Anti-Theist Religious Bits & Pieces: Round Five

Of all of those Big Questions central to philosophical concepts that surround life, the universe and everything, the realms of theology and religions and the nature of deities continue to fascinate. Opinions proliferate in books, articles, videos, conversations in bars and pubs, and in fact anywhere and everywhere two or more humans are in proximity. There’s the pro side; there’s the anti-side. There aren’t too many fence-sitters. I’m still in the anti-camp as the following fifth instalment of “religious bits and pieces” illustrate.

Regarding Religion

*I believe in the freedom of religion providing the religion you believe in is the exact same religion as mine is.

*False Religion: Any religion that’s not your religion! When you say that your brand of religion is right and all others are false (either in part or in whole), you do realize of course that you have no appeal to any authority, higher or otherwise, and that the majority doesn’t rule (except of course unless by pure force).

*You can just about get away with anything if you claim that your “anything” is part and parcel of your religion and thus your religious beliefs and practices. Witness all of the recent and very heated debates over the ‘rights’ of the religious to refuse giving any ‘rights’ to the LGBT community or to prohibit a woman’s right in having an abortion. Then we have the religious community determining or at least trying to determine what should or should not be taught to children (i.e. – creationism / intelligent design vs. evolution in science class). But this is relatively mild compared to what follows. So, for yet another example, albeit a more serious example, putting your religious faith in faith healing as opposed to medicine has resulted in hundreds of unnecessary deaths, often of children by their fundamentalist ‘well meaning’ religious parents. Animal sacrifice is still legal providing that it done in the name of your religion. And the numbers of people, especially children, who have endured psychological as well as physical harm by exorcisms are legend. There have been many recorded cases of people who have even been killed during exorcisms, again especially children who have died by ‘well-meaning’ religious adults trying to beat demons out of them – literally. Exorcism often became an execution, putting meaning to the phrase that the cure was worse than the disease (which is what so-called ‘demon possession’ usually was – just an actual disease). The psychological and physical abuses inflicted on members and ex-members of the so-called ‘Church’ of Scientology are numerous and well documented, yet Scientology oft regains and retains it’s tax free status as a ‘religion’ and is virtually untouchable. Even New Age spiritual beliefs aren’t always harmless as people have died from fad diets and herbal remedies / treatments as well as putting trust in psychic surgery. And no amount of words can adequately describe the hideousness of the Westboro Baptist Church. Actually it’s not the ‘Church’ that’s hideous – it’s the ‘human’ member ship of that ‘Church’. Then too, to round out some (but by no means all) religious horrors still practiced in some parts of the world, we still have literal witch-hunts and trials were the accused was damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. The final resulting outcome was, and is, never in doubt – death to the ‘witch’.

*Religion has many a closet full of many a skeleton, all too often literally really real skeletons. One just has to recall all of those European ‘Christians’ who invaded North, South and Central America destroying entire indigenous cultures and societies in the process in the quest for gold / silver (El Dorado), resources, land and all-round empire building (i.e. – I claim this [already occupied] land for X in the name of Y) and of course converting the native pagans to Christianity by any means possible. Of course multi-hundreds of thousands of indigenous natives had to be exterminated in achieving those ‘Christian’ goals. Ethnic cleansing would not be too strong a phrase, but when God is on your side; when you are of the Chosen People; when you have “Divine Right” and Manifest Destiny backing you up, the ends justify the means and might makes right.

*We all know, or at least should know, that religious fundamentalists (and that includes or incorporates various religious faiths) have as their ideal goal the goal to ram their faith down the throats of anyone and everyone else not part and parcel of their One True Faith. More specifically, there are various American politicians and former politicians who have as an ultimate goal an American theocracy (Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Mick Huckabee, Joni Ernst perhaps even Newt Gingrich) and a total end to the separation of church and state. Translated, there are numerous right-wing religious fundamentalist politicians who, if elected to high office (i.e. – the presidency) would govern according to the Bible and not according to the American Constitution.

*Speaking of the U.S.A., to the best of my knowledge the United States is the only country with the word “God” imprinted on its currency although that hasn’t always been the case since “In God We Trust” was only established as the official motto of the United States by Congress in 1956 (and reaffirmed 50 years later) and the phrase first appeared on paper currency in 1957 (although the phrase had appeared on (and off and on again) on some American coinage since 1864). However, this is actually in direct violation of the American Constitution’s First Amendment which requires that officialdom not favor any one religion over another belief system – the so-called Separation of Church and State. However, there wouldn’t be any politician brave enough to try to rectify that unfortunate state of affairs since 90% of Americans are in favor. Oh, as an aside, as the joke goes, “In God we trust, all others pay cash”.

Regarding Faith & Belief

*Nothing fails like prayer fails. Prayer may make you feel good, but it fails in the results department.

*Linus carries around a security blanket. True Believers in principle do the same. They both have and carry around their own version of a security blanket!

*Theists J.P. Moreland, Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Keith Ward, Richard Swinburn and millions of others of a similar ilk had they been born 10,000 years ago, would NOT be theists but polytheists at best; lacking any theological philosophy of any kind at worst.

Regarding Women 1

*Is this the best of all possible [religious] worlds? Not if you’re a woman!

*If a childless wife’s husband dies, she is not free to remarry anyone else but rather she becomes the wifely property of the deceased’s brother. (Deuteronomy 25: 5).

*It’s not just Muslim women that have to keep their head covered but also Christian women! Check out 1 Corinthians 11: 5! However, that doesn’t apply to Christian men if you look at 1 Corinthians 11: 4!

*Christian women also need to keep their big mouths shut in church – or else! Instead, they have to wait till they get home and then ask their husbands if they want to learn anything! (Check out 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35)

*But if a Christian woman really wants to know her proper place in society, she needs to digest 1 Timothy 2: 9-15.

*Also we should note that a woman is always worth less in shekels than a man according to Leviticus 27: 3-7.

*Women are as second-class citizens in religious institutions and associated religious circles. So for example, what do you think the odds are of a Nun ever becoming Pope? Women in religious circles are not about to break the stained glass ceiling anytime soon!

Regarding Women 2: Historical, Mythical & Biblical (i.e. – Also Mythical):

1) Presumably you’d have relatively little if any problem independently verifying via historical documents and/or via archaeological evidence the actual existence of the following real historical women.

Real Historical Women: Joan of Arc (French heroine); Cleopatra VII (Queen of Egypt); Flavia Helena (also Queen Helena, later St. Helena) – mother of Constantine the Great*; Servilia (Mistress to Julius Caesar); Boudica (leader of rebellion against Roman occupying forces of Ancient Britain); Hatshepsut (Egyptian Pharaoh); Nefertiti (wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten); and Hypatia (Library of Alexandria).

2) Presumably you’d have all sorts of problems independently verifying via historical and/or via archaeological evidence the actual existence of the following ‘real’ women of myth and legend.

‘Real Women of Myth & Legend: Pele (Hawaiian); Isis (Egyptian); Cassiopeia (Greek); Andromeda (Greek); Hera (wife of Zeus); Helen (of Troy); Pope Joan; Gaia (Greek Earth Goddess); Aphrodite (Greek); Demeter (Greek); Freya (Norse); Inana / Ishtar (Mesopotamia); Artemis (Greek); Athena (Greek); Brigid (Celtic) and more recently Wonder Woman (superhero); and Supergirl (superhero).

And of course you, knowing what you already know in advance, probably wouldn’t even bother trying.

3) Assuming you are a True Christian Believer, presumably you’d argue that you would have relatively little if any problem independently verifying via historical and/or via archaeological evidence the actual existence of the following ‘real’ women of the Bible.

‘Real’ Women of the Bible: Eve (first woman); Sarah (gave birth at 90); Ruth (Book of Ruth – Old Testament); Esther (Book of Esther – Old Testament); Lot’s wife (turned into pillar of salt); Bathsheba (wife of David); Queen of Sheba (visited King Solomon); Jezebel (wife of King Ahab), Mary (mother of Jesus); Delilah (betrays Samson for money); and Mary Magdalene (follower of Jesus).

Yet you would run into the exact same problem you’d have in verifying the actual existence of those ‘real’ women of myth and legend and for the exact same reason. The ‘real’ women of the Bible are as ‘real’ as those ‘real’ women of myth and legend whose actual existence you couldn’t be bothered trying to verify since you know better. Well now you know better about those ‘real’ women of the Bible.

*Helena (at near 80 years old) was sent by Constantine to the Holy Land on a quest to find and collect Jesus relics and she allegedly found the ‘One True Cross’ (hundreds of years after the fact of course) and thus is now called for her pioneering efforts, the Patron Saint of Archaeology.

Regarding Family Values

*We keep hearing the mantra that the Bible commands that a marriage be just between one man and one woman. What utter rubbish! If you slice and dice things down to the basics, a man can have however many wives as he can afford to have living under his roof. They can be acquired for money and via rape. If you rape a girl who isn’t already engaged and then pay her daddy 50 shekels, she’s yours (Exodus 22: 16-17; Deuteronomy 22: 28-29). Presumably you could do this as many times as you wanted and thus acquire a harem.

*We note how Lot offered his daughters to strangers for sex in preference to the strangers having their wicked way with his guests (Genesis 19: 1-8). Later on down the track Lot’s two daughters got daddy drunk and then raped him (Genesis 19: 31-38).

*Then too we have polygamy sanctioned in the Bible (so much for the ‘one man, one woman’, mantra often spouted off by fundamentalists).

*God commands Abraham to kill his son – not a very family-friendly command on God’s part.

*If you have rebellious children, you don’t spank them or send them to bed without supper, instead you have them stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21: 18-21). On the other hand, instead of having the stones come to the child, bash the child against the stone (Psalm 137: 9).

*Speaking of killing disobedient children, if you don’t obey the Commandment to honor mummy and daddy but rather curse mummy and daddy, you’re going to have a date with the executioner (Exodus 21: 17; Matthew 15: 4).

*And it is quite okay to capture and kill the children of your enemy, except female children who are virginal. Those virginal female children you can keep for yourself and for your own pleasure (Numbers 31: 17-18).

*For pleasure of a slightly different kind, boiled children are on the Biblical menu! Cannibalism in the Bible? Really? Check out 2 Kings 6: 29; Leviticus 26: 29; Ezekiel 5; 10; Deuteronomy 28: 53-57; Jeremiah 19: 9; and Micah 3: 3.

*For some reason God wants you to give Him the firstborn of your sons (Exodus 22: 29; Exodus 34: 20; Numbers 3: 13) and we can only think the worst here. Does God have a fondness for young boys?

*And Jesus really didn’t care for family values as Luke 14: 26 makes very clear indeed.

Regarding Miracles

*If you are to believe all of those fundamentalist, right-wing, evangelist Christians, there are thousands of God-inspired supernatural miracles recorded every year, especially in faith healings and related. If you add to those claims those supernatural miracles accepted as genuine bona-fide true miracles by the Catholic Church, then there should be absolutely no doubt that supernatural miracles were as real and as well documented as gravity. Alas, there’s not so much as even one miracle ever observed and verified and written up in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and undisputedly accepted by the scientific community as proof of the supernatural. I think that alone pretty much sums up the validity of any supernatural miracle attributed to God.

Regarding the Bible

*The Bible: A primitive text from a primitive time. The Koran: An equally primitive text from an equally primitive time.

*The Bible (as well as the Koran) should NOT hold any privileged position in society since there are literally thousands of other non-related pieces of literature that can be said to be equally inspirational – not that the Bible contains all that much that is inspirational unless your name is Hitler (or hundreds of equally historical equivalents).

*As long as you can find at least one example of God perpetrating an evil deed (out of many dozens one could cite), you can hardly call the Bible “The Good Book”.

*Contrary to what Christians would have you believe, the Bible DOES sanction abortion. Check out Numbers 5: 11-31 and reference to “bitter water”, administered by a priest, which will abort a woman’s baby if that woman has conceived by a male other than her husband. Even God will apparently slay that which is in the womb (Ezekiel 20: 26; Hosea 9: 11-16; Hosea 13: 16).

*There are some who say that because the Bible oft uses the geographical phrase “four corners” that the Bible therefore is advocating a Flat earth geography, as a circle or a globe / sphere has no corners, four or otherwise. However, I think this is a pretty weak conclusion on the grounds that the phrase “the Four Corners of the Earth” is still a very common expression that is still frequently used even today.

*Do you like to eat pork, bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausage, etc.? If “yes”, then repent you sinner! The Bible prohibits you eating the flesh of the swine, as in Deuteronomy 14: 8.

*And you are forbidden to eat any fat or any blood (Leviticus 3: 17) so that rules out that cheeseburger or juicy rare hamburger / steak.

*And do you also like to eat clams and oysters and mussels and other shellfish like crab and lobster and shrimp / prawns and marine / freshwater snails (if you’re French) and associated delicacies? Give them at miss for they are an “abomination unto you” according to Leviticus 11: 10-12. You don’t even get to eat land snails according to Leviticus 11: 30. And turtle soup is also off the menu too – Leviticus 11: 29. In fact if you follow the dietary restrictions given in Leviticus you’d probably die of hunger! Well not really as God allows you to eat grasshoppers, beetles and locusts so you won’t actually starve (Leviticus 11: 22). [As an additional aside, Leviticus 11: 19 as well as Deuteronomy 14: 18 includes the bat as being a bird!]

*But don’t stuff your face with too many locusts, grasshoppers and beetles for then you are a glutton and according to Proverbs 23: 21 gluttony will lead you to the poor house, that’s assuming you don’t slit your own gluttonous throat first (Proverbs 23: 2).

*Do you ever consult a psychic or use Tarot Cards or read your astrology forecast in your daily newspaper? Shame, shame, shame on you. God is NOT amused. You are forbidden to have anything to do with the spirits, mediums, fortune tellers, astrology and the like according to that party-poop of all party-poop Biblical books, Leviticus, as in specifically Leviticus 19: 31 and Leviticus 20: 6.

*Do you have a tattoo? If so, well you’re a very wicked, wicked person! God forbids you to have a tattoo, and if you doubt this, you’d better look up Leviticus 19: 28.

*Do you shave? Have you ever shaved? Naughty, naughty, naughty. The Bible commands that you do NOT shave. Check out Leviticus 21: 5 and Ezekiel 44: 20. So, do not pass go, do not collect $200, instead go straight to hell in a handbasket if you have ever shaved!

*Okay men, let’s be honest here, have you ever had lust for a woman? Well if so then you’re evil, evil, evil because you have actually committed adultery in the eyes of Jesus and therefore in the eyes of God! (Matthew 5: 27-28)

*Do you ladies specifically (and gentlemen too I guess) ever wear sexy / revealing clothing and associated hairstyles and use adornments like jewelry? Tisk, tisk, tisk! Abandon your wicked ways immediately for 1 Timothy 2: 9 forbids all of this – so there!

*And do you ladies like to gossip? Control yourself and cease blabbering immediately for the Bible and the Lord so commands you according to Leviticus 19: 16; Psalm 101: 5.

*Do you fancy yourself as a bit of a comedian or jester or jokester? Shame on you according to Ephesians 5: 4. So straighten up and fly right!

*Hands up, have you ever been divorced and then remarried? Again you have committed adultery and Jesus / God will get you for that! (Matthew 5: 31-32; Matthew 19: 9; Mark 10: 11-12; Luke 16: 18; 1 Corinthians 7: 10-11.) Basically the Biblical Commandment is “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20: 14) and if you do commit adultery your head is on the proverbial chopping block (Leviticus 20: 10). And so that would seem to apply to those who divorce and remarry because you can’t ever remarry because that too is adultery. Oops!

*Now here’s a contradiction if ever there was one. According to 1 Corinthians 7: 1, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (i.e. – no sex)! A man can have a wife and a woman can have a husband, but no touching! That being the case, how do you “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1: 28; Genesis 9: 1)?

*And you’d better no ever have premarital sex or else it’s hell for you (Jude 1: 7)! Maybe even worse, if you’re found out not to be a virgin, then you can be stoned to death according to Deuteronomy 22: 20-21.

*Do you ever do work on the Sabbath? Sooner or later nearly everyone does some form of labor on the Sabbath, and it doesn’t matter whether Saturday or Sunday is defined as the Sabbath day. Well working on the Sabbath is a no-no. Who says? God says! See Exodus 20: 10; Exodus 31: 14; Leviticus 23: 3; Deuteronomy 5: 14 and Jeremiah 17: 24. So what if I do work on the Sabbath, what’s the big deal? Death my friend, death. You have committed a crime punishable by death according to Exodus 31: 14-15; and Exodus 35: 2.

*Here’s a bit of Biblical weirdness for you. Do you like to wear polyester and fabric blends? Cease immediately for the Lord commands you not to mix fabric blends, like linen and wool. Check it out at Leviticus 19: 19.

*To conclude Biblical weirdness, if you’re a male and for some reason you have been wounded in the privates, or your private parts are missing, then you are forbidden from going to church, which is “the congregation of the Lord”, at least according to Deuteronomy 23: 1. So all your male True Believers, you’d better look after your “stones”.

*I’ve said it before but I’ll repeat it here – the easiest path to atheism is just to read the Bible!

Regarding the Geography of Heaven and Hell

*Attention all True Believers: Have you actually seen heaven? No? Have you actually seen hell? No? Do you know anyone who has actually seen heaven or hell? No? If heaven and hell are physical places then you’d suspect that astronomers (by now) would have spotted heaven “up there” and geologists would have (by now) found actual seismic evidence of hell “down there”. In any event all of the fires of hell should have been doused by that ‘global flood’. Now you may have FAITH that heaven and hell exist; you may have some degree of BELIEF that heaven and hell exist, but you most certainly don’t KNOW that heaven and hell exist. If you and no one that you’ve ever known have ever visited hell, you can have absolutely no idea what the dimensions of hell are. True Believers are just making it all up. By the by, what ‘below’ (not on) earth does hell actually have to do with Satan? Satan didn’t create hell; God created hell (and we all know that God loves you). Now True Believers have to ask the question, does the punishment of eternal hell fit the crime? Finally, not all theologies actually postulate a hell – or a heaven for that matter. So my final question to True Believers is, what makes you right and theologies that don’t advocate a heaven or hell, like the Quakers, wrong? Extraordinary claims, and heaven and hell ARE extraordinary claims, require evidence. True Believers have provided absolutely NO evidence to back up their wild assertions that heaven and hell exist.

Regarding the End Times

*Isn’t it absolutely amazing how lucky you are being born into just the right family in just the right country into just the right religion at just the right time in history to become one of the very few privileged True Believers who absolutely know that you are one of the chosen ones to witness the End Times, the Second Coming, the return of Jesus and be Raptured up into Heaven and have an eternal [after]life! What are the odds of that?!?

*I have to wonder whether if our current reigning End Times Queen, Michele Bachmann, might not be the reincarnation of former Queen Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944). McPherson (also known as Sister Aimee) was a Christian evangelist, faith healer and media celebrity prominent in the 1920s and 1930s. She founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. She drove around L.A. in the second decade of the 20th Century in her “Gospel Auto” with the message painted on the side “Jesus Is Coming – Get Ready”. It just goes to show that there’s no shortage of True Believers, not only now but over the centuries who truly believe we’re in, or were in, the End Times. However, it didn’t come to pass for Aimee Semple McPherson and it won’t come to pass for Michele Bachmann either.