an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

How Ever You Study The Bible….

….whether it be on face value, filtered through your particular faith, or taken apart word by word so that it can mean almost anything you like, know one thing – it’s still not true.

Arguing over which interpretation of the Bible is correct is like arguing over which is the ‘real’ Star Trek – Original series or TNG? Or whether the woman who played the Oracle in the Matrix in the first two movies was the proper Oracle whilst the replacement actor in the final part was the ‘Anti-Oracle’.

You can study any myth, legend, or fiction in any way you like, but it will never alter the fact that it isn’t real. You can appeal to ancient sources as much as you want, it doesn’t matter, it’s STILL NOT TRUE.

Still, if wasting your only life with the study of myths and fairytales makes you happy, go for it, just don’t expect anyone else to want to join in.

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32 thoughts on “How Ever You Study The Bible….

  1. Speaking of fairy tales making you happy, consider the sacrifice of Jesus. He sacrificed a human life for a divine one. Some folks can see that as not being much of a sacrifice considering the reward for doing it.Be that as it may, Christians are supposed to "present their bodies as a living sacrifice". Now, in a time when it may have been dangerous to be a Christian, that could end up being a sacrifice.However, since that time Christians claim to be happy, contented, joyful etc. Now, how is that in any way construed as "a living sacrifice"? What are they sacrificing? A life of sin and depredation? Ha! Are they giving up thievery, raping, murdering – probably not. They may be giving up drugs and alcohol or something but that's not really "a living sacrifice", is it?So, just what are Christians sacrificing to be in "the body of Christ"? Certainly not their arrogance and holier than thou attitudes.So, Fortigurn, what are you really sacrificing to be a Christadelphian? No, really, think on it.

  2. I want Furtigurn to explain how understanding that the originators of the flood myth thought that their immediate area was the whole world matches with the supposed brilliance of god given inspiration. If the Bible is inspired, the writers should show knowledge of things that they would have no way of knowing about, yet they repeatedly only refer to things they've seen or experienced (no prophecies about America, or Britain, or Germany, or France, for example). It's almost as if their god wasn't aware of the rest of the world….

  3. I notice our self regarding friend hasn't written any of his mighty wisdom in the replies here. Probably doesn't want to answer you, Corky.

  4. It's simply because there is no "sacrifice" to be a member of "the body of Christ", Alex.On the other hand, to be an unbeliever in a believer world is to face ridicule, discrimination, persecution, loss of family, friends, jobs and former associates. Not to mention the fact that atheists are thought to be more untrustworthy than a criminal, more dishonest than a used car salesman and get called all kinds of nasty names.Sure, I could pretend to be a believer, it's easy (and I've done it) but that would be the "broad way", the easy road to take through this world. But, it wouldn't be honest and it would amount to living in denial of reality.Maybe that's the Christian's sacrifice; reality for delusion – the real world for an imaginary world.

  5. I think you're right Corky, I also think it's very telling indeed that not one of them has posted in this thread.

  6. Well, since this thread has dropped off the page, I don't look for any explanation for what CDs think they are sacrificing in order to be in the body of Christ. I reckon that I will have to blog that on the Ex-Christadelphian blogspot – maybe some brave soul out there will have an answer.

  7. I've actually changed the settings, so it should be on the front page again.

  8. Hey, that's great, Alex. I added your blog to my blog list, by the way – finally. I meant to do that some time ago and was busy with the wife in the hospital for about a month and all.

  9. Sorry, I didn't see this thread.//So, Fortigurn, what are you really sacrificing to be a Christadelphian?//My time, my pride, my money, my biological inclination to self-optimize. My weekly contributions to the unemployed and volunteer work at an orphanage are a direct product of my Christian belief.As a believer living in an unbeliever's world all my life (remember, I don't live in the US), I've had to put up with ridicule, verbal and physical bullying and abuse. Alex://If the Bible is inspired, the writers should show knowledge of things that they would have no way of knowing about, yet they repeatedly only refer to things they've seen or experienced (no prophecies about America, or Britain, or Germany, or France, for example).//There's a difficulty in describing things you don't know about (Hebrew didn't have words for Germany and France of course), but I do believe there are indeed prophecies about Europe.

  10. my biological inclination to self-optimizeLike a slime mold or an ant-colony?

  11. //Like a slime mold or an ant-colony?//All independent biological organisms self-optimize. However, neither a slime mold nor an ant colony is an independent organism. A slime mold has no capacity for independence, and an ant colony is a collection of independent organisms.

  12. Fortigurn said…Sorry, I didn't see this thread.//So, Fortigurn, what are you really sacrificing to be a Christadelphian?//My time, my pride, my money, my biological inclination to self-optimize.Yes, that's rather typical. Unfortunately your time and money has been wasted but you won't figure that out until later, if ever. I'm not sure what you mean by "biological inclination to self-optimize", so I must not have that feature built into my body/personality. I would like to know what you mean by that though. My weekly contributions to the unemployed and volunteer work at an orphanage are a direct product of my Christian belief.I hope you don't mean that you wouldn't do such things without your Christian beliefs?As a believer living in an unbeliever's world all my life (remember, I don't live in the US), I've had to put up with ridicule, verbal and physical bullying and abuse.Where is this "unbeliever's world" located? I need to move there immediately. I've heard of places that are only 50% religious but that's far from being an unbeliever's world. But, I tell ya, Fort, here in the Bible Belt sector of the US of A – these folks claim that they live in an unbeliever's world. Yeah…they are only about 90% of the population so I guess it could seem like an unbeliever's world to them if there are some other folks who don't care to attend church meetings.Anyway, thanks for your answer, Fort. Now, if I could figure out why unbelievers have to suffer persecution from believers for simply not believing in nonsense and how that makes an unbeliever a criminal…dishonest, untrustworthy, unfit for public office etc. etc. – then hey, maybe I'll know what's wrong with this stupid world and why people can't get along with each other.

  13. //Unfortunately your time and money has been wasted…//My time and money hasn't been wasted at all. I've contributed significantly to the welfare of others. How is that a waste?//I'm not sure what you mean by "biological inclination to self-optimize"…//You'll find it in the relevant scholarly literature. It's the ability and tendency for all independent biological organisms to act in their own self-interest (at a genetic level it's referred to by Dawkins as the 'selfish gene', which optimizes for the survival of genes over the individual organism).See for example:* The ability to self-optimize is one of the fundamental properties of living organisms* Adaptive self-optimization in the course of biological evolution is an obvious phenomenonMarwan, 'Amoeba-Inspired Network Design', Science, 22 January 2010: 419-420.//I hope you don't mean that you wouldn't do such things without your Christian beliefs?//I can't comment on what I would or wouldn't do if I were a completely different person with values I can't specify. If I were raised to be selfish as some people are raised, then I would act selfishly. If I wasn't a Christian, it is quite possible that I would behave in the same way I do now, on the basis of different values.//Where is this "unbeliever's world" located?//It's the rest of the planet; Australia for example (one of the most secular nations in the Western world), virtually all of south east Asia, Canada, New Zealand, most of Europe… it's a pretty big world outside your local country town.From my point of view an unbeliver's world is any environment in which my personal belief system is a minority. That's most of the countries in the world today. Even the US is far from being a 'believer's world'; it has a secular government, and believers are pushed down hard when they try their hand at meddling in politics. The Religious Right in the US has experienced repeated failures for the last 30 years.You could look at the many studies specifically on the topic of the failure of the Christian Right, which is a well documented topic. I'll quote from now from Bruce, 'The Inevitable Failure of the New Christian Right' (Sociology of Religion 1994, 55:3 229-242). This article, old as it is (1994), provides an interesting historical review. It notes that Christian voters and lobby groups have repeatedly experienced failure in their attempts to influence legislaiton concerning abortion, teaching creation in schools, legislating behaviour (including homosexual behaviour), and securing major political victories.He provides an assessment of the consensus on page 234:* 'Nonetheless, the considered judgment of most uncommitted observers is THE MOVEMENT HAS FAILED TO ACHIEVE SIGNIFCANT PROGRESS ON ITEMS THAT WERE SPECIFIC TO ITS AGENDA (as distinct from those ambitions, such as increased defense spending, that were shared with mainstream conservatives). Ed Mate, a former political director of the Republican National Committee concluded: "THE EVANGELICALS' IMPACT ON WASHINGTON POLITICS HAS BEEN MINIMAL. The things they have been disappointed with have greatly outnumbered the things they have been pleased with" (in Aikman 1988:23).'//Yeah…they are only about 90% of the population…//Er, they aren't 90% of the population. They're around 78% of the population, and the number is in steady decline.//Anyway, thanks for your answer, Fort.//You're welcome.//Now, if I could figure out why unbelievers have to suffer persecution from believers…//It's the same reason why believers have to suffer persecution from unbelievers for not being atheists. It's classic in/out group psychology.

  14. "You could look at the many studies specifically on the topic of the failure of the Christian Right, which is a well documented topic. I'll quote from now from Bruce, 'The Inevitable Failure of the New Christian Right' (Sociology of Religion 1994, 55:3 229-242). This article, old as it is (1994), provides an interesting historical review. It notes that Christian voters and lobby groups have repeatedly experienced failure in their attempts to influence legislaiton concerning abortion, teaching creation in schools, legislating behaviour (including homosexual behaviour), and securing major political victories.He provides an assessment of the consensus on page 234:* 'Nonetheless, the considered judgment of most uncommitted observers is THE MOVEMENT HAS FAILED TO ACHIEVE SIGNIFCANT PROGRESS ON ITEMS THAT WERE SPECIFIC TO ITS AGENDA (as distinct from those ambitions, such as increased defense spending, that were shared with mainstream conservatives). Ed Mate, a former political director of the Republican National Committee concluded: "THE EVANGELICALS' IMPACT ON WASHINGTON POLITICS HAS BEEN MINIMAL. The things they have been disappointed with have greatly outnumbered the things they have been pleased with" (in Aikman 1988:23).'"That might have been the case in 1994, but since then a fierce mobilisation of the religious right had led to two terms for George W Bush as president, and almost universal right wing support for Sarah Palin, a Young Earth Creationist.If the situation had remained as it was in the 90s maybe you'd have a point, but as it stands we're now 16 years down the road from your quoted study, and the picture is VERY different.Really, I don't know what you were thinking posting that, it's akin to quoting an article about Egypt 5 years ago and using it to argue that Mubarak will never be removed from power.

  15. That was a great post, Fort. I'm glad you don't believe your time and money were wasted. And, if it did go to the welfare of others, definitely not a waste.I reckon I've acted so much and so many times on behalf of the interests of someone else that I had forgotten that we all act in our own self-interests when it comes right down to it. It's sometimes hard to see that so-and-so is a friend because it's in one's own self-interest for so-and-so to be a friend. Helping others is the same, even if we don't look at it like that. It fills a need in one's own self and is therefore acting on behalf of one's own self-interests. Complicated stuff, that psychology. I'm glad I don't really think about it too much, otherwise I would always be analyzing why did this or that and why I liked who or what. Rest assured, if a believer becomes an unbeliever nothing really changes about the person. Since I became atheist my morals haven't changed but my church attendance has dropped off dramatically. Even the personal subject matter interests won't change and that's why you see ex-theists still discussing religious subjects.Eeeew, I'm more than aware of the religious right in the US. However, where I live, in Arkansas, the religious are 90% (or more) of the population. I'm aware that the overall average is about 78%. No argument there at all. Don't assume, though, just because I'm a country boy, that I've never been to town or keep up with what's going on in the rest of the country. The Beverly Hillbillies is not a documentary and is not representative of country folks in real life.The failure of the religious right at the federal level is because of the federal constitution of the United States. However, at the local and state levels, it's almost unbelievable the success the RR has had – which always costs the local and state taxpayers when the unconstitutional inroads of the RR finally get struck down by the federal courts.In the meanwhile though, before the courts intervene, there is religious intimidation, discrimination, teacher job loss and students graduated who have no knowledge of evolutionary biology. Then, when that state is back on track, it pops up in another state and starts all over again.It reminds me of the game with the gopher sticking his head up through the holes and you have to hit him on the head before he ducks and pops up through another hole.

  16. //That might have been the case in 1994, but since then a fierce mobilisation of the religious right had led to two terms for George W Bush as president, and almost universal right wing support for Sarah Palin, a Young Earth Creationist.//I haven't noticed Bush being president recently, and Palin's support is, as you note, confined virtually exclusively to the right wing.The trend observed in the article I cited hasn't abated, it has continued. Even if we start as early as the 1960s we find there's a record of significant failure. I'm looking at Engel vs Vitale (1962), Abington_School_District vs Schempp (1963), Epperson vs Arkansas (1968), McLean vs Arkansas (1981), Edwards vs Aguillard (1987), and most recently Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District (2005), and I'm not seeing a lot of success there for the Religious Right. They have a track record for catastrophic failure in this regard.Public prayer in public schools, Bible studies in public schools, teaching creationism in public schools, suppressing evolution in public schools, this is a litany of successive legal defeats for the Christian Right. The very issue of the separation of church and state has repeatedly been debated and repeatedly decided against the view of the Christian Right.Read this for an up to date report on the failure of the religious right:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/5136050/US-religious-Right-concedes-defeat.html* 'America's religious Right HAS CONCEDED that the election of US President Barack Obama HAS SEALED ITS DEFEAT in the cultural war with permissiveness and secularism'* 'Leading evangelicals have admitted that their association with George W. Bush has not only hurt the cause of social conservatives but contributed to THE FAILURE OF THE KEY OBJECTIVES OF THEIR 30-YEAR STRUGGLE'* 'Despite changing the political agenda for a generation, and helping push the Republicans to the Right, evangelicals have won ONLY MINOR VICTORIES in limiting the availability of abortion'* 'Meanwhile the number of states permitting civil partnerships between homosexuals is rising, and the campaign to restore prayer to schools after 40 years – a decision that helped create the Moral Majority – HAS GOT NOWHERE'* 'In an online article in the Christian Science Monitor that has became a touchstone for disaffected conservatives, Mr Spencer forecast A MAJOR COLLAPSE IN EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANITY WITHIN TEN YEARS'

  17. //That was a great post, Fort. I'm glad you don't believe your time and money were wasted. And, if it did go to the welfare of others, definitely not a waste.//Thanks. When I give time to the orphanage I know it's going directly to the welfare of others. When I give my money to the guy selling 'The Big Issue' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Issue), I know it's going directly to the welfare of others.I know that we could navel gaze endlessly about the extent to which we're being selfish when we help others, but on the one hand I don't believe that feeling good about helping someone means we're necessarily being entirely selfish, and on the other hand the simple fact is that they're being helped.//Rest assured, if a believer becomes an unbeliever nothing really changes about the person.//I'm not convinced such a blanket statement is valid. I've known some people to change virtually not at all, whilst others have changed dramatically, including their morals. But certainly it's not a given that people will change significantly.//The failure of the religious right at the federal level is because of the federal constitution of the United States. However, at the local and state levels, it's almost unbelievable the success the RR has had – which always costs the local and state taxpayers when the unconstitutional inroads of the RR finally get struck down by the federal courts.//At the state level the RR makes a temporary splash before being struck down. At the local level… well, unfortunately if most of the people want X, and others don't happen to like X then that's just bad luck. It's called democracy. At the end of the day, when people are given a political franchise we have to expect that they won't simply exercise it as others believe they should. They will sometimes vote for things others don't like.//In the meanwhile though, before the courts intervene, there is religious intimidation, discrimination, teacher job loss and students graduated who have no knowledge of evolutionary biology.//But realistically, how often does this actually happen? Seriously? With regard to evolution being taught in schools, we find:* The best quality of evolution education is found in states including Indiana ('Exemplary'), North Carolina ('Model of good organization'), and South Carolina ('Thorough and challenging treatment'), though these are conservatively religious states* States in which evolution is taught satisfactorily are found across the nation, not confined to the liberal states (strangely, in New York, which is surely not a Fundamentalist stronghold, evolution teaching suffers from 'inclusion of creationist jargon')* States in which evolution is taught unacceptably badly also range across the nation, not confined to the 'Bible Belt'See map of the quality of evolution teaching in the US (published by Scientific American in 2002:http://strangemaps.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/v6i8g11.jpgAnalysis here, from which I've borrowed:http://bigthink.com/ideas/21147

  18. Jason, you're in extreme denial if you don't see the religious right as gaining more and more power in the US. I'm married to an American, know many many Americans, and they ALL are of the opinion that the religious right is gaining ground. You're simply wrong.

  19. "* 'Meanwhile the number of states permitting civil partnerships between homosexuals is rising, and the campaign to restore prayer to schools after 40 years – a decision that helped create the Moral Majority – HAS GOT NOWHERE'"Jason, what is wrong with being homosexual?

  20. Fortigurn said…//In the meanwhile though, before the courts intervene, there is religious intimidation, discrimination, teacher job loss and students graduated who have no knowledge of evolutionary biology.//But realistically, how often does this actually happen? Seriously?Seriously – all the time. When the federal courts finally rule against the IDers, the biology teachers have long before been fired or pushed out. The teachers who remain to teach science classes refuse to teach evolution and just skip that part of the book.The way they look at is if they can't teach ID then they won't teach evolution either. Besides that, if some do decide to teach evolution, the parents complain to the school board until the teacher is fired. Another little trick they pull is just to laugh through the evolution section of the biology books. You know, make little jokes about it like, "have you ever read anything so ridiculous as this is?". The kids love it and just guffaw and giggle and cut up about it the rest of the day.So, seriously, the US is graduating students who are ignorant of evolution. Some even get around taking biology in school altogether by taking chemistry or home economics classes or FFA classes (future farmers of America) which they classify as science courses.It's amazing, you have to live in it to really get to know it.

  21. Alex B said…Jason, what is wrong with being homosexual?Simple, Alex, he don't like 'em. He's afraid of them because he don't understand them. That's why that disease is called "homophobia".Is Fortigurn's name really "Jason"? Is it Jason Fortigurn or is Fortigurn just a screen name?

  22. His name is Jason Burke

  23. Or maybe Jon…. Starts with a J. I'm sure a quick flick through the 'relevant scholarly literature' will clear up any confusion!

  24. //Jason, you're in extreme denial if you don't see the religious right as gaining more and more power in the US.//All you have to do is show me the evidence. Peer reviewed literature please.//I'm married to an American, know many many Americans, and they ALL are of the opinion that the religious right is gaining ground.//Randomly selected personal opinions do not constitute robustly tested evidence. If you have proper evidence, please provide it.//Jason, what is wrong with being homosexual?//My name is not Jason. There is nothing wrong with being homosexual.Corky://Simple, Alex, he don't like 'em. He's afraid of them because he don't understand them.//This is false. I don't believe any such thing.//When the federal courts finally rule against the IDers, the biology teachers have long before been fired or pushed out. The teachers who remain to teach science classes refuse to teach evolution and just skip that part of the book.//Evidence please Corky. Properly documented evidence. What you're telling me here is just your personal opinion. You have also completely ignored the evidence actually provided, which demonstrates that in some of the more conservative 'red' states evolution is being taught very well.

  25. Ah, Bible Jon, the Bible explicitly condemns homosexuality! Or do you deny that?

  26. Fortigurn said…//When the federal courts finally rule against the IDers, the biology teachers have long before been fired or pushed out. The teachers who remain to teach science classes refuse to teach evolution and just skip that part of the book.//Evidence please Corky. Properly documented evidence. What you're telling me here is just your personal opinion. You have also completely ignored the evidence actually provided, which demonstrates that in some of the more conservative 'red' states evolution is being taught very well.I don't know about what you've studied about this but I do know that you don't know what in the world you're talking about. I do. I live here. It's not opinion, it's personal observation and experience and I live in a red state and we still have a warning sticker on our biology books.

  27. "but I do know that you don't know what in the world you're talking about"That's nothing new for Jon, he often doesn't have a clue what he's talking about, he just pretends and hopes that his usual audience (easily impressed young Christadelphians) won't notice, and call him on his bullshit.I wonder if those 'young people' the CDs mentioned a while ago are still watching? Or do you think that, now Jon, Len and the rest have been shown up as know-nothing fundies, they've been told to stop reading?

  28. //Ah, Bible Jon, the Bible explicitly condemns homosexuality! Or do you deny that?//Alex, the Bible says absolutely nothing about homosexuality. It does on the other hand condemn homosexual acts. Please understand the difference. The Bible doesn't condemn heterosexuality either, but it does condemn a range of heterosexual acts.//Or do you think that, now Jon, Len and the rest have been shown up as know-nothing fundies, they've been told to stop reading?//They haven't been told to do anything. They have commented unfavourably on the use of ad hominem and failure to address the relevant scholarly literature.Corky://I don't know about what you've studied about this but I do know that you don't know what in the world you're talking about. I do. I live here.//I haven't once appealed to my personal knowledge of this subject. I quoted two peer reviewed scholarly studies (including one published by Scientific American), which is worth considerably more than anyone's personal opinion, including yours. I also cited public statements made by the largest Religious Right group itself. You have to realise that your disagreement is not with me, it's with these sources.When scholars are doing research on this subject, do they call you to get your personal opinion? Are you a recognized authority on the subject? Or is it more likely that you, as a statistically unrepresentative sample of one, are not going to be consulted by academics?All you know about for certain is your personal experience. The fact that you avoided comment on the scholarly studies I quoted, as well as the statement from the Religious Right itself, is significant.//It's not opinion, it's personal observation and experience and I live in a red state and we still have a warning sticker on our biology books.//Your personal observations are relevant only to your personal experiences, experience which have never been contested here. However, you do not have experience of every single state in the US, and your extrapolation to the rest of the country of what happens in your red state is completely unwarranted. I will note again that you have provided no evidence whatever for your claims about the entire nation, and you have failed to address the research and statements I have quoted.

  29. "Alex, the Bible says absolutely nothing about homosexuality."I'd say it's very specific about homosexuality….1 Cor. 6:9-10, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

  30. Here's my reactions to reading Fortigurn's comments on your weblog:"The Bible contains heaps of material which isn't true; poetic material, metaphorical material, parable, fable, myth, sarcasm, and phenomenalistic descriptions."I can agree with that.In response to a claim about the education in the red states of America:"All you have to do is show me the evidence. Peer reviewed literature please."Good. I'm think I'm going to like this guy."I see Adam as a special creation."…um, O.K. "…I do believe there are indeed prophecies about Europe [in the Bible]."But but… evidence?I'm a Christian. My core theological beliefs can be found articulated in the BASF, as well as in the 'Apostles' Creed' and the 'Didache'.He can't accept that education is affected by religion in the red states of America without evidence but he believes this?Believes in the "bodily resurrection of the dead"And now the ultimate about his religious beliefs:I believe it because I believe the balance of evidence supports it.( Head explodes )

  31. Yeah, they all go massively wrong at the last moment.

  32. I think Fortigurn might have run away.

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