Saturday, November 14, 2009

70: Rahab the Prostitute

Joshua 1-4
Joshua, the new leader of the Israelites, is commanded to begin the invasion of Canaan. He sends two spies to Jericho to asses the situation. These are pretty horrible spies, because they are immediately discovered. They decide to hide in the house of a prostitute named Rahab.

The spies say that if this prostitute hides them, that they wont kill her family when they invade. How nice of them. The prostitute hides them on their roof until the people searching for the spies are gone, then she tells them where to go to hide from more searches. I'm not sure what her being a prostitute has to do with anything, but the bible makes a point of bringing it up. I'm eager to see if the Israelite spies keep their promise to spare her.

The section ends with 40,000 Israelites crossing over the Jordan to invade Jericho.

I said I was only going to do news for Deuteronomy, but these sections are pretty boring as well, and I sometimes enjoy the news section more than I do the bible section.

Orthodox Jews are protesting an Intel factory in Jerusalem. This was in an article from Voice of America, which I've never heard of. They seem to be very critical of these Jews protesting, but the bible clearly says that the aliens in your country must follow your laws, which include not working on the sabbath. So these Jews are following the bible to the letter rather than leaving it open for interpretation. I hope that the writers of Voice of America aren't Christians, otherwise they are holding a rather hypocritical position.

Friday, November 13, 2009

69: Moses Dies (Finally) & Deuteronomy: In Review & Torah: In Review

Deuteronomy 32-34
God makes Moses memorize a song about how he's going to kill everyone when (not if) the Israelites rebel. Moses makes everyone else memorize this song, then God decides that it's time for Moses to die. He tells Moses to go the top of Mount Nebo.

Before he leaves, Moses blesses some of the tribes. These are all random, rather non-interesting, blessings.

Moses hikes to the top of the mountain and God shows him the promise land. God pronounces that this is the land he had promised Moses' forefathers, but Moses will not set foot in it. Then God seems to kill him, just like Aaron. The bible doesn't explicitly say that God does the killing, but it says that God told them to go to the top of the mountain to die, and it says that Moses was perfectly healthy. So what else could it be?

The bible says that Moses was 120 years old when he died. Because that's not a ridiculous number.

Joshua inherits the "spirit" and the chapter (and the book) ends.

Deuteronomy: In Review
Deuteronomy is the book of repeated law, and it definitely succeeded in reiterating that God is a terrible being. The down side to Deuteronomy being a book of repeated law is that I don't have very much to review. Essentially the entire message of Deuteronomy is that you should follow all of God's laws no matter what. So, Christians, I challenge you to follow all of God's laws like the bible tells you to. Which means that if you are a female and get raped, that you should marry your attacker. What? That doesn't fit your definition of morality? Then sorry, you don't get your morality from the bible.

Torah: In Review
I haven't talked about this yet, but I'm sure some of you are familiar with the "Torah". This refers to the first five books of the old testament (namely Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). So this is something of a milestone, and a good chance to summarize the bible up to this point. Needless to say, I see some problems.

1. Why so sexist?
I know I'm supposed to be reading this in the "spirit of the time", but if you're going to make this the moral tenant of your life, you can't just write off the sexism. On the contrary, I've seen more than a few Christians embrace biblical sexism (not all of these people were men). This is a situation where biblical logic is holding back the advancement of our society. You can't claim that the bible is your sole moral compass unless you also embrace sexism. Which includes, but is not limited to, men raping women to marry them, men only being able to divorce women, not the other way around, and women being unable to speak in church, among many other things.

2. Where's Satan?
For getting blamed for so many bad things happening, he is conspicuously absent from the Torah. When the Israelites rebel, they never explain it away by saying "Satan made me do it", which seems to be an excuse I hear constantly from modern Christians.

3. Where is heaven/hell (or the afterlife)?
Not only is there no Satan, there is no hell. Not only is there no hell, there is no heaven. Not only is there no heaven, there isn't any afterlife even mentioned. Why are the first five books of the bible completely inconsistent with any form of belief that exists today? Isn't an afterlife at least worth a mention? You'd think that would come up in the conversation. The bible seems to imply, at least in the first five books, that when you die, you die. That's not very good for church attendance though.

4. Why the Israelites?
The Israelites are obviously not a better people than anyone else, yet God "loves" them and clearly hates everyone else. Ok, maybe Israel is the chosen people because God promised their forefathers he would care for them. But that just pushes it a few generations back, why did he choose Abraham, why did he choose Isaac?

5. Why does God hate everyone?
I hear stories about this "all loving God". He is seen nowhere in the beginning of the bible. In fact the bible points out the exact opposite. If you don't follow God's laws carefully, God abhors and detests you. I only saw mentioned once or twice that God loves Israel if they follow his laws to the letter. God still hates everyone else. This is so far from "all loving" it's ridiculous.

I'm going to get ahead of myself again and speculate on Jesus. The reason I hear for God loving us is that he sent Jesus. God hates us before Jesus, that is determined (the bible says so). But what does sending Jesus change? Jesus shields us from being punished for our sin, but God is still in the background hating us. This gets even worse; because Christians take great offense when you imply that they aren't monotheistic, God and Jesus have to be lumped into one being. So God hates us, and can't forgive us for sinning, but Jesus loves us and forgives us, but they're the same being. Something isn't working out here.

Needless to say, I'm unconvinced.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

68: Catholic Church to Starve the Poor for Gay Marriage

Deuteronomy 30-31
Chapter 30 just repeats that you should follow God. If you follow him he wont kill you, and if you don't he will kill you.

Chapter 31 reiterates that Joshua will succeed Moses. The only interesting thing that happens today is that God predicts that the Israelites will rebel again. So why not prevent it? What is the point of enumerating all of the punishments you're going to inflict on these people if they aren't going to listen to you anyway? "I love you, but you're going to rebel against me and I'm going to kill you". Good plan?

*Bible News*
This is more like religious news rather than bible news. The catholic church is threatening to stop feeding the homeless if D.C. doesn't change it's proposed gay marriage law. What?! Ok, even if gay marriage is wrong and terrible (it's not) what do starving homeless people have to do with it? Not only is this against their religion (they're supposed to be feeding the poor), it's against any sort of reasonable definition of morality.

The Huffington Post article is here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

67: Yum, Babies

Deuteronomy 28-29
Deuteronomy 28 is the repeat of Leviticus 26, which was, as you may remember, where God makes you eat your children if you are disobedient. I usually don't write again about sections that are pretty much repeated but this one is too good to not talk about again.

First are the blessings for obedience, these are the standard "you will have lots of children and be rich" type things. This has already been talked about and isn't nearly as interesting as the punishments for disobedience.

Keep in mind, these are the punishments if you don't follow ALL of God's decrees. Which means if your child has ever been disobedient and you haven't immediately killed him/her, you are guilty (or you have been that disobedient child). If you have ever eaten shellfish or any of the other "detestable" animals, you are guilty. If you have ever trimmed the sides of your beard, guilty! The general rule is that if you've enjoyed anything you've done in life, it's safe to assume you're guilty of something.

God will send you plagues and strike you with fever and disease till you die. He will turn the rain to dust and the dust will rain down on you till you are dead. God will cause all of your enemies to defeat you. Your body will be food for birds and animals (I don't think you're going to care that much at that point, cause you're already dead). You will get tumors, sores, and be itchy (I presume this is before you die). You will be mad, blind, and confused. You wont be able to see in the light of midday (aka blind). You will be unsuccessful in everything you do, and you will be oppressed and robbed daily.

*Takes a breath*

You will be pledged to marry a woman, but another man will take her and ravish her. Big shocker there, I don't think she's going to want to be with someone with tumors and boils all over them that gets robbed every day and is completely unsuccessful. You will build a house, but you wont live in it. Why? Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes (well at least one thing stays normal). Your donkey will be stolen from you, and your sheep will be given to your enemies. Your children will be sold into slavery.

And now, what you've all been waiting for, the baby eating punishment. Because of all of this suffering God has inflicted, you will eat your children. Even the most gentle of men will eat his sons and daughters, and worse yet, he wont even offer any of the flesh to his remaining sons, daughters, or his wife. What a jerk, don't hog all of the dead baby for yourself.

The most gentle of women will hide her afterbirth, and her baby, because she intends to secretly eat them later. So, since we know that God is the most moral being in the universe, we can only conclude that a proper punishment for disobedience is to force someone to eat their babies.

Keep in mind that I left out about half of the punishments for brevity, if you would like to read it in it's entirety click here.

Chapter 29 is all about renewing the covenant (again), and how bad things are going to be if you don't follow what's in the covenant (see above). The chapter mentions that in their 40 years of travel that their clothes did not wear out. This doesn't really make any sense, unless they passed down their clothes from generation to generation. The people at the end of the 40 year journey were not the same people that started, it was their children. If someone can explain to me how that works, that'd be great.

*Bible News*
This is rather silly bible news again today. Don Roush claims that his life was saved by the bible. How you ask? A piece of shrapnel came at his chest while he was fighting in the Korean war and it was stopped by the bible that he had in his pocket. This doesn't seem terribly silly until you see the picture of the bible, which has it's front cover barely nicked.

On the bright side, we have found a situation where the bible was actually useful.

The full article is here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

66: Don't Grab That

Deuteronomy 24-27
The beginning of chapter 24 rather randomly condemns remarriage. I'm not sure why this is important, but God thinks that is detestable. Now you know.

The rest of chapter four lays out some mildly interesting laws about debt. You are encouraged to repay the poor for their services quickly and not to go claim a debt with force from someone who is poor. The bible also mentions again that you should leave some of your crop in the field for the aliens among you. I ask again, why are the most Christian people the first on the bandwagon to kick the "Mexicans" out of the country? That is against your religion! Quit picking and choosing what to follow and what not to. If what the bible says is not against the law (ie killing your children), and you identify as a Christian, then you should be following it.

Uh oh, we've reached Deuteronomy 25, I know a quote from here.

If a man has a wife and the man dies without having a child, then it is his brother's responsibility to marry his dead brother's wife and pass on the family name. If he refuses to do this, he will be called before the town elders. The elders will try to convince him to marry her, and if he still refuses, they will take off one of his sandals and spit in his face. They will then call his family "The Family of the Unsandaled". Oh no! Not the family of the unsandaled. I think this insult is lost on modern day readers.

Now to the quote I know from this chapter. "If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity." - Deuteronomy 25:11-12. I'm not even sure I know what to say, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. So, women, if your husband is having a fight with someone, don't grab the other person's genitals.

Chapter 26 just talks about tithes again, and tells us to follow all of God's laws again. Got it.

Chapter 27 lists some laws again, every single one of them have already been talked about. Just a quick summary of what they are.

You're cursed if you make cast idols. You are cursed if you dishonor your father or mother. You are cursed if you move your neighbors boundary stone. You are cursed if you lead the blind astray. You are cursed if if you withhold justice from an alien (that's you Christians). You are cursed if you sleep with your mom (good one). You are cursed if you have sex with animals. You are cursed if you sleep with your sister. You are cursed if you sleep with your mother in law. You are cursed if you kill your neighbor secretly (it doesn't say you're cursed if you slay your neighbor openly). And finally, you are cursed if you don't follow God's command. I'm not sure why the bible needs to keep repeating these things, I think we got it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

65: Bible: Encouraging Rape Since 700 BCE

Deuteronomy 21-23
Oh, this is gold. Chapter 21 is titled "Atonement for an Unsolved Murder". If a man is found dead and nobody knows who did it, then the town elders will go out and measure the distance between the body and the nearest towns. Whichever town is lucky enough to be nearest the body has some tasks to perform. The elders of the town are to take a heifer that has never been worked, lead her down a valley that has never been plowed and has a stream, and break her neck. Wait, do what now? So let me get this straight, you find a dead body, and the solution to this problem (I don't even know what the problem is) is to kill a non-related animal? Once they kill the heifer, they are to wash their hands over her corpse, then they are to proclaim "Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done". I sure as hell hope their talking about the man's blood and not the heifers blood, because they just killed her with their own hands.

The last sentence of the paragraph says that this will "purge... the guilt of shedding innocent blood". What?! They just shed innocent blood. They hadn't before they started, because that was some random guy they didn't know, but they just killed a helpless animal. I don't know how much more innocent you can get. The bible says that this is "what is right in the eyes of the Lord". Why doesn't the Lord just come down and tell them who killed the guy instead of them having to jump through hoops to be forgiven?

Oh, this just keeps getting better today. The next paragraph in chapter 21 is titled "Marrying a Captive Woman". I think I'm getting less moral as I read this.

If you go to war with a nation and you take a woman as a captive that you find attractive, you can take her as a wife. You have to make her shave her head, trim her nails, and take off her clothes. Then, after you have let her mourn the wholesale slaughter of her family for a month, you can force her to be your wife. If you are, for some reason, not pleased with her, you can let her go, and she can't be treated as a slave, how nice of Israel.

If you have a rebellious son, who doesn't listen to you. Then you can take him to the town elders and have him stoned to death. Because that is the most moral thing to do. I think we've already talked about this one.

The first part of chapter 22 talks about returning your brothers lost things. If your brothers ox walks away and you see it you are supposed to take it back to him. The same is to be done for his cloak or anything he loses. In other words, don't be a douche and let your brother's ox walk away.

We seem to have some random laws peppered into the middle of chapter 22.

Don't cross dress. Because if you do that, God hates you. I seem to be missing this all loving God. Surely he's somewhere in here.

If you come across a birds nest and the mother is sitting on her eggs, you aren't allowed to kill the mother, but you can steal the eggs. Why?

The last section of chapter 22 is called "Marriage Violations".

If a man marries a woman and says she was not a virgin, but her parents bring proof that she is a virgin, then the man will be fined 100 sheckels, and he must be married to her forever. However, if the girl really isn't a virgin, then she will be stoned to death. Double standard anyone? Actually, it's not even that good. It's only if there is no proof that she is a virgin. So she might be a virgin (but lacks "evidence"), but since her husband was displeased with her, she is killed. Why is this right?

If a man rapes a woman that is pledged to marry another man, then they will both be killed. That's right, if a woman is raped, she will be killed. This is because "she did not scream". So what if she does scream and nobody comes to help her? The bible is silent on the issue. If she is outside a town, then she won't be killed because nobody is there to hear her scream. Great?

If a man rapes a woman who is not pledged to marry someone, then he has to pay her father 50 shekels, and he must marry her. No death for him? Just 50 shekels and a marriage? Not only is he not killed, he now has a wife. So if a man sees an attractive virgin, it's actually easier to rape her than to go through that whole "courtship" process. Can we get a "thou shall not rape" please?

How can any Christian say that they are getting their morals from this book? No Christians I know are out there raping women to take a wife, nor do they support the rape of women. So what's going on? Do we just ignore these chapters? Does Jesus say something about rape that I've missed (I guess I'll see when I get there)? I actually googled this because these passages in particular piss me off, and of course this just made it worse, because they (random apologists) quote mine the bible to try to make it say that God doesn't condone rape, this ISN'T true. They choose the one conditional statement that suits their goal (to convince the poor lady that the bible isn't weird), the woman isn't in a town AND she is pledged to marry. If she is in a town, she is killed, if she isn't pledged to marry, she is forced to marry her rapist. I'm going to stop this rant before I bash my computer. Please read Deuteronomy 22:23-29 if you want to see how blatantly they are taking this out of context.

The beginning of chapter 23 explains those who are excluded from the Israeli assembly. The first on the list is those who have had their penis/testicles removed by crushing or cutting. Why is genitalia so important? No one born of a forbidden marriage, nor any of his descendants to the tenth generation. Well that's probably pretty much everyone. How are you supposed to know who your great great great great great great great great grandfather (eight greats, is that right?) is, much less how valid his marriage was? No Ammonite or Moabite to the tenth generation.

The last part of chapter 23 is miscellaneous laws. The first one on the list is that if a slave comes to you to for refuge, do not hand him over to his master. You are to let him live among you. I think some southern slave traders could have learned a lesson from this one. I think we're running into one of those good things in the bible. I almost thought they didn't exist.

We quickly digress into sanctioned stealing. If you are in your neighbors vineyard you can eat all the grapes you want as long as you don't put any in a basket. And if you are in your neighbors grain field you can steal all the grain you want as long as you don't use a sickle. Why does the bible say this? What happened to thou shall not steal?

*Bible News*
This is silly bible news today. Kelsey Grammer thinks he's going to live to be 140 because the bible said so. The article is here if you need a laugh.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

64: Jesus? I Think Not

Deuteronomy 17-20
More killing people today, wonderful. This time it's for bowing down to the sun, the moon, or the stars. If two or three people (or more, presumably) see you doing this, you are to be taken out and stoned to death.

Chapter 17 reviews the Israeli court system. If you can't decide something among yourselves then go to the judge and he will decide it for you. This is something the bible is actually relatively coherent about. There is a bit of a backslide though, if you don't listen to the judge (ie a modern day "contempt of court" charge) then you get the standard punishment, death.

The end of Chapter 17 talks about the sort of king that should rule over any land you enter. First, it has to be a king that God chooses. How do we know what king God chooses? Oh that's right, the king tells us that God has chosen him (then we get "kings" like George Bush *gag*). Second, he must be an Israelite. America is doing well on that one (or very bad if you don't consider a Christian a type of Jew). Third, he can't be a foreigner. The United States is doing well on that one too. Fourth, he must not acquire a great number of horses. What? I think this one is a little out dated. I mean, no, it's not out dated, because this is the inspired word of God. Well, I guess we're doing well on that one as well. Fifth, he must not take many wives. Sixth, he must not accumulate great wealth. Oops. Bush (and every other president for that matter) forgot about that one.

Deuteronomy 18 has a list of detestable practices. These are: Don't burn your son or daughter in the fire (good one), don't practice divination or sorcery, don't interpret omens (yes, 99% of Christians, don't interpret omens), don't be a witch (yeah, Sarah Palin... Oh, witch. Never mind), don't cast spells, and don't consult the dead. If you do these things, God hates you.

The end of chapter 18 describes a prophet that God will send the Israelites. It seems like I've heard about an important Jewish prophet. God is going to send a prophet to the Israelites that they must listen to. But we just went over the fact that the Israelites are supposed to kill prophets. Well apparently you are only supposed to kill the prophets that don't claim to be hearing from the Israeli God. The bible says "You may say to yourselves 'How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?'". Good call bible, that's just what I was going to ask. The answer is that if a prophet says that God told them to say something, and it doesn't happen, then you know it wasn't God and you should kill him. So the only requirement to be a prophet is to predict something and have it come true? I decree on this day, that tomorrow is Monday!!! God told me that, follow me now.

The big question is, is this Jesus? Deuteronomy 18 is a widely cited prediction of Jesus' coming. I'm calling bullshit. This new prophet could easily be Joshua. He is a prophet who speaks to God, and everyone is supposed to follow him. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this when I hear about Jesus, and from what I hear this isn't the only Jesus "prophesy".

Deuteronomy 19 goes over the city of refuge concept. Somehow, if you accidentally kill someone, you are only safe in these select cities. If you kill someone on purpose and flee to one of these cities, the townspeople are supposed to somehow come get you, and prove that you killed on purpose. Then they kill you. This seems like a very strange justice system, and the bible was doing so well on it's court system idea.

At the end of the "Cities of Refuge" section there is this paragraph: "Do not move your neighbor's boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess." Excuse you? What does this have to do with cities of refuge? Are we miscategorizing things now (God has ADHD maybe)? So, don't move your neighbors boundary stones, whatever that means.

Chapter 20 is titled "Going to War". All the men of Israel have to fight, but a few groups get a reprieve. If you have a new house that's not dedicated, you get to leave the fight and go dedicate it. If you plant a vineyard and you haven't enjoyed it yet, you get to leave and enjoy it. If you are pledged to a woman, you get to go back and marry her. If you are afraid, or fainthearted, you get to go back so you don't scare everyone else. So essentially, if you don't want to fight you don't have to?

When you go to a city to fight, you are to give them an "offering of peace". Great, diplomacy right? Not quite. This offering of peace, we find out a few sentences later, consists of "surrender and be our slaves". Right, that's a great peace offering. If they refuse (I wonder why they'd refuse to be slaves) you are to kill all the men and take the women and children as plunder. This is unless you are battling a city that "God has given to you" then you are supposed to kill everything that breathes, so they don't corrupt you with their Gods. How exactly are the young children and babies you slaughter going to convince you that their Gods are the right Gods? What about the animals? Are they going to preach about Baal and corrupt the Israelites?

This sounds horrible (it is), but there's one thing you can't kill, maybe God still has some decency. The one thing you can't kill....Fruit trees. God wants you to save the fruit trees, cause there's one moral line we wont cross. Just to reiterate, kill the men, women, and children, burn the town and all the animals, save the fruit. Got it. I can't imagine why those nasty Atheists say they don't get their morality from the bible. It's obviously a tome full of perfect moral codes.

*Bible (sort of) News*
I couldn't find anything directly related to the bible today, but I found an interesting article on student religion in public schools. According to a Boston Globe article, Massachusetts is considering passing a bill to promote forums in public school for religious discussion. The only problem I have with this is when I'm forced to sit through it. An example would be graduation ceremonies, which would be "protected" under this bill. I think we can all agree that if you don't talk about your religion during a graduation speech, that I wont talk about how God doesn't exist during my graduation speech. Because that would have nothing to do with the topic at hand (graduating).

On the other hand, if Christians want to have a student group, pray before/after school (in a non-disruptive manner), or write a paper for a class project about religion. Then I'm 100% behind it. That is, of course, if secular student groups are also equally allowed, and I'm allowed to make anti-religious school projects.

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