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Posts Tagged ‘Moses’

Live Blogging the Bible: Deuteronomy 10:21

July 16, 2013 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

Deuteronomy is boring compared to the other books of the bible.

That’s like saying someone is fat by sumo standards; ugly for a game show contestant; stupid for a CNN anchor.  This thing is painfully, brutally, nut-crunchingly boring.

The book consists of three speeches that Moses gives and they have the feel of speeches you would give if there was no clock running on your last words.  It has all the intrigue of a filibuster.  It’s like reading about people studying people watching paint dry.

And if anything, I’m overselling the intrigue.

So when I say that I found verse 10:21 interesting, I feel that I should begin by qualifying the broad spectrum of relative application of the word interesting one must employ to apply it to something in Deuteronomy.  We’re in the first act of Moses’ second speech where he’s rehashing the rehashing we were doing earlier and he’s reminding all the Israelites just what a bad mother fucker god is.

So he drops this line:

He is your praise; he is your god, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen.

This is not the first time Moses appeals to empirical evidence to convince people of his holiness.  God was more than happy to devour houses in Numbers or send gnats and flies in Exodus or make rocks bleed Aquafina in Leviticus whenever anybody started doubting his royal godness.  Granted, he would then curse them, plague them and bury them in pheasants or something, but he wasn’t shy about appearing as a mountain of fire or wandering around the encampments in cloud form.

Clearly, then, god understands that we need to see some proof.

It seems reasonable to me to ask why it was reasonable for this one minuscule sliver of humanity to demand proof from god, but now that we have cameras and science and a million ways to verify the miraculousness of a miracle, god can’t be bothered.  It’s somehow beneath him.  Now that it’s easier than ever to communicate with the whole world at once.  Now that it’s easier than ever to prove himself in a way that would satisfy even the most skeptical among us.

The standard retort of the theist is that god wants us to have faith, but that doesn’t sound like the genocidal ass-stain I know and love from the bible.  He was all about flexing his muscle.  What, did he mature?  Was he imperfect back then and then grew up?  Hard to imagine a timeless being maturing significantly in the eye-blink of human existence, but it seems like the strongest thread they have to hold onto.

Anyway, back to work.  Somehow we’ve still gotta figure out how to do a segment about a book that does nothing but rehash shit we’ve already made fun of. 

Live Blogging the Bible: Numbers 11:19-33

June 24, 2013 1 comment

by Noah Lugeons

I’m only four books in and already I’m amazed at how many crazy stories that I’ve never heard are hidden in the bible.  Why does nobody ever talk about Simeon and Levi?  Or Gershom’s magical foreskin?  Or the naked Noah story?  Or, as I recently discovered, the retributive quail tsunami?

The first ten chapters of numbers deal with the Israelites getting ready to move to the promised land.  After a considerable time putzing around Sinai with nobody to keep them company but the occasional golden calf, they get ready to move camp, Tabernacle and all, and march against all those assholes that are currently living in the land god clearly intended for them to inherit.

For the first quarter of the book the Jews are very well behaved.  They camp where Moses tells them to camp, they enlist when Moses tells them to enlist and they sacrifice bulls and goats when Moses tells them he’s hungry.  But once they start the march, Moses’ underlings get really bitchy, really fast.  Every time he turns around their moaning about how they might as well have just died in Egypt as slaves where at least they didn’t have to spend years wandering through the wilderness with nothing to eat but manna.

So god hears their cries and he decides to be merciful and send them plenty of food.  So much so, in fact, that he promises that all 600,000 of them can eat meat for a month.  So he sends a month long tsunami or quails all around them.  And just when you’re starting to think that maybe god has turned another leaf and stopped being a complete douche bag, you find out that the quail were a backhanded gift.  It comes at the cost of a plague that kills thousands of the assholes.  Oh yeah, and they lose their claim to the promised land.  So no, god’s still an asshole.

But god being a dick isn’t anything new.  He’s been consistent since Genesis so god pulling a dick move is hardly worth blogging about.  I just thought I’d hop on to point out what a counterintuitive dick he was being.  After all, if he’d just lighten up on the demands for bulls and goats and lambs and turtle doves and donkeys, there would be plenty of meat to go around.  You know, the old “stop burning the food for an omnipotent god and start eating it” gambit.

I suppose god is all-knowing (or at least that’s what the people who didn’t write the bible seem to think) so he probably already thought of my solution and rejected it for one of his mysterious reasons.  But I thought it was worth pointing out anyway.

Episode 16 – Partial Transcript

by Noah Lugeons, Heath Enwright and Lucinda Lugeons

(Note: Transcript may contain material edited from the final episode for time purposes)

Sponsor:

Today’s episode of the Scathing Atheist is brought to you by the new brand of perforated Catholic Condoms, Kingdom Cum.  These confusingly labeled condoms are no more contraceptive than cheesecloth, but we’re willing to wager we’ll catch a few drunken fornicators with this ruse.

What, you think that’s immoral?  You should see what Catholics do when they take over a hospital.

And now, the Scathing Atheist:

Intro:

It’s Thursday, it’s June 6th and I know Jake Farr-Wharton has already opened up the show once, but the dude sent the quote to me in six different voices and I’m not letting good shit go to waste.

I’m your host Noah Lugeons and from abbreviated NY, NY, this is the Scathing Atheist.

On this week’s show,

  • We’ll add contractual obligation to the list of reasons not to get addicted to meth,

  • I’ll try desperately to come up with another nickname for Pope Francis,

  • And Heath and Lucinda will join me in discovering that Leviticus is every bit as fucked up as you think it is.

But first, the Diatribe.

Diatribe:

I’m sick and goddamned tired of hearing about where people fall on the “Dawkins Scale”.

Before I go any further, I should note that I’m a big fan of Dawkins and I admire his non-sexist parts…  he’s like the Benny Hill of atheism in that way.  And what’s more, I completely understand the rhetorical utility of his sliding scale of theistic probability.  In the hands of a skilled debater like Dawkins, it’s a valuable asset.  But in the hands of a lay-atheist, it’s often a hell of a lot less than that.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, the “Dawkins Scale” refers to a seven point scale Dawkins proposed in The God Delusion.  A one on this scale represents absolute certainty that god exists, a seven is absolute certainty that god doesn’t exist.  The point he’s making is that atheists generally fall on the “6”, not the “7”.  It’s a useful explanation of the fact that atheism is the product of doubt, not certainty.

But certainty appeals to a lot of people, so when Dawkins talks about this publicly there’s often a backlash.  People in the media stammer about how Dawkins is uncertain and concedes that there might be a god afterall.  They don’t seem to understand that he’s not actually conceding that in any way.  They just see two guys in a debate where one is saying he’s absolutely sure and the other’s saying he holds a tentative position that’s in accordance with the observable evidence.  Somehow they don’t see this as an idiot vs. a responsible thinker, but rather they see it as confident guy vs. indecisive guy.

In the context of the book and in the context of some debates, employing this scale makes perfect sense.  But before we lean too heavily on it, we should probably point out that this scale can also be applied to any other belief.  Does gravity exist?  Well, I’m pretty damn sure it does, but as a responsible thinker, I’ve got to go with a 6 on the scale, because if convincing evidence arose to the contrary, I would change my mind.  I am not an immutable “7”.  We could be part of a computer simulation titled “what if there was gravity?”, so as a proper logician I have to carve out a little, tiny, itsy-bitsy “margin of error” on the gravity thing.

Same thing for evolution, right?  I mean, just because all the available data suggests and confirms it, that doesn’t mean that I’m absolutely certain beyond the shadow of a doubt, irrespective of future data.  I’d have to hold the responsible position of “6” on the scale.  But why hamstring oneself in debate by pointing this out only with respect to the thing you’re arguing about?

I feel the same way every time I hear Dillahunty, or anyone else for that matter, talk about Agnostic Atheism vs. Gnostic Atheism.  Before we start making this distinction, somebody show me one of these gnostic atheists.  Show me somebody who says that no matter what level of convincing evidence could be offered to the contrary, they would never believe in god.  Show me somebody who says he would still be an atheist if god appeared in the sky before the whole world at once and said, “I am god, sorry about all the mysteriousness and shit and to prove my godness you’ll note that all the people who had cancer are now cured.”  Show me that guy and then let’s start carving atheism up into gnostic and agnostic.

This isn’t just a semantic thing.  And it’s not just a “trip-you-up-in-an-argument” thing either.  The use of these devices is actually fucking this movement up internally.  I can’t tell you often I see atheists offering up false-equivalency compromises with this nonsense.  Search “Dawkins Scale” on Twitter and it won’t take long to find an atheist saying something like, “I’ll admit that being a 7 on the Dawkins scale is as ridiculous as being a 1”

What?  No the  fuck it isn’t!  That’s a complete misreading of the point of the rhetorical device.  Keep in mind that on this scale, 7 actually represents the thing that is right.  1 represents the thing that is wrong.  The point of the Dawkins Scale is to point out the flaw in “Absolute Certainty”.  But if you’re going to be absolutely certain of something, it’s still way better to be certain about the thing that conforms to all the known evidence.

Substitute anything else for the god assumption and it becomes painfully obvious.  Somebody who is absolutely certain that the earth is round should, for the proper employment of scientific thinking, concede that overwhelming evidence could sway him… from a pedantic, vulcan, it’s-an-oblate-spheroid-bitch point of view.  But that doesn’t mean that he’s exactly as wrong as somebody who is absolutely convinced that the earth is flat.

There’s a cat on my lap right now.  If I was pressed, I’d admit that it could be a hallucination, it could be a robot, it could be a phantasm from another dimension taking the form of my cat.  But if I say, “No, damn it, this is definitely my cat”, it may be technically wrong, but it’s certainly not as wrong as “No, damn it, this is definitely a phantasm from another dimension.”

The problem is with 7 point scales and binary choices like gnostic and agnostic is that there’s no way to truly express the 6.999999-ness of one’s atheism.  If god appeared before me right now and we had a twenty minute conversation, I’d assume I’d lost my fucking mind before I’d assume that it actually happened.  It would take a hell of alot more than than personal experience to overturn my conviction.  I’d need tangible evidence that could be verified by multiple sources and, in addition, I’d need volumes of refutations for the hundreds of logical contradictions his existence entails.  I’d need a world-overturning amount of evidence.  I’d need an amount of evidence that one can reasonably assume will never exist.

So as to where I fall on the Dawkins Scale, it ultimately comes down to the question of how many 9s you can put after the decimal place before you run out of 9s.

Headlines:

Joining me for headlines tonight is my fellow skeptic, Heath Enwright.  Heath, are you ready to sharpen Occam’s Razor?

Is another old book club making outrageous claims?

I’m starting to think god is worse than Oprah.

In our lead story tonight, Oxford University researcher and author Kathleen Taylor made waves this week when she suggested that religious fundamentalism may one day be a curable mental illness.  Now, when you and I hear this statement, the only new information is the word “Curable”, but when the religious folks hear it they’re once again forced to confront the fact that believing in magic people in the clouds is, technically, fucking nuts.

I hope the cure for religion comes out in some sort of weaponized form.  I’m picturing a reality dart, and you can heal the radically ignorant right in the side of the neck with a blowgun.

This is only the latest in a long line of academics accidentally forgetting that we’re supposed to publicly ignore the fact that extreme religiosity and mental illness spend a lot of venn diagrams spooning.

Definitely got a shared region in the extra-wide vagina shape.  That’s more like scissoring than spooning, I guess.

The media reports it like it’s a scandal and then they dig up a bunch of peacemaker psychologists who dutifully point out that technically it’s not a mental illness until it interferes with your day to day life and at the same time they’ll dutifully not point out that by the same argument believing that you’re Napoleon and your left testicle reminds you to water the house-plants is also not de-facto crazy.

And the Napoleon left testicle belief system is VASTLY more likely to be true than those of any major religion.

Worst thing that happens if insane people become radically orthodox about science is they make an atheist podcast.  Nobody’s ever protested a theist funeral, or bombed a fetus rescue clinic, in the name of Darwin or Dawkins.

But don’t worry, it’s not like we’re going to now have a rational conversation about this topic, as the major media outlets have reported that, in fact, the pachyderm droppings on the loveseat were likely man-made and placed there intentionally.

Pay no attention to the Republican mascot behind the curtain, taking a shit on society’s couch.

Could religious fundamentalism be treated as a mental illness? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/kathleen-taylor-religious-fundamentalism-mental-illness_n_3365896.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

And speaking of fundamentalism and mental illness, our next story brings us to Kentucky and Ken Ham’s ailing “Ark Park” where Ham is inadvertently demonstrating the absurdity of the Noah story by showing how hard it is to get an ark of that size built when you’ve got modern shipping channels and $25 million dollars at your disposal.

Well Noah had the old-man strength going.  You know how the best softball players are 45-year-olds?  Noah did all the ark stuff between the ages of 480 and 600, so unfair advantage.

Plus, Ken Ham probably has far fewer Jewish slaves at his disposal for the project.

In addition to not having enough money to build the ark that will fail to serve as the centerpiece for this not-likely-to-exist theme park, Ham’s team is also not building other Old Testament attractions, including not breaking ground on a Tower of Babel observations deck and not moving ahead on a planned “Ten Plagues” themed ride.

I think they need to reread Genesis 11.  They’re constructing a replica of the tower whose construction got god to smite everyone.  That’s like re-airing the seizure-inducing anime clip.  

Many atheists will remember hearing a lot about this park a couple of years ago when the state of Kentucky agreed to award it huge tax incentives to build it’s testament to credulous stupidity.  It would seem now that the “Ark Encounter” has found a clever way to circumvent that controversy by failing to raise the requisite funds for construction until the proposed tax incentives expire in May of next year.

So Kentucky said, “Yeah, you guys can have these huge tax breaks, as long as you can build an impossible boat and an entire infinite tower to heaven before next May.”

Ark Park having trouble: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/noahs-ark-theme-park_n_3367579.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

And in “Are-They-Still-On-About-That-Shit?” News, a number of prominent Baptist leaders have called for a mass withdrawal of support for the Boy Scouts of America after they slight  and decades overdue backpedaling of institutionalized of bigotry.  Arguing that we can’t allow gay people to learn how to tie such good knots, homophobic pastors across the nation are urging their flocks to cut their ties with the Boy Scouts.

“I know this seems like it’s about the gay thing, in the standard cause and effect sense.  But we’re just uncomfortable – in general – of a dozen 10-year-old boys and a weird adult in a tent, wearing matching short shorts and ascots.  Whether or not there are any actual homosexuals present, it’s just too faggoty.”

Pastor Tim Reed of Arkansas forestalled that argument when he told a CNN reporter that (quote) “It’s not a hate thing here”, adding a bunch of other thinly veiled lies and bullshit that he has to tell himself to continue to believe that he’s not a bigoted anal-wart that cherry picked through one of the most egregiously horrific parts of the entire bible, bypassed laws against tattoos, fabric mixing and crustacean eating and selectively chose to enforce the one line he found that reinforced his hateful bigotry.

“It’s not that they’re gay, it’s that they’re evil BECAUSE they’re gay.  It’s all in the book, you can check.  Our hands are tied.”

“We’d also be this pissed if they endorsed uncovering your wife’s daughter’s nakedness!”

Sorry Pastor, but it’s still racist when you say hockey players are better than basketball players at water polo.

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/31/southern-baptists-to-urge-churches-and-members-to-cut-boy-scout-ties/

And in quasi-constitutional legislative acrobatics this week, we’ve got the state of Ohio hoping to pass a bill that would award high school credits to kids for going to church and learning about how evil gay people are and stuff.

I’d be willing to give PE credit to altar boys, especially if, you know . . . they swallowed.

Proponents of the bill argue that (quote) “It’s an attempt to reinstall some of the same things that made this country great”, which, in the mind of Democratic representative Bill Patmon, include religious indoctrination and rewarding people for knowing things that are wrong.  Patmon went on to complain that we’ve taken prayer out of the schools, we’ve separated religious demonstration from learning areas, we’ve taken religious displays out of schools, I mean, it’s getting to where there’s hardly any way at all to exploit the public schools to evangelize.

“Some of these kids are going 7 . . . 8 hours in a row at school, in the middle of December, without seeing a single piece of visual Jesus propaganda.  Do the math.  You just can’t brain rape kids under these conditions.  I thought this was America.”

Opponents of the law point out that giving educational credit for things that aren’t actually “education” kind of defeats the purpose and then they just kind of stare at the proponents and wonder why this isn’t enough to persuade them.

I got my health credits in high school by interning with a psychic chiropractor who cured headaches with leeches.  And now look at me.  I run a lucrative wishing well business.

Shifty payouts for religion by state of Ohio: http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130601/NEWS/306010059/Ohio-may-OK-public-school-religion-credits?gcheck=1

And from the “Who-Will-They-Molest-Now?” file, Las Vegas’ oldest Catholic School will be shutting its doors permanently at the end of the academic year.  The St. Joseph Catholic School has been instrumental in Vegas’ international reputation as a paragon of chastity and virtue since 1948, but a steep drop off in people gullible enough to entrust their children to Catholics has led to the school’s inevitable demise.

I think it’s telling, that the oldest Catholic school in Las Vegas, is named after Jesus’ stepdad, the patron saint of some other dude fucking your wife…the patron saint of “cuckolded by god’s dick”

Over the past decade about a quarter of all Catholic schools have been shuttered nationwide leading many to believe that god has abandoned us and no longer cares about the travails of mankind, instead focusing his divine attention on beating Contra without using the cheat code.

It’s all about the spreader gun.  Maybe the laser near the end.  The flamethrower didn’t get the good blast radius effect until Contra 2.    

Beating Contra without the cheat code is like god… I’ll believe it when I see it.

Oldest Vegas Catholic school to close permanently: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/may/30/citys-oldest-catholic-school-falls-victim-low-enro/#axzz2UqCW1wru

And in this week’s forecast on international demon activity we find that despite papal intervention, the guy who thought that he was filled with devil spawn is still fucking crazy.  Despite the Pope Frankenberry’s exorcism that wasn’t, a wheelchair bound man identified in the press as Angel V. insists that he is still possessed by demons.

Looks like he has a malpractice case, at the very least.  They seem to have botched a fairly routine procedure.  But I’ve seen a lot of spinals, dude, and it sounds like this Angel guy is a fake.      

The fucking goldbricker claims to have undergone more than 30 exorcisms and somehow no matter how much holy water they throw at him while intoning latin platitudes, his clearly malfunctioning brain refuses to be miraculously cured.

What’s the problem, he’s hearing demonic voices, telling him to kill babies and eat them?  Everyone get those sometimes, right?  We don’t all have to act on them every time.

Instead of responsibly suggesting he seek psychiatric help, prominent Catholics affirm his harmful delusions by saying things like (quote) “the demons that live in him do not want to leave,” and (quote) “God exists”.

Man exorcised by Pope still possessed by demons: http://www.newsmax.com/edwardpentin/pope-excorcism-possessed-angel/2013/05/29/id/506975

And finally tonight, a story that comes to us from Friendly Atheist, prolific author and inaugural Farnsworth quoter Hemant Mehta and his Friendly Atheist blog.  It would seem that a couple of parents in Utah have finally found the secret to instilling the importance of good moral judgement on their children: Cold hard cash.

Mother Katie Hughes had her daughters sign a contract that promises a reward of $1000 at the age of 20 if the now pre-pubescent girls can refrain from the use of drugs, alcohol and premarital sex between now and then.

“We’re willing to pay as much as 34 cents a day for you to have a shitty, sheltered childhood.”

Seems like a non-binding legal contract might not be the best way to tackle the subject.  Are kids gonna need to start bringing legal counsel to have “the talk” ?

So yeah, setting aside the obvious fact that in another eight years these girls could earn that much in a night by breaking the pledge, one also has to doubt that the paltry sum of a thousand 2026 dollars will remain a sufficient carrot to forestall teen angst.

So, nine days of future minimum wage later . . . or drunken orgasms and cocaine now…

Mother offers daughter $1000 to stay a virgin: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/06/05/christian-mother-to-daughter-if-you-remain-abstinent-until-youre-20-ill-give-you-1000/

And since there’s nothing better to close on than drunken orgasms and cocaine, that’ll do it for headlines tonight, Heath, thanks as always for joining me.

And when we come back, Lucinda will join us to bust open our bibles and dig into the dirty parts.

Song:

After writing poems for Genesis and Exodus, I felt obligated to the Herculean task of capturing the mind-raping insanity of Leviticus in two rhyming minutes.  To complicate matters, I used a weird rhyme scheme and upon recitation it had this really awful “middle aged white guy rapping” feel to it.

In an effort to counterbalance that I put a little music behind it, but I want to apologize to any musicians who might be listening.  I was really under the gun on this thing so it’s basically A minor and E the whole way.

So without further ado, I present the book of Leviticus in rhyme:

Leviticus in Rhyme:

Let me tell you how to sacrifice a goat, bitch; First you cut it’s throat which,

seems a little mean and maybe more than a little gross, it’s

Nothing when compared to; What the Levites bear through,

Details of the entrails should be plenty enough to scare you.

The fat goes on a pyre; Set that shit on fire,

The smell’s a rancid hell but it’s the odor god desires.

How to kill a bird now; Case you hadn’t heard how,

Twist it’s little heard until it’s dead and when it’s burned, bow.

This is for atonement; Offer no postponement,

Couple jugs of blood is a critical component.

Now a proclamation; Regarding ordination,

light the candles right or you might risk assassination …From the Lord.

 

Thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not lie,

Thou shalt not do it guy on guy,

Thus unto Moses spoke the Lord.

 

Let me tell you what to eat bitch; Tell you who to sleep with

Tell you how to burn the heretics about that bewitch.

Tell you ‘bout your penis; And all it’s uncleanness,

For someone all-knowing I’m not much of a hygienist.

Oh, and if it pleases; Quickly on diseases,

Sacrifice a turtle dove if anybody sneezes.

Menstrual blood and semen; Need a lot of cleanin’

Best I never catch you whorin’ with all those goat demons,

Tell you ‘how to shave, man; Who you can enslave, man,

Tell you how to stone the motherfucks who misbhave and,

If you disobey me; I will not just slay thee,

Many generations I’ll be all up in your game, see …I’m the Lord.

 

Thou shalt be pure, thou shalt be true,

Thou shalt not get a damned tattoo,

Thus unto Moses spoke the Lord.

 

Thou shalt speak up, Thou shalt not cheat,

Thou shalt not dine on rancid meat

Or stick your dick in things that bleat.

Thou shalt not mix thy rye and wheat.

Thou shalt be just, thou shalt be kind,

Thou shalt not trick the deaf and blind,

Or touch cadavers left behind.

Or let two fabrics be combined.

Thou shalt fear god, thou shalt be straight,

Thou shalt not look to kin with hate,

Thou shalt not ever masturbate,

Thou shant put weasel on your plate.

Thou shalt not rob, thou shalt be bold

Thou shalt rise up before the old,

Don’t get your daughter’s pussy sold,

Thou shalt give all my priests your gold,

…Thou shalt be easily controlled.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Outro:

That brings us to a quick recognition of this week’s most astonishing vertebrates, Steven, Lindsay, Ward and other Lindsay.  These four vampire hunting, ninja decimating, time bomb deactivating, bus jumping heroes have distinguished themselves above all other carbon based lifeforms this week by giving us money.  Drawing on stupendous reserves of tenacity, intelligence and spare cash lying around, these four fine folks have provided an example that all tenacious, intelligent people with spare cash lying around should aspire to.

If you’d like to join these noble few in the pantheon of Scatheist glory, you’ll find the donate button on the right side of our homepage at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.  Oh, and Lindsay, if you’re listening, I was talking about the other Lindsay when I said, “other Lindsay”, not you.

That does it for tonight’s show, but we’ll be back in 168 hours with some hastily put together shit that’ll keep me up until 2 in the morning at least twice this week.  But if you can’t wait that long without risking a stress induced seizure, be sure to check out our erratically published blog and our erratically Tweeted Twitter feed.

Oh, and please help us spread the word about the show.  If you know any atheists that have auditory canals, please give us a plug when you can.  I put every diatribe up on YouTube and I’ll be putting the Leviticus song up this week as well, so if you wouldn’t be risking will-altering alienation from your family, I’d humbly ask that you give one of our videos a share on Facebook or whatever.

A quick thanks to Heath and Lucinda for joining me tonight and to a bunch of dead Israelites for making the jokes so easy on the Holy Babble segment.  And a quick thanks to you, dear listener, for giving us half an hour of your life.  We’ll be working really hard to earn another thirty minutes next week.

If you have questions, comments or death threats you’ll find all the contact info 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: Leviticus Preface

by Noah Lugeons

On the suggestion of a professor that Carl interviewed on the Post Rapture Looting Atheist Podcast, when I set out to read the bible, I purchased the 4th Edition New Oxford Annotated Bible.  It was a bit more of an investment than many of my other bible options, but the annotations, reading guides, maps, apocrypha and summaries made it well worth the investment.

Each book in the New Oxford is preceded by a series of short essays that deal with authorship, interpretation, structure, history and a short “reading guide” aimed to help the student appreciate exactly what they’ll be reading.  Thus far these essays have been rather useful in structuring the discussions we have on the books as well as giving me a bit of a life raft while I’m drowning in the prehistoric insanity of this tome.

The reading guide for Leviticus contained a rather interesting suggestion that basically said the best way to read Leviticus is to not read it.  After a brief and desperate attempt to downplay the raving lunacy of this section of the bible, the scholars offered the following advice:

Because the focus of Leviticus’s narrative is the law and in its divine speeches, the book is most profitably read first according to legal topic rather than from beginning to end.

In keeping with the theme of our “Holy Babble” segment, of course, I ignored this advice and dove right in.  And it didn’t take long to figure out why they discourage such activity.  I would submit that it’s all but impossible to maintain the internal fiction of divine authorship after reading even the first several verses in Leviticus.

It’s also no wonder to me that while most of us our familiar with many of the stories in Genesis and Exodus, we don’t know a damned thing about Leviticus.  It certainly wouldn’t do well for the “divinely inspired” camp to try to rationalize the crazy shit in this book.  Let’s just say it’ll be a long damn time before some creationist group opted for the moniker “Answers in Leviticus”.

I’m sure it’s not the most fucked up book in the bible (I hear tell that Deuteronomy trumps it early and often), but it is certainly the most fucked up thing I’ve ever read.  There can be little doubt that this is a simple amalgamation of horribly misguided, pre-scientific tribal customs codified in a time before we understood medicine, meteorology, biology or succinctness.

Episode 13: Partial Transcript

by Noah Lugeons and Heath Enwright

Sponsor:

Today’s episode of the Scathing Atheist is brought to you by the Hebrew delivery service, “Jew P S”.  When you’ve got Hebrews that absolutely must be delivered out of bondage tonight, turn to Jew P S.  Remember, not hail nor boils nor falling frogs shall stay our couriers from their appointed rounds”

Jew P S, all package, no foreskin.

And now, the Scathing Atheist…

Intro:

It’s Thursday, It’s May 16th and either this show is moving to Comedy Central next week or Sylvia Brown is full of shit.

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

On this week’s episode,

  • We’ll meet a liberal Muslim fighting for women’s rights to be publicly beaten

  • Jesus backs a loser in Miami

  • And Lucinda will join Heath and me to discuss the only book of the bible named after a Bob  Marley album

But first, the Diatribe.

Diatribe:

There was a time in human history when religion served a purpose.  It was a doctrine of culture, a subset of knowledge, an honest attempt to know what was, at the time, unknowable.  The earliest assertions of religion were based on empirical evidence and we can hardly fault early humans for not quite figuring out shit like lightning and earthquakes.

So they pointed to the nearest place they couldn’t reach and said god was there, tossing down thunderbolts and shaking the ground.  He was just up on that mountain there, you know, the one we can’t reach the top of?  Yeah, that one.  He’s up there making all this shit happen so now we understand it and we can control it.  If the earth shakes, we offer some goat’s bladders or something and it’ll stop shaking.

And as misguided as it was, it wasn’t malicious.  It was a synthesis of the best available information.  The problem, of course, is that there wasn’t really any god up there so we had to rely on people to tell us what god was so pissed off about.  And once you become the conduit of god, it’s gotta be damn tempting to decide god’s pissed off about how many virgins you’re not boning, or how many feasts you’re not eating.  At the very least god probably wants you to spend the day in quiet contemplation while all the other saps plow the fields.

So at some point between the question and the answer, religion became something else entirely.  It abandoned its desire to find truth in favor of a new desire to dictate truth.  After all, the idea that god wants you to have more money and nicer clothes might not stand up to objective scrutiny so fuck objective scrutiny.

So when we got to the top of the mountain religion just pushed god further back.  Turns out he was on the clouds, see… the really, really high up ones.  But don’t worry, we might have been wrong about where god was but we were definitely right about him wanting us to bone more virgins and eat more food.  What’s that you say?  You build an airplane and checked on the clouds and he wasn’t there?  Did I say clouds?  I meant… what’s that stuff above clouds?  Space!  That’s what I meant.  God was in space this whole time.  What?  Checked there too, did you?  Well, when I say space, of course, what I mean is “alternate dimension that you can never get to no matter where you look” so quit asking so many questions and trust me on the nicer clothes and more food stuff.

Because when your power comes from your ability to dictate the truth, the real, actual, “doesn’t-give-a-shit-what-you-say” truth necessarily becomes your enemy.  You have to be an impediment to discovery, a nemesis of knowledge.  You have to literally set yourself in opposition to reality.  To reality!

So sure, it’s fine to map the heavens as long as you didn’t notice a major hole in church doctrine while you were doing it.  It’s fine to examine all god’s creatures as long as you didn’t figure out how they got there.  It was fine to study every word of the bible as long as you didn’t notice the ones that contradicted each other.

There is a large swath of history where I’m perfectly willing to forgive religion for existing.  Hell, even the first few centuries of the scientific revolution could have left an educated person in doubt.  But nobody who is alive today was alive when anybody was alive who was alive when religion could justify its own existence.  Today it’s degenerated into nothing but a disease; a cancer that exists only to perpetuate itself.  A tumor that doesn’t know when to die.

And to turn a blind-eye to it and say, “well that’s just what those people believe and that’s perfectly alright” is to intellectually subsidize the equivalent of the DoDo preservation society.  They’ve had enough time to find a reason to exist.  We’ve given religion at least eight centuries to find something useful to do, but they haven’t.  Instead, they’ve become a stumbling block on the path toward knowledge.  In a lot of ways they didn’t have a choice, but that doesn’t make the sin any more forgivable.  Faith is the exact opposite of science and they peddle it as a virtue.

Religion has nothing to offer the world but more religion.  Give it another thousand years or another thousand centuries and it’ll still have nothing more to offer.  But imagine what science could do with that time… especially if there was no religion there to stand in the way.

Headlines:

Joining me tonight for headlines it my color commentator, Heath Enwright.  Heath, are you ready to comment on colors?

I don’t care for whites.  It’s getting embarrassing for us.

Well done, sir.  And now on to the news.  Our lead story tonight takes us to a state known for comedically sized hats, giant hunks of dead cow and long stretches of highway with nowhere to take a shit, Texas, where a state judge recently declared the establishment clause optional.

Yeah they like to conveniently forget about the 1st Amendment, but the entire state can recite the 2nd one word for word.  I picture an entire state populated by the bad guys from “A Time To Kill”.

Fairly accurate from my experiences with the state.  Tonight’s story begins about 250 miles east of the part of Texas that doesn’t suck in a small town called Kountze where the high school cheerleaders are fond of holding up banners with wholesome messages like “But thanks be to God, which gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” and, “Fuck atheists, people of non-Christian faiths and proper grammar”.

“And fuck you for already having come up with several Cunts jokes.”

Cunts is a small enclave, laying between Woodville and Lumberton, on Highway 69!!!.

I’m not even slightly fucking with you.  All those things are actually true.

It’s also adjacent to the “Big Thicket National Preserve” and it’s due south of “Beaver’s Bend National Park”.  Nice when geography just writes the jokes for you isn’t it?

The shape of the town on google maps even vaguely resembles a vagina with an oversized clit pointing up Highway 69 toward Woodville.

Priceless.

And with a tip of the cap to Kevin Smith, I’ll mention that an oversized clit is a lot like a small dick, and we can check off dick joke and vagina joke on story 1.

And a Kevin Smith reference so you’ve damn near hit for the cycle in the first inning.  So anyway, back to the story here, the Freedom From Religion Foundation politely pointed out that their football team isn’t allowed to directly endorse a particular religion, but a state judge disagreed, citing his eventual need to get re-elected.  The FFRF convincingly argues that this is tantamount to declaring an official school-religion.  Obviously we’ll have more on this as it develops.

Kountze needs to be told what to do.

I’m sure they would agree.

Texas Cheerleaders allowed to raise Biblical banner: http://ffrf.org/news/news-releases/item/17683-official-school-religion-ok%E2%80%99d-by-texas-court

Our next story takes us to the number one state in: agricultural non-point source nutrient reduction, per capita tornado deaths and prescription drug abuse, Oklahoma, a state which, despite having Seth Andrews in it most of the time, sucks.

If you take your state name, and add an exclamation, and you get the title of an old-timey musical, it doesn’t bode well for progressive politics in the region.

As evidence of that assertion, I offer one Muldrow high school, where a freethinking student recently complained about ten commandment plaques that hung in every fucking classroom.  The school was told to take them down and in a show of just how vapid the Christian comprehension of the whole minority consideration concept is, the students started a petition to revoke separation of church and state.

Can’t we just compromise and have a wall with plaques from all different religions . . .  

So that atheist kids can vandalize the wall, and everyone can get all symbolically incredulous.

Yeah, well this just proves once again that Christianity can’t stand on it’s own in a free market of ideas.  Christians have responded with threats against the complaining student and his family, some online bullying and a jackass pastor offering students free “ten commandments” T-shirts to remind kids that plaques or no, non-Christians are still a hated minority round these a’ here parts..

Isn’t there something about thou shalt not steal tax revenue for fictional purposes?

Student faces backlash after alerting FFRF to 10 Commandments displays in classrooms: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/12/oklahoma-high-school-student-seeks-removal-of-ten-commandment-displays/

And from the “Bet-You-Can’t-Collect-Em-All” file, Pope Frankie-Panky canonized over 800 saints all at once last weekend.  It’s not clear if this is related to poor dashboard-sales projections for the 2nd quarter, but I like his focus on productivity.

In a move that can have no outcome at all but to piss off Muslims, the Pope went ahead with Ex-Benedict’s plan to Canonize the 813 “Martyrs of Otranto” who were beheaded by Ottoman soldiers for refusing to convert to Islam.

This would be 813 good candidates for the Darwin Awards.  Choosing to die in the name of Catholic god – instead of pretending you like Allah – is borderline window-licker.  Why does an omnipotent god need people to die for him?  Either Catholic god is real and the martyrs don’t matter, or Allah is real and the martyrs don’t matter, or neither is real and the martyrs REALLY don’t matter.

And you know what else doesn’t matter?  Being a saint.  Sure, back in the 15th century it was a pretty exclusive club, but now they’re letting everybody in.  Aren’t you supposed to have 2 miracles before you can be a saint?  Even if we accept that getting a Pope who’s trying to patch things up with the Muslims to canonize you when all you ever really did was say “Fuck Muslims” back in the 1400s counts as one miracle, what’s the other one?

People caring 600 years later.

Pope names 800 new saints: http://news.yahoo.com/pope-francis-names-800-saints-one-235904106.html

And in “Fuck-The-Children” news, two elementary schools in Lake City, Arkansas cancelled sixth grade graduation ceremonies because a bunch of atheists wouldn’t let them include prayers.  Rather than adjusting the ceremony to Constitutional standards, the school district elected to rob their student body of the coming-of-age milestone that is a 6th grade graduation.

“Sorry kids, the uppity negro that runs the federal government stopped letting our backwards town embezzle tax revenue for the tooth fairy, so you’ll all have to get your meaningless ceremony fix at church on Sunday like usual.”

Yeah, because for the record, I’d be fine with this if they’d just cancelled it because a 6th grade graduation is stupid.

School in Arkansas cancels graduation because atheists won’t let them pray: http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/05/09/arkansas-school-prayer-wrecked-graduation

In other news tonight, we hear from the all-too-often silent progressive wing of Islam.  Controversial cleric Shaikh Isam Talimah says that stoning women for adultery is a practice that Muslims should abandon… in favor of whipping them.

I think it’s a personal preference thing.  The stoning is more murdery, whereas the whipping is more rapey.  So you’ve gotta decide what kind of Muslim husband you want to be.  

That’s right, Talimah isn’t arguing with the idea of physically abusing women publicly for consensual sex, he’s arguing with the method of physically abusing women publicly for consensual sex.

This is going to hurt the image of Islam as a peaceful religion, as it so clearly states in their subway literature.

Controversial Cleric claims that women should not be stoned… should be lashed: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/stoning-is-not-shariah-says-qatar-scholar-1.1178703

And finally tonight, from the “Tell-Me-This-Is-Real,-Tell-Me-This-Is-Real,-Holy-Shit-It’s-Real” department, North Miami Mayoral candidate Anna L. Pierre recently put out a campaign flyer claiming an endorsement from none other than Jesus Christ.

And I can’t emphasize enough that this is a real thing that actually happened, despite the fact that this woman’s name is “Anal Peer”, which is exactly the kind of name we’d have given her if we were making this shit up.

How much clergy dick do you suppose she sucked to get JC Bump in an election?

And I should point out that that joke isn’t sexist.  Heath would have made the same joke if she were a dude.

In unrelated news, from now on, the Marlins and the Dolphins, will both be known as the Jesus Fish.

Well, not so fast because of the 8 candidates on the ballot, Pierre somehow managed to finish 8th despite the fact that in addition to Christ, the Savior, she also boasted endorsements from the “Bladder Health and Reconstructive Urology Institute” and “Sunset Ranches” over on Palmetto Expressway just past Popeye’s.  Some, including herself, blame her poor election day results on evil voodoo spells being used against her.  And again, this is all actually happening in the real universe that you and I live in.

Next week on Awful TV Show, God’s savior son and a dick doctor team up in support of a former Haitian pop star overcoming voodoo spells to contend in her mayoral race.

Sounds better than the “Teeny-Bopper Vampire” crap my wife watches…

North Miami Mayoral Candidate claims endorsement from Jesus: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/05/13/north-miami-mayoral-candidate-says-she-is-endorsed-by-jesus-christ/

Well, that does it for headlines tonight.  When we return, my aforementioned wife will join us to discuss a book that sucked even more than Twilight.

Poem:

Exodus in Two Minutes

by Noah Lugeons

 

The lord said unto Moses, “An Egyptian’s what you pose as,

But just look at all their noses, and you’ll see that you’re a Jew.”

Unto the Lord then replied Moses, “So what do you suppose is,

gonna happen when they know this? Just what am I to do?”

 

So he wandered as he pondered, of the Hebrews he grew fonder

So when he saw one get dishonored he attacked the perpetrator.

The dude was dead so Moses fled but in his head what Yahweh said

Still gave him dread as off he sped, telling Egypt “See you later.”

 

So when he finished with his fleein’ he wound up in Midian,

And he found a priest agreein’ to give up his daughter’s hand.

But the crazy shit he started seein’ left him guaranteein’

That his purpose would be freein’ all the Hebrews in the land.

 

See, he was tending Jethro’s flocks, when on some holy ground he walks,

He finds a burning bush that talks, and it tells him of his fate.

He asks god to choose another, since when he speaks he gets all buggered

God says, “Sure I guess you stutter, but your brother would be great.”

 

So upon this holy edict, they headed back to Egypt

And needed Gershom’s wee-dick when Moses wrestled god,

The Hebrews didn’t dare go, so Moses talked to Pharoah

With his eyes enraged and narrow and both his hands on Aaron’s rod;

 

He said, “LET MY PEOPLE GO!”  But the Pharaoh just said “No”,

And fearing that might be so, tossed down the staff that god empowered,

It became a snake but those Egyptians, also had magicians,

Both of their staffs started hissin’, but quickly got devoured.

 

Still the pharaoh, unimpressed, left this grievance unredressed,

And as you might have guessed, the plagues are here unveiled.

The bloody waters soon arise, frogs start falling from the skies,

He sends a bunch of gnats and flies; epidemics, boils and hail

 

Still, the Hebrews were unpardoned, when God’s locusts ate their gardens,

Since the pharaoh’s heart was hardened, Moses needed one last card to play.

Now with the firstborns lying dead, the pharaoh finally said,

“Take your unleavened bread, and go the fuck away!”

 

They rejoiced with sounds like thunder, when the pharaoh knuckled under,

They grabbed a bunch of plunder and followed smoke that god provided;

But soon doubts about the route came out, unto Moses the devout would shout,

“I guess god’s no fucking eagle scout, just look where we’ve been guided!”

 

You see, pharaoh sent his men of war, in hopes of settling the score,

And here the Jews are on the shore, trapped and ripe for slaughter;

So Moses, feeling like a schmuck, says, “God I think you got us stuck”

It looks like they’re completely fucked, until God divides the water.

 

Forty years of eating manna later, Moses talks to his creator,

So he could act as God’s translator and carve commandments into stone,

And on the impatient Jews behalf, Aaron makes a golden calf,

Which they then pray to, bringing wrath, for which no mercy would be shown.

 

Then starting in chapter twenty four, we mostly just discuss decor,

Despite their being plenty more, important things to tackle,

Important shit just gets ignored, as we spend the last sixteen chapters bored,

Learning exactly how the Lord, wants his tabernacle.

Outro:

Before we close out the show tonight, I want to remind everyone that Heath and I are pretty good at this speaking shit so if you’re involved with an atheist or secular group in the vaguely New-Englandish area and you’d like us to address your group with our off-color wit and topical critiques, you’ll find all the contact info on the Contact page of our website.

And before we cue the music, we have to spend a minute recognizing the generosity, ethical fortitude and enormous penises of this week’s best people; Matthew, Richard and Mr. Blue who proved their bravery this week by giving us money.  Only the most intelligent and righteous people give us money and I hope that Matthew, Richard and Reservoir Dogs Deleted Character Mr. Blue fully appreciate that even if they should together cure cancer one day, their support for this program will still probably rank as the most benevolent action of their lives.

If you, too, would like to guarantee yourself a front row seat in atheist heaven, you’ll find the donate button on the right side of our homepage at Scathing Atheist (dot) com.

That’s does it for tonight’s show but if you want more, there’s more.  You’ll find occasional nuggets of Scatheism on our blog, our YouTube Channel, our Facebook page and our Twitter Feed.  You’ll also find more than 11 and a half episodes in our archives, which you should really listen to on Stitcher because we’re on Stitcher and Stitcher likes it when I tell you to listen on Stitcher.

And if you enjoy the show, please help us out by leaving us a good review on iTunes and be sure to tell everyone at church about us.  And before we run out of time, a big thanks to Heath and Lucinda for joining me tonight, Justin Schieber for providing tonight’s Farnsworth quote and, of course, Matthew, Richard and especially Mr. Blue, who is addition to donating this week, also sent along some headlines for us and the great chemo bit I used after the diatribe.

If you have questions, comments or death threats, you’ll find all the contact info 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.

 

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?”

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.