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Apr 19 2014

Uh-oh. I could have warned them.

Some Lutheran churches in Sacramento started a program to lead their members through a close reading of the Bible — the whole Bible, not just the usual study guides.

You’re atheists. You’re already laughing, aren’t you? You know what a huge mistake that is — they were probably expecting an enlightening revelation of God’s Holy Word, but instead, the Bible is sordid work of cheesy pulp fiction.

It’s been an eye-opener: The violence—the sheer level of bloodshed in the Old Testament—has taken many of them by surprise.

“Your Sunday school teachers didn’t tell you about that,” associate pastor Leslie Welton said to a recent class of almost two dozen people.

“How many of you are shocked by the blood and gore and carnage?” asked Welton.

There were nods of agreement around the room: Page by page, chapter by chapter, class members are deeply shocked. With its betrayals, infidelities and lessons stubbornly unlearned, its epic levels of carnage and vengeance, this wild ride through the Old Testament is not the Bible they expected.

You might be thinking that if they’re this shocked, then perhaps they’re also realizing that the foundation of their faith is a piece of crap. Not so!

“For people looking to renew their spiritual lives, the No. 1 thing they should do is read Scripture,” said Jimmy Hurd, minister of Cordova Church of Christ, which launched its own Bible in 90 Days curriculum during the Lenten season. The Rancho Cordova church offers the program each year.

How, though, do they account for the fact that so many atheists know more about their religion, and that more people are abandoning it? They don’t, actually.

To the contrary, the proportion of people who think the Bible is just another book has doubled to about 20 percent in the past three years, the study showed. Two-thirds of the people most skeptical about the Bible are age 48 and younger, the generations most steeped in the solipsism of social media.

That opinion about solipsism is not a quote — it’s the inserted interpretation of the journalist, which I found interesting. She’s got a bit of a bias, doesn’t she?

I hope Facebook isn’t the key to destroying religion. It’d be replacing one evil for another.

53 comments

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  1. 1
    AJ Milne

    Generally, I’ve found it pretty easy to push the religious into solipsism. Point out them how bad is their evidence for their faith, and it’s them who go to ‘well, y’know, how do you know anything, really…’ That they’d rather go to arguing we might be living in the Matrix than have to face the nagging dearth of evidence for their position, well, no kidding. Can’t say I blame them. It’s probably the softer option.

    I’d point out also there are those among the religious who quite unashamedly acknowledge their religion is mostly just believing what you find convenient. ‘It’s a comfort’? ‘How could you stand to live in this (allegedly) cold universe without my (allegedly) warm, fuzzy god?’ Noted. So: it’s not really about the evidence. It’s about what makes you feel good.

    Speaking of, banging on the same drum I have again, I tend to think at least some of that ‘believe what works for you’ attitude comes, ultimately, from such defenses of religions. At the very least, religions sure as hell haven’t done much to discourage it. It just seems to me: you can’t have people repeat that kind of justification under pressure to justify the truly silly on a continual basis without it becoming tacitly understood: that’s a perfectly respectable way to think, a perfectly acceptable way to argue. That they now feel it’s come back to bite them on the ass, when people realize, geez, this solipsism sauce is as good for your theist goose as well as anyone’s gander, well, cry me a river. How ’bout some tears for the real problems that attitude fosters: complacency and pseduointellectual double dealing in the face of genuine world problems. Let’s pretend there are two sides to global warming, right up until the oceans swallow Manhattan, because hey, it suits my fossil-fuel-industry-heavy portfolio to believe that. And, apparently, that kind of ‘theoretically, anything could be wrong’ attitude is perfectly legit, and never mind where lies the balance of evidence.

    So, yeah. ‘The solipsism of social media’, my ass.

  2. 2
    ChristineRose

    Programs like this were fairly common in my mother’s day. There were tons of “Bible in a year” guides. She had pretty limited access to books (World War II era) and read the Bible an awful lot. When I was growing up there were even some liberal protestant churches teaching scholarly classes. I was taught that the book of Daniel was written right around the time the priests “discovered” it which is coincidentally the point where its prophecy score drops from 100% to 0. It’s always been fascinating to me that the “literalist” churches change the Bible the most, cutting and pasting unrelated passages to present a fluffy uncontradictory narrative about the topic of the week.

  3. 3
    Nemo

    Being Lutherans, they should follow up wit On the Jews and Their Lies.

  4. 4
    Holms

    This sort of course only reinforces the fuzzy, wuvableness of their pal, J. Christ. Against that backdrop of bloodshed and rape, anyone would look good; the reasonableness of the stuff JC preached is magnified by that juxtaposition.

  5. 5
    johnharshman

    The biggest deterrent to reading the bible, for me at least, is that it’s so boring and repetitive. The only way I made it through Genesis was by reading the R. Crumb edition. If only he would do the rest of the Pentateuch.

  6. 6
    cervantes

    it’s not just the gore and carnage. It’s the contradictions, the evident nonsense, the pointless filler, the repulsive personality of God. All you have to do to get over Christianity is read the Bible.

  7. 7
    Bronze Dog

    …The solipsism of social media?

    That oxymoronic absurdity makes me glad I wasn’t drinking anything, since it’s kind of hard to replace a laptop’s keyboard. I wonder if this journalist just uses the word because it’s a generic bad thing like “relativism” or “existentialism.”

    I’ll also corroborate AJ Milne’s observation. I’ve seen more than my share of fundies who retreat in the direction of solipsism when they feel epistemology bite them. There’s also the variety who question the validity of logic itself, which leads down an adjacent rabbit hole. Many newage woos follow a similar vein with a “no wrong answers” (unless they’re science-based) approach to the big questions. It’s pretty sad if your ideology requires you to abandon the axioms and reasoning that get most of us out of solipsism. They don’t even seem to realize that’s what they’re working to undermine. It’s especially noticeable with presuppositionalists. In hypothetical scenarios where they’re presented with contrary, concrete evidence, some go so far to say they would rather abandon their senses and treat the world as a satanic illusion or a godly test of faith than accept that they might be wrong. Welcome to Wonderland.

    Science works because it continually seeks external validation in the form of objective evidence. It mitigates subjectivity through collaboration between people from different backgrounds with different biases, and through adversarial approaches. If you publish the results of an experiment and a conclusion, someone who disagrees with you will be motivated to find any mistakes you might have made or even go so far as to replicate your experiment to see if he gets different results. Faith just arrogantly declares that it knows all the answers and devalues the concept of external testing. For that reason, I consider faith to be the ultimate act of hubris.

  8. 8
    Thorne

    I hope Facebook isn’t the key to destroying religion. It’d be replacing one evil for another.

    Yeah, but Facebook would be easier to destroy. An EMP set off in the vicinity of their servers should handle the job nicely. Just repeat ad nauseum as needed.

  9. 9
    David Chapman

    Professor Myers:

    That opinion about solipsism is not a quote — it’s the inserted interpretation of the journalist, which I found interesting. She’s got a bit of a bias, doesn’t she?

    Why you cynical intellectual liberal cynic you. How can you live with yourself saying such harsh and intolerant things?

    Journalist:

    Because that’s what the class is learning, too: The Old Testament also depicts a world in which God’s grace shines amid the violence; and in the New Testament chapters still to come, long after Sunday’s Easter celebration, redemption and resurrection await.

    …Apart from stuff like that, obviously. Sacramento B.S. would be a more apt title for this publication.

    I also like the way that the pastor deftly attempts to muffle and derange the spontaneous moral outrage of his flock:

    Pastor Welton:

    How many of you are shocked by the blood and gore and carnage?

    Ibid:

    But how many of you are shocked by how God intervenes?”

    Intervenes??? He like, you know, to a first approximation, does it. Like up to His elbows in the entrails. And when He doesn’t do it, He orders it to be done. As a divine mission.

    Slathered on top of that, the man of the cloth is intent on defusing and relativising the term ‘shocked.’ Which is fairly shocking….

    Incidentally, I was raised as a Catholic in Ireland, and contrary to what the Catholic priest says in this article about their approach, whereas they do indeed read out bits of the Bible during mass, in my experience it was almost never from the Old Testament, and when it was, it was never any of the nasty gorefest stuff. That subject matter was one of the Things That Were Never Talked About. If the practise is different in the States I’d be interested in hearing about it.

  10. 10
    sadunlap

    Some Lutheran churches in Sacramento started a program to lead their members through a close reading of the Bible — the whole Bible, not just the usual study guides.

    I recall a character from the original Car 54, Where are you? who did this signature schtick in which he looks at an oncoming disaster (usually one each episode) and reacts by standing frozen in place while making his signature “Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!” sound. This is what popped into my head when I read this.

    You’re atheists. You’re already laughing, aren’t you?

    But of course.

    @#4 Holmes

    This sort of course only reinforces the fuzzy, wuvableness of their pal, J. Christ. Against that backdrop of bloodshed and rape, anyone would look good; the reasonableness of the stuff JC preached is magnified by that juxtaposition.

    Many of the devout fail to “get” the contradiction, that a connection exists between the two Gods, one being, well, the same as the other. If JC is the warm fuzzy version of the same god and he “corrects” the message then that means their god is not perfect and screwed up the message on the first try. Yes? If you can get that point across then the whole construct will likely fall apart for them eventually. (Or so we hope).

  11. 11
    Georgia Sam

    That Sacramento Bee article is an amazing piece of propaganda: One brief mention of the rampant violence, no mention at all of the obvious falsehoods and self-contradictions, and almost 30 paragraphs of positive spin.

  12. 12
    bognor

    The Bible: God’s greatest gift to atheists.

  13. 13
    anteprepro

    Bonus crap from the article:

    “But how many of you are surprised by how God intervenes?” Welton said.

    Because that’s what the class is learning, too: The Old Testament also depicts a world in which God’s grace shines amid the violence

    “How many of you are surprised by how God is super duper magical in this fictional, hyper-gore-tastic fantasy world?”

    The focus of these programs is reading the Bible from cover to cover to grasp the broad sweep of the narrative, rather than drilling down on specific passages

    So instead of having to spin doctor a handful of verses, they now have to try to spin doctor the entire Bible? Do-able, but that’s some risky business!

    the programs tend to be concentrated primarily in conservative churches, said Winkle, among people who already are churchgoers guided by their faith.

    Oh. Never mind then. This isn’t actually reading for comprehension. It’s just a masturbatory “look how faithful I iz!” ritual.

    “These Bible-reading programs can be an opportunity for the Christian community to regain its story and identify with its story about God and the future and what God calls us to do. That’s the cultural reason behind these programs, being part of a bigger story than our own lives and our Facebook lives.”

    Yes, because what the Christian community really needs is More Story. Jesus fuck, how is it that “Read Your Own Fucking Holy Book That We Regularly Read Bits And Pieces From” is supposed to be such a big deal? Are people really going to church without having any idea “the story” in the fucking Bible? I mean, really?

    to read the Scripture as a way of encountering God,”

    Magic magic magic, the Bible is magic, read the Bible to get magic, magically, magic.

    “We say we follow Christ, but how do you follow anyone if you don’t know what they’ve said?” she said. “I’m passionate about getting people to read Scripture.”

    It’s a good point, but what the fuck is the church for again?

    “For me, it’s interesting reading it all together and hearing the thoughts of people who lived so long ago. A lot of us are having a hard time with things. When you think of Christian love – boy, that sure doesn’t fit in with a lot of passages.”

    I love how these people get so close, and then just walk in the opposite direction. Because any challenge to their “faith” is answered with just ignoring the challenge and strengthening the “faith”. There are exceptions. But it is really a depressing trend. The glorification of stubborn, willful ignorance.

    And it ends with an interesting contrast (emphasis mine)

    “We’re not asking people to believe any one thing….We’re reading for content and letting the text speak for itself . But reading the Bible makes us evaluate our humanity, too. Violence in the world isn’t new. Betrayal isn’t new. Lying and cheating aren’t new.

    But there is a remedy. There is forgiveness. God is faithful even when people are not .

  14. 14
    anteprepro

    And yeah, blaming youngsters’ lack of belief in teh Magic And Glory of Teh Bibble on “social media” is a complete and utter cop out.

  15. 15
    mhph

    I think, unexpectedly, the most annoying part of that article to me had nothing to do with the bible, or christianity at all:

    the generations most steeped in the solipsism of social media.

    Solipsism is not consistent with social media! The word social should probably be a good hint there.

    I mean, I get the desire on the part of the olds to believe that younger people are narcissistic and self absorbed, due to their being interested in interacting with other people their age,and lack of interest in boring old people. I’m pretty sure that predates all of known human history. But seriously, at least figure out how to say it in a way that doesn’t look immediately stupid.

  16. 16
    Zeno

    I was raised as a Catholic in Ireland, and contrary to what the Catholic priest says in this article about their approach, whereas they do indeed read out bits of the Bible during mass, in my experience it was almost never from the Old Testament, and when it was, it was never any of the nasty gorefest stuff. That subject matter was one of the Things That Were Never Talked About. If the practise is different in the States I’d be interested in hearing about it.

    Before Vatican II, the practice in the United States was to have two Bible readings featured at mass. The first was usually from the epistles and the second was always from one of the gospels. Hence it was heavily focused on the New Testament. A perusal of the old Roman lectionary (pre-Vatican II) shows that a few Old Testament books slipped into the church services (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Exodus, Sirach, Joel), but otherwise the Jewish Bible is mostly neglected. In perusing my ancient Roman missal, I see that Psalms slipped into other places in the mass fairly frequently, but that appears to be a special case.

    Current Church practice typically devotes a first reading to the Old Testament and a second reading to an epistle. The third reading is always from a gospel text. As a result, there is a lot more coverage of the OT in a modern Catholic mass than there was in the old Latin mass. Nevertheless, the really juicy, bloody bits continue to be neglected lest the congregation get grossed out.

  17. 17
    brianpansky

    In contrast to this gung-ho acceptance of the violence, just this morning I stumbled upon some article from last year that took a “no god isn’t like that, don’t take it literally” approach. Here is a real quote from it:

    In regard to any text, Rohr proposes: “If you see God operating at a lesser level than the best person you know, then the text is not authentic revelation.”

    Can anyone see how this could go wrong? Different people are going to have a different idea of what a “best” person is.

  18. 18
    grumpyoldfart

    You’re atheists. You’re already laughing, aren’t you? You know what a huge mistake that is

    I thought you were going to say that people started leaving the church. Silly me.

  19. 19
    Usernames are smart


    “We say we follow Christ, but how do you follow anyone if you don’t know what they’ve said?” she said. “I’m passionate about getting people to read Scripture.”

    It’s a good point, but what the fuck is the church for again?
    — anteprepro (#13)

    Churches are for the interpretation and spoon-feeding!

    Also, Protip for the OP: Reading a poorly-translated, multi-generational copy that has been accidentally as well as purposefully changed, added to and deleted from is not how to know what someone said.

    Also, Evis didn’t do no drugs.

  20. 20
    Bronze Dog

    ChristineRose @2:

    It’s always been fascinating to me that the “literalist” churches change the Bible the most, cutting and pasting unrelated passages to present a fluffy uncontradictory narrative about the topic of the week.

    I’m an ex-Christian, though of a liberal variety. I still get the occasional moment of “So this idea of X, common to large swathes of Christianity, isn’t in a relatively straightforward reading the text, just something that was shoehorned in to jibe with the political climate / centuries of moral progress / cultural identity of being not-Jews?” The first times were unsettling, but now the only surprises I’ll experience might be from the audacity. Naturally, many are popular with “literalists.”

    I think a lot of the fundies who actually know the Bible realize on some level how elaborate their interpretation process really is, but stop short of questioning what they’ve been taught. As a result, they instead end up claiming atheists who criticize are taking verses “out of context” because many of these extra-Biblical fanon ideas were invented to create a more favorable context to use for interpretation. (It doesn’t really work, of course.) They can’t point to any specific part of the Bible that justifies the acts described, so they retreat into the vagueness of the big picture. Of course, a lot of them don’t know the Bible, and only that it’s common to accuse people who quote something of taking it out of context. Not that they know any context that would justify the nonsense and atrocities, even though the accusation necessarily implies there is a context that meaningfully changes the interpretation.

    Some of the previous issues:

    1. Satan/Lucifer as an evil fallen angel who became a competing god who tempts people. As I understand it, he was originally god’s loyal troll, whose job was to test people’s faith. That whole civil war in heaven thing? Made up whole cloth. It boils down to wanting god to be good, so they had to invent an evil counterpart to explain the world’s misfortunes. Making Christianity into a de facto duotheism probably appeals to people more than a god who creates evil because shut up, he’s god and what he says goes, so deal with it.

    2. Just about everything about the apocalypse. I don’t normally hear from literalists who are remotely literal about Revelation. “Oh, that seven-headed dragon wearing ten crowns? It’s referring to China, which used to be seven different nations. They sometimes call China ‘the seven headed dragon,’ but I don’t stop to think that ‘they’ might call it that because they’re presuming China is the seven headed dragon from Revelation.” Add in a footnote for the Rapture.

    3. Elephant in the room: Jesus and the New Testament being an enormous kludge added on top of Judaism. They try to interpret foreshadowing in the Old Testament. They ignore the idea that anyone aware of the existing prophesies could then work to fabricate a messiah (intentionally or not), essentially making some of the prophecies self-fulfilling.

  21. 21
    grumpyoldfart

    In Leviticus 26 there is a list of threats starting at verse 14:

    - God will give you incurable diseases.
    - He will send you blind.
    - You will be so afraid you will run away when nobody is chasing you.
    - There will be droughts.
    - Wild animals will kill your children.

    I lasted until verse 29 when God says he will make you so hungry you will eat your own children.

    I later told a Christian that it was several years before I was able to force myself to read beyond that point.

    He asked “Why?”

    I thought, “You stupid bastard!”

  22. 22
    sueinnm

    MHPH #15:

    “I mean, I get the desire on the part of the olds . . . ”

    Cute. Racism, ableism and misogyny not okay, ageism is. Got it.

  23. 23
    mhph

    Yeah, nice try on that sort of cargo-cult victimization claim there, but no. Making fun of people who are actually sneering at younger people in the same predictable way that has happened through all of history is not in fact oppressing them. But don’t worry, liberals are still the real racists so at least there’s that.

  24. 24
    LykeX

    grumpyoldfart #18

    I thought you were going to say that people started leaving the church. Silly me.

    Remember, this is part of a church-organized bible study class. As soon as any parishioner shows signs of doubt or independent thought, the pastor will be right there with the official, sanctioned explanation. That’s why they do these readings as a group and not at home: It lets the priest keep a guiding hand on the throat of the flock.

  25. 25
    chigau (違う)

    mhph #15
    But seriously, at least figure out how to say it in a way that doesn’t look immediately stupid.
    Good advice.
    You should heed it.

  26. 26
    chigau (違う)

    mhph
    I’m pretty sure that predates all of known human history.
    …has happened through all of history…
    [citations needed]

  27. 27
    Inaji

    mhph:

    I mean, I get the desire on the part of the olds

    I rather doubt you have the slightest idea of what ‘the olds’ think, Herbert.

  28. 28
    mhph

    You really want a citation for the point that older people have been complaining about the youths of today and their lack of respect/moral fiber/etc. basically forever?

    I guess if you’ve never actually interacted with people that might be necessary, so here’s one. See especially pages 72 through 74, discussing particular complaints against the youths by Isocrates, Plato, Xenophon and others (not a complete quote, but two passages).

    Listen to Aristophanes,^ yearning for ” the good old
    style of education, in the days when Justice still prevailed
    over Rhetoric, and good morals were still in fashion.
    Then children were seen and not heard ; then the boys
    of each hamlet and ward walked in orderly procession
    along the roads on their way to the lyre-school, — no
    overcoats, though it snowed cats and dogs. Then,
    while they stood up square — no lounging — the master
    taught them a fine old patriotic song like * Pallas,
    city-sacker dread,’ ^ or * A cry that echoes afar,’ ^ set
    to a good old-fashioned tune. If any one tried any
    vulgar trills and twiddles and odes where the metre
    varies, such as Phrunis and Co. use nowadays, he got
    a tremendous thrashing for disrespect to the Muses.”
    While being taught by the paidotribes, too, they
    behaved modestly, and did not spend their time ogling
    their admirers. ” At meals children were not allowed
    to grab up the dainties or giggle or cross their feet.”
    ” This was the education which produced the heroes
    of Marathon. . . . This taught the boys to avoid the
    Agora, keep away from the Baths, be ashamed at what
    is disgraceful, be courteous to elders, honour their
    parents, and be an impersonation of Modesty — instead
    of running after ballet-girls. They passed their days
    in the gymnasia, keeping their bodies in good condition,
    not mouthing quibbles in the Agora.

    and

    The counts of the indictment are luxury, bad
    manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders,
    and a love for chatter in place of exercise. The old
    regime had strictly forbidden luxury. … Xenophon, blaming parents “in the rest of
    Hellas” {i.e. elsewhere than in Sparta), says : ” They
    make their boy’s feet soft by giving him shoes, and
    pamper his body with changes of clothes ; they also
    allow him as much food as his stomach can contain.” ^
    Children began to be the tyrants, not the slaves, of
    their households. They no longer rose from their
    seats when an elder entered the room ; they contra-
    dicted their parents, chattered before company, gobbled
    up the dainties at table, and committed various offences
    against Hellenic tastes, such as crossing their legs.
    They tyrannised over the paidagogoi and schoolmasters.
    Alkibiades even smacked a literature-master.

    So, yes, pretty obviously not a phenomenon that arose when facebook and tumblr became things. But please do feel free to explain how this isn’t actually a common thing, or how it doesn’t actually happen at all (and so saying it does is some sort of unacceptable bigotry), or whatever point it is that you were trying to hint at rhetorically instead of saying directly.

  29. 29
    Zeno

    LykeX: Remember, this is part of a church-organized bible study class.

    Yep. A key point. With the church leaders close at hand, shocked Bible-readers can be herded back onto the straight and narrow path that avoids the problem areas and papers over any problems with “God’s mysterious ways” and “Look at this nice stuff over here instead.” The authority figures will calm their concerns and make the unpalatable palatable—or at least ignorable.

  30. 30
    chigau (違う)

    Greece defines “human history”?

  31. 31
    David Chapman

    Slathered on top of that, the man of the cloth is intent on defusing and relativising the term ‘shocked.’

    Woman of the cloth, excuse me.

  32. 32
    mhph

    I’m sorry, but what exactly are you claiming or objecting to Chigau? You have yet to actually dispute anything I said. When you have quoted things you are objecting to you carefully elided the actual content of what I said. And now you’re switching to accusing me of, what, eurocentrism instead of ageism?

    So are you directly claiming that this is not a common phenomenon?

    Or are you saying that suggesting that it is is dramatic, strange and controversial enough that it is clearly bigotry directed against old people unless I can provide you with a citation for each and every civilization in all of human history, at every point in its development?

    What, precisely are you claiming here, and what are you demanding?

  33. 33
    Holms

    #13:

    The focus of these programs is reading the Bible from cover to cover to grasp the broad sweep of the narrative, rather than drilling down on specific passages

    So instead of having to spin doctor a handful of verses, they now have to try to spin doctor the entire Bible? Do-able, but that’s some risky business!

    Say rather, that this is a dodge / excuse from actually paying attention to how much of a fucking arsehole God really is. Think of it like looking at deadly bacteria under a microscope: if you zoom out and reduce the definition sufficiently, you no longer see the nasty stuff!

    #17:

    In contrast to this gung-ho acceptance of the violence, just this morning I stumbled upon some article from last year that took a “no god isn’t like that, don’t take it literally” approach. Here is a real quote from it:

    In regard to any text, Rohr proposes: “If you see God operating at a lesser level than the best person you know, then the text is not authentic revelation.”

    Can anyone see how this could go wrong? Different people are going to have a different idea of what a “best” person is.

    Not only that, but he is explicitly stating conditions that dismiss the Bible as divine revelation entirely. If bits of the Bible are less than perfect, then the Bible is less than perfect.

    #20:

    1. Satan/Lucifer as an evil fallen angel who became a competing god who tempts people. As I understand it, he was originally god’s loyal troll, whose job was to test people’s faith. That whole civil war in heaven thing? Made up whole cloth. It boils down to wanting god to be good, so they had to invent an evil counterpart to explain the world’s misfortunes. Making Christianity into a de facto duotheism probably appeals to people more than a god who creates evil because shut up, he’s god and what he says goes, so deal with it.

    You raise a point that has never even occurred to me before. When we consider historical pantheons such as the Nordic or Greek, we look at them as examples of polytheism regardless of the specific god or gods worshipped by a person. Hell, many of the Greek cities had a tradition of worship dedicated to one particular god, seen as the patron of that city, meaning many of the citizens were dedicated to only one of the many gods ascribed to their culture.

    Additionally, when we look at the arrangements of those gods and their relationships with one another and with people, we can fairly frequently categorise those gods as being on either the good or evil team. Loki would be a good example of an evil god, what with his aimed at instigating the battle to end the world, Ragnarok. He is counted among the polytheistic, despite being evil and despite having (probably) no worshippers.

    Musing on these two for the first time, it really seems to me that christianity is a polytheistic religion with one god (or three gods, for those denominations that regard the trinity as separate beings) that is beloved, and one that is reviled.

  34. 34
    Holms

    #32

    What, precisely are you claiming here, and what are you demanding?

    His objection, raised in post 26, stems entirely from your posts 23 and 15. You described the ‘disrespectful young whippersnappers’ trope as ‘predating / occurring throughout human history’.

    Your sin was to use an absolute phrasing, and he is picking that nit entirely because of your earlier true sin: in post 15, you termed the elderly as ‘olds’.

    That’s it. That’s the root of this silly pissing and moaning. You were dismissive in your description of those older than you, and thus tiny niggles that would otherwise be overlooked are now unpardonable.

  35. 35
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Living in a country without seperation of church and state, there are often “thoughts” by either a Lutheran or RCC priest pastor, whatever.
    I swear that’s the least sophisticated theology you’ll ever hear. they take anything and turn it into god and Jesus. They see/hear/read about somebody doing something nice: Jesus! The car breaks down and they meet an old friend while walking: Jesus! An old tree had to be felled: Jesus!

  36. 36
    twas brillig (stevem)

    And yeah, blaming youngsters’ lack of belief in teh Magic And Glory of Teh Bibble on “social media” is a complete and utter cop out.

    QFT! [read the highlighted words as a single stream] Notice the blaming of youngsters “lack of belief”, entirely on them being influenced by the “social media”; no acknowledgment that he “youngsters” might be deciding for themselves to NOT believe (in a magical being). It appears that those who believe must be told everything; are incapable of imagining other people using their brains to reason out the “mysteries” of the universe.
    .
    As I “evolved” into an atheist; my reading of the Bibble (as a horror story), made me think the horror stories were there to show just how evil “other people” would be to the “chosen people”, and God’s retribution had to be equally horrible to teach those bad-guys a lesson. That “evil” was man’s creation, a side-effect of the gift of “free will”; and people got so carried away with it, that He had to kill everybody; with just one family to float it out (i.e. Noah) saving all the animals too. It wasn’t that God made a mistake and had to start over; we made the mistakes and had to be killed, to make things better.
    … eventually, this just spiraled so deeply; I realized it was all just made-up stories (by many different people); that I dropped trying to make sense of it and just deemed it utter rubbish. S.T.O.R.I.E.S. like Aesop’s fables, etc. Maybe a useful morality lesson, here and there, but do.not.accept,it,literally, NOT history, not documentary.

  37. 37
    mildlymagnificent

    What I want to know is how they handle the Song of Solomon. It was a huge joke in our family when a modern English version of the bible came out. One of my mother’s aunts was now able to read the text without the obscuring veil of KJV English. She got to the Song of Solomon, was amazed, got furious, rushed outside, threw the book in the incinerator. And lit it up.

  38. 38
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Bronze Dog#20

    1. Satan/Lucifer as an evil fallen angel who became a competing god who tempts people. As I understand it, he was originally god’s loyal troll, whose job was to test people’s faith. That whole civil war in heaven thing? Made up whole cloth.

    Nah, that was borrowed from some neighboring myhologies, including Caananite and Zoroastrian.

  39. 39
    chigau (違う)

    Holms #34
    You don’t know me anywhere near as well as you think you do.
    I’ll be in the ‘dome.
    Later.

  40. 40
    David Marjanović

    It boils down to wanting god to be good, so they had to invent an evil counterpart to explain the world’s misfortunes. Making Christianity into a de facto duotheism probably appeals to people more than a god who creates evil because shut up, he’s god and what he says goes, so deal with it.

    That’s particularly funny in the context of Isaiah 45:5–7, which bombastically defends monotheism against all this.

    Greece defines “human history”?

    The oldest preserved lament like that is from ancient Egypt, a bit older than all the Greek examples. It ends in “the end of the world is nigh”.

    there are often “thoughts” by either a Lutheran or RCC priest pastor, whatever

    Do you mean “thoughts for the day” on the radio in the early morning?

  41. 41
    David Marjanović

    You don’t know me anywhere near as well as you think you do.

    If you don’t explain yourself, other people will try to explain you. That’s human nature.

  42. 42
    David Chapman

    16
    Zeno

    Current Church practice typically devotes a first reading to the Old Testament and a second reading to an epistle. The third reading is always from a gospel text. As a result, there is a lot more coverage of the OT in a modern Catholic mass than there was in the old Latin mass. Nevertheless, the really juicy, bloody bits continue to be neglected lest the congregation get grossed out.

    Well more to the point surely: lest the congregation see Christianity as the foul sanctification of amorality it is. I’m not being pedantic, I appreciate your informative reply, and I’m not trying to be unholier than thou. I dare say it’s a central issue with you as well. It just seems appropriate to say here that my relationship with my father — and my life, indeed — would have been very different if the Church had had the honesty to smack my family across the face with the truth of what lurks within the Bible.

  43. 43
    chigau (違う)

    That’s human nature.
    [citation needed]

  44. 44
    WhiteHatLurker

    #30. @chigau

    Greece defines “human history”?

    Pretty Much. Although there are a number of more recent laments on how kids today (or back then, depending on the time you want to view as “resent”) don’t respect their elders, are lazy, etc. that might also illustrate the point that @mhph is going for.

    And if you’re going to ask me to look those up for you, you’re also showing how you younger people really are too lazy and disrespectful, just like that @mhph punk.

    Not an Olds, but if I were, I wouldn’t mind being this one.

    I do like that line #12, @bognor, I’m going to use that.

  45. 45
    chigau (違う)

    I wish I could do telepathy.

  46. 46
    Holms

    So do I, but wishing for telepathy is about as productive as wishing for you to actually detail your thoughts beyond a single (dickish) sentence. If you disagree with my appraisal of your hissy fit but then offer zero clarification, then I’m afraid you have only yourself to blame for my inaccurate inference.

  47. 47
    mhph

    “I wish I could do telepathy.”
    [Citation needed]

  48. 48
    Zeno

    davidchapman: It just seems appropriate to say here that my relationship with my father — and my life, indeed — would have been very different if the Church had had the honesty to smack my family across the face with the truth of what lurks within the Bible.

    Yes, I daresay the same would be true for me. My sprawling family is still happy as clams to be ensconced in the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church while I have been absent from the pews for decades. (The only complaints I’m likely to hear are from my father, who doesn’t like “modernism,” sermons on social justice, and special-purpose second collections at mass.) Of course, a lot of this happiness comes from a serene ignorance of what the Bible contains. I became a troublemaker by reading too broadly—both within and without the scriptures—which everyone put up with when I was still considered the family’s most likely source of a vocation. Me, a priest! So funny to think of that all these years later, but at least no one holds out any hope of that anymore.

  49. 49
    Joey Maloney

    @PZ

    You might be thinking that if they’re this shocked, then perhaps they’re also realizing that the foundation of their faith is a piece of crap. Not so!

    How’s that old saw go? You can’t argue a person out of a position they weren’t argued into.

    Faith doesn’t depend on reading a book (obviously, since most of those people had never really read it before this). Faith is a prerational…and, I can’t find the right noun. It’s not a “decision” because it’s not rational. Trait? Orientation? Something.

    Anyway, the best you can hope for is these believers will come to a more mature understanding of Scripture as a collection of tales, cobbled together by a variety of authors from an oral tradition, each of whom had their own particular axes to grind. Even if there’s still supposedly “divine inspiration” lurking behind that in their worldview, I call it a win.

    Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.

  50. 50
    chigau (違う)

    Holms
    Since you’re new here, you may not know that gendered slurs are not acceptable.
    As is the use of the wrong pronoun to refer to other commenters.

  51. 51
    Holms

    You have yet to explain where my synopsis of your posts in this thread (post 34) went wrong.

    My criticism of you – that you need to elaborate on your posts beyond a single sentence if you want to avoid misunderstandings – remains, and is neatly demonstrated yet again when you tell me that I used an incorrect pronoun *somewhere* in this thread without pointing out which. Want people to know what you are talking about without the need of a) telepathy or b) potentially inaccurate inference? Then fucking say what you want to convery. Your habit of a single sentence, followed by tut-tutting when people don’t know the real you or whatever, is a tiresome game.

    Also, I am not new here, and I do not take back my characterisation of your posting in this thread being ‘dickish’.

  52. 52
    chigau (違う)

    You are insufficiently interesting.

  53. 53
    Holms

    Yes, typing is just *so* *difficult* that you can only unbend to do so with people that meet your personal, unspecified stadard. Cool.

    At least short posts need very little scrolling to ignore.

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