Religion Literally

Do you believe in the bible? Or do you only believe some parts of it? The parts that perhaps reinforce your world view?

Well, if you think that the bible is the literal word of any god, take a look at these verses and then really really ask yourself: would any god actually say these things? If you think it would, carry on believing. If you’re a little more discerning, then the following paragraph should be enough to persuade you of its awfulness.

Atrocities and Other Flaws

Numbers Chapter 31 commands the Israelites to invade the Midianites (verse 1-2), the chapter goes on to describe the cruelty, destruction and taking of spoils of war commanded by god. It says God commands the killing of every adult male, and this was done (verse 7). When they return with the male children and females, they are commanded by god to kill all the male children and all the females who “have known man intimately,” which is Bible language for not being virgins (verse 17).

Further, it tells this bunch of horny warriors, as part of their spoils of war, to keep alive the virgin girls “for yourselves” (verse 18) For what? To baby sit them? Why just the girls and not the boys? Why only virgins? Why is their sexual history relevant? Putting it into historical context, and given what we know of the culture of that time, and the tradition of rape and pillage allowed by conquering warriors for military spoils, in that context it clearly appears that, according to the Bible in this passage, God (through Moses) is commanding rape! (Verses 30-35 showing the command was carried out). Some have claimed that the Midianite virgins that the soldiers were instructed to “keep for themselves” means the soldiers were to marry them. However, the Bible has no record of wholesale marriage between the Israelite soldiers and Midianites. And verses 32-35 of this chapter refer to the captured virgins as “booty” (in the King James Version; the New International Version uses the term “plunder”). It does not refer to them as “brides.” In any case, why would they need only brides; after all the men lost in battle, seems they would be more in need of young men if marriage was the object. And after the soldiers have just killed their fathers, mothers, brothers and any sisters who weren’t virgins, I’m sure they can really look forward to loving marital bliss (at least the Israelites won’t have to worry about “in-law” problems, but one would think a compassionate God would have more consideration for these poor girls).

Deut 22:28-29 “[28] If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, [29] he shall pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives. (NIV).” In no way is the rape victim given a choice. The marriage must happen. Perhaps she had refused his proposal! All he has to do is rape her and she’s trapped for the rest of her poor, miserable life, with the person who violated her, no matter how righteous and virtuous she had tried to live. She is a double victim.

Exodus 22:18 commands the killing of witches. Lev 20:27 (KJV) commands the killing of wizards (including Oz?)

Exodus 35:2 clearly states that those who work on the Sabbath should be put to death. Do Bible believers feel they are personally obligated to kill those with Sunday jobs?

So that covers the death penalty requirements mandated for witches, wizards and violators of the Sabbath. Additional requirements for the death penalty include gays (Leviticus 20:13), adulterers (Leviticus 20:10), or anyone who just doesn’t share your same beliefs (2 Chronicles 15:12-13). The questions I would ask my friends who believe the Bible to be literally commanded by God would include:

• Are you personally willing to stone, hang or burn someone who claims to be (or you merely suspect of being) a witch?

• Are you personally willing to stone, hang or burn someone who violates the Sabbath?

• Are you personally willing to stone, hang or burn anyone you know who has ever committed adultery?

• Are you personally willing to stone, hang or burn someone for being gay?

Leviticus chapter 21, verses 17-24, makes it very clear that those with a variety of disabilities are not welcome to approach the altar of God. Will Bible believers initiate a campaign to overturn the wicked Americans with Disabilities Act? Verse 20 specifically mentions any defect or “blemish” in one’s vision. I have to admit that I wear prescription glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Deuteronomy 23:1-2 commands that a man wounded in the genitals be considered an outcast, and that a bastard (the innocent child of illicit sexual relations) be outcast “even to his tenth generation.” (No wonder abortion was practiced, and permitted in the law — Numbers 5:12-28 — and in fact, is not prohibited or even discouraged anywhere in the Bible.)

2 Kings 2:23-24 shows that God, through his prophet Elisha, causes two she-bears to attack 42 “small boys” simply because they made fun of Elisha’s baldness. Additionally, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 commands that parents discipline a disobedient son by stoning him to death. Strict observance of these scriptural commands could do much to streamline the backlog in our juvenile justice system.

Judges 11:29-40 God’s covenant with Jephthah requires Jephthah to give his virgin daughter as burnt offering, and it is done. Not only is this offering of a virgin as a human sacrifice (and his own daughter to boot!) extremely barbaric, it also directly contradicts the prohibition in Deuteronomy 18:10 against allowing one’s own “son or daughter to pass through fire.”

Beyond contemporary issues such as creationism vs. evolution, the Bible contains many other simple errors of fact regarding science and nature: Leviticus 11:6 asserts that hares chew the cud like cows; they do not. Deut 14:18 classifies bats as birds; they are not birds, they are mammals. Leviticus 11:20-23 describes flying insects such as beetles, grasshoppers and locusts as having four legs; they have six. Not surprisingly, those promoting the Bible as the sole authority on science tend to avoid some of these more embarrassing verses.

The Bible is pro-slavery. There are many examples in the Old Testament where slavery was approved by God; it was even commanded that captives in war be taken as slaves (Num 31; Joshua 9:23). Leviticus 25:44-46 outlines the do’s and dont’s of permissible slavery. Verse 46 specifically permits slavery, as long as fellow Hebrews are not the slaves. In Genesis 9:25-27 God commands Canaan to become a slave (the word “servant” is used in King James Version; the word “slave” is used in the more modern Revised Standard and New International Versions). In the kinder, gentler New Testament, Paul wrote that slaves should be obedient to their masters (Eph 6:5-7 & Titus 2:9-10). In I Peter 2:18, it is even specified to be submissive both to masters who are overbearing as well as gentle! Why didn’t they speak out against this moral outrage? Were they afraid of the law? They could at least have remained neutral on the subject.

Leviticus gives some excellent examples of flaws and contradictions. For those who claim that the Mosaic Law was superseded/replaced by Jesus’ higher law, or that Christians are under mercy and not law, I would just say: don’t go around using the usual passages from Leviticus (18:22; 20:13) to condemn homosexuals if you don’t endorse all of its commandments with equal enthusiasm.

Leviticus chapter 11 enumerates permissible and forbidden foods. Permitted are cloven-hoofed cud-chewing animals such as cows and lambs (v.3); forbidden are cloven-hoofed non-cud-chewing animals (camels, etc.); additional animals prohibited as meat include rabbits (v.6), pork (v.7). Verses 8-9 specify that fish with fins and scales are permitted, but all other seafood (specifies both seas and rivers) is an abomination. So I hope none of you Bible-lovers who are too fond of shrimp, crab, lobsters, oysters, and other shellfish., are feeling too cramped by the Law. And it is not just a matter of “law” — foods such as shellfish and pork are described as an abomination. So even if you believe the Law to be superseded, that would no make these “unclean” dietary products any less “abominable” than anything else so described in Leviticus. Actually, I recommend the entire 11th chapter of Leviticus to anyone who takes the Bible too literally.

Lev chapter 12 describes a woman’s uncleanliness during and after menstruation, and ritual purification for women. I hope all those women who cite Old Testament commandments against anything are strict in the obedience to these rituals. Of course, since they can’t speak in Church (1Cor 14:34-35), we don’t need to hear them griping about it.

So again, those who cite the Law of Moses to condemn homosexuality, show themselves to be cherry-picking scripture very selectively, ignoring the prohibitions against the things they choose to indulge in. Similarly, falsely citing the Bible as the basis for “traditional marriage” of one man and one woman ignores the fact that through most of the Bible, the definition of marriage was one man and multiple prepubescent underage women, who were considered his chattel property. And if you want to follow strictly the Biblical definition of “traditional marriage,” it also means that a rape victim must be forced to marry her rapist (Deut 22:28-29). Fortunately, marriage has been evolving and being redefined for millennia.

I’d like to wrap up this subsection with something that it so absurd it seems like a joke, but I’m not kidding. I recently received in my office P.O. Box a brochure just addressed to “Business Manager” at my address (neither my personal or business name was included — kind of the business equivalent of “occupant”). It was from an organization called “The Geocentric Bible Foundation, Inc.” The headline title blares: “Have Scientists Been Wrong? For 400 Years?” By starting with the premise that The Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God and everything in it is to be taken literally, and from there citing a Biblical basis for claims that the sun revolves around the earth and not the earth around the sun. While most of even those who believe in Bible inerrancy or even Bible literalism would allow for some allegoric or figurative references and would not accept either the Biblical citations or the interpolated conclusions from them, it does show how far afield one can go if one starts from the flawed premise of Biblical inerrancy and infallibility.

Taken without permission from here. But, if I plug his book on Amazon, maybe he’ll forgive me!