Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Good Book

Rudest verse in the Bible?
Ezekiel 23:20: "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses."

Apologies. I realise that for most of you this will seem to be an utterly trivial preoccupation of mine. But when I found The Skeptic's Annotated Bible online, I was lost in it for hours.

Oh ... I wish I'd had this when I was a teenager. It goes through the Bible verse by verse and points out the internal contradictions, the folly, the insane cruelty, the mysogyny, and the inaccuracies of fact - historical and scientific. With cross-referencing and Lego people. It is an ideal source for those who want chapter and verse (literally) on why the Bible is not the inerrant word of God.

Maybe you had a secular humanist upbringing and you think that's pretty obvious. I, on the other hand, am now consumed by the desire to tie up EVERY PERSON I SPENT MY TEENAGE YEARS WITH in front of this website - and smack them over the head with a copy of the New International Version until they've taken it all in.

It's not that they were bad or malicious people. But I spent so much time (until I finally threw it all in at age 21) struggling with the disparity between what they told me the Bible said, and what it really says. That the Bible is historic record. That God is good. That God is just. That God loves us. That if I did things the Bible way I'd be a better person, and if we all did then the world would be a better place.

Well, it's a huge heap of bullshit. I mangled my intellectual integrity for nothing. As Richard Dawkins put it: "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction." Or as Thomas Jefferson said: "The Christian God is a being of terrific character - cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust." Personally I'd add "evil" to that description.

"Why the bitterness, Janine?" you might be saying. "Why not live and let live?" The answer to that is that for decades I wasn't bitter about Christianity. I thought from my apostate perspective that they were mistaken, but basically good-hearted and harmless. Mostly harmless, anyway.

I've stopped believing they're harmless. This year - This year - it's only a month old! - we've had the Irish passing a law fining people thousands of euros for blasphemy. We've had major American evangelists telling us that Haitians got the divine punishment they deserved because they were in a pact with Satan. We've got Uganda - after decades of targetted missionary work from the USA, not that they needed a lot of encouraging in their homophobia - bringing in the Death Penalty for Homosexuality (and don't think Ugandans are safe in other countries - oh no, they intend to extradite and prosecute Ugandan gays living abroad). And this week we've got the Pope - remember him? the head of a Church that has systematically protected and promoted the careers of paedophiles in its ranks? - telling us that British equality legislation is a "violation of natural law".

Hell yes, I'm bitter.

Lady-in-chains picture at top is Mariamne by John William Waterhouse. Mariamne was married to Herod the Great (who was definitely mad, bad and dangerous to know) - he had her arrested and executed for adultery, on the instigation of his sister.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus was born during the reign of Herod the Great. The Gospel of Luke tells us he was born when "Quirinius was governor of Syria". There was actually no overlap between those two historically verifiable periods - so at least one of the accounts must be wrong.


Jo said...

Well of course.

It was written down... by people.

I am so grateful for my godless upbringing. No. dogma. at all.

It's so freeing.

P.S. Haven said...

Man, I could use your help here in the Bible Belt of the American South. I've been fighting the good fight since I was a teen myself (and finally split from my Methodist upbringing), but as you might imagine I'm vastly outnumbered.
But even the Southern Baptists haven't managed to get a law passed penalizing blasphemy. That's incredible.

Janine Ashbless said...

Yay to Jo and Haven and all you decent godless people out there! Sometimes it just feels like the whole world is full of crazies ... like the lunatics really have taken over the asylum.

Jo said...

Oh, sigh. Ireland is worse than the Southern Bible Belt...

it's just a desperate last gasp though, that's all. Lots of bloggers I know have officially excommunicated themselves from the Catholic Church recently!

P.S. Haven said...

Hooray for heathens!
I'm just glad my daughter has the luxury of making up her own mind.

Jo said...

Just make sure you're not too agnostic at her, or she might rebel and become a Fundamentalist...

P.S. Haven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
P.S. Haven said...

Hush yo' mouth, Jo! ;)
Nah, I think she gets enough of the Fundy POV from the in-laws, and sees the ridiculousness of it. So she'll form a healthy skepticism as she grows up, I hope. And even at 8 she's got a keen eye for bullshit.
I've tried really, really hard to always give her answers that basically say "everyone has to decide for themselves what they believe or don't believe."
Zero dogma, like you said, is my goal. But you're right, I don't want to tell her "be an athiest, like your Old Man!" She's a good kid. She'll get it figured out. And I'll be there every step of the way to help when she needs/wants it.

Jo said...

'Fundy' is cute, especially when you could have gone with 'mentalist'!


Janine Ashbless said...

Well, that's one ray of hope for the next generation!

My little nephew is being brought up by a fundy evolution-denying mom and educated at a Catholic primary school. I am just hoping his Evil Auntie Janine will be there when he starts asking awkward questions.

Janine Ashbless said...

PS Jo - is it possible to officially excommunicate yourself?

Jo said...

It completely is. From Catholicism anyway, not sure about Protestantism.

Janine Ashbless said...


You can't just say "I'm not a Catholic anymore" - You have to submit a "certificate of defection" to your bishop!

Janine Ashbless said...

I don't have any faith in petitions either - but I had to sign this one. I mean, it's not like the Vatican is short of cash, is it?

Erobintica said...

Thank you for that wonderful link Janine. I went and checked it out - of course clicking on "sex" - and my, there's enough there to keep me busy for hours. LOL.

I have a close friend who was a fundy when he was a young man (luckily before I met him or we probably wouldn't have become friends) and I always tell him I'm glad he was "saved" from that, hahahaha!

Heathen and proud of it. My three kids have been raised without benefit of any religion, and they all seem to have quite good morals (of the kind I consider important). And their friends who are/were "forced" to go to sunday school and church - hmmm, that doesn't seemed to have helped any. Let's hear it for godless upbrings Jo!

However, dogma does have it's uses - if not for dogma, there wouldn't be great movies like this. ;-)

Haven - livin below the belt - keep up the good fight! And your daughter is lucky.

Janine Ashbless said...

Sounds like your kids are just as lucky, Erobintica. Go you!

neve black said...

"Dear God,
Sorry to disturb you, but don't know if you noticed, but... your name is on a lot of quotes in this book, and us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look, and all the people that you made in your image still believing that junk is true. Well I know it ain't, and so do you, dear God, I can't believe in, I don't believe in...." XTC

Nice post, Janine. :-)