The Great Chain

The Great Chain

Monday, October 18, 2010

Do Religionists Actually Believe the Words in Their Sacred Texts?

Thanks to the wonders of searchable databases, locating specific provisions of the seminal religious texts has never proven easier.  What used to be a cumbersome task requiring a Concordance is now the work of a few minutes at a computer.  As a result, building a textual case against Biblical Morality, or against Yahweh or Allah as the Greatest Conceivable Being has never been easier.  These seminal religious texts explicitly endorse slavery and describe in tooth grinding detail how to purchase slaves, how you should beat them, when you can beat them, etc.  These seminal religious texts explicitly advocate for invasion, occupation, genocide, murder.  In many instances, God himself directly intervenes and kills scores of innocents.  At other times he merely orders his followers to do so.  Moreover, God, the supposed fount of unconditional love and forgiveness, is more than willing to condemn humans to ETERNAL torture over a few measly decades of rejection.  The text is jarringly clear on these points.

When these issues are raised however, when one points to the text, cites the verses and makes the case that perhaps these brutal books penned during horrific epochs in human development might be inconsistent, might be contradictory, might imply a God that is somewhat less than advertised, we are accused of 'Quote Mining.'  Quote Mining?  Apparently, using the literal text of a book that is allegedly literally true is inappropriate when done by atheists.  Apparently we lack the proper context to understand what the explicit text means.  That we need to apply incredibly sophisticated interpretative techniques and years of study to decipher what certainly appear to be explicit commands and statements of intention.  Apparently these books do not mean what they say, but mean what they have been interpreted to mean by people thousands of years later.

Which really begs the question - Do Religionists actually believe what is written in their sacred texts?  Do they even know what is written in their sacred texts?  The recent Pew poll shows a shocking lack of understanding of basic religious tenets and doctrine by Religionists - which strongly implies that they do not really know what is written in their sacred texts, and more importantly, that they do not care.  When selling their religion to the uninitiated, Christians (sorry, but I'm most familiar with their sales pitch) preach about the loving, caring, forgiving God.  They severely downplay or outright ignore the angry, wrathful, vindictive, petty, vain, jealous murdering God.  When Christians want to preach about hating those whom they find distasteful, gays, Muslims, atheists, they focus exclusively on the angry, wrathful, vindictive God and completely ignore the supposedly loving, forgiving God.

When pressed on the actual words in these books that are supposedly literally true, they accuse us of twisting the meaning, of taking everything out of context.  Either that or they argue that the world back then was very different and that we have no right to judge - a better statement of moral relativism cannot be made.  The reality is that most Religious people either do not know or do not believe in the words in their sacred texts.  They believe in a highly personalized understanding and heavily reinterpreted version of the parts of the sacred text that they like and comport with their preexisting feelings and freely discard the rest.  Which would be fine EXCEPT that they claim to have exclusive access to Truth by virtue of supposed revelation set down in a literally true book written by the Creator of the Great All.

Either your book is literally true from cover to cover or it isn't.  If Religionists disclaim its inherent literal truth  then Religionsists have no greater claim to Truth than anyone else.  If they want to claim its inherent literal truth, however, then Religionists MUST provide explanations for the inconsistencies, contradictions and cold brutality of their allegedly unconditionally loving and caring deity.


  1. where is the "like" button? ;)

  2. William Lane Craig, Christian apologist/evangelist extraodinaire:
    "I think that if you agree with me that there are certain things that are really right and wrong like child abuse, cruelty, and slavery then you will agree with me that we need God as a transcendent foundation for those objective moral values." (vs. Peter Slezak, 68 minutes).

    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    I don't get it.

  3. Yeah, William Lane Craig is one of the most galling figures imaginable. What I find most galling is the narcissistic, arrogant presumption that his supposedly transcendent invisible deity who acts as sovereign over the entirety of the Universe is so slavishly obsessed and devoted to our backwater little planet. Sorry WLC, but we are NOT cosmically important. Our entire planet could be obliterated in any number of ways and you know what, the Universe would not care in the slightest. There would be no salvation, no descent of angels, nothing. That would not mean that our time here was meaningless, only that it was transitory. For meaning is derived internally, from our actions with one another, not from some external force.