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.
- Was the god of the Old Testament all-knowing?
- If so, what could cause an all-knowing being to change his/her mind in later writings?
- Does the Christian Bible start with some chapter other than Genesis?
- Does the Christian Bible change the Ten Commandments or the punishment for breaking them?
- 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.
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.
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.