For those of you who may not know, I have been going through the Bible from start to finish on another blog, and have recently finished the book of Genesis. It had been a while since I had read that book from start to finish, and I had honestly forgotten just how messed up the stories in Genesis truly are.
The stated purpose of that blog is to render the Bible for the education of those who haven’t bothered to read, or weren’t forced to read it several times as a child like I was. I try not to clutter the posts on the various chapters with too much commentary, and only lightly touch on some of the more disturbing or odd recurring themes, but It is getting more and more difficult not to talk about the stories in Genesis as I go along, so I have decided to do a series of posts on this blog about the lessons one can glean Genesis.
The Why of this Series
The Bible, and the characters in it are heavily used, especially in this country (U.S.), as examples of the way we are supposed to live our lives. Terms like Judeo/Christian values, family values, religious morality, etc. are constantly bantered around as reasons why the Bible should be our go to source for examples of how to govern, what to teach our children, and how to live our lives. Meanwhile, our government has become impotent. Our children are falling behind almost every other industrialized country in education. Ignorance of science is touted as a badge of honor, and a goal for children. And, discrimination and intolerance is accepted practice and even written into law.
The stories in Genesis and the characters in these stories are prominent parts of Sunday school lessons all across this country, and indeed, the rest of the planet, and at the same time, there are also a lot of highly motivated, and well-funded people trying to force many of these same fairy tales into school curricula under the guise of a pseudo-science.
Those of us who have had the misfortune of being indoctrinated into one of the thousands of different Christian sects as children, have been/are heavily bombarded with the Genesis stories, however, we generally get carefully selected and heavily edited pieces of the story, parts of passages, and even downright lies, and are expected to never dig too deep. Most Christians have no idea that incest, murder, rape, the solicitation of prostitutes, lying, stealing, slavery, and a host of other such things are not just condoned, but rewarded, in the stories from this book.
This series of posts on the Lessons of Genesis will address all of these unknowns and many more.
These posts are primarily aimed at atheists, Protestant Fundamentalists, and literalists. Literalists are those who ascribe to the idea that unless a passage in the Bible is clearly defined as an allegory, parable, poem or any other such fable-type of story, then it is fact/actual history. This approach is actually impossible and never practiced by literalists, but they claim it, and it’s their belief system, so I allow them their definition.
Generally, literalists and fundamentalist are the same people, but there are some who stand in a fuzzy, gray, in-between, area and I wanted to include all of them, so in future posts when I refer to literalist I do so in an all-inclusive way.
This is not to say that more moderate Christians, such as Catholics, Episcopalians, and such aren’t part of the audience and can’t learn something, but their stated beliefs are more realistic and scholarly in relation to the stories covered by these posts, as they tend to hold that these stories are more parable than historical fact. The core idea of the Bible being the inspired word of God is still easily assailed in this case, but by a much more scholarly, reasonable, and logical way which will likely be the basis for a future post or two.
The primary idea behind these posts, and all my others, is that atheists may gain some new knowledge about what it is that they are up against when dealing with fundamentalist beliefs and have an easily referred to reference for debate on those beliefs. I know that nothing I say here will change the mind of any hardcore fundamentalist, because, generally, their beliefs are so ingrained that they no longer have the capacity to logically view them, as they tend to rely on faith and not reason for their beliefs. The debate between faith vs reason is a whole different subject which will likely be the basis for many future posts. Faith aside, for those people who have doubts or questions about their indoctrination, my hope is that these posts will help them see what they are being taught for the rubbish it is.
References Used and Why
The reference for all given passages and chapters is the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. I use this version not because I believe it to be the most accurate: it is in fact far from the most accurate version, and I will point that out at every relevant point. Also, I don’t use the KJV because it’s the easiest to understand; once again–far from it. I use it simply because it is the only version accepted as “correct” or “right” by most literalists. If I, or anyone else, were to use any other version of the Bible then the observations presented would simply be written off by such people as coming from the “wrong” Bible, and therefore having no merit, regardless of whether their version said the same exact thing or not. (again…topic for a future post) It is also the one I am most familiar with as it was the one force-fed to me when I was young.
I will give chapter and verse for every single item I mention in this posts, and a link to the relevant passage at BibleGateway.com. I do this because I know that not everyone has a nice 50-year-old leather-bound King James of their own to refer to. I have yet to find a single syllable in the online version that does not sync with my printed Bible, so it is just as good a reference without having to support the publication of these fairy tales. Had this reference been around decades ago I probably wouldn’t have more than a dozen different versions of the same book.
How to (Ideally) Use the References
Ideally, I would want everyone reading this series to read the relevant passages so that they would have, at least, a passing knowledge of where my comments and views are coming from, and also know that I am not simply making things up. I believe that this would better enable the reader to asses Genesis, and use what they learn in conversations and debates which they may have later on.
I am a firm believer in fighting fire with fire in the God debate. In my view; if you are going to discuss creationism vs evolution you should know something about both sides, and have accurate knowledge of the scientific method, and principles discussed. Likewise, if someone wants to continually throw Bible passages at you, then you should throw Bible passages right back, and this requires knowledge of the source material. After all, the Bible has created, or at least started the process for creation of more atheists than damned near anything else, and I believe one should use the best tool for the given task.
I tend to throw passages in a conversation, and allow the other side to contradict my passages with others. I then point out the contradictory nature and thus fallibility of the Bible as a whole as shown by their arguments. This is generally a drawn out process of back and forth which often ends with the other side getting frustrated, condemning me to Hell, and walking away. When done in a public forum, this discussion may not change the mind of the person with whom I’m talking, but the seeds of doubt have been sown, and others who have witnessed it may see my point even when the person I was talking to didn’t. In a one-on-one situation the seeds may well have been sown without my ever knowing it. Either way, it is seldom a completely fruitless endeavor.
I realize that this is a confrontational way of doing things, but I believe it’s justified when atheists are constantly belittled and discriminated against because of this collection of mythological tales. I never insinuate myself and beliefs into their space by going to their homes, or barging into their churches and/or chat sites, but the moment that their beliefs intrude on my space or life I attack with great gusto. This may be called confrontational, but I think it is better termed as self-defense.
Genesis, and the rest of the Bible is constantly used in our society as a means to discriminate, start wars, seize power, and defraud people. In fact, the Bible has been used to justify a whole range of things throughout history. Slavery and abolitionism; Hitler’s genocide and fighting Hitler; racism and civil rights; 9/11 and the “war on terrorism.” All of these things have a firm foundation in the Bible, and believers don’t realize that these conflicting messages show just how illogical and unbelievable the Bible is.
I personally have used the Bible to “prove” that Billy Graham was the anti-Christ; that Jesus in his glorified form is actually female; that two or more Gods exist at least one of whom is a woman; that Jesus was a false prophet, and that people who say I’m going to Hell, women who talk in church, and all people who pray where I can see or hear it, are going to Hell.
The sooner this mythology loses its ability to destroy people’s lives, the sooner the World can become a better place for everyone. Therefore, I confront/defend.
So, lets begin.
I will start the series with a lesson entitled, God the Confused Creator and we will proceed from there.
Until then, Beware the knock at the door, because it may not be Avon calling.
- Why this atheist likes the Bible (secularnewsdaily.com)
- Genesis Chapters 25-28 (atheistron.wordpress.com)
- Genesis Chapter 1 (atheistron.wordpress.com)
- Does The Bible State The Age Of The Earth? (biblicalsubjects.wordpress.com)
- Genesis Chapter 2 (atheistron.wordpress.com)
- Why this atheist likes the Bible (richarddawkins.net)
- What is liberal Christian theology? (altruistico.wordpress.com)