posted January 6th, 2016, 2:01 am

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February 23rd, 2015, 2:56 pm




In summation: Levit 25:44-46 says you can trade human beings like livestock, so long as they aren't jews.

Exodus 21:2-6 says that if you give your slave a wife, when your slave's terms of slavery are up, you can keep their wife and kid hostage until they agree to be a slave forever.

Exodus 21:20-21 - you can beat your slave as hard as you want, so long as they don't die.

We already covered Ephesians 6:5
The same is said in Timothy 6:1-2, wherein 'Christians who are slaves shall give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed".

Jesus said, in Luke 12:47-48, that you can beat your slave even if the doesn't know why he is beaten.

For anyone who thinks I am cherry picking examples, feel free to refute ANY of these. Tell me exactly how the bible got it right, and the immutable words of god got slavery wrong but somehow managed to get homosexuality right.
For anyone struggling with how the bible tells them they are born wrong, just ask them the above. Ask them why they don't support slavery but do support condemning the LGBT.
They have two options: their perfect book is wrong, or they support slavery. The second is evil.

Look, I am not here to bash on religion. I have made it clear that I am an atheist, but Annie isn't. Neither is Cindi.
I don't intend for Annie to lose her faith, but I do intend for her to lose her religion. And I am unapologetic about that. Faith is a beautiful thing. Religion is ugly.

Words on a page are never reason for us to hurt each other. Ever. A person should only be judged by the content of their soul, and the actions they take.

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January 6th, 2016, 3:03 am

Yan Mouson


I don't think religion is evil. Let me rephrase that: I don't think religion can be evil. I don't believe the Bible is the word of some immortal sky wizard; it's a book, ink on paper, written by people. Religion isn't sentient, and therefore cannot be good or evil.

Why is this important? Because I don't think religion corrupts people and is the root of all evil; I believe religion simply reflects the ugliness that already exists in people.

Sure, it's easy to say that religion promotes homophobia and transphobia, but really, isn't that a little too easy? Since we're in agreement that God didn't say it, then it means some guy put it in the book. And why did people forget about the slavery stuff? Why do people eat goddamn (literally) shrimp even though it's expressly forbidden? Why is it so easy for people to ignore that stuff but they keep clinging onto the parts about homosexuality?

The parts about slavery and shellfish are simply no longer relevant. We got rid of slavery and so we also got rid of the parts of religion that encourage slavery. Religion simply reflects the will of the people. It's easy to say that religion causes homophobia and transphobia, because the truth is kind of awful: people cling to those parts of religion for the same reason that stuff was written in the big book in the first place. It's not God that makes people hate homosexuals, it's a natural gut feeling that people have about everything that's different, everything that challenges our views of the world. We are naturally inclined to homophobia and transphobia, and religion simply reinforces what's already there. Religion is and has always been primarily about confirmation bias.

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January 6th, 2016, 2:39 pm

Erin (Guest)

It's complicated


Ok, so first of all, I would just like to point out that religion isn't necessarily evil, it's just easy to twist around to justify evil. With that being said, it seems like you're equating biblical literalism, a very recent phenoma, only appearing in the past hundred or so years, as religion, specifically organized christianity. This is a mistake, albeit an understandable one given how conservative christianity has successfully hijacked the cultural definition of christianity as a religion away from progressives.

For example, abolitionists used the bible to rail against slavery in southern states because slaves were also children of god. Many believed they were on a mission from god. The same book was used by slave owners to justify their slave owning. This shows that a shallow literal interpretation, as you have presented, often obfuscates the real meaning, and can often be twisted around to support evil.

With all that being said, and looking at the bible with the view that cultural context is important and that literal readings of the bible are usually quite wrong, I disagree with your interpretation.

First of all, Exodus is the old testament, and is thus no longer applicable to modern society. This is because we are living under the new covenant. That's why we can eat shrimp and not go to hell (Jesus died on the cross for our right to shellfish. Go figure).

Secondly, you're Luke example is a parable and not meant to be taken literally. In the cultural context of the time, the idea of mens rea (guilty mind) did not exist yet. So Jesus suggesting essentially this doctrine was in fact extremely radical, even if viewed from a modern context it doesn't make sense. The actual point of the parable is that you have to contribute according to your ability, and you can't skate by on doing the same as everyone else if you can do better (and conversely that someone shouldn't be punished for not being able to perform above their ability).

I don't have time to look up you're ephesians example, but I've already rambled for a while, so I think I'll end it there.

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January 6th, 2016, 5:10 pm



@Erin: The issue I have with religion is that if you take away all the dogma, it becomes something beautiful. Faith is a truly inspiring thing, and it can be inspired by a philosophy. If Christianity was used a philosophy, I would be all for it - as I am with all faiths that tell people to work hard, have good will, and love others. The split between religion and faith is entirely the dogma.

Christianity, for the most part, is treated as 'some of this is literal and some of it is figurative/poetic, but we won't tell you which until you do something we don't happen to like'. When both sides of an argument can defend their side via dogma, then it cannot be inconvertibly true, can it?

Please keep in mind, I view the Torah as a set of guidelines to build a civilization - it just happened to get bound to a diety and therefore tainted. All ancient cultures had a set of codified laws, they just managed to keep religion out of it. Christianity didn't have this excuse, it was a book written purely for dogmatic reasons.

If you are to tell me now that you live by the laws of the bible on a philosophical basis, then hey, I support you. Until you, for one second, believe that a person will suffer eternal hell and punishment for not following your set of beliefs.

Picture it like vegetarianism. I believe being vegetarian is preferable for moral (actually, environmental) reasons. I would like you to follow it as well. But I have no right to make anyone else feel like shit because they enjoy bacon.

I will leave you to respond about the Epistle of Paul to Philemon, which is in the new testament and not therefore undone by the new covenant. Is this a parable? Is it canon? How do you differentiate? What lets you decide what is 'real' and what is parable? If that is a personal thing, then why is there even a religion, if it is clearly just a faith/philosophy? And if it is a faith/philosophy, where you can pick and choose at will, what splits it from humanism?

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January 7th, 2016, 4:35 pm

Erin (Guest)


@GreenKrog: I really don't know what to tell you about how to tell what is literal in the bible and what isn't literal, because it takes years or decades of research by biblical scholars a lot smarter than me to figure that out for various parts of the bible, and even then it certainly isn't definitive. There is is certain level of uncertainty in interpreting the bible in a non-literal way. This might be unsatisfying, but it certainly doesn't inherently disprove it.

An important thing to remember is that Christianity, as a religion is very far from homogeneous. You can have everything from Orthodox Christianity, which doesn't allow women clergy or women to enter certain parts of the church, to Episcopalian denominations which allow women and lgbt bishops. To say that some parts of the bible are literal and some parts are figurative and asking for a definitive answer as to how to tell the absolute correct answer is impossible unless you are a biblical literalist, and I've already explained why I think that position is nonsensical.

So how do you figure it out then? Context, study of the culture it came from, talking to biblical authorities who have actually studied it (not just you're local pastor telling you how the bible reads, not what the bible says), learning the history of how stories were included, prayer, and personal mediation on it. Can you for 100% be sure you're right? No. But this seems to be reasonable way to get to the most likely answer.

In regard to Christians juding other people, or what you refer to dogma (I believe that is how you are using it, correct me if I'm wrong), that is in fact flat out against what is in the bible. Judge lest ye be judged, He who is without sin should cast the first stone, etc. While I don't personally think hell as imagined by the Catholic church (fire and brimstone and pitchforks) is an accurate depiction of separation from God in the afterlife, I do think that a separation from god does occur if you don't follow godliness to the best of you're ability.

As to what that actually looks like, I don't know, and to me, it doesn't really matter. All I know is that it will suck, because it will be away from God. I don't think this makes me a horrible bigot, but it is one of the tenets of my religion. I obviously can't apply this to anyone else's life, however, because then I would 1. be judging and 2. be putting myself in the position of God. I like to think I keep my hubris to slightly less monstrous levels. So to me, believing in hell or not isn't really an issue, the issue is people using hell as a boogeyman to try to scare/condom people. I think that this is what you are responding to, and I think it is entirely reasonable. However, I think it is still possible to have a religion that is more than just humanism or a philosophy while not trying to force everyone else to you're religion.

So according to what I have said earlier, and with five seconds of google, the book of Philemon is not a parable, but a letter from Paul and Timothy to Philemon from jail. It is a descriptive text on the proper way to run a church. It is in canon as it has been determined by several church councils as well as modern scholars to be part of the formal religion of christianity and definitely written by Paul (and Timothy, but whatevs). This is canon because the council of Nicea agreed to it, one to the earliest church councils, as properly propagating the teachings of Jesus. Given that they where selecting works only three hundred years or so after Christ, as opposed to the two thousand years or so after Christ we now have to look back, and the fact that every single important member of early Christianity agreed to it at the time. This broad consensus and early date, along with continual backing up of this early decision by later scholars up to modern day, definitively canonizes it.

A parable is a story. If it seems like a story and not real life, it is probably a story. Biblical scholars probably know this better than you or me. It is partially a personal thing, since you are the ultimate judge of what you believe, but it is not entirely a personal thing, since you need to back you're belief up with evidence. If someone can produce a more compelling argument than you that is better supported by facts, you're likely wrong. To me that isn't a philosophy, since it is tied to source material that is agreed upon. Philosophies can lead to different interpretations of the bible, but the bible can't really be used to interpret other works.

So in sense, you can pick and choose, but you can still be wrong. I suspect that this will probably seem wishy washy to you, but this is basically how one analyzes a historical document. That's basically what theology is, to me at least, except that it comes with a set of beliefs that defy physics and metaphysics ability to answer. That to me is what makes it a religion. It is beyond the ability of logic to be proven or disproven, whereas something like utilitarianism can be shown to be logically flawed, and is thus disprovable.

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January 7th, 2016, 4:54 pm



@Erin: My point of leaving you with Philemon is the content. Which includes Paul giving a slave back to its owner, knowing the slave wronged its owner and would be beaten.
So thank you for saying that this was direct instruction from Paul the First is canon to the church on how we should treat slaves,and that slavery is a literal thing to which we should cleave.

This all started because I said that slavery is condoned, and not condemned, by the bible.

Also, dogma is (if you spent another 5 seconds of googling, as you did with Philemon);
noun: dogma; plural noun: dogmas
a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
"the Christian dogma of the Trinity"

This is not about judging so much as the principles that are laid down as divine and true. In other words, canon. Dogma is what tells us that the words in the bible are true, not interpretive, and need to be followed. As you said, things like Cor 14:34 'Women should remain silent in the churched, they are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission.', which was ratified by Timothy 2:12 'I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.'

If you are willing to admit that you essentially get to pick and choose what to follow and make up your own choices on what should and shouldn't be condoned - then how are you any different than any other religion? The only thing then that you can claim to be true is that Jesus was the savior. Except, isn't that exactly what the Muslims say, except with Muhammed? Or the Buddhists, with the Buddha? The only difference is that you have chosen Jesus as your savoir of choice.

If you can't be sure it is right, then you are essentially playing Pascal's Wager. And I personally do not believe that people should die young, rather than potentially leave the faith and risk eternity 'away from god'.

I recommend looking at the page after this to the user comments, there is a good conversation going on there.

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January 28th, 2016, 4:10 am



I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (AKA the Mormons) and I think we have unique view of the bible and the law.
First we believe the bible was corrupted via human error (translation mistakes and lack of knowledge of the original context).
Second we believe in following the civil law.
first the a little context of our view of the law. We believe Jesus when he said the two great commandments were to love God and love thy neighbor as thyself. If we were perfect beings that would be the beginning and end of the law.
Now back to the bible verse at hand.
the versus Leviticus, Exodus, Ephesians, Timothy are all talking about the civil law. A little more entangled in Leviticus because the civil law is intermixed with the religious law. So these other versions of "give unto caesar what is Caesar's".
Luke 12:47-48 is talking about the law of justice and ignorance of the law. See justice demands that those who did things worthy of stripes be beaten with stripes mercy is what lets go without stripes. But even here you have to look at in it original context. In that time giving of stripes was a common punishment (see what happened to Jesus before he was put on the cross) so beating a servant (which would have included paid labors not just slaves) wouldn't have been out the ordenril. In this case in serves as a symbol of punishment at the Lord's second coming. My belief is this punishment is no more and no more or less than the knowledge that Christ is the Lord and having to stand in his presence. Remember when you were child and did something wrong and got caught and just stood there waiting for the punishment like that times a thousand that's what it is like for the first group. The second group is like a child being told they have done something wrong. The two children could get the exact same punishment but it will feel harsher on the first child because the knew what they did was wrong in the first place.

The only relevant Scripture from the Book of Mormon I can think of (or find) is when Ammon made himself a servant of King Lamoni. All others say the exact opposite that slavery is illegal or rather "we(the Nephrites) don't have slaves".
Ok, because I know this might come up there is no good reason why blacks didn't get the priesthood between 1852 and 1978. It appears it was decided by Brigham Young two years after Utah became territory and wasn't documented why exactly and when somebody thought to ask god (Church President Spencer W. Kimball) he was told that black should receive the priesthood (the page at https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng has the full story from the church).
Two pieces of context: first name one church that did give black the priesthood. Second Joseph Smith got enough problems being openly opposed slavery imagine what would happened if he been giving slaves the power to act in god's name. However it appears a couple of black men were given the priesthood during his lifetime.

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January 28th, 2016, 10:34 am



@Miiohau: So the book was tainted by humans, making it flawed. In other words, you (religion, not YOU you) can pick and choose whatever you want from it because you don't know what is correct or not. In this context: why bother following the book at all, if you will be following your own morality to begin with and the backfill your religion to match?

Second, Asian and Indian religions, and to my understanding Islam as of the 600s, gave power to black people in the church so long as they understood the tenants. Odd that Islam, based off of the Torah, can get it right and yet Christianity can't.

Lastly, there is no level of justification a person can give to me about their holy book condoning slavery. If it was mentioned in one passage, I could see how it could be a mistake. Mention it half a dozen times, and it isn't a mistake any more.
Trying to explain it away as 'oh, it was the normal thing to do' is the same as saying that sterilization of gay men by the British empire in the 20th century was normal, so it is justified.

You are picking and choosing which good values to hold and trying to explain away the bad ones. This means you are not following the words given to you. It means that you are using humanist values to be a good person. So why have the baggage that comes with the religion? Why serve the dogma when you are already escaping it by choice?

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