WARNING! The following is an unflattering look at the contents of the
Bible. If you do not enjoy reading such things, then you shouldn't
complain that I didn't warn you.
Back by popular demand, here they are:
I think that it would be helpful to consider how the Bible
bangers would react to much of the contents of the Bible, if they
judged the Bible by the same standard that they judge other books. I
know that this posting may look like like an anti-Bible hatchet job,
but when those who blindly worship the Bible indulge in similar
hatchet jobs on whatever they do not like, then it is only fair to
present them with what may be taken as an anti-Bible hatchet job.
Some of the indictments I make here are for things I myself do not
consider wicked; but those I criticize would certainly consider them
wicked, and that is what counts.
I call what is to come my "Biblical Satanic Verses" because
they might seem wicked to many people.
********** Individual, Sexual, and Family Conduct **********
Nudity -- (Genesis 2) In that garden in Eden, a.k.a. the Garden of
Eden, Adam and Eve were naked. (1 Samuel 19:24) King Saul strips
naked and "prophesies" before Samuel. To someone who does not like the
thought of nudity, these may be taken as glorifications of nudity --
that being nude is being like that primordial couple and that
stripping naked will help one receive messages from God himself.
"Indecent exposure" -- (Genesis 9) When Noah drank some wine, he got
drunk and let his "nakedness" (King James translation) show. Ham got a
sight of that and told his two brothers. They cover him up, carefully
looking the other way. An angry Noah curses Ham and his innocent son
Canaan. (Exodus 20:26) One should not climb upon an altar, because one
would then expose oneself to it. Though concern with this question is
much like concern with what a Scotsman wears under his kilt, it will
be relevant later on when considering whether or not women may wear
Dirty dancing(?) -- (2 Samuel 11) David watches Bathsheba bathe and
falls in love with her.
Possible bad example -- David wanting Bathsheba and getting her
husband Uriah killed; in all fairness, the prophet Nathan made him
repent of this tacky action.
Incest -- The children of Adam and Eve, the first two people
(according to the second creation story), had to practice incest in
order to produce children of their own. (Genesis 19:32) Lot's
daughters want to produce some heirs, so they make him drunk each
night and have sex with him. They become the ancestors of the
Ammonites and the Moabites, two groups of people considered very
Sexual exploitation(?) -- (Genesis 19) Lot wants to protect two angels
from some of the wicked men of Sodom, telling them that they can have
his two virgin daughters but not the angels. The angels, however,
don't need that kind of help -- they strike the men blind. Why didn't
they tell him in advance, so he does not have to consider letting his
daughters be gang-raped? And why does he not break down in tears
thereafter when he considers what he had thought of?
Sexual suggestiveness (Bible porn?) -- the whole Song of Solomon. [it
has actually been banned as pornographic when printed separately from
the Bible (Vern and Bonnie Bullough: _Sin, Sickness, and Sanity: A
History of Sexual Attitudes_)]
Just Say No To All Sex (a logical consequence of Bible-banger
opposition to sexuality) -- (1 Corinthians 7:1, 7:8) Paul became
celibate, and recommended that course of action for even those who are
married. On marriage, Paul recommended that as a safety valve for
those who could not manage celibacy -- he was obsessed with the
supposed wickedness of "fornication" (Greek _porneia_; properly
"prostitution"). Jesus Christ recommends removing parts of one's body
that lead one astray (Matthew 5:29-30); and even states that (Matthew
19:12), along with natural-born eunuchs and those made that way by
other people, that "there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs
for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven". Thus, we have a "Final
Solution of the Sexuality Question" -- that one should castrate
oneself. He evidently revoked the Old Testament on this subject, which
states (Deuteronomy 13:1) that a man who has been castrated or has had
his penis cut off cannot be a proper member of the community.
Absence of Reference to Masturbation (mentioned because Bible bangers
tend to despise this act, even though even many of them perform it) --
Nowhere does the Bible mention masturbation; Onan, that famous alleged
masturbator, had not masturbated at all, but had pulled it out. This
is significant because there is no shortage of denunciations of sexual
mischief in the Bible, with the death penalty being prescribed in many
Anti-family -- It is most likely that Jesus Christ never married. He
was a wandering religious prophet, living off the charity of his
friends and followers. There is no mention of his wife, if he had been
married; the poor woman (if there ever was such a one) seems ignored.
He proclaimed (Matthew 10:35-37) that he was going to come and set son
against father, daughter against mother, and daughter-in-law against
mother-in law, and that whoever loves father or mother than him is not
worthy of him. He also proclaimed (Luke 14:26) that if you do not hate
your parents, your brothers and sisters, your wife or husband, or your
children, you cannot follow him. His mother? When he was 12 years old,
he told her (Luke 2:49) "Don't you know I must be about my Father's
business". At Cana, he told her off (John 2:4) "Woman, what have I to
do with you?" Elsewhere (Matthew 12:46-50) he ignores his family --
his "real" family is his circle of followers.
Anti-divorce (some Bible bangers actually pride themselves on this
one) -- Jesus Christ laid down the law that a man cannot divorce a
woman unless she has been unfaithful (Matthew 5:31-32, 19:9); if they
remarry, they effectively commit adultery. In the latter reference,
after one of his followers suggests that it may be better not to
marry, Jesus Christ makes his remarks about eunuchs. The
unfaithfulness exception is absent elsewhere (Mark 10:11-12, Luke
16:18). He had revoked an Old Testament law (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)
allowing men to divorce their wives if they so see fit.
Child Abuse(?) -- (Proverbs 13:24) -- spare the rod and spoil the child.
Polygamy -- David had several concubines, (1 Kings 11:3) King Solomon
had 700 wives and 300 concubines, (2 Chronicles 11:21) King Rehoboam
had 18 wives and 60 concubines, and (2 Chronicles 13:21) King Abijah
had 14 wives.
Surrogate motherhood -- (Genesis 16:1-4) Since Abraham's wife Sarah
was barren, she gave Abraham her maid Hagar, to have children for her.
She produces a son, Ishmael. There is even surrogate fatherhood (the
Levirate). (Genesis 38) Onan refuses to have sex with his brother's
widow, and God strikes him with lightning.
Obsession with prostitution -- Prostitutes are mentioned so many times
in the Bible that its authors seem to reveal a fixation on that
activity, a fixation that is evident even in those who denounce it.
Sexism (it is hard to get a Bible banger on this one, but some of them
vehemently deny being sexist) -- In Genesis 2, Adam and Eve get kicked
out of the Garden of Eden just because Eve was conned into eating that
fruit by a certain mischievous snake. In one of the "Ten Commandments"
(Exodus 20:17, Deuteronomy 5:21), one is not supposed to desire one's
neighbor's land, house, wife, slaves, cattle, donkeys, or anything
else of his. Notice how women are lumped in with the rest of a man's
property. Jesus Christ was rather rude to his mother at Cana. Paul
states that (1 Corinthians 11) women are to be subject to men in the
same way that men are subject to God; that women exist for the sake of
men, and not men for the sake of women; that men are the image and
glory of God, while women are the image and glory of men; and that
women should keep their heads covered to indicate that they are under
their husbands' authority. Women should wear their hair long in order
to cover their heads, while men are to keep their hair short; this is
because men are the image and glory of God, while women are the image
and glory of men. Also, (1 Corinthians 14:34,35) women are to be
silent in church, and should let their husbands instruct them. (1
Timothy 2:11,12) Women are supposed to learn and not teach. (1 Peter
3:1-7) Women should submit to their husbands and should look plain;
they should call their husbands their masters, as Sarah had called
Ethical relativism -- in the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:2-8), we find
that there is a time to do one thing and a time to do just the
Anti-materialism -- Jesus Christ's assertions that material wealth is
fundamentally worthless, that (Matthew 6;24) "One cannot serve both
God and money", that the love of money is the root of all evil, the
one ought to "sell everything one has and give the money to the poor",
and (Matthew 19:24) "a camel [or rope] is more likely to pass through
the eye of a needle than a rich man is to enter the Kingdom of God."
Those who value the accumulation of wealth will not appereciate such
Opposition to moral condemnation -- Jesus Christ said that one should
not pass judgment on others (Matthew 7:1-5, Luke 6:37-38,41-42), and
that one should not call people insulting names (Matthew 5:22).
Opposition of displays of piety -- Jesus Christ said that you should
not try to impress other people with how pious you are by praying in
public (Matthew 5:5-8) and looking sad while fasting (Matthew
5:16-18). This would mean an end to all officially sanctioned prayers,
such as in school.
Petulance -- (2 Kings 2:23,24) Elisha cursing the children who taunted
him about his baldness [we are told that two bears came and killed 42
of them] and (Mark 11:13-20, Matthew 21:19-20) Jesus Christ cursing a
certain fig tree because it wasn't in season for figs (we are told
that it died the next day [Mark], or that it died immediately
[Matthew]). (Matthew 20:12-13, Mark 11:15-17) Jesus Christ drives the
moneychangers out of the Temple, declaring that they have turned into
"a den of thieves." (Exodus 2:11-16) Moses murders an Egyptian
overseer who had murdered an Israelite slave. Not being able to cover
up the body or the deed, he fled from Egypt. Note that one of the "Ten
Commandments" states: "Do not commit murder" [modern translation].
(Exodus 32:19) As Moses was coming down with the tablets with the Law
written on them, he noticed that his people were worshipping a golden
calf (really a young bull, a common symbol of strength and fertility).
He got so furious that he broke those tablets. Curiously, neither
Moses nor God felt too bad about this possibly sacrilegious act -- God
made new tablets to replace the old ones. Noah's cursing of Ham
qualifies in this department also.
Glorification of alcohol consumption -- At the Cana wedding feast,
(John 2:1-10) Jesus Christ miraculously turns water into wine. He
would certainly be willing to drink it; he is a "wine-drinker" /
"drunkard" (depending on what translation you read) (Matthew 11:19).
No haircuts or shaving -- One must not cut one's hair on the sides of
one's head or trim one's beard (Leviticus 19:27).
Food prohibitions -- (Leviticus 11) Pork and shellfish are prohibited.
This chapter also states that rabbits are not OK even though they are
ruminants (they have the wrong kind of feet), and that of four-legged
animals, grasshoppers are OK. [Actually, rabbits do not ruminate and
grasshoppers have six legs] A very curious prohibition is (Exodus
23:19) that one should not cook a young sheep or goat in its mother's
milk. However, these prohibitions are revoked in the New Testament.
Unmotivated proscriptions of mixing -- (Leviticus 19:19) Don't
crossbreed livestock, plant two kinds of crop plant in the same field,
or wear clothes made from two different kinds of fabric. (Deuteronomy
22:9) One must not plant crops amidst vineyards, (Deuteronomy 22:10)
yoke an ox and a donkey together for plowing a field, or (Deuteronomy
22:10) wear clothes with both wool and linen fibers.
Cross-dressing forbidden (some Bible bangers actually pride themselves
on this one, however) -- (Deuteronomy 22:5) Men and women may not
dress in the others' clothes; however, exactly what garments are
appropriate for what sex are not specified. Judging from Exodus 20:26,
one must conclude that pants are an atypical costume -- it is evident
that the people typically wore costumes that allowed a clear view of
the genitals from the surface below. In Exodus 28:42-43, we find that
the High Priest is to wear linen shorts inside the Holy of Holies, in
order not to expose himself to any of the structure. This
specification suggests something atypical, and is consistent with the
hypothesis of the atypicality of pants. Thus, the Bible states nothing
about whether or not it is appropriate for women to wear pants --
because pants are hardly ever mentioned. Additional support can be
found in Deuteronomy 25:11-12, which describes an act that is easier
without underwear -- a woman grabbing a man's genitals. All one has to
do is reach underneath...
********** Social and Political Questions **********
Pacifism -- Isaiah's prophecy that the lion will someday lie down with
the lamb, and Jesus Christ's teaching that one must love one's enemies
and turn the other cheek.
Anti-business -- Jesus Christ driving the moneychangers from the
Temple at Jerusalem. His anti-materialism may also qualify.
Communism -- (Acts 4:32-35) The early Christians had all things in
common, with the property administered by the apostles.
Extreme punishments -- (Leviticus 20:10) Adultery is to be punished by
death [a penalty still used in Iran], as are homosexual acts (which
are "disgusting" or an "abomination") (Leviticus 20:13) and sex acts
with an animal (either sex; both human and animal must die) (Leviticus
20:15-16). Also, (Deuteronomy 25:11-12) if two men are fighting and
the wife of one grabs the genitals of the other, her hand it to be cut
off without pity. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) A rebellious and disobedient
son is to be stoned to death. Note also that stoning to death is a
commonly prescribed punishment in the Bible. Interestingly, Paul goes
even further than the Old Testament; he seemingly implies that death
is a punishment for sin in general.
Violence (this and the next bit actually contradict the "pacifism"
part -- but don't expect consistency from these characters) -- the
Bible has almost too many examples to mention. The crucifixion of
Jesus Christ is especially gory.
Genocide -- After concluding that most of humanity is wicked beyond
redemption (isn't he capable of reforming anyone?) God decides to
slaughter all but 8 of humanity in Noah's Flood. Also, (Deuteronomy
7:12), we learn that the Promised Land is for the Israelites, and not
for the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the
Perizzites, the Hivites, or the Jebusites; these peoples are to be
exterminated without mercy. The Israelites proceed to do just that
(according to their own account); they kill (Numbers 21:25,
Deuteronomy 2:34) the Amorites of Heshbon, (Numbers 21:34,35) the
followers of Og, (Joshua 6) practically all the people of Jericho,
(Joshua 10:28-40) all the people of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Gezer,
Eglon, Hebron, and the surrounding landscape, (Judges 1:18-19) the
people of Gaza, Askelon, and Ekron, (Judges 3:29) 10,000 Moabites,
(Judges 1:4) 10,000 Perizzites and Canaanites, (Judges 4:16) "all the
hosts of Sisera", (Judges 8:10) 120,000 Midianites, (1 Samuel
14:12,13,20) the Philistines, (1 Samuel 11:11) the Ammonites, (1
Samuel 15:3,7) the Amalekites, etc. etc. etc. About this last, we are
told that Samuel found fault with King Saul because he did not try to
kill all the sheep and cattle; killing all the people evidently was
not enough. There is an interesting exception, we find (Numbers
25:16,17, 31:7,8) that the Israelites were supposed to kill all the
men and married women of the Midianites; the unmarried women who have
not gone to bed with any man the Israelites can keep for themselves.
Such is the "Final Solution of the Canaanite Question". The only
justification other than "the land is for us, not for them" that is
ever presented is given in Leviticus (which describes none of these
great victories), where we are told that they practiced homosexual
acts and other wicked things -- right after where it states that male
homosexual acts should be punished by death to all participants. Not
only Canaanites were to suffer, consider (Psalm 137) a lamentation of
being exiled to Babylon, where we learn that "Babylon will be
destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back, who takes your babies
and smashes them against a rock." That this activity is contrary to a
certain one of the "Ten Commandments" nobody seems to notice.
Acceptance of slavery -- All of the Bible takes slavery for granted,
and states that slaves should simply obey their masters. (Ephesians
6:5) Slaves are supposed to obey their masters almost as if they were
Jesus Christ himself. The only concession in the opposite direction is
that masters should be good to their slaves. Elsewhere, (1 Peter
2:13-18) we find that one should simply obey one's superiors, and
Rejection of democracy -- Nowhere in the Bible is an elected
leadership featured. The only theory of government featured is the
Divine Right of Kings. The Old Testament refers to the Israelite kings
as "sons of God" (presumably just adopted) and (Romans 13:1-7) Paul
states that all governments are set up by God himself and that
virtuous people need not fear getting into trouble. No comment on
governments that officially worship "false" gods, such as that of the
Roman Empire. It is somewhat surprising that the Bible bangers have
not denounced the American Constitution as an act of rebellion against
God, since it traces ultimate authority to "we the people" instead of
God. Though the Declaration of Independence does mention a God (though
not necessarily the one in the Bible), it seems to treat government as
a purely human invention, with no direct connection to any deity
whatsoever. Significantly, it does not quote the Bible, perhaps
because no Bible quotes can be found to justify its position.
********** Textual Questions **********
Greek (pagan) influences -- (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35) The Virgin Birth
story was almost certainly inspired by the numerous tales of pagan
gods making mortal women pregnant. Even such historical people as
Pythagoras, Plato, and Alexander the Great were imagined to have
divine paternity -- Apollo for the first two and Zeus for the third.
And since Mary was already betrothed to Joseph, if not actually
married to him at the time, a miraculous conception must qualify as
spiritual fornication / adultery.
Babylonian influences -- The story of Noah's Flood appears to have
been inspired by some remarkably similar Babylonian flood legends; the
long lives of the earlier people in the Bible appear to have been
inspired by Babylonian legends of early, long-lived kings. Even the
two creation stories appear to have Mesopotamian inspirations;
creation story #1 is somewhat similar to the Babylonian creation epic
_Enuma elish_, while creation story #2 has some similarities to
Sumerian creation stories -- notably the references to an eastern
garden and to a woman being referred to as the mother of "life" or a
"rib". The two words are similar in Sumerian, making a pun -- a pun
which did not translate into Hebrew.
Egyptian influences -- the wording of the "Ten Commandments" strongly
parallels the wording of parts of the Egyptian Book of the Dead,
instructions that one is to be buried with so one may find one's way
around in the Next World. At one point, one is to announce that "I did
not kill ... I did not steal ... I have not offended god ...", etc.
Contradictions -- The Bible is riddled with repetitions and
contradictions, things that the Bible bangers would be quick to point
out in anything that they want to criticize. For instance, Genesis 1
and 2 disagree about the order in which things are created, and how
satisfied God is about the results of his labors. The flood story is
really two interwoven stories that contradict each other on how many
of each kind of animal are to be brought into the Ark -- is it one
pair each or seven pairs each of the "clean" ones? The Gospel of John
disagrees with the other three Gospels on the activities of Jesus
Christ (how long had he stayed in Jerusalem -- a couple of days or a
whole year?) and all four Gospels contradict each other on the details
of Jesus Christ's last moments and resurrection. The Gospels of
Matthew and Luke contradict each other on the genealogy of Jesus
Christ'f father; though both agree that Joseph was not his real
father. Repetitions and contradictions are understandable for a
hodgepodge collection of documents, but not for some carefully
constructed treatise, reflecting a well-thought-out plan.
The two creation stories:
In what order?
#1: Sky, earth, ocean, plants, Sun, Moon, and stars, birds and sea
animals, land animals, humanity (both sexes).
#2: Earth, a garden, first man, various animals, first woman.
#1: Step-by-step. The only discrepancy is that there is no Sun or Moon
or stars on the first three "days".
#2: God fixes things up as he goes. The first man is lonely, and is
not satisfied with animals. God finally creates a woman for him.
#1: God says "it was good" after each of his labors, and rests on the
seventh day, evidently very satisfied.
#2: God has to fix up his creation as he goes, and he would certainly
not be very satisfied with the disobedience of that primordial couple.
Unstated assumptions -- There are a number of places in the Bible that
imply various things that its writers would have taken for granted,
but which may not seem so obvious to others. The proscription of
cross-dressing is one such thing; there is no hint of what clothing is
to be for what sex. Genesis 1 offers another example; there are
"evenings", "mornings", and "days" -- all before the Sun was created
(whose apparent motions create day and night, mornings and evenings).
Genesis 2 contains no mention of the question of whether Adam had been
created with (male) genitals, or whether he was given them later.
Since God had not originally intended to create Eve, it is a serious
question how Adam was supposed to reproduce without the help of a
female partner -- if he was to reproduce at all.
Unsubstantiated history (this is working from the contents of assorted
ancient texts, which the Bible bangers seem to consider very reliable
sources of information) -- Judging from the genealogies, Noah's Flood
would have taken place about 2400 to 2200 BC. However, there are
continuous written records in both Egypt and Mesopotamia at the time
(especially in the former); the Egyptian and Mesopotamian scribes kept
writing their chronicles through that time as if nothing whatsoever
had happened. There is no Egyptian record of the events of the Exodus,
had they happened as described in the Bible. The confrontation with
the Israelites, the natural disasters, the pursuit of the Israelites,
and the drowning of the Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea are all
events that could not have escaped the notice of any Egyptian
chronicler. Joshua's telling the Sun to stop moving across the sky
(Joshua 10:12-14) would have been recorded in numerous chronicles; it
allegedly happened around 1200 BC, when there were scribes at work not
only in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but also in ancient Turkey and Crete.
In the Book of Jonah, we find that Jonah got the people of the
Assyrian capital of Nineveh to repent of their sins. This remarkable
event is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, or in the
chronicles and libraries of Nineveh or any neighboring city. The Star
of Bethlehem and the massacre of baby boys ordered by Herod (Matthew
2) are events mentioned nowhere else in the Bible, or by any outside
historians, some of whom describe Herod in great detail. There are
similar stories surrounding the births of other notable people in
antiquity, which are just as convincing. The peculiar census-taking
method (Luke 2), which required people to go back to their ancestral
villages, is also not mentioned by any other source. It is not a
typical method of census-taking (census takers usually track people
down at their current residences) and it also would have been needless
trouble for census-takers and the people being counted. One
conceivable response to criticisms of this sort is that the Bible
expresses higher truth than literal history, but those who make this
argument should make their views explicit, should not try to defend
the Bible as history, and should not complain about criticisms of it
History Unsubstantiated Archeologically -- There is little
archeological evidence for the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites
and the genocide that they, according to their own account, allegedly
practiced on the previous inhabitants. So the Israelites may never
have practiced this genocide after all.
Quotes Out of Context -- The efforts in the New Testament to
demonstrate that Jesus Christ was indeed the Messiah rely on a number
of Old Testament quotes, quotes that are typically out of context.
Matthew's quote of Isaiah 7:14-16 on the Messiah ignores the fact that
Isaiah was referring to some would-be contemporary king. Micah 5:2,
which describes the origin of the Davidic dynasty in Bethlehem, is
quoted out of context to sound like the prediction of a Messiah. In
reference to Herod's massacre of baby boys, Matthew quotes a lament in
Jeremiah as a "prophecy"; the original had referred to the exile of
Israelites by a conquering king. Hosea 11:1 was used to demonstrate
that Jesus Christ would be taken to Egypt and back, even though it was
really a complaint about worshipping other gods rather than the one
who brought them out of Egypt.
Late Writing (from internal evidence; again, especially reliable in a
Bible banger's mind, since it is from the Bible itself) -- there is
internal evidence that certain parts of the Bible were put together
long after the events they (allegedly) described happened. In the
first five books (the Pentateuch), traditionally ascribed to Moses, we
find several things being described as being true "to this day" and a
list of Edomite kings (Genesis 36), some of whom lived after Moses.
Moses himself is always described in the third person, and his death
and burial (Deuteronomy 34:5-8) are actually described. (Deuteronomy
34:10-12) "There was no prophet like him", we are told, and (Numbers
12:3) "he was the humblest man who ever lived", we are also told. Both
statements suggest the work of someone who had plenty of experience
with other people who lived after Moses, and neither statement sounds
like the self-description of a very humble person. Matthew 27:8 states
that a certain field is called "The Field of Blood" -- "to this day"
-- an indication that at least one of the Gospels was composed well
after Jesus Christ had lived. This line of evidence demonstrates that
at least these parts of the Bible are not eyewitness history.
********** Theological Issues and Related Questions **********
Evasions -- After laying down the law that divorce is forbidden, Jesus
Christ is asked if it would be better not to marry. He responds with
his famous remarks about eunuchs. That does not seem like a direct
reply to the question. When confronted with the question of whether
one ought to pay taxes using idolatrous coinage, he made the remark
(Matthew 21:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26) that one should "give
to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" -- without
specifying which belongs to whom.
Involvements with evil spirits -- Jesus Christ drove out demon after
demon after demon from people possessed with them. In one such episode
(Matthew 8:28-54, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39), he came upon someone
possessed with demons, and conversed with these demons through him.
Since they knew they were about to be driven out, Jesus Christ let
them enter some nearby pigs. These unfortunate animals proceeded to
stampede into a nearby lake and drown.
Going to mediums (a.k.a. channelers; I mention this because it smacks
of the "occult", which Bible bangers tend to hate and fear) -- (1
Samuel 28:7-19) When King Saul was out of luck, getting no answer from
dreams, Urim or Thummim, or prophets, he turned to a medium in Endor
("the witch of Endor") for help. Though she was reluctant to help
someone who had driven people like her out of Israel, she did what he
asked, and brought back the ghost of the prophet Samuel, whom Saul
proceeded to consult for advice.
Jesus Christ's Sabbath-Breaking -- (Matthew 12:1,2, Mark 2:27) Jesus
Christ said that it was OK to pluck grain on the Sabbath if one was
really hungry, commenting that "the Sabbath was made for man, and not
man for the Sabbath." Also, he worked some miraculous cures on the
Sabbath. These actions are contrary to one of the "Ten Commandments,"
as some contemporary critics of his had noticed.
Does God Revoke His Own Laws? -- Several people in the New Testament
revoke Old Testament laws, which are described as having been
presented to Moses by God himself. Paul revokes the laws requiring
circumcision and forbidding the eating of pork and other "unclean"
meats. Jesus Christ revoked several, notably the ones forbidding all
work on the Sabbath, allowing divorce, seemingly glorifying
self-castration, and (Exodus 21:22-25, Leviticus 24:19-20, Deuteronomy
19:21) prescribing "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" and the
like in certain cases. About the latter, he teaches (Matthew 5:38-44,
Luke 6:27-30) that one should love one's enemies, turn the other
cheek, etc. This is despite his claim (Matthew 5:17-18) that all of
the Old Testament Law still stands. He claimed that it could all be
summarized in the familiar Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31) "Do
for others (just) what you would want them to do for you" [a
modern-English translation; the word in ()'s is found in Luke but not
in Matthew]. However, there is much in the Old Testament Law that (1)
does not follow from this principle, like the Sabbath and the dietary
laws, and (2) contradicts this principle, like intolerance of other
religions. Elsewhere in this document, you will find many examples of
activities glorified in the Bible that are contrary to the Golden
Rule, such as Jesus Christ cursing that unfortunate fig tree for not
bearing fruit when he wanted to eat, just because it was out of
season. If he was a fruit vendor and he did not have some fruit that a
customer wanted, just because it was out of season, would that
customer have the right to murder him?
Insensitivity, intolerance, and persecution directed at other
religions (this is something that the Bible bangers bitterly bewail
when anything like it is directed at them, even though they
all-too-often direct that at others) -- Worship of gods other than
Yahweh is labeled "idolatry" -- the worship of statues (Exodus 20:4-5,
23:24,37-33, Leviticus 19:4, 26:1, Deuteronomy 4:15-19,25-28, 5:7-9,
27:15); these are described as "gods" of wood and stone, that can't
see, hear, eat, or smell (Deuteronomy 4:28). This insult to the
traditional religions of the neighbors of the Israelites, and of some
of the Israelites themselves, is repeated many times in the Bible.
These gods are often labeled "disgusting" or "abominations." (2 Kings
1:2-6) The god of the Ekronites is labeled Beelzebub -- "The Lord of
the Flies". One must destroy altars and images of the gods of
conquered peoples (Exodus 34:13, Deuteronomy 7:25-26). (Exodus 22:20)
The death penalty is prescribed for worshipping other gods. (1 Kings
18:16-20) The prophet Elijah challenges 450 prophets of the god Baal
to see who had the more powerful god. They sacrificed and they prayed,
but only Elijah's sacrifice was consumed by fire. The onlookers seized
the prophets of Baal, and Elijah killed them all. (2 Kings 18:25) King
Jehu announces a festival in honor of Baal, his worshippers show up,
but all get killed instead. (2 Kings 23:4-20) King Josiah orders the
destruction of objects connected with other deities, like Ashtoreth,
Chemosh, Milcom/Moloch, Asherah, and the Sun, Moon, and stars. He also
kicks out the priests of these gods and their temple prostitutes.
Magic, divination, and contacting the spirits of the dead are
forbidden; there is a death penalty for that also (Exodus 22:18,
Leviticus 19:26,31, 20:6,27). (Acts 19:23-41) Paul provokes the
worshippers of the Greek goddess Artemis at Ephesus (Roman name:
Diana) by implying that their religion is false. Not surprisingly, (1
Corinthians 8) he shows contempt for other religions. Even "insiders"
do not escape -- consider how Jesus Christ vilified those Scribes
(Teachers of the Law) and Pharisees. (Matthew 23) He called them
"hypocrites" and "blind guides" who "strain out a gnat while
swallowing a camel" and "snakes and sons of snakes" who will not
escape being sent to Hell.
Animal sacrifice (mentioned because some present-day people snicker at
it as "barbaric") -- The Book of Leviticus contains detailed
directions for various animal sacrifices. When King Solomon dedicated
the Temple, he ordered the sacrifice of (we are told) 22,000 cows and
120,000 sheep. When Noah made burnt offerings from the sacrifices he
had made, God relished the smell. In all fairness, animal sacrifice in
the Old Testament, like animal sacrifice among many ancient societies,
was simply a ritual surrounding the slaughter of a meat animal. Part
of it was to be shared with whatever gods were worshipped by the
sacrificer; the gods always seemed happy with the parts that their
worshippers did not like.
Human sacrifice -- (Genesis 22) Abraham is willing to sacrifice his
son Isaac to Yahweh, only to be told at the last minute that it was
only a test. (Judges 11:39) Jephthah proposed to sacrifice whatever
came out of his house when he returned if he won a battle, but was
very disappointed to discover that it was his daughter (and not, for
example a dog) that he had to sacrifice. In the letters of Paul, we
learn that the execution of Jesus Christ was really a human sacrifice;
one that will serve as substitute punishment of the sins of anyone who
chooses to believe in him (you can be as wicked as you want, but as
long as you believe in Jesus Christ...).
Anthropomorphism (I include this because this generally gives the
appearance of an impoverished imagination; the Bible bangers are quick
to notice such things in religions other than theirs) -- the God of
the Bible is persistently described in anthropomorphic terms; he (note
the male pronoun) is described as having an abundance of human
emotions and "hands" and "feet". (Isaiah 40:22) God is described as
sitting on a throne above the sky, which he had stretched out like a
tent over the Earth, which was evidently believed to be flat. In the
first creation story (Genesis 1:26-27) God is described as creating
the first people in his likeness (both sexes in the likeness of a
(presumably) male being); the resemblance must go both ways. In the
second creation story (Genesis 2), we learn that God "plants" a
garden, that he forms the first man out of dirt and brings him to life
by breathing on him, that he creates animals and plants in much the
same fashion, and even that he puts the man to sleep and forms the
first woman from a rib of his that he extracts. Continuing, we find
(Genesis 3:8) that he had been "walking" in that garden in Eden, and
(Genesis 3:21) that he made clothes from animal skins for that wayward
primordial couple. In the flood story, we find that (Genesis 7:16)
that he shuts the door of the Ark behind Noah and (Genesis 8:21) that
he sniffs the sacrifices that Noah makes after the flood ends. The
more sophisticated kind of theologians have maintained that
anthropomorphisms are essentially a mental crutch for the purpose of
picturing the otherwise difficult-to-picture, but there is no
statement of that hypothesis anywhere in the Bible.
Is God Really Omniscient? -- In Genesis 2, we learn that God has to
fix his creation as he goes, as if he could not anticipate everything
that was necessary. In Genesis 7, we learn that God was very unhappy
about the way humanity had turned out -- he had never anticipated that
people could be so wicked (though we are not given too many details on
that). So God is not really omniscient after all -- he could not
anticipate the consequences of some of his actions, at least according
to the Bible.
Gross-outs (I'm not sure where this should go, but in any case, I
recommend reading only on an empty stomach) -- (Proverbs 26:11) "A
fool doing some stupid thing a second time is like a dog going back to
its own vomit". (Acts 1:18) Judas Iscariot tripped and fell; he burst
open and his guts flowed out [in a rival version (Matthew 27:5), he
hanged himself]. During a confrontation (Isaiah 36:12), an Assyrian
official stated that the people of Jerusalem will end up having to
"eat their own dung and drink their own piss".
********** Responses to Criticisms **********
Not surprisingly, I have received several types of criticism
for the contents of my "Biblical Satanic Verses." One criticism was
that they were "ineffective and grasping." This criticism was from
someone who had not expected too much out of sacred books, having
discovered that Mohammed's main "argument" for the truth of his
beliefs, as stated in the Koran, was "Believe! ... Believe! ...
Believe!" and that those who did not accept his beliefs were little
different from farm animals. However, the indignant response that my
Biblical Satanic Verses have provoked in certain circles indicates
I have been accused of being too literal-minded. But how does
one tell what is literal and what is allegorical? Some things the
Bible states are recognizably metaphorical, others are presented in a
context where a literal meaning would usually appear, and till other
things in it are more ambiguous. In practice, it always seems to turn
out that something is "literal" if one likes it and "allegorical" if
one does not.
I have also been accused of quoting the Bible out of context.
I agree that quoting out of context is a deplorable practice, and it
is for that reason that I have been careful to notice context, and the
results have not always been what those who make this complaint have
wanted them to be. Exactly what these critics mean by the proper
"context" is unclear; but I often get the impression of some sort of
whitewash. This is a type of "context" that my work has been free
from. As with literal vs. allegorical interpretation, the general rule
seems to be that something one likes does not need a context (even it
ends up being quoted out of context), while something that one does
not like does need a context -- a whitewashing "context," of course.
My criticisms have been labeled unoriginal. I do not see that
as a fault of this work; I freely acknowledge having built on the work
of others. I see myself as presenting this work in an accessible form,
as well as adding criticism original with myself. However, it is a
legitimate criticism of the Bible, since it is presented as an
absolute truth that is not derived from any human source.
I find it depressing that there are those who have been
willing to defend the alleged genocide, the "Final Solution of the
Canaanite Question", described in the early parts of the Bible, rather
than to try to argue it away. The "justifications" given certainly do
not justify killing the innocent people among the groups massacred.
Consider that the Nazis had similar justifications for their genocidal
activities -- that Jews were the enemies of civilization, that they
were loan-sharking bankers, that lecherous Jewish boys liked to seduce
virtuous Nordic girls, that they were responsible for the "stab in the
back" that led to Germanys' defeat in the last big war, etc. etc. And
the worst thing about this defense is that, while the Nazis tried to
hide their genocidal activities and their apologists maintain that
they never practiced genocide (seriously!), these people actually
********** Final Comments **********
And I'm sure that the Bible bangers would despise Jesus Christ
if he appeared outside the Bible. For one thing, they would consider
it self-evident truth that he was homosexual, meaning, of course, that
he was not a "real man." [Sorry if I insult net.gay-people, but that
is just a stereotype] And they would say that a lot of the Bible ought
to be banned -- if they judged it by the same standards as they do
Why would Jesus Christ not be a "real man"? He apparently
never married, he did not seem too sexually interested in women, and
he advocated turning the other cheek. And I think we are all familiar
with the stereotype that if you are not a "real man", you are
I do not deny that it is possible to quarrel with many of
these interpretations; and I would not wish to imply that much of what
I point out is peculiar to the Bible. Sexism, slavery, rejection of
democracy, etc. etc. etc. etc. are hardly confined to the Bible.
And I would not want to suggest that this type of critique be
confined to the Bible. Many other books viewed as sacred by various
people can be analyzed in the same way; they too may well contain
things that their worshippers would dislike. The Koran is one good
example of such a book. Indeed, I think of myself as following in the
tradition of two sacred-book critics from ancient Greece, Xenophanes
Here is what Xenophanes had had to say (I quote from Bertrand
Russell's _A History of Western Philosophy_):
Homer and Hesiod have ascribed to the gods all things that are
a shame and disgrace among mortals, stealings and adulteries and
deceivings of one another ... Mortals deem that gods are begotten as
they are, and have clothes like theirs, and voice and form ... yes,
and if oxen and horses and lions had hands, and could paint with their
hands, and produce works of art as men do, horses would paint the
forms of gods like horses, and oxen like oxen, and make their bodies
in the image of their several kinds .,. The Ethiopians make their gods
black and snub-nosed; the Thracians say theirs have blue eyes and red
Note: Thrace is north-eastern Greece and in ancient times,
"Ethiopia" meant sub-Saharan Africa.
In his dialogue _The Republic_, Plato put forth his idea of
the ideal society (actually, it is "Socrates" who does the talking,
but I will not argue the question of how much of Plato's Socrates is
really Socrates and how much is Plato putting words into Socrates's
mouth). He went into detail about a number of social arrangements,
many of which sound totalitarian, but the interesting feature here is
his treatment of the works of Homer and Hesiod -- he advocated that
they should be banned (something I don't agree with for "wicked"
First off, these poets state that the gods can change shape,
that they sometimes tell lies, that they sometimes hand out bad fates,
and that they even fight each other; the people are to be taught that
God is no such thing, that God is not the author of all things, but
only of good things(!). Apparently, "God" is here all the gods
collapsed into one. These poets describe rich feasts -- the people are
not to hear of such things, because they are to avoid luxury. They
mention the gods laughing -- everybody is supposed to be grave and
serious. Ditto about the lusts of the gods -- the people should not be
preoccupied with sex. They talk about heroes lamenting dead companions
and about how the dead are miserable in Hades -- they are not to fear
death and are not to think that they will be unhappy in the next
world, so that they will be willing to fight bravely without fear of
what might happen in the next world.
Here are some good references on the history behind the Bible:
Isaac Asimov: Asimov's Guide to the Bible
Richard Elliott Friedman: Who Wrote the Bible?
Randel Helms: Gospel Fictions
Elaine Pagels: Adam, Eve, and the Serpent
Much of this material is from the _The Born-Again Skeptic's
Guide to the Bible_, by Ruth Hurmence Green, which is available from
the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Write to this address:
PO Box 750
Madison, WI 53711
Although Ms. Green's book is a good source for some of the
seamier contents of the Bible, she seemed to show a lack of awareness
of much modern scholarship concerning its contents. She seemed unaware
of the Documentary Hypothesis, which states that the first five books
in the Bible were edited together from four separate sources; for
example, she did not quite treat the two creation stories in Genesis
as two separate entities, as they ought to be.
But she was evidently aware of one previous collector of
Biblical Satanic Verses -- that great revolutionary activist Thomas
Paine. He had written a book, _The Age of Reason_, in which he
expounded his views on the Bible, for example, that much of the first
five books of it could not have been written by Moses, contrary to
tradition. Not surprisingly, his critique of the Bible aroused the
indignation of the clergy of his day.
Loren Petrich, the Master Blaster: email@example.com
Since this nodename is not widely known, you may have to try:
Crucifixes are sexy because there's a naked man on them -- Madonna