Bible Bunk and Holy Horrors

Bible Bunk and Holy Horrors
Photo by Kamil Lothar 夏侯惇 from Pexels

It is our job, as rational freethinkers, to remind believers of the facts they ignore

Those true believers, whom many of us denigrate by labeling them with the sobriquet “Bible thumpers,” can be a tad frustrating—but only if you lack a toolbox chocked with formidable facts. 

Pious churchgoers tend to ignore history and even much scripture; and they have read works by apologists who have figured out ways to justify the Bible as a legitimate, moral text. 

(Anyone who has actually read it, with honesty, knows that it is neither legitimate nor moral.) 

Their excuses are usually feeble; they ignore the obvious evil and skip over—or are blind to—the many contradictions. I cannot imagine that Sunday Bible studies ever bring up verses wherein Jesus suggests killing disobedient children, whipping slaves, or plucking your eyes out

Nor do they expose his praise of genocide. The Old Testament, as vile and immoral and murderous as it is, is often regarded as noble god’s “first, failed attempts,” his son coming along several millennia later to render things right. Finally. How does one argue with the Bible believers? 

One can begin by showing them that the book is riddled with immoral acts as well as many contradictions. This proves them wrong about Bible inerrancy as well as its ethics. This is often a difficult task, as they have been trained to pull excuses from a quiver full of nonsense, but you should be at the ready to point out little-known atrocities and evil within their holy book. 

Next, bring up horrors perpetrated by Christians in the real world (as opposed to Biblical fantasies), able to do so solely because they had “God on their side.” 

The Bible is an enabler for evil. It is our job, as rational freethinkers, to remind believers of the facts they ignore or are unaware of. 

Even Jesus, a supposedly perfect soul, propagated tenets contrived by Bronze Age Hebrew men who sought wealth, power, and conquest of women (virgins in particular, for some reason) as they concocted “laws” and “histories” in their Tanakh. 

Christian apologists begin with the assumption that the Bible must be true (after all, it says it is true), then they attempt to find evidence supporting it. 

This is the opposite of critical thinking and the scientific method. Consider the opinions in a book by Keith Ward enticingly named Is Religion Dangerous? 

When I came across the title I thought perhaps the author was on to something enlightening: I might learn even more about the dangers of religion than previously aware. Enlightening, yes, but not as I had hoped. 

Ward (a Christian theologian, it turned out) wastes no time offering his foregone conclusion: religion could not possibly be evil or dangerous. His introduction, on page one, declares such notions “absurd.” This is his credo throughout. 

One may cringe while trudging through such mendacious and shallow efforts; nevertheless, such jaunts can reap rewards by gaining insight into the whirling workings of brains that have been put through a thorough wash cycle without any subsequent tumble drying. 

One must treat harmful mendacities with umbrage; liars and obscurantists must be called out, refuted. The unctuous believers have infected and ravaged the world for far too long. Beliefs in some superstitions are innocuous; consider, for example, astrology. 

Yet strongly-held beliefs in irrational notions that claim to be approved by some sort of all-powerful supernatural overlord often result in the oppression and murder of millions. So: award several points to astrology merely for innocuousness. 

I do not believe in it, but it does not rub or rile me to raise pen or sword any more than does my neighbor’s barking dog. Mere annoyances, both. Self-righteous cults proffering supernatural dogmas, on the other hand, are much more than merely annoying, to say the least. 

The philosophy and exegesis of a religious apologist rarely surprise the intelligent reader. Ward, for example, refers to the three Abrahamic monotheisms with blinders on: “The God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is a being of justice, mercy, and loving-kindness, who commands [commands—any hint of a mystical dictatorship here?] humans to be just, merciful and kind...” (49). 

Surely, Ward—theologian, historian, author, and scholar—must be acutely aware of the injustice, racial intolerance, and pervasive violence proffered by the Old Testament, the Qur’an, and even by the apparent words of Jesus. 

Does he truly believe his three-headed numen embodies justice, mercy, and Myles Coverdale’s ancient portmanteau: loving-kindness? You might want to advise your local Christian Thumpers and Bible Bambis to re-read the scriptures, and pay attention next time. 

After all, these are the words of god and his son! For example, in Exodus 22:18, Yahweh commands us to kill witches— in contradiction to his earlier “thou shalt not kill” decree. 

One may ask what constitutes witchcraft; turning water into wine? Zapping the life out of a fig tree, or conjuring zombies, as the Bible claims of Jesus

In Numbers, god commands Moses, in an early faith-based initiative, to exterminate the Midianites, except virgin girls, whom they can keep for themselves (31:18). 

There are no instructions regarding how to distinguish virgins from nonvirgins, but “virgin inspector” must have been a pretty groovy profession back then. From a man’s point of view. In Deuteronomy 20, god declares that after winning a battle, you can indeed take their women, but then must kill all males and livestock: “save alive nothing that breatheth,” loving Yahweh commands. 

In Genesis 19:5- 8, Lot, a “righteous man,” sanctions the rape of his daughters. Later, Lot’s daughters get drunk with dear old Dad in an incestuous ménage à Troi (Gen 19:31-36). 

In Luke 14:26, Jesus decrees you may be his disciple only if you hate your entire family and hate yourself. Ask your Christian interlocutor if she hates herself and her family. 

Qur’an 2:6-7 commands you not to aid disbelievers, because Allah made them this way, and lusts for divine retribution: “theirs will be an awful doom.” 

There have been billions of victims of religion across time. If they were not killed or tortured, their potential free thoughts were derailed in youth by a superstitious and morbid upbringing. 

Drinking the blood and eating the flesh of the son of god is one example, being an ancient liturgy pilfered from pagan practice long before Jesus

Ward’s writing is never acrimonious. Nevertheless he, like the typical “believer,” lacks the acumen of a logical, freethinking individual. Ward’s recollection of the history of religious atrocities—the very point of his book— is spotty at best. 

To his credit, he admits to the iniquities of one of the Hebrew god’s many genocidal decrees, in Deuteronomy 20:16-17 (extermination of those annoying Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites), calling it “perhaps the worst of all” primitive moral ideas (109). 

This is an admission regarding his own all loving creator! However, it is not, by far, the worst. This mythical god, in a long line of other legendary deities, commands many bizarre dictates much more gruesome and immoral than his Deuteronomic decrees. 

The entire book of Joshua is much more violent and foul. Just by example: “And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword” — commanded by god (6:21). 

Moreover, in Jude 1:5-8, Old Testament genocide is praised and unbelievers are banished to hell. Jesus himself speaks highly of father Yahweh’s genocidal tantrums in Matthew 11:20- 24. Ward claims that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount “countermanded” Yahweh’s ridiculous and “horrible” (Ward’s word, not mine) decrees. 

Yet he ignores Matthew 5:28-30 and the unholy dicta propounded by Jesus in that same sermon, such as convicting you of thought crimes (112). 

In his wise and peaceful pronunciations on the mount (or on a plain, according to Luke 6:17- 22), Jesus, the son of god, suggests self-mutilation as your only logical recourse: cut off your hand, pull out your eyes, Jesus advises in Matthew 18. 

And I thought chopping off the foreskin was a silly ritual and a crime against nature. While he does not specify, Ward must be referring to Matthew 5:21-22 for Jesus supposedly annulling violent Deuteronomic philosophies. 

Yet Jesus contradicts himself repeatedly, sometimes approving Hebrew “law,” sometimes dismissing it. Jesus often strikes up an intolerant and infinitely judgmental stance. This is something Ward, a supposed expert on Christianity, seems to have missed. 

For example, in Mark 7:9-13 and Matthew 15:2-6, Jesus agrees with the Old Testament parenting instructions to kill your rebellious or stubborn son. 

As a Hebrew you are a hypocrite if you do not, so declares Jesus. In Luke 19, Jesus concludes a parable, strangely with no message of morality, by commanding: “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” 

Jesus condemns certain people to death and eternal hell simply because they had not repented (Mt 11:20-23). Loving Jesus often employs the vile trick of infinite blackmail, damning you for eternity if you merely do not follow him (Mt 25:40-46, Mt 10:33, Mt 12:30-31, Mk 3:29, Mk 8:38, Mk 16:16, Lk 12:10, Jn 3:36, Jn 8:24, Jn 12:48, Jn 15:6, etc.). 

Comedian Bill Hicks pointed out that “eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions god’s, infinite love.”Ward misses—or chooses to ignore—Jesus applauding Old Testament ethnic cleansing, and his violent proclamations such as “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Mt 10:34), and “I am come to send fire on the earth” (Lk 12:49). 

The typical Christian apologist explains away repugnant or contradictory scriptures using wordplay, pseudophilosophical legerdemain, or excuses of context and metaphor. 

Sending fire on the earth is no metaphor: Jesus repeatedly proclaims that the world will come to its scorching terminus within a generation (e.g. Mt 24, Mk 13, and many others. See Mt 13:40-43 for more eschatology). 

So much for Jesus “countermanding” god’s primitive morals. (Aren’t Jesus and “god” supposed to be the same entity anyway?) 

Moreover, the idea of anybody—even the son of god— countermanding god’s words is impossible according to the Bible, as god’s laws never change, and are “perfect,” as in Isaiah 40:8, Psalms 18:30 and 19:7-8, and 1 Peter 1:25. Page 124 contains perhaps Ward’s most absurd claim: “There are no serious objections to the moral perfection of Jesus.” 

Is he completely unaware of the writings since the Enlightenment? Even believer C. S. Lewis had questioned Christ as being, just perhaps, immoral. 

The very words of Jesus should cause one to believe he was the “Devil of Hell” and “a madman or something worse,” contemplated Lewis. He wavered and waffled, resigning to proclaim Jesus (against all of his own logical arguments) “Lord and God.” 

With the canon as my witness, I must raise serious objections to any “moral perfection” of Jesus. The words that come to my mind are: - ignorant (Mt 6:25-6, Mt 6:34, Acts 10:38) - contradictory (Lk 16:16 vs. Mt 5:17 vs. Rom 6:14 vs. Mt 19:17) - violent (Mk 7:10, Jude 1:5-8, Lk 19:27, Mt 11:20-24) - unjust (Lk 12:46-48) - unforgiving and devoid of empathy (Mt 23:14) - intolerant and racist (Mt 10:5-6, Mt 15:22-24, 2 John 1:10, Acts 13:17-19, Jude 1:5-8) - illogical and nonsensical (Mt 5:29-30, Mt 24:37-39, Mt 12:40, Jn 3:14). 

Thus, “perfect” does not describe this savior, sent from heaven in all his misty and golden glory. Such claims are stretches of Brobdingnagian proportions. 

Check your Bibles if you got ’em. Ward states “Christians have given up the Torah” and he holds certain New Testament sections as proof (119). 

If so, what might Ward think about the words of Jesus supporting so much of it? Christians who dismiss the Old Testament as Hebrew tales or simple parables should read Matthew 12:40, where Jesus believes Jonah lived in a fish, or Jude 1:5-8, where he believes the Sodom and Gomorrah myths, or Romans 1:26-27, where Paul supports the “god hates fags” decree of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, or John 3:14, where Jesus believes in a magical pole that cures snakebites (see also Numbers 21:8-9). 

The New Testament propagates Old Testament racism against nonHebrews ( Jude 1:5-8, Acts 13:17-19). The New Testament declares Lot—the cowardly and incestuous Old Testament character—to be a “righteous” man in 2 Peter 2:7 (NAS, NLT, ESV, ISV, NIV, and many other Bible versions; KJV and DRC use the adjective “just” to describe this repugnant patriarch). 

Christians have given up the Torah? This is something that we all should surely wish for but this is not the case. Very often I see televangelists on Sunday mornings citing the Old Testament scriptures as if they accurately reflect history. 

The History Channel ran a series called “Mysteries of the Bible” examining the Old Testament tales in detail. One particular episode was about the Cain and Abel tale, “believed to be the first murder ever.” 

This, from The History Channel, for crying out loud! I know what the “mysteries” are. Why do people still believe this nonsense, in the 21st century? 

Pat Robertson, in his book, Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions, states he actually believes in Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and that it “is as good an explanation for what happened as there could be” (55). 

Darwin, Sagan, and Hawking come to mind as three (of so many) who might just disagree with this conclusion. In What’s So Great About Christianity?, dripping with desperate tautology in an attempt to prove the universe was created by god, Dinesh D’Souza quotes from Psalm 19 (131). 

And D’Souza claims that the Christian god did so completely and solely for the sake of we humans. Arrogant, shameless solipsism, so says I. D’Souza actually declares “the biblical account of how the universe was created is substantially correct” (124). 

This is pure OT BS; nothing more, nothing less. Clearly, most Christians have not given up the Torah; and the New Testament supports much of the Old Testament nonsense, a fact denied by Mr. Ward. 

The prime D’Souza factoid that really gets my goat (not available as a burnt offering; so sorry for Yahweh, our bloodthirsty creator) is his ignorant— or mendacious, I don’t know which— claim that the total number of deaths due to the Crusades, Inquisitions, and witch-hunts amounts to a mere 200,000 (215). 

The actual number is closer to four million. I do not know where Dinesh gets his numbers, but I have a hunch. In a debate against Christopher Hitchens (“Is Christianity the Problem?” CSPAN-2 Book TV, November 2007), he brings up the witch-hunts, limiting his argument to Salem. 

“I finally researched it,” he declares, learning that only eighteen witches were killed there. (I was somewhat surprised his adversary did not bring up the over one million Catharist “witches” violently put down by Christian forces, but on that day Hitch had to shoot many fish wallowing in Dinesh’s lame and watery barrel.) 

I am tempted to coin a term, “D’Souzoid” for Dinesh’s ventures into malefic depths. Read his books and watch his debates. Every time you encounter a grossly false “fact,” relegate it to that pile. I am sure one can produce even larger piles consisting of Foxoids and Biblioids. 

While our esteemed Ward reluctantly admits to some Christian atrocities, such as the Crusades and Inquisitions, he nevertheless excuses them. In his chapter “Religion and War,” Ward claims Christianity had “humanizing effects” on the Roman Empire (66). 

I believe the tens of millions of victims tortured and murdered by Christian oppressors would disagree—if only they could have. 

Ward ignores the vast majority of perennial Christian transgressions against mankind. He touches upon one or two of their many inhuman horrors now and then, with but brief mention (and, of course, tepid, even fetid rationalization). 

Over the centuries, the telltale eye of history has witnessed Christians murdering apostates, people of rival religions, and even fellow Christians who had trivial spiritual discrepancies. 

They eradicated millions. For example the Cathars, then the Stedingers, then masses of German peasants (in the Deutscher Bauernkrieg), all excused by biblical jurisprudence, or immoral decrees from religious leaders. 

Christian monks burned tens of thousands of “witches” while alive—approved, and even urged on by every pope across many centuries. Yet Ward actually asserts “no one who has studied history could deny that most wars in human history have not been religious” (73). 

I had to read that sentence twice; anyone who has studied history realizes the opposite is true. He backpedals: “And in the case of those that have been religious, the religious component has usually been associated with some non-religious, social, ethnic, or political component...” 

What religion has not been infiltrated by social, ethnic, or political components? I can name some, but the three main monotheisms have always had greedy and malevolent termites in their midst. Christian leaders have suppressed freethought for nearly two thousand years. 

The total number of lives taken in the name of mythical Jesus? It amounts to tens, even hundreds of millions, and it took Christianity fewer than twenty centuries to accomplish this feat of “moral perfection.” Ward seems only slightly aware of such atrocities. 

His sub-section “The Crusades” covers—I kid you not—a page and a half (68-69)! Again, this is the very subject of his work, entitled—need I remind you?— Is Religion Dangerous? 

Clearly, the negative effects that Christianity and the Bible brought about—genocide, torture, forgeries, censorship, large-scale annexation, and psychological blackmail—far outweigh the weak and sparse and apologetic positives. 

And Jesus never uttered a word, it seems, against slavery, ethnic cleansing, or the violent gladiator games of the times. Ward claims that all religious views are “underpinned by highly sophisticated philosophical arguments” (91). 

This statement is not only absurd but sadly hilarious, while hilariously ironic. The archetypical believer in Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed, or Yahweh did not arrive upon his or her faith through any kind of “philosophical” analysis, sophisticated or otherwise. 

The roots of such delusions usually lie in childhood brainwashing, instilling unfalsifiable myths in the budding mind while still soft and tender and pliable. 

The true sources behind most ongoing religious, superstitious, and mythical beliefs stem from youthful indoctrination by parents. It is the reason Ward is a Christian, Bin Laden was a Muslim, the Dalai Lama a Buddhist. 

It is the reason Hitler remained Catholic. Being so raised, he claimed to be on a mission from his Christian god: “Hence today I believe that I am acting by the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord” (Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, Ch. 2, “Wiener Lehr - und Leidensjahre”). 

Any freethinking individual who has studied history can see that religion is, at face value, not merely dangerous, but a malignant behemoth guilty of mass murder and perpetual spiritual blackmail. 

This excludes, of course, the few truly peaceful religions, such as Mithraism, Jainism, Buddhism, Bahá’i Faith, Universal Unitarianism, and Quakerism, as well as Zamenhof’s noble Homaranismo experiment. 

If only such benevolent belief systems were more universally embraced, what an even more wonderful world we would inhabit. I do truly blame Constantine’s cronies first, for choosing scripture from violent and immoral Hebrew and Christian cults. Too bad they did not pick, say, Buddhism or Mithraism. 

In Histoire des Origines du Christianisme, Bk 7, Marc-Aurèle, Ernest Renen wrote: “One could say that, had Christianity been terminated in its infancy due to some mortal affliction, the world would have become Mithraist.” 

Then I blame emperor Theodosius I for declaring Christianity the only legal religion of the empire, in 391 CE, under penalty of death. 

Eusebius was also a very dishonest and central contributor to the tall tales and subsequent atrocities, all based on myths and oral tradition and nonsense, some scrawled and copied by ignorant cultists, including dishonest Christian fathers. 

Don’t get me started on Popes Innocent III, Gregory I, or Innocent VIII, or we’ll be here all day. The current pope, Herr Ratzinger, is also worthy of many books exposing his immoral and illegal actions committed while wrapped in flowing female eveningwear and—now in his current position as infallible Vicar of Christ— comical headdress. 

Summary Christians, Muslims, and Mosesbelieving Hebrews will find that Ward preaches to their choir, and will appreciate his book, as long as they remain ignorant of history and of actual words of violence and intolerance recorded in the Bible, Torah, and Qur’an. 

No freethinker, aware of history, will find anything of value in Ward’s flaccid 21st-century Christian apology. Perhaps simply by subtle contrast, Pat Robertson’s aforementioned publication offers a laugh on every page. It is like a book report on the Bible written by a nine-year-old. 

D’Souza’s rants are merely sad and embarrassing: to him, and to humanity. And if anyone offers you Lee Strobel’s works, be sure to counter with the truths in the many publications by Bart Ehrman, as well as Robert Price, Frank Zindler, and Joseph Wheless. 

One must be honest, and sometimes even vitriolic about this subject because Christians cling to the claims made by people like Ward, D’Souza, Robertson, Strobel, William Lane Craig, and Frank Turek, their heads buried deep in superstitious sand, with a cherry-picking of the “good parts” of the Bible (and apparent ignorance of actual history and Bible anathemas). 

Such beliefs and disjointed obstinance are ultimately dangerous. Never has any act of genocide or suicide bombing been perpetrated by, for instance, a Jain or a level-headed secularist. 

To help convince them that they are perhaps misguided, simply point believers to the evil parts of the Bible, the plethora of contradictions, and the sad, mad results that these religions have exacted across the millennia. 

Such a task might seem almost impossible but take heart. Many true believers have come to their right minds. Contemporary examples include Christians who had sought to become preachers, including Ehrman, Matt Dillahunty, David Smalley, and Dan Barker. 

They studied the Bible to such a great extent that they finally pulled their heads from Christendom’s contradictory and immoral mud pies to realize it is, in fact, 99 and 44/100% pure: that is, pure bullshit. 

Point out the atrocities, the millions murdered in the name of Jesus, and contrast that with the number of people killed by, say, Quakers or Jains. By very definition, Quakers and Jains cannot use their religion to rationalize murder or any evil action. 

Yet Christians can cite multiple scriptures to “prove” that gays should be killed, god supports slavery, misogyny is valid, and the notion that Christians should travel the world and preach their religion while annexing all lands occupied by “heathens.” 

The core of your argument can rightly be: if the Bible never existed, then early Hebrews and later Christians could not have claimed god on their side in performing their many immoral and murderous acts, still in practice today. 

No Crusades, no witchhunts, no Inquisitions, no oppression of gays, apostates, non-virgin brides, or people of other belief systems. If no Bible: peace, prosperity, the continuation of Hellenistic enlightenment, and no Dark Ages.

More from the author:

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By Michael Paulkovich

Michael B. Paulkovich is a columnist for American Atheist, an aerospace engineer and freelance writer who also contributes to Free Inquiry and Humanist Perspective. He is a contributing editor for The American Rationalist and the author of No Meek Messiah. His next book, Beyond the Crusades, was published in 2015 by American Atheist Press.


Suggested reading: 

1. Treatments on Bible absurdities and errors:

  1. The Bible Handbook by W.P Ball.
  2. The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy by C. Dennis McKinsey 

2. Scholarly and neutral examination of the Bible:

  1. Constantine’s Bible by David L. Dungan
  2. New Oxford Annotated Bible
  3. Bart Ehrman (any of his books)

3. Witch-hunts throughout history:

  1. The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade by M.D. Costen
  2. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman by Carol F. Karlsen
  3. The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe by Brian Levack
  4. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages by Jeffrey Burton Russell

4. Scholarly treatment of deities and religions:

  1. Man and His Gods by Homer W. Smith
  2. The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara Walker
  3. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt by Richard H. Wilkinson 

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