On sexuality, feminism, and being a man, baby.

(Sorry for invoking the specter of Austin Powers with that title.)

I almost never discuss sex and gender issues on my blog. I think I have only twice in the five years I’ve been blogging:
The free market corrects (for errors in being trusting).
For the Bible tells me so.
Time for secret gay sex for straight men fading away.
Right to privacy…with your vibrator.
Contraception, abortion foe to head family-planning office – CNN.com
Why Gay Marriage is Wrong, Redux

Hmm, guess I’ve blogged more on the subject than I thought. But usually, based on a search of my blog, I mention in conjunction with Judeo-Christian (and Islamic) hatred of sex. Seems most every other non-Abrahamic religion in the world has a significantly more open and healthy attitude regarding human sexuality. The Abrahamic religions are nearly pathological when it comes treating human sexuality as wrong, dirty, evil, sinful, shameful, etc. ad nauseum. And since our western culture has been greatly influenced by and infected affected by the Abrahamic religions, our patriarchal society has taken on many of the same neurotic issues with sexuality. And even more so in the United States, which is the most Christian of all “civilized” western nations.

At risk of confusing causation with correlation, I think it can be said that there is a connection between the fact that the United States is the most “religious” western nation, and has the most instances of rape, child abuse, sexual harassment, teenage pregnancy, STI’s of any modern nation. And is also one of the most sexist western nations as well. We’ve finally entered the 20th century (yes, 20th) by supporting a woman presidential candidate, even though even counties in the Middle East and Africa have had woman presidents, prime ministers, heads of state for decades longer than we would even consider it possible in our own country.

I bring the subject up because it’s been on my mind more acutely since returning from the ICFA a couple weeks ago.
Last year’s ICFA also gave me something to think about. That conference had a theme of gender and sexuality, so obviously I heard a lot of interesting papers and panels on the subject. One fellow, who’s successful career in primarily in writing gay erotica, romance, and contemporary short fiction, mentioned a pyramid of power relations–an illustration of how people with greater social power are less able to identify with people “below” them, while those under the top live in multiple worlds.

Well, it’s like this: White, protestant, heterosexual men are at the top of the power pyramid. And being at the top, they can only really understand their own cultural experience. They may be able to recognize discrimination and lack of equality, but by and large they don’t live in any other world but their own privilege.
Below them are white, hetero- women, then Catholics and other non-protestant religions, people of color, gay/lesbian/bi, etc. Of course, this isn’t scientific and whatever “level” on the pyramid a group is is fluid. But at the bottom would hypothetically be an Hispanic (or maybe Arabic) atheist lesbian. But the point is, each person from a less privileged group has to live in their own world of their “group,” and the worlds above them. So, a woman lives in a world of being a woman, dealing with women’s issues and problems and bigotry, AND they have to live in the world of male dominated society. Gay people live in a world of LGBT issues and politics, concerns and discrimination, while also having to live in a world of heterocentrism and homophobia. Make sense? (This guy, whose name I forget, explained it much better. Probably why he’s a professional writer, and I’m a blogger.)

Anyway, that illustration really made sense to me. At least, I like to think it did–after all, I’m not that far from the top of the pyramid, being a white male in a hetero-marriage (despite being bi). In fact, that’s about as privileged as one can be. Even though polls show that atheists are more distrusted by more American’s than even Islamo-fascists, and a gay black woman has a better chance of being elected president than an atheist (I’m not being factitious, this is what the polling indicates), it’s not like people can look at me and detect my non-theism…well, religious tolerance and American hatred toward those who don’t believe is for another post. This is supposed to be about gender and sex. (Interesting, my Marxist professor who I admire, would totally agree with the pyramid metaphor. Marxism is all about power-issues, social and class distinction. Feminism sprang from Marxist criticism. But the liberal humanist prof. I have, who is ironically 25 years my Marxist prof.s junior, who believes that there is an empirical and universal “good the true and the beautiful” that transcends all times and cultures, rejects this idea of the pyramid of power relations and understanding.)

OK, so that was last year, and I’m constantly thinking about that idea, of people in various disenfranchised groups having to live in multiple worlds while the white, straight, protestant male-dominated world carries on blithely unaware of the unique privilege it enjoys. This year at the ICFA, something else happened that made me take new notice of different awareness, made me rethink power issues. Actually, it wasn’t the conference itself but while sitting in a movie the day after the conference with some conference friends. (How many more times can I say “conference” in a single sentence? *grin*) A bunch of us, three guys and Ms. P. and Miss N. and I, went to see the recent Escape From new York/Mad Max/28 Days Later action flick, Doomsday. There was this scene where there’s a rally of the post-quasi-apocalyptic punk-barbarians have gathered to cheer their leader and eat one of the unfortunate protagonists. The leader comes out on a stage to rock music while two extremely scantily fetish-clad women pole-dance, (before a cadre of large, kilt wearing men can-can. The whole scene was somewhat Vaudevillian). My first impulse, having a Y-chromosome and being mostly straight, was to “appreciate” the hyper-sexualized display of women. Then it hit me like a truck: I wonder if this bothers P. and N.?! I glanced to my right, and Ms. P. seemed unaffected (but then, after they blew up the cute bunny 20 minutes earlier, I think she was pretty jaded by everything that followed. I mean, once the cute bunny gets all ‘sploded, there’s not much hope for decency thereafter). But the realization of what it might mean, to a woman, to see her gender indiscriminately sexualized as a sex object in surround-sound and 30-feet large, really bugged me for most of the rest of the film, and since.

This isn’t an entirely new thought. I was raised pretty liberal and socially conscious. My mom was single much of my childhood, and more-or-less single during her last marriage to a trucker who was gone 90% of the time. So I was raised without any ideas of male dominance and patriarchy in a household, during the 70s and 80s when male sensitivity to women’s issues was climbing. (The only male figure in my upbringing was my maternal grandfather, who I loved and adored, but was basically an example of stoic passivity. You work hard to support your family’s material needs, then you relax after 10+ hours a day of construction by working some more on house and property.) Anyway, I feel like I was lucky in that I didn’t have a father-figure example of an abusive father/husband. I saw my mom having to work to support her family and not be dominated by a man in her life. And, starting in 7th grade, most of my friends were girls. I just liked hanging around girls more, and not just because of sexual attraction, but because I found guys to generally be idiots and girls to be more thoughtful and complex. Around guys, it was always some overt and covert alpha-competition (still is). Constant machismo and saying and doing stupid stuff. (I’ve done my share of stupid things–and I have the scar on the back of my head to prove it.) Girls tended to be more interested in the music I liked, writing as I liked to do, discussing nuance as opposed to blatant obviousness. Girls were just simply more interesting, intellectually stimulating, complex, and fun to be around than guys. I don’t know if this helped contribute to a more awareness of sexual politics, but it did help instill in me more respect and understanding to feminist issues…I think.

That being said, I also disagree with some significant concepts of feminism. I’m reminded of one of my wife’s favorite quotes from the show “The West Wing” (gawd I miss that show. The cast and crew of that show should be in the actual West Wing!) in which assistant council, and Republican, Ainsley Hays, (one of the only Republicans, fictional or not, who actually has a lot of wise and intelligent points of view), dismisses the Equal Rights Amendment. She says the 14th Amendment of the Constitution covers her just fine, she doesn’t need special laws to prove to her that she’s equal with all other US citizens. And for the most part, I agree. Legally, the Constitution (finally, after being amended to include blacks as full “people” (talk about a shameful moment of our history),) applies to all people, just as our “inalienable rights” apply to all people. It’s not the purpose of the law to go into detail about who is as equal as who–just as it’s not justice to legislate that certain people should be given extra benefits in order to try to parity discriminatory behavior (read: affirmative action). Discrimination is and should be illegal, and be dealt with. But the answer is not state sanctioned reverse discrimination.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Discrimination exists, against women, against LGBT, against people of color, against religious belief (and non), regardless of the 14th Amendment or any other law enumerating equality. Making more laws isn’t going to change it, and in fact, make increase resentment. Just as, for example, using the other “liberal” sticking point I highly disagree with despite my progressive beliefs, increased gun control. The left love to think that if guns are outlawed, by writing on pieces of parchment that guns are “personae” non gratae, that gun crime will magically go down. Take a look at Britain. Between two laws passed within the last 15 years, all private ownership of firearms, pistol and rifle, is illegal. How’d that work out? London has a higher rate of gun violence than Manhattan, drastically climbing since the laws were enacted. The U.N. has declared that the U.K. has the worst blackmarket gun problem of any modern country. By writing a law into a big, impressive looking book, you do not change a culture. You can not change established problems of entrenched societal discrimination by outlawing it! You have to change the culture.

OK, back to sex (yeah!) Feminism borrows from Marxism the underlying belief that our behavior, our beliefs, our choices in life are affected (if not mandated) by the cultural ideology. And ideology is the means by which those in power control society. According to Marxism (and Feminism and Ethno…-ism, and even Eco…-ism (why do those actual words escape me at the moment?),) there is no such thing as “innate human nature,” that issues of racism, and sexism, as well as greed and exploitation, can be changed. Greed, for example, the best friend of the market libertarian, Objectivismist, global market capitalist, and statist, is said by these advocates (and their followers and most people who have been raised under their ideology) to be an inherent human trait. Unchangeable, therefore, it’s only natural to take advantage of those weaker and less advantaged than you. but anthropologic and historical evidence denies this. Greed is not a trait found in all human cultures nor in all stages of human development. Greed is a quality of ideology.

But there are some things which can’t be changed: biological imperatives, and by that I mean the most basic, life sustaining drives: hunger, thirst, shelter from elements, and sex drive–probably the most powerful of them all, dealt with in a moment. Now, how we fulfill these needs, how we display the desires derived from these basic needs, are controlled and manipulated by ideology. Why we find some things sexy is ideological, and manipulatable, and as diverse as from culture to culture. But the sex drive itself is fundamental to being a living creature.

Richard Dawkins, and other biologists and anthropologists, have made an interesting case for how unexpectedly powerful sex (vis-à-vis reproduction) is to an organism, as put forward in Dawkins’ book, The Selfish Gene. To over-simply the argument which takes books to adequately explain, it’s like this:
The gene, DNA, is basically an evolved version of the RNA, which is at its most efficient and natural form of the virus. The “purpose” of the gene is to replicate itself. It has evolved from viral RNA to the more complex DNA using countlessly variable bodies as a tool for its replication. From the smallest amoeba to the most complex human, all living things are fundamentally controlled by the genetic drive to replicate itself. Every change in a species, every step of evolution, every divergence in the entire live of evolution, every adaptive trait, have been to greater increase the opportunity for the gene to replicate in greater numbers. Why we eat and what we eat, drink, take shelter from, is all in service of the gene’s drive to survive and replicate. And this is why the sex drive is ultimately the most powerful drive to life. We’ll die, quickly, as individuals if we don’t eat or drink, but the species dies without reproduction. It’s why many animals sacrifice their own lives in the attempt to reproduce, from spawning salmon to praying mantis. Why we’re biologically engineered to sacrifice for our offspring. Why we (often males) will do the damned most stupid, self-detrimental things in the name of sexual gratification.

What’s my point. The point is, I’m unapologetic about my biological sexual drives. (Thank goodness I don’t have any truly aberrant non-consensual sexual desires such as pedophilia! Perhaps it’s that biological imperative to protect children, but that’s one sexual proclivity I will gladly re-think my stance on capital punishment for. One, two, three, 20 adults can do whatever the heck they want with other consenting adults. But harm a child…. ’nuff said)
I have a Y-chromosome and a brain that was saturated with testosterone in development, so I have a visually cued sex drive. Ergo, I, like most men, enjoy porn. What cues our interest may change thanks to cultural and psychological influences (mmm….colored stockings….) but the fact remains that as a human animal, I have biological triggers. (And so do women! I’m just not qualified to talk from a female point-of-view.) So, as I sat in that movie, I felt very significant conflict between the social awareness of my frontal cortex and the animal instinct: Mmm, hot girls exhibiting visual sexual cues…close proximity to a female friend who, the situation is making me aware, is having her gender used as an objectification for a crass play on male sexual responsiveness–turning the female from a unique individual to an object of sexual desire. The liminal cognitive dissonance made me brains hoit!

A recent Sex is Fun podcast, don’t recall which one but it was recent, discussed the issue of sexual objectification. And the consensus between the one male co-host and the two (or three, depending on which episode it was) female co-hosts, is that yes, we are all sexual objects. Male and female. We can (and should!) socialize our behavior as much as we like, we can sublimate our desires to “proper” cultural awareness (and often should!), we must recognize the inherent social equality of all people, and all sex/gender and orientations! But we shouldn’t try to dismiss the fact that when it comes to sexual desire, we do objectify the object of that desire. Women do it as well, all orientations do it. The danger comes when we can’t separate the sexual objectification from our social interactions and general cultural politics. I like looking at porn. (Hmm, I guess I’ve made that clear), but I am conscious enough to be able to separate the object of sexual desire seen on film or the page, from my awareness that women (and some men, rowr!) are not en toto “objects” for exploitation. I love and respect my wife, I still prefer the company of women over men for the same reasons as always, and even though I’m an Obama supporter, regarding Hilary Clinton’s candidacy I say “’bout damn time!,” and it makes me livid when I read about sexism and male preferential treatment in schools causing girls to become disinterested in math and science–when we desperately need the more holistic-thinking female mind in the sciences now more than ever! I think the worst thing that can be done to a young woman is convince her that she needs to look to others (particularly a boyfriend/husband) for approval and self-esteem, as that way leads to abuse, both self- and otherwise.

Perhaps this screed will be seen as a rationalization, and apology, for being a male horndog. I think people who understand how complex human sexuality is will understand what I’m trying to say. Accepting the instinctual power of sex, and even the objectification of sexual stimuli, is not excuse for exploiting a person–including sex workers! Prostitution should be legal (and as regulated as any industry), and porn and adult entertainment should be accepted as a (even necessary) cultural product without stigma. (I’m reminded of the Ed Meese congressional investigation on pornography during the Reagan days. His purpose was to show how exploitative the porn industry is, and in many ways it is and should be changed! But one of the pieces of “evidence” of how damaging porn is, was a survey of female porn stars, where 40% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t do porn if not for the money. Meese bandied this about as proof of how exploitative the industry is. But let’s think about this: That means 60% of female porn stars said they’d do porn regardless of the money. Interview as many fast food workers as you wish, what do you think the percentage of nametag wearing patty pushers would say they’d do fast food regardless of the money? (Which is much more miserable pay than porn pays!).)

If we, as a culture, accepted sex for what it is, and what it could be as healthy and enjoyable and without shame and guilt, there wouldn’t be dark and dangerous avenues that exploit and abuse. We could encourage the co-existence of sex as recreation with sexual/gender equality, instead of treating sex like a disease which I believe helps turn the most powerful living imperative into the subject of political and social control, power, domination. We deny sexuality, gay or straight or bi, and it becomes a weapon of control by some, and a source of dark perverted non-consensual deviation by others.

As a final note: I started watching the anime film “Ghost in the Shell” on the Sci-Fi channel the other day. In the opening credits, there is a montage of images as the main character’s cyborg body is being created. They blurred out her breasts and even rear using a very annoying, obvious splotch of blur. I remember seeing the original film years ago, and I remember seeing this animated nudity as thinking “That’s attractive,” and that’s it. It wasn’t a sexualized scene, just once that artistically celebrated the female form. But the blurring ironically turned what was just a little nudity into something scandalous, tantalizing, desirably out of reach. How many (I assume it’s kids who they’re “protecting”) would have watched this blurred version and suddenly their minds focus on what’s being hidden and now think of nudity as something taboo that has to be won!
Oh, but they didn’t censor the extremely bloody explosion of a character’s head with flying brain and spine fragments. That’s OK to show.
It really makes me wonder if our culture has any hope of growing up!

20 thoughts on “On sexuality, feminism, and being a man, baby.”

  1. >>The Abrahamic religions are nearly pathological when it comes treating human sexuality as wrong, dirty, evil, sinful, shameful, etc. ad nauseum.

    Actually, that’s not correct at all. From the very beginning of the Bible, God commanded men and women to “become one flesh” and to “be fruitful and multiply.” An entire book of the Bible is devoted to honoring sexuality–Song of Solomon. Proverbs 5:18-19 says, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.” Paul tells married people that, as an important part of being married, they must remember that their bodies belong to each other, and they’re not allowed to deprive the other of sex except for short periods of time if they’re doing so to devote themselves to prayer (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). But then they must come together again. Etc., etc.

    The thing that is treated as wrong is when sexuality is misused (e.g., if you betray your spouse by sleeping with someone else, if you sleep with your mother, or if you have sex with an animal) because those are the things that will cause us harm instead of the good that God intended sex to be for us. There is never any question in the Bible that sexuality was invented by God and it’s beautiful and good.

  2. >>The Abrahamic religions are nearly pathological when it comes treating human sexuality as wrong, dirty, evil, sinful, shameful, etc. ad nauseum.

    Actually, that’s not correct at all. From the very beginning of the Bible, God commanded men and women to “become one flesh” and to “be fruitful and multiply.” An entire book of the Bible is devoted to honoring sexuality–Song of Solomon. Proverbs 5:18-19 says, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.” Paul tells married people that, as an important part of being married, they must remember that their bodies belong to each other, and they’re not allowed to deprive the other of sex except for short periods of time if they’re doing so to devote themselves to prayer (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). But then they must come together again. Etc., etc.

    The thing that is treated as wrong is when sexuality is misused (e.g., if you betray your spouse by sleeping with someone else, if you sleep with your mother, or if you have sex with an animal) because those are the things that will cause us harm instead of the good that God intended sex to be for us. There is never any question in the Bible that sexuality was invented by God and it’s beautiful and good.

  3. Thank you for visiting and commenting!
    🙂

    But I must disagree.
    First, the expression of a religion is not just the words in the book/scroll/tablets, as these documents are pretty schizophrenic and one can justify anything using them. (Note everyone from your nicest most liberal Methodist preacher to your Fred Phelps.)
    The reflection of a religion is from its practitioners. Compare the Christian dominated American society circa 1600 through 1900 (no to mention Europe, really, since Christianity was spread at the point of a Roman spear,) and the way “proper” sex was missionary only, and for the purpose of procreation, and even masturbation is considered a mental illness (or causing it), with medical guides vilifying it and chastity devices sold to prevent it; with other cultures like Hindi and Shinto in which sexuality was/is celebrated as being a part of being alive!
    Muslim cultures…well, I don’t have to tell you. Women are literally killed for being seen without the presence of a man in some places.

    As for the Bible, yes, there are a few passages where sex is beautiful (if a bit patriarchal). But the subtext is very important. Paul pretty much as much says sex in general is base and dirty, and you might as well get married if you can’t control it. Circumcision drastically reduces sexual pleasure in men (compared to non, that is). In some instances during the Hebrew scorched-earth genocide campaigns, the only people saved are virgin girls–to be dived among the priests. What kind of message is that? The Bible is FILLED with sex being demanded of by God in the service of creating more sons for this reason or that. Women are constantly seen as going “whoring” and making men do wrong. Menstruation is pretty much treated as a disease. Girls are innately more “unclean” than boys at birth. Unbetrothed rape victims can be sold to their rapists. Nudity is constantly vilified, and even curses placed upon people for their nudity. Female concubines are endorsed.
    And all that is just in the first few books of the Bible, aside from Paul. Who, according to Romans 1:27, thinks the natural “use” for a woman is procreation.

    But anyway, since I don’t give the Bible any more reverence than I do the Iliad, what it says doesn’t matter. It’s what people do, and how they express their beliefs here and now. And I’m afraid followers of the Abrahamic religions have a very sex-negative attitude.

  4. Thank you for visiting and commenting!
    🙂

    But I must disagree.
    First, the expression of a religion is not just the words in the book/scroll/tablets, as these documents are pretty schizophrenic and one can justify anything using them. (Note everyone from your nicest most liberal Methodist preacher to your Fred Phelps.)
    The reflection of a religion is from its practitioners. Compare the Christian dominated American society circa 1600 through 1900 (no to mention Europe, really, since Christianity was spread at the point of a Roman spear,) and the way “proper” sex was missionary only, and for the purpose of procreation, and even masturbation is considered a mental illness (or causing it), with medical guides vilifying it and chastity devices sold to prevent it; with other cultures like Hindi and Shinto in which sexuality was/is celebrated as being a part of being alive!
    Muslim cultures…well, I don’t have to tell you. Women are literally killed for being seen without the presence of a man in some places.

    As for the Bible, yes, there are a few passages where sex is beautiful (if a bit patriarchal). But the subtext is very important. Paul pretty much as much says sex in general is base and dirty, and you might as well get married if you can’t control it. Circumcision drastically reduces sexual pleasure in men (compared to non, that is). In some instances during the Hebrew scorched-earth genocide campaigns, the only people saved are virgin girls–to be dived among the priests. What kind of message is that? The Bible is FILLED with sex being demanded of by God in the service of creating more sons for this reason or that. Women are constantly seen as going “whoring” and making men do wrong. Menstruation is pretty much treated as a disease. Girls are innately more “unclean” than boys at birth. Unbetrothed rape victims can be sold to their rapists. Nudity is constantly vilified, and even curses placed upon people for their nudity. Female concubines are endorsed.
    And all that is just in the first few books of the Bible, aside from Paul. Who, according to Romans 1:27, thinks the natural “use” for a woman is procreation.

    But anyway, since I don’t give the Bible any more reverence than I do the Iliad, what it says doesn’t matter. It’s what people do, and how they express their beliefs here and now. And I’m afraid followers of the Abrahamic religions have a very sex-negative attitude.

  5. >>Thank you for visiting and commenting!

    You’re welcome! And same to you for visiting my blog.

    Hmmm. Most of the things you’ve said here are misunderstandings of the text, but I can’t even think of where you’re getting this from: “Nudity is constantly vilified, and even curses placed upon people for their nudity.”

    The only curse I can think of is when Noah’s son mocked Noah’s nudity. The son got cursed for that, not Noah. Is that what you were thinking of? I’m guessing that you also might be thinking of passages that talk metaphorically about someone “uncovering his or her nakedness.” I’m assuming you would agree that it’s wrong for a married person to go off and sleep with every person he or she sees, correct? Well, that’s all this expression is talking about. Those who were scolded for “uncovering their nakedness” were scolded only because they had done it inappropriately, outside of the covenant of marriage that they had made. The people of Israel were “married” to God, so to “uncover their nakedness” was to “commit adultery”–that is, they were giving themselves to someone or something else, against their vows.

    The problem with reading pieces of the Bible here and there is that all the pieces rely on the other pieces–on the context and cultural idiom, etc., so it’s easy to take things in a way they weren’t meant to be taken. Add to that the fact that it’s easy to read things in the worst possible light, if you want to, and you’re going to end up not interpreting things fairly. (For example, I saw someone accuse the Bible of demanding child sacrifice when it expressly (and often) demands the very opposite. The accuser did this because he read one sentence alone, in the worst possible light.) The “God Is Imaginary” site makes many of these same mistakes. What I appreciate about atheists, though, is that you value rationality and care about truth, so these kinds of reasonable discussions are not useless. And since I think rationality and truth are on my side, I’m always for these discussions! 🙂

    I’ll address a couple of things you’ve said here–although if there’s something specifically you’d like a response to, I’ll be happy to respond to more, if I have a chance. It’s just that it would take quite a while to work through everything you’ve listed! These I can cover quickly:

    >>Paul pretty much as much says sex in general is base and dirty

    Not at all! Why would he command people to do something that he considered base and dirty? What he does say is that in that particular time of persecution it would be better to remain single to avoid the complications of being married and having a family. However, he says, even in that situation it’s perfectly legitimate to get married rather than suffer from not having sex. (In fact, he was specifically responding to those who were saying that no one should be allowed to get married by telling them they were wrong to demand this.) I don’t think any of this at all implies that sex is base and dirty. I don’t think any good Jewish person believed that, in light of Song of Solomon and everything else.

    >>Who, according to Romans 1:27, thinks the natural “use” for a woman is procreation.

    You’re actually reading something into this that isn’t there. There’s no mention or hint of procreation here. This passage is about sex, not procreation (and it’s not meant to explain the purpose of women). Here’s what it’s about: Men’s bodies were created to have sex with women, not men. That is the natural function–the way their bodies were created to have sex. Likewise, women’s bodies are designed to have sex with men, not women. Biologically, that’s just a fact. If you want to know how women were honored in marriage (not just as a vehicle for procreation), read the whole of Proverbs 31:10-31. For example: “Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her . . . Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates,” etc., etc. Or Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.”

    >>The Bible is FILLED with sex being demanded of by God in the service of creating more sons for this reason or that.

    I’m stumped again. I’ve read the Bible through several times, and I’m not sure what you’re referring to. God often tells people to “be fruitful and multiply” (children were always considered a great blessing) but not to “have more sons.” There’s certainly never a time when someone is upset about having a daughter instead of a son, if that’s what you’re saying. But if you can point me to your specific problem, I’ll be able to respond more specifically.

    >>It’s what people do, and how they express their beliefs here and now.

    I think you ought to judge religions based on their guiding documents because, as we’ve seen throughout history in many situations (not just religion), people tend to twist things toward bad interpretations to suit themselves–or they just make mistakes and go off track. Sometimes way off track! But if that’s how you want to judge, then you should know that, particularly since the time of the Reformation when more Christians were able to read the Bible themselves, and particularly now, sex among married people is honored (in fact, this is why Martin Luther left the monastery to get married after he began to seriously study the Bible).

    Just because Christians believe there is a natural and right place for sex (i.e., within the covenant of marriage) doesn’t mean they see sexuality itself as dirty, shameful, or sinful. (I think that’s an important distinction to make.) And in fact, I could make the opposite argument–those who view sex as some kind of animalistic behavior that has nothing to do with anything spiritual and so can be thrown about to anything and everything are themselves debasing sexuality and will never enjoy it to the fullest extent.

  6. >>Thank you for visiting and commenting!

    You’re welcome! And same to you for visiting my blog.

    Hmmm. Most of the things you’ve said here are misunderstandings of the text, but I can’t even think of where you’re getting this from: “Nudity is constantly vilified, and even curses placed upon people for their nudity.”

    The only curse I can think of is when Noah’s son mocked Noah’s nudity. The son got cursed for that, not Noah. Is that what you were thinking of? I’m guessing that you also might be thinking of passages that talk metaphorically about someone “uncovering his or her nakedness.” I’m assuming you would agree that it’s wrong for a married person to go off and sleep with every person he or she sees, correct? Well, that’s all this expression is talking about. Those who were scolded for “uncovering their nakedness” were scolded only because they had done it inappropriately, outside of the covenant of marriage that they had made. The people of Israel were “married” to God, so to “uncover their nakedness” was to “commit adultery”–that is, they were giving themselves to someone or something else, against their vows.

    The problem with reading pieces of the Bible here and there is that all the pieces rely on the other pieces–on the context and cultural idiom, etc., so it’s easy to take things in a way they weren’t meant to be taken. Add to that the fact that it’s easy to read things in the worst possible light, if you want to, and you’re going to end up not interpreting things fairly. (For example, I saw someone accuse the Bible of demanding child sacrifice when it expressly (and often) demands the very opposite. The accuser did this because he read one sentence alone, in the worst possible light.) The “God Is Imaginary” site makes many of these same mistakes. What I appreciate about atheists, though, is that you value rationality and care about truth, so these kinds of reasonable discussions are not useless. And since I think rationality and truth are on my side, I’m always for these discussions! 🙂

    I’ll address a couple of things you’ve said here–although if there’s something specifically you’d like a response to, I’ll be happy to respond to more, if I have a chance. It’s just that it would take quite a while to work through everything you’ve listed! These I can cover quickly:

    >>Paul pretty much as much says sex in general is base and dirty

    Not at all! Why would he command people to do something that he considered base and dirty? What he does say is that in that particular time of persecution it would be better to remain single to avoid the complications of being married and having a family. However, he says, even in that situation it’s perfectly legitimate to get married rather than suffer from not having sex. (In fact, he was specifically responding to those who were saying that no one should be allowed to get married by telling them they were wrong to demand this.) I don’t think any of this at all implies that sex is base and dirty. I don’t think any good Jewish person believed that, in light of Song of Solomon and everything else.

    >>Who, according to Romans 1:27, thinks the natural “use” for a woman is procreation.

    You’re actually reading something into this that isn’t there. There’s no mention or hint of procreation here. This passage is about sex, not procreation (and it’s not meant to explain the purpose of women). Here’s what it’s about: Men’s bodies were created to have sex with women, not men. That is the natural function–the way their bodies were created to have sex. Likewise, women’s bodies are designed to have sex with men, not women. Biologically, that’s just a fact. If you want to know how women were honored in marriage (not just as a vehicle for procreation), read the whole of Proverbs 31:10-31. For example: “Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her . . . Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates,” etc., etc. Or Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.”

    >>The Bible is FILLED with sex being demanded of by God in the service of creating more sons for this reason or that.

    I’m stumped again. I’ve read the Bible through several times, and I’m not sure what you’re referring to. God often tells people to “be fruitful and multiply” (children were always considered a great blessing) but not to “have more sons.” There’s certainly never a time when someone is upset about having a daughter instead of a son, if that’s what you’re saying. But if you can point me to your specific problem, I’ll be able to respond more specifically.

    >>It’s what people do, and how they express their beliefs here and now.

    I think you ought to judge religions based on their guiding documents because, as we’ve seen throughout history in many situations (not just religion), people tend to twist things toward bad interpretations to suit themselves–or they just make mistakes and go off track. Sometimes way off track! But if that’s how you want to judge, then you should know that, particularly since the time of the Reformation when more Christians were able to read the Bible themselves, and particularly now, sex among married people is honored (in fact, this is why Martin Luther left the monastery to get married after he began to seriously study the Bible).

    Just because Christians believe there is a natural and right place for sex (i.e., within the covenant of marriage) doesn’t mean they see sexuality itself as dirty, shameful, or sinful. (I think that’s an important distinction to make.) And in fact, I could make the opposite argument–those who view sex as some kind of animalistic behavior that has nothing to do with anything spiritual and so can be thrown about to anything and everything are themselves debasing sexuality and will never enjoy it to the fullest extent.

  7. Amy, you make very good arguments. And yeah, I do tend to spew a lot. Sometimes I’m afraid it gets mistaken for trying to “argue from verbosity,” but really, I just sincerely don’t know when to stop typing. 🙂

    I want to avoid arguing details, for a reason I’ll mention in a second–but you address my own points so it’s only fair that I don’t just ignore them. As a quick (if flawed) crutch, one could go to Skeptic’s Annotated Bible and look at the “sex” category to find many many admonitions against nudity, for example.
    (Caveat: Even I get exasperated by the SAB. I realize that many MANY of their criticisms are pedantry and out of context. I’d say as much as half or more. I don’t even need to have been a former Christian to recognize that they’re a bit ridiculous in some of their issues. But, for a quick keyword search, or to look at overaching issues, it’s not bad.)

    The procreation, the nudity, the ritual genital mutilation, the women “whoring,” the men (and women, e.g.: Tamar) obsessed with male heirs, etc., if looked at with a general eye, it’s not hard to see a through-theme in which sex is for a utilitarian purpose to serve God’s ego.

    You’re absolutely right that people can and do use the Bible to serve various purposes. often conflicting–many times negative.
    And this raises a more fundamental and important question underlying the entire religion:
    Why would a god, all-knowing all-powerful and all-loving, who presumedly knows the future and presumedly wants ALL people to believe and be “saved” (from his punishment), chose to make his Guide Book for living as a very suspicious literary work?
    That is to say:
    The Bible is so complex, difficult, conflicting, easy to confuse, easy to use as a tool of hate and destruction, requires books and even university degrees in apologetics to “make sense of”.
    It was written and compiled in an age of great superstition, myth, and primitive thinking.
    It was undeniably written by human hands (regardless of arguments of “inspiration”.)

    It seems, excuse me, completely and utterly absurd for a god that’s supposed to be smarter, wiser, and more compassionate than I am, to put the only key to salvation from his wrath in this historical form. And then spread that only key to salvation far and wide ONLY through the works of man. (That is, the only way for a person to be “Saved” is to accept Jesus. And the ONLY way a person can even know of Jesus’ existence, is by reading the Bible or hearing about it from someone who has read the Bible.)

    Looking at this rationally, reason would dictate only two options:
    a. God is NOT wise, and/or intelligent, and/or all-knowing, and/or compassionate in any way; or,
    b. The Bible is an ancient Middle Eastern culture’s mythology which spawned a salvation cult, which was then fortunately for it given permanence by being forced upon the Western world via a pre-existing empire.

    Well, that’s my take. 🙂

  8. Amy, you make very good arguments. And yeah, I do tend to spew a lot. Sometimes I’m afraid it gets mistaken for trying to “argue from verbosity,” but really, I just sincerely don’t know when to stop typing. 🙂

    I want to avoid arguing details, for a reason I’ll mention in a second–but you address my own points so it’s only fair that I don’t just ignore them. As a quick (if flawed) crutch, one could go to Skeptic’s Annotated Bible and look at the “sex” category to find many many admonitions against nudity, for example.
    (Caveat: Even I get exasperated by the SAB. I realize that many MANY of their criticisms are pedantry and out of context. I’d say as much as half or more. I don’t even need to have been a former Christian to recognize that they’re a bit ridiculous in some of their issues. But, for a quick keyword search, or to look at overaching issues, it’s not bad.)

    The procreation, the nudity, the ritual genital mutilation, the women “whoring,” the men (and women, e.g.: Tamar) obsessed with male heirs, etc., if looked at with a general eye, it’s not hard to see a through-theme in which sex is for a utilitarian purpose to serve God’s ego.

    You’re absolutely right that people can and do use the Bible to serve various purposes. often conflicting–many times negative.
    And this raises a more fundamental and important question underlying the entire religion:
    Why would a god, all-knowing all-powerful and all-loving, who presumedly knows the future and presumedly wants ALL people to believe and be “saved” (from his punishment), chose to make his Guide Book for living as a very suspicious literary work?
    That is to say:
    The Bible is so complex, difficult, conflicting, easy to confuse, easy to use as a tool of hate and destruction, requires books and even university degrees in apologetics to “make sense of”.
    It was written and compiled in an age of great superstition, myth, and primitive thinking.
    It was undeniably written by human hands (regardless of arguments of “inspiration”.)

    It seems, excuse me, completely and utterly absurd for a god that’s supposed to be smarter, wiser, and more compassionate than I am, to put the only key to salvation from his wrath in this historical form. And then spread that only key to salvation far and wide ONLY through the works of man. (That is, the only way for a person to be “Saved” is to accept Jesus. And the ONLY way a person can even know of Jesus’ existence, is by reading the Bible or hearing about it from someone who has read the Bible.)

    Looking at this rationally, reason would dictate only two options:
    a. God is NOT wise, and/or intelligent, and/or all-knowing, and/or compassionate in any way; or,
    b. The Bible is an ancient Middle Eastern culture’s mythology which spawned a salvation cult, which was then fortunately for it given permanence by being forced upon the Western world via a pre-existing empire.

    Well, that’s my take. 🙂

  9. Thanks for your response! I appreciate your willingness to discuss these things. First, just a quick aside about Tamar–I know lots of people today that desire to have a child continue on their family name, so I don’t think that’s so out of the ordinary. In those days, though, family was your means of support, which is partly why God commanded the brother of the dead husband to marry the widow if she had no children. The other part had to do with the land of Israel. The families had specific inheritances of land that were passed down through the generations. This was very important to them. For this reason, Tamar wanted an heir who could continue to pass down the inheritance of her husband who had died. And actually, a female heir would have allowed for this as well, since there was a law that the inheritance would pass to the daughter if there were no sons. And even more importantly, God began the nation of Israel with Abraham with the promise that all the world would be blessed through the messiah that would come through his line. And in fact, Jesus did come through the line from Tamar, so there was an overall redemptive element of the world attached to this, as well.

    But, “a utilitarian purpose to serve God’s ego”? Because they connect sex with children in addition to enjoying it (as we see in Song of Solomon and elsewhere)? It’s not odd at all for people to connect sex with children, since that’s the natural result! It’s more the case that we live in an odd time today where, because of contraception, for the first time in history we’ve separated the two in our minds. The two couldn’t be separated back then.

    >>The Bible is so complex, difficult, conflicting, easy to confuse, easy to use as a tool of hate and destruction, requires books and even university degrees in apologetics to “make sense of”.

    I would like to challenge your view on this–the Bible is not so difficult as you think. It’s much more confusing if you dip into pieces here and there than if you read it through like a normal book and familiarize yourself with the whole of it. I work out most issues just by reading the Bible itself, and not by reading endless commentaries. In fact, I read commentaries very rarely. Mostly I read through the Bible once a year, and think through what’s written there. This isn’t hard to do if you’re open to seeing it as it is–open to it making sense and not being as bad as it seems from a few of the pieces on their own. There’s a lot there, so it takes a while, but it’s not that difficult. The simple story is not difficult to grasp, although there is enough depth there that I’ll never reach the bottom of it. What’s so amazing about the Bible is the interconnectedness of the Old Testament and the person of Jesus, centuries later–the cohesiveness and unity of the story. I’m actually working on a post about this right now because someone was asking about the deity of Jesus, so if you check back on the STR Blog, it should be up soon.

    >>It seems, excuse me, completely and utterly absurd for a god that’s supposed to be smarter, wiser, and more compassionate than I am, to put the only key to salvation from his wrath in this historical form.

    First, God would have been completely justified had He decided to only give us justice and no mercy at all. Justice is a good thing, and good judges administer justice. He certainly didn’t owe us any mercy, so it’s hard to fault Him for not giving more than He chooses and in the way He chooses.

    Second, what better way for God to pass down knowledge about Himself and His mercy than in a way that’s unchanging–that is, in written form? (I’ll just state that without going into the evidence that the manuscripts have not been changed since that’s a simple thing to look up.) How would you propose God spread the word about who He is and how we can be reconciled to Him except through people? A light show every Wednesday? God chose to begin with one man, Abraham, and to move from there to reach the whole world. The story of how He’s done that helps us understand Him in ways we would never have known Him if He had resorted to the light show approach! And that’s the goal of all of this–for us to know God (holiness, mercy, righteous judgment, goodness, forgiveness, power, love) and have all the joy and satisfaction that comes along with that, joy that culminates in praise for the God we love (just as we rightly praise all the people and things we love). And you know from your own experience that when praise is rightly given, that’s an excellent and beautiful thing that brings even more joy.

    As for what kind of tool the Bible has been throughout history, on the whole it has moved a world that regularly employed barbaric practices of government, violence, etc. slowly towards what we see today as we have worked out the ideas grounded in the Bible into practice in Western society. Are we perfect? Of course not! Did it take a long time for us to get here? Yes. This is because human beings, as a whole, began in a very bad place and tend towards very bad things when left on our own (which is the very reason we need God to save us from ourselves in the first place), and practices take time to change. But God is patient.

    I just heard a lecture by a professor from India who was interested in why India is in the state it’s in where most women still have to carry water on their heads to their villages, but the West is so prosperous and free. He traced the reason back to four key ideas from the Bible: morality, rationality (the grounding for rationality based on a God of reason instead of a world of capricious gods or randomness), family (i.e. monogamy), and human dignity.

    Anyway, all that is to say that the Bible–the ideas that shaped Western civilization more than anything else–gets dismissed pretty easily these days, but if you think about it, how could it really be as stupid and crazy as people think, if it has had such a powerful–and I think positive–influence on all of Western civilization? There has to be more to it than people are assuming. So when you come across these objections that make the Bible sound ridiculous, it makes sense to suspect that something is being missed!

  10. Thanks for your response! I appreciate your willingness to discuss these things. First, just a quick aside about Tamar–I know lots of people today that desire to have a child continue on their family name, so I don’t think that’s so out of the ordinary. In those days, though, family was your means of support, which is partly why God commanded the brother of the dead husband to marry the widow if she had no children. The other part had to do with the land of Israel. The families had specific inheritances of land that were passed down through the generations. This was very important to them. For this reason, Tamar wanted an heir who could continue to pass down the inheritance of her husband who had died. And actually, a female heir would have allowed for this as well, since there was a law that the inheritance would pass to the daughter if there were no sons. And even more importantly, God began the nation of Israel with Abraham with the promise that all the world would be blessed through the messiah that would come through his line. And in fact, Jesus did come through the line from Tamar, so there was an overall redemptive element of the world attached to this, as well.

    But, “a utilitarian purpose to serve God’s ego”? Because they connect sex with children in addition to enjoying it (as we see in Song of Solomon and elsewhere)? It’s not odd at all for people to connect sex with children, since that’s the natural result! It’s more the case that we live in an odd time today where, because of contraception, for the first time in history we’ve separated the two in our minds. The two couldn’t be separated back then.

    >>The Bible is so complex, difficult, conflicting, easy to confuse, easy to use as a tool of hate and destruction, requires books and even university degrees in apologetics to “make sense of”.

    I would like to challenge your view on this–the Bible is not so difficult as you think. It’s much more confusing if you dip into pieces here and there than if you read it through like a normal book and familiarize yourself with the whole of it. I work out most issues just by reading the Bible itself, and not by reading endless commentaries. In fact, I read commentaries very rarely. Mostly I read through the Bible once a year, and think through what’s written there. This isn’t hard to do if you’re open to seeing it as it is–open to it making sense and not being as bad as it seems from a few of the pieces on their own. There’s a lot there, so it takes a while, but it’s not that difficult. The simple story is not difficult to grasp, although there is enough depth there that I’ll never reach the bottom of it. What’s so amazing about the Bible is the interconnectedness of the Old Testament and the person of Jesus, centuries later–the cohesiveness and unity of the story. I’m actually working on a post about this right now because someone was asking about the deity of Jesus, so if you check back on the STR Blog, it should be up soon.

    >>It seems, excuse me, completely and utterly absurd for a god that’s supposed to be smarter, wiser, and more compassionate than I am, to put the only key to salvation from his wrath in this historical form.

    First, God would have been completely justified had He decided to only give us justice and no mercy at all. Justice is a good thing, and good judges administer justice. He certainly didn’t owe us any mercy, so it’s hard to fault Him for not giving more than He chooses and in the way He chooses.

    Second, what better way for God to pass down knowledge about Himself and His mercy than in a way that’s unchanging–that is, in written form? (I’ll just state that without going into the evidence that the manuscripts have not been changed since that’s a simple thing to look up.) How would you propose God spread the word about who He is and how we can be reconciled to Him except through people? A light show every Wednesday? God chose to begin with one man, Abraham, and to move from there to reach the whole world. The story of how He’s done that helps us understand Him in ways we would never have known Him if He had resorted to the light show approach! And that’s the goal of all of this–for us to know God (holiness, mercy, righteous judgment, goodness, forgiveness, power, love) and have all the joy and satisfaction that comes along with that, joy that culminates in praise for the God we love (just as we rightly praise all the people and things we love). And you know from your own experience that when praise is rightly given, that’s an excellent and beautiful thing that brings even more joy.

    As for what kind of tool the Bible has been throughout history, on the whole it has moved a world that regularly employed barbaric practices of government, violence, etc. slowly towards what we see today as we have worked out the ideas grounded in the Bible into practice in Western society. Are we perfect? Of course not! Did it take a long time for us to get here? Yes. This is because human beings, as a whole, began in a very bad place and tend towards very bad things when left on our own (which is the very reason we need God to save us from ourselves in the first place), and practices take time to change. But God is patient.

    I just heard a lecture by a professor from India who was interested in why India is in the state it’s in where most women still have to carry water on their heads to their villages, but the West is so prosperous and free. He traced the reason back to four key ideas from the Bible: morality, rationality (the grounding for rationality based on a God of reason instead of a world of capricious gods or randomness), family (i.e. monogamy), and human dignity.

    Anyway, all that is to say that the Bible–the ideas that shaped Western civilization more than anything else–gets dismissed pretty easily these days, but if you think about it, how could it really be as stupid and crazy as people think, if it has had such a powerful–and I think positive–influence on all of Western civilization? There has to be more to it than people are assuming. So when you come across these objections that make the Bible sound ridiculous, it makes sense to suspect that something is being missed!

  11. Amy, thanks again.
    I hope you don’t find it too rude if I don’t respond to the Biblical content comments. Discussing the events in the Bible may be interesting, but it’s like doing a close reading of Bulfinch’s Mythology–may be fun but at the end of the day we’re debating the meaning of a work of fiction.
    I think you start getting into some more important epistemological issues toward the end that trump any discussion of meanings of specific content.

    My following observations and opinions, I hope you read and enjoy–I know it’s not going to change your mind or convince you of anything. Not because I’m doubting your intellect!! But because you believe an ideology, a delusion, which is VERY powerful. (I don’t mean that as an insult–all of us believe in some ideology and/or delusion, whether it’s socio-political or religious, which are immutable barring some major personal epiphany. I used to be in your position, and believed Christianity with all my heart. I can’t count the number of all night discussion sessions I’d had with people defending the Bible and the message of Jesus.)

    Statements like, God doesn’t have to show mercy, just justice, is a rationalization of “how things are” using an a priori belief in Yahweh. But if we look at how things are without any starting beliefs (which is the way we enter the world anyway, until our parents teach us about Yahweh, or Allah, or Vishnu, or Ra, or Pele, or Juju, or Odin, or Zeus, or Buddha, or Mithra, or any of the other 2400 gods one can pick to start with), we see that the world operates exactly as it should without any gods. Predation, “bad” behaviors, “good” behaviors, physics, chemistry, diversity of species…. there’s nothing in the world that NEEDS explaining using one or any of the 2400 man made gods. It all makes rational sense without one of these interchangeable divine overlays you can pick and chose from.

    Secondly, in my simple, mortal mind, I can think of endless ways a true omnipotent God could pass on what is arguably the most important information in existence (no?) than via man-written literature. You say it’s unchanging–I’m sorry to say, that’s completely wrong. The Dead Sea scrolls show that there are many versions of Old Testament texts, some with minor changes, some major and fundamental differences.
    We know there were many versions of the Gospels being passes around for a hundred years before an orthodox stop was put to it, and certain versions were chosen and made canon. Even the “official” version of Mark was later altered with a “found” new ending.
    We know the Coptic Greek versions of the OT had many significant translation differences from the Hebraic Talmud and Torah, which matches the verbiage of Mark (and later Gospels based on Mark) but differ from the Jewish texts.
    Then you have the whole issue of changes is meaning from translation to translation since–from the Vulgate, Bishop’s Bible, Wycliffe, King James, NIV, Good News, NASB, etc etc.

    Bottom line: using literature from an historic perspective is the least intelligent and wise method of relaying the knowledge of the divine, the laws to obey to not get cursed, the existence of divine wrath and the ONLY means of avoiding it.
    The book says that god so loved the whole world that he killed himself to allow people to be saved from his own wrath. (Which by the way, makes no real sense. Besides, how much of a sacrifice is it, really, when you know you’re just going to be resurrected and ascend to heaven to become/be beside God again?) And yet, he gave us this message in a form that has sown so much confusion, disagreement, debate, been used to defend slavery, racism, sexism, rape, torture, genocide. Requires bookstores full of books to defend and explain and offer different translations of.

    I’m a simple mortal, but I can think of any number of ways to get the Most Important Message In All Creation across the generations…that didn’t look EXACTLY like passing on human created mythology.

    Nothing is being missed when you see the “influence” it’s had on human civilization. It has the exact influence you’d expect if it were the textbook of a belief that permeated an empire that reached across Europe. The Koran had similar influence across the Middle East and parts of Asia. The teachings of Buddha and Confucius had similar influence across the East. Why do we not assume “something’s missing” in our examination of those cultures? The development of Western civilization happened as it happened because, yes, but also in spite of the Bible’s influence. Slavery and the Spanish Inquisition, for example, were influenced by the Bible. On the other hand, 99% of what we associate with Easter and Christmas has nothing to do with the Bible but instead comes from pre-Christian pagan Celtic, Nordic-Germanic, and Mithras worship. The fundamental laws of our country (prohibitions against murder, theft, perjury, rape, etc,) are not exclusive to the Bible, but have been found in every human culture from Hammurabi to Buddha. In fact, I’d say, if our civilization actually followed the teaching of the Bible closer, we’d look a LOT more like Syria or Afghanistan.

    Again, the world looks and acts exactly like it would without gods. I know you think so too–in regards to the 2399 gods you believe don’t exist that had/have just as ardent and fervent believers in theirs as you.

  12. Amy, thanks again.
    I hope you don’t find it too rude if I don’t respond to the Biblical content comments. Discussing the events in the Bible may be interesting, but it’s like doing a close reading of Bulfinch’s Mythology–may be fun but at the end of the day we’re debating the meaning of a work of fiction.
    I think you start getting into some more important epistemological issues toward the end that trump any discussion of meanings of specific content.

    My following observations and opinions, I hope you read and enjoy–I know it’s not going to change your mind or convince you of anything. Not because I’m doubting your intellect!! But because you believe an ideology, a delusion, which is VERY powerful. (I don’t mean that as an insult–all of us believe in some ideology and/or delusion, whether it’s socio-political or religious, which are immutable barring some major personal epiphany. I used to be in your position, and believed Christianity with all my heart. I can’t count the number of all night discussion sessions I’d had with people defending the Bible and the message of Jesus.)

    Statements like, God doesn’t have to show mercy, just justice, is a rationalization of “how things are” using an a priori belief in Yahweh. But if we look at how things are without any starting beliefs (which is the way we enter the world anyway, until our parents teach us about Yahweh, or Allah, or Vishnu, or Ra, or Pele, or Juju, or Odin, or Zeus, or Buddha, or Mithra, or any of the other 2400 gods one can pick to start with), we see that the world operates exactly as it should without any gods. Predation, “bad” behaviors, “good” behaviors, physics, chemistry, diversity of species…. there’s nothing in the world that NEEDS explaining using one or any of the 2400 man made gods. It all makes rational sense without one of these interchangeable divine overlays you can pick and chose from.

    Secondly, in my simple, mortal mind, I can think of endless ways a true omnipotent God could pass on what is arguably the most important information in existence (no?) than via man-written literature. You say it’s unchanging–I’m sorry to say, that’s completely wrong. The Dead Sea scrolls show that there are many versions of Old Testament texts, some with minor changes, some major and fundamental differences.
    We know there were many versions of the Gospels being passes around for a hundred years before an orthodox stop was put to it, and certain versions were chosen and made canon. Even the “official” version of Mark was later altered with a “found” new ending.
    We know the Coptic Greek versions of the OT had many significant translation differences from the Hebraic Talmud and Torah, which matches the verbiage of Mark (and later Gospels based on Mark) but differ from the Jewish texts.
    Then you have the whole issue of changes is meaning from translation to translation since–from the Vulgate, Bishop’s Bible, Wycliffe, King James, NIV, Good News, NASB, etc etc.

    Bottom line: using literature from an historic perspective is the least intelligent and wise method of relaying the knowledge of the divine, the laws to obey to not get cursed, the existence of divine wrath and the ONLY means of avoiding it.
    The book says that god so loved the whole world that he killed himself to allow people to be saved from his own wrath. (Which by the way, makes no real sense. Besides, how much of a sacrifice is it, really, when you know you’re just going to be resurrected and ascend to heaven to become/be beside God again?) And yet, he gave us this message in a form that has sown so much confusion, disagreement, debate, been used to defend slavery, racism, sexism, rape, torture, genocide. Requires bookstores full of books to defend and explain and offer different translations of.

    I’m a simple mortal, but I can think of any number of ways to get the Most Important Message In All Creation across the generations…that didn’t look EXACTLY like passing on human created mythology.

    Nothing is being missed when you see the “influence” it’s had on human civilization. It has the exact influence you’d expect if it were the textbook of a belief that permeated an empire that reached across Europe. The Koran had similar influence across the Middle East and parts of Asia. The teachings of Buddha and Confucius had similar influence across the East. Why do we not assume “something’s missing” in our examination of those cultures? The development of Western civilization happened as it happened because, yes, but also in spite of the Bible’s influence. Slavery and the Spanish Inquisition, for example, were influenced by the Bible. On the other hand, 99% of what we associate with Easter and Christmas has nothing to do with the Bible but instead comes from pre-Christian pagan Celtic, Nordic-Germanic, and Mithras worship. The fundamental laws of our country (prohibitions against murder, theft, perjury, rape, etc,) are not exclusive to the Bible, but have been found in every human culture from Hammurabi to Buddha. In fact, I’d say, if our civilization actually followed the teaching of the Bible closer, we’d look a LOT more like Syria or Afghanistan.

    Again, the world looks and acts exactly like it would without gods. I know you think so too–in regards to the 2399 gods you believe don’t exist that had/have just as ardent and fervent believers in theirs as you.

  13. >>Discussing the events in the Bible may be interesting, but it’s like doing a close reading of Bulfinch’s Mythology–may be fun but at the end of the day we’re debating the meaning of a work of fiction.

    Even if that were the case, the fiction would still mean one thing rather than another. Misrepresentations always get in the way of determining truth (regardless of whose side the truth is really on), so if you’re going to use parts of the Bible to argue against Christianity, it’s important to be sure you’re representing them fairly. It’s circular to use them to support the idea that the Bible is fiction and then not talk about challenges to your characterization of those passages because “you’re only talking about fiction.” Maybe if you were to look into what it was saying, it wouldn’t look so much like fiction! 😉

    But that said, no problem. There are endless things we could discuss, but this is only a blog, after all! I understand we have to choose a few things to talk about and then move on. Because I understand the nature of blogs and blog comments, I promise I won’t assume you don’t have answers to something just because you don’t give them, so no worries about that.

    >>I used to be in your position, and believed Christianity with all my heart.

    I used to be in your position, where I did not think Christianity was true, and I put it through the wringer. I’m an extremely skeptical person, so I’ve asked just about every question you could ask.

    >>Statements like, God doesn’t have to show mercy, just justice, is a rationalization of “how things are”

    Actually, it’s not. I’m just discussing basic principles of justice that I’m willing to bet we agree on. If 10 people are convicted of a crime, and the law stipulates that they should each do 20 years in jail, the judge would be perfectly right to give them all 20 years. The judge doesn’t owe them anything. Nobody would complain that the judge didn’t find a way to get them all (or even one) out of jail time.

    >>The book says that god so loved the whole world that he killed himself to allow people to be saved from his own wrath. (Which by the way, makes no real sense.

    It makes sense if you believe that justice is good. Let me describe it this way. Let’s say you’re messing around in a friend’s home, throwing a baseball, and you break his $3,000 television. Either you’re going to pay for it, or he’s going to forgive you for it, but either way, someone’s going to pay for it. It’s the same story in a court if you were to have to pay a fine as a punishment for a crime. Justice demands a fine is paid. You could pay for it, or someone could have mercy on you and pay for it, but someone is going to pay for it. Now think about a time in your life when someone really horribly wronged you. Since God is good, since He is just, He will–like any good judge–call for justice for that. For God to just ignore that wrong would be horrible. It would mean he didn’t care about the fact that you were hurt and that it was perfectly fine for that person to do this thing to you. It has to be punished.

    But God is also merciful and compassionate. He grieves over the punishment, even though it’s good and right. So as an expression of both his justice and mercy, Jesus (let’s just leave aside the idea of the Trinity for a moment so I can see if I can at least explain the concept of the cross in a way that makes sense) willingly gave his infinitely valuable life and took the punishment (paid the price) of God’s wrath that was owed by us.

    >>Besides, how much of a sacrifice is it, really, when you know you’re just going to be resurrected and ascend to heaven to become/be beside God again?)

    He was the only one who could make a sacrifice big enough, and take the huge punishment we all owed by rebelling against an infinite God (a punishment that would take each of us an eternity to pay off). Think of what would happen to you if you committed treason against this country. That’s just a country. What about continual treason against an infinitely good and perfect God? (You don’t have to agree with me that God is real, here; I’m talking about whether or not the concept of necessary punishment is at least meaningful if there were a God.)

    >>But if we look at how things are without any starting beliefs . . . we see that the world operates exactly as it should without any gods . . . It all makes rational sense without one of these interchangeable divine overlays

    I disagree with that. People throughout history have believed in a divine being because of various things they saw in the world: rationality, order, morality, etc. Does it make rational sense that there’s order in the world? Given the big bang and the beginning of the universe, does it make rational sense to think that something came out of nothing? Does it make rational sense to think that consciousness came out of rocks? There’s a reason why great thinkers and philosophers throughout history have concluded there is a God. The latest to be convinced by what he saw in the world was Antony Flew who was a professional atheist for 50 years.

    >>The Dead Sea scrolls show that there are many versions of Old Testament texts, some with minor changes, some major and fundamental differences.

    On the contrary, the scrolls pushed back the dates of our existing OT manuscripts 1000 years and increased our confidence they hadn’t been changed. For example, when they compared our previously earliest version of Isaiah with the Isaiah in the scrolls, 95% was exactly the same. The other 5% was mostly spelling and stylistic changes–and any words added or lost in the remaining small percentage didn’t at all change the overall meaning of their respective passages. But I might be misunderstanding you here–are you saying they had more texts than are included in the OT (not debated or surprising), or that our OT texts are fundamentally different from theirs?

    >>We know there were many versions of the Gospels being passes around for a hundred years before an orthodox stop was put to it, and certain versions were chosen and made canon.

    We know that by 160 AD (when we have the first recorded list of what was considered canonical), the four Gospels–and only the four–were included. This is true for every subsequent list. Since he was describing (not imposing) what was generally accepted, we can gather from this that those four had already been widely circulated for decades, and weren’t in question. If I were to write a book about Jesus today, should Christians accept it as canonical? Of course not, because what the heck do I know, authoritatively? In the same way, back in the early second century the gospels that were written by people connected with Jesus were circulated and accepted early. Those written 100 years (or more) later by other people (of whom we can also say, what they heck do they know?) were rejected. It’s perfectly legitimate.

    >>Even the “official” version of Mark was later altered with a “found” new ending.

    But the point is, we know this to be the case, and every Bible notes this. Because of the age and number of manuscripts we have, we can track down where the changes occurred (and there really aren’t that many), and Bibles correct for this.

    >>Slavery and the Spanish Inquisition, for example, were influenced by the Bible.

    Yes, but not in the way you think. I’m going to leave this for now because it’s way too much for a blog comment.

    >>I’d say, if our civilization actually followed the teaching of the Bible closer, we’d look a LOT more like Syria or Afghanistan.

    I’m sorry, again, that I’ve written so much here. I’m sensitive to bloggers’ time and am frustrated when people consume time on my own blogs with huge comments that split into 1000 directions that I then feel I must respond to, so I apologize to you! I’ll give you the last word after this, and you can sum up whatever you like. But I do want to invite you to stop by the STR Blog anytime to discuss things and challenge people.

    As a final thought, in response to your comment above, I wrote a blog on what it would look like to follow the whole Bible literally. So if you’re interested, take a look here. I also wrote this one on the Law in the Old Testament–what it meant and what it means. Enjoy, and hopefully I’ll see you around!

  14. >>Discussing the events in the Bible may be interesting, but it’s like doing a close reading of Bulfinch’s Mythology–may be fun but at the end of the day we’re debating the meaning of a work of fiction.

    Even if that were the case, the fiction would still mean one thing rather than another. Misrepresentations always get in the way of determining truth (regardless of whose side the truth is really on), so if you’re going to use parts of the Bible to argue against Christianity, it’s important to be sure you’re representing them fairly. It’s circular to use them to support the idea that the Bible is fiction and then not talk about challenges to your characterization of those passages because “you’re only talking about fiction.” Maybe if you were to look into what it was saying, it wouldn’t look so much like fiction! 😉

    But that said, no problem. There are endless things we could discuss, but this is only a blog, after all! I understand we have to choose a few things to talk about and then move on. Because I understand the nature of blogs and blog comments, I promise I won’t assume you don’t have answers to something just because you don’t give them, so no worries about that.

    >>I used to be in your position, and believed Christianity with all my heart.

    I used to be in your position, where I did not think Christianity was true, and I put it through the wringer. I’m an extremely skeptical person, so I’ve asked just about every question you could ask.

    >>Statements like, God doesn’t have to show mercy, just justice, is a rationalization of “how things are”

    Actually, it’s not. I’m just discussing basic principles of justice that I’m willing to bet we agree on. If 10 people are convicted of a crime, and the law stipulates that they should each do 20 years in jail, the judge would be perfectly right to give them all 20 years. The judge doesn’t owe them anything. Nobody would complain that the judge didn’t find a way to get them all (or even one) out of jail time.

    >>The book says that god so loved the whole world that he killed himself to allow people to be saved from his own wrath. (Which by the way, makes no real sense.

    It makes sense if you believe that justice is good. Let me describe it this way. Let’s say you’re messing around in a friend’s home, throwing a baseball, and you break his $3,000 television. Either you’re going to pay for it, or he’s going to forgive you for it, but either way, someone’s going to pay for it. It’s the same story in a court if you were to have to pay a fine as a punishment for a crime. Justice demands a fine is paid. You could pay for it, or someone could have mercy on you and pay for it, but someone is going to pay for it. Now think about a time in your life when someone really horribly wronged you. Since God is good, since He is just, He will–like any good judge–call for justice for that. For God to just ignore that wrong would be horrible. It would mean he didn’t care about the fact that you were hurt and that it was perfectly fine for that person to do this thing to you. It has to be punished.

    But God is also merciful and compassionate. He grieves over the punishment, even though it’s good and right. So as an expression of both his justice and mercy, Jesus (let’s just leave aside the idea of the Trinity for a moment so I can see if I can at least explain the concept of the cross in a way that makes sense) willingly gave his infinitely valuable life and took the punishment (paid the price) of God’s wrath that was owed by us.

    >>Besides, how much of a sacrifice is it, really, when you know you’re just going to be resurrected and ascend to heaven to become/be beside God again?)

    He was the only one who could make a sacrifice big enough, and take the huge punishment we all owed by rebelling against an infinite God (a punishment that would take each of us an eternity to pay off). Think of what would happen to you if you committed treason against this country. That’s just a country. What about continual treason against an infinitely good and perfect God? (You don’t have to agree with me that God is real, here; I’m talking about whether or not the concept of necessary punishment is at least meaningful if there were a God.)

    >>But if we look at how things are without any starting beliefs . . . we see that the world operates exactly as it should without any gods . . . It all makes rational sense without one of these interchangeable divine overlays

    I disagree with that. People throughout history have believed in a divine being because of various things they saw in the world: rationality, order, morality, etc. Does it make rational sense that there’s order in the world? Given the big bang and the beginning of the universe, does it make rational sense to think that something came out of nothing? Does it make rational sense to think that consciousness came out of rocks? There’s a reason why great thinkers and philosophers throughout history have concluded there is a God. The latest to be convinced by what he saw in the world was Antony Flew who was a professional atheist for 50 years.

    >>The Dead Sea scrolls show that there are many versions of Old Testament texts, some with minor changes, some major and fundamental differences.

    On the contrary, the scrolls pushed back the dates of our existing OT manuscripts 1000 years and increased our confidence they hadn’t been changed. For example, when they compared our previously earliest version of Isaiah with the Isaiah in the scrolls, 95% was exactly the same. The other 5% was mostly spelling and stylistic changes–and any words added or lost in the remaining small percentage didn’t at all change the overall meaning of their respective passages. But I might be misunderstanding you here–are you saying they had more texts than are included in the OT (not debated or surprising), or that our OT texts are fundamentally different from theirs?

    >>We know there were many versions of the Gospels being passes around for a hundred years before an orthodox stop was put to it, and certain versions were chosen and made canon.

    We know that by 160 AD (when we have the first recorded list of what was considered canonical), the four Gospels–and only the four–were included. This is true for every subsequent list. Since he was describing (not imposing) what was generally accepted, we can gather from this that those four had already been widely circulated for decades, and weren’t in question. If I were to write a book about Jesus today, should Christians accept it as canonical? Of course not, because what the heck do I know, authoritatively? In the same way, back in the early second century the gospels that were written by people connected with Jesus were circulated and accepted early. Those written 100 years (or more) later by other people (of whom we can also say, what they heck do they know?) were rejected. It’s perfectly legitimate.

    >>Even the “official” version of Mark was later altered with a “found” new ending.

    But the point is, we know this to be the case, and every Bible notes this. Because of the age and number of manuscripts we have, we can track down where the changes occurred (and there really aren’t that many), and Bibles correct for this.

    >>Slavery and the Spanish Inquisition, for example, were influenced by the Bible.

    Yes, but not in the way you think. I’m going to leave this for now because it’s way too much for a blog comment.

    >>I’d say, if our civilization actually followed the teaching of the Bible closer, we’d look a LOT more like Syria or Afghanistan.

    I’m sorry, again, that I’ve written so much here. I’m sensitive to bloggers’ time and am frustrated when people consume time on my own blogs with huge comments that split into 1000 directions that I then feel I must respond to, so I apologize to you! I’ll give you the last word after this, and you can sum up whatever you like. But I do want to invite you to stop by the STR Blog anytime to discuss things and challenge people.

    As a final thought, in response to your comment above, I wrote a blog on what it would look like to follow the whole Bible literally. So if you’re interested, take a look here. I also wrote this one on the Law in the Old Testament–what it meant and what it means. Enjoy, and hopefully I’ll see you around!

  15. Well, I disagree. 🙂
    Obviously we can go on like this forever (smarter and wiser people than you and I have done so for 2000 years!) I appreciate your thoughtful and respectful replies, and I’ll check out some of the mentioned posts on your site.

    I still think your arguments stem from a rationalization of the way things are based on an a priori belief in the existence of Yahweh as described by the Christian Bible–rationalizations which are unnecessary with a naturalistic, non-theist world view.
    Rationalizations that could be equally made by believers in Hindi, Islam, Buddha, Shinto, classical Olympian gods…you get the idea.
    When any of these followers can (and have and do) examine the world they live in and make reasoned assumptions that fit within their own pantheon’s mythology, with 100% certainty–why should your certainty in Yahweh be considered more valid than someone else’s 100% certainty in their explanation that also makes perfect sense within their religious framework?

    All the same reasons you can tell me why the other 2399 gods are false, I can apply to Yahweh as well.

    You’ve probably already read these sources, but for anyone reading, The God Delusion is a wonderful source for the answers to your posers and presents much better arguments than I can relate.
    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ is a good site for freethinking, with contributors who were all once religious followers and apologists for Christianity–some extremely well educated in theology and Biblical history.
    Robert M. Price (http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/) was a member of the Jesus Seminar, and is a Biblical scholar whose infinitely enjoyable to listen to (on the many podcasts he’s been a guest of).

    I want to end with a reply to this section:

    People throughout history have believed in a divine being because of various things they saw in the world: rationality, order, morality, etc. Does it make rational sense that there’s order in the world? Given the big bang and the beginning of the universe, does it make rational sense to think that something came out of nothing? Does it make rational sense to think that consciousness came out of rocks? There’s a reason why great thinkers and philosophers throughout history have concluded there is a God. The latest to be convinced by what he saw in the world was Antony Flew who was a professional atheist for 50 years.

    (One can make money just being an atheist? Sweet! 😉 )
    All of that does make sense. Humans evolved to be expert pattern identifiers. It made us better hunters, and better avoiders of being hunted. We evolved to find agency in the events around us which helped us survive. That ability allowed us to ascribe behaviors to animals we could anticipate and exploit. It also cased us to see agency in the weather. In why phenomena happens. In illness. In our own humanity. Being human, we created anthropomorphic agents for phenomena, i.e.: spirits, gods. Gods that were responsible for the most mind-bogglingly huge and amazing and literally awesome things (things we couldn’t even imagine when we first started inventing gods–galaxies, black holes, quantum strangeness, super nova) and yet our gods were still petty, jealous, egotistical, spiteful, sexual…all our human traits. (Ironic that our creation of gods is our most humanist creation.)

    Centuries ago we couldn’t even imagine germs and virus, but we were dead certain disease was curses and supernatural in origin. Our ancient minds would shut down if we tried to explain to them such things like Relativity, fusion reaction, gamma-ray bursts, psychotropic drugs, quantum entanglement. Why, in our arrogance, should we assume there’s not a natural explanation for the origin of the universe which our minds can’t comprehend yet? I can’t even begin to comprehend multi-dimensional math that’s used to calculate “lensing” when determining distances between stellar objects…should I just assume it’s god doing it?

    If this anthropomorphic character with human-like traits can exist without prior creation, why can’t the universe? (After all, the idea of “nothing” before the Big Bang is actually a misunderstanding of the rapid expansion we call the Big Bang.) Science actually a perfectly rational explanation for the development of amino acids to protein markers to RNA to DNA. “Consciousness from rocks.” The pre-physical state of the universe, the development of what we call consciousness, the “order” amongst the chaos and entropy we see in the universe, actually makes a great deal of sense–which didn’t to people before telescopes, particle accelerators, atomic half-life dating, all the tools of science (and the tool OF scientific method) were at our disposal to make sense of our observations.

    A lot more sense than the idea that:
    An all-knowing, all-powerful man-like creature needed to fill a desire to be worshiped and so created people to do so. Created them to be flawed and temptable, and then put them in a world he created of pain and suffering to BE tempted and prey on each other, and then judge them for failing to use their “free will” to do exactly what he wanted them to do. Then damning them at death for eternity after 1-90 years of “sin” instead of simply filling them with True Knowledge (which surely the worst human he created would do nothing but beg forgiveness and worship him were he to do that), and yet expect us to see him as a model of “unconditional love”. Then decide to kill himself in human form after a pretty terrible weekend (compared to the years of pain and suffering some of us humans suffer at the hands of disease on his planet, or constant rape and torture and mutilation some people endure for years), in order to…somehow change the rules he set up in the first place regarding how he decides to show mercy on his flawed creation for falling for the flaws of the earth he created.
    And then the kicker: that only those people who come in contact with an often misunderstood and misused book he had written about this situation and the salvation from his wrath–can avoid the sin and enjoy the salvation. But then in his universal and conditionally unconditional love he gave this information to a teeny tiny group of people in a desert filled with superstition and magical thinking, and then expected people to believe his Truth under these conditions. Then that book is SLOWLY spread across the planet by human hand so that 2000 years later at least 2 billion currently alive people (to say nothing of the billions who lived and died already) still will never come in contact with this book of truth and unique salvation from eternal wrath–simply because of the accident of the time and place of their birth.

    Seriously? That makes more sense?
    I guess we’ll never see eye-to-eye. 🙂
    All the best.

  16. Well, I disagree. 🙂
    Obviously we can go on like this forever (smarter and wiser people than you and I have done so for 2000 years!) I appreciate your thoughtful and respectful replies, and I’ll check out some of the mentioned posts on your site.

    I still think your arguments stem from a rationalization of the way things are based on an a priori belief in the existence of Yahweh as described by the Christian Bible–rationalizations which are unnecessary with a naturalistic, non-theist world view.
    Rationalizations that could be equally made by believers in Hindi, Islam, Buddha, Shinto, classical Olympian gods…you get the idea.
    When any of these followers can (and have and do) examine the world they live in and make reasoned assumptions that fit within their own pantheon’s mythology, with 100% certainty–why should your certainty in Yahweh be considered more valid than someone else’s 100% certainty in their explanation that also makes perfect sense within their religious framework?

    All the same reasons you can tell me why the other 2399 gods are false, I can apply to Yahweh as well.

    You’ve probably already read these sources, but for anyone reading, The God Delusion is a wonderful source for the answers to your posers and presents much better arguments than I can relate.
    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ is a good site for freethinking, with contributors who were all once religious followers and apologists for Christianity–some extremely well educated in theology and Biblical history.
    Robert M. Price (http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/) was a member of the Jesus Seminar, and is a Biblical scholar whose infinitely enjoyable to listen to (on the many podcasts he’s been a guest of).

    I want to end with a reply to this section:

    People throughout history have believed in a divine being because of various things they saw in the world: rationality, order, morality, etc. Does it make rational sense that there’s order in the world? Given the big bang and the beginning of the universe, does it make rational sense to think that something came out of nothing? Does it make rational sense to think that consciousness came out of rocks? There’s a reason why great thinkers and philosophers throughout history have concluded there is a God. The latest to be convinced by what he saw in the world was Antony Flew who was a professional atheist for 50 years.

    (One can make money just being an atheist? Sweet! 😉 )
    All of that does make sense. Humans evolved to be expert pattern identifiers. It made us better hunters, and better avoiders of being hunted. We evolved to find agency in the events around us which helped us survive. That ability allowed us to ascribe behaviors to animals we could anticipate and exploit. It also cased us to see agency in the weather. In why phenomena happens. In illness. In our own humanity. Being human, we created anthropomorphic agents for phenomena, i.e.: spirits, gods. Gods that were responsible for the most mind-bogglingly huge and amazing and literally awesome things (things we couldn’t even imagine when we first started inventing gods–galaxies, black holes, quantum strangeness, super nova) and yet our gods were still petty, jealous, egotistical, spiteful, sexual…all our human traits. (Ironic that our creation of gods is our most humanist creation.)

    Centuries ago we couldn’t even imagine germs and virus, but we were dead certain disease was curses and supernatural in origin. Our ancient minds would shut down if we tried to explain to them such things like Relativity, fusion reaction, gamma-ray bursts, psychotropic drugs, quantum entanglement. Why, in our arrogance, should we assume there’s not a natural explanation for the origin of the universe which our minds can’t comprehend yet? I can’t even begin to comprehend multi-dimensional math that’s used to calculate “lensing” when determining distances between stellar objects…should I just assume it’s god doing it?

    If this anthropomorphic character with human-like traits can exist without prior creation, why can’t the universe? (After all, the idea of “nothing” before the Big Bang is actually a misunderstanding of the rapid expansion we call the Big Bang.) Science actually a perfectly rational explanation for the development of amino acids to protein markers to RNA to DNA. “Consciousness from rocks.” The pre-physical state of the universe, the development of what we call consciousness, the “order” amongst the chaos and entropy we see in the universe, actually makes a great deal of sense–which didn’t to people before telescopes, particle accelerators, atomic half-life dating, all the tools of science (and the tool OF scientific method) were at our disposal to make sense of our observations.

    A lot more sense than the idea that:
    An all-knowing, all-powerful man-like creature needed to fill a desire to be worshiped and so created people to do so. Created them to be flawed and temptable, and then put them in a world he created of pain and suffering to BE tempted and prey on each other, and then judge them for failing to use their “free will” to do exactly what he wanted them to do. Then damning them at death for eternity after 1-90 years of “sin” instead of simply filling them with True Knowledge (which surely the worst human he created would do nothing but beg forgiveness and worship him were he to do that), and yet expect us to see him as a model of “unconditional love”. Then decide to kill himself in human form after a pretty terrible weekend (compared to the years of pain and suffering some of us humans suffer at the hands of disease on his planet, or constant rape and torture and mutilation some people endure for years), in order to…somehow change the rules he set up in the first place regarding how he decides to show mercy on his flawed creation for falling for the flaws of the earth he created.
    And then the kicker: that only those people who come in contact with an often misunderstood and misused book he had written about this situation and the salvation from his wrath–can avoid the sin and enjoy the salvation. But then in his universal and conditionally unconditional love he gave this information to a teeny tiny group of people in a desert filled with superstition and magical thinking, and then expected people to believe his Truth under these conditions. Then that book is SLOWLY spread across the planet by human hand so that 2000 years later at least 2 billion currently alive people (to say nothing of the billions who lived and died already) still will never come in contact with this book of truth and unique salvation from eternal wrath–simply because of the accident of the time and place of their birth.

    Seriously? That makes more sense?
    I guess we’ll never see eye-to-eye. 🙂
    All the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *