

    @ #8

    Ogvorbis, I think that is an excellent summary, but in reality I never hear that argument being made, what I see is that a black man (possibly a Kenyen terrorist) told us we have to do something we don;t really understand so we will fight against it.

    You never hear them complain about the evil health care given the people of Massachusetts.. Of course that was a rich, white man so therefore it was clearly good.

  55. 55
    Ingdigo Jump

    This seems to me to be pretty unquestionable, based on the text: “in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” That has to mean that God is both male and female since It created humanity in Its image, male and female.

    Just pointing out that this makes a lot more sense if the story was actually from an earlier polytheistic tradition. See also the rest of Genesis where God talks to himself “We must kick out adam and Eve least they become like us” and all that.

  56. 56
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Cleo #48 –

    Oh, no. I think that the Catholic church has been horde-ing around the world for hundreds of years now, often leaving a trail of destruction not too dissimilar from that of the Mongol hordes.

    @sumdum:

    The first word of your comment was “Man…” and I read your name as “Sum Dum Man”. Clearly my gynocratic misandry is showing.

    ………..
    So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

    Although I haven’t researched primary sources enough to know how true this is, Rabbis I have known explain this passage and the existence of the second creation story as a tension in early Judaism between those who wanted and argued for gender equality – men and women as equally created by and in the image of god – and those who wanted and argued for patriarchy, with women a mere auxiliary and helpmate to men.

    In other words, the evil feminists wrote that Bible passage. And the evil forces of patriarchy wrote the other human-creation-passage. Each just happened to have exactly what they wanted dictated to them literally and without error by god. Even though the passage’s natures are entirely contradictory and mutually incompatible.

    It’s a miracle! The Bible **must** be the inerrant word of god!

    ………
    there was some other thing I was also gonna say, but now I’ve forgotten and can only spend so much time away from packing and selling things on craislist, etc. So, in the interest of getting me out of the US, please assume that this last paragraph contains something insightful, witty, and relevant.

  57. 57
    Ingdigo Jump

    Although I haven’t researched primary sources enough to know how true this is, Rabbis I have known explain this passage and the existence of the second creation story as a tension in early Judaism between those who wanted and argued for gender equality – men and women as equally created by and in the image of god – and those who wanted and argued for patriarchy, with women a mere auxiliary and helpmate to men.

    In other words, the evil feminists wrote that Bible passage. And the evil forces of patriarchy wrote the other human-creation-passage. Each just happened to have exactly what they wanted dictated to them literally and without error by god. Even though the passage’s natures are entirely contradictory and mutually incompatible.

    Well the Catholic scholar info on it is that Genesis 1 is from a different tradition and actually was originally a religious song, which is why it has a sort of refrain and everything. Genesis 2 is a repurposed myth originating from polytheism.

    The other reading I’ve heard is that Genesis 1 is about the Earth in general and Genesis 2 is actually about the tribe of people that would become the Chosen People. Probably a post hoc rationalization, but it fits continuity better given that the story of Cain references other cities and inhabitants.

  58. 58
    chigau (違う)

    Brava, Crip Dyke!
    That last paragraph was pure genius!

  59. 59
    Ingdigo Jump

    Also should probably point out that even in the early days of Christianity, people were pointing out contradictions and arguing that the bible is a work of sacred traditions and inspirations of their ancestors, not a literal historical account.

  60. 60
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    How can that be a bad thing, especially in the minds of al the rabid christians in your country?

    Because 1) it potentially helps actual people, not corporation-pretend-people and vampirillionaires, and 2) a “NAY-GRUH” was in the White House when it was passed.

  61. 61
    joed

    “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” or “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness”
    Isaac Asimov’s book titled “In The Begining” tells about the difficulity of intertwining 2 very different myths into one story.
    anyway, I am not sure which is the better myth, the, “let us…” or “God created…”
    Huge difference between the “J” and the “P” documents.

  62. 62
    kagekiri

    They forget that Genesis and the creation account is filled with staggering amounts of incest.

    Not one, but two massive genetic inbreeding bottlenecks: first Adam and Eve with tons of sister on brother action, then Noah and his wife, with first cousins composing the third breeding generation.

    Abortion wise, they also forget God commanding the killing of pregnant women and children who weren’t rapable virgins, or the story of David and Bathsheba, where the child dies for its parent’s sins AFTER birth, or Numbers 5, where God describes a potion used to force abortion on adulterous wives.

    Abortion was literally a priestly duty and commanded by God himself, not to mention the many times he kills babies in the Bible even up to the New Testament (note how Joseph and Mary don’t warn anyone else, so all babies Jesus’ age die when Herod swoops in? What utter assholes).

  63. 63
    joed

    @61 kagekiri
    calm down, it’s just pretend. the bible is a shitty book all around. not real history.

  64. 64
    joed

    @56 Ing: Gerund of Death
    check out Isaac Asimov’s book, “In The Begining”
    He tells about the “J” and “P” documents. They are about 4oo years apart and the bible today is an attempt to make both myths seem like one story.

  65. 65
    kayden

    I’m afraid to even read the link to this post. Those people sound CRAZY.

    Thank God we don’t live in a theocracy.

    Yet.

  66. 66
    aprilcomeshewill

    Someone needs to show these people Twitter. Think of all the meaning they’ll discover in 140 characters!

  67. 67
    gregpeterson

    If there’s something that biblical literalist Jews and Christians might have picked up from the early chapters of Genesis as “created normative,” it’s veganism, yet my ex-wife’s fundy family constantly berates my daughter for her veganism.

    What’s a Peaceable Kingdom without bacon?

  68. 68
    feralboy12

    And the post title here is strangely apropos, since so many of the rules laid out in the Bible concern fluids and how to cleanse oneself of them.

  69. 69
    chigau (違う)

    Our bodily fluids are preciousssss.

  70. 70
    kagekiri

    @62 joed:

    I’ll calm down once I stop having to live with people who believe this shit, but unfortunately, most of my family and extended family do.

    As such, I’m keeping my Bible knowledge sharp so I can deflect their attacks on gay rights or abortion rights in a way that works against their “the Bible is the only true morality code” defenses. It’s literary judo, using their stupid Biblical literalism against them.

  71. 71
    robro

    From what I’ve read, the Genesis creation stories are two separate myths that were merged together, possibly before the book was committed to writing. If I remember correctly they use different words for the name of god: Elokiam, which could be “gods,” and Yah or Yahweh, a particular mountain/storm/war Canaanite deity. It’s not clear if these were thought to be one and the same deities at the origin of the stories, although that seems unlikely.

    These two names are thought to identified with the two main sources of the Genesis myths, although a couple of others have been identified through similar lexical analysis. These stories are interwoven throughout the book which explains the parallel stories found in it, such as the two stories of Noah’s flood.

    Their inclusion in Genesis represents the evolution of the religious practices of the people of the Levant over a couple of millennia and eventually converged into something similar to Judaism by the 7th century BCE or so when these books were perhaps first compiled. These stories have antecedents and parallels in other stories found throughout Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Egypt as discovered in various ancient libraries in the last 100 years.

  72. 72
    ChristineRose

    @thisisaturingtest

    So, what baffles me in cases like this is the insistence on an attempt to use reason to reinforce faith- that seems to deny the faith by appealing to its opposite to define it. You either believe, or you don’t.

    What has always fascinated me about the process is that they come to a moral position which transcends the Bible–abortion is wrong–and then hunt up Bible verses to justify it. Actually the Bible’s position on abortion is that the fetus is the father’s property and should be treated as such. (Check out Numbers 5 for the abortion ritual where unfaithful women get forced abortions.)

    Their moral sense actually exists outside of their religious beliefs, and is actually considerably more developed than the moral sense of their holy book. Then they claim the book is infallible and contains every answer even while they are proving that it’s not.

  73. 73
    Nemo

    This is a good example of why I often think of fundie Christianity as a fertility cult (rather than a “death cult”).

    I wonder, when he says “Overpopulation is a myth,” whether he means “The Earth is not yet overpopulated,” or “The Earth can never become overpopulated.” I suspect the latter.

  74. 74
    echidna

    joed,
    telling people to calm down on the internet because they are not reflecting your priorities is really quite arrogant and dismissive behaviour.

  75. 75
    w00dview

    @ Amphiox

    Earth stewardship and “radical” environmentalism are the same thing, really.

    This. If I were to come across someone spouting such drivel I would ask two things:

    1) Define exactly what you mean from Stewardship and how it differs from “radical environmentalism”.
    2) What, according to you is a moderate or acceptable level of environmentalism.

    I really would like to know the answer to the latter question as radical environmentalism seems to be code for “anything which even slightly mentions the harmful effects certain human activities can cause to the environment”.

  76. 76
    truthspeaker

    @ Rich Woods #42:

    Sorry, I didn’t mean that to come out so condescending.

    And my analysis of American attitudes toward single-payer healthcare and other social welfare policies completely neglected the role or racism in American attitudes about poverty. That was a huge lapse on my part. Racism is one of the most important pieces in the puzzle. I’m glad other commenters expounded on it.

  77. 77
    nanahuatzin

    “he created them; male and female he created them.”"

    So Adam was created male and female,

    In the genesis, it was much later that yaveh created Eve…

    So it was hear Adam was hermaphidite capable of reproduce himself, just as yaveh ordered him…

  78. 78
    A. R

    [A. R walks in wearing a black suit and carrying a briefcase]

    I’ll take that fortune cookie now Professor Myers.

  79. 79
    JCfromNC

    I got a fortune cookie that apparently has me marked as some sort of (possibly weather) god.

    I took a photo of it, which is more evidence than most of the bibble has going for it:

    link

    For those who don’t want to click, it read: “This is really a lovely day. Congratulations!” The congratulations to my mind implies I’m somehow responsible for the lovely day, ergo, I’m a god.

  80. 80
    hypatiasdaughter

    #72 Nemo
    The RCC’s take on “overpopulation” is that the world will always supply the wants of all who are born into it if the rest of us would fairly share with them. i.e. we eat too well while many others starve because we are eating their share. That is why charity is a xtian obligation.
    It’s kind of putting your head in the sand that there is no reason we won’t breed until we are all living on a handful of rice – but maybe Jesus will come back and end it all by then…..

  81. 81
    Stacey C.

    I just love how everyone always remembers the Smoot-Hawley tariff. I for one prefer the Teapot Dome scandal as an obscure reference to economic history (it even has environmentalism thrown in!).

  82. 82
    eclipsse, boojuming again

    Decided to stop lurking and actually comment!

    I had a research supervisor who felt that the best way of understanding the purpose of the bible and other religious works (if you felt they had a purpose) was to consider them as dramatised public health manuals, in the main – you know, no pork (parasitic diseases), sleeping with virgins (diseases) etc etc.
    Sadly I cant remember most of his examples, but I like the rationalisation…

  83. 83
    gravityisjustatheory

    81:

    I expect some of the Bible was written for that purpose.

    Throw in some poetry, case law, philosophy, storytelling, justifications for why you should obey the rulers, geneology, propaganda, Saying That Must Be Wise Because Someone Important Said Them, justification for why you shouldn’t obey other rulers, history, etc, and then marinate with a generous dose of “we’ve always thought/done this, so it must be valid”, and you will probably have the true purpose.

  84. 84
    Kagehi

    I am not privy to all the details of the Obamacare legislation and I am sure there are flaws, as you would find in any complicated system, but I do not understand the resistance against even the mere idea behind it. How can that be a bad thing, especially in the minds of al the rabid christians in your country?

    Depends on which fundie you talk to, but one of them is, “Its socialist and communist, and only Jesus is allowed to be those things, since he also, somehow, in some unexplained way, supports capitalism.” Mind, I think the “way” he supported it had something to do with, “Give all your money to the rich people, and live in rags, on fish and bread.”, or some similar BS, so…

  85. 85
    CJO

    I had a research supervisor who felt that the best way of understanding the purpose of the bible and other religious works (if you felt they had a purpose) was to consider them as dramatised public health manuals, in the main – you know, no pork (parasitic diseases), sleeping with virgins (diseases) etc etc.

    There is not a shred of evidence that such rationalist concerns were motivating factors, however they may appeal to modern rationalists. The rabbinical literature, in all its exhaustive commentary on Torah, never once makes an appeal to health issues as a rationale for the dietary laws. The simple fact is the otherwise obscure strictures in the law-codes of the ancient Israelites were in-group identifiers. They differentiated the Chosen People from their neighbors and when they were adhered to as customs they contributed to insularity, endogamy, and group cohesion.

  86. 86
    Circe

    Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.

    I don’t know, but to me the last part sounds eerily like the parting words of an alien colonizer from another planet to her Earth agents before she departs from the scene with a suitably evil laugh.

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