A year of following all the rules in the Bible

Discuss

62 Responses to “A year of following all the rules in the Bible”

  1. JacobDavis says:

    @skep

    “… it is possible to show that certain ideas of a god are logically inconsistent with the way the world works.”

    Most Christians are fine with that when it concerns the inconsistent actions or words of their god. While you may understandable stop when you find what you consider a contradiction, a Christian might presume the issue must be explained away. I know many would take issue with what you mean by “evil” in terms of Christianity. After all, in a monotheistic religion where god calls all the shots, it defines morality independently of human mores. In such a system, God gets away with murder, hellfire, and sending bears to eat children; because it necessarily is the source of morality in such religions, it can do whatever it wants and be internally consistent, even if it breaks its own established rules and behaviors.

    It’s a funny issue to me, when talking to Christians about it, because when you’re outside the belief system, you can say, “Look! Your god is doing the opposite of what he says he would!” To a Christian, that often nonsense, as their god is not restricted by such rules.

    This is part of what I meant by assuming that this god exists for the sake of discussion. If you assume that god exists for the sake of pointing out inconsistencies, especially when talking to a Christian, you must be willing to consider the absoluteness of that god’s authority. You’re debating within the framework of a system that assumes infallibility of god; to show that god is fallible, you must break with those assumptions. When you break those assumptions, you are no longer talking about the god most Christians / Jews / Muslims identify with. That’s why arguments that amount to, “Your god is evil,” don’t make it very far with folks who have cemented their faith.

    I don’t think these conversations are really about whether god exists or not. It’s more a matter of understanding a set of popular world views, that happen to be one of the most powerful cultural forces on our planet. I’m at odds pretty often with that culture, so I like to understand what’s going on in the heads of religious folk when I talk to them. To another extent, it helps me understand myself… I am, like most non-believers, a product of a religious culture.

  2. Cpt. Tim says:

    “On the other hand, if you believe in Jehova, maybe the laws of the Old Testament served their purpose for the Jews until they outgrew it”

    a weak concept that gets bandied about. I think a god that was infinite in wisdom could have handed the hebrews a code of conduct that said “do not rape” as easily as it said “thou shalt not kill”

    but rape is a minor crime in some areas of the OT and outright condoned in others. I think god could have come up with a better ‘law 1.0′ than that. saying it was a product of the time they were in speaks more to religion changing to meet the evolving social mores of culture than it does about god giving the hebrews a new service pack update. considering well before jesus came other groups had invented democracy, you’d think YHWH could have come up with something that worked better. after all. he could just tell them what was right and wrong, and rain fire on those that disobeyed. (of course god didn’t have much sympathy for collateral damage back then either.)

  3. JacobDavis says:

    Strangely enough, the interviewer doesn’t ask anything about animal sacrifice or violent punishment toward others. I take it as a given that he would not attempt such things, but I have to wonder how that figured into his decisions over what to observe.

    Flying Squid said:

    “Also, if Jesus made Old Testament law null and void, why do so many Christians revere the 10 Commandments?

    I swear, I do not get religious people…”

    You don’t get that religious people like to follow simple, clearly spelled out rules that were mostly reiterated by Jesus?

    @Mechphisto

    A Christian would probably argue that the old law did not fail, but rather humanity did, and Jesus’ crucifixion was a hack to get around the Old Covenant.

    … except they might not use the word “hack.”

  4. EnglishNerd says:

    @ Skep

    I hope people don’t use Shakespeare for their moral basis, because they’d run into many of the same problems. I used the texts of Shakespeare because they are in my field and I felt more comfortable using them for a point that I didn’t explain well.
    I was responding to your comment (34) where you said you were waiting for a signed first edition. I was trying to point out that there are many texts (history texts would work better, but they aren’t my field) that we hold as authoritative but are far removed from their time. The problem that people have with the distance of the Bible is because of the morality. My hope was that, by pointing out the lack of other first editions that are not contested, the conversation would move away from the issues that are debatable in many fields to those concerning our response to the Hebraic and Christian texts. JacobDavis did a much better job of this. Since you were wondering, I thought I’d explain myself.

  5. Skep says:

    JacobDavis , September 26, 2007 7:53 PM:
    @ Skep
    … Zeal frequently overtakes those who listen too much to their leaders, and you get dumb crap like this. However, most of the commandments are still valid under the New Testament. They just weren’t laid out so explicitly.

    It still isn’t that simple. I suspect you and I could agree on many things, but what we probably can agree on is biblical interpretation.

    You’ve made several statements of how some ‘other’ Christians don’t get the bible ‘right’ and believe some “dumb crap,” where you nonchalantly posit that you know the ‘proper’ interpretation of the bible! Although that isn’t how you have characterized it, nor your words that is what you are doing.

    One of the main problems with Christianity is that there can be no one interpretation of the Bible, yet Christians act as though one can be reliably discerned in spite of the Bible’s inconsistencies, compounded translations, vagaries and incoherence. And you seem to posit your true knowledge (“most of the commandments are still valid under the New Testament”) over that of others (who posit “dumb crap” due to their incorrect knowledge) as no small conceit!

    So, I’m not sure what you are trying to say, if you believe that, or what not…

  6. Flying Squid says:

    @jacobdavis: Although Christianity is the largest religion, the majority of people on the planet are not Christians, so I think there’s a little hole in your theory.

  7. JacobDavis says:

    @ Cap’n Tim

    “… more to religion changing to meet the evolving social mores of culture than it does about god giving the hebrews a new service pack update”

    That’s my view of it, and the acceptance of rape is just a further reflection of that idea, IMO.

    But, surely an infinitely wise god would understand that people would follow outlandish rules only to a certain extent and concoct a set of rules they would be likely to (mostly) follow. Maybe rape was a more socially acceptable form of smiting at the hands of the Jews back then, I’m really not well-versed enough about their culture at the time to say. They certainly did kill willy-nilly across the Middle East and find ways to justify it.

    “..he could just tell them what was right and wrong, and rain fire on those that disobeyed.”

    Well… he did, kinda. :) His direct threat constantly directed the Jews, according to the Bible.

  8. JacobDavis says:

    @Flying Squid

    Way to ignore context. We were talking about Christianity. Don’t use what nearly amounts to a typo to dismiss the point.

  9. JacobDavis says:

    Oh, wow, I missed this somehow in the article:

    “..he said, “I’m an adulterer, are you going to stone me?” I said, “Yeah that would be great.” The Bible doesn’t say what size the stones have to be, so I had been carrying around these pebbles in my pocket for just such an occasion.”

  10. JacobDavis says:

    @ Skep

    I’ll dismiss any attempts to push Christian propaganda regarding “keep the sabbath day holy” and “don’t take the lord’s name in vain” as socially harmful BS any day. That’s what I rather belligerently called “dumb crap,” because I believe it is concerned less with serving one’s god and more with poorly considered knee-jerk reactions of fear.

    I’m not claiming a proper knowledge of the Bible. I am, however, speaking with knowledge of how the majority of denominations interpret these matters, as best as I can. If I’ve got a little too enthusiastic/arrogant/had too much brandy, and made an authoritative claim to truth… whoops. Sorry. :)

  11. Flying Squid says:

    Sorry, JacobDavis, I have no stomach for internet anger. I’ll just dmt yrs s th bggr pns nd move on.

  12. JacobDavis says:

    @ Skep, again!

    re my statement: “most of the commandments are still valid under the New Testament”

    I won’t deliver verse-by-verse explanationb of this, but stuff like “don’t kill,” “don’t worship other gods before Jehova,” etc. were very strongly implied in the New Testament. Some exceptions were obvious, I think, such as Jesus working (gathering food) on the Sabbath, which strongly broke with tradition under threat of death. Other exceptions, like taking god’s name in vain, were ignored, which might suggest that it was completely dismissed. Or not.

  13. phasor3000 says:

    As for Bible verses contradicting each other, it’s interesting to note that in Islam, they have a fairly consistent way of dealing with this, known as abrogation: where later verses in the Koran contradict earlier ones (and like the Bible, this happens in a zillion places), the later ones always abrogate, or supersede, the older ones.

    The only problem is, the older verses are the more peace-loving, let’s-all-get-along bits (written when Mohammed was just getting started and didn’t have a lot of power), and the later verses (written after Mohammed had killed and enslaved a lot of rivals and enemies) are the violent, intolerant, kill-the-unbelievers ones. Sort of like the Bible’s Old and New Testaments, but in backwards order. Ooops.

  14. AJ Jacobs says:

    I’m loving the comments. Very interesting.

    As for Skep’s point about graven images, I did in fact try to avoid making graven images for the entire year. (My wife — who was not living biblically — took those photos. I also couldn’t make Play-Doh dogs for my son, stopped doodling, etc.)

    The ban on making images turned out to be a fascinating rule to follow. It made me realize we’re far too addicted to images in this culture. (Though maybe there’s a little self-preservation instinct kicking in, since I’m a writer, and the written word seems like it’s getting replaced by images).

    AJ

  15. JacobDavis says:

    @Flying Squid

    Well, I wasn’t angry, but ok.

    @Phasor3000

    Interesting, that. The OT vs. NT deal isn’t really about new law superseding old law in terms of chronology, but I guess it does seem that way. Makes me think there is some denomination of Christianity that might hold to the same idea. I wonder if this guy was ever reprimanded by Christians over this sort of thing.

  16. JacobDavis says:

    @AJ Jacobs

    I just read the “first month” section on Amazon, and it’s got me more curious about the rest of the book. I’m curious at present, though, did you ever receive any sort of religious reprimand by Christians or Jews for doing this?

  17. Jardine says:

    I didn’t see any mention of enslaving those from neighbouring countries (Canadians and Mexicans in this case). I guess that’s not really a rule, just something you’re allowed to do should the opportunity present itself.

  18. AJ Jacobs says:

    Hey JacobDavis

    Well, I had a board of spiritual advisers — rabbis, priests, ministers, some very conservative, some a four-letter-word away from ex-communication. But by definition, there was a big DIY element to the project.

    I actually received much less rebuking than I anticipated. As I said in Newsweek, it might be because I went into the year genuinely curious. It was a journey to understand the Bible, arguably the most influential book of all time.

  19. Skep says:

    @ JacobDavis

    I might have come off too strong and mistaken your position for a claim True Knowledge. However, the degree to which the Old Testament is rescinded by the New Testament is not, and cannot be reasonably stated to be unequivocal. One can only argue for or against various degrees of inclusion. The Old and New Testaments are quite equivocal both as a whole and unto themselves. It is only people who claim that the Bible is clear–in spite 1000′s of years of proof and textual evidence that is not the case. The Koran is less equivocal, but I do not think that makes it necessarily better.

    But, surely an infinitely wise god would understand that people would follow outlandish rules only to a certain extent and concoct a set of rules they would be likely to (mostly) follow. Maybe rape was a more socially acceptable form of smiting at the hands of the Jews back then, I’m really not well-versed enough about their culture at the time to say

    And surely an all powerful, all loving and all wise god could create a world where free choice was allowed but people could not subjugate, harm and kill one another. It is not necessary that billions should suffer and die just so a god can test the morals of individuals anymore than police decoys need to let a suspect actually kill them so that the suspect can be arrested for murder rather than attempted murder.

    For those who would say such a limitation would infringe on “free choice” I would point out that god could provide everyone with an Armageddon button to push that would cause the universe to blow up, but doesn’t. That infringes on my free choice to destroy the universe! Doesn’t god need to allow me this free choice so that he can judge me? No? Then why allow people to murder not just one people, but millions? (As in the case of those noted non-religious types like Stalin…)

  20. Cpt. Tim says:

    “Maybe rape was a more socially acceptable form of smiting at the hands of the Jews back then”

    you could argue thats the case. it would be consistent with a god who seemed to have it out for women.

    of course thats why i reject it all. If i hold my incredibly flawed self in higher esteem than the hebrew god, somethings wrong with that god.

    YHWH is infinite in mercy? how about this? if i’m elected god, no eternal punishment. for anyone.
    BAM, i just beat YHWH in a mercy-off.

  21. JacobDavis says:

    @ Skep

    “the degree to which the Old Testament is rescinded by the New Testament is not, and cannot be reasonably stated to be unequivocal”

    Sure. I’m just looking at what most Christians tend to believe, at least in terms of their denominations’ claims.

    “It is not necessary that billions should suffer..”

    That is assuming such a god cares about the suffering of billions. The Jewish god made no secret of his favor: he wanted chosen people to win, and cared little for anyone else. You might raise arguments of whether he was as compassionate or merciful as he described himself, and I would say that, according to himself and his followers… yes. Probably not to anyone on the outside, though.

    Don’t these questions necessarily assume that god exists for their basis? That’s the problem I have with these conversations, which may be why my statements don’t carry well to others. We’re both speculating on the nature of a god’s will, right? If we assume it exists according to the Jewish testament, that reduces both our speculations regarding its will to meaninglessness. If I were to believe, I’d lean toward the statement of mine that you quoted. In reality, I lean toward some variation of what you last stated.

  22. johndicker says:

    AJ Jacobs is going to be our celebrity guest quizmaster in Denver.

    We look forward to a round of questions on biblical living. Sweet!

    http://www.geekswhodrink.com

  23. Cpt. Tim says:

    did he rape anyone during that year? if he did he would have to pay the father for raping his daughter, and then marry the daughter.

    every girls dream!

    That judeau christian god had some funny ideas!

  24. Skep says:

    Don’t these questions necessarily assume that god exists for their basis? That’s the problem I have with these conversations, which may be why my statements don’t carry well to others. We’re both speculating on the nature of a god’s will, right? If we assume it exists according to the Jewish testament, that reduces both our speculations regarding its will to meaninglessness. If I were to believe, I’d lean toward the statement of mine that you quoted. In reality, I lean toward some variation of what you last stated.

    I usually posit questions or conditionals based on various ideas of god rather than actually assume any one definition of god. You’ll note that I specifically posited the popular omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent idea of god for use in my last qerrry.

    While it is not possible to prove that no god could exist it is possible to show that certain ideas of a god are logically inconsistent with the way the world works. The idea that god is simultaneously all knowing, all powerful and all loving is a very broad one and is easy to knock down using proof by contradiction. It only takes a single instance of evil to demonstrate that such a god does not exist since an all knowing, all powerful and all loving god would know the evil was going to or was happening, would have the power to intervene and, as an all loving god, would intervene if the concept of “all loving” is to have any meaningful definition.

    Some will argue that god doesn’t intervene to test us, however this explanation/excuse/rationalization does nothing to explain disease and natural disasters that happen entirely at such a god’s discretion. And, of course, that wouldn’t explain why god only capriciously intervenes when begged to by adherents rather than out of the supreme goodness of his heart.

    So, it is not the idea that a supernatural being could or may exist that one can easily disprove, but logically inconsistent ideas of a god. Nor is it necessary to disprove any specific idea of a god for disbelief to be the rational default position in the absence of compelling scientific evidence for the existence of god.

  25. Jim says:

    “dwelling in huts on certain holidays”

    Speaking of which, Happy Sukkot everyone!

  26. Flying Squid says:

    Seems like a pretty extreme way to get a book deal…

  27. Skep says:

    @ AJ Jacobs

    Well, I guess I need to read the book :-)

    In the mean time I’m wondering if you kept a list of all the people you had to forgo killing in spite of biblical commands do do so…

    (Disobedient Children, Witches, Non-virginal Brides, people trying to sway you from Yahweh, Adulterers, Blasphemers, Sabbath Breakers, Slaves Stealers…)

    …You know, the usual people you would kill in the course of taking the bible literally. I suppose there is probably a whole chapter on it :-)

  28. Skep says:

    PS,
    If you are still married you must have one of the most amazingly understanding wives of all time :-)

  29. JacobDavis says:

    @johndicker

    I’ve thought about going to one of those. What’s the time/place?

  30. sean says:

    Let’s see here, the English language we all know and love (and which most of us conveniently read the bible in today) was not around back in those days. Everything we have now is based on translations, re-writes and at the mercy of how the dutiful monk doing the copying was feeling that time of the day (“Hmmm…I don’t like the phrase “young Mary”, it doesn’t have enough panache. I know, I’ll use “virgin Mary” instead! That will be popular with the people! And I can’t stand snakes, they scare the bejesus (no offense Big J) out of me. That’s what we’ll call that evil thing in the garden. Yeah…a snake!”)

    Unless someone knows Aramaic and has in their possession the original chapters of the bible, then any guess as to what is written/meant in the bible is pure bunk.

  31. Pat Race says:

    His smile just fades to a grimace and then gets eaten by his mustache.

  32. Kate01 says:

    About the Ten Commandments..
    Few christians know the Ten Commandments. Just in the course of your normal work day, try asking randomly to co-workers to recite them and see for yourself. What is all the fuss about having them posted if they mean so little to the Christian world they themselves don’t bother to learn them? Besides that, the ones we post are not the real Ten Commandments and they were never used as the foundation of our laws.
    Thomas Jefferson, the author of The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies would hardly agree that the laws of our land and our government are based on the Ten Commandments. Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the very idea that Christianity had anything to do with it. He stated that the common law of England was the foundation of the laws of the colonies and were not influenced by Christianity, much less the Ten Commandments. His argument? The common law existed in England for 200 years before Christianity arrived there. His conclusion? “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
    Jefferson put the blame on misinformed judges for promoting the idea that there was a link between Christianity and the law. He wrote, “the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet Pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced, or knew that such a character had ever existed.”
    There are three versions of the commandments in the bible, but only one version does god call the TEN COMMANDMENTS! These are the ones that should be hung out for the world to see. At least we could get a little humor from it. These clearly show by this time the leaders and priests had figured a new way to take advantage of the people by commanding them to bring firstfruits etc. to the god.
    Similar laws to our ten commandments are to be found in the ancient Egyption Book of the Dead and also in the Code of Hammurabi. Both of these precede the time of Moses by hundreds of years. Most likely even the first cave people objected to being killed and figured it out all by themselves.
    Exodus 34: 1-27
    1 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
    2 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
    3 “Do not make cast idols.
    4 “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
    5 “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. 20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons.
    “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
    6 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
    7 “Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. 23 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel. 24 I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.
    8 “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning.
    9 “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.
    10 “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milkThen the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.
    This is the first time that the phrase “Ten Commandments” is used in the Bible/Torah. As to why these ten commandments are different than the first set of commandments, there is no explanation that complies with a literal interpretation of the texts. The scholarly explanation is that the text is a compilation of works from different authors written at different times. It is easy to see why we ended up with one of the other two versions, even though they are not as presented in the bible. I don’t think many people would be making a fuss over having these absurd laws posted all over the nation. THESE ARE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND THE BIBLE SAYS SO!
    Also, it says when God gave the tablets to Moses it contained all the laws of God, not just a few commandments. It says they were written front and back. Just how large would those tablets had to have been and how did one man carry them in his hands? The whole story is just plain silly.

  33. Kate01 says:

    The OT god was nothing more than a ‘tribal’ god concocted by evil men to control a very ignorant and superstitious group of savages in order to gain land, possessions and women. The leaders and their so-called priests never had to work or do battle. Yahweh always had the leaders command the simple underlings to do all the dirty work. There was a virtual pantheon of tribal gods in the OT. Every nation had one. Read the following verses from the OT and see if that sounds like a god you want to know. I wouldn’t want him in my neighborhood!
    (
    Numbers 31:7-18 NLT)

    They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

    Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. “Why have you let all the women live?” he demanded. “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.

    Clearly Moses and God approves of rape of virgins. The KJV clearly reads they are to keep the women children for themselves and it would take a fool not to understand what that means. Women children could be as young as 2 or 3!!! It gives no restriction of age! Try to visualize what these towns looked like after these gruesome barbaric attacks. Read on, it only gets worse.

    (Deuteronomy 21:10-14 NAB)

    “When you go out to war against your enemies and the LORD, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as wife, you may take her home to your house. But before she may live there, she must shave her head and pare her nails and lay aside her captive’s garb. After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, you may have relations with her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife. However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; but you shall not sell her or enslave her, since she was married to you under compulsion.”

    I can’t begin to imagine how it would feel to watch all those you love being butchered before your eyes and then being taken as a sex slave by the thugs who did it! This is nothing more than forcible RAPE of the most disgusting kind. What this clearly is saying if one of the ‘chosen’ sees an attractive female he lusts after, he may take her and rape her repeatedly until he grows tired of her. This is NO marriage!

    Judges 5:30 NAB)

    They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera’s spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil.

    Do you find it strange that they kill everyone except those they want to rape? God commands these killing claiming the people are evil. What could be more evil than rape? Why would a god want his precious holy people having sex with ‘evil’ women? Just like a flock of buzzards, they are picking over the spoils. That is the bottom line anyway. This entire group was too lazy to work, so they took by violence from those who did work and build. They were nothing but a band of robbers, liars and butchers. They were a more brutal version of the Benny Hinns and John Hagees of this day who use the name of the same god to mass fortunes and deceive millions.

    We are at war in Iraq. How would we feel if our armies were doing such things? There are laws against this and any who commit such crimes would be tried in a court of law for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

    This book was written by evil men and used the name of a god they created as an excuse to do as they wished. Women are not treated as well as cattle. They can be taken by force or sold and it is up to them to PLEASE the monster who is raping them.

    Lo, a day shall come for the Lord when the spoils shall be divided in your midst. And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: the city shall be taken, houses plundered, women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be removed from the city. (Zechariah 14:1-2 NAB)

    Stealing, killing and raping of women!!!!

    Deuteronomy 20:10-14)

    As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you.

    What kind of God approves of murder, rape, and slavery? THINK ABOUT IT!

    (Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT)
    If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

    What kind of lunatic would make a rape victim marry her attacker?

    (Deuteronomy 22:23-24 NAB)

    If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife.

    The victim is being blamed. Perhaps the thug was holding a knife to her throat, holding his hand over her mouth or threatening to kill her or her loved ones is she screams.
    It is clear that God doesn’t give a damn about the rape victim. He is only concerned about the violation of another mans “property”.

    There is no way to clean this up and make it anything other than what it is. It is pure filth. These are tales of kidnapping, rape, theft, murder and enslavement ordered by a god, we are told. These are crimes against human beings and innocent animals. This is NOT the Creator of this world. This god is the invention of the sick minds of very evil greedy barbaric men. All through history man has done violence to his fellowman and justified in the name of his gods. It still goes on today as it did back then. Why can’t people see this for what it is?!

    I HAD ONE IDIOT TELL ME IT WAS GODS MERCY THAT THE WOMEN AND LITTLE GIRLS WERE ONLY RAPED AND NOT KILLED. WELL, I WOULD RATHER BE DEAD. SHE ALSO SAID IT WAS DONE WITH THE INTENTION OF BRINGING THEM INTO THEIR HOMES TO TEACH THEM ABOUT YAHWEH!!!! I WANTED TO SLAP HER SILLY. I AM SURE THOSE WOMEN AND LITTLE GIRLS HAD SEEN ENOUGH OF THEM AND THEIR GOD.

    History is indeed written by the winners!!!!!!

  34. Skep says:

    Well, he obviously didn’t follow the rule about not making graven images when he took multiple photos of himself during the year for the book!

  35. Skep says:

    Unless someone knows Aramaic and has in their possession the original chapters of the bible, then any guess as to what is written/meant in the bible is pure bunk.

    The old and new testaments were written in different languages, to boot.

    Me? I’m waiting for someone to find an autographed 1st Edition. Then we can talk…

  36. EnglishNerd says:

    We don’t have an author-signed first edition of a play written by Shakespeare and we aren’t bothered too much by that. And lots of texts are translated. I would argue that all texts are a translation when they are read because unless you’re the author in that moment how do you know what was meant? And from what I understand about Rabbinic law, much of what was written later in the law was put there to keep people far enough away from breaking the real law that they wouldn’t be condemned, rather like a fence around a swimming pool.

    I think the big problem with any text is when people become unwilling to look at anything but their own understanding. I’m sad when people use the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and all the others (I don’t want to take the space to list them all) out of context for their own point. Texts are very malleable and fun to play with, but when we start to build museums around our interpretations it gets painful.

  37. june says:

    leaving side hair uncut

    I always knew God was anti-mullet.

  38. DragonPhyre says:

    Mullets for Jesus!

  39. Dan Diemer says:

    From a christian point of view, the old testament levitical laws (the ones about eating pork and facial hygiene) were made null and void* upon Jesus’ arrival. Looks like an interesting read nonetheless.

    *Matthew 5:17

  40. Skep says:

    We don’t have an author-signed first edition of a play written by Shakespeare and we aren’t bothered too much by that.

    Several thousand orders of magnitude different, that. The works of Shakespeare aren’t moral authorites who’s value is dependent upon the veracity of Shakespeare’s existence and authorship and upon the verbal exactitude’s of subsequent copies. Shakespeare isn’t used as an authority on killing people for working on the Sabbath, Blasphemy, being gay…. Or how to live, what to eat, who to hate…

    The authorship and authenticity of works of acknowledged fiction are not comparable to considerations which surround religious texts that are used as inerrant moral authority with the power of life and death.

    …And the authorship of Shakespeare’s work is in active dispute and has been for centuries, even though there is actual evidence that a man named Shakespeare actually set foot on this planet. God, on the other hand…

    While we may agree on many points, I have to say say you chose a really stupid example for undisputed authorship–or perhaps you chose Shakespeare on purpose and forgot to include the explanation?

    PS, OT:
    Why can’t BoingBoing include a GUI for basic formatting like “Blockquote,” Italic and Bold? If a bare bones site like The Volokh Conspiracy can provide this convenience surely BoingBoing could. I tire of having to write out “Blockquote” every time I want to quote someone in a proper manner…

  41. Skep says:

    #20 posted by JacobDavis , September 26, 2007 2:54 PM:
    Oh, wow, I missed this somehow in the article:

    “..he said, “I’m an adulterer, are you going to stone me?” I said, “Yeah that would be great.” The Bible doesn’t say what size the stones have to be, so I had been carrying around these pebbles in my pocket for just such an occasion.”

    No, but the bible does say you have to kill them:

    Leviticus 20:10
    And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

    Err…and that they shouldn’t be punished at all:

    John 8:3-8
    And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

    In which case, I think, the True Believer’s head should necessarily sputter and smoke with contradiction like any of the number of computers Captain Kirk successfully caused to self-immolate by pointing out their self-contradictory logic and actions.

  42. Cpt. Tim says:

    “I’m sad when people use the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and all the others (I don’t want to take the space to list them all) out of context for their own point.”

    I love this argument. all those that argue against the folly of religion just use the worst bits to tear it apart. you know that verse out and out condoning rape? well… thats just your interpretation.

    you know whats worse than atheists using these verses to expose religion as a harmful myth?

    the believers that use their text to fight stem cell research, or the HPV vaccine, or to shame sexuality and make stupid laws forbidding sex toys. Whats worse is saying that you’re taking it out of context and that old testament law about not cutting your beard isn’t valid anymore, and turning around and using a law right next to it about how a man shouldn’t lie with another man as a STILL valid verse about why gays shouldn’t be able to get married. Its nice when you talk about context when you can pick and choose what you want to use. I see a relic, a myth every bit as relevant as the greek pantheon.

  43. andelman says:

    If you’d like to hear A.J. Jacobs talk about his new book, “The Year of Living Biblically,” check out this audio interview link.

  44. Skep says:

    Whats worse is saying that you’re taking it out of context and that old testament law about not cutting your beard isn’t valid anymore, and turning around and using a law right next to it about how a man shouldn’t lie with another man as a STILL valid verse about why gays shouldn’t be able to get married.

    This is one of the great ironies of people who try and claim that we need the Ten Commandments posted in government and schools, and that only with the inerrant, steadfast and unchanging morality of the Bible can we avoid the evil of moral relativism. Yet many of those same people have more excuses than a pregnant nun for why the condonation of slavery in the Old Testament can be excused because the bible was written for the relevant circumstances of the people of the time…*cough*sputter*sputter*

  45. JacobDavis says:

    @Skep

    Yeah. I’m glad he didn’t go by that particular law. :)

    However, I believe you are incorrect in your perception of the contradiction you propose. A major theme of the New Testament is “mercy” rather than “punishment.”… at least, at mankind’s hands. Sure the NT is full of wrath and hellfire and such, but that’s reserved for divinity.

    As I suggested elsewhere in this topic, most Christians accept Jesus as being the reason that they are no longer bound by the absurd laws of the Old Testament.

  46. gbv23 says:

    I’m glad that one of the results was a sense of reverence. The reverence concept is explored by Gary Zukav in his book The Seat of The Soul.

    I am also glad that this does not appear to be just another tome along the lines of “religion is for dumbasses” as I have little time for that type of polemic.

  47. Skep says:

    From a christian point of view, the old testament levitical laws (the ones about eating pork and facial hygiene) were made null and void* upon Jesus’ arrival. Looks like an interesting read nonetheless.

    Although the dietary restrictions were fairly clearly rescinded in the New Testament, the degree that christians believe the old testament is operational varies radically, from pretty much 100% to 0%

    The passage you cite; Matthew 5:17 “5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”

    That is one of the passages which is used to say that the Old Testament is still 100% operational, rather than rescinded.

    But, as to food, the Bible is quite inconsistent, first saying that all things may be eaten, then retracting that, then retracting that…

  48. june says:

    “I did everything the Bible says! Even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!!”

    -Ned Flanders

  49. Mechphisto says:

    Uh oh, this isn’t going to end well.
    Dan, if that’s so, then was God/God-inspired-writer lying or mistaken when he/it/they wrote:

    Psalm 119:160 “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.”

    Or what did Jesus mean then when he said: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others {to do} the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches {them,} he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
    Matthew 5:18-19

    and

    “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.”
    Luke 16:17

    I mean, I’m only a regular person, not some expert in theology, but those sound like pretty stern comments about the validity of Moses’ Law.

  50. Flying Squid says:

    Also, if Jesus made Old Testament law null and void, why do so many Christians revere the 10 Commandments?

    I swear, I do not get religious people…

  51. JacobDavis says:

    @ Cap’n Tim

    Would it be any better if there was condemnation homosexuality in the New Testament? I think not, but it might address the “verse picking” you mention.

    Here: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/gay/long.htm

    That said, it’s saddening when you examine the verses many Christians use to condemn homosexuals. The most vocals ones usually quote the older stuff that advocates killing gays, rather than the newer stuff that suggests punishment is best reserved their for god. Whether most actually advocate violence is debatable; I suspect they tend to use old testament because it’s just more inflamatory.

  52. Deus Ex Machinima says:

    @JacobDavis

    Well, that’s kind of silly, though, isn’t it? Either they’re God’s laws, and therefore iron-clad and permanent, or they aren’t. Was God wrong the first time? Did He change His mind around the time he knocked up Mary?

    Wow. I guess He really needed to get laid. He’s been a much gentler God since.

  53. Mechphisto says:

    Good point Flying Squid. Also, that one verse condemning (male) homosexuality in the OT sure gets bandied about pretty often by people who then say the OT is null and void when it has to do with something that inconveniences their lifestyle.

  54. Grant Gould says:

    Most (but by no means all) modern Christian churches affirm the “moral” laws of the Old Testament (eg the Ten Commandments) but reject the “purity” laws (eg the dietary laws).

    This is a slightly tricky distinction (in particular, it is a distinction that the source text utterly fails to make — moral laws and purity laws were one and the same for most ancient cultures) and leave a lot of the laws in a fairly ambiguous state.

  55. Skep says:

    As I suggested elsewhere in this topic, most Christians accept Jesus as being the reason that they are no longer bound by the absurd laws of the Old Testament.

    Yes, I understand. Unfortunately it isn’t that simple.

    As I noted earlier, the degree to which Christians feel bound to the Old Testament varies radically. From nearly 100% to 0%. A prime example of this is the zeal with which some Christians attempt to inject the Ten Commandments into government and schools. The Decalogue is strictly Old Testament and has no New Testament analog, yet many Christians consider the Decalogue to be the basic moral exhortations which are the crux of Christianity–along with their other favorite parts of the Old Testaments.

    It is also a myth to characterize the beliefs of Christians as being coherent. Anyone can call themselves Christian. About the only tenet that can be said to be fundamentally Christian is the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah–which technically would make even Satan a Christian. Some Christians will argue, no you must accept him as your personal this and that, but no, I don’t That is just their Christianity. Everything else besides the Messianic nature of Jesus is subject to dispute among at least some Christians.

  56. JacobDavis says:

    @Deus Ex Machinima

    Sure, if you’re examining the subject from a mocking or dismissive perspective.

    On the other hand, if you believe in Jehova, maybe the laws of the Old Testament served their purpose for the Jews until they outgrew it. A lot of Christians don’t bother with the subject, but many theologians would suggest that their god foresaw that the old law could not be applied to society at large. Hence, the divine hack that was Jesus.

  57. Skep says:

    JacobDavis , September 26, 2007 7:36 PM:
    @ Cap’n Tim

    Would it be any better if there was condemnation homosexuality in the New Testament? I think not, but it might address the “verse picking” you mention.

    Here: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/gay/long.htm

    That said, it’s saddening when you examine the verses many Christians use to condemn homosexuals.

    I think what you will find when you look at Romans, in the New Testament:

    Romans 1
    1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
    1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
    1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    ..is that it is actually God who deliberately turns them gay as punishment for their failure to honor him. To then punish them for homosexuality is sort of the deific equivalent of a bully saying “Stop Hitting Yourself! Stop Hitting Yourself” as he punches his victim over and over again.

  58. JacobDavis says:

    @ Skep

    “As I noted earlier, the degree to which Christians feel bound to the Old Testament varies radically… A prime example of this is the zeal with which some Christians attempt to inject the Ten Commandments into government and schools.”

    Agreed. It’s not simple at all. Zeal frequently overtakes those who listen too much to their leaders, and you get dumb crap like this. However, most of the commandments are still valid under the New Testament. They just weren’t laid out so explicitly.

    “It is also a myth to characterize the beliefs of Christians as being coherent.”

    Let me clarify, then. :) Most Christians identify with a particular denomination. They are usually not fully educated in the particulars of that denomination. In my experience, when pressed on a subject, they will either default to their own personal view, or to their denomination’s view (especially if they do not fully understand the reasoning behind that view). Nearly all denominations, Protestant or Catholic, agree with my statement about hacker Jesus. That’s what I mean when I say most Christians agree; they look to their denomination’s previous decisions on such matters.

  59. Flying Squid says:

    Yes, but the point is they don’t have a non-cop out answer.

  60. iain010100 says:

    The don’t “trim the corners of your beard (Leviticus 19:27)” was a commandment not to follow the cult practices of the surrounding non-Jewish tribes. That passage had context and meaning for that time and place. It doesn’t mean do it now.

  61. JacobDavis says:

    @Skep

    “…is that it is actually God who deliberately turns them gay as punishment for their failure to honor him.”

    Exactly. That’s the good stuff, not that silly “OT says this, but NT says this!”

    The Bible is full of examples just like this, where Jehova explicitly causes people to sin and defy him against their will over and over and over.

  62. Mechphisto says:

    The don’t “trim the corners of your beard (Leviticus 19:27)” was a commandment not to follow the cult practices of the surrounding non-Jewish tribes. That passage had context and meaning for that time and place. It doesn’t mean do it now.

    Isn’t that the whole problem with religions (Judao-Christianity specifically)?
    It doesn’t say anywhere “These rules here are only to be followed until The Industrial Revolution, and these here to only be followed until polyester is invented….
    Either the Bible is literal and meant to be followed word-for-word, or else LARGE amounts of extensive interpretation and assumption has to be used. And who makes those interpretations and assumptions and caveats? And who has the right to say theirs is good for everyone, when those interp’s and caveats aren’t in the book itself?

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