5. Bible On The Floor
“My Bible stays on the floor.” — Hedge
The problems with the Bible are far too many to enumerate here, but I will certainly enjoy summarizing only the most shockingly brutal atrocities and outrageous contradictions for your consideration. I will cover the varying beliefs of each Christian sect in section 6, the specific teachings of Jesus Christ in section 7, and the way that Bible addresses current issues such as homosexuality and women’s rights in section 8.
As I said at the beginning of the section, there are far too many atrocities described in the Bible for me to describe. I’ll try to lay out the most repugnant and murderous of them all. Most of this comes from “Bible Atrocities,” a list compiled by Donald Morgan and available at http://www.infidels.org.
God personally annihilates nearly every life form on the entire planet
- Genesis 6:17, 7:21-23
God personally kills thousands of people with disease and plagues
- Numbers 16:49 (14,700 killed)
- Numbers 25:9 (24,000 killed)
- 2 Samuel 24:15 (70,000 killed)
God commands his believers to annihilate entire cities full of people
- (women and children and sometimes animals included)
- Deuteronomy 2:33-34
- Deuteronomy 3:6
- Deuteronomy 20:13-17
- Joshua 6:21
- Joshua 8:22-25 (12,000 killed)
- Joshua 10:28-40
- Joshua 11:21-23
- Judges 1:17
- Judges 21:10-12 (God’s people also kidnap 4,000 virgins after the war)
- 1 Samuel 15:3-8
Random Cruelties and Atrocities
- Joshua 11:6 — God orders Joshua to hamstring the enemy’s horses. To hamstring a creature is to sever its leg tendons so it cannot walk — very cruel and painful. Did the horses deserve it?
- Judges 4:21 — A woman takes a tent stake and hammers it so far through the head of an enemy of God that his skull is fastened to the ground.
- Judges 11:30-39 — One of God’s followers vows to make a sacrifice to the Lord; his virgin daughter ends up being the victim.
- 2 Kings 2:23-24 — God sends two bears to kill 42 children because they made fun of a prophet’s baldness. Look it up, I swear it’s true.
- 2 Kings 9:33-37 — Jehu has Jezebel thrown out of a window. Her blood splatters all over the wall and some horses below, then dogs eat every part of her corpse except her head, feet and hands.
- Isaiah 13:15-16 — “Everyone who is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be plundered and their wives will be ravished.”
- Isaiah 13:18 — “Their bows will slaughter the young men; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.”
- Ezekiel 9:4-6 — The Lord commands: “… slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women …”
A Few Important Contradictions
Most of this section is adapted from “Best-Selling Errancy: An Essay on Inconsistencies in the Bible,” by Mark D. Ball, Ph.D., which can be found at http://www.infidels.org. There are many inconsistencies in the Bible, but the two I have chosen are major doctrinal contradictions which cannot be explained away by “mistranslation” or some other such copout.
The first question (and one which I have tried to answer elsewhere in this essay) is: Is God good or not?
People in the hc/punk scene can pretty much agree that being “good” means not killing, raping, abusing children, enslaving fellow human beings, or encouraging any of those activities.
According to the Bible and most Christians, God is “abundant in goodness” (Exodus 34:6), his goodness is “great” (Psalms 145:7), and he “is good to all” (Psalms 145:9). Therefore, God does not kill, rape, abuse children, enslave, or encourage anyone else to do so. Right?
In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul tries to explain what God views as good and evil by dividing them into categories. “Works of the flesh” are considered evil and “fruits of the Spirit” are considered good. Galatians 5:16-17 reads as follows:
- “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would.”
So far, so good. Now let’s see what God considers to be evil, a.k.a. works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21):
- “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Sounds like pretty standard stuff for the Bible. What does God consider good (Galatians 5:22-23)?
- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.”
So. If you cause strife or anger (through murder, rape, child abuse, or slavery, for example), you are evil. If you go against peace, kindness, and goodness, then you are not good. It seems crystal clear.
But surprise, surprise: the Bible is bursting with many crystal clear examples of God being not very good at all. Take a look at the Atrocities section for examples. How can Christians reconcile this view of good and evil with the horrors performed by the ultimate Author of their morality? See section 9 for more on that subject.
The next question is: how are Christians “saved”? In other words, how do they gain entrance into Heaven?
Throughout the 3rd chapter of John, Jesus lays out the following requirements:
- you have to be born again (verse 3)
- you have to be born of water (baptized?) and the Spirit (verse 5)
- you have to believe in Jesus (verses 15, 16 and 18)
John the Baptist says that if you believe in Jesus you have eternal life and if you don’t then you have eternal damnation (verse 36). In the book of Mark, there is another verse emphasizing baptism (chapter 16, verse 16), thus reinforcing the requirements laid out in John 3:5. In Acts16:30-31, a guard asked Paul how to be saved, and guess what Paul says? Believe in Jesus.
Despite all of this emphasis on faith, there are plenty of verses which say that faith is not enough. A few verses from the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians will serve as an example:
- “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have all faith, enough to move mountains, but have not charity, then I am nothing.” (verse 2)
“So faith, hope, charity abide, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (verse 15)
As Mark Ball says, “These two verses are plain and unconditional, with the latter verse clearly placing charity above faith in the hierarchy of virtues.” So if 1 Corinthians 13 is correct, then all the other verses placing faith above everything else are incorrect, or at the very least poorly worded — and what kind of all-powerful God deliberately chooses confusion language for salvation instructions?
In James 2:14-17, an excerpt often quoted by charitable Christian organizations, the deemphasis of faith alone continues: “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
James nails down the point with a final sentence in verses 24 and 26: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone … For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”
Some Christians may argue that having faith in God necessarily mandates good works. A true believer in Christianity will perform good works because of their faith, not in addition to it. But the message of 1 Corinthians 13 and James 2 is that faith is separate from works. These passages make it perfectly obvious that a Christian could be the most devout and faithful Christian on the planet and still be doomed to Hell for their lack of good works. So why does Jesus say in the book of John that baptism and faith are the keys to the kingdom of Heaven?
You would think that the Bible would make a special effort to be clear on the requirements for salvation. Regardless of whether you think the Good Book was written by God or men (or men inspired by God), you have to agree that the confusion regarding salvation seems inefficient at best.
Again, Mark Ball explains:
- will render to every man according to his deeds. (verse 6)
Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.(verse 9)
But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good.(verse 10)
“If faith is the critical criterion on Judgment Day, persons not saved, even if they kept the law and did good works, will not enter paradise. Torture is the punishment for those who have chosen to interpret the scriptures as metaphor because of the honest confusion arising from semantic muddiness. The metaphor in question is that ‘belief in Jesus Christ,’ expressed in such verses as John 6:47, is not necessarily belief in his divinity, but rather is assent to his ethics. After all, might argue the damned, not only did James stress ethics in his epistle, but Jesus himself devoted most of his teaching to ethics as well (including the issue of salvation) — and he did so parabolically. Treating faith as the critical criterion on Judgment Day, however, conflicts with Paul’s words in Rom. 2. In describing “God’s righteous judgment”, he says that God:
Because the Bible’s presentation of salvation is so foggy, the appearance of heterodoxies should be expected, with many people reasonably concluding that the scriptures inculcate something other than simple faith in Jesus Christ, such as the leading of an ethical earthly life, as the way to an eternal heavenly life. If simple faith is the way, however, God is punishing people for honest confusion, which behavior is antithetical to his image as good, merciful, and loving.”
If you are a Christian who claims to not believe in the Bible and all of its horrors and errors, then on what basis do you believe in Christianity? Aside from the authoritarian hierarchy of Catholicism and the arbitrary proclamations of Protestantism (all of which are supposedly based on the Bible!), what other grounds do you have for believing in God and Jesus Christ?
Also, here’s a fun trick to try on any Bible-believing Christian. If you are ever approached by any Christians who try to tell you about Jesus or convert you to Christianity, interrupt them and ask them if they believe that the entire Bible is literally true. If they say yes, then ask them if they believe in Matthew 5:42. If they say they don’t know what that is, you can have a little extra fun by asking them how they can believe in an entire book if they don’t even know what the damn thing says, or you can go ahead and tell them what that verse is. Here it is, in five different translations (for more info on the translations, see Appendix B):
- NIV: Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
RSV: Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.
KJV: Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
DBY: To him that asks of thee give, and from him that desires to borrow of thee turn not away.
YLT: To him who is asking of thee be giving, and him who is willing to borrow from thee thou mayest not turn away.
Once you have quoted the verse, ask them to give you their coat, their shoes, their money, their food, or whatever else you see fit to take. In order to retain the apparent moral high ground, you should then donate these liberated resources to people who need them, such as the homeless or impoverished. (Unless you’re a homeless crusty, traveling hardcore kid, or squatter punk, in which case you should keep ’em for yourself.)