Who, When, Why –10 Times the Bible Says Torture is OK

Here’s an excellent post by Valerie Tarico. It’s really not surprising that many Christians condone torture, considering that the religion is built around a divine threat of torture. How could one categorically condemn something that god does?

ValerieTarico.com

torture - job_story__image_9_sjpg1176When conservative Christians claim that the Bible God condones torture, they’re not making it up. A close look at the good book reveals why so many Christians past and present have adopted an Iron Age attitude toward brutality.

The first half of December 2014 was painful to many moderate American Christians who see their God as a God of love: A Senate inquiry revealed that the CIA tortured men, some innocent, to the point of unconsciousness and even death; evidence suggested that this torture extracted no lifesaving information. A majority of Americans responded by giving torture the thumbs up, with the strongest approval coming from Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. Faced with moral outrage, including from within their own ranks, Christian torture apologists took to the airwaves and internet, weaving righteous justifications for the practice of inflicting pain on incapacitated enemies.

torture implementsAs morally repugnant as this may…

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The Bible says marriage is one man, one woman, right?

Here are a few points you may find useful when discussing equal marriage with people who oppose it. Christians often argue that marriage has always been properly between one man and one woman. This, they say, is “biblical” marriage, and they claim that Old Testament polygamy was not endorsed by scripture and never part of God’s eternal plan.

But the idea that there’s an unchanging, divine marital template that transcends culture is easily refuted. Today’s understanding of “traditional marriage” is radically different from what the Bible actually commands. Continue reading

Why do bad things happen to good people? The Bible’s answer: shut up!

Several days ago The Great Antagonizer posted a critique of the “God works in mysterious ways” meme, explaining how it functions as religion’s rhetorical “get out of jail free card” when bad things happen to good people. It reminded me of how the Bible’s Book of Job answers the question: a terrible answer, but kind of a funny story (in a perverse way), and one that sheds light on some of the inner workings of religious faith.

Continue reading

Down the creationist rabbit hole

I don’t normally go to creationist blogs looking for fights, but when a church posted a little animated video yesterday, titled, “Evolution is impossible, really funny!!” temptation got the better of me. At any rate, it’s an opportunity to share something really cool (if you don’t already know about Tiktaalik roseae, the “fishapod”) and to say something about the peculiar style of argumentation that’s become common among evangelicals.

The post is here, with a video that features a cartoon fish who gets the idea to jump up on land and evolve into humans. As the fish flops around helplessly on dry land, the ‘camera’ pulls back to reveal the bones of other fish who have apparently tried the same thing.

Ha, ha! See? Evolution is impossible! A fish would die on dry land!

I rolled my eyes. I grew up with this kind of pat-yourself-on-the-back ignorance. Continue reading

Is the Bible’s jealous god an accident of history?

God the Father, by Ludovico Mazzolino, via Wikimedia Commons

God the Father, by Ludovico Mazzolino, via Wikimedia Commons

In a previous post I wrote about the story of Noah and the Curse of Ham (which has nothing to do with the Old Testament prohibition against eating pork!). That a curse could determine a people’s fate for generations is part of the biblical notion that God shapes history. In fact, history shaped God to reflect the fears and political realities of ancient Israel. The result is the Bible’s “jealous” God… an idea that influences history to this day.

Noah’s curse fell on Ham’s son, Canaan, whose descendants had the misfortune of occupying the Promised Land without being God’s Chosen People, and were therefore slaughtered. It doesn’t change anything that this is mostly nationalistic fiction written centuries later. Simply read as a story, the tales of the conquest of Canaan are part of a sensibility that shapes the entire Old Testament and its portrayal of God. A few highlights show what I mean: Continue reading

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

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