To Those Who Worship the Bible-Idol
Dave E. Matson
So you think that those antediluvian children may have been unduly influenced by
their parents, part of the cancer that had to be cut out? Poor, limited God had no choice, I
suppose. He had to get all those boys and girls lest their evil ways corrupt the purity of his
postflood generations. Such purity, as exhibited by Noah's drunkenness and debauched
state right after the flood, had to be preserved, no doubt, from the evil influence of those
antediluvian children. No doubt the pure morals of all those idol worshipers and butchers
of the postflood generations, not to mention the pure-minded citizens of Sodom and
Gomorrah, were in danger of being contaminated by pre-flood thinking. Thus, in order to
insure the purity of mankind, all those antediluvian kids absolutely had to be drowned.
That's why everyone is so pure of heart today! How horrible it would have been if a few of
those antediluvian boys and girls had been allowed to live, to contaminate us all!
Were the animals and the newborn babies also part of that treacherous cancer?
When the Nazis gassed six million Jews did they lean on a rationalization any more absurd
than the one you're leaning on? I doubt it! When we start justifying evil to preserve our
worship of biblical inerrancy, or any doctrine, then we debase our whole system of values.
Our hearts and minds become warped, numb to atrocity, blind to evil, and we become the
perfect cannon fodder for the next Hitler. The man or woman who can view the children of
any age as evil, who can discover no solution other than killing them all, is not to be trusted
with anything more dangerous than a squirt-gun... or any office higher than dogcatcher.
A Stone Age deity, of course, can get away with such things, being little more than a
stand-in for the random, fearful forces of nature. Thus, the gods of primitive peoples,
including the storm-god of the Old Testament, were potential killers to be feared and
placated with sacrifices. When a village was wiped out by volcano or flood, everyone
assumed that their god had been angered or provoked in some manner. What else could
they believe? Scientific enlightenment had yet to overtake superstition. When they lost a
battle, everyone assumed that they were being punished by their god for some indiscretion.
The job of their priests was to identify the provocation, correct it, and thus humor their
god. Keeping their gods in good humor or sustaining them in symbolic ways (as did the
Aztecs) was the all-important job of the ancient priesthood. Happy gods meant happy
times; angry gods sent disaster. If you read between the lines of the Old Testament, you
can see this type of rationalization constantly at work.
It never occurred to the ancients, therefore, to question the morality exhibited by
their gods. The fearful forces of nature spoke powerfully... and man listened. Who could
question the power of lightning or the thumping of giant hailstones or the strength of
floods? It never occurred to the ancients that a truly powerful god would not have to act in
such clumsy ways, for nature was the only god they knew. It never occurred to the ancients
that a truly wise and powerful god would communicate face to face with each man or
woman rather than through nebulous dreams, divinations, or (later) scriptures. The gods of
nature never spoke openly but rather in whispers and dreams and omens, or so the ancients
perceived. It never occurred to them that their god should be concerned with the well
being of all peoples, includ in those days were tribal gods, including Yahweh. They con-
cerned themselves only with their particular tribes.
Thus nature was the only god the ancients knew, and their gods spoke in terms of
earthquakes, floods, epidemics, volcanic eruptions, droughts, fertility, good crops and bad
crops, victory and defeat. Thus, the gods acted in strange and powerful ways for good and
evil, and it was of the utmost importance to divine their will and placate them. The He-
brews had their magic "dice," the Urim and Thummim, and the study of animal livers was
practically an industry in that part of the world. God's strange methods were not to be
questioned, but they might be divined with profit.
Today, of course, the better educated among us know better. Once we have sepa-
rated the concept of God from the random acts of nature, once we have decided that God
must be good and moral to the highest degree, then such Stone Age nonsense as Noah's
flood, the divine destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the divinely sanctioned rape of
Canaan cannot be taken seriously. If a god created this universe, then I imagine that he is
too good, too wise, and too powerful to be limited to Stone Age solutions! Reduce the
concept of God to the random amorality and violence of nature, if you must, but don't sell
me the final product as the highest agent of love, wisdom, and power!
(Dave E. Matson's address is 330 South Hill Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106.
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