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.