Amazon.com Widgets

« Links With Your Coffee - Weekend Edition | Main | Picard on Religion »

Should The Bible Be Taught To Children?

(tip to Dale)

Old Question, easy answer, which is why when 14 year olds actually do their reading, it never ends well for the Sunday school teacher. I suppose it might be complicated from a literary perspective, but it is simple from a moral and religious perspective.

Unless they have stamped the following on the inside cover: "Hey girls, being sold into slavery is wrong, even when your dad follows all God's rules for doing so. Also, don't let anyone tell you that God ordered your rape, and that makes it ok."

The real question is, what the heck do they edit out of these bibles to make them kid friendly if they leave in all the slavery and the public raping of women and children?


 

Comments

awww, this is so adorable! those girls looked so young and innocent! i guess what they're saying is that "young and innocent" girls shouldn't be exposed to most of the great classics of western literature, which tend to be concerned with...wait for it...the same horrible themes the bible is concerned with!

but wait. a bit of charity. perhaps i should focus on what they DIDN'T say: that the bible, written by "god" and/or his "prophets", is more dangerous because of the fear/respect for those particular authority figures young girls/children are instilled with.

so, shakespeare, tolstoy and all the greats of literature have no "authority" and therefore can write all they want about the..um...actual truth of human existence and how people treat each other (and should/shouldn't treat each other) and be allowed to "expose themselves" to such innocent young things?

whew. at least there's that. or, perhaps, it's better they should learn from experience? but no- the greats of literature DO have authority- the less the bible has, the more they have. chose your poison.

me, i'll take both, please, in a pint glass. and fight anyone for my right to do so.

who do these half-pints think they are? pffft.

Did you read my post?

I think clearly from a literary perspective the bible is fine as is, the real question is Why is the n-work in huck fin (a story that is anti-slavery and anti-racist) so bad we would consider editing out of future copies, yet, gods wholesale endorsement, of slavery, rape, poligamy, and marriage as a way to own a woman, great for kids of all ages. In terms of the morality play in the bible, its a pretty terrible thing for kids.

gods wholesale endorsement, of slavery, rape, poligamy, and marriage as a way to own a woman,

you're confusing me, because i DID read your post and didn't see any hint of what your'e saying here.

anyway: i maintain there is no "wholesale endorsement" of any of the first 3 things you mentioned in the bible, rather regulation of already existing (and still existing) realities. as for the 4th- marriage as ownership- your understanding of ownership is not god's understanding, as i see it, and anyway if it were as you see it, why are all these homosexuals baying for the right to do it? seems even they have a deeper understanding of the RESPONSIBILITY and connection of marriage than you do.

anyway: i maintain there is no "wholesale endorsement" of any of the first 3 things you mentioned in the bible, rather regulation of already existing (and still existing) realities

So... In one of these stories, God is suggesting the public rape of a woman as punishment for the sin of a man. So unless you believe 1. God just did that the one time, and 2. God included it in the bible not beceause it had a lesson that could inform readers on how to act, but just as a random happening one day in the life of God... It indeed is an endorsement of raping women as a form of punishment.

As for the "regulation" theory, that really assumes god either believed that people couldn't stop if he told them to, or that the bible would go out of fashion and stop being read after society changed. If you believe the former you should probably become a Catholic and if you believe the latter, you should probably become a mormon or scientologist to get the next installment of his wisdom.

so many assumptions based on modern definitions and lack of historical (or even current) understanding of human behaviour i wouldn't know where to start, really.

It's probably safer that way.

btw, mr. liberal guy- what exactly is your problem with polygamy? just curious.

Nothing except that as an institution it has generally been used as a system to oppress women, particularly young women.

As a non-institution, its much better, we ussually call it being single, or having roomates.

call it what you want. the bible, and great literature in general, is less p.c.

or maybe more pc- "roomates" have no rights whatsoever. except to leave with nothing to show for it, of course. the rights of married women in the biblical sense are considerably more favorable to the woman.

of course, there is that "ownership" issue- which still makes me wonder why homosexuals, or ANYONE not bound by religious restrictions, and under the modern definitional jackboot of "ownership", would want to get married.

just a for instance: do you think the "ownership" of a woman (marriage) and the "ownership" of another human being as a servant for a prescribed amount of time (as per the bible) are in any way congruent? same word in modern english, yes, i get it. american involvement in slavery of the non-biblical kind, i get it. "ownership" of a woman, in modern terms=bad, i get it.

so? are they congruent? do you have any idea at all what you're really talking about, besides a general sense of the injustice of "owning" a human being in any way as we understand the word today? which i share, by the way?

and give me the chapter/verse on the rape thing, please, so i don't have to look it up. i'm familiar with it but would like to address the exact language if i may, if it bothers you so much (and i can see how it would, given your pre-biased modern understanding.) for sure god does not give any "wholesale endorsement" to rape and you are totally off on this, even in english and even according to modern interpretations of the verses.

in fact if someone asked me what the bible had to say about rape and how "ok" it is, i would refer them to the story of dina, and how her brothers, shimon and levi, contrived to slaughter the entire tribe/family of the guilty party, and how their father jacob expressed his fears that "whoa, now you've made trouble for us" and shimon and levi replied "what, should we have let them make a whore of our sister" and jacob said...NOTHING.

She mentions the chapter and verse in the video I believe. page number too, so get out your little girls study bible and let me know how she misread that beautiful story.

In one of these stories, God is suggesting the public rape of a woman as punishment for the sin of a man.

sorry, no mention of god "suggesting" any such thing- no mention of rape, sounds more like a threat of cuckolding rather than an "endorsment" of rape (samuel 2/12?), and certainly no permission for humans to act this way, rather god saying (thru his prophet nathan) that they will, as a result of human actions. no blank check or "wholesale endorsement", as you suggest.

didn't even bother to look it up. i've brought myself down to your level- taking the word of a couple of 14 year old wiseacres. i just listened to what they actually read, rather than making up my own version.

How am I suppoosed to read this?

Do i have to skip every other word or something?

7And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

8And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.

9Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.

10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

11Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+12&version=KJV

If you read on, God decides it would be better to just kill david's son. God should really do motivational speaking.

How am I suppoosed to read this?

asking for help is the sign of a healthy mind. :)tm

i would start by asking yourself where and WHY you see a "wholesale endorsement" of rape, on the part of god, anywhere in this.

Well, Giving a woman to your neighbor in daylight, does imply that her consent is an issue to god. He is threatening to do so as an appropriate punishment because david had accepted them as a gift from god, consent also not important, and their rape is appropriate because "because [David] hast despised me" despite his gifts.

Not clear to me if god gave the gift in the altered the space time continuem kind of way, or just simply created everything and therefore everything one enjoys is his gift.

But as god is both the author and the character, It seems god the character, thinks rape is amoungst the appropriate punishments for not being thankful. It would seem to me that God the author included this tale of lack of faith punished with a threat of rape and an actual murder of a child because he thinks his action was appropriate.

oh bother. (a la pooh bear.) context, red, context. what's actually going on here (the MAIN story which you're missing in your attempts to say..whatever you're trying to say:

the prophet nathan is rebuking/threatening, in god's name, david, the king of israel, for his immoral (contextual translation: god doesn't like it.?) behaviour with another man's wife, a man he had killed so he could take her as his own.

you know, king david, one of the great heroes of israel. he did a really bad thing and was strongly rebuked and punished. but, the way you seem to read the bible, this story should be an indication (because david was one of the "good guys", dontcha know) that god "endorses" stealing other men's wives and having their husband killed.

you're very confused. and you miss the main point to make your meagre, false, uneducated one. shame!

maybe this is it: just like with religious people, it's all about your preconcieved notions of "god". so here, you want to see god as some sort of pimp- when he says he will "give" a woman to another man. this is understandable, it's how pimps talk today. (or so i hear- never actually met one. i doubt you have either, but in any case this is immaterial.) isn't it just as likely that god "giving" a woman to another man might mean marriage, or one of the other clearly regulated man/woman relationships in the bible, none of which involve rape? if not, why not? why must it be rape? why must you see it as an endorsement of rape?

anyway, this is not the intent of the passage- neither imo, or the opinions of the many commentators on the passage. it's just YOUR interpretation. strawman. and a very lame and unsupported one.

For a second there, I almost thought you were going to be helpful.

Nothing except that as an institution it has generally been used as a system to oppress women, particularly young women.

you could say the same about marriage. you could say the same about prostitution. you could say the same about secretarial positions in the workplace. you coulc say the same about women in the military.

you could say the same about HUMAN BEHAVIOUR.

are you getting it yet?

Human Behavior is not an institution.
Professtions are institutions, in a somewhat different way. Secretarial professtion is nearly extinct in the US, or at least renamed and broken up and gender diversified.

Women in the military is not a tool or means by which women are oppressed. Perhaps, while there they are heavily discriminated against, raped, etc. But giving them that position was not a means by which to oppress them.

Prostitution is a means of oppression, it is an institution, it is illegal.

Excellent work, we agree on that one I guess. I couls see an arguement for both being legal as a means to regulate their oppression, but they would still be distasteful.

or having roommates

I guess I've been doing it wrong.

Yes, yes you have.

re: JB "so many assumptions based on modern definitions and lack of historical (or even current) understanding of human behavior."

"Nothing except that as an institution it has generally been used as a system to oppress women, particularly young women."

"....you could say the same about HUMAN BEHAVIOR."

just to be sure..., you aren't suggesting that it is natural human behavior to oppress or subjugate women, and all that stands in the way of our wholesale oppression are either moral laws of God or rational laws of man with either or both required to force the male of the species to not hurt us. you're not saying that...are you?

I don't think you're going to like the answer to that question.

If we delve into your question, we really need to clarify the meaninf of "it is natural human behavior...".

I suspect that JB would claim that it is "natural human behavior" is what observe or deduce it to be as revealed by the study of history. I'm honestly not sure where in the chain of human existence one crosses over from "natural" to "unnatural" as the development of "civilization" proceeds. Is it natural that throughout most of history when more developed cultures clash with less developed cultures, the peoples in the latter are killed or enslaved and their cultures are wiped out? Speaking in a purely empirical vein, it seems to me to be depressingly natural. What JB seems to me to be less than candid about is the role of religion, which certainly does endorse it! Providing a set of rules wherby one ought to proceed in such cases, is an endorsement.

you aren't suggesting that it is natural human behavior to oppress or subjugate women, and all that stands in the way of our wholesale oppression are either moral laws of God or rational laws of man with either or both required to force the male of the species to not hurt us. you're not saying that...are you?

well congratulations on your reading skills, that is almost exactly what i'm suggusting, although instead of "hurt" there i would have used "oppress" or "subjugate" (as you first said), or dominate", or even, if one wished to be charitable about it, "take care of" yes, dominance and submissiveness- not to get all kinky on you- are built into the human character, imo.

i'm guessing from your tone that you disagree. so, well done on the "reading skills" thing- now show me, if you care to, how i'm wrong.

also, it's not just men oppressing women, and women collaborating in their own oppression. it's humans, full stop. women just happen to be the largest subgroup example.

Ok, lets assume you are right. People are bad...

Does that for some reason mean the bible is good?

i don't really understand the question.

people are just people. we do what we can to understand them.

the bible is just the bible. we read it in an attempt to understand people. and it's a pretty good indicator, imo, dropped from the heavens or not.

Sure, but the question at hand is, does it have lessons appropriate for children, and one can pretty easily argue that a how to do slavery the right way, is not really close to appropriate.

how to do slavery the right way, is not really close to appropriate.

says you. what does "appropriate" mean, anyway? where do you get your ideas of what's appropriate?

the bible is usually tought in historical context of some kind, even by the most fanatical "believers". have you noticed any of these "believers", in our day, calling for or trying to institute slavery as it's tought in the bible? this is purely a strawman argument. and if you think kids today (agggh! the internet!) aren't exposed to much more serious things than ancient concepts of slavery, this would be..i don't know... disingenuous?

what is appropriate for kids? the subject of this post? meaning, in this world, today? i would think the bible would be the least of your worries, if you were the least bit honest. (titillating as it may be.)

There is no freaking context in the stupid Bible JB!

This is the whole freaking point here. Its a whole ton of stories jumbled together with contradictory and sometimes frightening moral implications and god didn't put a fucking preface in. he didn't put a conclusions section in at the end, there is no part where is explains that the stories are part of the context of the time and place and people should take that the actions of God's favorite people in 3000 BC are in no way models for how you should act today.

In fact that context is often denied by the teachers of the bible as a holy book.

Perhaps contect is relevant to what that exact passage about giving david's wife to the neighbor to have sex with on the lawn actually means, but despite all your repeated reference to contect you can't come up with any!!!!!!!

Oh please! If you were the least bit honest, you'd admit that the BIBLE is held up as the WORD, the GOOD BOOK, etc., etc., etc., for 99% of children. Children may be exposed to more graphic material, but with few exceptions, there isn't a widespread pretense that Friday the 13th, or Jason, Rambo, or porn are sources of divine inspiration. You may be part of the 1% who was exposed to the Bible as a child (i.e., the 'old testament') with the explicit warning that it is a volume of historic interest with ambiguous lessons contained therein and of dubious historical accuracy, but in the country where I live, that just isn't what a ten-year old is told.

user-pic

I don't remember Shakespeare claiming his works were to be considered as moral rules or laws, but he wrote so much that I can have forgotten that piece.
As a literary work, the Bible is fine for me. The problem is that it not only claims to be a moral guide, but one that is still to be followed. Thus, reading the Bible is not reading how things went within an ancient or imaginary society, it is learning how they should go today.
That is to say: a father could sell his daughter. How lucky we are! Men are better than God and forbid such a thing. At least, in my place.

I don't remember Shakespeare claiming his works were to be considered as moral rules or laws, but he wrote so much that I can have forgotten that piece.

Thank you for stating what should be the obvious!

But even if he did, sane people don't claim that. Not so with the bible.

As literary work, I guess it's just another book, but I don't think it would be up there with the greats, like JB and other religious people pretend it to.

although there are relativily clearly laid out laws in the torah, they don't seem either necessarily moral or even concerned with moral issues. i don't think anyone here would disagree with this.

however, what "gets my goat" is the constant use of the behaviour of particular characters in a particular story in the bible- as opposed to clear legalistic language- to make the claim that god "endorses" one kind of behaviour or another. the stories are enigmatic, and have contexts, and are clearly open to interpretation and were meant to be so. the story of dina above is an example- it's tough to say who did the right thing there. one could just as easily make the case that dina's "rapist" was actually her boyfriend and her nutty brothers went all medieval on him and his family.

i don't mean to ramble- it's just that, having been frustrated for so many years by religious people doing this, i'm now seeing atheists doing the same thing. it's like everybody has their agenda, and no one is willing to just read the thing with an open mind.

and yes, to the above incicive commenters: i do have a rather dark view of human nature and "natural" behaviour, i do think it requires regulation of some kind (not necessarily religious), and fwiw there are plenty of exeptions to this- usually having been well raised and educated. and i simply disagree that regulating a form of behavior is an "endorsement" of it. the fact that today's capitalism regulates mankind's tendancy to want to buy and control and dominate other human beings-or, conversely, to be bought and controlled and dominated (and taken care of) is not an endorsement, rather an admission of defeat.

but man is "evil from his youth", yep. i went to kindergarden. i know. :)

I hope when your goat is gotten you use the biblical method of slaughter.

it's like everybody has their agenda, and no one is willing to just read the thing with an open mind.

Uh, its because holy books are declared holy right up front, so the question on everyones mind from page 1 is. "Did god really write this and what is he trying to tell us?" For reasonable people, the answer is no, and we look for evidence, for religious people the answer is yes, and they avoid evidence.

But what I find histeracle is that this video of a little girl, who one might assume was sent to sunday school by religious parents. She likely read this text assuming this was some godly text, and kept asking herself "WTF?" This is her frustration with this book as presented after reading it with the opposite assumption from where she ended up. My girlfriend has childhood stories of pretty much doing the same thing.

If more people assumed nothing and then decided at the end of a text if it was holy or not, there would be less religious people.

i simply disagree that regulating a form of behavior is an "endorsement" of it.

So, I would agree with you. There are lots of immoral things that are legal and regulated in many cultures. That isn't an endorsement. The obvious difference is that the Bible contains both a Moral Code, and a code of conduct.

What is should be obvious is that God put slavery and rape in the code of conduct, but completely forgot to put them in the moral code. Its an endorsement by ommission and we know from passages like this, that god isn't ignorant of their existance, or above their discussion. How can this be?

The obvious difference is that the Bible contains both a Moral Code, and a code of conduct.

you say it does (moral code) i say it doesn't- rather, what we now call "morality" has it's roots in these laws.

"Did god really write this and what is he trying to tell us?" For reasonable people, the answer is no, and we look for evidence, for religious people the answer is yes, and they avoid evidence.

fine. this doesn't address the concept of willful misinterpretation, on the part of both religious people and atheiests that i've been talking about. i don't even see it as an issue- except the issue of authority. for non-religious kids (like myself) with a background of education (like myself), the greats of western literature certainly posessed authority, and were/are viewed with a similar awe to that of religious people confronted with the bible. sorry about the brainwashed millions, etc. (on both sides) but this is the truth. for those lacking ANY form of education- religious or otherwise- i cannot speak.

If more people assumed nothing and then decided at the end of a text if it was holy or not, there would be less religious people.

again you're wrong, innocent of any understanding of human nature. "catcher in the rye" was "holy" for me at one point, and i am far from alone in this. other favourites for impressionable young people include vonnegut, hesse...need i go on? ok, one more, one which still holds true and "holy" for me: "the phantom tollbooth".

humans will make holiness...even you must admit that we created the very concept, and religion itself! hmmmm, perhaps this is what separates us from "animals".

furthermore i find it very telling the order (for pedantsareus :) in which you put this:

For reasonable people, the answer is no, and we look for evidence,

furthermore i find it very telling the order (for pedantsareus :) in which you put this:

Only a fool would claim to have zero bias.

fine. this doesn't address the concept of willful misinterpretation, on the part of both religious people and atheiests that i've been talking about.

Really, the suspension of disbelief that somehow God's regulation, of Rape, Slavery, war and other horrid acts is not some at all a dirting his hands in the matter, is somehow not a willful misinterpretation of what is obvious from the text?

So really, God's regulations for these acts. Tell me how they temper how horrible they are.

Tell me how they temper how horrible they are.

well, i guess you've never been a victim of rape, slavery or war- especially as they were practiced at the time. btw, rape is a punishable offense in the bible- perhaps not in the way that we moderns would like to see it, but surely not "endorsed by god". slavery and war are different matters- regulated, not punishable, as long as they adhere to the law.

Really, the suspension of disbelief that somehow God's regulation, of Rape, Slavery, war and other horrid acts is not some at all a dirting his hands in the matter

i answer you with your own words:

I would agree with you. There are lots of immoral things that are legal and regulated in many cultures. That isn't an endorsement.

You Always Miss the part where Elected officials often say that things are immoral and then regulate them, but god just regulates without comment on the right or wrongness of it all.

Tell me how they temper how horrible they are.

No really, do it. So far most of the regulations of god, seem to deal with making an honest deal of slave buying, not nessecarily the treatment of the slave. And the regulations of rape often seem to be rules to prevent creating babies with concured non-jewish people, not some effort to make them less violent, or not with children or any other humane or anything that would actually improve the conditions of the victum.

It's possible this girl's parents take her to church and then she hides out in her room and makes blasphemous (!) videos. I'm thinking that her folks are not terribly religious, if at all, and she's been asking questions about the bible and is horrified.

I remember going to friend's 10 birthday party. We got taken to a revival. Even at that age, I knew it was wrong to "pray that [my] father or brother would break his arm if he did not accept Jesus Christ as his savior." My brothers and I already had a skeptical view of religion, but it didn't take too many Vonnegut books to pull me completely away from belief in god after that traumatizing event.

I think the sleepover part went OK, though.

but man is "evil from his youth", yep. i went to kindergarden. i know. :)

From our young years, perhaps, but I side with cruel behavior being learned. I did some mean things as a kid, starting about 5th grade, but I fortunately learned to stop doing those and be nice. So shitty behavior can be unlearned just as it can be learned.

Facetiousness aside...

I would agree with JB that the bible is not totally without value, but the only value I see is wholly as a historical document, and that value is worse than lost when it is treated as anything but.

It seems to me that there is a bit of a disconnect in what's being discussed here. JB seems to have an experience of biblical teaching which is of a more philosophical/theological tradition that is very foreign to my own memories of Pennsylvania-style Anabaptism - which treats the stories of the bible not as the cultural legacy of a tribe of desert-dwelling, patriarchal nomads, but as though the text of the King James is the unalterable truth from God, and does not need any amending, disclaiming, or contextualization.

I would not present any religious texts to my children unless I were certain they were sufficiently mature to grasp the nuances of what it is exactly they are reading, and I find it very troubling to think that just because humanity has historically failed miserably when it comes to gender equality, that that somehow excuses us from looking critically at the missteps of classic works (great or not).

re: Tim: "What JB seems to me to be less than candid about is the role of religion, which certainly does endorse it! Providing a set of rules whereby one ought to proceed in such cases, is an endorsement."

comment: ya think?

re: Gabrielle: "How lucky we are! Men are better than God and forbid such a thing. At least, in my place."

comment: excellent.

re: kagemeister: "JB seems to have an experience of biblical teaching which is of a more philosophical or theological tradition that is very foreign to my own memories of Pennsylvania-style Anabaptism - which treats the stories of the bible not as the cultural legacy of a tribe of desert-dwelling, patriarchal nomads, but as though the text of the King James is the unalterable truth from God, and does not need any amending, disclaiming, or contextualization."

comment: Indeed. When it comes to religion it's the "strict constructionalists" that give me grief. I can deal with 'evidence' that suggests some thing was often so in the past. What gets my goat are the assertions that "it has ever been so thus must be God's plan for ya. Object at peril of eternal fire and hell-storm torment so get to your place girl!"

For, after all, it is not history but fear that enslaves us.

This discussion has reminded me of my first exposure to the bible when I was six or so. I went to a sleep-over at the home of a very religious family, and before bed they would listen to The Bible On Tape or some such thing. That night's story was about Lot, and Sodom and Gomorrah and what-not, so not only was it my first biblical story, it was my first education about incest, genocide, and rape. Good times. I remember being utterly baffled at how these kids were allowed to listen to it.

Heh - see my comment about the 10th birthday party!

What in hell are these families thinking?

(don't bother to answer unless you want to start another thread)

user-pic

I'm going to agree with Christopher Hitchens.

Should I one day have children, I'll teach them the bible myself, as literature and explaining that most of it didn't occur and explaining why its mythology still persists. Afterall, Benjamin Franklin said the surest

I'll also explain why the morality is so flawed on issues in our modern day and how we've moved beyond people-as-property (for the most part).

re: my dark view of unregulated human nature:

http://www.iheartchaos.com/post/3544351982/sunday-cartoons-marshmallow-people-from-the

:) years ago i wrote a sign and put it on the wall in my kitchen, the result of some stoned epipihany, no doubt: " i embrace chaos. i just want it at right angles". :)

no one is really suggusting unregulated human behavior as a better alternative to religion.

no one is really suggusting unregulated human behavior as a better alternative to religion.

whew! well, thank god for that! :)

JB: re: the Torah.

Whatever you say, I know nuthin 'bout it.

re: Kagemeister: "Pennsylvania-style Anabaptism - which treats the stories of the bible not as the cultural legacy of a tribe of desert-dwelling, patriarchal nomads, but as though the text of the King James is the unalterable truth from God, and does not need any amending, disclaiming, or contextualization."

yup, tho in my case the desert dwelling patriarchal nomads were Mormon, and Joe Smith did augment King James tho not in anyway particularly helpful to womenfolk.

JB: I was afraid that was what you meant. I do not hold so dark a view of us humans as you. What we may learn from History is that humans are enormously adaptable. Sure there will always be outliers who choose to behave badly. It's for those that rules and laws governing a culture are defined. But if ALL men were inclined to abuse women, rules wouldn't be enough to stop em. Laws for humans are like fences for cattle - they're essentially symbolic, and only work if most are willing to mind them most of the time.

The thing about religion, if it's viewed as strict construction of a Supreme Being's will, is that it presumes a static universe, where neither humans nor societies may either adapt or evolve. Whereas, as we all well know, the days when Armies were only Infantry (where big bodies who can carry heavy packs were a good thing), are now giving way to soldiers flying drones with joysticks, and intellectual capacity is at least as important as big biceps.

You say "dominance and submissiveness- not to get all kinky on you- are built into the human character, imo."

OK, there are clearly personality types that are inclined to be more or less dominant, or more or less submissive. Some people are more nurturing, others more abrupt. But nowadays we understand that these personality types do not depend on which reproductive organs come with them. Human sexuality is not nearly so simple. Presuming that it is, imo, comes from the same misguided sense that says the Bible is immutable word of God.

And that 'unchanging universe' conceit has gotten us into all manner of trouble - trouble only exacerbated by our presumption that history actually happened the way we are taught it did. Fer instance, the Chinese invented the cross bow a thousand years before it was used to such effect by Henry IV's troops on the fields of Agincourt. I just learned that the other day!

I operate my business on a model of Continuous Improvement. Why not seek the same for ourselves, our culture, and our stewardship of the planet. Fundamentalism, Strict Constructionism, Immutible Word of God are all, to my mind, unhelpful to understanding a changing universe.

betty jo:

Sure there will always be outliers who choose to behave badly. It's for those that rules and laws governing a culture are defined. But if ALL men were inclined to abuse women, rules wouldn't be enough to stop em.

"outliers"? i don't think so. and i did point out it's not ALL men, there are plenty of, as i said, well raised and educated exeptions.

of course you are free to believe (BELIEVE) what you wish- as am i. i appreciate your clear statement which is more than some here can muster.

The thing about religion, if it's viewed as strict construction of a Supreme Being's will, is that it presumes a static universe,

no idea where you're getting this from, but you sound sure of yourself. source? just from a cursory reading of biblical texts, it seems to me that that a "static universe", especially with regard to human behaviour, is quite the opposite of what's written there, which includes all manner of change and development both between man and "god" and man and his fellow human.

" Human sexuality is not nearly so simple.

i wasn't talking about human sexuality, per se, rather human nature- which naturally affects human sexuality, but that wasn't my point.

great comment, i appreciate the thought you put into it and am left wondering about the basis of those thoughts. having read your posts over a year or so, i think i can safely assume you are not merely talking bullshit but have some reason to believe these things. i'd be interested to hear where you get your ideas.

Isn't it amazing such a static culture is able to produce so many pioneers in the sciences?

Red7 said (replying to jonathan)

For a second there, I almost thought you were going to be helpful.

You're debating the meaning of an ancient text with someone who has studied Jewish theology. You are attempting to understand how this ancient text which consists of the philosophy of men long long long ago is the word of 'god' (whatever 'god' means). Jonathan has no intention of being 'helpful'. He wants to point out that he knows more about theology than you do, and he does. He also apparently believes that the men who contributed to the Old Testament were spokesmen for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and he, jonathan, understands the word of 'god', and he's attempting to explain to the atheists this great wisdom.

It all seems so ridiculous to me. No wonder that Norm is more interested in birds and debating GMOs these days. It gets a tad tiresome to debate whether or not the writings of some men long ago are the word of 'god'.

t i r e s o m e

I have been sharing some of these conversations here with a friend of mine (an older and wiser man) and he told me something like, "Why bother debating some ancient text which is no longer relevant? You would best spend your time enjoying your art and music and life". He's right.

"Why bother debating some ancient text which is no longer relevant? You would best spend your time enjoying your art and music and life". He's right.

He is right, but debate is one of those you can enjoy for the sake of it. No that I put our discourse here on par with that of Hitchens or the other masters, but still it is fun to dabble.

As to the goal of challenging the religious folks, I think purpose of site like this are only to give non- believers some pride in their stance on the supernatural so they can publicly offer an alternative to what many might see as the thing that "everybody" believes, and perhaps inspire some folks to make a hobby of challenging and debunking the feeble arguments of the religious.

So I pursue the arguement until it stops being fun and then go look for another video I can post to start moving people on to the next topic.

JB Bordered on interesting this time, until I read that comment and just realized he wasn't going to offer any substance.

If given a quick quote from Huck fin that might be offensive out of context, most people that have read it and understood it can quickly explain its context; the meaning of the book, the points being made, the reason for the language.

When given a quote from the Bible of god doing something like killing a child, threatening rape, or instructing people on slave etiquet, all religious folks seem to be able to do is say, "that's out of context." Even though plenty of people have read the bible and thought, why the hell is god doing these horrible shit?

JB Bordered on interesting this time, until I read that comment and just realized he wasn't going to offer any substance

Again, the thrill is gone. It's similar to someone you know and find interesting and yet have this notion that something is just not right, and yet they have such skills of argumentation and charm that one feels that they might have something to say that one has not yet grasped until finally one realizes that they're just abusive bullshitters.

oh jeez, I wouldn't call JB abusive. Just misunderstood and loud. Bullshitter is pretty much a bulls-eye.

there is no part where is explains that the stories are part of the context of the time and place and people should take that the actions of God's favorite people in 3000 BC are in no way models for how you should act today.

Precisely Red7. That is the purpose of theologians and apologists. They spend their lifetime being good at debating this shit.

One more thing. My French friends find it interesting that the Americans spend so much time debating religion. It is because we are not so much a secular-oriented country as France is. So the goal of secularist/atheist/agnostic Americans is to lessen the influence of fundamentalist xtians in the U.S. Debating with some Jewish dude will not help in this endeavor. The best way to go about this is to understand American xtian theology well enough to debate with other American xtians. And even then, it's probably a waste of time. The older gentleman that I mentioned earlier used to be a missionary back when he was young. He understands American xtian theolgy quite well, and he gave up long ago discussing it because he feels that it's a waste of time. He may well be right.

If the goal was to merely to deprogram fundies, then I think we could well afford to laugh and shake our heads quietly and otherwise ignore them. (I completely agree that arguing theology itself with JB is tedious. If it weren't for historical relevance, theology's interest and intrinsic relevance is up there with Norse mythology: zzzzzz.....)

Unfortunately, the ruling oligarchy in America has cemented an alliance with the fundamentalists that allows them just enough populist appeal to truly fuck the country up. Without the fundies, for example, the GOP would lose just about every election everywhere in the country. The key to the alliance is this: The super-rich may count a few fundies among their members, but mostly they realize that none of the social castration the fundies would love to impose on the populace will ever really be enforced when it comes to the wealthy. Want an abortion for your knocked-up 16-year old daughter? They can always go somewhere else and get it. Are you a homosexual? Just buy off a few people and you can keep that on the down-low. And OF COURSE those rules about living modestly and giving your wealth to the poor - cough, cough - that socialistic shit doesn't apply either.

If the country is ever to return to something approaching a functioning democracy, the only hope (as dim as it seems to be these days) is the spread of knowledge and that goal brings one directly into conflict with religious fundamentalists.

I completely agree that arguing theology itself with JB is tedious.

The thrill is gone

Tim said:

Unfortunately, the ruling oligarchy in America has cemented an alliance with the fundamentalists that allows them just enough populist appeal to truly fuck the country up

Yes yes and yes.

user-pic
Unfortunately, the ruling oligarchy in America has cemented an alliance with the fundamentalists that allows them just enough populist appeal to truly fuck the country up.

Certain religious elements and conservative political movements have joined forces throughout history. Oligarchs duping the commoners to support economic oppression under the guise of morality is nothing new. On the other hand, again, at least in America, many religious leaders have fought for justice and human rights under the banner of religion as well.

In my view, the only difference in America the last generation is that the left has abandoned religious rhetoric. If you want to combat conservative policies, in a nation that is 80% Christian, the only sensible strategy is to embrace religion, not undermine it. Don't blame the right for winning a battle if you don't choose to fight.

I expected to see this line of argument and thought about the point your making as I typed my post. I don't buy it. First of all, all the left has not abandoned religious rhetoric - but see, for example, how much traction someone like Chris Hedges makes with fundamentalists - none, zip, nada. The relative influence wielded by mainline churches has declined while the fundamentalist/evangelistic influence has grown. The latter simply don't give a damn about what practicing what Jesus preached - oddly enough, they're much more like the "papists" they despise than they would ever admit or are even able to perceive. It is about 'form' not substance. The 'form' is different of course (accept Jesus as your personal savior and your just about home free - don't worry that your still a scumbag.

In addition, there are a lot of countries that aren't "80% Christian" (a figure I don't accept for the USA, but I'll stipulate we're more Christian than other western countries). Once upon a time, those countries once were "80% Christian". They've grown up, so can we.

I agree, religion gives the opinions of some higher status in our society without giving them any increased chance of being right about anything.

The left has done plenty of religious outreach and a large part of the African American voter outreach is done through Churches. Those messages are about social justice and that isn't really what the dems have benn harping on for the last 40 years or so.

The white left that goes to church has nowhere near the passion for their religion as the fundies on the right. Progressives can't let religion be used as a tool to move the middle, but I always say, there is no such thing as a passionate moderate. The way to the middle includes giving religion some respect but also pointing our the crazy at the same time. No one had really mastered it.

Hey Red, I'm curious. If all the nasty stuff in the Bible were edited out for the 8-12 year old girls, wouldn't you be claiming it's a misrepresentation aimed at indoctrinating the young by sugar coating the inconvenient stuff?

There are so many versions of the bible, so many edits, I really don't think a version without the "How to sell your daughter into the sex trade." chapters would really be any less honest than any of the other ones around. Maybe it might lead people to believe God doesn't want people to treat their fellow man like cattle.

Sugar coating a novel such as Huck Finn is not the same as sugar coating the words that you and jonathan claim to be the words of the supreme ruler of the universe. Samuel Clemens never claimed to be 'god'.

So it should be sugar coated?

No. It's you and jonathan and other believers in this ancient text who attempt to sugar coat and cherry pick and get all theological and shit in an attempt to explain all of this weird shit in Old Testament.

I don't think that the Old Testament should be edited. Best that it is read as is. But to give this kinky collection of ancient philosophy to children and tell them that this is the word of 'god' is just bizarre.

Man, the point is why do you even have to teach it to children? It's like asking if you should put black bars and sugar coat S&M porn or a snuff film so then you can show it to children. I'm against censorship (esp. in porn!) but that's an absurd statement to make.

jonathan,

A bunch of others beat me to my point, which is that the Bible as a work of fiction is one thing, but it is presented to most Christians as THE word, the philosophy, God's word (logos), and rules to live by. Most Jews and Episcopalians (but not all!) I've met are presented with the Bible as a collection of stories, some with morals, to be studied, but not taken as gospel to be emulated. You've already come across those who take the bible literally or you wouldn't have expressed your exasperation about the discourse above.

So, sure, take this as a work of fiction to consider, but I'll fight you on its greatness, and I can tell you that as philiosophy to live by, it is lacking at best and dangerous at its worst. Read Ivan and Adolphe: the last 2 men in Hell by Steven Vicchio or Walter Mosely Walking the Dog for some good fiction that double as philosophy.

A friend posted the ad from a nice website for people who aren't religious. This looks like something worth frequenting.

Navigation

Support this site

Google Ads


Powered by Movable Type Pro

Copyright © 2002-2017 Norman Jenson

Contact


Commenting Policy

note: non-authenticated comments are moderated, you can avoid the delay by registering.

Random Quotation

Individual Archives

Monthly Archives