When Noah passed out drunk and naked… and how it justifies genocide and slavery

Must’ve been the hangover. Detail of “Noah Curses Ham and Canaan,” via Wikimedia Commons.

Reading one of the Bible’s oddest stories got me to thinking about the Bible’s “jealous god” and how this portrayal came to be. I’ll say more about that in an upcoming post. Right now I just want to tell the story and show how it’s been used to justify a surprising array of atrocities.

The story begins after the great flood has ended, and Noah and his family—including sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth—have come out of the ark to resume their lives. Here’s Genesis 9:20-27 (ESV): Continue reading

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Will you be happy in heaven if you believe in hell?

The Ladder of Divine Ascent or The Ladder of Paradise. (Wikimedia Commons; US public domain)

Will you be happy in heaven?

Do you belong to the True Faith? Do your holy scriptures promise eternal reward for the faithful, and eternal punishment for the unfaithful?

When you enter those gates, and are ushered into the presence of your God, will you rejoice knowing that (if you are a Christian), all of the world’s dead Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and followers of every other religion, along with the nonreligious, are at that moment suffering in torment?

Will you be grateful to know that you are part of a small elect, from which the vast majority of human race—all those who don’t share your religion—are forever excluded? Continue reading

The president sins on national television!

OK, this is low-hanging fruit, but on a whim I checked the American Family Association website tonight and found this gem of right-wing Christian lunacy:

It’s rare that you can actually watch the president of the United States commit a sin live and on national television.

But that’s what happened yesterday when President Obama told the nation that he is compelled to take more money from the rich.

This is a direct, public and disgraceful violation of the 10th Commandment.

The 10th Commandment, of course, flatly prohibits the sin of lust for another man’s wife or for his possessions. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife…or anything that is your neighbor’s.”  Continue reading

“I’ll Fly Away” and the prison of faith

I grew up at a time when church music was changing from traditional hymns and gospel to contemporary pop-style songs. One of the old songs I’ve heard countless times is “I’ll Fly Away,” which to me — years removed from church-going and religious belief — represents both what was good and what was bad about the Christian culture from which it emerged.

“I’ll Fly Away” is said to be the most recorded gospel song in history. One of the better-known recordings was made by Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss for the motion picture soundtrack of O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000).

Growing up with the song, I never really paid it close attention until I was older. It wasn’t a favorite of mine, just another old-timey hymn for old-timey people: Continue reading

We are all stupendous badasses

I’m reading Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson’s 1999 book that’s been described as the “ultimate geek novel.” Apropos of nothing, Stephenson begins a chapter with a surprisingly funny and concise summary of evolution. Enjoy: Continue reading

What believers fear about atheists

  • Do you ever feel that you’re a small part of something much larger than yourself, something big and wonderful?
  • Are you ever swept with a sense of awe and wonder?
  • Does injustice trouble you? Do you feel a responsibility for your fellow human beings? Do you experience a sense of moral outrage when people are mistreated?
  • Do you ever bask in the knowledge that you are loved?

Notice I didn’t ask if you believe in God. You could answer an emphatic yes to all these questions and still not be religious. None of these things has any necessary connection to the supernatural. And yet they get to the heart of what seems to bother many believers about atheists. Continue reading