Monday, July 9, 2012

Cherry-picking Bible Verses to Enforce Religious Servitude and Dogma


Perfectly Stated
We know that believers in every faith accept their bible and associated texts as the one, true word of their god.  We also know that only some believers have actually read their bible although most others have been indoctrinated (led by authority) to maintain their servitude, perpetuate dogma and meet the socio-psychological and economic needs of the given group. While individuals will claim their religion is peaceful and that by living a religious life, they work separately or in community as agents for the “word” of their faith, the outcome of such belief is inherently discriminatory and frequently violent.

We know that religion does not bring peace and that most faiths are imperialistic. We have current and historical evidence which shows that faith as a basis for subjective change related to “social justice” and social policy are frequently violent and may in fact deny the legal rights of others and replace secular law with religious law. The faithful and their leaders will subjugate in many ways based on their interpretation of texts written generations ago, therefore religious violence can take many forms, from supposed acts of conscience to blatant acts of terror. And in fact this is not a new phenomena, but a time tested cause for misery in our human history.

Whether it is different religions fighting each other for land or other resources; sectarian violence within a particular faith; or religion being used to harm the secular, faith can bring destruction to the individual (pray rather than change; accept the “word” or be killed; allow us to help in the name of our god rather than helping for the sake of humanity) or eliminate culture (Holy wars, violence against a people, thoughts or language, destruction of cultural artifacts) which are known facts of the past, occur in the present and sadly as long as people accept religion, will occur in the future.

Sociologically, religious violence ultimately works to create or maintain in- or out-groups based on agreed upon specific philosophical and social criteria. The main criteria is the acceptance of one’s bible and god as “truth” in the absence of any factual evidence other than what comes from authority and cultural immersion. Reality is not shaped by what is known systemically but what is felt emotionally. While some may be able to balance faith and emotion and live an evidenced-based life, the majority of people cannot or wish not to do so. I conclude if the religious did critically question their dogma that there would eventually be no need for supernatural faith in the modern world.

Faith is the highest form of ego, misogyny, hubris and subjectivity. Taken separately each may be managed, but mixed together they become a potent and potential danger to the future of humankind when organized as religion.

So to challenge the assumption of the faithful regarding what is stated in the bible as positive moral action, let’s look at actual verses found in these texts.  If those who believe they can cherry-pick verses to prove a theistic point, logically so can we, members of the atheist, agnostic and humanist community choose other verses to show a counter-point.

One of the best websites I know which shows the irreverent, plagiaristic, violent, intolerant, and down right morally bankrupt concept of organized religion is the Skeptics Annotated Bible. The editors of SAB cover the Hebrew Bible, The New Testament, The Qur’an and the Book of Mormon. These entries do not show love, openness and joy but rather hate, discrimination, violence, subjugation and ignorance.

I acknowledge this ground of inquiry has been covered by many others. All the same, it’s good to put it in the blog. Here are some of my favorite (there are others) biblical quotes which I’ll use to make my point. As you can imagine there are hundreds of other entries worthy of review.
  • Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. Genesis 3:16 
  • Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24 
  • Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted,  Qur’an 4:34 
  • I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence. Luke 19:26-27 
  • Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are ruthless to the unbelievers, but merciful to each other. Qur’an 48:29 
  • A lack of faith is the cause of illness. Matthew 9:22 
  • Jesus came not to bring peace but to pit family members against each other in defense of the faith. Luke 12:51-53 
  • Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 
  • If you do not beat your children, you hate them. Proverbs 13::24 
  • You should kill people who work on the Sabbath. Numbers 15:32-36 
  • Enslave your neighbors who worship other gods. Leviticus 25:44-46 
  •  Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:5-6 
If the faithful deny these entries what they’re saying is; the bible verses and biblical texts are man-made and not god-made; or that the entries are not true which then questions god’s fallibility; or that if they were true that god changed his mind which again means we know that god is fallible, or finally that the words just are a guidebook for morality, which if that’s the case they can be abandoned since we’ve evolved our human morality way past the stagnant work of these Bronze-age texts.

If any one of these challenges are accepted, then all could be accepted. And if that is the case, then god is truly dead and the god concept can finally be put to rest.

5 comments:

  1. Believers insist their holy book is true to the last word. When you point out to them that some of the claims in their holy book are flatly impossible, scientifically speaking, the response is that "it's all allegory & you just don't understand."

    Believers insist that every word of their holy book must be accepted literally. When you point out inconsistencies, or when you demonstrate that some sections of the holy book are filled with nasty, hateful rhetoric, the response is, "But you're simply mis-interpreting the text."

    There is nothing you can say to these self-deluded people that will cause them to see the point, because that would require exercising logic, & logic is inimical to faith.

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  2. Dear Anonymous,

    You make a great point. I agree that reason and faith cannot be combined. This, simply because faith is based on accepting the supernatural as real. Such belief is opposed to living an evidenced-based life and accepting science and the natural discovery of the cosmos.

    But while faith is the outcome of self-delusion, such a conflict may spring from many causes. Including indoctrination, fear, the need to fit in, the denial of nature and a host of other psycho-social contributions which make people seek faith rather than reality.

    True, we may not be able to convince a true-believer, that's fine, then don't. But there are millions of others who will come to the movement so long as we have the better ideas, are accepting and are non-violent.

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  3. From the Quran 48-29 , the word is not "ruthless" it is "strong". So it reads "strong against unbelievers but compassionate amongst each other". That makes a big difference.

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  4. Quran 4-34. Totally misquoted. Please read interpretation by A Yusuf Ali. "Men are the protectors and maintainers of woman and God has given the one more (strength) than the other and they support them from their means. ..." Please read Yusuf Ali. Makes a big difference.

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  5. Quran 4-34. Totally misquoted. Please read the translation by A Yusuf Ali. Makes it totally different.

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