How the bible gets almost everything wrong: volume 2

bible-questions

The bible’s moral inconsistencies:

As we saw here and here, the bible’s morality is confused and frequently contradictory. Jesus himself adds to the confusion with pronouncements like:

You have heard it said (in Exodus 21.24), ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:38-39)

and

You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5.27-28).

God’s ‘standards’ change depending on who thinks they’re channelling him:

In Joel 3.8 he advocates slavery but in Exodus 21.16 he forbids it.

In Matthew 6.1 Jesus insists good deeds should be done secretly forgetting he’s already said, in Matthew 5.1, that they should be done openly to impress others.

In Matthew 7.1-3 Jesus says judging others is to be avoided while in 1 Corinthians 6.2-4, Paul gives it the go-ahead; judging others is fine.

In Matthew 19.10-12 Jesus disparages marriage but the writer of Hebrews approves of it (13.4)

God allows divorce in Deuteronomy 21.10-14 but in Matthew 5.32 Jesus doesn’t.

And on and on. Like everyone else’s, Christians’ morality is socially determined. Unlike everyone else’s, their morality reflects the bible’s own confusion and inconsistencies. To accommodate its contradictions, Christians cherry-pick from it to bolster their pre-existing prejudices and biases. The rest of us are then measured – judged – against the resulting pick’n’mix morality and, boy, are we found lacking. ‘Biblical morality’ is nothing if not projectile.

 

The bible’s weak understanding of psychology:

Many of those who wrote the bible had a particularly bleak view of human beings. To these men we are totally depraved and our every thought is ‘continually evil’ (Genesis 6.5) Our ‘hearts’ are supremely deceitful and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17.9) and we’re under the control of the devil (Ephesians 2.1-3). We are incapable of doing good (Romans 3.10-13) and as Jesus himself puts it:

That which proceeds from a person, defiles that person. For from within, out of the heart, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile a person. (Mark 7.20-23).

I don’t recognise this as a description of myself and I’m sure you don’t of yourself. Of course human beings are capable of terrible acts (I’m writing this not long after a fanatical Muslim murdered 22 young, innocent people in a terrorist bombing in Manchester, here in the UK) and, on a more mundane level, we can behave in thoughtless or vindictive ways, entirely out of self-interest.

But we’re also capable of great kindness, compassion and concern. We are a complex mixture of these traits, the good and the bad. The biblical view that we are only ever hateful, devoid of any good, is jaundiced and unnecessarily negative. If parents were to spend their time telling a child he or she is only ever bad, wicked and evil, they would rapidly deprive the child of their self-worth, self-confidence and ability to relate in positive, loving ways to others. The description would become self-fulfilling. This is what the God of the bible does to his children.

Neither are we awash with sin. Sin is a religious idea, used to describe how humans fall short of the glory of God. It need not concern us here. There is no God to fall short of; sin therefore is a concept without any traction in the real world.

 

The bible’s fantasy perspective of the world:

Did you know this world is controlled by the devil and his demons? That powers and principalities of the air are at war with God and the powers of holiness all around us? In fact, the devil is always looking for ways to discredit the bible and is constantly trying to weaken Christians’ faith. He smuggles false doctrine into the church in order to mislead believers, and uses the hoax that is evolution to prevent unbelievers from accepting Christ as their saviour. He gives women ideas above their station, which God says is to be submissive, and has unleashed a wave of homosexual behaviour and gender confusion to blind people to God’s goodness and to kindle his wrath.

Did you know, though, that this fallen world and the ‘heavens’ above it are soon to be destroyed and replaced by a new earth and new heavens, where Jesus will reign over the select few God decides to raise from the dead? Despite Satan thinking he’s in control, it’s actually God who is. God only allows the devil to think he’s top-dog while he, God, is secretly pulling the strings.

If you do know these things, and if you believe them, then you have a ‘biblical worldview’. Or, to put it another way, you’ve bought into third-rate hokum that bears no relation to the world – the universe, even – as it is.

 

How to argue like a Christian

Argue

If you’ve ever tried discussing matters of faith with a True Believer™, you’ll know how difficult it can be; like wrestling with a jellyfish – and just about as poisonous.

So here’s a guide for the unwary; 10 of their favourite lines (5 this time, 5 next), all of which I’ve experienced more times than I care to remember.

“You don’t know your Bible!”

Point out that Jesus’ ‘good news’ was nothing like Paul’s or that they were both wrong about the Kingdom arriving in the first century and this old canard gets trotted out. Even if you quote chapter and verse, a clear indication you do know the Bible, they still produce it. What they mean is ‘how dare you quote the bits of the Bible we true believers don’t like and prefer not to acknowledge.’

“You’re quoting out of context.”

I’ve posted about this one before. Seemingly as a sceptic you have no discernment when it comes to selecting Bible verses. How ever many you reference – one or a hundred – they will tell you it’s not enough; that you’ve not, somehow, caught the true meaning of what the Bible is saying, which is, naturally, what they say it means. Unsurprisingly. quoting isolated verses is something the Righteous themselves like to do all the time…

“The bible says…”

It doesn’t matter what point you make, this will appear somewhere in the Christian’s response, followed, of course, by some random verse from the book in question. Christians seem to regard it as the ultimate clincher, the way to silence any opponent, as if quoting the bible to those who recognise neither its credibility nor its authority persuades anyone of anything.

“You’ve no right to criticise Christianity when you can’t ‘prove’ how something came from nothing/how life arose/evolution.”

It’s unlikely anyone can explain these biggies in 140 characters or a Facebook comment, but we can direct those issuing the challenge to scientific works that offer viable theories soundly based on the evidence available. Needless to say our Christian smart-Alec is unlikely to read them, claiming instead that one’s inability to comprehensively explain the Big Bang or evolution ‘proves’ it must have been – watch the sleight of hand here – YHWH.

“‘People like you’ only want to wallow in your own sin (which is why you won’t let me have my own way).”

Now I like to wallow as much as the next man, but outside the Christian bubble, ‘sin’ is a fairly meaningless concept, designed only to induce guilt in others. Which means the point of this unpleasant finger pointing is to side-step any discussion and to dismiss whatever point you might want to make. What this retort really means is ‘you have an ulterior motive for saying what you’re saying and, in any case, your inherently evil nature doesn’t entitle you to have an opinion.’

More next time…

Primordial Soup for the Soul

CellsA commenter on this here blog thingie, Mike, has challenged me to present him with the evidence for evolution. Mike evidently sees me as something of an expert on the theory because I’m convinced of its validity. I’m no expert, of course – I’m not even a scientist – but having read widely about evolution over the years, I’ve attempted a response. Having spent time creating and evolving it, I thought I’d add it as a post rather than tuck it away in the comments.

Mike wrote: When it comes to the hoax of Darwin’s evolution, I’ve read and observed his tree of evolution. It is TOTALLY and complete without evidence. It is a false theory that humanist ” scientist ” have brainwashed the public with.
If you think it’s hoax then you won’t, I take it, have shots that immunise you against the latest strains of viruses? And you’re not concerned that some microbes have evolved to become resistant to antibiotics? Modern medicine is predicated on the fact that organisms evolve but at least, Mike, you’re consistent and avoid it all, knowing as you do that evolution is a hoax. God keeps you well and heals you when he doesn’t. Doesn’t he?

I have debated and studied how his theory is genetically impossible. DNA cannot gain nor contain information necessary for Darwin to be true.
You’ve studied this have you? On Answers in Genesis? How about what real scientists actually say? Try this New Scientist article which explains how mutations in DNA produce new information and new species. As it concludes, ‘the claim that mutations destroy information but cannot create it not only defies the evidence, it also defies logic.’

I suggest YOU… who claim Darwin is true, produce some evidence to confirm his theory. It should be easy. Certainly the truth would be in the fossils. That is why I requested some transitional fossils that would back up his theory. Why is it up to me to provide you with the evidence you so resolutely refuse to look up yourself? Your original comments were a response to my post about Jesus and Paul’s gospels, so I can’t see why I’m under obligation to enlighten you about evolution. However, I have attempted to do so by directing you to material you might read. Of course I’m betting that even if you do, you’ll conclude it’s wrong, because… you know, God and stuff.

There should be millions (of transitional fossils). Should there be? Why? Because you say so? You do realise that not every creature who ever lived became a fossil? Very few did, only where the conditions were right, and of all the fossils we have, only 1% are of land animals. However, this still leaves us with plenty of examples of transitional forms. Take a look here, here and here.

There is however a problem with presenting the fossil record to creationists: say, for example, there are two related creatures, which we’ll call A and C, that lived a few million year apart. There appears to be a gap between them – a missing link if you like. One day a fossil is discovered which provides the link between A and C – let’s call it B – and the link is missing no longer. ‘Ah, but hold on,’ says the creationist, ‘where previously we had one gap, now we have two; the one between A and B and the one between B and C. Darwin disproved!’ The scientist cannot win when the more gaps the fossil record fills the more gaps the creationist thinks he can see.

Certainly if every living creature came from ONE swamp of micro organisms billions of years ago…. we should have SOME evidence that a single cell can eventually divide into ALL and every creature on earth. Overlooking your strange idea that it was just ‘a single cell’ that ‘divided’, we do know that all life evolved from those original formations, as presented in the article above as well as here and here.

I’m sure science can take a swamp of micro organisms, and produce… Yes, it can. It did so first in1953! And it didn’t even begin with micro-organisms, just chemicals and electricity.

…and show us different creatures coming out of the slop. As I’ve already explained, this is not how it works. Giraffes, peacocks and lizards did not clamber out of primordial soup fully formed. Millions of years were needed for very elementary lifeforms to evolve in the ‘slop’. These eventually migrated to the oceans and eventually onto land. Millions of years and still no giraffes or peacocks and certainly no humans. Billions more years were need before those appeared. To look at it another way, today’s life forms did not come directly from the single-celled creatures that first emerged in the chemical mix. They evolved from creatures not too dissimilar from themselves, which in turn evolved from creatures not too dissimilar from themselves, ad infinitum back through billions of years. Try Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale for a clearer picture of the long, painstaking process.

But first explain how life can come from nothing? I’ve already explained life didn’t come from nothing. It’s likely it emerged from groups of organised chemicals, which eventually evolved into RNA, then DNA, then, as this video explains, amino acids – the building blocks of organic life. A number of other scientific possibilities are explored here. Just because we don’t yet know precisely how the process worked, doesn’t mean everything we do know about the origin of life is rendered invalid. And it certainly doesn’t mean that a god must’ve done it.

Let’s say though that evolution is completely wrong. Does that make creationism – God creating life as we know it in six days, 6,000 years ago – the only alternative explanation? Of course not. The writers of the two creation myths in Genesis had no idea how life appeared on the Earth, suggesting as they do that humans had been around since a few days after its start. They may not even have regarded their stories as factual when what they were trying to explain was man’s apparent isolation from God. Science was as alien to them as the modern medicine I mentioned at the start of this post. I regret to tell you, but Genesis is not a scientific treatise.

You’re right about one thing – there’s no evidence for evolution as you perceive it. You condemn your own very limited understanding, not the theory itself. There is far more evidence for evolution than there is for a supernatural creator. There is no anti-God agenda to science or the theory of evolution. There is instead an attempt to discover how everything works, to get at the truth wherever the pursuit leads. That this has led away from gods and God is because of the nature of that truth, not to mention the nature of gods themselves.

Christians’ Favourite Delusions 28: Evolution says we are no more than animals

AngryHere we go again. Christians claiming that evolution reduces human beings to being ‘just’ or ‘no more than’ animals.

Does it? Where? The ‘just’ and ‘no more than’ are unnecessary and invalid value judgements. They’re not there in Darwin, who goes out of his way to avoid making any such statement, while Richard Dawkins explicitly rejects the idea that we are ‘just’ gene carriers.

Evolutionary theory recognises that humans are indeed animals – with no ‘just’ or ‘no more than’ to qualify the fact. How can we not be animals? We do everything they do; like them, we have – indeed are – physical bodies that breath, eat, sleep, excrete, bond, mate, experience pain and pleasure and fight; we are, like most other animals, territorial and also like them, we put a great deal of effort into ensuring our own survival and that of our offspring. Even Christians who deny the body and its demands engage in these kinds of animal behaviour.

Of course, we also do things other animals don’t, or don’t to the same extent; we have remarkably complex social arrangements, which have resulted in our developing systems of morality and sophisticated ways of dealing with each other (though our morality is remarkably flawed); we have achieved much in the fields of culture, technology and in our understanding of the world and the universe beyond our tiny planet. We have also made a mess of our environment.

Our intelligence, our self-awareness, is the evolutionary equivalent of adaptations developed in other species. Our characteristics may seem to us to be somehow superior to those of other animals, but really they’re not. They have enabled our continued survival and allowed us to achieve all that we have, both good and bad. But in evolutionary terms, they are no different from the refinements that have enabled other animals to do the equivalent in their environments. This doesn’t mean, however, we are ‘just’ or ‘no more than’ animals. No creature is ‘just’ an animal and human achievements are all the more remarkable because we’re animals.

What Christians usually mean by their ‘just’ and ‘no more than’ is that as animals we are not extra-special to God, not ‘made in his image’. And of course, we’re not; there’s no God to be extra special to or made in the likeness of. Even if there were, he doesn’t seem to be particularly pre-disposed towards us; we exist as physical bodies that are as susceptible to the same hunger, disease, illness, injury, weakness, infirmity and death as any other animal. We are not immaterial, spiritual beings – though presumably the Christian God could have made us that way if he’d wanted to. To say, as some Christians do, that we are spiritual beings temporarily trapped in material bodies, or that we must deny the body and its demands to become spiritually perfect, is the grand perversion that is the Christian faith. It denies the reality of this physical, material world and our own natures. Any spirituality we might claim for ourselves is a projection of our intelligence and self-awareness; any morality the result of those complex social arrangements.

So, we are not ‘just’ animals, nor are we ‘no more than’ animals in any way that makes sense biologically. We are animals, remarkable perhaps in rising above our biology from time to time, but animals nonetheless, whether Christians want to believe it or not. ‘Just’ and ‘no more than’ don’t come into it.