Gilead – just a stone’s throw away

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Ken Ham’s Answers In Genesis thinks it’s okay to stone people. Specifically, your wayward kids. The bible says so and AiG’s Elizabeth Mitchell is eager to defend whatever the bible says, on account of it being ‘God’s Word’. She does warn us that we need to read Deuteronomy 21:18–21, where you’ll find this particular bit of parenting advice, in context, because although the bible is the fallible, eternal, literal word of the Creator of the Universe it needs interpreting, and has to be understood in terms of the time it was written.

The context is of course that Deuteronomy and all of the Old Testament was written by primitive, superstitious bronze-age tribesmen who had the same mentality the Taliban and Isis have today. But this isn’t good enough for ‘Doctor’ Mitchell. No, her context is altogether different; she tells us in an article recently posted on the Answers In Genesis Facebook page that Deuteronomy 21 isn’t talking about children. No, it’s referring to uppity teenagers, which makes it okay. And not just teenagers, but really, really troublesome ones, which makes it doubly okay. These really, really troublesome teenagers are the scourge of society and can be stoned with impunity. The bible says so.

And yet, they’re not. Christians don’t stone awkward family members, thankfully. Perhaps, despite articles like Mitchell’s and others’, Christians don’t really believe the brutality promoted in and by the bible. Mitchell offers no explanation for this inconsistency of belief. Instead, her article peters out with some incoherent rambling about Jesus; the same Jesus who declared his undying support for these brutal, Old Testament laws (Matthew 5.17-19).

I suggested in the comments on Facebook that it doesn’t matter how much one takes context into account, the command of Deuteronomy, that rebellious youths be stoned to death, is utterly indefensible. It is cruel, barbaric and belongs in the past when, presumably, unfortunate young people were actually killed in this way by their families and tribal elders. I suggested morals and standards have evolved for the better since the days when people considered that murder was the best way to deal with youthful bad behaviour.

And for that I was metaphorically stoned myself. How dare you challenge God and his Word! How ridiculous to suggest we have better moral standards today when clearly we are in an immoral abyss worse than any before! Last Days! God’s standards are inviolate and if he says the best way to deal with miscreants is to stone them to death then it is!

The Gilead regime envisaged by Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid’s Tale, where Old Testament sanctions are stringently applied in contemporary society, is closer than we think. People like those who hang around on Answers In Genesis’ Facebook pages, like flies around a corpse, would be more than happy to see the death penalty for those who infringe God’s barbaric laws. They’d be only too willing to throw the first stone, not only at difficult teenagers, but at all the others ‘God’s Word’ says merit the death penalty: couples who have sex when the woman is on her period (Leviticus 18.19); women who are not virgins on their wedding nights (Deuteronomy 22.13-14; 20-21); gay people (Leviticus 20.13); those who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 35.2; Numbers 15.32-36); blasphemers (Leviticus 24.16) and worshippers of other gods (Deuteronomy 13.6-9))

I am not an advocate of censorship but some form of censure is necessary for those who, either in speech or writing, advocate that others be put to death. Calling for the execution of those with whom you disagree or who have different moral codes cannot – must not – be tolerated in a civilised society. Pronouncements like those of Elizabeth Mitchell, her supporters and other religious crackpots who defend the indefensible, should be flagged up as hate speech, carrying a warning that the views expressed are themselves immoral, insupportable and, ultimately, illegal in civilised society. Ideally, their poisonous rhetoric should not be provided with an online platform. This wouldn’t, before anyone suggests otherwise, violate their right to free speech; they would still be free to express their unpalatable views in their churches, Creation Museums and own homes. Excluding them from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, however, would deprive them of their wider audience – they’re only showing off, after all – and confine their hateful rhetoric to where it can do least harm.

These people are not merely ‘causing offence’ – offence is not the issue. They are inciting violence against others, influencing fellow believers to adopt their repellant views as their own. The standards of bronze-age tribes are not ours today; those who think they are abuse free speech and forfeit their right to be heard publicly.

 

 

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Ken Ham’s ‘Five Evidences that the Bible is True’

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Yes, that’s what he says: ‘evidences.’ Good use of English there, Kenny. Actually, the article is anonymous, but as it’s on Kenny’s site, and as it features inside his Noah’s Ark vanity-project, we can safely assume he authorised and approved it. That being the case, he can take responsibility for it.

Anyway, here are those ‘evidences’. Be prepared to be underwhelmed:

1. The Bible Is God’s Word

The ‘reasoning’ here is that God inspired the writers so, ipso facto, the Bible must be God’s words.

How do we know God inspired the Bible? Because the Bible appears to say so. But how do we know we can trust what the Bible claims about this and everything else? Duh… because God inspired it. Circular reasoning that gets us nowhere.

But wait, more ‘evidence’ from Kenny: ‘the Bible is authoritative in every subject it addresses’. I guess that’s so long as you exclude all the areas where it isn’t, like those that are scientifically, historically and geographically inaccurate, including the early chapters of Genesis that Kenny loves so much. Then there are those parts that are evidently myth, legend or fantasy.

Yes, apart from all those bits, the Bible is accurate and authoritative.

Isn’t it?

2. The Bible is Unique and Unified

Two claims in one. The Bible is far from unique; there are many religious texts in the world – the Qu’ran, the Vedas, the Pali Canon, the Book of Mormon… many with evidence of several authors at work in them. Neither is the Bible unique because it is ‘unified.’ It is not unified. It is contradictory and inconsistent: the so-called ‘new covenant’ cuts across the ‘everlasting’ agreement God allegedly made with the Jews and YHWH himself evolves, even having a personality transplant somewhere between the Old and New Testaments. Most significantly, for what is supposedly its central message, the Bible offers several, frequently mutually exclusive, ways to salvation.

3. The Bible Has Been Faithfully Passed Down.

This is empirically, demonstrably false. Many books of the Bible were written decades, even centuries, after the events they purportedly describe; the oral tradition is an unreliable means of transmission; texts were altered both by accident and on purpose; some books are patent forgeries; ninety percent of surviving manuscripts were created 800 years or more after the originals, and none of these ‘autographs’ survive for anyone to determine how ‘faithful’ later copies might be.

4. The Bible Contains Fulfilled Prophecy

It does? Where? Is it in the gospels where Jesus prophesies that the Son of Man will, in the lifetime of his listeners, return through the clouds to judge the tribes of the Earth and establish God’s Kingdom? Is it in the contrived symbolic events imposed on Jesus’ life to make it look like he fulfilled prophecy, even when the earlier ‘prophecies’ were not prophecies at all? Is it in Paul’s letters where he promises the rapture will be coming while those in his churches still live? Is it in the many prophecies that were written after the events they were supposedly predicting? Is it in the innumerable prophecies that didn’t come to pass?

That’s right; not one of these bits of malarkey constitutes ‘fulfilled prophecy’.

5. The Bible Holds the Key To Eternal Life

No, it doesn’t because there’s no such thing. This is the great swindle at the heart of Christianity; a fantasy dreamed up by fanatics, fantasists and psychotics, and preserved in the Bible. Christians are singularly unable to provide any evidence that anyone has ever gone on to have a life after death, nor that they ever will. We know now, as we may always have suspected, that when the body dies ‘we’ die with it. End of.

So, every one of Ham’s ‘evidences’ is false; a sham like his beliefs and the book from which they spring. You’ll struggle to tell him so, however, because like so many Christian web-sites, there’s no posting of comments; Kenny broaches no dissent. That’s how confident he is of his case. Best not to entertain any views other than your own weak, unfounded assertions.

 

Is your marriage a Bible-based marriage? Find out in this simple quiz.

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1. If you’re male, have you got more than one wife? If female, has your husband got other wives as well as you?

If you answer ‘yes’, score 20 points: all the heroes of the Old Testament had multiple wives: Abraham, Esau, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, David, Solomon… Clearly, polygamy is acceptable in the sight of the Lord (Exodus 21.10). Even Jesus approves of it (Matthew 5.17-18 & 25.1-13). Well done if this is you! No points for a ‘no’ answer – you’ve a lot of catching up to do.

2. Are you married to your brother/sister?

20 for yes, nothing for no. God approves of this kind of marriage in Genesis 16.1-3 and as we know, the answer’s always in Genesis.

3. Ladies, were you a virgin on your wedding night?

Score 20 if you were. Otherwise, get your husband to have you stoned to death on your dad’s doorstep, like Deuteronomy 22.13-21 says he should.

4. Were you under-age when you married?

No problem. In fact, the minimum age for marriage in the Jesus’ time was 12 for girls, 13 for boys so award yourself 25 bonus points if you were still a child when you married. Nothing though if you were ancient… like say, 20.

 5. Have you taken a slave as a partner?

Another 30 points if you have. God’s quite happy with this arrangement. The slave might not be, but who cares? Not God, that’s for sure (Numbers 31.17-18).

6. Men, did you buy your bride off her father? Ladies were you bought?

To really qualify as a bible-based marriage, this how it should be. You gonna argue with Genesis 34.12 and Exodus 22.16-17? Score 50 if money changed hands. Nothing if it you did it all for love: that’s not biblical at all.

7. Have you married your brother’s newly widowed wife?

70 points if you did – it’s what God expects (Genesis 38.9 & Deuteronomy 25.5-10). Just don’t spill your semen on the ground on the wedding night because, as Onan discovered, sex-obsessed Yahweh will smite thee if thou doest.

 8. Do you frolic naked round a garden with your partner without bothering with a formal marriage service?

Score 50 if this Adam-and-Eve arrangement is for you – they didn’t bother with marriage either. You get nothing if you keep your clothes on while gardening.

9. Do you hate your spouse (and children and your father and mother)?

Jesus says you should, in Luke 14.26, so that you can follow him more zealously. If you really can’t stand the person you’ve married to, score 100 points. You get nothing if you’re soppy and still love your wife or husband.

10. Christians, have you shunned marriage altogether?

Your Saviour says you should (Luke 20.34-35) otherwise you’re not worthy of a place in his Kingdom (offer good only in the first century, admittedly). Award yourself 200 points if you’ve been obedient, nothing if you decided this instruction wasn’t for you and you went ahead and got married anyway!

11. Have you castrated yourself for Jesus’ sake?

He thinks you should, you know; see Matthew 19.12. Score 500 (though not much else) for taking this final step. You get nothing for deciding – again! – that this isn’t for you. What are you? A man or a wimp?

12. Have you divorced your partner and married another?

True, Jesus doesn’t approve of divorce, but more ‘bible-believing’ Christians divorce in the USA than non-believers (32% compared with 30%) and they can’t all be wrong. What does Jesus know anyway? Add an extra 100 points to your score for every additional wife or husband you’ve had.

So how did you do?

0. Forget it. You marriage is worthless in the eyes of the Lord.

5-100: What must God think? You’ve really let him down. He offers you all these attractive, biblical options – multiple wives, slaves, siblings  – and you’ve not gone for any of them. For shame.

100-199: Get serious! You think biblical marriage is negotiable?

200 and 499. Pretty good. You’ve avoided marriage, just like JC says you should.

Over 500: You’ve definitely got a bible-based marriage. Or rather, you haven’t, and no balls either.