Further note: it contains plenty of f-bombs and even a c-bomb.
I once got a message from someone who wanted to take me to task for having continually cherry-picked the bible, seeking out all of its ugly bits. “After all,” he (she?) said, and I quote, “you have to admit that the vast majority of the contents of the Bible is of love, forgiveness and justice”...
Well. Here is an expanded version of my response. Consider it an open letter. And buckle in: it’s around 2000 words in length. (Not everything I post here will be!!)
I couldn’t agree less.
The old testament, which is about 7/8 of the bible, is, by modern standards of ethics, horrendous. Its ethical precepts would be out of place in any but the most backwards, cruel, and barbaric of societies. By today’s legal and ethical standards, many, if not quantitatively most, of its heroes are war criminals that give any of the 20th century’s mass murderers a run for their money. It’s absolutely not about love and forgiveness, but retribution, anger, jealousy, and violent military conquest. Really, if you were judging the bible, without bias, on the balance of nice stuff to awful stuff, you could not come to any conclusion other than that it was a ghastly book filled with absolute horror.
I just don’t see how apologists and defenders of the bible so casually brush off some of the awfulness that this book contains in its descriptions of people’s and its god’s actions.
Really?; the god Yahweh striking thousands of babies dead for the sins of a nation’s king? How did the mothers of these babies feel, waking up to find a cold lifeless corpse in the cradle, as ‘payback’ for some King’s iniquities that neither they nor their dead child had had anything to do with? That’s astonishingly awful, and I don’t only think that because I’ve got an infant son of my own. I just don’t get how anyone could have a “fair enough” attitude to that. “Fair enough, I suppose. I love the character that did that.”
Or drowning the entire world in a slow miserable death? This is no trivial affair, despite the happy-clappy songs we sang about it as kids in Sunday School. It is absolutely gut-wrenchingly awful. Have you seen the footage of the Japanese tsunami of 2011? Well, consider that the deluge in the Noah story was orders of magnitude more destructive, and deliberately dealt out, as punishment for moral ‘corruption’?
For moral corruption? That’s like tying someone down and kicking their teeth out as punishment for their having been violent! Where on Earth does that get anyone? This is the example set by the supreme moral authority of the universe? Give me a fucking break. Your average seven-year-old kid knows that that’s not the way to go.
Or how about when the Lord of Love asks David to choose between two or three horrible afflictions that He insists must be visited upon Israel? What sick shit is this? Imagine someone has tied up a loved one of yours, and you have to choose whether he kills her with a chainsaw, a scalpel, or a power-drill? Well, David had to choose between his nation dying from famine, certain defeat in war, or a decimating pestilence. He was apparently made to choose one. If you wanted to paint a picture of an unimaginably sick sadistic asshole, gloating over his ability to cause unbearable suffering both mentally and physically, you could do no better than to describe Yahweh’s role in this episode.
And others like it. Yet it gets passed off as “holy”. People will tell me that it’s a representation of divine “justice”. I can’t really help but feel that I need to speak up in response to the way it gets brushed aside as not really relevant to or indicative of anything important when it comes to reflecting upon the character of this god. I also feel compelled to respond to the insult to my intelligence that’s inherent in anyone’s attempt to have me fall for the whole “justice” line.
Of course, I think it’s fiction, so it would be crazy for me to be angry at Yahweh, who doesn’t really exist any more than Zeus, or Minerva, or Thoth. I do, however, find it worthwhile seeking out and pointing out these kinds of things in the bible, because I believe that the appalling morality of this book has been, and is, clouding the issues of ethics and morality in our society and world, up to today.
It certainly clouds the better judgment of individuals. I see it often. As an atheist, I can utterly, utterly condemn the practice of throwing rocks at people until they die of the injuries caused. Same goes for the punishment of burning living people to death for ‘crimes’ involving consensual sex. Even if you support a death penalty, and even if you thought the ‘crimes’ were worthy of it, would ANY civilized society choose stoning or burning over, say, the electric chair or a lethal injection? Seriously? Rocks? We consider modern methods of execution ‘humane’ for good reason, given the alternatives presented and mandated by the apparent God of Love for his beloved creatures. Had Yahweh not heard of hanging, which is relatively quick in most cases? Did they not have rope? Did it absolutely have to be stoning?
Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but generally speaking, a Christian believer, who believes that stoning and burning alive were once the favored punishments of all-loving, all-holy Yahweh, is to some extent compelled to defend those methods of execution as being less than obscene violations of justice, ethics, or morality. They have to defend them, or else, as they know, they’re in danger of admitting that their god, as presented in scripture, utterly violates their own most deeply-seated moral ideals in the most outrageous way. They are forced, like an abused wife, to not speak their truth, and instead defend the character whose character and actions they find so abhorrent, and figure that any different opinion they have to their oppressor must be indicative of some short-coming on their own part.
I’ve tried the experiment often, asking believers on Youtube whether or not stoning someone is as bad as, say, committing adultery or stealing. Obfuscations abound. It’s astonishing, and I’m repeatedly amazed that such a thing could even come under question. The usual stoopid comeback of “Well you’re an atheist, so you don’t have any basis for your morality” only tells me that my question has hit pay-dirt.
What good is a basis of morality when it can’t guide you towards differentiating between the ‘evil’ of consensual sex outside of marriage, and that of roasting a fellow human being to death with fire?
How can we have a sensible discussion in society about ethics and justice while this obfuscation is given a seat at the discussion?; much less the privileged status it gets due to it being couched in bullsh—— <I mean> religious mythology.
If you obfuscate this way, what help are you to the women in the Islamic world who are, in this day and age, being stoned to death? You defend the punishment they’re experiencing as “holy”, give or take, depending on “context”. Non-believers don’t have to dance around the issue: it’s fucking barbaric in any context. You know it, but you just won’t say it because of your religion.
Believer: listen to the voice of reason and fairness deep within you, heed it, and COME OUT AND SAY IT: Speak your truth: there isn’t ANY CONTEXT, NO CONTEXT WHATSOEVER, that justifies pelting a woman with rocks until she dies as a result of the injuries she sustains. NONE. IN ANY FUCKING CONTEXT. SAY IT. Any occasion of this at any time in human history, is a case of something inexcusably cruel being carried out. It really isn’t rocket science. The fact that stonings and burnings have been carried out, ever, is a testament to the human tendency towards psychopathy: not a testament to their being a supreme being who bestows upon us a perfect moral compass to follow and aspire to. That happens to mandate stonings and burnings IN ANY CONTEXT.
“God is perfect love and perfect justice and perfect forgiveness, way beyond anything that a mere human could come up with, but yes, in the past, He just liked to see non-virgin brides murdered on their fathers’ doorsteps by mobs of angry men pelting her with rocks until her skull was smashed in or she died of massive internal bleeding”.
Imagine witnessing the scene. Imagine the girl’s screams as those faithful men carried out ‘God’s will’. Imagine hearing them turn from screams to moans and pathetic whimpers as thud after thud of rock against flesh tells you that ‘justice’ is being served. What did the father of the bride, and the mother, think of Yahweh's perfect love, justice, and forgiveness, as they buried the violently bruised, blood-caked corpse of their teenage daughter? Do you think they thanked the gentlemen who had just delivered justice?
Have you ever seen how long a stoning takes to complete? I’ve only ever managed to get through two whole videos of stoning. The lead-up, which lasted more than ten minutes in one I watched, involves the gathering of the mob and usually the tying or burying waist-deep of the woman. Magic words are recited by a psychotic cunt in religious clothing while the mob hangs back. Then, at some prompt, they spring to life, taking up their rocks - it’s a disgusting organic swell all around her, 360 degrees, and whoosh, suddenly it’s raining down huge fucking stones on her cranium, and she can’t defend herself. Picture someone waist deep in the dirt, with arms tied, attempting to “escape”. She’s overwhelmed, concussed, battered, cut, smashed and stunned within a few seconds, and lives out the next ten to twenty minutes in agony, pathetically flailing about uselessly, no doubt wishing for death to take her out of her inexpressible misery. “Holy in some contexts”? You fucking monster.
Yes, I’ve had stonings and burnings defended by Christians time and time again, as having been ‘appropriate’ in their cultural context. Fuck religion for what it does to people. That was someone’s daughter they just threw fucking great stones at. And most likely because she engaged in a physical act of love. What is wrong with you, to omit to thoroughly condemn this transaction?
No, the central representation in the bible about the character of its god is NOT primarily about love and forgiveness and mercy. You have that about 180 degrees wrong. One may as well read Mein Kampf and come away claiming it is a book about equality, tolerance, and peaceful diplomacy.
You’re thinking about that addendum tagged onto the end, about the 1st-century hippy who espoused better, kinder, more humane ideas than killing each other in the cruelest ways imaginable. What a genius. But who then also threatened eternal torture in a scalding lake of fire to those who don’t dedicate themselves to him completely. Ughhh- this obsession with pain, violence, and torturous insanity is inescapable within Judeo-Christianity, even in the New Testament! Think about it - what is it that finally satiates God The Father’s anger over mankind’s sinful nature, after a few thousand years of ritual animal slaughtering not quite cutting it? Of course – an act of violent torture against…facepalm… Himself.
And to think there are religions out there who have their adherents vow such things as “to not cause harm to any living being”. Imagine one of those religions had been picked up by the Roman Empire back in the day and had spread throughout the world. Wow, what a different world this would be.
So, to conclude: Why bring up these scriptural obscenities in videos about the most believed-in god in the world, ever? Because if stoning people and burning them alive can be excused in some ‘contexts’, ... then what on Earth can’t be? This book needs to be exposed as the polluting nonsense it is, and be utterly, completely done away with.