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The Bible – A Series of Passages (II) September 12, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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1 Samuel 15:2-3 — “Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” ’”

This is a direct order from the Christian god of The Bible to kill people and animals.  You may be aware, or not, that criticisms of passages such as this are usually met with concerns about the context of the passage itself.  In other words, I could be taking this passage completely out of context.  Perhaps someone can make that claim, and show me how I am taking this direct command from God out of context.  I am willing to listen.

This passage is evidence that God is willing to ask his flock to kill people and animals.  I have to imagine that people who think that God is loving are either willing to overlook this despicable order to kill all of the residents of Amalek, along with the ox, sheep, camel, and donkeys, or they are unaware of this passage because again, it doesn’t make it to the pulpits of Churches across the country and around the world.  I wonder why?  Personally, I find it horrible and disgusting that a God would do this, regardless of His reasons.

The question that pops into my mind is why?  Every human is supposed to be one of Gods children.  Every human is born to the world that God created for them.  Every human is supposed to be a creation of God, and through God, they will arrive in heaven upon their physical death – conditionally, of course.  So in this particular case, God is angry with the people, the children, the men and women, and even the infants – yes, the infants.  We all know that infants are perfectly capable of angering the God they apparently know so well.

No one is spared, no one is good enough for God, even those who are obviously unaware that God is angry at them.  Humans are obviously capable of killing for many reasons.  But in modern warfare, for example, it is certainly not OK to kill every human in a city (Hiroshima and Nagasaki notwithstanding.)  Modern soldiers stand trial for murder even in times of war when it is discovered that they kill innocents that are not members of the opposing armies.  Collateral damage is indeed an unfortunate side effect of warfare.  But this order, from a loving God?  Makes no sense at all.

Our world is filled with stories of killing and murdering thousands and thousands of innocent people for all sorts of reasons.  I find it easy to abandon any God who condones murdering infants for any reason.   Could those infants not be saved, and at least made into slaves?  Don’t get me started.

The Bible – A Series of Passages (I) September 3, 2009

Posted by jetson in Personal.
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I am a new blogger!  I’m just a regular guy with no particular expertise on life, other than my almost 47 years of living it!  My journey has brought me to consider that humans have no particular reason to consider that religion, its gods, or its tenets are required to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives.  I am an atheist (please look up the definition before you claim to know what it means!)  It is not easy to say this publicly given the stigma attached to the term.  To save you the trouble, atheism is simply the belief that there are no real gods.

I do not believe in any of the thousands of gods through human history.  I am fairly certain that all gods are man-made, as a method of explaining the unknown, and of filling minds with a reason for our existence.  I also believe that gods were created as a method of controlling large groups of people through fear, shame, and guilt.  Notice I said, fairly certain – which means that I have no way of proving that a god does not exist, and I will never be absolutely certain.  It does not mean that I am entertaining the idea that a god is possible either, so it is safe to say that my atheist view is going to remain intact for the rest of my life.

Before I start my series on Bible passages, I would just like to add that I have no desire to promote atheism in particular, this is about my personal journey, and what I have come to believe thus far in my life.  I have many friends and colleagues who are Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, for example.  I respect their individual journeys and beliefs, and I will only speak out when specific religious beliefs are forced upon myself or others.

I spent my time in Catholic churches and Sunday schools, I went through the Catholic Sacraments, and never did I believe or consider that what I was being taught was actually real.  I knew little about religion or Christianity in general, heck, I used to think the Pope was in charge of Christianity!  I took much of it as metaphorical, and much of it as mythological – just like the religions and gods of ancient cultures and societies, as I was taught in public school.  Perhaps I was somehow predisposed to rational or logical thought – like a Vulcan (when I was a baby, I did have sharp ears – no kidding!)  The only thing that ever made me nervous was being surrounded by adults in church who seemed to believe that God was real.  I was nervous because I was afraid that not believing would hurt me, somehow.

I would like to present some passages from The Bible that I never heard when I was young.  Passages that I firmly believe are withheld from Sunday masses and services across the Christian communities simply because they would likely raise a lot of questions, as well as present a message that is not exactly loving or peaceful.  My reason for presenting these passages is to share my thoughts, and to invite people to share their own views on the purpose or meaning of these passages.  I am certainly not an authority on scripture, but I can read and comprehend the messages, so that works for me.  Besides, given the vast number of different interpretations of Biblical passages and stories, my interpretation is certainly as valid as the next person.

Genesis 6:5-7

6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

I did hear this story when I was young, but not in such dramatic and cruel detail as the actual words from The Bible.  It’s so easy to tell people that were not around at the time that God was angry, so he flooded the earth, and allowed Noah and his family, and a bunch of animals to live.  When I heard the story, I literally thought that there were a few people around who were being “bad” in Gods mind.  I also took it as pure mythology.  It never occurred to me that God killed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people, as well as every other living thing that creepeth on the earth, including birds!

Which brings me to the cruelty and violence of this passage.  I’m picturing people of all ages, going about their daily routine of living, the youngest being hardly aware of God, all unaware of their pending deaths by flood.  I’m picturing people desperately grasping to their children and their loved ones, trying to stay alive, only to be overwhelmed and cruelly killed by the relentless flood from God, the one who was so unhappy with man, which He, Himself created.  God created man, man chose to be evil according to God, so God decides to kill all humans and animals?  I am a father myself, and it has never crossed my mind to kill all of my children, and their pets, and every living thing in my backyard, because they disobeyed me or somehow angered me.  But who am I to judge.

I find it odd also, that Noah was the single man on the entire planet who was “with God”, such that God chose Noah and his family as the only ones allowed to survive.  Apparently God wasn’t in the mood to really start over, so he chose Noah to keep the human race going.  That’s not exactly starting over now is it?  The god of The Bible was always described to me as all loving, all knowing, and the one who created everything, including man.  It disturbs me to think that a god so powerful as to create the universe and all it contains, and then to create humans in his image, only to discover that those humans were not so great after all, and instead of truly starting over, He relegates the responsibility to Noah.  Apparently Noah was perfect enough, even though he came from Gods original mold, or so say’s The Bible.

So, God kills everyone in order to restore the earth, and remove the continuous evil perpetrated by all men (and women and children and birds?)  The story comes across as a soft, loving story of a god who was merciful to Noah and his family, and specific pairs and sevens of clean and dirty animals, such that he spared them their very lives and made the world a much better place.  There are even beautiful toys sold in most major retail outlets that depict the story – a nice, colorful boat, filled with cute little animals, and Noah and his wonderful family of good people. Strange how the toy sets don’t contain the dead people and animals as well, you know, so the children really know what was going on.  As it is, most children are never told that there were obviously innocent people killed in the flood.  We have to assume that every single person, and every living animal, was guilty and deserved to die.  I for one, find this extremely cruel and unnecessary.

I’m not sure what God’s goals were, but I’m assuming He wanted everyone to worship, praise, and love Him as the one and only god.  I think it is clear after thousands of years, that nothing even close to that goal was accomplished.  In fact, I consider it a monumental failure on Gods part.  Maybe God will try again in the future to kill everyone who is evil…