Saturday, June 9, 2007

Biblical Truth, or a Propaganda Machine?

Well, it's been a long time since my last post. When I am extremely busy with work, I have to gradually cut out other free-time activities bit by bit. This week was trying to prepare an interactive CDROM for a client in time for a trade show today (just barely made it) and it didn't leave time for much else! It also didn't leave much time for reading all of my blogs, so aside from a few minutes here and there I've just been completely out of the loop. I'm sure PZ has made 800 posts since last I read....

One interesting post I did catch was vjack's article on biblical literalists. A recent Gallup poll revealed that more than 30% of the US population takes the bible literally. I would have liked to have known what percentage of those people have actually read the bible.

Since our recent move, my wife has tried a different church every Sunday, looking for the right one for her and the kids. So far, no luck. "They're all sinners!" she says, referring to a recent sermon that preached how everyone is a bad person and we all have a lot to ask forgiveness for. It was basically a group baptist confession session. Yuck. My wife thought it was YUCK too. Theist or not, if you're smart you know that even if you know people have occassionally doing bad things, it does no good to sit down together and moan about it. What's the point?
You've got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don't mess with Mister In-Between

But what we thought was really horrifying was a service she told me about from a couple of weeks ago. (boy, it really has been a while since I've blogged) She described the children's sermon like this:
A women kneels down on the floor in the front, inviting all of the children to sit with her. When the children had assembled, she opened a newspaper. "Do you want to read the news?" she said. "Let's see what's happening. Do you want to her about all of the soldiers who were killed in the war?" The kids, confused, weren't sure whether to say yes or no. "How about this one -- a singer gets drunk, and crashes her car into a tree! Do you want to hear about that?" More confusion from the kids. It goes on for a little while, and finally ends with this gem, "Or how about this one -- a man rapes and kills his four-year-old daughter. How many of you are four?" She finally gets to her point, "This is all bad news, isn't it? That's why the bible is called The Good News."
And that was it. It sure is a good thing I wasn't there. I would have intervened long before the woman whipped out her punchline. That woman should be ashamed of herself.

Not to mention the hypocrisy! Has she even read the bible? The Old Testament? I'm still reading it myself, but off the top of my head:
  • every human and animal in the world, save for a few of each, is murdered by an angry and vindictive god
  • Noah gets drunk and naked, then curses his own lineage when one son sees him naked and has his kid tell him to get some clothes on
  • god toys around with Abraham, who was about to kill his only son at god's request
  • Lot protects two of his guests from the townsfolk, and offers his daughters as sex toys instead
  • Lot's daughters get Lot drunk and rape him
  • ten plagues, anyone? Despite the pharoah trying to let the Hebrews go seven times, god kept "hardening his heart" so he could do even more terrible things to the egyptians
  • Moses leads warriors into cities, and demanding that not only are the warriors killed, but also the elderly, the women, and the children
  • Joshua does the same, wiping out all of the men, women, and children of 31 cities
  • Someone is stoned to death for collecting firewood on a Sunday
  • Gideon kills a bunch of his friends because they guessed his riddle, then goes off on more killing rampages
  • One of Gideon's sons kills 68 of his brothers
  • Jephthah swears that if he wins a war, he will slaughter the first thing he sees at home as sacrifice -- which was his daughter
  • Another judge pulls a Lot and sends his concubine out to be ravaged by townsfolk, and when he finds her dead later he cuts her up into twelve pieces and sends them to the each part of the land
Gosh, sounds familiar! Soldiers killed in war? Check! People getting drunk and doing bad things? Check! Rape and murder? Check! (except in the bible it was the daughters that raped the father!) So how is the newspaper so bad compared to the bible?

Which brings me back to my question about the Gallup poll in vjack's article. Despite so many people believing the bible is the literal truth -- how many have actually read it? Here was a woman giving a sermon to other people, a position, one would assume, usually granted to people that are familiar with the material. Instead, it comes across more like war propaganda, especially when it is so obviously false.


Jude said...

I took an Old Testament History course once which was filled with Christians, and I was the only one in the class who'd actually read the Bible. I found that amazing. I do think that if more people *read* it, fewer people would believe (freaked out metaphysicians excluded). And you're absolutely right about PZ. Who can keep up with his blog? I try and fail nearly every day.

Xander said...

It's very true that most people who say they are Christian or Jewish, or even Muslim have not really read their holy books at all. More often than not they have only read specific passages which their preachers have told them to read. Though I can't blame them for not reading the Bible, it's extremely boring after all, I can blame them for dictating literal truths from a book they haven't even read.

What that woman was doing to those children was sickening. It's that kind of blatant abuse of position which makes me agree with Dawkins that idoctrination of children is child abuse.

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

"A women kneels down on the floor in the front ... That woman should be ashamed of herself."

Hear, hear. Although I totally reject everything I was ever taught in church, I can safely say that the children's sermon at my old church was never on that level of effed up.

And another "Hear, Hear" to jude and xander.

Like jude, I was in OT class with a load of true believers, none of which knew anything about their own bible, except for the stories told in church.

They knew some of Genesis and bits of Exodus, but once we started in on Leviticus, they all began to get very uncomfortable and ceased being "armchair bible experts."

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The sick thing is, you KNOW that sunday school teacher would object to violence and sex on TV... but when it's being used to promote "The Good News" it's all ok.


es said...

I hang out on Yahoo Answers sometimes arguing with Xians and inevitably find that when I ask a controversial question about some bible content I get a lot of people who say "that's not true," "your bible is wrong" and so on.

Sorry your kids were exposed to such rotten stuff. What religion is your wife? Has she tried something like UU?

Anonymous said...

es, it's amazing what people simply don't know about their bible. The current incarnation of Christianity prefers to pick and choose to validate their agenda. I'll change my mind if I hear about a few ministers saying that you should be killed if you work on Sunday.

Naomi said...

Congratulations, again! On Humanist Symposiums Numbers One and Three! It just goes to show you that your process of turning thoughts into words is excellent and worth reading.

Keep it up, David!

David W. said...

Hi es,

She's been Baptist her whole life, although her last Baptist church was barely Baptist. She's recently tried (and enjoyed, although not loved) a Unity church, which from what I can tell is basically Unitarianism with Jesus.

Hi Naomi!

Actually I've been in all three so far! It feels great to know that people are reading what I'm writing -- even though I have had dreadfully little time the past couple of weeks.