Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bible wrapup

I finished my Bible project but never really gave a overall impression of it since all my posts were broken up and specific to little sections.  I am going to remedy that today and give you 'The Bible in brief'.  This will presumably be the last post about my Bible reading directly, though of course my interest in religion in general remains unabated.

The Bible is not about the sort of God most Christians (and other religions that take the Bible or part of it as a base for their beliefs) think it is.  The God of the Bible has the following characteristics a lot of people wish to ignore or deny:

-God and the Bible are incredibly racist in favour of Jews.  Other cultures and groups are simply unimportant.
-God is random.  Punishments are meted out with no rhyme or reason and are not remotely proportional to the crimes committed.
-God and the Bible are frankly and unapologetically sexist.  Women are unimportant, owned by men and expected to obey.  They are defined by how many male children they can produce.
-God is concerned first and foremost with loyalty to him personally.  Following other laws is good, but worshiping other deities is by far the most heinous crime.
-God is extremely concerned with and impressed by human authority structures.  Men in positions of power are exempt from the rules and are treated as massively more important than humans without power.
-God and the Bible are supportive of slavery and ownership of people.

There are many, many interesting tales in the Bible, but they aren't the ones being told.  The tale of Noah and the Ark as told by religious figures very often ignores the fact that God decided to kill everything on the Earth.  He didn't save Noah from the big flood, he killed every single person on Earth except Noah and 7 relatives, not to mention virtually all other creatures.  Even the stories that seem all nice like Daniel and the lions turns out to be a hideous perversion of morality when you actually read the original.

The Bible is incredibly contradictory.  God is portrayed many different ways by the different authors and there is no clear vision or agreed upon way in which he acts.  He is the Creator of All, the God of the Jews, The Angry, Powerful man in the sky and the source of all Good and Evil depending on what part of the Bible you are reading.  The laws and ideas contained therein are usually contradicted by something else in the Bible and those that aren't often are unclear or wrong.  There is truth to be found therein but since the only way to figure out what is truth and what is wrong is to know it before you open the book that isn't particularly helpful.

The New Testament is purported to be a nicer, gentler set of guidelines to follow but does not live up to its star billing.  The God of the New Testament is still jealous, random, racist, sexist, violent and amoral.  It is perhaps less of those things than the Old Testament but to hold it up as a shining light for humanity is to ignore the actual contents.

The Bible is undoubtedly interesting.  It contains the tales and legends of a people and the ideas that helped to form their beliefs, culture and laws.  I found it to be sometimes a fascinating read and often to be deadly boring but the ideas contained therein certainly are worth preserving as an insight into the mindset of people who lived long ago.  Having read the entire thing cover to cover though I can say with some authority that the Bible is not the place to turn for anything but historical or cultural curiosity.


  1. And in summary, a justification for religion, in one easy panel:

    It's even conceptually brilliant, anyone "cognitively gifted" enough to see through it is rational enough to recognize how to act in the greater good. :)

  2. Hah, great comic there, Snidely.