Saturday, March 27, 2010

203: Imagine no Religion

Proverbs 27-29
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17

"A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand." Solomon really won't shut up about this. He must have some nasty wives.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." I thought two men rubbing together was a bad thing.

"Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully." Except Catholic Priests.

"If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable." God's law? Or the law of the land? If it's the law of the land then there are a lot of Christians with detestable prayers.

"He whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but he whose ways are perverse will suddenly fall." Unless God makes a bet with Satan. Yes, I'm talking about Job again.

"A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed-without remedy" Stick and stones may break your bones, but words will suddenly destroy you, without remedy. That's how that goes right?

*News*

Brenda Norris has imagined a world with no religion, and she's freaking out.



She uses John Lennon's "Imagine" and the atheist bus campaign as her basis for freaking out.

She says that "Imagine" only offers emptiness, rather than hope and faith. Well, I agree it doesn't offer faith (unless you would call that faith in humanity). But it certainly offers hope:
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
Yeah, how much more hopeless can you get?

The particular bus campaign she targets is the one that reads "There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
The wording intrigues me, though: There’s probably no God. Hmmm. For a group that denies the existence of God, why the wishy-washy “probably?”
...
Atheist writer Richard Dawkins says that uttering, “There is no God” is taking a faith position, and atheists don’t have faith.” But to say atheists don’t have faith is like saying there are no absolutes. Everyone has faith of some kind, whether it’s faith that the air we breathe won’t kill us, or that gravity will continue to keep us from spinning off into space.
I am comfortable with "There is probably no God" just as I am comfortable when I say "There is probably no Santa". You can't prove a negative. For example, I can't say there are no magic pink unicorns in the universe, because I have not explored the entire universe. Am I still confident there are no magic pink unicorns? Of course.

As for her two examples of my "faith". I have no faith that the air I breathe won't kill me. I am confident, based on the evidence that air has not killed me in the past, that it won't kill me in the future. I'd use the same line of reasoning on the second argument. Gravity hasn't, in recorded history, suddenly stopped. Based on that evidence I can conclude that it probably won't happen in the future. However, there is a disclaimer. I am not claiming that it will never happen. I'm just saying that it probably won't happen. "Probably" is not just a random word choice.
Stop worrying and enjoy your life. If one doesn’t believe in God, one should have no worries concerning one’s life, right? Being accountable to no one but yourself, you already should be enjoying your life on your own terms.
The signs aren't addressing atheists. The signs are talking to religious people who are worried about silly things (not eating pork, not turning lights on during the sabbath, etc.). That being said, of course non-religious people have worries in their life. And of course non-religious people are accountable to people other than themselves (law enforcement, their bosses, their parents, etc). Non-religious people are just like you, they just don't believe in God.

(via Bangor Daily News)

Friday, March 26, 2010

202: The Bible on Dog Vomit

Proverbs 24-26
"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." - Proverbs 26:11

And still more two liners, only a couple more days of Proverbs.

"An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips." Unless your girlfriend asks "Do I look fat in this?" Then an honest answer might be like a punch in the face (or never having sex again).

"Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house." Right, because building a shelter isn't the first thing you do in a survival situation.

"A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man." What is Solomon's problem with sleep? He goes so far as to say you can't even have a little sleep, or you will go poor. I think your quality of work is going to start suffering if you don't have any sleep. That's not to mention that Solomon is the king, so he probably doesn't have to worry about working at all.

"If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you." How is giving someone food and water like putting hot coals on their head? Unless you're supposed to feed him, then actually pour coals on his head.

"As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." The next time someone tells you the bible has beautiful imagery, remind them that Proverbs 26:11 also has imagery of dogs eating their own vomit.

"The sluggard says, 'There is a lion in the road, a fierce lion roaming the streets!' " What does Solomon have against sluggards warning people of lions? This is the second day in a row he's mentioned it.

"If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him." Moral of the story: Don't roll rocks or dig pits? I feel like there's some wonderful metaphor I'm missing here.

*News*
It's Easter time, and apparently everyone is losing their faith. Not to worry though, Jeffrey MacDonald is here to save you!

Jeff shows us how to look past evidence against us:
Vanderbilt University student Katherine Precht knows what skeptical scholars say about the Bible: It's full of errors, contradictions and a murky historical record.

Still, none of that has shaken her Christian faith.
Well, maybe she just thinks that those scholars are incorrect, and thinks that the bible has no contradictions.
“Sure, there may be contradictions, (but) God was working through the scribes who put it together,” said Precht, a United Methodist from Montgomery, Ala.
Oh, so you know there are contradictions, and you just blindly ignore them. Awesome. Unfortunately, she's not the only one that uses this method:
Some scholars “get fixated on some of the marginal issues about who was where and when,” said Craig Evans, professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia. [emphasis is mine]
Oh, right. That silly little detail about who, where, and when. Are you kidding me? Who, where, and when are the least "marginal" details I can think of.
In the Gospels, “the discrepant witnesses are allowed to stand side by side, and I think that's a strength in the end, not a weakness. But the naive reader — the person beguiled by the notion that discrepancies somehow cast doubt on the truth of the entire report — might not know that,” Evans said.
I'm a naive reader because I think the all perfect word of God shouldn't have discrepancies? And yes, I think if there are several parts of an account that are found to be false, then the whole account is in question. No matter what you think about biblical discrepancies, I don't think I've heard anyone describe it as a "strength".
"The inerrancy of the Bible is evidenced in the fact that it is the most transformative piece of literature that's ever been written,” Stegall said. “It transforms people's lives in a way that nothing else can come close to.”
Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto are transformative pieces of literature too, but I'd be hard pressed to find a Republican that will agree that those two books are inerrant. You can't claim that something is inerrant just because it has the ability to change people's lives.

(via Houston Belief)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

201: Adulterers Will Eat You

Proverbs 22-23
"The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; he who is under the Lord's wrath will fall into it." - Proverbs 22:15

There is a mix of two liners and paragraphs today.

"The sluggard says, 'There is a lion outside!' or, 'I will be murdered in the streets!' " Huh? I hope if there is a lion outside the righteous don't refrain from telling people, lest they be accused of being a sluggard.

"The mouth of an adulteress is a deep pit; he who is under the Lord's wrath will fall into it." If you are naughty, God is going to make a giant adulteress eat you. Or is that a metaphor for having sex with you? Wait, God is going to make me have sex with an adulteress if I'm bad? My moral compass is spinning out of control.

"When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony." If you ever find yourself eating too much, kill yourself. The bible is so inspiring.

"Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words." It's too bad that both sides of an argument generally regard the other side as "fools", so neither side ever talks to each other. Thanks bible.

*News*
I sorta, kinda promised I would never mention Tim Tebow in this blog again, but I have to break that promise due to lack of anything else interesting happening.

As most of you probably don't know (or care) Tim Tebow is trying to join the NFL. All new recruits to the NFL have to take the "wonderlic" test, which is just a standardized test to make sure you're not a complete idiot before you go tackle people.

Tim Tebow, being the good Christian that he is, decided to stop everyone before they took the test, and request that they all join him in prayer. The thing that makes this newsworthy is that this request was greeted with "Shut the fuck up" by one of Tebow's fellow recruits. Whoever it was, they can rest assured that they're not the only one who's wanted to say that to Tim Tebow (though I seem to be less offended by his existence than most).

Moral of the story: Keep your prayers to yourself. If other people really want to pray, they don't need your reminder.

(via Examiner.com)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

200: Inanimate Objects are People Too

Proverbs 19-21
"Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise." - Proverbs 20:1

Yet another day of two liners, hopefully we're about done with them.

"Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise." I guess mental concepts like wisdom aren't the only things that get personified. Even drinks get to be people in the bible.

"The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him." I hate to keep bringing up Job, but it's just so terrible that it keeps coming to mind. Job led a blameless life, and his children were killed, instead of blessed like Solomon promises here.

"Who can say, 'I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin'?" I don't know, who? I thought the bible was supposed to leave me with answers, not questions.

"Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare." I know plenty of Christians who love sleep. People should be out telling those poor Christians they are going to be poor because they like to sleep.

"If a man curses his father or mother, his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness." This is another one of those, is it a metaphor, situations. Is this a metaphor for killing him, or are they really going to snuff out his lamp? Moral of the story: when you're going to curse your father and mother, make sure to carry around a lighter.

"Do not say, 'I'll pay you back for this wrong!' Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you." What happened to "an eye for an eye"?

"Blows and wounds cleanse away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being." Instead of imprisoning people, we should just be beating the crap out of them.

"To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice." Well, this has to make Jesus feel a little silly.

"Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife." Solomon says this about 3 times throughout these proverbs (rephrasing it every time). Solomon must be having major wife trouble.

*News*
I thought I wasn't going to be able to talk about the health care reform bill, because it doesn't have anything to do with the bible. But inexorably people find a way to tie current events to the good book. This is a particularly ridiculous instance of that. The article is titled "The healthcare law is an ass", with a title like that, it has to be good.
Before you contemplate America's historic new healthcare reform bill, here's an inspirational Bible verse from the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 22, verses 28 and 29:
"If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father 50 shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives."
Now rewrite this so it's the victim who has to pay her attacker and stay with him forever, and you'll know what happens in the US when big corrupt out-of-control industries screw some little guy, or the entire economy, and government gets involved.
What?! I feel pretty safe in saying that this is the worst analogy of all time. Someone call Guinness. I certainly hope she meant "inspirational" to be sarcasm. I'm pretty sure that if two people get married they both have to stay with each other. I'm not even sure what she's trying to say.

She's not done yet:
And how do lawmakers respond to our problems with the health insurance companies? By forcing us to marry the bastards
Are you trying to say that's bad? Because that's exactly what the bible tells this rape victim to do. So you're either saying that the bible is bad, or the health care reform bill is good.

The stupidity continues to the very end:
Over the last few weeks, there have been science-fiction-esque news stories about hybrid cars taken over by crazed computers, and careening out of control down busy highways. Luckily, Toyota is a Japanese company. If it were domestically owned, the healthcare reform bill would include provisions requiring every American to buy a Prius.
I'm not sure if she was trying to be funny or if she's just stupid. From the rest of the article I would assume the latter.

By the way, there is no mention of "ass" anywhere in this article. So the title is a mystery.

(via guardian.co.uk)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

199: You Winking Pervert

Proverbs 16-18
He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity; he who purses his lips is bent on evil. - Proverbs 16:30

More two liners today.

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Is that a promise? I think a lot of people commit what they do to God, and it doesn't always work out.

"Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil." So we have to love, and fear God at the same time? I have a hard time loving something I'm terrified of.

"When a king's face brightens, it means life; his favor is like a rain cloud in spring." Says the king of Israel. We might have a bit of a biased opinion of kings here.

Before I go on to the next one, I thought I'd mention that Solomon is starting to repeat word for word a lot of these one liners. I just wanted you to feel my pain. Moving on.

"He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity; he who purses his lips is bent on evil." This is a bit of a repeat, but it's just too hilarious to pass up. I can attest that I have never winked at anyone with thoughts of perversity. I'm fairly certain that nobody thinks of a wink as sexual any more. The only time I've ever winked at someone was to make them go along with a joke I was playing on someone. Also, I'm sure that nobody in the last 2000 years has pursed their lips when they were bent on evil. Worst. Supervillain. Ever. Way to be culturally irrelevant, bible.

"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life." I'll use this when I want to suck up to my parents.

"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." When you go to the casino, God wants the house to win.

"If a man pays back evil for good, evil will never leave his house." I realize I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, but what happened to "turn the other cheek"? Solomon is saying you must repay evil with evil? No forgiveness there.

"A fool's lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating." I guess Solomon beats up stupid people in his spare time. Nice guy.

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." I've never heard of the much sought after tongue-fruit. I certainly hope this is a metaphor (albeit a weird one).

*News*
The small Seattle suburb of Renton, Washington has organized a group of "prayer warriors". What is the demon they fight? The dreaded incoming strip club!

"When we allow something like this into our city, we're basically saying women can be objectified; they're pieces of meet to be looked at", said one of the warriors. First I have to applaud the editor of this local Seattle newspaper, that would be "meat" not "meet". I don't think that one strip club in a town reflects the opinion of the entire town. What does a strip club need to stay open, 100 people a night? That's about 1/10th of one percent of the towns population. Not to mention that nobody is being forced to be a patron of the strip club, or work at the strip club.

But here's the best quote of the night "If you put temptation in front of people, it's easier for them to give in to that temptation." Yes, because I'm sure those men never have temptations to see naked women without a strip club in town. Obviously if your town is as pure as you think, the strip club will promptly go out of business.

(via Seattle PI)

Monday, March 22, 2010

198: Don't Spare the Rod

Proverbs 13-15
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. - Proverbs 13:24

This is another day with a bunch of random two line proverbs.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Wait a minute. I thought you weren't supposed to fulfill your longings. Maybe that's just the Catholics.

We've got a pretty famous one here. "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." I never have understood this one. You have to beat your son to truly love him? Actually, this is a pretty Godly thing to say. After all, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah while simultaneously loving everyone in both cities. This is the perfect excuse if you ever beat anyone up, "But officer, I was just showing my love!"

"The righteous eat to their hearts' content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry." I don't think that's quite how this works. There are plenty of "wicked" people that don't go hungry, and plenty of righteous people that starve to death. Even the bible backs me up on this one, "For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills" (Psalm 73:3-5). The all-perfect word seems to be contradicting itself.

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death." Nice sentiment there. "You may think you're doing the right thing, but it will kill you." Let's hope someone doesn't flip to that page expecting the bible to brighten their day.

"The poor are shunned by even their neighbors, but the rich have many friends." What's the moral here? Again, I hope nobody is expecting the bible to make them feel better, especially if they're poor.

"The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good." He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. That's what that song's about right?

"The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway." That's not very nice, God. The sluggard is having a hard enough time without the thorns.

*Movie Review*
I recently watched the movie "For the Bible Tells Me So" which is about how the bible is used to oppress gay people.

About half of the movie is spent on personal stories of devout Christians who are also gay. The most famous of these being Dick Gephardt's daughter. The documentary also has the story of the first gay Episcopalian bishop. If just for these stories, the documentary would be worth watching, but there is also some great bible commentary.

As I alluded to, the other half of the documentary is down and dirty biblical interpretation. I may be biased in saying I thought this was as interesting, or even more interesting than the personal stories.

I could go into further detail, but I'd rather you all go out and watch it. Needless to say I thought it was great.



For the Bible Tells Me So can be found on Amazon, iTunes, and I'm sure anywhere else that you can find movies (and maybe free on youtube, not that I would know).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

197: Malicious Winks

Proverbs 10-12
He who winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin. - Proverbs 10:10

This section is labeled "Proverbs of Solomon". I guess the other Proverbs must have been written by David, but the bible never specifies. This entire section seems to be a list of two line proverbs. I'm just going to pick and choose which one's I find interesting, because I can't possibly list them all.

I'll begin with "A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother". Way to start out with a proverb that doesn't make any sense, Solomon. Does a wise son not also bring joy to his mother? Does a foolish son not also bring grief to his father? I'm not sure what point Solomon is trying to make.

"The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked." This one really doesn't make any sense. He doesn't let good people go hungry. That part is fine. But he thwarts the cravings of the wicked. Unless the bible is using some definition of "thwart" that I don't know about, this means that God doesn't let the wicked go hungry either. So this really reads "God doesn't let the righteous go hungry, but he doesn't let the wicked go hungry." If someone has an explanation for this, have at it.

This one is just silly "He who winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin." First of all, these two lines have nothing to do with each other as far as I can tell. Second, is malicious winking a huge problem in biblical times? I've personally never felt the wrath of a malicious wink.

"He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool." So if you conceal your hatred, you're a liar. But of you reveal your hatred, which generally results in spreading slander, you're a fool. You're either a liar or a fool, pick one.

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Hmm, what's one thing I can think of that has a lot of words? Books! And what's one of the biggest books? The bible! And Solomon tells us that where ever there are a lot of words there is sin, therefore, the bible is sin. Not to mention that Solomon is a bit of a talker himself.

"When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever." This shines some light on Pat Robertson's comments on Katrina.

"Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death." Then why are Republicans so concerned with money? This has been on my mind today, because of the health care reform vote. All of the Republicans are screaming "how are we going to pay for this?!", but shouldn't they be more concerned with helping people (being righteous) rather than how much wealth they are going to need?

"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." Wait, what? Easy women are like pigs?

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." Tell us how you really feel Solomon. If you've ever felt bad about getting discipline, you're stupid. Congratulations, the bible has just called everyone in existence stupid.

"Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food." Some of these sayings are just ridiculous. What do servants and food have to do with each other? Why is having a servant a virtue?

"A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. " In the name of fairness, I thought I'd include a proverb that I agree with.

"There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace." So anyone who doesn't promote peace is evil. Therefore, George Bush is evil. But we knew that already.

*News*
Can you break concrete blocks? Can you snap a baseball bat in half? Well then you might be a Christian hero!

Mike Benson and his friends have been going around the country, performing feats of strength. What does this have to do with Christianity? Well, I don't really know. They say that this is to show that Christians don't have to be wimpy. I didn't know that stereotype existed.

"In one dramatic act, a hulking man snaps a baseball bat in half and then places the two pieces together in the shape of a cross as the crowd roars."

Congratulations, you can break something. I think you're time would be better spent preaching, if that's what you're trying to do. I'm not sure why you need gimmicks to make people believe in Jesus.

Yes, this is another slow news day.

(via Freep)
 

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