Monday, June 1, 2009

A study of Biblical hatred

So, as you may have heard, Dr. George Tiller, a prominent abortion doctor, was murdered in his Church on Sunday. The whole story is unbelievably tragic - so much so that anti-abortion groups are scrambling to condemn the incident. Of course, prominent "pro-life" groups could never condone such an unspeakable act. To be "pro-life" is to oppose murder (albeit those who use that title have a broader definition of the word "murder" than some of us). Murder is wrong. That's easy. It's everywhere in the Bible, in reality, and in our hearts (assuming we aren't violent sociopaths). Murder is wrong. Done.

So who is Scott Roeder, the suspect in the George Tiller murder?

The 51-year-old resident of Merriam, Kansas has a record as a fanatical anti-abortion activist, who had made at least one other threat against an abortion provider. And he also has had ties to the a violent right-wing extremist group that came to prominence in the 1990s.

Roeder believed in "justifiable homicide" -- that is, that it's OK to kill those who facilitate abortions -- according to another anti-abortion activist, Regina Dinwiddie.

. . .

When Roeder was arrested yesterday, he was driving a blue 1993 Ford Taurus. In the rear window of the car was a red rose -- a symbol often used by anti-abortion activists -- and on the back his car was a silver fish symbol with the word "Jesus" inside.
When things like this happen, I can't help but think about the commonly-made atheist claim that religion is the cause of most, if not all, of the world's violence. It's one I've argued against time and again. "It's people who are the problem," I say, "not religion itself." But when something like this happens, it starts to look like these claims are more founded in reality than I would like to believe.

Matthew 5:43-48 says:
You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
To me, this passage is simple enough to understand. Jesus wants us to love each other, even those we find morally reprehensible. It's a good message - not a message of hate. But, as you may have noticed, there's a curious movement in Christian fundamentalism toward the re-definition of what used to be simple words. "We are called to love all people," they say, "but God hates sinners, and so we need to warn them that their actions are taking them straight to hell."

Leviticus 19:17 says:
Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.
Leviticus. We meet again, you dirty scoundrel. Look at you, poisoning the minds of the right-wing fanatics. Is Leviticus the Greek word for "convenient theories for modern-day assholes"? Because that would make sense. How fitting that this idea, this bastardization of the word "love", would come from that book. And, as we all know, there is no better authority on the words and will of Jesus Christ than the book of Leviticus. That's for damn sure.

But pieces are still missing. There's lots of passages in the Bible about stuff God hates. According to Proverbs 6:17-19, God hates haughtiness, lies, murder, and the doing of evil. But what I can't seem to find in the Bible is any mention of God hating people. Perhaps I've missed something, but it just doesn't seem to be in there. Not even in the book of "Convenient Theories for Modern-Day Assholes" could I find any mention of God hating anyone. A funny thing, then, that faith groups who claim to live by the Bible would espouse an idea that is completely fabricated: the idea that God hates people.

Now, this may seem like a small thing. To say that love means warning your neighbors that God hates them is a justification for evangelism, which is annoying but isn't murder. Why, then, is it relevant to this story? What's the big deal?

Hopefully we all know the answer to that question. Of all the words I can think of, the only one that evokes a stronger emotional reaction than the word 'love' is 'hate.' 'Hate' is a dangerous and powerful word. It appears relatively rarely in the Bible - a mere 128 times (as opposed to the 697 times the word 'love' occurs). Even so, the word has become such a vital part of modern-day Christian fundamentalism that, to outsiders, the two ideas are inseparable. According to them, God hates fags, democrats, black people, immigrants, America, terrorists, Sweden, Obama, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, women, foreign-made vehicles, modern medicine, and, of course, abortions, the people who provide them, and the women who receive them. These claims, made by people who profess strict allegiance to the scripture, are not founded in it. They do not come from what these people claim is the exact word of God, unless you've been reading the book of "Convenient Theories That Aren't Even In the Bible So I Just Made Them Up."

I'm generally no fan of conspiracy theories, but it's hard for me to understand the existence of Christian fundamentalism without seeing it as little more than a way to control stupid people. It's really brilliant for that, actually. You get a bunch of stupid, uneducated people really angry, give them a list of people God "hates", then send them on their merry way with the idea that they'll go scare a bunch of other stupid, uneducated people into joining the cult. Oops, I meant "club." But with all those stupid, uneducated people you're riling up, there's bound to be a couple of loose cannons who hear the word 'hate' and get extra mad. After all, it's easy to kill sinners when you've got God on your side.

Ten out of ten pro-life groups agree: murder is wrong. But inciting hatred in the hearts and minds of the ignorant is dangerous, and this is what it leads to. No definition of the word 'love' can include hatred. Love is not complicated. It does not mean "love the sinner, hate the sin," and it certainly does not mean "hate the sinner." Nor does it justify murder.

1 Corinthians 13 says:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This chapter, which I've quoted before and will undoubtedly quote again, describes most accurately the God I know. It describes most accurately the Christ I know. Every day it becomes clearer to me that the Christian Right and I do not share the same God. What some atheists say about religion - that it incites violence - is true of fundamentalism (in every religion I can think of). To play people's passions without teaching them how to think for themselves is dangerous, and can have unintended consequences (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt by saying these consequences were unintended). I do not for one second believe that this man's actions, nor the actions of those who instilled this violent hatred in him are anywhere near the actions of a Christ-like person. These people ruin lives, by murder and other means; they sow misery and fear in the hearts of those who don't know any better; and they give the rest of us a bad name.

So, Christian Right, is what you're doing really WTF Jesus would do?

Nope.

24 comments:

Alexah said...

Two wrongs make a Christian right!

..Did you really flip through the bible to count how many times "love" and "hate" appear? Props!

Jocelyn said...

Yeah, I counted.

...No, I totally cheated. Also, those numbers are approximately correct.

Hannah said...

Nicely done, Jocelyn. I always want to remind the haters that God so loved the world He sent his only son to save us from sin. Where's the hate in that? Is it the "love" part? I get confused easily. (sarcasm)

Periodically I think about messing with anti-abortion protesters when I see them...like going through the crowd with a clipboard and asking people how many babies they want to adopt in order to "save" them from termination ("how many I can I put ya down for"). Or take up a collection to open a half-way house for homeless mothers and babies in their neighborhood.

Jocelyn said...

That's the thing. These people are so disconnected from reality, I often wonder if they really know the meaning of the things they say. But, again, I think all of this is really an issue of education reform. If America had the kind of public education system we see in other first-world countries, this kind of blind, archaic idealism would be far less rampant.

Hannah said...

It's hard for me to comprehend because I didn't grow up in that type of faith tradition. In the tradition in which I was raised we are taught that you have to do good works and be a good person in addition to all that good Jesus-dying-on-the-cross stuff. In most of these Evangelical churches it's not about how you act - Jesus died to save you, period. I totally don't get that.

But that doesn't mean you get go shoot people. That is f-ed up.

Jocelyn said...

Well, they seem to be selective about which parts of human behavior matter. Gay = bad; other kinds of sex = oops. Abortions = bad; teenage mothers = brave girls who made the right "choice" (funny how it's a choice when you choose the right one, and an abomination when you don't). And, obviously, being a total dick is fine. I don't think that's in the spirit of Christ at all.

Hannah said...

Ha - I was coming back to say the sme thing! I'm trying to be generous and try to understand where people are coming from before I judge them but some people are just assholes. And psychopaths.

Katrina said...

This is awesome! I think perhaps that we are kindred spirits. I am especially fond of using the Bible itself to challenge the ridiculousness of the "Christian" evangelicals, whom I lovingly refer to often as "Jesus-lovers" (you have to say it in a certain tone to get the full meaning!). This totally rocks my socks, I dig it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fundamentalist Christian who loves Jesus. I can speak for all of us who believe the Bible in it's entirety, when I say that you're wrong when you claim that we hate... anybody....ever. Jesus said that the love of the Father is not in him who hates. You're also wrong about God not saying that He hated anyone: "Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated" Mal. 1:1-2 This was also quoted in Rom. 9:13. What you're doing here, taking Scripture, out of context and away from the beautiful entirety of the Bible, is literally, as old as time. Satan did it to Eve, and He tried doing it to Christ. I read this blog b/c someone on a forum suggested our reading this. She said that you were a Christian... only God can judge that, but I can only picture Him weeping over the hatred being spewed out on this blog. How you "preach" of love, when you degrade your supposed brothers and sisters, is beyond me. I will only say that I hope you and your future readers will, by God's grace, approach their own Bible study with purer motives than trying to disgrace God's children by using His Word. How sad.
~ Andrea

Jocelyn said...

Katrina - Thanks! I'm glad you like the blog. I hope you stick around. We have lots of fun discussions here.

Andrea - I admit to reading what I want from the Bible. It's time the people who try to use it as a means to control the lives of others do the same thing. I believe that you do not believe you are full of hatred, and I agree that only God knows the truth, but I think it likely that you (much like the rest of us) have a subjective view of reality. Only you can decide what you believe love truly means.

pip said...

Andrea,

I am a subgenius, a discordian, and an atheist who follows the teaching of Jesus that I agree with. I can speak only for myself. If you think there isn't a single person in the world who believes the Bible is literally true in its entirety, and hates another person, you are demonstrably wrong.

I think you mistake Jocelyn's modern sense of humor for hate mongering. (I for one love her sense of humor.)

People who murder other people in the name of God (any person, any god) should be roundly condemned by all. If you disagree with that statement... whats wrong with you? I think that's what Jocelyn's point really is.

On the subject of Leviticus, do you ever wear cotton/poly blend cloths? Have you ever eaten shrimp or bacon? Do you have a daughter, and if so, have you ever considered selling her into slavery as Leviticus proscribes?

My point is the human mind, with reason and intuition can determine which parts of the Bible are "good lessons" (Golden Rule) and which parts are relics of the iron age (if a woman isn't a virgin on her wedding night, she is to be stoned to death on her father's doorstep).

I don't understand what people mean when they say the bible is literally true. How are both creation stories in Genesis both literally true? Why are there differences in the Gospels? Do you know what "literally" means?

For the record. I wrote, and hosted my own bible study in High School. All the bible studies for kids our age I could find, didn't really apply to my life. So every week, I looked at the church's weekly verse(s) and tried to figure out what they meant to me and my friends. Pure enough motives for you?

In hind sight, that's the sort of open minded religious exploration that lead to my eventual atheism.

WTFWJD? Jesus would NOT support prop 8, he would hang out with lesbians, dikes, fags and twinks.

He would NOT support killing doctors, he would hang out at abortion clinics and help out as best as he could... like maybe showing kindness and unconditional love to people who seriously need it.

He would be against slavery, against racism, against homophobia, against violence. If he had disciples who supported such things, he would quickly and strongly rebuke them.

He would support birth control, masturbation, science in general and evolution specifically, equality, and non-violence.

If you think otherwise, I'd be curious to know why.

Regards,
-pip

(Thumbs up to Jocelyn. Keep up the good work!)

(I will send telepathic transmissions to the space aliens I worship as gods on your behalf.)

Jocelyn said...

Pip - Is that your way of saying you will pray for me? :-P

Anonymous said...

Pip,

Jesus said "You believe that there is one God, you do well, even the demons tremble and believe." James 2:9 As I stated in my last post, Satan used Scripture to make ppl sin, and to try to tempt Jesus Himself. Satan and his cohorts believe the Scriptures, and they are full of hate.You can belive the entire Word, and hate. When one takes pieces of Scripture out of context, they can say anything... just like you, Jocelyn, Satan, and a lot of others do. When you are a true lover of Jesus and His Word (For He literally is His Word, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" John 1:1), then you must love the entire Word, thereby loving the entire Jesus. When someone does that, they cannot hate, if they do, the "The Father is not in Him." Period. Again, we are told that we (Jesus Lovers) will be known by our love.

"I think you mistake Jocelyn's modern sense of humor for hate mongering. (I for one love her sense of humor.)"~~~~

I'm sure that you do love her sense of humor. You're a self proclaimed atheist. I don't know that you believe in love (how could you, there's no proof of it?), but perhaps you have some strange feelings that are not yet explained by science, for.. let's say your mom? Significant other? What if someone who also claimed to have those feelings for that person, slandered the person you "love"... took their words and twisted them. They didn't stop there, they then did the same to you. Still funny?


"People who murder other people in the name of God (any person, any god) should be roundly condemned by all. If you disagree with that statement... whats wrong with you? I think that's what Jocelyn's point really is"~~~

I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. What I don't agree w/ is she, or anyone else who assumes that I would murder or hate ppl b/c I love the Word of God. What's wrong with you that you would assume this? Or can there be anything wrong w/ either of us since there's no proof of right and wrong?

"On the subject of Leviticus, do you ever wear cotton/poly blend cloths? Have you ever eaten shrimp or bacon? Do you have a daughter, and if so, have you ever considered selling her into slavery as Leviticus proscribes?

My point is the human mind, with reason and intuition can determine which parts of the Bible are "good lessons" (Golden Rule) and which parts are relics of the iron age (if a woman isn't a virgin on her wedding night, she is to be stoned to death on her father's doorstep)."~~~~

Well, from what you're writing here, I can see clearly that you have not taken the Bible in it's entirety in asking this question, or you would know that we're not asked to obey those laws now. If you care to read the Word in it's entirety, you will find that out.... maybe not agree... or "believe", but find out just the same.

"I don't understand what people mean when they say the bible is literally true. How are both creation stories in Genesis both literally true? Why are there differences in the Gospels? Do you know what "literally" means? " I never read both creation stories. Just the one I believe in. Please share the two of them with me. The reason there are differences in the Gospels is b/c different ppl wrote them for different cultures. There may be differences, but there's no contradictions concerning the good news of saving faith in Jesus Christ. They say the same thing. To me this is further proof that the Bible is Divinely inspired. Wouldn't it make sense that if ppl changed the Bible to make it fit their needs, and to prove it's truth, wouldn't they at least take care of the few supposed contradictions? No, I literally do not know what "Literally" means. Contin~~~

Anonymous said...

"For the record. I wrote, and hosted my own bible study in High School. All the bible studies for kids our age I could find, didn't really apply to my life. So every week, I looked at the church's weekly verse(s) and tried to figure out what they meant to me and my friends. Pure enough motives for you?"~~~
Only God knows your heart, but seeking what the Scriptures mean for you, and seeking salvation from your Sin... seeking the Truth, are vastly different. Either way, if you took what you learned and didn't club ppl with it, sure. Pure enough... but again, that's subjective anyway... right?

"In hind sight, that's the sort of open minded religious exploration that lead to my eventual atheism".~~~
It's good that you have something firm to believe in (or not).

"WTFWJD? Jesus would NOT support prop 8, he would hang out with lesbians, dikes, fags and twinks".~~~

Yes, He would hang out with all of the above, but He wouldn't use the degrading language you use to describe the Children He loves and died for. I don't believe that He would "NOT" support prop 8 seeing as all prop8 says is that you can't have a sacred marriage certificate. A civil union will get you the same rights that heterosexual married couples have... only you don't get to take the sacred union of marriage between a man and a woman that God created to show His picture of Christ's love for His "Bride" the Church, and pervert it to the way you want to make it... that's all.

"He would NOT support killing doctors"~~~

Nope, He would not.

" he would hang out at abortion clinics and help out as best as he could... like maybe showing kindness and unconditional love to people who seriously need it"~~~ Kinda like me and a good deal of my friends? Do you know what I'm doing this evening? I'll be on the phone with my SIL who had an abortion a few months ago. She, like so many others who've aborted b/c they were not informed of what might happen to them, is suffering from Post Abortion Stress Disorder. We're going through a book called "Forgiven and Set Free" If you would like to see what we fanatical hateful Christians do about abortion, take a look here: www.care-net.org btw, in case you don't care to look, we help the moms. We find homes for those babies whose mamas choose life and adoption. For the ones who choose to keep their children, we give them support, financially, physically and emotionally. What is that you and Jocelyn do? Just make fun of the ppl trying to help them?

"He would be against slavery, against racism, against homophobia, against violence. If he had disciples who supported such things, he would quickly and strongly rebuke them." ~~~
Slavery, yes. Racism, yes. Homophobia? Well, he told us that He did "not give us a Spirit of fear, but one of power and of a sound mind." So yeah, He's be against being of homosexuals.. Violence? What kind and when? He Himself got pretty violent in the temple w/ those money changers.

"He would support birth control, masturbation, science in general and evolution specifically, equality, and non-violence"~~~

Birth control? I'm glad you know that, b/c I'm not sure I know the answer to it. Masturbation? Again, I'm glad you know the answer to this. Science? He created science. Evolution? A theory that says we just all evolved from a single cell, that just happened to be (somehow?) without His creating it, into laughable fish like creatures, that evolved into moronic ape like creatures, into us? No, I think when He said that He created man in His own image, He was pretty clear about that. Adam and Eve were the first human's and they weren't morons. That we as humans have evolved... sure why not? Equality? Yep, he "hates differing scales"... He's all about justice and will not show partiality. Non-violence? See above.



Thanks for posting.
~Andrea

Jocelyn said...

Andrea - I hope you will believe me to be sincere when I say that I'm really grateful for your posting here. It's not often that we have dissenting opinions from the religious right. Most of the dissent here comes from atheists I've pissed off somehow.

What's interesting to me is your certainty that when one understands the meaning of the Bible (all or parts of it) in a way that is different from your understanding, you assume that person is either uninformed about the Scripture, or is deliberately trying to mislead people. I assure you, I am neither. I have been educated in the scripture from an early age, but I do not think it inappropriate to combine what I have learned from the Bible with what I have learned from life. As I said, we all read the scripture subjectively, and we are all certain that we are reading it the correct way. I find it unlikely, however, that any of us are privy to the absolute Truth, no matter how convinced we may be to the contrary.

I can't remember the last time I was compared to Satan, though. That's always good for a laugh.

pip said...

(I will send telepathic transmissions to the space aliens I worship as gods on your behalf.)

Pip - Is that your way of saying you will pray for me? :-P

Jocelyn,

Yes. Also, it was for Andrea as well.

I adopted that particular choice of words to make a point.

One I think you appreciate, but Andrea might not.

(Thats part of the point.)

---

Andrea,

Thanks for your reply and thoughts. I'm working on a reply.

Hannah said...

I would just like to point out that Prop 8 was opposed to gay people having CIVIL marriages. No government in the US can force a church to marry gay people, or any people for that matter. Teh original Supreme Court decision in California which allowed marriage for all citizens had no effect whatsoever on religious (or "sacred") marriage. Carry on...

Shmee Skywalker said...

Anonymous Chicken Sh*t commenter:

Fundies aren't hateful? Hah! All fundementalist do is spew bile! Didn't "Operation Rescue", those good Christians, put up hit lists of "baby killers"? They say in one breath they don't condone murder and in another still whip up weak-witted dolts like Roeder to kill doctors? Do they not perpetuate lies for their agenda? They claim OB/GYNs are "abortionists" who 'murder' poor, innocent (healthy white) babies for profit. They show pictures of 'murdered' babies which are fake (those are pictures of miscarriages they "touch up"). They don't tell people that late term abortions are done to save the lives of the pregnant woman and the fetus isn't viable. They fund 'crisis pregnancy/abortion centers' that convince poor, desperate women to keep their babies by promising them support after they give birth, and once having brought their unwanted child into the world give those same desperate women no support, financial or otherwise? Take a good hard look at who protests outside Planned Parenthood. 9/10ths are white, and 7/10ths are men! When the TV camera crews are there they mouth platitudes about saving babies for Jesus. When the TV crews leave those same men shriek 'whore' 'slut' 'bitch' and also 'dyke' at the top of their lungs at white women entering the clinic but when a woman of color enters, there's hardly a peep out of them. If they do have an adopted child, it's a healthy white baby from a private agency, not non-white, mentally or emotionally damaged, handicapped, or born drug-addicted child which is what makes up the majority of children taken into foster care. You wouldn't adopt one of those children yourselves but you'd let them languish in foster care by denying gays the right to adopt or foster them. And to raise funds and votes for their "pro-life" (more like "anti-choice") cause they lie and say they believe in birth control and contraceptives (they don't) and that abortion should be legal for victims of rape and incest (they don't believe in that either, just ask Sarah Palin) or to save the life of the mother (guess again).

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2009/06/02/the-prolife-movements-hot-rhetoric-and-allout-lies

Fundamentalism, whether Christian or Muslim is the same. Hate and lies and ass-backward bigotry.

pip said...

Andrea,

Right off the bat, you put me in a bucket with Satan and Jocelyn. I'm as honored as I am offended. I like this conversation already.

Your language seems to imply you think I'm full of hate. I'm curious if this is true and what makes you think this? Is it just baggage you have associated with the word "atheist"?

First I want to make it clear I meant no offense to you. I did not intend to imply that you specifically, or anyone in general that says the believe the bible is literally true is a bad or violent person. We'd probably mostly agree on a great many very important issues. I'd be that a great deal of our conflict is about word use and ethereal philosophical differences... not practical relevant real-world life issues. So far I have no reason to doubt that you are a good person, with a good heart, and a good soul. Engaging in discussion like this only raises my respect for you.

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." ~Steven Weinberg

While I find your (or any person's) personal faith to be fascinating... (Jesus = word, so love him and the bible...) I find it personally unconvincing. How do you know you're right?

I think the statement "They will know we are Christians by our love" is a statement that is more true, and more wise, on more levels than most people appreciate. (I start humming that hymn when people mention the Westboro Baptists.)

---

When I use or hear the word "Literal" this is what I'm thinking of: http://thefreedictionary.com/literal

1. Being in accordance with, conforming to, or upholding the exact or primary meaning of a word or words.
2. Word for word; verbatim: a literal translation.
3. Avoiding exaggeration, metaphor, or embellishment; factual; prosaic: a literal description; a literal mind.
4. Consisting of, using, or expressed by letters: literal notation.
5. Conforming or limited to the simplest, nonfigurative, or most obvious meaning of a word or words.

If you understand the word "literal" differently, I would love to hear your definition, so we can better communicate.

You said: "No, I literally do not know what "Literally" means." I think you were trying to make a joke, but this is a serious question of word use so that we can properly understand eachother.

By the above definition, "For He [Jesus] literally is His Word" isn't a statement I understand.

----

You said: "I never read both creation stories. Just the one I believe in. Please share the two of them with me."

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=genesis+contradiction

I found the 3rd link to be quite helpful in understanding a fairly moderate point of view and the intellectual gymnastics required to evade the accusation of contradiction. I find this to be some of the most fascinating stuff.
http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/2004/0401sbs.asp

I mostly understand the ideas discussed... my only point is this conflicts with your use of the word "literal".

You said: "There may be differences, but there's no contradictions concerning the good news of saving faith in Jesus Christ. They say the same thing. To me this is further proof that the Bible is Divinely inspired."

I appreciate that the evidence (as opposed to "proof") is convincing to you, but when you use words like "Divinely inspired" that's where where you lose me. I've read the Bible from cover to cover twice. Its been said: "Nothing with destroy your faith in the Bible as quickly as reading it." I think the truth in that statement is about how actually reading the Bible from cover to cover (especially different translations with translation study guides) totally indicates to me that the Bible was written by humans in the iron age. It might have been a beacon of culture, and light, and reason in the dark dark times before we knew any better. I also think that if an Omnipotent, Omniscient God would have done better... that the document would have better stood the test of time.

pip said...

You said: "Well, from what you're writing here, I can see clearly that you have not taken the Bible in it's entirety in asking this question"

Oh, I have. My apologies for any misunderstanding. These are the questions that come to mind when people say that they literally believe in the bible. Even you agree that there is interpretation involved. Namely: you can't take every word of the old testament as literally true, because that would mean eating shrimp or bacon is an abomination. My understanding is: one of the tenants of Christianity (that separates them from Judaism) is that some of the old testament laws have become obviated because Christ died on the cross. I'm with you on that. I'm just saying we can both read Leviticus and tell which parts are still good advice, and have interesting conversations about why other parts aren't relevant today, but might have helped an iron age religion / culture thrive more than its neighbors.

We live in a different time and place than the human authors of the bible did. I think we can do better than the ten commandments. I think this is a good example: http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/new10c.html

No one can deny the memetic power of the Bible in culture and history. But that doesn't make it true.

Voltaire's "Candide" was written in 1759, and its STILL laugh-out-loud funny. Now THAT is impressive.

Speaking of a sense of humor, one of the most hilarious ways I've seen Christianity stated is thus:

The belief, that some cosmic jewish zombie, who is his own father, can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul, that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. - makes perfect sense.

--

You said: "It's good that you have something firm to believe in (or not)." - Do I detect sarcasm? I wonder again what baggage you have associated with "atheism". When you figure out why you don't believe in Zeus, or Shiva, or Thor... then you'll understand why I don't believe in Yahweh. (Hint: I find them all to be equally anthropologically interesting cultural variations)

pip said...

But at some point you began to question my concept of love, and I really start to wonder how much you assume about me when I say I'm "atheist".

You said: "I don't know that you believe in love (how could you, there's no proof of it?)"

We're actually beginning to some some very interesting research about the neurological, endocrinological, bio-chemical systems associated with "romantic love". I find the hypotheses as to their evolutionary origin to be fascinating. We still need tons and tons more research into the subject, but this is an exciting time.

And as long as you brought up my mother, I'd like to say my mother is a wonderful, loving (nearly-mythical-) non-judgmental Christian. She's kind, generous, humble about her faults, and truly, honestly tries to be as Christ-like as possible, to the best of her ability. I can go on-and-on. Similar story with my father.

To quote Penn Gilette: "I won the huge, genetic lottery, and I get happiness every day."
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5015557

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On the subject of your Sister In Law... my heart goes out to you and your sister. This is a subject I'm terribly afraid you think we disagree. From your limited description, it sounds like a wonderful, positive organization. Very Christ-Like. I would be interested to know how this organization weighed in on the condom use, other forms of safe sex, birth control... or if they push the abstinence point of view. For the record, I'm for condom use, safe sex, birth control, abstinence, legal abortion, and most importantly, a full, rounded education. A rational pro-con discussion of the time and a place is what we need more of. What I'm afraid of is selective quotes from the Bible being used to support hate, ignorance, or violence. Sort of like the Satan-and-His-Ilk thing you accused me of from the start. I hope you understand I agree with you in principle if not in execution.

But would you have the same unconditional love for a satan-worshiping, bisexual, AID's infected, crack-and-heroin-junkie, of a different ethnicity? I think Jesus would. I'm not sure even I could live up to that standard. But I respect that as a standard to live up to.

So now that you have an idea of the high, modern standards I hold Jesus to, lets talk about gays.

But as Anonymous Chicken mentioned, there are plenty of real world stories of really bad people doing things Jesus would abhor in his name. I'd like to see us working together to fight garbage like that... people like the Westboro Baptists.

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Please tell me what you think about the gays I know who have been kicked out of their homes (often at critical, formative ages) and disowned by their Christian families (biological parents). I hope we can agree those parents weren't being good Christians.

I said Jesus would be against Homophobia. You replied "Homophobia? Well, he told us that He did "not give us a Spirit of fear, but one of power and of a sound mind." So yeah, He's be against being of homosexuals.."

This is frankly terrifying to me. What verse is that? I see lots of key words here like "Homophobia", "Spirit", "Fear", "Power", and "Sound Mind"... but I have no idea what the context of those words are, and how that applies to Homophobia, and "against being of [sic] homosexuals".

Seriously. Please don't gloss over this point.

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Then you said: "Violence? What kind and when? He Himself got pretty violent in the temple w/ those money changers."

This too is frankly terrifying. There is a categorical difference between being disruptive, throwing over some tables, causing a scene, and PHYSICAL VIOLENCE OR DEATH.

What kind and when? You ask. There is an obvious moral scale here. We already agree on this subject:

pip said...

I said "People who murder other people in the name of God (any person, any god) should be roundly condemned by all."
You replied: "I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. What I don't agree w/ is she, or anyone else who assumes that I would murder or hate ppl b/c I love the Word of God."

I hoped I covered this in the beginning. I apologize for any failure in my communication if you think i assume that you would murder or hate people because you love the word of God.

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I would like to refer you to:
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

It taught me a lot about moral psychology.

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As for gay marriage, i think we should do what the French did:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacte_civil_de_solidarit%C3%A9

The problem right now, is that "Civil Unions" don't actually have the same, real, legal rights as "Marriage". If they did... I think this argument would largely go away in our society.

If you agree they deserve the same legal rights, we don't disagree. If you do, I'd like to know why you think some people deserve less legal rights and protections under the law.

coraljune said...

I have loved reading this. It's not often the case where one can read through an actual debate (as opposed to blind accusations and insult-slinging) between an atheist, a Christian, and a Christan Fundamentalist. For what it's worth, I wish Andrea had replied back, in answer to some of the most recent questions posited by Pip.

Jocelyn: Well done. I love the cohesive, reasoned, and supported argument you present here. Thanks for taking the time to write it so well.

Pip: I am so stealing that link to the New Ten Commandments. Many thanks for a fascinating read.

pip said...

coraljune - Thank you for your kind words. I was disappointed Andrea never replied... I worked so hard on my response.
Don't miss any of my links. They were all carefully chosen to be as educational for Andrea as possible. I {heart} that Penn Jilette speech quite a bit, but Jonathan's TED talk is prolly my favorite. It has changed my point of view more than anything in a while.

-pip

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