Sunday, 3 December 2006

Today's Bible Reading: Killing the Firstborn

Another great Sunday School story from the book telling tales of the loving God: this week, the pre-meditated mass-murder of innocent children:
EXODUS 11:4 ...Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: 11:5 And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. 11:6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt...
And lo, it was done:
EXODUS 12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 12:30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
There you go. Just another family-friendly story from the tales of a loving God that you can enjoy in detail -- and with pictures -- at the Brick Testament: The Tenth Plague.

Do not try this at home.

(DISCLAIMER: Fear not friends. This is just fiction -- the wishful thinking of the Bible's scribes. There is no historical evidence for a tribe of Jews enslaved in Egypt, for Moses, or for the genocide-from-on-high described here. Just another reason to file the Bible under 'fiction,' and keep it in the sealed section of your library.)

RELATED: Religion, Nonsense, History

17 comments:

  1. Ever read Robert G Ingersoll's "Some mistakes of Moses"? Very good - will be available online somewhere.

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  2. Leelion,

    Here you go;

    http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/some_mistakes_of_moses.html

    Sean.

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  3. BTW, the entire link is revealed (if it is currently obscured) by hitting the above page title : "Today's Bible Reading: Killing the Firstborn"

    Sean.

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  4. On the other hand, one could try some SERIOUS scholarship:
    Archaeologists of the Christian Faith: Ancient Evidence for the Bible … in Spades

    Introduction to the NIV Application Commentary on Exodus, from the Westminster Theological Seminary:
    Defense of the Bible’s historicity is, of course, important, but it is not the goal of biblical interpretation. To use an obviously relevant example, you have not understood the book of Exodus when you have successfully defended the historicity of the event of the Exodus. There is more to interpreting the book than demonstrating that this or that happened.
    The OT is not a journalistic, dispassionate, objective account of events. Its purpose is not just to tell us “what happened” so we can “look objectively at the data” and arrive at the proper conclusions. The OT is
    theological history. It is written to teach lessons. The primary lesson I would argue is to teach us what God is like and what it means for the people of God to live with that knowledge. If I can put it another way, the Bible is an argument to God’s people that God is worthy of our worship. It is not designed merely to set out the “objective data” before us. It is a deeply spiritual book that has deeply personal implications. It is not a book to be held at a distance, but a book that the interpreter is required to “enter into,” because it is God’s book and we are God’s people. That the Bible has such a purpose should rightly affect the types of questions we bring to that reading, which in turn affects our interpretation of the text. We must be careful to expect from the Bible only those things it is prepared to yield. And it is not a science text book or owner’s manual. It is a book about God and his creation. It is about who he is, who we are, and how the former determines the standing of the latter.

    The stones and the Scriptures by Edwin M. Yamauchi
    Passover and Nonviolence, by Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamaret of the Shalom Center
    The Bible and history
    Archaeology and the Old Testament

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  5. I am indebted to you, Peasant, for making my point for me.

    " The OT is not a journalistic, dispassionate, objective account of events."

    Indeed. There is a reason one cannot "successfully defend the historicity of the event of the Exodus" -- chiefly because one can't.

    If this is the word of God, then the word of God is fiction, ie., "theological history." In other words, it is myth.

    And what bloodthirsty fiction.

    " It is written to teach lessons."

    And what bloodthirsty lessons -- lessons that should surely put off any right-minded person from the theology intended to be taught.

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  6. Can I ask a question?

    Why would you praise two adults who consenually beat each other, even to death; but spend a fair amount of your time rubbishing a voluntary belief system that has at it's heart the rule of "Love thy Neighbour" on the basis that it's ancient scriptures has some unusual descriptions of events?

    I do accept the Word of God is very limited in the Bible - the four Gospels and Acts have a lot from the Son of God (including a fair bit on the non-initiation of force) and the old testament has God making a few cameos (in the burning bush and on Mt Sanai, for instance.)

    But the rest is written by mere mortals who were only doing their best at interpreting events without the benefit of scientific knowledge - about diseases in this case.

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  7. PC, the reason it is hard to defend the historicity of the Exodus is because the evidence is haphazard, scattered, lost in the mists of time. Doesn't mean it's not there. Have faith! The historicity of much of the Bible is not in question: there is a mass of archaeological evidence. Even today Jews celebrate the Passover for a reason.

    Your assertion that it is "myth" is correct. I do not accept your implication that it is therefore false. C.S. Lewis wrote:
    The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens — at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences. We pass from a Balder or an Osiris, dying nobody knows when or where, to a historical Person crucified (it is all in order) under Pontius Pilate. By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle."

    C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 66-67


    Also, recall the context of the story of Moses. Pharaoh ordered the death of ALL Hebrew boys and imposed merciless slave labour upon the Hebrews. Apparently such injustice raised the ire of the Almighty ...

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  8. Good questions, Michael, although I'm not sure what exactly your first question is about (who was beating whom?), and I venture to say that once a week (and only on Sundays) is hardly "a fair amount of time" spent rubbishing religion is it?

    And I do find it interesting that you think posting quotes from the Bible to be "rubbishing" religion -- doesn't that rather make the point I'm making with the "Bible readings"?

    The reason I post a Bible reading once a week is the reason Penn and Teller suggest "reading the goddam' Bible": the world needs more atheists.

    If people were truly familiar with the nonsense that's really in the Bible, they too would find it hard to take seriously anybody who could take such nonsense seriously.

    Remember that you don't get to choose which of God's words you take seriously -- you're supposed to take all of them seriously, however unjust, violent, absurd, intolerant, or contradictory.

    In any case, you seem to begin by confusing politics with ethics, and morality with theology. Let me explain what I mean by that, and make some points in answer to you.

    1) The point of libertarianism is to allow adults "anything that's voluntary" -- but that does not mean to say that I or other libertarians would endorse everything that people choose to do to themselves or each other.

    As far as morality goes, the libertarian point is that you must be free in order to be moral, but on the subject of morality itself, bare libertarianism is silent.

    Which is why my criticisms of religion are not "libertarian criticisms of religion." if you wish to label them they either Objectivist criticisms, or simple insults.

    2) So why bother attacking religion? Well, I prefer to make fun of religion rather than attack it -- to me it's almost embarrassing to raise serious arguments against such childish foolishness as the nostrums of religion (of whatever sort).

    If religion didn't have such a sordid history -- between Christianity and Islam there is almost seventeen-hundred years of dark ages out of the last two-thousand -- and if it hadn't made such a forceful comeback in recent times (and I mean "forceful" quite literally) then perhaps it wouldn't be so important.

    But it is.

    3) Perhaps the best short answer to why I spend any time at all on it is this quote, taken from the Objectivist Atheology site: "When a man sacrifices himself to his religion, the first thing to go is his mind."

    It is exactly the same for a culture.

    Faith is antithetical to reason, a "blind acceptance" of content regardless of either evidence or proof. In Ayn Rand's words, "the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind."

    The link between faith and force is only too evident from history; to paraphrase Voltaire, "those who believe absurdities are free to commit atrocities" -- "free" in this sense means "free" from reason.

    4) Like Thomas Jefferson (but without any claim at all to his stature) I have sworn "eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." If there is any threat over the mind of man more tyrannous than a short-circuit destroying it, then I have yet to meet one.

    Does that begin to make sense?

    In short:
    I am opposed to the ethic of sacrifice espoused in the Bible.
    I am opposed to the violence done to reason by the disease of "faith."
    I am opposed to religionists enforcing their own faith-based morality at the point of a gun.

    I concede that in a pre-philosophical period, religion represented an early struggle towards first knowledge, and in that context (and in that context alone) something to value, but those days are now long gone: in the twenty-first century, to believe as truth the nonsense of the Bible is embarrassing.

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  9. More proof that God is evil and kills innocents if his PR agents are to be believed. But since god doesn't exist they aren't to be believed. But either way he has bad PR agents. Time he hired some new and better ones. ;-)

    If this is the word of God, then the word of God is fiction, ie., "theological history." In other words, it is myth.
    Indeed. Not to mention immoral theological history.

    And what bloodthirsty fiction.
    Indeed. That is the reason for my above comment.

    And what bloodthirsty lessons -- lessons that should surely put off any right-minded person from the theology intended to be taught.
    Yeah, I think I'll stick with the more objective and moral lessons of Ayn Rand.

    that has at it's heart the rule of "Love thy Neighbour"
    Because blanket "love" is not love at all. We can only love those that earn that love. To quote, "We love in others what we love in ourselves." What it thy neighbour is a rapist and/or a murder and/or a thief? Should we love them then? According to the Bible we should. But I say no.

    Also the Bible has bad "moral" teachings and is totally false. It is non-objective. To rubbish non-objective views makes sense, especially if you have objective beliefs.

    Have faith
    Nah. Faith is denial of reality, of the truth, and abdication of reason, so no thanks.

    Also, recall the context of the story of Moses. Pharaoh ordered the death of ALL Hebrew boys and imposed merciless slave labour upon the Hebrews. Apparently such injustice raised the ire of the Almighty ...
    Then he should of smote down the pharaoh not the innocents. In smiting the innocents he revealed his evil nature. Well would of if it wasn't fiction.

    The reason I post a Bible reading once a week is the reason Penn and Teller suggest "reading the goddam' Bible": the world needs more atheists.

    If people were truly familiar with the nonsense that's really in the Bible, they too would find it hard to take seriously anybody who could take such nonsense seriously.

    Indeed. I believe Penn said, "Nothing can make you an atheist like reading the goddamn Bible."

    "When a man sacrifices himself to his religion, the first thing to go is his mind."

    It is exactly the same for a culture.

    Yep!

    Faith is antithetical to reason, a "blind acceptance" of content regardless of either evidence or proof. In Ayn Rand's words, "the alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind."
    Again, yep!

    Does that begin to make sense?
    It goes well beyond beginning to, PC. I just wish my arguments had been as good. But then you have been at this longer than me. I am still a student of Objectivism.

    In short:
    I am opposed to the ethic of sacrifice espoused in the Bible.
    I am opposed to the violence done to reason by the disease of "faith."
    I am opposed to religionists enforcing their own faith-based morality at the point of a gun.

    They are the reasons I have hated faith and religion since the age of ten. before that i had no view due to a lack of knowledge about faith and religion (I was raised in a Bibleless family) and so had not enough knowledge upon which to form an opinion.

    I concede that in a pre-philosophical period, religion represented an early struggle towards first knowledge, and in that context (and in that context alone) something to value, but those days are now long gone: in the twenty-first century, to believe as truth the nonsense of the Bible is embarrassing.
    Yes. Our ancestors had some of the same limitations in that respect as modern children do and so was understandable. But modern adults do not have those limitations. So it is indeed embarrassing to them believing such rubbish.

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  10. (The two adults voluntarily beating each other, sometimes to death is called Boxing and sometimes even Wrestling if the stunts go wrong.)

    However, I agree mainly with the thrust of your arguement - that men have twisted the messages in religion to their own ends, and that a lot of that is still followed today out of ignorance. I always read a lot of the Bible (generally everything outside of Jesus' life) with an acceptance that it is an interpretation of God's word. (That's my choice that probably is not endorsed by any church.) Whether you think that disqualifies me as a Christian

    As for the bigot Paul, (for the unintiated, most of the New Testament after Jesus gets beamed up to heaven is written by him) his only instruction was to stop the persecution of 'God's People', which Jesus explained as being everyone, including your enemy. So, he goes off and writes about how the sodomites, women, Jews, etc. are all Sinful and should be persecuted.

    So, like you I am opposed to the violence done to reason by "faith" and to religionists enforcing their own faith-based morality at the point of a gun.

    But I support the voluntary self-sacrifice espoused by many religions. And I like the message of Jesus that we should love God and our Neighbours. (You don't have to like them, just love them.)

    Just like I support the choice not to make any sacrifice to any 'god' and the choice not to believe in them at all!

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  11. You're missing the part where the Egyptians killed the babies of the Israelites. But as usual with the author of the SAB, defense is not allowed. You also missed the part where the Egyptians were told if a simple thing they could do to escape this fate. Undoubtedly some did apply this and escaped.

    On the historical facts: Gen 47:11 says: in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. That's a very interesting marker as the name Rameses had been forgotten shortly after. Only after we started digging we encountered a series of Rameses (eleven of them). If the Jews had not been present in Egypt, they would not have been picked up the name as the name Rameses had disappeared entirely.

    Given these Rameses and what archeologists have found so far we associate the arrival of Joseph and Jacob in Egypt with Ramesses II, grandson of Ramesses I.

    We don't have records of Moses or Israelites in Egypt. Just as the number of votes for the libertarianz in 2004 isn't recorded in stone: people don't trumpet their defeats. But we have abunding evidence of Semites in Egyptian society.

    And thirdly, Israel (as a people group) and neighbors Edom and Moab are mentioned in firsthand Egyptian sources shortly before 1200; they were for real then.

    Fourthly, the customs, plants and treaties in the Bible describe a world that is match our archeological findings. It is unlikely people living hundreds of years after the purported happenings could have described this world so correctly.

    Before ending, let me give one quote from an Egyptian papyrus (Leiden Museum, Holland), which might describe the plague:

    Nay, but the heart is violent. Plague stalks through the land and blood is everywhere … . Nay, but the river is blood. Does a man drink from it? As a human he rejects it. He thirsts for water … . Nay, but gates, columns and walls are consumed with fire … . Nay but men are few. He that lays his brother in the ground is everywhere … . Nay but the son of the high-born man is no longer to be recognized … . The stranger people from outside are come into Egypt … . Nay, but corn has perished everywhere. People are stripped of clothing, perfume and oil. Everyone says "there is no more". The storehouse is bare … . It has come to this. The king has been taken away by poor men.’

    People wishing to consult an up-to-date account of archeology and the Bible might find "On the Reliability of the Old Testament" by K.A. Kitchen useful.

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  12. But I support the voluntary self-sacrifice espoused by many religions.
    I do not. I support people's right to make that choice but I do not respect the choice. Sacrifice is giving up something of higher value for something of lesser value. That is irrational and stupid and therefore I hate it.

    And I like the message of Jesus that we should love God and our Neighbours. (You don't have to like them, just love them.)
    To love someone and not like them is contradictory. Love is based on values, therefore you have to like them to love them. Besides evil should be hated and destroyed not loved.

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  13. A critique of the naturalistic metanarrative

    Prof Richard A Shweder says: popularity of current counterattack on religion cloaks renewed and intense anxiety within secular society that story of Enlightenment may be more illusory than real; says big causes of death and destruction in 20th century had little to do with religion; says if religion is a delusion, it is one with a future; suggests that shared conception of soul, and sacred and transcendental values, may be prerequisite for any viable society; says those living in secular society might profit by being slower to judge others

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  14. The Objectivist notion of "sacrifice" is absurd!
    No body ever willingly excanges a higher value for a lesser one!
    It is the very opposite!
    This proves how pig-headed Objectivism is!
    Sacrifice is a token of submission. Sacrifice is a substitutional payment. Sacrifice is acknowledgment of dues.
    Moreover Objectivist’s fail to make the link that the same God, who made life, takes life by the same right!
    (They would prefer he didn’t)
    They fail to see that the same God who lets the black plague take it's course, and via ‘eye for an eye’, took the lives of the Egyptian first born. Ie He holds the keys to life and death, heaven and hell, and "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, to depart from evil: this is understanding"
    Is this grim???? Tuff!!!!
    It is in complete agreement with reality!...with life as we know it homie!
    It is childish whim to say "this ought not to be so!"
    And by what standards do these atheists condemn god?...by none other than the moral values that come from the bible!
    Talk about twisted minds!
    Ie they steal morality from theism(the bible), and then condemn theism!
    It is pathetic!
    One of the chief reason’s one ought to believe the bible is because it perfectly aligns with reality…warts and all!
    It is not whimsical.
    It does not make god this prissy little cuddy wuddly!

    God Killed the firstborn of Egypt! Fact!
    Children die! Fact!
    Be sure you will die too!
    Be sure the Holy God will judge you and throw your sorry ass in hell if you choose to reject his grace… like Pharaoh!
    They hate god because he threatens to judge them!
    They would have religion being Pacifist kissy kissy…and then condemn it for not taking a stand against Tyrants like pharaoh!
    ( For P.C God is damned if he does, damned if he don’t!…he’s damned …full stop!…so I conclude all this argument of P.C is just crappy bitchin no more!)
    P.C’s post’s on religion will never be of any substance, but shallow little jibs at best.
    He thinks, that if he was god…that he would be a better one! HA HA HA!
    Tim Wikiriwhi

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  15. And if we want to travel to the land of woulda, coulda, shoulda...We can easily find the thread in the bible from the start that Adam brought in sin and death upon us not God! and this being so.
    "God's will is not being done on earth as it is in heaven"...ie God is not the cause of evil.
    He hates murder and theft more than P.C!
    Thus it is that God in dealing with sinful man is drawn into the problems of sinful mankind and all his murders and covetousness.
    It is only because P.C believes in freewill that he does not dare blame God for all the evils that men do like Hitler!
    P.C also cannot fathom that when Christ came, he gave man the voluntary chance to escape Human tyranny and a have peace on earth. They chose to murder him instead.
    So we have unnessasarily suffered 2007 years more of the madness of Man governing man.
    Next time Christ will install himself by force!
    Will P.C call him evil for not asking permission of the constituency???? HAHAHA?????
    Will P.C rip into him for "Taking his time to act?"?????
    Tim Wikiriwhi

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  16. Jesus Christ call's infidel's like P.C and Ingersoll "The Blind leading the blind, and both shall fall in the ditch".
    St Paul said "The Natural man recieveth not the things of the spirit...neither can he know them...they are foolishness unto them"

    Bacon said words to the effect ..."a little philosophy maketh an atheist, whereas the expert must needs fly to Deity"

    Let me reveal a sublime truth that P.C will never understand.

    The firstborn of Egypt, whom were innocent children at the Time God 'passed over'...are safe in Heaven!
    Yet had they lived to the age of accountability, they would have been Damned for their own sin and Idol worship!
    That's right!
    God saved them, by killing them!
    To the natural man who has no grasp of God's ways this will appear foolish and contrary to their puny grasp of reason and humanity.
    P.C will not consider the reality that We all die, and so nothing happened that was not inevitable to these firstborn whatsoever. They died young that is all.
    Unless we are suicidal, or preparing for martyrdom due to oppression, none of us gets to choose How or when we are going to die...that is ALWAYS God's decision! We all have an apointment!

    But none of this can find a place in the God-hater's mind.
    St Paul is as usual 100% right!

    P.C is found to be an ignorant whinger about reality!
    He would prefer those children grew up to be slave masters over the Jews like their Parent’s!
    He would prefer they grew up to be Damned God-haters like himself.

    Tim

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  17. "That's right!
    God saved them, by killing them!"


    Tim makes my point for me.

    Those who believe absurdities will happily apologise for atrocities.

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