вторник, 16 юли 2019 г.

Bible Arguments 13

By DeYtH Banger


"As comedian Bill Maher pointed out in one of his hilarious monologues,1 you can freeze a stem cell indefinitely, which is something you definitely cannot do with a baby. Even the bible, which equates life with breath, actually seems to agree with modern American law, which acknowledges that a human life begins at viability. I don’t know of any fundamentalists who add nine months to their age. But many believers, being religiously colorblind, can only conceive of “life” (a full person) as black or white, red or blue, all or nothing. Those of us who affirm a woman’s freedom to decide her own reproductive future equate a human life with personhood, seeing the earlier stages of development within a spectrum leading up to a precious baby whose arrival and existence we do cherish. Personhood is blue, while a zygote is red, with a prism in the middle."

- Dan Baker

"In the beginning was the Turtle. The Turtle was swimming across an endless body of water. One day it dove to the bottom and brought up a lump of mud. When the mud baked in the sun, it became dry land. The land expanded into a vast area where trees grew. One day the Rabbit started kicking a blood clot by one of the trees until it formed into a human being."

- Dan Baker

"Then I asked how many believed the creation myth of a later group of people, the Bronze Age Israelites, including the earth being created from a watery void, Adam being formed from the mud, Eve being taken from his rib, a talking snake, a talking donkey, a jealous genocidal war god named Yahweh (“my name is Jealous”), the Nile River turning to blood, and food falling from the sky. Most of the hands went up in that audience. They think the Turtle is false but the talking snake is true. They are polarized. They can’t see outside their own color.
All human groups have invented meaningful fables, but their fable is actual truth, they proclaim. The vast array of colorful creation myths collapses into “us versus them.” Truth versus lies. Some believers do appreciate the varieties of religious belief in anthropology; they just see them all as quaint but false, “out there,” while their belief is the one true faith. They can’t see themselves as part of the fabric, or their color as part of a spectrum, or their religion as having evolved from earlier antecedents. In the previous chapter, I talked about how law has ancestors, but the same is true with religion. If you can step back and see that your religion is just one cousin from a grandparent (as Christianity and Islam are descended mainly from Judaism), and also realize that the grandparent is a cousin to other religions descended from even earlier ancestors, you can perceive your faith not as a blunt stand-alone creation, but as a small part of a larger array. Your worldview becomes enriched. Gregory Riley does a nice job of illustrating the family tree (or branching river system) of world faiths in his book The River of God."

- Dan Baker

"Look at your own beliefs the same way you look at the beliefs of others: from a distance. If you can’t do that, you are religiously colorblind.
Think about ethics. Most of us, including believers, act as if we embrace situational ethics in our daily lives, but most religions teach that there are absolute moral laws that must be followed no matter what, by command of a dictator. For example, since the Ten Commandments prohibit bearing “false witness” against a neighbor, most Christians think it is always wrong to tell a lie. Not just wrong, but sinful—a character flaw. However, while it is true that honesty is generally a good principle for social harmony, telling a lie is not always immoral. We do have laws against perjury, false advertising, contractual misrepresentation, impersonating an officer, identity theft, and so on, but it is generally not illegal to tell a lie.
Suppose a woman came to your front door, bruised and bleeding, saying that her husband is trying to kill her. You take her into your home, tend to her wounds, give her a place to stay for a while. Later, her husband comes banging on your door, shouting, “Do you know where my wife is?!” What do you do? As a good moral person, do you tell him the truth? I think all of us know that in that particular situation, the most moral thing to do is lie to that man. Otherwise, we risk greater harm to the woman. Telling that lie is not a sin: it is a good act of which you should be proud. But some Christians have told me that although they would indeed lie to the husband, they would feel bad about it and would later ask God for forgiveness. In their polarized brains, telling a lie is always sinful. Morality is absolute. Such colorblind moral thinking influences all ethical issues with which society is struggling, including stem-cell research, birth control, abortion, gay marriage, doctor-assisted suicide, war, state-church seperation…"

- Dan Baker

"Suppose I break into the home of a loving Christian family. This mother, father, and two children are faithful church attenders who read the bible and pray every day. They are generous, good people who help others and witness for their faith in Jesus. I tie them up and shoot the dog. I drown their cat in the bathtub. Then I set the house on fire and they all die. When the police ask me, “Why did you do it?” I reply: “No reason. The Devil made me do it."

- Dan Baker

"In the biblical Book of Job we read about a good “blameless and upright” family man who was faithful in worship yet endured horrible torture at the hand of the God he loved. Satan, with God’s explicit permission, caused a huge wind to blow down a wall and kill Job’s ten children. All of his thousands of animals were killed. (The bible doesn’t say if he had a dog or a cat.) In Job 2:3 we find these words: “The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil. He still persists in his integrity, although you incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.’” So the police ask God, “Why did you do it,” and God replies: “No reason. The Devil made me do it. Then I said to the audience, “Raise your hands if you think the God of the bible is a moral monster.” Less than half the hands shot up.
That is proof that hundreds of people in that room had eyes to see, but saw not. The same crime by two different actors for the same reason is judged morally wrong when committed by only one of the actors. This is a psychological bias induced by religion. It is “looking the other way,” deliberately excusing the actions of a family member or other person you admire or love. It is what allows ministers and priests to get away with abusing children right under the noses of their parishioners who can’t imagine their beloved leader would."

- Dan Baker

"Think about truth. Most fundamentalists demand that truth claims be absolute. In true polarized fashion, Jesus reportedly said, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Christians are required to think that any answer between the extremes comes from Satan!"

- Dan Baker

"Servetus was murdered because of the misplacement of a preposition. His view of the nature of God was a different hue from Calvin’s. Servetus had discovered that the New Testament does not actually teach the concept of the Trinity. (Hence, the birth of modern Unitarianism where the deity is not “God in three persons” but simply “one God.”) There is only one verse in the bible that explicitly mentions the triune nature of God in three persons: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (1 John 5:7). This is known as the Johannine Comma, because, as Servetus learned, it did not appear in any preceding Greek manuscripts of the biblical text. That verse had been interpolated into the more recent Latin Vulgate translation by the Catholic Church. Servetus eagerly brought this textual and doctrinal error to Calvin’s attention, naively imagining he would welcome another opportunity to correct the fallacies of Catholicism."

- Dan Baker

"Fundamentalists have a desperate need to agree with each other 100 percent. To feel confident and unthreatened, the religiously colorblind need to know that all the members of their group are seeing the same color. “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,” Paul wrote, “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of…"

- Dan Baker

"Truth is not a thing. Truth is simply a measure of how well a statement matches reality. The only thing that can be true or false is a statement, a proposition. Reality is not truth: reality is reality. If the sky is blue and I say, “The sky is blue,” then there is a strong correspondence between my statement and reality, so my statement would be true. If I say, “The sky is orange with black polka dots,” there is a very low correspondence, so my statement would be false. Of course, the sky is always changing color (it is sometimes orange), and is dark during the night, so “the sky is blue” is a true statement that has to be qualified. It is not absolute…"

- Dan Banker

"You have magically turned faith into fact, water into wine.
Truth is rarely black and white. (I wanted to write “never black and white,” but that statement would be absolute. I need to allow that I might be wrong.) Forcing truth to be absolute is like making the rainbow a solid color, which is no rainbow at all.
The next time you talk with a true believer, remember that fundamentalists are religiously colorblind. That’s what it means to be a fundamentalist. That includes the founder of Christianity. Jesus, if he existed, called himself “the Truth,” and said, “He that is not with…"

- Dan Baker

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