My Biblical Satanic Verses Well, here's my most recent edition. Most of it was in earlier

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My Biblical Satanic Verses -------------------------- Organization: Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Livermore CA From: lip@s1.gov (Loren I. Petrich) Message-ID: <23j6r2$r8t@s1.gov> Newsgroups: alt.atheism 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 child. @ 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 Chronicles 13:21). @ 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 (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 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 abortion practice. @ 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 2:13-18). @ 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 much", etc. @ 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 periodic laziness. 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 absolutely critical. 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 being counted. @ 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 personal responsibility... @ 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 otherwise. 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 defend genocide. ********** 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 everything else. 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 and Plato. 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 hair. 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" books). 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: FFRF, Inc. 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 /lip@s1.gov

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