Edward: Ah yes, Phil, as you say, the need to be right. Men will die simply for ideas, and the need to justify their own, either with words or swords. I could say that Dave was the first to fire the long shot over my bow, responding to something I wrote and telling me that I was “questioning God!” I know what I was doing, and it had as little to do with “God” as I believe that particular psalm did. To Dave I am questioning “God,” but in my opinion, no one has yet shown that “God” is the author of everything in the Bible. Not even moderate Christians believe that.
Phil: He did indeed “draw you out” (as if you were some slimy Leviathan and He was Yahweh) and then try to lay the ground rules in his court — where he reasons as a Socratic along with some “revelation” knowledge — who can argue with that?
Edward: Revelation solves everything. Not that everybody agrees on what particular revelations say or mean or how each of them are to be applied.
Holy Scripture: A book sent down from heaven. Holy Scripture contains all that a Christian should know and believe provided he adds to it a million or so commentaries.
—Voltaire, Dictionary of Theology
All that God wants us to do is clearly revealed in the Bible…and the Talmud and the Koran and the Book of Mormon and the works of L. Ron Hubbard. These holy writings tell us what God want us to do, often in the form of revealing anecdotes…The problem is that many of us donʼt have the vaguest idea what these anecdotes reveal.
—Dave Barry, “At the Risk of Being Smitten”
Excerpt from a Tale by Edgar Allan Poe
“It was just after this adventure that we encountered a continent of immense extent and of prodigious solidity, but which, nevertheless, was supported entirely upon the back of a sky-blue cow that had no fewer than four-hundred horns.”
“That, now, I believe,” said the king, “because I have read something of the kind before in a book.”
The Bible is overrated. The Christian church survived for 300 years without one, and when they did make one they were editing it right up to the last minute, even adding a few pseudonymous “apostolic” letters. See for instance, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament by Bart D. Ehrman (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).
David Ellis Dickerson
Even if you donʼt believe a word of the Bible, youʼve got to respect the person who typed all that.
One Nation, Covered In Bibles
Of all the nations on earth, America has been blessed with the most of everything, including obesity, prisons, and Bibles. Nearly all mega-bookstores feature an aisle filled with Bibles, not to mention those found in Wal-Marts and Christian bookstores. For da boys in da hood thereʼs The Black Bible Chronicles with a jive talkinʼ Jesus. For the Australian thereʼs the Aussie Bible in which the Gospel of Luke begins, “Gʼday!” For the Trekkie there are two different translations of the New Testament in Klingon. Even more perplexing is the question of whoʼs buying them all? Probably folks who distribute them with the same reckless abandon as your Aunt Helen handing out fruitcakes on the holidays. (“Thanks, how thoughtful. Why itʼs a_a_Bible.”) Sure, a Bible makes a nifty dust magnet, and a handy coaster for that bottle of Jack Daniels, but I bet you didnʼt know it could also be used to fulfill pesky Old Testament demands like “animal sacrifice.” (“I smite thee cockroach from my house!” Splat!)
Competition of the vainest variety keeps the Bible industry booming. One group of believers feels uncomfortable with how a half-dozen words are translated in one version, so before you know it they start a committee to retranslate the whole thing to make sure they change those six words, even though most people donʼt read far enough to get to them.
Other believers simply want to seed the world with Bibles. These “Johnny Appleseeds of the faith” dump thousands of them at sea in individual plastic bags, hoping theyʼll reach some God-forsaken shore (or at least convert a jellyfish to monogamy after it pairs-off with one of the bags). Or they drop them from planes, each with its own tiny parachute (“GeronoMoses!”).
The American Bible Society has distributed over a billion Bibles since 1816. The Gideons have done their fair share too, as anyone who has peeked inside the drawer of a motel night table can attest. As copies of the worldʼs biggest seller continue to roll off the presses, including enough pages, placed edge to edge, to make Asia look like the bottom of Rodanʼs birdcage [SEE NOTE], the faith of the devout grows more secure. (“We are number one!_ We are number one!_ We_ *GASP* I canʼt breathe_ Hey, where did all the trees go?”)
The Bible is even on video, at least the Gospel of Luke is, in a video titled, Jesus. So far 1.8 million copies of Jesus have been distributed to Alabamians, 1.5 million copies to Texans, and 1.8 million to South Carolinians. The sales figures for Mel Gibsonʼs film, The Passion, could exceed even those. (Makes me wonder whether a Holy DVD may one day replace the Holy Bible, or has that day already arrived?)
The Bible is also online. If you search the internet you can find the Jewish Bible, the Catholic Bible, the Orthodox Bible, the King James Bible, and a host of other Bibles, as well as ancient Jewish and Christian works that didnʼt quite make it into the canon of sacred scriptures.
[NOTE] “Rodan” (pronounced “Row-DAN”): A giant bird that starred in 1960ʼs Japanese science-fiction flicks, usually opposite “Godzilla,” a giant reptile.
Have any of the fundamentalist religions noted how quietly the Deity endures the writing of innumerable books all claiming to speak for Him/Her/Them/It? Surely any Deity that thought their exact words were vitally important would have “zapped” every scribe, printing press, or website, that dared to put false ones into the Deityʼs mouth. But such “zapping” only appears to have taken place on extremely rare occasions, while new words of the Deity (as well as controversial translations and interpretations of older words) continue to flood the world in a veritable deluge of “God said this, God teaches that-ness.” Could it be that the Deityʼs exact words do not matter as much to the Deity as they do to fundamentalists?
It is not easy to account for an infinite God making people so low in the scale of intellect as to require a revelation. Neither is it easy to perceive why, if a revelation was necessary for all, it was made only to a few.
Robert Ingersoll, Some Mistakes of Moses
No sooner do you begin to plough your way through the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Numbers, with their interminable lists of how to gild and feed the temple priests, how to deal with rashes, hair loss, infections, moles, warts, dandruff, athleteʼs foot, psychic friends_ than you come to excruciatingly detailed explanations of how to sacrifice turtle doves, rams, he-goats, sheep, and all bleating things that go on all fours, and what to do with their entrails, outrails, fat, slime, feathers, fur, and goo.
Stan Cox, “Confessions of a Bible Hater,” The Door, #146, March/April 1996
Nasal Addictions Of The Gods
The ancients routinely gathered together the finest of their flock and the finest of their crops, and set them aflame so that the smoke would rise to heaven and appease a particular god or gain their blessed attention. According to The Epic of Gilgamesh (an ancient Babylonian tale that featured the story of a worldwide flood), the gods had been denied their sacrifices during the time the world was flooded, so they all gathered round eagerly to get a whiff of the first animals sacrificed after the flood. A similar scene appears at the end of the flood tale in the Hebrew Bible. Noah holds a huge barbecue after leaving the ark, sacrificing “two of every clean animal” to the Lord. The Bible author added, “_and the Lord smelled the soothing aroma.” (Gen. 8:21—a similar phrase is found elsewhere in the Bible as well, see Ex. 29:18; Lev. 1:17, 3:5; Num. 15:13,24; 29:28). “Smelled the soothing aroma?” What a pretty piece of anthropomorphism to attribute to God. As if the creator of the universe needed to be “soothed” by the “aroma” of barbecued beef.
Question: Why did Noah have to murder those animals? Didnʼt the Lord get his fill of “smelling the soothing aromas” of countless critters He sacrificed to Himself via the Flood? If you reply, “Itʼs because charbroiled critters, not drowned ones, have the ‘smell’ whose ‘aroma’ is ‘soothing,’” then I got another question. Why wasnʼt Jesus charbroiled so the Lord could “smell the soothing aroma?” (Please donʼt tell me after Jesus died he got a little singed in hell.)
Those Bible verses about God “smelling the soothing aroma” do make ya wonder though, whether God still lusts after the scent of burnt animals. Today, if He did, Heʼd probably have to settle for a barstool at a steak house with Zeus, Odin, Marduk and Baal by His side, chatting about the good old days, all sneaking a whiff of that old “soothing” stuff.
Course, maybe Godʼs addiction just kept getting worse, from flaming farm animals, to His son, and now Heʼs probably addicted to “smelling the soothing aroma” of whole planets filled with living creatures exploding into cosmic fireballs. Wait, isnʼt that mentioned in the book of Revelation? Quick! Call the Pope to arrange an intervention, we gotta get God into rehab! And tell Outback to double my order.