My Biblical Satanic Verses Well, here's my most recent edition. Most of it was in earlier
My Biblical Satanic Verses
Organization: Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Livermore CA
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Loren I. Petrich)
Well, here's my most recent edition. Most of it was in earlier
editions, but I do have some new stuff: The Ten Commandments, the
plunder of conquered towns, and an incongruity; I also have small
additions here and there.
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.
[Passing note: I prefer to use modern-English translations
like Today's English Version, because such versions are much easier
for me to read than the King James Version.]
I call what is to come my "Biblical Satanic Verses" because
they might seem wicked to many people.
********** Individual, Sexual, and Family Conduct **********
@ Nudity -- In that garden in Eden, a.k.a. the Garden of Eden, Adam
and Eve were naked (Genesis 2). King Saul strips naked and
"prophesies" before Samuel (1 Samuel 19:24). 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" -- When Noah drank some wine, he got drunk and
let his "nakedness" (King James translation) show (Genesis 9). 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. One should not climb upon an altar, because one
would then expose oneself to it (Exodus 20:26). 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 pants.
@ Dirty dancing(?) -- David watches Bathsheba bathe and falls in love
with her (2 Samuel 11).
@ 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. Lot's daughters want to
produce some heirs, so they make him drunk each night and have sex
with him (Genesis 19:32). They become the ancestors of the Ammonites
and the Moabites, two groups of people considered very wicked.
@ Sexual exploitation(?) -- Lot wants to protect two angels from some
of the lecherous men of Sodom and Gomorrah, telling them that they can
have his two virgin daughters but not the angels (Genesis 19). 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 afterwards when he considers what he had thought
of? When someone wants to get rid of some lechers who lusted after a
male guest of his, he offers his virgin daughter and sends out that
man's (female) concubine, whom the lechers proceed to gang-rape and
abuse. All the man says to her the next morning is "Get up. Let's
go". But when she does not respond, he loads her body onto a donkey,
taking it home with him that way (Judges 19:23-30).
@ 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) -- Paul became celibate, and recommended that
course of action for even those who are married (1 Corinthians 7:1,
7:8). 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, 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" (Matthew 19:12). 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 that a man who has been castrated or has had his penis cut off
cannot be a proper member of the community (Deuteronomy 13:1).
@ 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 cases.
@ 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 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
(Matthew 10:35-37). He also proclaimed that if you do not hate your
parents, your brothers and sisters, your wife or husband, or your
children, you cannot follow him (Luke 14:26). His mother? When he was
12 years old, he told her "Don't you know I must be about my Father's
business" (Luke 2:49). At Cana, he told her off "Woman, what have I to
do with you?" (John 2:4) Elsewhere, he ignores his family -- his
"real" family is his circle of followers (Matthew 12:46-50). And last
but not least, during the return from the Babylonian Exile, the
prophet Ezra breaks up a lot of marriages between Israelites and
outsiders (Ezra 9-11).
@ 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
@ Polygamy -- David had several concubines, King Solomon had 700 wives
and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3), King Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60
concubines (2 Chronicles 11:21), and King Abijah had 14 wives (2
@ Surrogate motherhood -- Since Abraham's wife Sarah was barren, she
gave Abraham her maid Hagar, to have children for her. She produces a
son, Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-4). There is even surrogate fatherhood (the
Levirate). Onan refuses to have sex with his brother's widow, and God
strikes him with lightning (Genesis 38).
@ 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. A woman's menstrual blood is ritually unclean
(Leviticus 15:19-24), just like pork. Sex is not allowed then
(Leviticus 20:18). A woman is similarly unclean for 40 days after
giving birth to a boy, but 80 days after giving birth to a girl
(Leviticus 12:1-5). A man can practically get rid of a woman by
divorcing her; nothing said about women (Deuteronomy 24:1). A woman
not a virgin when she is married is to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy
22:20-21). If a man is caught raping an unmarried woman who is not
engaged, then she must marry him (Deuteronomy 22:28-29). If she was
engaged and raped out in the countryside where nobody could hear her,
then he is to be executed with no penalty on her (Deuteronomy
22:25-27). In the New Testament, Jesus Christ was rather rude to his
mother at Cana. Paul states that women are to be subject to men in
the same way that men are subject to God (1 Corinthians 11); 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, women are to be
silent in church, and should let their husbands instruct them (1
Corinthians 14:34,35). Women are supposed to learn and not teach, just
because Adam had been created first and Eve had led the two astray (1
Timothy 2:11-14). Women should submit to their husbands and should
look plain; they should call their husbands their masters, as Sarah
had called Abraham (1 Peter 3:1-7).
@ 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
opposite, and there are several examples of that given.
@ Opposition to accumulating material wealth -- Jesus Christ's
assertions that material wealth is fundamentally worthless. He stated
that "one cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24), that the
love of money is the root of all evil, that trying to accumulate
earthly wealth is pointless (Matthew 6:19-21), that birds and
wildflowers do not have to work very hard (Matthew 6:25-30), that one
ought to "sell everything one has and give the money to the poor", and
"a camel [or thick rope -- possible miscopy] is more likely to pass
through the eye of a needle than a rich man is to enter the Kingdom of
God" (Matthew 19:24). Those who value the accumulation of wealth will
not appreciate such teachings.
@ Being anti-business -- Jesus Christ driving the moneychangers from
the Temple at Jerusalem qualifies (they were supposedly nothing but
thieves), as well as his objections to accumulating wealth (a sign of
business "success"). The Old Testament has various regulations
concerning moneylending -- such things as not being allowed to demand
someone's millstone as collateral because that person depends on it
for processing food. Those who oppose government regulation of
business will not like this sort of thing.
@ Opposition to moral condemnation and name-calling -- 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
@ 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 public prayers, such as in
school. He also criticized the use of "meaningless words" in prayers,
which suggests that King James English is inappropriate for
modern-English speakers to use.
@ Petulance -- Elisha cursing the children who taunted him about his
baldness (2 Kings 2:23,24) [we are told that two bears came and killed
42 of them] and 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]) (Mark 11:13-20, Matthew
21:19-20). Jesus Christ drives the moneychangers out of the Temple,
declaring that they have turned it into a nest of thieves (Matthew
21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-22). Moses murders
an Egyptian overseer who had murdered an Israelite slave (Exodus
2:11-16). 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]. 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
(Exodus 32:19). 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,
Jesus Christ miraculously turns water into wine (John 2:1-10). 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 -- Pork and shellfish are prohibited (Leviticus
11). 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] For some curious reason, many
different kinds of birds are listed as prohibited, including bats. A
very curious prohibition is that one should not cook a young sheep or
goat in its mother's milk (Exodus 23:19). However, these prohibitions
are all revoked in the New Testament.
@ Unmotivated proscriptions of mixing -- One should not crossbreed
livestock, plant two kinds of crop plant in the same field, or wear
clothes made from two different kinds of fabric (Leviticus 19:19). One
must not plant crops amidst vineyards (Deuteronomy 22:9), yoke an ox
and a donkey together for plowing a field (Deuteronomy 22:10), or wear
clothes with both wool and linen fibers (Deuteronomy 22:10). There is
no hint of any justification.
@ Cross-dressing forbidden (some Bible bangers actually pride
themselves on this one, however) -- Men and women may not dress in the
others' clothes; however, exactly what garments are appropriate for
what sex are not specified (Deuteronomy 22:5). 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.
@ Communism -- The early Christians had all things in common, with the
property administered by the apostles (Acts 4:32-35).
@ Extreme punishments -- Adultery is to be punished by death
(Leviticus 20:10) [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) (Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 20:15-16). That such sex acts were
practiced was even used as a justification for genocide (Leviticus
20:23). Also, 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 25:11-12). A rebellious and disobedient son is to be
stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) [what about daughters?].
Working on the day of the Sabbath is also to be punished by death
(Exodus 31:11-17, 35:1-3). 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.
@ Abortion -- The Bible nowhere forbids abortion, and does not even
address the question of the humanity of the fetus. In fact, one part
specifies abortion on command if a woman's husband suspects her of
having gotten pregnant by another man (Numbers 5:11-31). This is a far
cry from the fetus worship that many Bible-banger opponents of
@ 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, 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 (Deuteronomy 7:12); these peoples are to be
exterminated without mercy. The Israelites proceed to do just that (if
we are to believe their own account); they kill the Amorites of
Heshbon (Numbers 21:25, Deuteronomy 2:34), the followers of Og
(Numbers 21:34,35), practically all the people of Jericho (Joshua 6),
all the people of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, Hebron, and
the surrounding landscape (Joshua 10:28-40), the people of Gaza,
Askelon, and Ekron (Judges 1:18-19), 10,000 Moabites (Judges 3:29),
10,000 Perizzites and Canaanites (Judges 1:4), "all the hosts of
Sisera" (Judges 4:16), 120,000 Midianites (Judges 8:10), the
Philistines (1 Samuel 14:12,13,20), the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11:11),
the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:3,7), 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 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 (Numbers 25:16,17, 31:7,8).
Such is the "Final Solution of the Canaanite Question". Or at least so
we are told. Not only Canaanites were to suffer, consider 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" (Psalm 137). That this
activity is contrary to a certain one of the "Ten Commandments" nobody
seems to notice.
@ The Plunder of Conquered Towns -- See above about the Midianites for
one example; there is even a law about what to do about conquered
towns (Deuteronomy 20:10-20). If outside of the Israelites' territory,
the town's people are given a chance to surrender and let themselves
be enslaved, but if they put up a fight, all the men should be killed,
but one may take all the women, children, livestock, and everything
else. Those in the Israelites' territory, like the Hittites, the
Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the
Jebusites, are all to be slaughtered.
@ Acceptance of slavery -- All of the Bible takes slavery for granted,
and states that slaves should simply obey their masters. Slaves are
supposed to obey their masters almost as if they were Jesus Christ
himself (Ephesians 6:5). The only concession in the opposite direction
is that masters should be good to their slaves. The Bible compares
marriage to slavery, stating alongside this that wives were to obey
their husbands, though husbands were to take care of their wives, and
something similar for children and parents. Elsewhere, we find that
one should simply obey one's superiors, and that's that (1 Peter
@ Rejection of democracy -- Nowhere in the Bible is an elected
leadership featured, with the possible exception of the choosing of
King Saul. 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 Paul states that all governments
are set up by God himself and that virtuous people need not fear
getting into trouble (Romans 13:1-7). 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, like much of our Founding
Fathers' political writings, contains little or no reference to
anything 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.
@ Extravagant luxury -- The Israelite priests get to have elaborate
garments, furniture, and altars (Exodus 25-28, 30-31, 35-40). The
Temple and Solomon's Palace are very elaborate and well-furnished (1
Kings 5-7, 2 Chronicles 2-4).
********** Textual Questions **********
@ Greek (pagan) influences -- The Virgin Birth story (Matthew 1:18,
Luke 1:35) 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 ...I did
not pilfer any grain from the temple storehouse...I did not talk too
@ The "Ten Commandments" (the Bible-bangers sometimes seem to think
that this is all of the "Law of Moses", if not essentially all of the
Bible) (Exodus 25, Deuteronomy 5):
[The separation into ten varies from tradition to tradition, so I will
not make the separation]
I am the Lord your God -- doesn't command anything
Worship no god but me -- arrogant exclusivism
Do not use my name for evil purposes -- ("take my name in vain" is the
King James wording). What is that supposed to mean?
Do not make images of anything -- for what reason???
Do not worship idols -- an insulting accusation: statue-worship
Do not work every seventh day -- the Sabbath is essentially sanctified
Respect your father and your mother -- I'm not complaining in
principle, though I would never consider it an absolute principle.
Do not commit murder -- I'm not quarreling in principle, but there is
an abundance of murder glorified in the Bible. All the modern-English
translations use "murder" instead of the King James "kill".
Do not commit adultery -- I prefer to see it as one of those awkward
dilemmas. One might enjoy doing it, but one might get jealous of one's
partner. But if all involved _agree_, it's another story.
Do not steal -- I'm not quarreling in principle, but there are big
violations glorified in the Bible in the form of the plunder of
conquered towns and wars of conquest.
Do not accuse anyone falsely -- I'm not going to complain about that.
Do not desire anything belonging to one's neighbor -- I don't see why
this should be a big issue.
I have little quarrel with the non-theological parts, except for the
last one, but I find them all to be relatively trivial, and in
agreement with what moralists independent of the Bible come up with.
There is nothing quite like "love your enemies", for example. One may
also ask why the Golden Rule is not listed here, if it is so
Furthermore, these are only the beginning of a big mass of laws, and
there is no indication on why these laws have a status more privileged
that the other ones.
@ Repetitions -- These are a mark of less-than-perfect composition.
The Bible has two creation stories, four biographies of Jesus Christ
and several repetitions in the "Law of Moses", just for starters,
which often suggest some editor trying to collect bits and pieces.
@ Contradictions -- The Bible is riddled with repetitions and outright
contradictions, things that the Bible bangers are quick to point out
in anything that they want to criticize. 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'a 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.
How orderly? #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.
How satisfied? #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.
@ Incongruities -- The Egyptian princess who pulls the baby Moses out
of the water names him that after a Hebrew word that means "drawing
out"; however an Egyptian princess would probably not have spoken
Hebrew, and a foundling raised Egyptian would probably have thought of
himself as an Egyptian and nothing more.
@ 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 BCE. 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 would have been recorded in numerous chronicles (Joshua
10:12-14); it allegedly happened around 1200 BCE, when there were
scribes at work not only in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but also in ancient
Turkey, Crete, and the Peloponnesus. 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
@ 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 are actually described (Deuteronomy 34:5-8). "There was no
prophet like him", we are told (Deuteronomy 34:10-12), and "he was the
humblest man who ever lived" (Numbers 12:3), we are also told. Both
statements suggest the work of someone who had plenty of experience
with people who lived after Moses, and neither statement seems 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 that one should "give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God
what is God's" -- without specifying which belongs to whom (Matthew
21:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26). Perhaps related is Paul's
comment that he tried to make himself "all things to all people" -- a
Jew to the Jews, a Greek to the Greeks, etc.
@ Involvements with evil spirits -- Jesus Christ drove out demon after
demon after demon from people possessed with them. In one such
episode, he came upon someone possessed with demons, and conversed
with these demons through him (Matthew 8:28-54, Mark 5:1-20, Luke
8:26-39). 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) --
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 (1 Samuel 28:7-19). 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 -- 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"
(Matthew 12:1,2, Mark 2:27). 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, at
least according to the Bible.
@ Was Jesus Christ an Illegitimate Child? -- Candidate fathers for him
include Joseph, God, and a Roman soldier named Panthera (Pantera,
Pandira). However, none of these three had been married to Mary when
she became pregnant with him, though she did end up marrying Joseph.
@ 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 prescribing "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a
tooth" and the like in certain cases (Exodus 21:22-25, Leviticus
24:19-20, Deuteronomy 19:21). About the latter, he teaches that one
should love one's enemies, turn the other cheek, etc. (Matthew
5:38-44, Luke 6:27-30). This is despite his claim that all of the Old
Testament Law still stands (Matthew 5:17-18). 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), and the supposedly disgusting nature of the rites for
worshipping them is a justification for genocide (Exodus 34:10-17,
Deuteronomy 20:16-18). 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). The
death penalty is prescribed for worshipping other gods (Exodus 22:20).
The prophet Elijah challenges 450 prophets of the god Baal to see who
had the more powerful god (1 Kings 18:16-20). 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.
King Jehu announces a festival in honor of Baal, his worshippers show
up, but all get killed instead (2 Kings 18:25). King Josiah orders the
destruction of objects connected with other deities, like Ashtoreth,
Chemosh, Milcom/Moloch, Asherah, and the Sun, Moon, and stars (2 Kings
23:4-20). 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). Paul provokes the worshippers of the
Greek goddess Artemis at Ephesus (Roman name: Diana) by implying that
their religion is false (Acts 19:23-41). Not surprisingly, he shows
contempt for other religions (1 Corinthians 8). Even "insiders" do not
escape -- consider how Jesus Christ vilified those Scribes (Teachers
of the Law) and Pharisees. He called them "hypocrites" and "blind
guides" who "strain out a gnat while swallowing a camel", not to
mention "snakes and sons of snakes" who will not escape being sent to
Hell (Matthew 23). They are even portrayed as self-righteous
hypocrites who are more than willing to attack others for what they do
themselves (John 8:1-11).
@ 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 -- Abraham is willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to
Yahweh, only to be told at the last minute that it was only a test
(Genesis 22). 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 (Judges 11:39). 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...). Never mind what happens to
@ 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 (for
example in the Book of Revelation); he (note the male pronoun) is
described as having an abundance of human emotions and "hands" and
"feet". 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 (Isaiah 40:22). In the first creation story God is
described as creating the first people in his likeness (both sexes in
the likeness of a (presumably) male being) (Genesis 1:26-27); 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 that he had been "walking" in that
garden in Eden (Genesis 3:8), and that he made clothes from animal
skins for that wayward primordial couple (Genesis 3:21). In the flood
story, we find that he shuts the door of the Ark behind Noah (Genesis
7:16) and that he sniffs the sacrifices that Noah makes after the
flood ends (Genesis 8:21). The more sophisticated kind of theologians
have maintained that anthropomorphisms are essentially a mental
shortcut 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. There is also the curiosity of God needing a marker in
the form of the blood of a sacrificed lamb so he will kill only the
Egyptians' first-born children, and not the Israelites' ones (Exodus
12). Why should it be necessary for an omniscient being to need that
kind of signal? And there is the question about why a supposedly
omnipotent being does not imprint all his decrees on people so they
will be perfectly virtuous.
@ Gross-outs (I'm not sure where this should go, but in any case, I
recommend reading only on an empty stomach) -- "A fool doing some
stupid thing a second time is like a dog going back to its own vomit"
(Proverbs 26:11). Judas Iscariot tripped and fell; he burst open and
his guts flowed out (Acts 1:18) [in a rival version (Matthew 27:5), he
hanged himself]. During a confrontation, an Assyrian official stated
that the people of Jerusalem will end up having to "eat their own dung
and drink their own piss" (Isaiah 36:12). God commands Ezekiel to make
a fire from dried human excrement to bake bread in, but he protests
and is allowed to substitute cow dung (Ezekiel 4:9-15)
********** 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. There is also the question of why the Bible's writers
stated what they stated, if they did not state what they really meant.
And let us not forget the question of why there are no warnings or
disclaimers about what is literal and what is allegorical, if the
Bible is somehow the ultimate textbook.
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 Germany's 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 seem 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, thus seeming wimpy and lacking
in virility. And I think we are all familiar with the stereotype that
if you are not a "real man", you are homosexual.
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 references of varying quality on the history
behind the Bible:
Isaac Asimov: Asimov's Guide to the Bible
Joseph Campbell: several, including "Occidental Mythology"
Riane Eisler: The Chalice and the Blade
Richard Elliott Friedman: Who Wrote the Bible?
Randel Helms: Gospel Fictions
Elaine Pagels: Adam, Eve, and the Serpent
Robert Sheaffer: The Making of the Messiah
Richard Stiebing: Out of the Desert?
Merlin Stone: When God was a Woman
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
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank