Thou Shalt Kill

I am an antitheist primarily because of the violence in the Bible and other religious writings, regardless of how much of it actually happened, and because of the violence directly caused by people’s reading of the Bible and/or other religious writings. Many modern members of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion (deliberately singular) believe that the people that have caused such atrocities are misinterpreting the written words of this religion. Many even claim that religion is inherently peaceful; I believe quite the opposite. I believe religion, or more accurately the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion, to be inherently violent by design and purpose.

The Bible Mandates Killing

It may surprise believers, especially believers that do not actually read the Bible, that the punishment for breaking any commandment is a nice painful public stoning to death. This includes working on the sabbath. In fact, the killing appears to have started immediately upon Moses’ return from the mount. In Exodus 26 – 28, three thousand people were killed for believing in the wrong god. Thus has it been ever since.

Leviticus chapter 20 is a quite good example of proscribed killing. 9-27 get quite interesting in fact, containing certain acts that many of us would not have considered previously. I believe this section of the Bible is probably not suitable for children. However, not having any children myself, I’ll leave that for parents to decide.

Exodus 34:11 starts a nice sequence of total genocide. This genocide is detailed beginning in Deuteronomy 2 and continues through most of Joshua as the Hebrews go into the land of Canaan. Numbers 15:32-36 is a nice passage about a man who was (oh horror) picking up sticks on the sabbath. Numbers 25:6-9 show god’s incredible tolerance for mixed race couples.

Is the New Testament Any Better?

Many argue that Jesus explicitly changed the law in the New Testament. Before I answer that, let’s as a few logical questions about that.

  1. Was the god of the Old Testament all-knowing?
  2. If so, what could cause an all-knowing being to change his/her mind in later writings?
  3. Does the Christian Bible start with some chapter other than Genesis?
  4. Does the Christian Bible change the Ten Commandments or the punishment for breaking them?
  5. In which chapter and verse of the Bible did Jesus specify which parts of the Old Testament no longer applied?

Now let’s examine some real issues from the New Testament itself. Matthew 5:17 states clearly that Jesus still supported the Old Testament in its entirety. Matthew 10:34 states that Jesus explicitly did not come to bring peace, but rather a sword. Mark 4:11-12 sure sound to me as if Jesus wants people to be confused rather than saved. This seems strange to me for someone who allegedly loves his fellow man and even his enemies. In Luke 19:27 *, that ultimate pacifist Jesus asks that those who refuse him as their king be brought before him and killed, not my definition of a pacifist.

Further Reading

In case these are not enough for you, there are plenty of wonderful resources out there that will point out the violence inherent in the Bible. The Skeptics Annotated Bible is a good example; Religious Tolerance lists each of the genocides from the bible with citations; there are many others. I confess that my knowledge of the New Testament is even less than my knowledge of the old. So, in the previous section, I hand-picked a few choice examples that struck me as particularly horrific from another section of The Skeptics Annotated Bible that deals specifically with the violence and cruelty of the New Testament. I will say, however, as evidenced by the fact that all of my links are to other sites, that I did in fact cross check each of the references on sites devoted to providing the scripture to the public for free. The sites I used for both old and new testament references are religious sites, not anti-religious sites as The Skeptics site is.

More links: bible contradictions on FFRF, Evil Bible, Bible Atrocities

Throughout History, Violence in the Name of Religion Has Been the Norm Rather Than the Exception

Crusades, Inquisitions, jihads, pogroms, IRA, etc. have happened repeatedly throughout history. These are evidence of the effect of religion on mass morality. It is true that wars and genocides have happened in the absence of religious motive, as with communism and other totalitarian governments. However, the effect of religion has been a huge negative throughout history. The genocides throughout history are again documented on the Religious Tolerance site.

Violence in the Name of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic Religion Continues Unabated

Clinic bombings & doctor shootings, anti-homosexual hate crimes, World Trade Center, IRA, Israel/Palestine, India/Pakistan, Bosnia, and many other violent episodes prove that religion is still a tremendously evil force even into modern times.

Religion’s Inherently Evil Purpose

In Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize winning book Guns Germs and Steel, he states rather matter-of-factly that, ‘Stored food can also feed priests, who provide religious justification for wars of conquest.’ Some might discount such a statement despite the stature and reputation of the author and professional anthropologist. However, the pattern is clear that religion has indeed performed exactly this function for many cultures throughout history.

Please note that I have not particularly delved into the third of the major sub sects of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion partly because I have not read nearly as much about it and partly because I do not wish to be on the losing end of a Fatwa. So, I’ll leave this third sect for analysis by the likes of Salman Rushdie.

In conclusion, it is my strong opinion that although we are, by nature, a rather violent species, religion in particular has had a hugely deleterious effect on humanity as evidenced by its huge number of deleted humans. Further, religion continues to cause deaths around the world.

* Please see my comment from 1/10/2009 regarding Luke 19:27. It appears that I am likely mistaken about the meaning of this quote. I do not know exactly where in Luke 19 the parable ends. It appears that it may not be Jesus telling this part as applying to himself. If anyone can tell me exactly what the point of this passage is and what else it is supposed to mean, feel free. It seems to be just another example of violence in the bible without being an order to commit violence. I apologize for my prior misunderstanding.

22 Responses to Thou Shalt Kill

  1. Justin Taylor says:

    Very interesting article, despite the fact I don’t agree. Is it your contention that religion is an inherent evil created by man? Do you negate the possibility of God, or the mere possibility of God as presented within Christianity, or some other religion for that matter?

  2. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Justin,

    Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad it can appeal to those with different views. I usually try and fail miserably at that.

    My opinion on the existence of god is the same as my opinion on Odin, Zeus, Baal, Ganesh, fire-breathing dragons, flying unicorns, the tooth fairy, elves, The Great Pumpkin, and many many others. If one is to make the claim that such beings exist, it is their responsibility to provide at least a shred of evidence.

    If someone can provide me with at least as much evidence as there is for String Theory, which should probably still be labeled as String Hypothesis, I would at least become an agnostic. As yet, no such evidence is forthcoming. Therefore, I state with the same level of conviction as I have regarding fire breathing dragons, that god does not exist. There is not even enough evidence to give me doubt.

    I may change that opinion if some evidence is presented.

    Lastly, yes, it is my contention that religion was created by man as a mixed attempt at explaining the currently unexplainable (a.k.a. god of the gaps) and the desire to control the masses. It is far harder to get people to die for a cause or leader without religion than with religion. It’s not impossible, of course, just more difficult. Religions that create the concept of an afterlife make people far more willing to die than those that do not. Religions that guarantee entry to heaven for death in a holy war create a whole mass of people who actively want to do just that. Neat trick!

  3. hughstan says:

    Great assumptions neatly expressed, and covering a significant amount of what most intelligent people think about religion (in the singular), but . . .

    And from what you have said I’m sure you welcome the occasional but.

    But, Christ, if you allow, as one extrapolation from religion, if it is to be true cannot function as a corporate expression, even though as a religion it seems as if it does. For me, if Christ is to be real it is a personal expression of an inner conviction that manifests itself in a life that selflessly loves the needs of other humans ( neighbours), and in doing so glorifies and proves God.

    I am not talking about a duty or an attempt to reap some reward, but of an inescapable need to consistently behave in a way that cannot be restrained, or explained as a normal human reaction to need.

    The proof you are seeking would, therefore, lie in an observed behaviour that you saw and knew to be genuine and more than what a human would normally be capable of doing. It would be behaviour that obviously advantaged a person or persons in need to the disadvantage of the giver. And it would be unpaid and a total way of life, not a once a week devotion or a profession.

    You might say that you have never seen such proof. Fair enough. You might say that if you did you would believe. Fair enough also. And you might say that you will not believe until you see such proof. Equally right and proper for any intelligent person to say. But I believe that it is in the singular and personal that truth is revealed, not in the religious normalities of creeds, and that it is in the personal that an intelligent and loving person would seek for truth about Christ.

    One problem, though. Such people do not broadcast what they are doing, and even if there are many around they will be hard to find.

  4. bobbo says:

    Justin–about what specifically do you disagree? Does Scott quote the bible wrongly?

    Scott–funny the “good book” is so opposite what people trump it up to be? I wonder if anyone actually does read it? And yes, the Catholic church does and turns everything even it can’t tolerate/preach into an allegory or a mystery? Christopher Hitchens said something interesting that as bad as the Old Testament was the New Testament was even worse. It is the new testament that brings us eternal hell for not submitting. The old testament only tortured and killed us.

    Hughstan–science==that which is reproduceable by all who examine the subject.
    personal==the source of all that is idiotic.

  5. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    Well said.

    hughstan,

    I would have to add two things to bobbo’s comment.

    1) Why Christ? Given some of the horrifically bad things he is reported to have said as well as the amazingly good things, if the man ever really existed, which I doubt, why Christ? Why follow such an amazingly manic/depressive sometimes loving sometimes hateful human? Why not just come to the conclusion that one should be loving and good regardless of the existence or non-existence of Christ.

    2) Even seeing would not be believing in my case. I understand too much about the human brain and the reasons for such delusions. In fact, eyewitness testimony is among the worst evidence of anything in the world. I would not trust my own over anyone else’s. I would want the type of evidence that would be considered valid scientific evidence. And, it would take just a tiny shred of that to cause doubt. Thus far, however, there is not even a single shred.

  6. Higghawker says:

    Scott,

    I’m going to start with your questions about the New Testament, the New Law. There have been 4 “ages” since the creation of the world. #1 The Patriarchal age, (Adam, Abraham, etc) God actually spoke to these heads of household and instructed them on how to live their lives.
    #2 The Mosiac age, (Moses, 10 Commandments) Here we have God giving the Israelites these 10 laws to live by. These commandments were for the Jews ONLY!
    #3 The Prophetic age, God speaks to the prophets who in turn teach how people are to live.
    #4 The Christian age, started when Jesus died on the cross and is ongoing today, (the last days) Hebrews 1:1-2 states that we today, and since the death of Jesus are to listen to God’s son. Where do we find Jesus teachings? The New Testament.

    You mentioned Matt 5:17. When Jesus walked on the earth before his death, he abided by the Old Law. But, he fulfilled all prophecy while he was here, thus thru his death, nailing the Old Law to the cross. The New Testament is for everyone, Jew, Greek, etc.

    Col:2:14: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

    Mark 4:11-12 The apostles were given special gifts (walking New Testaments, I like to call them) The New Testament is not written down at this time. The apostles are given the mystery (New Testament knowledge, teachings, etc) so they may go and teach others, while the books are being confirmed. Around 40 to 50 years after the establishment of the church Acts 2, the New Testament is in written form and these gifts were no longer needed, as one may now as today sit and study for yourself the written books.

    Luke 19:27 is in reference to those who do not obey the gospel (become a Christian) will pay the price of eternal death in hell at the Judgment Day. Compare Matt. 13:49, 2 Thess. 1:8-10

    Lets discuss these passages.

  7. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Higghawker,

    So, your interpretation of Matt 5:17 is that after Jesus’ life, all the rules changed? What about the ten commandments?

    Re: Mark 4:11-12: Why the mystery? Why would god want the rules to be obscure?

    Re: Luke 19:27: This is a literal killing here on earth. I see no way to interpret this as hell for non-believers. If you do, fine. However, that only makes it worse, not better. What kind of a god would create hell??!!? Not one worthy of my worship, I assure you.

    Simple question for you:

    Was god always all-knowing, or is this a recent thing?

    More complicated question:

    If god was always all-knowing, what could make him/her change his/her mind regarding the rules by which to live?

    It is quite normal in the course of a human life to change one’s mind on a variety of subjects. We learn; we grow; we form new opinions. God already knew everything. Why change the rules on us? Why set up all the alternate sets of rules? Why do we have Buddhist rules and Hindu rules and Jewish rules and Muslim rules and Norse rules and Greek rules and Roman rules and Taoist rules and Jain rules?

  8. Higghawker says:

    Scott,

    #1 Matt 5:17 Yes, the law changed. The 10 commandments were for the Jews. These laws were set up for them, so they would come to the understanding of needing a Saviour. Jesus was and is that Saviour. The whole of the Old Testament is talking about the Saviour Jesus and his coming. He came, and they rejected Him, as he was not the grand ruling King they had expected. Jesus nailed the Old Testament, Old Law to the cross. Jesus died for everyone’s sins, it is up to you to choose to obey the New Law or not? There is a choice involved. Studying, believing that Jesus is the Christ will bring obedience to the New Law. To have one’s sins forgiven, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. Acts 2:38

    #2 The mystery was the New Testament. It was not in written form in the time of it’s beginning. Jesus used these 12 apostles to help spread the new teachings. The Holy Spirit spake thru these men and taught others. The mystery has now been revealed to us in written form. It is believed this took around 40 to 50 years to complete. When the Word was confirmed, there was no more need for the Holy Spirit to speak thru anyone, as now, as is today, we can sit down and study the New Testament in book form. The mystery revealed.

    #3 No, it is not a literal killing here on earth. This is speaking of Judgment Day. Those who have not obeyed the gospel, will be eternally lost.

    All knowing God

    I fail to understand what God being all knowing has to do with him changing his mind? God is all knowing and has always known what He was going to do. He has implemented His rule to us in different ways over time. Gal 4:4 tells us, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,”
    Ephesians 3:11 “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:”
    Hebrews 7:12 “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”
    When Jesus died, the Levitical priesthood changed.

    God is not human. I think you are trying to humanize God? His plan has always been the same, it has been implemented different ways.

  9. Misanthropic Scott says:

    Higghawker,

    The 10 commandments were for the Jews. So, it is now OK for Christians to kill? to follow other gods? to covet their neighbors’ wives? to bear false witness?

    What about the rules not in the ten commandments but in the O.T.? Is it OK in Christianity for a man to lie with a man as he would with a woman (i.e. be gay)?

    As for god being all knowing, I think it is you that is trying to humanize god. If god were to exist and be eternal, that, by definition means unchanging.

    How then do the rules change? How does what was once sinful become acceptable and vice versa?

    Lastly, I think you are interpreting the words in the bible very differently than their literal meanings. You are probably applying your own moral values as a filter onto the words of the bible. This would mean that, quite literally and by definition, your morals are NOT coming from the bible, but instead are coming from your own mind. I would argue that this is a far better source of morality than the horrifically violent bible. But, are you prepared to admit that your own morals come from inside rather than from scripture?

  10. bobbo says:

    There is that old formulation that God is:

    1. All Knowing
    2. All Powerful
    3. All Loving.

    ((or formulate your own list of three–its kind of fun!)

    and logically, you can only have any two on the list before resorting to “its a mystery” answer.

    I like the following thought experiment:==imagine a universe that did not have a god. How does it look/act? If you are honest, you will say EXACTLY like the one we are currently in.

    But who cares about logic and evidence when discussing “that which exists outside of time and space?” HAW, haw I say!!!!

  11. Misanthropic Scott says:

    bobbo,

    Excellent points. I like the converse even better. Imagine a universe with a personal god. The universe in your imagination should include the efficacy of prayer as a genuine means of getting things, healing the sick, solving world crises, etc. How does that universe look? If you’re honest, it is demonstrably different than the universe in which we live. Imagine the ability to pray to god for temporary suspension of the laws of physics. It really would change the universe in which we live in testable and demonstrable ways.

    Of course, this only works for a personal god. It will not work for the god of Spinoza. However, it could easily be argued that the god of Spinoza or of deists (are they the same god?) is completely and utterly irrelevant regardless of existence or not.

    And, of course, any such god opens up the endless recursion issue.

    If you believe that all effects have a proximate cause and thus need to believe in a god, then you must also believe in a god creator. Not to do so would be self-inconsistent and hypocritical. And then of course, there must be a god creator creator. This sort of logic not only flies in the face of quantum mechanics which completely and utterly disproved cause and effect at the quantum level, it also flies up its own asshole in endless recursion. It’s turtles all the way down.

  12. BubbaRay says:

    Better watch out for the altar and stained glass, BubbaRay is commenting on a religious thread.

    Turtles all the way down. Precisely.

    Scientifically, I wonder how God manages to predict and influence the outcomes of the some 4 x 10^79 quantum decisions occurring constantly at intervals of time less than the Planck time. That’s what it would take to influence reality in a measurable way. Are their infinite multiverses? Hoo, boy, that’s a tough job.

    What about Chaos Theory? Etc. etc.

    Theology is beyond me, as there are no hard data, no theories to test and thus no predictions to make. (Except: I predict that religious wars will probably continue as long as there are at least 2 humans alive.)

    Do bonobos and dolphins go to Heaven?

    /ramble

    (Off topic — more pictures, more pictures!!)

  13. Misanthropic Scott says:

    BubbaRay,

    Re: more pics, I’m working on it. It’s surprisingly time consuming.

  14. BubbaRay says:

    “BubbaRay,

    Re: more pics, I’m working on it. It’s surprisingly time consuming.”

    I know, believe me. But what better way to have semi-intelligent creatures appreciate the beauty you were able to see with your own eyes? My astropix just don’t compare with the real thing — billion year-old photons activating the rods in a Mark I Mod 0 eyeball with direct to brain data in real time!

  15. Cooper says:

    GOD IS LOVE

    But LOVE is not GOD

    Brothers

    READ THE URANTIA BOOK

    You will find many TRUTHS within it .

    http://WWW.TruthBook.com

    PEACE

    Coop

  16. bobby robinson says:

    The belief in God is the belief in good. The purpose of atheism is the demolishment of morality. It provides freedom from morals to its adherents by removing the possibility of an absolute good – God. “Thou Shalt Kill” is rationally and morally bankrupt and categorically denies justice, love, and good. Jesus’ central teaching is known as the Golden rule and it blows away this author’s claims. The author will do good to remember the PARABLE Jesus finished up in Luke 19:27. Why must you misrepresent scripture? You are trying so hard to justify your existence, but, in the very act, you claim that your existence is meaningless and needs no justification whatsoever.

    The violent acts of history are not the application of the Golden rule, I can assure you that you are mistaken. Those violent acts are acceptable and justifiable to the system of thought that you are purporting as true, but they are in complete opposition to God. Christ demands submittance to good and truth and love. You simply want the freedom to be evil while being thought of as good.

  17. I have not misrepresented any scripture here. I have quoted literally from the Bible and backed it up with links to religious sites.

    bobby robinson, have you forgotten the wonderful things religion has brought to humanity? The crusades? The inquisition? The IRA? Clinic bombings? Doctor shootings?

    As for Luke 19:27, if you’d care to interpret it please, by all means, do so for us. However, the literal reading of it is obviously an incitement to holy war.

    Atheism has no purpose. Atheism is merely a rational way to look at the world. When you understand why you do not admit the possibility that elves, gnomes, unicorns, and the Great Pumpkin exist, you will understand why atheists do not admit the possibility that god exists.

    Yet, atheism is also not an assertion. Atheism allows the atheist to change opinions in the light of new data. Should god provide some shred of evidence of his existence, most atheists will become at least agnostic. However, since there is literally not one single shred of evidence for the existence of either god or elves, I will not believe in either.

    As for your claim of morals, you should take note of the high correlation between religiosity in society and violent crime. In nations with a greater number of nontheists, there is a far lower crime rate. The human brain has morals processing centers that, with the exception of sociopaths, provide quite good and fairly universal morals. It is religion and other strong ideologies that can twist those morals into a pretzel and make good people do horrifically bad things.

  18. foobar says:

    You make some good points but loose a lot of credibility when you say “In Luke 19:27, that ultimate pacifist Jesus asks that those who refuse him as their king be brought before him and killed”.

    I largely agree with your overall point but this specific argument is a gross distortion and taken wildly out of context. It is pretty much a lie it is so bad. For those of you who haven’t bothered to read up on this guy’s points, you should at least read up on this point. The quote is in the bible but it is not Jesus saying it about himself. Jesus is reciting a parable in which there is a prince who says this. The point of the parable is about people cherishing and growing the gifts given to them, the part where the prince says this is in the story but not even its main point.

    I understand you are looking for ammo to make your point but you make it a lot stronger with less ammo if all the ammo is legit.

  19. foobar says:

    also…

    Really trying to say that the new testament promotes violence is pretty weak. There are tons of contradictions in the bible (new and old testament) and the old testament is definitely full of lots of crazy violent stuff but the new testament is really pretty consistent in its pacifism.

    I guess I understand why you felt it was so important to include that one point about Luke 19:27, it was your hardest hitting point (although false) in an overall pretty weak case you were trying to make.

    Here is a better question, if you enjoy beating up on Christianity, given that the new testament espouses pacifism so strongly, how do you justify the churches long and sordid history of extreme violence, even up to the present day? How do you reconcile “turn the other cheek” with killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan because they killed some of ours? The answer of course for real christians (i’ve met very few) is you don’t reconcile it, killing is against christianity in any and all forms, *even self defense*.

  20. foobar,

    Would you please cite a source for that? When I read the entire passage of Luke 19, I did not see any indication that the supposed speaker was not Jesus. If I am incorrect, I would certainly retract that statement.

    (pause to re-reread this, as I have done now several times previously)

    I am now not clear on exactly where the parable ends in this. I am less clear on the point of the whole passage. I will retract my statement about Luke 19:27 as the passage makes no sense to me at all.

  21. foobar,

    Both of your posts make some excellent points. I should point out that I do not enjoy beating up on Christianity. I enjoy beating up on the entire Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion, which I consider to be singular. To me, the various sects have such minor differences as to be immaterial. Christianity does indeed still consider the Old Testament to be valid, and as such, regardless of what is in the New Testament, is still inherently violent.

    Further, as you point out, regardless of what is in the text, the result of Christianity’s existence, just like the result of Judaism’s existence and Islam’s existence, has been a huge net increase in violence over the centuries even over that of an inherently violent species.

    Sectarian beliefs are just that, by definition. They divide people into sects of Us and Them. The mistreatment and killing of Them is always condoned and often advocated by such beliefs. Even where such beliefs are nearly identical, as in the case with Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, the effect is often violence. In the case of Israelis vs. Palestinians, both groups would readily admit and advertise that they are the same people, except for their religion. Muslims often have the name ibu Ibrahim. Jews are often ben Avraham. These two groups, by these names, regardless of historical accuracy of the biblical story of Abraham, are claiming decent from a common ancestor. These two groups assert that they are brethren. And, they kill each other.

    In fact, they are killing each other for a story that may or may not be real about a claim to the “birthright of Abraham”. The man was a shepherd. Would one side or the other please give the other side a bunch of sheep and we can all get on with our lives?

    So, no, I don’t enjoy trashing Christianity. I enjoy trashing religion as a whole. The only thing that keeps me from trashing eastern religions is that I don’t know enough about them.

    The correct term for me, as such, is an antitheist.

  22. foobar,

    One final point regarding these two posts:

    Thank you for the correction. I am usually willing to admit when I am wrong and to learn from it. I also appreciate it so that I do not continue to propagate my misinformation.

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