Saturday, November 7, 2009

63: Bible - Not Suitable for Children

Deuteronomy 14-16
Well, the bible isn't very exciting today, but I've got plenty of other bible related things to talk about. Let's get my bible reading responsibility out of the way first.

Deuteronomy 14 spells out (again) the kind of animals that are unclean. This is, as far as I can tell, a condensed version of Leviticus 11. The end of Deuteronomy 14 is about tithes, you should give 10% of your things to God.

Deuteronomy 15 is about the year of canceling debt. This has already been talked about. Every 7 years is a year of canceling debt, and every 7x7(+1) years is the year of jubilee.

Chapter 16 (again) tells about the different festivals the Israelites are supposed to celebrate. This is at least the third time these festivals have been described (passover, feast of weeks, and feast of the tabernacles). Why is it necessary to repeat these things three times?

*Rated R*
I was shown a website yesterday that rates your blog based on it's content. I decided to plug in my blog out of curiosity. I fully expected I would receive a G or PG rating, because I generally refrain from cursing or any other sort of vulgarity. So imagine my surprise when I saw this:

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

This is due, according to the website, to 13 instances of the word "kill", 9 instances of "death", three instances of "sex" and one use of "ass". It must just be reading the first page because I know I've said those words more than that. This is funny, considering I'm summarizing the bible. We can only conclude that the bible is rated R, and why not? Sex, violence, incest, rape, murder, to name a few. So, to all those Christian parents that don't let their children watch rated R movies; you should also prevent them from reading the bible, until they are old enough to handle it's vulgarity.

*Bible News*
In a recent interview, Sir Ian McKellen (aka Gandalf, Magneto) admitted that he rips out pages in Leviticus from every bible that he can get his hands on. The passage that he aims to remove is Leviticus 18:22 - "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable". He says that the choice is to either rip out that page or throw away the whole bible. My suggestion is that you throw away the whole thing, because there is a lot more to rip out than Leviticus 18. In fact, Leviticus 18 isn't even the only place where gay people are condemned.

[Edit: It's even worse than I said]
So, like I said, the blog rater only reads the first page. Now that I've posted this blog, which apparently contained the word "rape" (oops, said it again), and "murder", which the bible also contains by the way, my blog is now rated NC-17. Which means no one under the age of 17 should be permitted to read this blog. So, Christian parents, I'll reiterate that not only should your children not be allowed to read this blog, they should not be allowed to read the bible.

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Friday, November 6, 2009

62: Everything That's Wrong with Religion

Deuteronomy 11-13
Deuteronomy 11 is titled "Love and Obey the Lord". It pretty much repeats everything that's been said already. Keep all of God's decrees, love/fear God, etc.

Deuteronomy 12 goes over again what animals you should eat and where you should eat them. It reiterates that you are not allowed to eat (drink?) blood, because the blood is where the life is, and you aren't allowed to eat life. What does that mean "the life is in the blood"? I'm fairly certain that "life" is not confined to the circulatory system.

To me, Deuteronomy 13 is everything that's wrong with religion all wrapped up in one chapter. It lays out what you are supposed to do with a prophet that doesn't agree with your God. First, let's keep in mind that Moses is a prophet, so anything they say from here on out is absolute hypocrisy. Any prophet among you that see's signs and produces miracles, but says that other Gods produced them, should be immediately put to death. But Moses is prophesying and producing miracles about a God that's different than everyone else's. So those other religions probably tell them to put Moses to death. I think anyone can see that there is a huge problem with this.

The section goes on to explain why someone would be prophesying and producing miracles. Why you ask? Because God is testing you. That's perfect. This is obviously a disciple, who is being used to test you by God. So we should immediately silence him, by killing him.

If your brother son or daughter or any close relative mentions that you should worship other Gods, you should be the first in line to kill them. This is specifically so that everyone in Israel will be afraid to say anything like that again. It's great that God's only method of getting people to follow him is fear of murder. This is the good guy?

If you hear about a town that is worshiping another God, you are to slaughter everyone in the town, and burn all their belongings in the town square. Because of this, God will show you compassion and increase your numbers. So, again, God is on the pro killing everyone in a town side.

***Begin getting ahead of myself***
I wonder how Christians today so easily write off the murderous being that is God in the old testament. Was God's character somehow changed between now and then? That can't be, because a God that can change his mind isn't very all knowing or all powerful. So we can only conclude that God still wants to kill us and slaughter the non-believers, he's just incapable because of Jesus' sacrifice. And the conclusion we bring from this is that God loves us? No. Just no.

By the way, Jesus is God and God is Jesus? I'm not going to say too much about this yet, because I've not read that part yet, but I've been told many times that Jesus and God are one being. So if Jesus and God are one being, how can he half love is and half still want to kill us? And how can Jesus love us while God (admittedly) hates us?
***End getting ahead of myself***

*Bible News*
Malaysian officials have seized thousands of bibles that use the word "Allah" instead of "God". The BBC story is here.

This is apparently because they are afraid of offending the Muslim population. I would imagine that if people in the United States started handing out Qur'ans with the word "Allah" replaced with "Jesus" that there would be some offended Christians as well.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

61: Don't Forget Morality

Deuteronomy 8-10
Ok, I take it back, Deuteronomy isn't as boring as I originally thought. And by not as boring, I of course mean crazy.

Deuteronomy 8 is titled "Do Not Forget the Lord", to which I would say don't forget morality and human decency, God obviously has. Anyway, we're changing our story a bit here. Remember how God was mad at Israel for being afraid of their enemies inhabiting the promised land, so he sent them out into the desert for 40 years? Well that wasn't really why he sent them out into the desert. He really did it to humble them and test their hearts. God needed to test their hearts to know "whether or not [they] would keep his commands". Because God isn't all knowing. Wait... Yes he is, never mind. So did he send them out into the desert to test them or because he was mad at them?

The paragraph goes on to say that God disciplines Israel like a father disciplines his children. Really? Fathers kill their children as punishment on a regular basis? Fathers punish their children eternally for momentarily questioning their authority? Right.

The last paragraph of Deuteronomy 8 makes sure to remind you that if you do forget about God, that he's going to kill you. Thanks, I'd almost forgotten.

Deuteronomy 9 again attempts to explain why the Israelites were the chosen people. I think the attempted explanation makes it worse. God is gladly driving out the people before Israel, because Israel is the chosen people. However, God is only driving these people out because of how bad they are, not how good Israel is. I'm more confused now. So Israel isn't righteous, but they are still the chosen people. And these other people aren't righteous either, but they aren't the chosen people, so God is going to kill them and let Israel take them over. It makes perfect sense?

The rest of Deuteronomy 9 just recounts the story of the golden calf. Moses leaves out the part where he makes the people drink the ground up golden calf. Moses lies and says that he ground up the calf and threw it into the stream. This is a direct contradiction with Exodus 32:19-20 (compare with Deuteronomy 9:21). I mean, the bible has no contradictions, never mind.

The beginning of Deuteronomy 10 is just a retelling of the ark of the covenant story. The end of Deuteronomy 10, however, is titled "Fear the Lord". This is the most important thing, you are to be afraid. Where is the all loving, all accepting God? I must be missing him. I may have spoken too soon, there is one group of people God loves. It must be the Israelites right? No. God loves foreigners. This isn't correct, because God kills aliens too. But it's interesting that the bible specifically points out that you should feed and clothe aliens. I'm pretty sure those of Hispanic descent apply as well, sorry Christians.

One last thing for today. This might be a little nit-picky, but it bothers me. It is repeated again and again that the Israelites are as numerous as the stars in the sky. "As numerous" would imply approximate equality. Now, we can either take this from the Israelites perspective, or God's perspective. God, of course, would know that there are trillions of stars (more than that, according to a current study) in the universe. There obviously aren't trillions of Israelites, so we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and take it from the Israelites perspective. I googled extensively to try to find an estimate of the number of visible stars in the night sky. I found anywhere from 1000-6000 based on several factors (light pollution, atmospheric dust, etc.). But we're giving them the benefit of the doubt, so I'll take the largest number I could find (6000) and they are still off by a factor of 100. So no, God did not make the Israelites as numerous as the stars in the sky, stop saying it.

*Bible News*
This has pretty much been talked to death already, but I can't find anything else terribly interesting. Yesterday Maine voted 53% to 47% to ban gay marriage. Unfortunately, this is probably as a result of rampant homophobia in the bible (approx. 80% of Mainers define themselves as Christian). It pains me to think that anyone is basing any sort of life decision, especially a vote, on this book. Remember, the bible says not to work on the sabbath too, we should outlaw that. I won't say too much more about this, because I'm certainly not the first blogger to jump on this story. One of many stories on this issue is here.

If you don't support gay marriage, don't get one!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

60: Write it on my Forehead?

Deuteronomy 5-7
We're back to the Ten Commandments. All of Deuteronomy 5 is just a retelling of that story. If you want to hear the story read my other Ten Commandments post, I really don't want to type it again.

Deuteronomy 6 gives a few more commands. These commands must be important because we are told to talk about them day and night, tell them to our children, tie them to our hands, put them on our foreheads, and write them on our doors (I'm not making this up). What are these commands you ask? Don't forget God. Keep God's commands. Fear God, because he will destroy you if you don't. Do not test God. So ignorance and blind faith are a virtue. Go now Christians, I want to see it on your foreheads "Do not test God".

The last chapter today describes how Israel is God's chosen people and that God essentially hates everyone else. The bible explains that God selected the Israelites as his chosen people because of the oath he gave to their forefathers. But why did he give the oath to their forefathers? The question goes wonderfully unanswered.

This is interesting, God makes a few promises at the end of Deuteronomy 7. One is that if you hate him he will kill you, that's not the interesting one. These are the things God will do if you love him and follow all of his decrees: He will love you back (finally), he will increase your numbers (because we know all Christians have babies), you will be blessed more than any other people (because we know no Christians suffer), none of your women or men will be childless, and you will be completely free of disease. So I guess if you have ever had a disease, it's as a result of you not worshiping God properly, that's comforting.

Our all wonderful, all loving God also forbids us from showing pity to the people the Israelites are supposed to destroy for them. Is this the same guy that said "love your neighbor" and "love your enemy"? Not only is God a psychopath, he's a bipolar psychopath. Wonderful.

*Bible News*
In deciding whether a man should be put to death or not, the jurors may have consulted the bible. I wonder where there would be people crazy enough to consult the bible in a legal matter. Oh that's right... Texas. The Associated Press story is here.

Apparently the operative sentence in the bible was any man who beats someone with an iron object shall be put to death (the man in question beat the other person with a rifle). I happen to know where this passage is because I just read it (Numbers 35:16). The bible also says that gay people, adulterers, and people that work on the sabbath should be killed. So we can only conclude that if these idiots people were on the jury for one of those offenses they would ask for a death sentence too. Oh that's right, working on the sabbath isn't a crime, so maybe we shouldn't put people to death based on what it says in the bible. I think I'm going to pretend I didn't read this story so I can stay sane.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

59: Compensating for Something?

Deuteronomy 3-4
Deuteronomy 3 recounts the complete destruction of two more civilizations. There is one king they are unable to kill (Og, king of Bashan). Moses seems to reconcile this by saying that his bed was thirteen feet long. Obviously if your bed is thirteen feet long, you're impossible to kill. Just as a side thought, if you feel your bed needs to be thirteen feet long, you're obviously compensating for something.

At the end of Deuteronomy 3 Moses begs God to let him cross the Jordan into Lebanon. God tells him to go up to the top of the mountain and look at the land, because he's never going to get to go there. Now God is just being a jerk. And this is punishment for Moses slightly hesitating in following his orders? Or taking more credit than he should have for God's miracles? I still don't really know.

Deuteronomy 4 repeats how idolatry is naughty. There is a moderately interesting section titled "The Lord is God". Moses says how wonderful it was that God came out of the clouds and spoke to the Israelites, and how this proves the glory of God. But does it really? Why does an all powerful God hide in clouds and show his glory through the destruction of other civilizations? An even bigger question is how did the Israelites get to be the lucky people to see God's glory? I guess they really weren't that lucky because they seem to be getting killed by God as much as anyone else.

*Bible News*
This is fairly recent news, Robert Crumb has published an illustrated version of Genesis. This may not seem terribly interesting, but do you recall what's in Genesis? This is apparently a no holds barred illustrated version. Including Lot getting raped by his daughters, in graphic detail, and Adam and Eve frolicking in the nude, among other things.

The New York Times article is here. There is also a pretty good (NSFW) article by The Good Atheist here.

I feel like Christians are going to be upset with this. But why? It seems to be pretty accurate in it's portrayal of Genesis' sex and violence. They may also be upset because Crumb may or may not be religious.

I think I want this book. Genesis would have been more interesting in graphic novel form.

Monday, November 2, 2009

58: It's a Repeat + Bonus

Deuteronomy 1-2
My bible has a section before every book that describes what the book is about. It says that this chapter is laws that were important enough to be repeated. Great. Because nothing has been repeated quite enough yet.

This is essentially retelling the story that we just heard about from Moses' perspective. Deuteronomy 1 talks about Moses appointing leaders and judges. It also recounts the story of Moses sending ahead people to see the promise land. They, as we know, come back and convince the Israelites not to go into the promise land, causing God to make them wander in the desert for 40 years.

Deuteronomy 2 tells about one of the Israelites many plunders. Interestingly, it mentions that God again hardens the opposing king's heart so that he will not let the Israelites through his city. This, of course, causes the Israelites to kill everyone in the city.

*Bonus*
I feel bad that I'm not actually saying anything anymore, because Deuteronomy is just repeating what we've already heard. So I'm going to try to find some bible related news every day, at least till I'm done with Deuteronomy.

In March, Time magazine published an article about teaching the bible in public schools (this is apparently happening in Texas). I'm torn on this issue. On one hand, I'm "studying" the bible, and nothing horrible is happening. On the other hand, I'm almost certain this will be abused. If taught strictly from a literary point of view, and presented in a critical manner, rather than just preaching, I would have no problem. But I think there is very little chance of this actually happening.

I also take issue with using public money to teach religious texts of any sort. I see very little redeeming value in the bible, especially what I've read so far. How is bible literacy going to help you get a job, or get into college?

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

57: Refuge & Numbers: In Review

Numbers 35-36
God tells Moses that he should give the Levites six "towns of refuge" that people who have killed someone can flee to. In the next paragraph it says the towns of refuge are for people who have killed accidentally, but it is unclear if they are still talking about the same towns.

It goes on to say people that kill in anger should be immediately killed, but people who have accidentally killed should be protected. This seems ok until you read the fine print. If you accidentally kill someone you have to stay in a city of refuge. If you leave the city of refuge and go back to your home, you can be killed for accidentally killing someone. So you're essentially imprisoned in this city. The only way you are allowed out is if the high priest dies. Huh? What does the high priest's death have to do with anything? And how is this a fair punishment? The high priest could die in 2 days or 40 years. This also begs the question, what happens when someone accidentally kills someone in a city of refuge?

Numbers 36 essentially spells out how Israelites can't marry with other clans. So they all marry their cousins, the perfect solution.

Numbers: In Review
Nothing terribly exciting or original happens in Numbers. The Israelites complain about their hardships some more and God punishes them some more. They count all the Israelites a couple of times. Aaron dies, the Israelites destroy a few more civilizations. Oh, and lets not forget the talking donkeys.

Deuteronomy is next. We'll hope for something interesting.
 

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