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Posts Tagged ‘biblical criticism’

The Moral Lessons of Exodus

May 13, 2013 6 comments

by Noah Lugeons

Exodus is a good guide for morality only if you compare it to Genesis.  I’ll give the book of Exodus the credit that it did seem that on some level the authors were aware that this book would one day be used as a moral guide.  In Genesis we basically got a bunch of morally dubious just-so stories but in Exodus at least we get a haphazard, antiquated, random list of dictates.

Granted, that only comprises a small portion of the book.  The majority of Exodus is consumed with god’s sick revenge fantasy against all things Egyptian and some really detailed instructions on how he wants his tabernacle (which are repeated no fewer than four times in the fucking book).  So it seemed that the authors figured all moral enigmas could be taken care of in about four chapters but we need at least a dozen chapters to hammer down how many cubits of tanned rams’ skins and goat hair each curtain around the tent around the altar get.

So despite the fact that god spends the first half of Exodus breaking many of the commandments he’s going to lay down later, the book does manage to squeeze in a few good moral nuggets.  It’ll make for a kind of long list, but I’m going to break all of the “commandments” down here and we’ll rate them all on a moral scale with the following grades:

  • (M, +2) for truly moral,
  • (A, +-0) for ambiguous and/or meaningless,
  • (AM, +1) for ambiguous but leaning moral,
  • (AI, -1) for ambiguous but leaning immoral,
  • (I, -2) for immoral and
  • (H, -4) for horribly immoral on several levels.

We’ll start with the eight and a half commandments:

  1. (AI, -1) You shall not make an idol or worship any god before me (fuck Jewish tradition, that’s one commandment).
  2. (AI, -1) You shall not take the lord’s name in vain (fuck Catholic tradition, this is a different commandment).
  3. (AM, +1) Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
  4. (AM, +1) Honor your mother and father.
  5. (M, +2) You shall not kill. (Hey, they finally got one that really is moral!)
  6. (AM, +1) You shall not commit adultery.
  7. (M, +2) You shall not steal.
  8. (M, +2) You shall not bear false witness.
  9. (A, +-0) You shall not covet your neighbors shit (fuck Protestant tradition, this is one commandment).

So far we’ve got 3 genuine moral ones, three that lean that way and two that lean against.  That gives Exodus a +7 on the moral scale, so that’s not too bad.  But then we get into all the sub-commandments and it gets pretty wonky.

  1. (I, -2) You shall make me an altar and kill sheep and ox for the fuck of it.
  2. (A) If you make me an altar of stone, don’t carve on it.
  3. (A) And don’t make steps that lead up to it or people will see your junk.
  4. (H, -4) When you buy a male Hebrew slave… (does it really matter what it says after that?)
  5. (H, -4) When a man sells his daughter as a slave... (and again, unless the next words are “he should get ass raped by porcupines, it’s not moral)
  6. (AI, -1) Whoever strikes a person mortally should be put to death. (Not having the capital punishment debate, but I’m only counting it as somewhat immoral to placate everyone)
  7. (H, -4) Whoever strikes mother of father should be put to death. (Regardless of your stance on capital punishment, that’s fucking harsh)
  8. (AI, -1) Whoever kidnaps a person should be put to death. (Can’t we just say, “thou shall not kidnap”?  I’d give him a +2 for that)
  9. (H, -4) Whoever curses mother and father should be put to death. (So by god’s standards, you might as well hit them, too)
  10. (M, +2) Don’t hit people with stones when you argue (paraphrased)
  11. (I, -2) When a person beats his slave to death, he should be punished. (I hold back on the -4 because at least the asshole gets punished in this one, but…)
  12. (H, -4) If you beat him to death but he lingers on for a few days before dying, you’re all good.
  13. (I, -2) If you injure a pregnant woman so that she miscarriages, you owe her husband money. (I don’t know what to do with this shit, but I know it isn’t moral)
  14. (I, -2) If you take out your slaves eye you have to free him or her. (Well isn’t that nice of you…)
  15. (AM, +1) If your ox gores somebody it’s not your fault unless you knew the ox liked to gore people. (Okay, so that’s kind of moralish but holy shit, compared to the bad stuff it’s pretty light)
  16. (M, +2) If you leave your pit uncovered and somebody’s goat falls in, you owe them a goat.
  17. (M, +2) If your ox kills my ox, we sell the living ox and split the profits.
  18. (M, +2) Don’t steal other people’s livestock (but since we already covered this one, it should hardly count)
  19. (A) If you beat a thief to death who broke into your house, you don’t get in trouble.  I’d count that as moral, except that it stipulates that he has to be breaking in at night, so if he breaks in during the day you have to use colorful language or something.
  20. (M, +2) Don’t let your ox eat my vineyard.
  21. (M, +2) Don’t catch my vineyard on fire.
  22. (AI, -1) If you steal something from somebody’s house that they were holding for somebody else, you’re in more trouble than if had been their thing. (No indication as to why, but no positive points since I’ve already awarded 4 points for the self evident notion of not stealing other people’s stuff)
  23. (AI, -1) If we’re arguing over who owns something, we should let god decide.
  24. (AI, -1) If I sell you a donkey and it’s sick, I’m in no trouble as long as I swear before god that I had no idea.
  25. (AI, -1) If your donkey dies while I’m borrowing it, I owe you a donkey.
  26. (H, -4) If you seduce a virgin you have to give her dad money and marry her. (and she, of course, has not choice in the matter and doesn’t even get a cut of the money)
  27. (H, -4) Kill witches. (This should really be at least a -8 if you consider the actual result of this passage)
  28. (H, -4) Kill people with other religions.
  29. (M, +2) Don’t oppress immigrants (Shame those conservative right-wingers don’t read the bible or they’d know this one)
  30. (AI, -1) Don’t charge interest to Jews. (The implication is that it’s okay to charge interest to others, but one way or the other I think it’s a dubious position to stake out as a “moral” one)
  31. (AI, -1) Don’t revile god or curse a leader of your people. (To which I say fuck god and the leaders of my people)
  32. (AI, -1) Don’t hesitate to give god good shit.
  33. (I, -2) Give your firstborn everythings (ox, sheep, children, etc.) to god.
  34. (A) Don’t eat meat that was mangled in the field.
  35. (M, +2) Don’t spread rumors.
  36. (M, +2) Don’t act as a malicious witness or follow a majority in wrong doing.
  37. (M, +2) Don’t steal donkeys even if you really hate the person who owns the donkey.
  38. (M, +2) Seriously, don’t steal the motherfucking donkey.
  39. (M, +-0) Remember that thing I just said about not oppressing resident aliens? yeah, exactly that again in the exact same words.  Again. (No points for making the same moral point twice within eight paragraphs)
  40. (AM, +1) Leave your land unplanted one year out of seven.
  41. (AM, +-0) Again, repeating the Sabbath bit. (Again, no points for repeating the same shit over and over)
  42. (AM, +1) Hold three feasts for god each year. (I give them partial credit because celebrating with the community is a good idea… not exactly a moral imperative, but a good idea)
  43. (AI, -1) Don’t appear before god empty-handed. (To be fair, you’re not gonna appear before god anyway)
  44. (A) You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened. (WTF?)
  45. (AI, -1) Give the priests the best fruits.
  46. (AM, +1) Don’t boil a kid in it’s mother’s milk. (Sure, cause that seems pretty fucked up)

And that’s pretty much all god offers in Exodus in the way of moral instructions.  If you add up the 47 sub-commandments, you get a whopping negative 28 (negative 21 if you factor in the 8 and a half commandments).  Even if you quibble with a couple of my scores, you have to admit that we’re dealing with a pretty crappy source for ethics.

It also bears mention that of the 15 things that I rated moral, 11 of them are meaningless if you don’t have any goats, oxen or vineyards, so even a negative twenty eight is probably too high a score.  I mean, there’s no way I know of to quantify the relative morality of an act, but if there was, I’m willing to bet beating a slave to death would be way more than twice as immoral as spreading rumors.

Live Blogging the Bible: Exodus 25-31

May 11, 2013 3 comments

by Noah Lugeons

Well, I just finished the “interior decorating” portion of Exodus.  For those who haven’t read the book (and how I increasingly envy them), this is the part where Moses goes up on Mt. Sinai to receive the word of god.  He’s up there for forty days and forty nights and honestly, it seems like god ran out of shit to talk about after day three.

The chapters immediately before 25 detail the closest thing to morality that the book has to offer yet.  This part includes the nine commandments and the numerous supplementary commandments like “Thou shalt not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” and “Thou shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened” and as haphazard as this list is, many of the particulars deal with real world situations (mostly ox related).

But then God, supremely inefficient time manager that he is, decides that he’s pretty much taken care of all of human interaction with a few ox rules and a dictate to kill witches.  So he spends the rest of his time on “Project Runway: Tabernacle Edition” and we spend 7 FUCKING CHAPTERS getting the low-down on exactly how he wants his tabernacle built… and his ark built… and his curtains… and his altar… and his separate little “incense altar”… and the clothes for his priests… and, I shit you not, the wash basin that the priests will use that will sit outside the tent.

For seven full chapters, we’re treated to details like (ex 27:16 & 27:17):

For the gate of the court there shall be a screen twenty cubits long, of blue, purple and crimson yarns, and of fine twisted linen, embroidered with needlework; it shall have four pillars and with them four bases.  All the pillars around the court shall be banded with silver, their hooks shall be of silver, and their bases of bronze”

So apparently when Christians call the bible a “book of answers”, they assume one of your questions was “yes, but if I’m making an ark for god tablets, what kind of wood should I use for the poles to carry it?”

Episode 12: Partial Transcript

by Noah Lugeons & Heath Enwright

(Note: Transcript may contain portions that were edited for time reasons)

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And now, the Scathing Atheist.

Intro:

It’s Thursday, It’s May 9th and somebody needs to tell people in Kentucky to stop wearing “I ‘heart’ KY” shirts

I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from voluptuous New York, New York, this is the Scathing Atheist.

On this week’s episode,

  • Christians will get upset about imaginary threats to their imaginary friend,

  • We’ll learn that in Turkey, you’re autistic,

  • And Darrel Ray will rejoin us to talk about pee-pees and coochies,

But first, the Diatribe.

Diatribe:

I started my post-secondary education at a small state college in rural Georgia.  And while you may not know me that well, even if this is your first time listening to the show you’ve probably already figured out that I’m not exactly right for a small state college in rural Georgia.  Let’s just say that my theological opinions ran counter to the prevailing ones.

You may have also picked up on the fact that I really don’t give two shits who I offend.

As you can imagine, this made for a combustible mix that didn’t take long to ignite.

I all but insured it with what I thought a harmless and excessively hilarious gag.  My dorm number was 174, but with a piece of posterboard and a sharpie, I cleverly changed it to 666.  Now, rural Georgia or no, I didn’t think this would actually piss anyone off.  Sure, they’re all Christian there, but this was college.  We were all a bunch of seditious rebels telling the status quo to go fuck itself, right?

Well, as it turns out, not so much.  Later that day I came back to a 174 where I’d left a 666 and below it there was a handwritten note.  I don’t recall every word of it, but I remember the opening line exactly:

“All the rest of us on this hall are Christian.”

The righteous vandal went on to explain that they didn’t want to see none of my satanic crap any-no-how and if I didn’t love Jesus I didn’t belong in that dorm hall, I didn’t belong in that college, I didn’t belong in that state and, come down to it, I didn’t belong in this country.  I was not welcome.

And, of course, I left a response.  Again, I don’t recall it verbatim, but it was a variation on the following:

“How feeble is your conviction if the very fact that someone doesn’t agree with you threatens it?”

I probably used a lot more words than that and I probably ensured that a few of them would force his ass to the dictionary, but that was the core of my rebuttal.  It’s been twenty years and I’m starting to think he’s not going to respond at all.

But that continues to be my strongest issue with religion as a whole.  If your idea has merit, it doesn’t need you there to defend it.  You can simply place it in the public arena and it can fend for itself.  Hell, how impressive would an omnipotent god be if he needed you to fight his battles for him?

If you want to see the deafening echo of this threat-response, just express your atheism on any social media venue and watch the wagons circle.  They’ll attack your intellect, your motivations, your morals, your conviction and occasionally your penis size (regardless of your gender).  They’ll gather together like white blood cells to defend their precious idea.

But meritorious ideas don’t need white blood cells.  If your ideas need to be reinforced once a week, they’re bullshit.  If you need to read the same book over and over again and hang out with people pre-screened to agree with you, you’re giving the bullshit armor.  If your ideas need to be propagated by an organized group that exists only to propagate your ideas they are bullshit.  And finally, if you’re threatened by people thinking you’re full of shit, it can only be because you’re full of shit.

Nobody ever had to show up at my door on a Saturday morning to convince me that A is equal to C if both are equal to B.  Nobody ever had to sneak a pamphlet into my Halloween candy to convince me that elephants are bigger than gerbils.  Nobody ever woke up early and dressed their kids up so that they could go somewhere and sing songs about cesium atoms having 55 protons.

Nobody ever passionately held a belief because it was true.  If it’s true, you don’t need passion.  Logic is more than enough of a scaffolding to hold up a genuine fact.  You only passion if logic isn’t enough.

Headlines:

Joining me for headlines tonight is the Pythias to my Damon, Heath Enwright.  Heath, are you ready to… be pithy, I guess?

Like Tina Fey if she were a dude?

She’s not a dude?  I feel so much less gay now…

In our lead story tonight, Christians across the internet are screaming themselves hoarse over an almost completely bullshit story about the Pentagon court-martialing people for being Christian.

Christianity pays for an entire staff of dudes who speak loudly about bullshit stories every week.  As a group, not exactly the pantheon of epistemological rigor.  

The tiny nugget of truth buried among this citadel of bullshit involves an April 23rd meeting between Mikey Weinstein, the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and a group of pentagon officials including several generals and a chaplain.  And the very fact that the pentagon had the audacity to sit down with a person bearing legitimate complaints about clear violations of military prohibitions against religious proselytization was more than Christians could bear.

If they’re not careful, all this logic is gonna snowball out of control.  

Don’t worry, the paragons of journalistic integrity at Fox News were quick to put the brakes on it.  They noticed an article about this meeting and asked the pentagon if there were any plans to court-martial chaplains who proselytize.  The pentagon said no, but that wouldn’t piss of their viewers so they pretended the answer was yes.  And before long bloggers were leading off with headlines like “Pentagon Confirms They May Court-Martial Soldiers Who Hold Christian Faith”.

Yeah, court martialing 90% of the armed forces.  That shouldn’t fuck up military readiness, should it?  I mean, who’s gonna remotely fly all these drones?

They manage to inflate a low-level meeting to Weinstein now chairing a panel to reform court-martial procedures, they conclude that this will mean the end of military chaplains and that Obama’s Defense Department was (quote) “promising to bring criminal charges against any military personnel who express or share their faith.”

I’m beginning to think Obama made up all that stuff about being Christian and white, just to get elected.  

So yeah, scant amount of dubious evidence, passionately held conclusion despite overwhelming data to the contrary.  Been there, done that.

Pentagon warns Christian soldiers that proselytization will be met with court martial: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/may/06/blog-posting/bloggers-say-pentagon-may-court-martial-christian-/ & http://nation.foxnews.com/religion/2013/05/03/rear-admiral-says-faith-under-attack-military & http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/2569472030.html

And in other Christians-Being-Furious-Over-Shit-That-Didn’t-Actually-Happen News, a high-school track team in Texas was disqualified from a 4 by 100 meter relay last weekend when a runner made a religious gesture at the end of the race.

Jews are gonna get offended by swastikas . . . Muslims are gonna get offended by Danish cartoons . . .  As an atheist, I’m supremely offended by any trinity-related gesture.  Don’t we get to pick an N-word too?  We’ve got unholy cows.

That sounds fair to me, but it really wouldn’t matter in this case because they weren’t actually disqualified because of a religious gesture, but rather because the judges deemed it “excessive celebration” and backed it up with clearly stated rules that specifically forbade “raising the hands or arms in celebration” after winning because, you know, it’s un-Jesus-y.

Do we really need to sit Christianity down for a quick seminar on what subset means?  Did religion really manage to brainwash away the Venn diagram concept?  That’s like a free built-in piece of brain functionality they’re throwing away.  And don’t they believe that somebody REALLY IMPORTANT designed all the brains?  

Well, I don’t know… if god made man in his own image then most of god is an idiot.  But this is how desperate Christians are to maintain their “help, help, I’m being oppressed” narrative.

Supreme omnipotent power is a mandate from the masses.

Excellent supplementary reference.  So here we’ve got a high school kid who gets disqualified from a track meet and it’s being reported on national news.  Nevermind that he was DQed for “excessive celebration and acting disrespectfully toward officials” and admits himself that there was no oppression of his faith here.

We can’t keep having laws that say “No doing stupid shit, unless you REALLY believe in it, and have a group of people with similar hats.”

Track Team disqualified for making “Religious Gesture” (Officially for “excessive celebration”): http://www.christianpost.com/news/was-relay-team-disqualified-from-state-championships-for-religious-gesture-95251/

Our next story takes us to New York Cities parking lot, New Jersey, where three members of the Trenton Diocese have resigned amid allegations that they knowingly allowed a child-molester to accompany them on overnight youth retreats.

Father Michael Fugee was convicted of fondling a teenage boy in 2003, but the conviction was overturned on appeal despite the fact that he had previously confessed to investigators.  Rather than retry the case, the prosecutors struck a deal with the archdiocese of Newark that would allow Fugee to remain with the ministry provided that he didn’t work with children.

I’m worried we won’t get in a dick joke if we don’t take the opportunity here.  

This show does have a two dick-joke minimum…

So what do you suppose they had in their video library there?  Movies like A Few Good Boys

The Priests of the Southern Child?

Altar Boys on the Side

Rosemary’s Adolescent

The Best Little Rectory in Texas

Super 8… Year Olds

Defrock of Ages (8-12)

And for the Jewish clients maybe Who Fucked Roger’s Rabbi?

It’s worth noting that in 2009 the archdiocese assigned him to the Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark and eventually removed him amidst scandal when this unsettling history came to light, so basically they’ve been moving this child-molester from place to place and waiting for somebody to say, “Hey, isn’t that dude a child-molester?” and then moving him somewhere else.

Wonderful . . . they figured out bit torrent for pedophiles.

3 resign from NJ church in pedophile priest scandal: http://news.yahoo.com/3-resign-nj-church-priest-scandal-161033762.html

And in our next story, a Turkish taint-stain has proven that when it comes to autism, one can actually have one’s head further up one’s ass than the anti-vaxers. Fehmi Kaya, the head of the Health and Education Associations for Autistic Children in Adana, Turkey said in a recent interview that atheism is (quote) “a different form of autism”.

If you’re gonna compare atheism to a mental disorder, autism is possibly the most flattering choice.  Rain Man was an awesome dude.  Sometimes autism comes with some super powers.  

On the other hand, theism as a mental disorder, would be something more like addiction to delusional psychosis with an extra chromosome on top.

Arguing that autism is the result of a lack of development in the “faith” center of the brain, he explains that this is why autistic children lack empathy with others, just like we atheists.

Kind of like the way Martin Luther King had an underdeveloped bigotry center of his brain.

Turkish Head of Education Dept. says Atheism is a Form of Autism: http://www.examiner.com/article/all-autistic-kids-are-atheists-and-atheism-is-a-form-of-autism & http://www.timeturk.com/en/2013/04/22/all-autistic-kids-are-atheists.html

And finally tonight, from the “If-God-Existed-He-Wouldn’t-Make-It-So-Easy-On-Me” News, the priest who was in charge of the treatment center where they sent priests accused of inappropriate sexual conduct has resigned amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.

You’ve gotta be a little suspicious of these corporate climber types.  “So I hear you need somebody to head up the new Rape Department.  Look no further.  I’m your guy.  I know rape backwards and forwards.  I know it inside out… coming and going.  I know it like the back of my fist.

What would that resume look like?

Now, in defense of Monsignor Edward J. Arsenault, former president and CEO of the Saint Luke Institute he was accused of more than just sexual impropriety.  He’s also being investigated for some shady financial practices so he’s really proving himself Catholic to the core.

Throw in some Nazi affiliation and you’ve got the holy trinity.

And, of course, to a Monsignor the term “inappropriate sexual conduct” is redundant.  So this could be an inappropriate, consensual relationship with his hand for all they care.  If he’s coming, it’s inappropriate.

What if God blows you in a dream? . . .  An Immaculate Erection scenario . . .

Or Ejaculate Conception…

Would that count as honorable discharge?

Priest who heads top clergy treatment center resigns amid allegations of impropriety: http://www.religionnews.com/2013/05/06/priest-who-heads-top-clergy-treatment-center-accused-of-impropriety/

Well, unfortunately we’ll have to leave you on that puzzler, as that’s all the time we’ve got for headlines tonight.  Heath, thanks once again for joining me tonight.

And when we return, you’ll witness the second coming of Darrel Ray.

Calendar:

It’s time for the atheist calendar portion of the show.  Back and well rested from a hiatus on last week’s episode, this is the part of the show we set aside to keep everyone up to speed on all the great atheist and secular events happening around country and around the world.

We’ve already talked them up a couple of times on the show, but a quick reminder that the weekend of May 17th has two big events; Imagine No Religion 3 in Kamloops, BC and the Women in Secularism Conference in Washington DC.  Details on the lineups are linked on the website.

Imagine No Religion 3: http://inr3.eventbrite.ca/

Women in Secularism Conference: http://www.womeninsecularism.org/

At the end of the month we’ve got the American Humanist Association Annual Conference in beautiful San Diego, California.  They’ll be honoring some of the very best in the Secular Humanist movement including 2013’s Humanist of the Year, Dan Savage.  Other honorees include Greta Christina, Katha Pollitt (I hope I’m pronouncing her name right…), Carl Coon and Richard Leakey.  Oh, and did I mention Richard Dawkins was gonna be there?  So yeah, if you’re in the same hemisphere as this thing (and by that, I mean Western or Northern), you should really try to make it.

American Humanist Association’s Annual Meeting: http://conference.americanhumanist.org/

The following weekend they’ll be doing something pretty similar on the other side of the Atlantic.  The British Humanist Association Annual Conference will be taking place in Leeds over the weekend of June 7th.  They’ll be honoring Terry Pratchett with the 2013 Award for Services to Humanism.  They’ve already got a pretty impressive list of confirmed speakers and they’re promising more to come.

British Humanist Association’s Annual Meeting: http://bhaconference.org.uk/

You’ll find more information, including links to the homepages for all these events under the “Show Notes” for this episode.  Remember, if you’re involved with an atheist, humanist, skeptical or secular event that could use a little free publicity, let me know.  I’d be happy to plug your event to thousands of people who probably live nowhere near it, many of whom will hear it in archives long after it’s over.  You’ll find all the contact info on the contact page at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.

Outro:

Before we wrap things up for the night I wanted to make a quick correction about last week’s episode.  But unfortunately it looks like we didn’t fuck anything up last week so I won’t get to.  I promise to try less hard next time.

Normally I close the show out by thanking all the people who help make it go.  I usually thank all the people who send encouraging emails, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, subscribe to us on YouTube, rate us on iTunes and tell their friends about us.  Then I’ll thank people like Heath Enwright and Darrel Ray who joined me on the show and I’ll usually thank people like Bill and Suzy from the “Bar Room Atheist” podcast for providing the Farnsworth quote this week and for putting together a really fun and relaxed podcast which you’ll find linked on our shownotes.

Bar Room Atheists on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/bar-room-atheist

And I usually thank everybody who could have spent the last 30 minutes listening to any number of awesome things and chose to listen to this show instead.  And above all, I usually thank the world’s most astute, intelligent and discerning people, the one’s who donate money to our show.  People like Justin, this week’s most valuable human.

But I’m not going to do that tonight.  It’s not that all those aforementioned people don’t deserve thanks; they do, especially Justin because he gave us money, but I’ve got a really important thanks this week and I’m afraid it would have overshadow all those other ones.  I want to thank one of the most dedicated, influential and admirable people in the modern secular movement.  Eugenie Scott, long time director of the National Center for Science Education and valiant warrior against creationism and science denialism recently announced her retirement.

So I want to say to Eugenie Scott that we in the secular community cannot thank you enough for all the hard work you’ve done in defense of science and rationality.  After a long and successful career taking on all comers, you’ve earned the right to retire in peace, knowing that you’ve made a substantive difference and that you’ve inspired an army of freethinkers to follow in your footsteps even if none of them will ever quite fill your shoes.  So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

That does it for tonight, but we’ll be back in 168 hours with the “Out of Egypt” Edition where Lucinda and Heath will join me to pour over 40 more chapters of immoral bullshit in the “Holy Babble”.  But if you can’t wait that long for more us, fear not.  Even in two parts I didn’t have quite enough room for all the good stuff from that Darrel Ray interview so I added a quick bonus question and answer to the “Extras” page on the website.  While you’re there, be sure to check out our erratically published blog and if you want to help me buy a new alternator and a car to put it in, click on the donate button on the right side of the page.

If you have comments, questions or death threats, you’ll find all the contact information on the “contact” page at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.  All the music used in this episode was written and performed by yours truly and yes, I did have my permission.

Live Blogging the Bible, Exodus 22:28

May 8, 2013 6 comments

by Noah Lugeons

So I’m at the part of the bible where God gives Moses the 10 commandments, which, by the way there aren’t ten of.  I don’t give a shit how you decide to count those fuckers, there aren’t ten.  I can see a reasonable argument for 9, 8, 11 or even 12, but to get to 10 you’ve got to start cutting these suckers up mid-sentence at some points and adding whole paragraphs together at others.

But after the 8 commandments, God carries on and it really seems like he just lost his train of thought.  He keeps spouting out moral dictates, but they’re as haphazard as you can imagine.  He’ll go straight from a details proscription for who pays who what if a donkey falling into an uncovered pit to a command to kill female sorcerers.  A couple of these things do seem reasonably moral, but some of them actually start out with stuff like, “When a father sells his daughter into slavery…” and end with something other than him be punished mercilessly.

I suppose I should sit back and enjoy, as I know I’m in for a lot more of these schizophrenic lists of archaic morals and some of them are hilarious.  These tend to be the parts of the bible you most often hear atheists alluding to, as they are the quickest proof that this book is a horrible source for morality and as I come across the little nuggets I’ve quoted before this whole endeavor seems momentarily less pointless.

Most of the best shit is in Leviticus, to be sure, but I was quite pleased to come across this one tonight.  I’ll be sure to toss it out next time I see one of my Christophile friends or neighbors bitching about Obama.  Exodus 22:28;

You  shall not revile God or curse a leader of your people.

I can see how that one gets lost, as it is sandwiched between a pointlessly involved explication of why you shouldn’t borrow your neighbors cloak and then not give it back to him if he’s cold and a warning not to delay in making offerings from the fullness of your harvest, so I can see how maybe it got tossed out as archaic.  I mean… who sleeps in a cloak any more, right?

But to all of those Obama-haters that actually believe in this silly little book, it might be a conflict worth losing sleep over.  At the very least, I can hope.

Live Blogging the Bible, Exodus 10:1

May 6, 2013 3 comments

by Noah Lugeons

Holy shit is this god guy a dick.

So I’ve gotten to the plagues and I have to admit that even though I knew how many their were, I never bothered to check out what all of them were.  Sure, I knew about the bloody Nile and the staff into the snake and the boils and the first born and the frogs, but I didn’t realize he also plagued the Egyptians with gnats and flies and hail and shit.

But the other thing I never realized was that God made pharaoh disobey him just so he could show off how many flies and gnats he could make.

It actually says that throughout the plague narrative.  Again and again the bible talks of god “hardening pharaoh’s heart” so that he will disobey Moses’ commands.  He hardens the hearts of both pharaoh and his officials.  He ensures that pharaoh refuses to let the Israelites go just so he can send more plagues.

I could back this up by directing you to passages like Exodus 4:21, 7:13, 9:7, 9:12 and 9:35, but why bother when you can just look at Exodus 10:1-

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his officials, in order that I may show these signs of mine among them…

And if this doesn’t spell it out plainly enough, the next verse really nail it down,

…and that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them – so that you may know that I am the Lord.”

Thus far there haven’t been many things that were clearly spelled out in the bible.  The authors and editors seemed to have a thing for ridiculously vague and ambiguous.  But this is one of the minority of instances where they make good and damn well that you know what’s going on here:

God is threatening the people of Egyptian with Eli Roth level horrors, he’s circumventing pharaoh’s freewill so that he won’t obey the directives, he’s perpetrating the horrors and then he’s doing it some more.  And why is he doing this?  Because fuck Egyptians, that’s why.

I suppose an apologist could argue that sometimes God just has to remind everyone how bad-ass he is and I’m willing to concede that, but couldn’t he show how awesome he was by curing diseases instead of creating them?  Couldn’t Moses have sauntered in there and said, “Hey, if you let my people go, God will cure all the disease in Egypt, turn the Nile to beer and give you a lot of kids (which seemed to be the only currency these biblical folks cared about)”?

Or if he insisted on being so damn negative, couldn’t he have just given boils and gnats and shit to the pharaoh?  How much more effective would the hail storm be if it was following pharaoh around and not hitting anyone else?  That’s some seriously divine intervention.  But no, he makes his point by giving all the people boils, killing slaves with hail, starving people with pestilence, dehydrating them with stinky, fatal blood-water and murdering their first born children.

What irresponsible fuck gave this guy omnipotence?

Live Blogging the Bible, Exodus 4:24-26

by Noah Lugeons

Even after only a book and 3 chapters, the title of “weirdest part of the bible” is a tough one to earn.  I’m only 100 pages in or so and already I’ve had to stop, scratch my head, re-read, re-scratch my head and sigh in frustrated confusion approximately one time for every 3 chapters.

If pressed, up until this morning I’d have listed the curse Noah lays on his grandson when his grandson’s dad sees his pecker as the weirdest part of the bible, though I’d have hemmed and hawed a bit between that and the part where Jacob wrestles god on the river.

But now there is a brand new contender and I actually think it might remain the bible’s weirdest passage no matter how much of this crap I read.  For those familiar with the bible, this is the part where Moses’ wife gives him magical foreskin powers so he can kick god’s ass.  And for those of you unfamiliar with the bible, that part actually exists and if you don’t believe me, check out Exodus 4:24-26 and tell me what the fuck is going on there then:

On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met him [Moses] and tried to kill him.  But Zipporah [Moses’ wife] took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched it to his feet and said, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!”  So he let him alone.  It was then she said, “A bridegroom of blood by circumcision.”

For a little context (and I’m afraid a little is all you’re gonna get), this is shortly after God charges Moses to go to Egypt and free the Israelites in bondage.  God appears in burning bush form, tells Moses to go to the pharaoh, loads him up with a few magic tricks and tells him to meet Aaron along the way.  And then, for no reason the bible bothers to explain, god appears and tries to kill Moses.  But not very hard.  Because of Zipporah’s clever foreskin maneuver.

There are so many fucking questions here, I don’t know where to start.  Why would god try to kill Moses?  How omnipotent is this guy if he can’t handle a Jew and his foreskin wielding wife?  If god can appear in a form that can ineffectually assassinate Moses, why the burning bush crap a few passages earlier?  And, most importantly, what the fuck?

This is some seriously crazy shit and the bible carries on like none of it happened a few verses later.  God just got thwarted by a piece of baby-dick and we’re just supposed to move on like this was no big deal?  And just how many of the early Jewish fathers have defeated god in a wrestling match?

I hoped that the annotations would help, but they just made it worse.  They refer to this whole thing as an “Enigmatic Episode” and point out that when it says that Zipporah touched the foreskin to Moses’ feet, that may have been a euphemism for his nuts.  Seriously.

So as I’m reading it, the scene from Zipporah’s perspective has to go something like this:

  • Awakened in the middle of the night by sounds of a struggle.
  • Wipe the sleep out of her eyes and glances through the moonlight to see her husband getting his ass kicked by God, Almighty.
  • Says to herself, “If only I had something to mutilate my son’s cock with!”  Finds flint.
  • Hastily circumcises her infant with a random, unsanitized stone in the dark.
  • Disrobes Moses’ while he’s fighting god.
  • Touches his cock with bleeding ring of baby genital.
  • God says… “Gross!  I don’t even want to wrestle any more!”
  • Says, “Truly you are a bridegroom of blood to me!”

I’m no closer to understanding this book, but at least now if I’m ever tasked with making an Exodus video game, I know what the power-ups will be.

 

The Moral Lessons of Genesis

April 24, 2013 2 comments

by Noah Lugeons

I don’t say it often, but it turns out that those Christians are right.  As an atheist, I’ve had this whole morality thing ass-backwards from the start.  Luckily I’m reading their divinely-inspired ethical guide, though, so I’ll be able to correct my misguided notions.  up until now, I’ve seen “morality” as a communal effort to decrease suffering while increasing happiness, but it turns out that none of that really matters.  From what I’ve gathered in the first book of the bible, the keys to being a good person can be summed up with the following moral edicts:

  1. Don’t cover your nakedness.
  2. Cover your nakedness.
  3. Don’t see your dad’s cock, even if it’s by accident.
  4. God loves a deceitful liar.  Just ask Abraham and Jacob.
  5. Ass-raping angels = bad.  Offering your daughters to mobs of angry rapists = good.
  6. If you meet God, throw down some Brazilian Ju-Jitsu on his ass.
  7. God made your penis wrong.
  8. When your brothers sell you into slavery and fake your death, you should probably forgive them.
  9. God promised earth to the Jews.
  10. Traditional marriage = A man, his wives and their maids.

I’m sure there will be moral messages that are every bit as surprising as we go forward, so I’ll try to keep all my godless brothers and sisters up to date.  On second thought, just my godless brothers.  I’m pretty sure I’ll learn later that teaching things to women-folk is immoral, too.

 

Live Blogging the Bible, Genesis 47

April 23, 2013 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

Genesis starts slow and it’s a pretty brutal read, but as it turns out, the third act is pretty good.  It settles down into a cohesive narrative, things that are introduced to the story have relevance later, characters have depth and story arc and for a while there God bows out of things and stops being a dick.  In fact, as I was polishing off the end of Genesis, I actually found myself quite drawn to Joseph.  I thought I’d finally found a moral character in the Bible that I could get behind.  And then I reached chapter 47.

For those who don’t know the story (it’s the Technocolor Dreamcoat one), Joseph is one of Jacob’s (Israel’s) sons and he’s daddy’s favorite.  So his other 11 brothers (dad was a hound) did what any group of sociopathic jealous siblings would do.  They took him to the middle of nowhere, stuck him in a pit and waied for some Egyptians to come by so they could sell him into slavery.  They tell dad he was eaten by wolves or bears or something and they carry on with their lives.

Joseph makes the most of slavery but refuses to bone his master’s wife, which lands him in jail for a few years where his powers of dream-interpretation eventually catch the attention of Pharaoh, whose been having some pretty wacky sleepy-time romps of late.  So he brings Joseph out of prison and tells him about his dream, which Joey interprets as God warning him about a coming famine.

Pharaoh is so impressed that he basically makes Joseph king of everybody but him.  Joseph sets out to store a shitload of grain for the coming famine and sure enough, a few years later the famine settles in and thanks to Joey’s powers of precognition, Egypt is the only kingdom with any food.

Along the way he forgives his brothers, sends for his dad and hooks them up with the best grazing land in Egypt.  Seems like a pretty upstanding dude up to this point.  But then in chapter 47 he convinces all the Egyptians to sell themselves as slaves because otherwise they’ll starve.

It’s this surprisingly morbid aside in an otherwise uplifting story, but as the years of famine pile up, the peasants run out of money and can’t afford to buy food from Joseph anymore.  So he convinces them to give him all their livestock and gives them enough grain to survive the year.  Then they come back the next year with no money, no more food and no livestock, so he convinces them to give them all their land for another year’s worth of food.  Then, of course, they come back the next year with no money, no food, no livestock and nowhere to freaking live, so he convinces them to sell themselves into slavery in exchange for another year’s worth of food.

Ultimately it’s clearly a story meant to justify an excessive tax laid upon the people of Egypt, but it really takes you out of this otherwise heart-warming tale of forgiveness and foresight.  So far I’d say Joseph is the most moral central character in the bible, but if I can say that about somebody who locks up all the food and then demands you sell him your freewill if  you want some, this book is clearly unfit as a moral guide.

Live Blogging the Bible, Genesis 34

April 21, 2013 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

Alright, so I have a new favorite chapter in the Bible and I also have renewed hopes that the mammoth task of breaking this whole stupid book won’t all suck.  I’m actually shocked that this isn’t one of the stories that Christians trot out more often because it’s fucking awesome.

The story starts out with Dinah, daughter of the notorious pussy-magnet Jacob, catching the eye of Shechem, a Hivite prince.  And you know how those Hivites can’t keep their dicks to themselves, so Shechem rapes her.  But according to Genesis 34:3, after he raped her he was really sweet to her:

And his soul was drawn to Dinah, daughter of Jacob; he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her.

And so post-rape, he decides he want to marry Dinah but Jacob and his sons are still understandably pissed about the whole raping their daughter/sister bit so at first they’re reluctant.  Shechem is persistent a la Pepe Le Pew so eventually Jacob makes a deal.  He tells the prince that if he and all the Hivites will join their tribe, he can marry Dinah.  Now that doesn’t sound to bad, but we learned back in Chapter 17 that part of joining their tribe is lopping off a significant portion of your cock.

But Shechem is smitten so he’s all “Lop off my foreskin and force all the men in my tribe to do the same?  No problem.”  And he agrees to it.

So in what must have been the single most baffling day in Hivite history, all the men cut their foreskins off.  Understandably, there’s not a lot getting done in downtown Hivite-ville that day because all the guys are laying in beds moaning “I hate monarchy!”  And while they’re in that prone, post-circumcision state, Jacob and his boys roll into town and kill all of them.

Yes, that’s right, they kill all the Hivites after tricking them into chopping at their genitals.  I’m guessing the resistance was a bit subdued here.  Hell, a lot of them were probably going, “Yeah, slit my throat, sure.  Whatever takes my mind off the pain in my dick.”

Live Blogging the Bible, Genesis 12:12-20

April 19, 2013 Leave a comment

by Noah Lugeons

So this Abram (cum Abraham) is a morally dubious motherfucker, which is clear pretty early on.  When we meet the guy, he’s almost immediately whoring his wife off to the Pharaoh.  A famine falls upon the land and he has to have this uncomfortable conversation with his wife:

“Hey baby, I know you’re smoking hot and anybody who sees you is gonna want to fuck you, even if they have to kill me to do it.”

“Well, thanks… kind of,” Sarai says back.

“Now, we could not go to Egypt, for sure, and if we don’t nobody will kill me to fuck you,” he added.

“Yes,” Sarai said hopefully, “let’s do that.”

But Abram had other plans, you see.  “Well, yeah, we could.  But I bet there’s another way to go about this where we get donkeys and shit.”

“Do you get killed?” she asked hopefully.

“Nope.”

“Do I get fucked?” she asked, equally hopefully.

“Well, yeah.”

He then proceeds to whore her off to the Pharaoh for some sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys and camels.  Note that they don’t specify the genders on the sheep, oxen or camels, but they make sure to tell you that Abraham got enough donkeys to make more.

And what does god do about the whole “pretend-my-wife-is-my-sister-so-I-can-whore-her-off-for-livestock” charade?  He punishes the poor Pharaoh who gave up donkeys of multiple genders for a barren, married prostitute.

This is a really fucked up book.