Passive Christianity, Part 1

There is an eternal war within Christianity, one that will never end so long as rich people want to stay rich, so long as the government exists, so long as Christianity exists. It is a war about the message of Jesus, a war with intelligent men and women on all sides, and a war I cannot fully comprehend.

Does Christianity teach socialism?

As those on my facebook are likely aware, I tripped upon Libertarian Christian Doctrine yesterday, and I simply don’t understand their reading of the Bible at a surface level. I am trying to remedy that by reading their primer. The very first thing they say, the starting point for their Christian foundations, is the war I just mentioned, whether or not Socialism was on Jesus’ radar.

To be fair, a very literal, very strict, very passive reading of Jesus’ words allows for this. Oh, you don’t think I should be using literal, strict, and passive to describe the same thing? Please allow me to justify myself.

The core of their argument rests upon whether Jesus preached mandatory or optional charity, and as all things on this topic, references Acts chapter 4 as a passage in the Bible that they consider to be misleading unless read with the correct frame of mind (as opposed to those who think God is not a God of confusion, of course). Acts 4 speaks of the early Christian Church charitably selling their possessions, a la Jonestown (negative connotations obviously intended), to support the group. They didn’t do this because they had to (as a function of a command, I suppose, as obviously they did this out of necessity), but because of the charitable spirit of Christianity.

I think the thing that people forget is that we use the term Charity far differently than they would back in the day. To them, the closest thing they could understand in our modern world to charity would likely have been a soup kitchen; aside from various religious sects, you didn’t just hand your money over to anyone and expect then that they would care for the people you wanted them to care for. At least, I have no historical knowledge of the “Save the Lepers” foundation around the turn of the first millennium, but that is obviously open to dispute by someone who knows of such a charity. The thing is, prior to Jesus, the Church was a form of government where God was merely analogous to President or Emperor, or your chosen title. God laid down laws, and while many may believe that the Ten Commandments are those laws, they have likely never read Leviticus or Deuteronomy. Those two books have laws so strict and so in violation of the idea of liberty that I can’t believe any Libertarian ever made it through them to the New Testament (if you are of the opinion that “I should be able to drink and drive if I want, and the consequences be upon my shoulders,” I wonder if you recall how strict Jewish Law was in how drinking was performed, or what they are allowed to dress in, or how sick people are to be “handled.”).

This brings us to the next battleground, whether the Old Testament law matters at all, whether we should be talking about it. Everyone seems to agree that the Ten Commandments apply, but Leviticus and Deuteronomy are traditionally (though not historically) attributed to the same man who wrote the Ten Commandments, the person of Moses. There is some argument over the meaning and context of Matthew 5:18, for example. What does that mean, “until all is accomplished”? Well, if you take it out of context, people obviously assume that means “Until Jesus rises to heaven,” and thus done is done, all is accomplished, and we don’t have to follow the Law! Huzzah! But wait, what’s that other part in the same verse?

“Until heaven and earth pass away”? That is harder to explain away, and it seems Jesus (and certainly James his Brother), both agreed that the Old Testament should be adhered to in every tenet. Well damn, this is awkward, right? And, can you believe it, this is a line during the Sermon on the Mount. Tough to ignore that kind of gravitas.

There is a retreat of sorts used by most people who are trying to argue The Law out modern discourse, in that St Paul wrote (Romans 7:1-6), in stark, almost perfect contrast to Jesus, that we are freed from the law (Galatians 3:13). Now, I would challenge a person to find where Jesus even so much as implied this sentiment? And why we take it as Gospel truth despite literally not appearing in the Gospels? And why Paul is allowed to create doctrine that has no previous basis? In word-for-word contrast to Jesus’ teaching that the Law is to be adhered to, even so much as the Pharisees, to exceed them in Righteousness, on pain of Hell? 

But this is where the intersection gets very interesting, and I could talk about this for days, for years. I can quote Jesus, and my general modern Christian opposition can quote Paul, and they are both incredibly potent quotes. The side you take depends on the baggage you bring to the table. Reading it and wanting to believe purely in the loving message of Jesus, one will obviously side with Paul. Those who are truly Christian fundamentalists should understand that the Early Christian Church practiced Jewish Tradition. These were Christians, in the earliest sense of the word, who had a schism with Jews, but still believed Jewish law was binding.

So long as the Bible is in conflict with itself, there is no end to the war, for both sides have the greatest soldier on their side, fighting the other side… The soldier of God’s word. What I want to know is how God’s word is considered a sharp, potent weapon when it cuts both ways so equally.

I’ve only gone two levels deep in this discussion, and I already have a blog length post going on here. I am going to read more into this Libertarian Christian movement, see if I can find anything more in alignment with my own interpretation of the Bible, and then post my thoughts for all both of my readers to ponder.

This is obviously not a conclusion, which means I can make a series to this effect. This should be fun! I will write more about it, because I need to lay a lot more ground work before I can write a proper conclusion, before I can touch all the points I’ve brought up with some sort of finality of explanation. I hope you don’t mind, especially since this basically means I won’t be having any one week breaks in the near future!

Anyway, see you next time.

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A Wonderful Article

It has always stunned me, how people defend their conservatism while stating that they are strong Christians. That requires clarification; not just strong Christians, but Right Christians, those who understand the truth of Jesus’ message. The American right is probably the most easily recognizable, where the rich somehow manage to make people believe they are delicately balancing the tight rope that is being rich while being godly. I know they get something out of the Bible that I never was able to, and I’ve written about the disagreements of the conservative anti-socialist policies and the Bible that I see at length in the past. That being the case, it was incredibly refreshing when I tripped across this article about the Liberal Jesus. Even as an atheist, I can appreciate the very strong good sentiment going on in this article, and I really wish more people would write about (and believe in) this kind of Jesus…

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but in the northwest hemisphere of our wonderful planet, the voice of the Christian Right is far louder than the voice of their liberal counterbalance. I do a ton of research and reading in regards to Christianity, and occasionally it feels very lonely to be a left-leaning, atheist, socialist blogger when looking at the walls of the great city of the Christian Right. When I see an article that seems to be ripped right from my own thoughts (albeit written much better than I could write it), I tend to latch onto it. I want everyone to read this, I want to hear the counter arguments, I want people to cite passage, chapter, and verse in defense of the Jesus I see, the Jesus I thought I knew when I was still Christian. The Jesus of mercy, the Jesus of forgiveness, the Jesus of giving to the poor.

The article also opened me to a passage in the Bible that I was clearly not familiar enough with. Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6) is… Well, since I have not brought it up myself, but I would have to say that it is largely ignored by the Christian Right. Certainly, it does not fit into their worldview. The passage calls for so many things that stand in stark contrast to the hoarding of wealth by the rich under the rather skimpy costume that is “trickle down economics”. Give without expecting repayment, forgive without expecting forgiveness, do not judge, even those who judge you harshly. Sinners give to each other, expecting favors in return, and what good does it do them? If a good person does good for another, expecting them to be good in return, what good does it do their spirit? So be good to those who are evil to you, and your reward will be greater outside of this world (if you believe in that kind of thing).

Really, the whole point I am trying to make here is that we should be kind and merciful to those who have it the worst. It seems so often to be forgotten, especially in the United States, where “justice” is the highest per-capita incarceration rate in the world (take THAT, Communists!).

I think this article posted to cracked.com is very relevant; no one wants to even help pedophiles overcome their desires because they are … What? So far gone that nothing can save them? Is that your opinion?

No, I think we need to extend more of a hand of mercy, to help them. At least, help the ones who are trying not to succumb to their desires; even I am not one to extend a hand of mercy to a diddler… But just because you are a pedophile doesn’t mean you are a diddler, and I think too many people forget that.

What was Meant

There are two versions of this blog post, one short, and one long. I’ll put the short version first, so you can skip all the words without losing the overall message. EFFICIENCY!

Today, many people will tout that they know what the Bible means, or how to interpret the stories in it. Some will use that knowledge to preach love, some will use it to preach hate. I hope that statement isn’t overly controversial, the Westboro Baptist Church has the same Bible you do, at the very least.

But really, no matter your confidence, do we know what the people who wrote the Bible down, from Old Testament to New Testament, really wanted us to learn?

Short version answer: Nope.

Long version answer: That is a complicated question, and certainly you require a redefinition of terms at the very least to even begin to unravel the ball of yarn that is historical interpretation, translation, and intent.

To start, before the books of the Bible’s Old Testament were written down (and yea, before they could be written down) they were oral traditions. How long were they oral traditions? Well, to pin that down with any high degree of accuracy, we’d have to rely on either asking them, or having them write it dow… Wait. Nope.

So we don’t know exactly how old some of the stories are (though they do have historical markers in many of them, which help to date them). Then we continue to walk down the road of history as far as oral tradition can take us. Well, how do we know the stories that got written down were anything close to the original orations?

Well, the common rebuttal is that there were professional oral historians whose sole job was the maintain and recite history. We can see Hebrew mnemonics in certain areas of the Old Testament that are evidence of methods in use to improve recall of the stories. Certainly, a person whose sole job is to remember would do better in such an arena than would your average person off the streets… But they would have no error checking, no oversight. What would happen if or when they make a mistake?

And if you are going to tell me that stories survived 800 years orally, without any errors, I have some pieces of the original cross to sell you. Or maybe the Shroud of Turin is more up your alley?

Let me make a few modern examples to show you the flaws in that logic, in any case.

A banker’s primary role is in dealing with money. I would say the bulk of it is counting money, and ensuring accuracy in tallies and counts. They have the money in front of them, concrete, physical, unchanging. They will double and triple count money at the beginning, end, and during the day. And yet bank errors occur, despite the fact that the banker’s sole (and some would say primary) purpose is to ensure money changes hands reliably without change and… Wait, was I describing your orator or a banker? Some of those words got a little aligned there. Weird how that is.

Howe about me, in my current field of information technology. A server is designed, from the ground up, to prevent me from making errors. In order to do anything on a server that runs, say, the heating and cooling for an entire building, I will have to accept one hundred warnings, check one hundred boxes, agree to one hundred confirmations… And there are times when I, or yea, people with many years more experience than me have made errors. My sole purpose is to change these settings, to ensure they are changed properly and correctly and without error, and there are systems whose sole purpose are to stop me from making said error… But errors get made.

How about your grandparent? They will tell stories, and I am sure you have thought at times that it could not have happened like your grandparent recalled, but you’d not say anything, of course. But it is well known that dementia and Alzheimer’s are diseases primarily affecting the elderly in the population. In the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s, I’d be willing to say that your slips would be so minor that they could be attributed to a slight dimming of your recollection, to the point you (and anyone around you) would write them off simply as slips of memo–oh damn, what was the sole purpose of the orators? Memorizing things?

And who was the most revered, respected person who would pass along knowledge? The elders of the tribe? Let’s give that elder a generous age of 60 (if they lived in a nice place, a clean(ish) city, it could have happened even in time before history), and they’d be the elder for… We’ll say 20 years? Hell, give them 30 years, we’ll say for the sake of gentle argument that they were the elder for a full generation. If we assume only 800 years of oral tradition (The earliest parts of the Bible were written down in 800BC, and I know they reference events at times as early as 1600BC, though the accuracy is in question), then that was some 26 or 27 generations of elders. That is a lot of time for one of them to have had some degree of early Alzheimer’s.

But… But they obviously wouldn’t be trusted when they couldn’t recognize the face of their own kin, they wouldn’t be the elder any more! So they wouldn’t have passed on the failed stories!

You have to remember that even if we assume a generous life expectancy, they would never have had an 80 or 90 year old Alzheimer’s sufferer, or Dementia sufferer in the 10th and earlier centuries BC. The person entrusted with oration could have had slight slips of memory and died, and so the story altered over time.

But… But there would have been many orators! Many people who remembered! Several for each village, maybe!

Yes, but then you’d have conflicting versions of the story, and how would you resolve those? Well, I don’t know how they’d have done that, but it wouldn’t be hard to think that they would accede to the eldest and most respected of the elders–the one ironically with the highest chance of misremembering a detail. Even if that wasn’t their method, even if it was democratic (against all logic, since democracy was certainly not widespread at the time), you’d have younger elders who learned the slightly altered version voting for the slightly altered version.

You’d have inaccuracies creeping in over time, even if you had ten thousand safeguards. The modern translations of the Bible attest to that, for even within two years there will be versions with differing translations, errors, typos, mistakes in meaning or scholarship. Think of the monks who made copies of the Bible before the printing press; again, they had concrete copies, and yet if you look at old Bibles, you will see scholars marking “Copyist error” in the margin… And that is when they had an older version to copy-check again.

Or how about some of the earlier mass produced Bibles? There was a copy with the Commandment “Thou Shalt Commit Adultery” that was mass produced in the 17th century, only 30 years before the King James version was officially published.

So tell me again that there were no errors in the oral histories, and again I will find more evidence to show that wishful line of thinking will not hold.

How about even the word “history”? Certainly in the times of the Roman Empire, history was a much more sinuous beast, harder to catch, harder to pin down. People did not write down history as we understand the term, history was an idea, was morals and fables, not so much “writing down an accurate account of what happened.” What we call history today is more often viewed in the tax records of the time, or the census records, birth and death certificates, than it is in things that people wrote down — for what people wrote down and what happened are often at odds, and you can see what happened far more in the number of troops reported dead at some location than you can with some historian writing down about the battle. A historian may have written down that it was a great victory, where the death toll was nearly equal on both sides. This is two knives, not just a double edged sword; at work here is the fact that history was the lessons (in this case, the lesson of “we are so much better than x barbarian tribe), and also the fact that history is, was, and will be often written by the victors. In the global world we live in, it is becoming less so, and underdogs tell their tale to fanfare in these days more than ever before, but the principle still stands.

Reza Aslan wrote about this in greater length and with more gravitas than I can–though if you don’t trust Aslan, you can check with any historian who specializes in the centuries around year 0 and you will find similar messages.

So what was written down in the Bible, even when it was close to the events that happened (and you must remember that the earliest gospels were at the very minimum written in 70AD, 40 years after the death of Christ) likely weren’t written with a mind for exactly what happened. They would have been written with a mind for teaching the lessons of Christ, and if those lessons were of humility and sacrifice, well… The events of his life were certainly a great parallel. Almost a perfect parallel. One might say they were perfect for teaching the lessons of his ministry, and by gosh, we’ve come full circle. Again.

I am not calling into question the lessons they taught, as they are certainly good lessons. I am calling into account the historical veracity of the Bible. The YECs may be the only faction to take the Old Testament as historical fact (or as absolute historical fact, as in a 6000 year old world created in exactly 6 days, and with genealogies that can be traced back to Adam), but most people believe the life of Jesus was reliably written down.

It wasn’t. Depending on the details you are viewing, many traditions were in the Bible that were not present at any other time. The tradition of freeing a single prisoner during passover? Find me another reference to that outside of the Bible. Or, even taking that tradition as fact, what about freeing Barabus instead of Jesus? Were there only two prisoners? When given the choice of a rabble rouser (Jesus) and a serial killer (Barabus), wouldn’t they just vote to release no one at all?

Or what about the trial before Pilate? Pilate is recorded by history as having signed so many death warrants without having even so much as read the name on them that a formal complaint against him was lodged with Rome. The crime for which Jesus was condemned, Sedition, wasn’t even a crime for which you would have been given a trial. If you were said to be guilty of sedition, it was off to the cross with you, no questions asked. And during the Passover, when tensions were already heightened? The idea of Jesus having an audience with Pilate is almost silly.

I think I’ve belabored that point extensively enough. The idea is that the Bible can’t be taken as historical fact, as it had a political fact from over a thousand years before it would even have been recognized as a cohesive book, as the Bible you know.

So the people who decide what was meant by these stories? What allegories and laws and ideas and histories and world views should be taught? That adulterers should be stoned, that it is OK to kill an abortion doctor, that homosexual sex is a sin, that Jesus would support this or that idea… Those are what you have discovered two or three thousand years separated from the person who originally came up with what you are reading. Who is to say you learned the lessons they even wanted to teach?

For those reading between the lines in the Old Testament to come up with meanings that aren’t there in a plain reading of the text, I’d like you to step back and read this story, told colloquially (I can find no reference for it aside from a newspaper clipping, so it is at best anecdotal).

When asked about the themes and morals in his book Hatchet (part of the Life of Brian series), Gary Paulsen said that he was happy that so many people have gotten so much out of his book, but that he didn’t write it with all of these themes and morals in mind. He just wanted to tell a good story.

With that in mind, how can anyone today say that it is they that have the themes of the Bible correct? That they have interpreted them correctly, when billions of Christians who came before them with likely billions of differing interpretations have obviously gotten them wrong? That is it you who knows exactly what Jesus meant when he spoke the parable of the mustard seed, when it is a completely nonsensical parable unless it is explained to you?

Again, I do not want to shake your faith or your morals, but I want you to be careful what you claim you know. You don’t know it any better than I do, and believing that someone is going to hell because they believe differently than you is condemning everyone who isn’t you to hell, because chances are their beliefs differ in some core way from yours, but you haven’t had a conversation with everyone in your congregation, and who knows what is going on in your pastor’s head. He can’t tell you one tenth of what he is thinking in all of his sermon’s combined, so who knows where you differ from him? Where your core beliefs, something you completely disagree on based on some word of Jesus or another, may shake your relationship to the core–if you ever knew.

Just some things to think about.

What was Written

As I read through the Bible, going from the start (Genesis 1:1) to the end (Revelation 22:21), I find things I never really knew were there. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I was raised Catholic. The odd thing about Catholic services is that there is a schedule of sorts, for which chapters, verses, and from which books you will read–and certainly it does not cover the whole Bible, even in a complete cycle.

Why is that?

Well, the first reason is that there are some very odd things in the Bible (as I’ve mentioned at great length before), obviously. The second is that there are some stories in the Bible that… Well… You just know, right? The Tower of Babel is one such story, right?

I would wager that you know more about the Tower of Babel than was actually written about it. How long do you suppose the story was in the Bible? A chapter? No, it was 9 verses. It is summed up in the following:

The people all spoke one language and wanted to build a city out of brick instead of stone.

God saw this, and decided that if people built a city of brick, they could do anything. He did not like that, so he confounded their language.

Yes, that is really the gist of it. God was threatened by the humans using such advanced materials as brick, so he scattered them. This, again, seems more like God not having a lot of foresight (or human wishful thinking that really shows how little creativity people show when trying to explain something as complicated as language).

That being said, the old testament is an interesting read (or at least, parts of the old testament are very interesting) in that things are … Weird. It was Winston Churchill’s own son who was said to have quoted “God, isn’t God a shit?”

But even in the New Testament, it is the rare believer who is really familiar with the works. Certainly, the story of Jesus’ birth is a story that has as many versions as there are people who remember it. Why was Joseph in Bethlehem? Well, there are a few reasons given. Did he go to Egypt? No one is quite sure, except it is mentioned in one gospel.

Oddly for Catholics and their doctrine of the Ever-Virgin Mary, the Gospel of Matthew lists Jesus’ brothers and sisters (and, as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, Jesus’ brother James led the early Christian Church from the council in Jerusalem). How can the most populous Christian Church in the world get something so obvious so wrong, and how can a billion people believe it? I mean, it is even in prayer and song; Blessed Marry, ever virgin. Can that be true? No.

I am not even talking about contradictions, here, I am just talking about the parts of the Bible that are written clearly that people simply don’t know, or completely ignore. It is like certain chapters and verses are straight up non-existent.
I won’t lie, I haven’t gotten to my reread of the Epistles of Paul, or the Book of Acts, so who knows what I will find there?

Paul is an odd character, both in his written works and in his historical story. He seems to just not care about the actual story of Jesus, aside from the ending (the resurrection). As I recall, he is more concerned with two things; how awesome he is (for as it says in the Epistle to the Galatians, chapter 1, verse 8-9, if anyone preaches a gospel to you other than what I have preached to you now, even if it is an angel of God, let him be accursed), and how much more he knows about the TRUE JESUS than the actual apostles (the same verse is a pretty good example, actually). It is well sourced that Paul did not get along with the 12 apostles, not least of the reasons being that Paul believes that he was the best apostle, selected before his birth by God. He states in his epistles that he would have been the greatest of the apostles, except for the fact that he was born too late.

The point of this is that modern Christianity is more man-made traditions than it is revelation from God. So many modern Christians think they know what is in the Bible, because their pastor said this thing or that thing, but very few understand how many traditions in the Church come from somewhere well outside of scripture.

I don’t mean to insult you, but I think if anyone wants to debate religion, or even fully discuss religion, we (as a whole society that is still majority Christian) needs to go back to the basics. It is almost a cliche, to return to the fundamentals, and to say someone is a fundamentalist Christian is often used as a back-handed compliment… But I mean it. The Catholic Church is probably the worst for made up traditions. There’s a reason lots of Protestant faiths don’t have a very high opinion of the papal seat… But even nondenominational beliefs need to be examined.

What I am saying here is before you get all up in arms, you should probably read the Bible. There was a very good snafu lately from people having no idea what the Bible means, summed up in this image.

Good times.

A Personal Kind of Excuse

Edit: Happy 100th post everyone!!!

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians — they are so unlike your Christ.” -Mahatma Ghandi

“With or without [religion] you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, you need religion.” -Steven Weinberg

“I’d like to think that, thanks to my intelligence, I make very few mistakes… But when I do make mistakes, they tend to be legendary.” -Me

The above three quotes tie together so well that it almost seems some kind of magic, even some kind of miracle. I don’t think that is an accident; the quote I gave from myself is one I tend to use as a talisman to ensure I retain some level of humbleness; it is when I think I am right most often that I make the worst mistakes (I once made a mistake so legendary it made the news, though thankfully my name was removed from the story). This is not anything to do with religion, this is to do with being a human, but it ties back so often to religion and to war that I felt it important to include it as a counterbalance to the Weinberg and Ghandi quotes.

Carl Jung, a great psychiatrist and psychoanalyst of the early 20th century, has been quoted (and the quote slightly varies, but the idea is always the same) as having said “I do not need to believe [in God], I know [God exists]!” This is the type of knowledge that leads to mistakes that can end up being legendary. “In the fullness of time,” writes Sam Harris, “One side of this debate will really win and one side will really lose.” It is in this vein that I try, as best as I am able, to never make an absolute statement with regards to religion.

I will fully admit, of course, that my own brand of intelligence has led me to lose my belief in God, but I would never say “there is no God.” That being said, I am comfortable saying the following: “There is probably no God, and if there is, he/she/it is probably not of the Christian variety.” If I am wrong, and both of those statements turn out wrong (and I am comfortable saying I cannot know the truth until I die), then I am comfortable admitting that I have made a mistake that was, in fact, more grand in scope than I could ever imagine in this life. Perhaps, I am open to thinking, there is something to the Christian religion, and to the fact that I may burn in hell for the things I have come to believe about the world and nature.

That being said, many of my beliefs in nature align with Christian beliefs, though that word was chosen carefully and advisedly. Belief and practice are often two very different things, as any public atheist tends to learn in the fullness of time. It is very few, the number of atheists that have not been told they will burn in hell, or that they should die, or that they are (quoting a letter sent to Richard Dawkins) “Only alive because my God commands me not to kill.”

Perhaps it is my naive reading of the Bible that has made me come to this conclusion, but I would think that wishing a person dead is in direct breach of Matthew 5:27-28, which states that, in part, “Any man who has looked at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” It is in my own naivete that I believe this is a broader commandment, one that charges Christians to keep a pure mind, not only with respect to adultery but with respect to all of the core commandments. This is, again in my mind, bore out by the fact that one of the core commandments states that thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods; this is not just saying “thou shalt not steal,” but is further saying “thou shalt not think about stealing.”

I think the Golden Rule really needs to be more prominently on display in the Bible, and in the hearts of its readers. I really think that sending hate mail, no matter how justified you feel, is in breach of this rule. I think hating, or in any way persecuting homosexuals, is in direct breach of this rule. I think there are greater moral teachings than the Golden Rule, though it is very good, but like an artist with a block of clay, I work with what I am given. Much in the same way, now that I think about it, an apologist or Christian works with their own block of clay. There are parts of the Bible that no person can say are moral (or if you do, you are looking through some heavily tinted sunglasses), but they are there, so we work through them, all of us, even non-Christians.

Oh, but how do non-Christians deal with the Bible? I would ask the “witches” of Salem, whose belief or nonbelief in God did not matter. I would ask the “heretics” in the middle east for the hundreds of years that the Crusades lasted. I would ask the hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, whose delicate flesh got in the way of the Inquisitor’s hammer (That’s how that worked, right? The Inquisitors were Godly men, and thus never meant to hurt anyone, these people just happened to get in the way. By accident.).

If these examples are too archaic, then how about the Scopes trial of 1925, where science was denied in the very name of God? Or the more recent Vashti McCollum trial of 1948, where her family was ostracized, her children bullied, her name sullied for years. Is that recent enough?

I am not here to bash religion, but I am certainly not above bashing things that are done in the name of Christianity.

If we want to go even more recent, even today Teach the Controversy is being forced (or, at the very least pushed) upon a barely aware populace. The numbers from Gallup and Pew as to the scientific literacy of the United States of America are almost stunning to those outside of the country, and they seem to correlate with increasingy fundamental beliefs in certain areas of the country, rather than more progressive beliefs and education.

There is no “controversy” among the scientific populace, except perhaps between proponents of kin selection versus proponents of group selection, but even then it is a debate that is being solved by evidence and ideas.

The Scopes Trial, or the Vashti McCollum incident could have been gentle non issues; if you would treat an atheist like you would treat any other brother or sister in Christ, history would barely remember her. She would be referenced in court cases, and would certainly have a place in constitutional history, but who remembers the names of the people who pressed for constitutional amendments? No, I doubt seriously that I would be accutely familiar with (or even have heard) the name Vashti McCollum in a truly Christian world, where people practiced truly Christian beliefs.

But in a human world? Perhaps, perhaps I would have, and indeed, I have.

This is the point where you may say “AHA! You admit that being human is the problem! Well, Christianity allows us to transcend our baser instincts!” I am sorry for using a Straw Man in this case; very few people will speak to me of religion face-to-face, so I am forced to use hypothetical readers. I would like to think I am not an obnoxious atheist, but I am passionate where it comes to eliminating human suffering, so I may get more heated than I would like whenever someone defends their bigotry with the Bible… That being said, I must reiterate, I am not here to take religion away, I am here to take away the evil/bad parts of religion, and I will stay the course to that end. Worded another way, I do not want to debate, I want to discuss.

Now, off of that tangent, we are back to speaking about humans and their base instincts. I do not think it is a prevalent belief that women should be murdered wholesale, but why do you think the people of Salem held the witch trials? I do not believe they were evil people, I believe they were good people who did evil things out of fear and superstition–and they used their Bible as the justification.

It is not humanity that is evil, and it is not Christianity that is evil, but this is a case of chemistry taking two things, putting them together in a beaker, and the result is often ugly. To parallel that with something in the real world, I like mentos, and I like Diet Coke (get off my lawn, it still tastes good!!!), but I know that taking a mentos followed by a shot of diet coke is going to end poorly.

This goes back to a point I’ve made before; if we separate religion from our personal image of ourselves, we can transcend this negative interaction. If I say to you “The Bible preaches many evil things, among the good things,” your first reaction should not be one of indignation or hurt; that is a sure sign that the chemical reaction of religion/humanity is curdling your soul. If you ever defend bigotry using the Bible, that is a sure sign that the chemical reaction of religion/humanity is curdling your soul.

If, however, you admit that the Bible has a dark side, and that we can transcend it, but that religion is ultimately a force that allows you to surpass your own baser nature? I will be on your side. I will help you find Bible verses that support you. I will celebrate and trumpet your religion, but you have your humanity in one beaker and your religion in another, and you understand that they can compliment each other, but should perhaps not be directly mixed.

A moralist who takes the good of the Bible and throws out the bad has an incredibly sturdy foundation. That being said, a moralist is perfectly capable of being moral without using the Bible as their foundation, and that should be recognized, too.

We all have different ways of transcending our own personal flaws. Some use religion, though many in different ways. Some use the love of Jesus as a guide to loving thy neighbor; some use the fear of hell. These are two very different things, and I should hope that even the most die-hard Christian can see that. Some do not use religion; for me, it is my empathy. I do not believe in your God, but even so I believe in being moral and loving to those around us. I believe this should extend to the planet we live on, to those who do not share our beliefs, to those who do not share our opinions, to the animals around us. An issue I have taken with many Christians is that their Bible (and their personal beliefs) often do not extend to the protection of animals–but that, I will admit, is only a minor complaint in the big picture.

To summarize, perhaps, using the same example I’ve used before of the pastor who said he’d be a murderer if not for Jesus… You know what? If that is what it takes for you to be moral, ok, I’ll accept. The issue I take with that pastor is that he takes the Bible wholesale; he has the superiority complex that comes of one of the Chosen, he believes all people must be Christian, he believes that Muslims are the height of evil. Those are not moral beliefs, and I have a problem with his religion. His personal religion.

Do I have a problem with all Christians? Certainly not. I have a problem with the immoral Christians.

If you are Christian, I am going to ask you to take a look into yourself and ask not “What does the Bible tell me,” but “Am I doing unto others as I would have them do unto me?”

To bring out a tired example, if homosexuality were the norm and being heterosexual were punishable by ostracism (in progressive places) or death (in less progressive places), would you think anyone should have the right to decide what you do in the privacy of your own home when both parties are completely consenting? No one is harmed by your heterosexuality, you reason, and yea; no one even needs to know you are heterosexual. It has no bearing on anything outside of your love of your husband or your love of your wife.

“Hey Jim, have you finished your homosexual accounting?”

“No, Charles, I did heterosexual accounting.”

“Why’d you tell me that? Now we have to fire you.”

I should hope we all find the above conversation, regardless of our religious views, ridiculous. And that’s the whole point.

So, to beat home what I have said many times on this blog, let’s all be moral, regardless of our background. If only 10% of us would choose to live that way, the world would be a better place within the week.

The Laws of Morality

So you may recall, if you are a regular reader, that I am writing a sort of “The Bible Abridged” kind of thing (I plan to vastly expand this project, as I’ve mentioned) and that means I am rereading the Bible so I can do it right. Well, I just came upon the Ten Commandments section, which contains far more than just the Ten Commandments; it contains the rules for all people in being just and moral. What does it take to be just and moral in the eyes of God? Let’s start in Exodus 21.

First, male slaves (if they are Hebrew, of course) are to be set free after 6 years of slavery. If you give him a wife from among your slaves, though, the wife is yours forever to do with as you please, and the only way he get to stay with his wife (and any children he had, which are also the lifelong property of you, his owner) is for the slave to dedicate himself as a slave for life, serving one master until he dies (or you force him to leave, and keep his wife and kids, which you can totally do).

Alright, dickish and kind of sexist, but as far as rules for slaves, it could get worse. Right? Well, hold on to your belt, suspenders, or waist band, friends. It does.

Let’s go over the good news, first, though. If you kill someone on purpose? Death penalty. If you kill one of your slaves by accident (and we are talking beating them to death here), you are exiled but are to face no other punishment.

Now, here’s the fun part; if you beat your slave with a rod but the slave recovers from their injuries, there will be no punishment. It goes on more explicitly to say “Because they are your property.” (Exodus 21:20-21)

It is also in Exodus 21 that we find the extended version of “An Eye for an Eye,” which reads, in full: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (Exodus 21:24-25) But don’t worry, this doesn’t apply in full for slaves; the above caveat (if they recover) still applies. Go nuts! But things like knocking out their tooth, or blinding them? Well, you don’t get punished, but you have to let the slave go free. JUSTICE! Thank God for such merciful justice and strong moral leadership, right?

Also, if your slave is killed not by you, but by say… Your livestock? You have to pay the owner of the bull (you) 30 pieces of silver. LOOPHOLES ARE THE BEST HOLES, AM I RIGHT?! Now, if your bull gores another owner’s property (slave), you have to pay that person 30 pieces of silver, and your bull is put to death, and that is way less fun that putting disobedient slaves in a bull pen for sport, right?

For some reason, though, Exodus 21 focuses as much on cattle (Bulls and Oxen, mostly) as on slaves (logic: they are both livestock). Now, I am not sure how often this kind of thing happens, but apparently bulls killed so many people that verses 28-36 (more than one fifth of the chapter) are completely dedicated to how one handles bull-related violence. Huh. Weird.

Exodus chapter 22 has some weird rules, too. If someone breaks into your house at night, you can kill them, no questions asked. If he breaks in during the day and you kill him, you are to be put to death. One would imagine that hiding bodies would make good sport back in the day. Then, when night rolls round, you throw them in the kitchen and cry bloody murder and call the watch! For this body, stiff with rigor mortis, clearly JUST BROKE IN! MORALITY!

The legendary point of contention, if a man sleeps with a virgin who is not married, he must pay the father restitution and marry the woman. What say does the woman have in all of this? SHUT UP AND DON’T ASK QUESTIONS! You’re married now. Go make some babies and a sandwich! (At least, one presumes that was the thought process that went into Exodus 22:16-17)

We go through a few of the more mundane rules; kill witches, kill people who have sex with animals, kill anyone who offers any sacrifice to any gods but God) but then we get to what I am going to call the “Insurance Salesman Clause”. It reads, as per Exodus 22:22-24, “Do not take advantage of a widow or the elderly. If you do, and they tell me you took advantage of them, I will kill you myself!”

There are some basic rules about banking (you are to charge no interest on money you have lent, but you are allowed to take collateral, except their coat. You can have anything except their coat. It expands this thought: If you take their coat, what will they sleep in? So leave them your coat, for I am a God of compassion. Wat. (Exodus 22:25-27)), then the basic rules of religion (kill blasphemers instantly), etc, etc.

Another slightly weird rule is that you are never to eat meat if the animal was killed by any wild animal, no matter how fresh it was (there are, listed I believe in Leviticus, extensive rules for kosher slaughter, but I can’t recall the exact chapter because I try to avoid reading Leviticus as the rules in it are so… Ugh… Well, I am working on a project that involves rereading the whole Bible, so I’m sure I will talk about the weird rules there eventually on this blog). Why does slaughter have to be done in a very specific (and, frankly, no more humane than many other methods of slaughter) way? BECAUSE SHUT UP, GOD SAID SO.

I like the opening parts of Exodus 23, this one is the lawyer cause. You shall never help a guilty person by lying on their behalf. Welp, there goes the entire idea of law as we understand it today (take that, lawyers). Also, if you are the prosecutor and you get a false conviction, and the person is put to death as a result of your prosecution, even if no one knows, and you didn’t know he was innocent, God does. And better know he will judge the everliving shit out of you. Again, take that, lawyers (in Texas)!

Now, these are quick mentions, but again go to how odd the rules in the Bible are… Exoodus 23:18-19. If you are making a sacrifice to me, it must not be made with, in, around, containing, or generally mentioned in the same sentence as, yeast. NO YEAST. This is said at least 15 times in Exodus, NO YEAST. God hates, hates, hates, hates, hates, hates anything to do with yeast, or yeast byproducts. When it rained bread from heaven (manna), it was flat bread, because even God can’t leaven bread without yeast, and NO YEAST! Mentioned in the same breath as that yeasty tirade (hehehe. That sounds gross) is “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.” One presumes other milk is ok, but how common was it to cook it in its mother’s milk that God put a rule in there, the penalty for breaking being… Well, that isn’t spelled out, but generally smiting is the go-to punishment.

Now, things start to get a little darker. Go to the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and kill them. This commandment is not optional. And as long as I am happy enough with how dead they are, I will make sure no one among you gets sick, hungry, thirsty, or even has a miscarriage, because I want to see those people dead SO BAD. (Exodus 23:20-30) In fact, there are three he wants dead worse than others; I will send swarms of hornets ahead of the Jews (who, you must remember, are marching to kill these nations anyway) to just… Ruin their day. Before they die. Seriously! “OH GOD! PLAGUE OF HORNETS! THERE IS NO GOD!” Then you get stabbed in the face by someone on the orders of the same God who just plagued you with hornets? Shiiiiiiiiiiiit, that’s not right, bro…

And the common rebuttal of the harsh laws of the Bible (mostly contained in Deuteronomy and Leviticus) is that “Well, those laws were for the priests.” But this is Exodus. You can’t have “The Ten Commandments”, because God never said “Here are ten specific things.” The Ten Commandments are lumped in with all of these others rules, the rules about beating the everliving hell out of your slaves, but only bad enough that they can still walk.(The actual provision is that they have to be able to walk with the aid of a walking stick within two days of the beating, WHICH ACTUALLY MAKES IT WORSE TO ME!) Also, the killing thing being not optional? Yeah, that gets reiterated over and over in Exodus 23, just make sure NONE OF THEM ARE LEFT ALIVE, NOT EVEN ONCE.

Well there you go, friends. There are your rules for morality, and these are mentioned in chapters shared by the so called ten commandments. (And, it should be said, there are numerous caveats to the commandments, like “You can kill at night, if the person was breaking into your house. But not at day.”)

Boy, I sure am glad the rules for being a good person are so clear in the Bible, and it’s no wonder Southern Christians think people without belief in God are the worst people (even worse than rapists according to Pew and Gallup)! Why, all of us who have alternate laws for morality? We might want to have mercy on those around us, but it’s a good thing God was there in Exodus to tell us that MERCY IS FOR SUCKERS. In fact, the Stand Your Ground law that was at the very forefront of public discourse in the Trayvon Martin case? Justified by God Almighty, and reiterated by Jesus, for as is stated in Matthew chapter 5: “17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.””

Time to go buy some slaves and make them marry each other. For science.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect, Creation, and Science

This will probably be my most negative post in a long time, but I would like to think that I have been fair and level-headed with my blog to this point. Many disagreements between Creation and Science have been highlighted here, as well as several instances of Creation Science, an unholy (IRONY!) merging of two wholly separate fields into something of a shambling husk, a cross between Frankenstein and something less substantive.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is in full effect here, admittedly on both sides, but far more vehemently on the religious side–don’t worry, that isn’t an assertion I’ll make without some definition and supporting evidence. The Dunning-Kruger effect explains the paradoxical inverse relationship between knowledge and confidence. Wait, what? Inverse relationship?

The Dunning-Kruger effect, in its simplest explanation, is the idea that a person of moderate skill or knowledge in a field will often rate their own skill more highly than an expert in a field; colloquially it is the effect described by “The more you know the more you know you don’t know.” TAKE THAT, ENGLISH! In any case, I promised supporting evidence, and I do plan to deliver. Let’s start with the Big Bang theory.

The Big Bang theory is an interesting case study from both sides, religion and science, because it is so simple when boiled down to a single sentence, but paradoxically impossibly complex when expanded to its own amazing scope. In a single sentence, it is the idea that our universe came from a singularity of impossibly dense matter that exploded into everything we see today. When you expand it, though, things start to get confusing, befuddled, almost magical, and difficult to understand (the thing about science is that a good scientist will admit when they do not know something). What came before the Big Bang? Well, at this time it is commonly believed that it is impossible to know; as explained in special and general relativity, time did not exist (as we know it) prior to the explosion of energy that was the Big Bang. In order to understand that, you have to go over and think about the idea that time and space are both a fabric that could be compared to a sheet spread out over… Nothing? Unfortunately, I am not qualified to give you a lecture on space-time and the fabric of the universe, but that is kind of the point; to even begin to understand the Big Bang, you have to understand Einstein’s theory of relativity… And while it has been expanded and simplified since Einstein originally published, and far more people understand it today than did for the first couple of decades after its formalization. It is still so complex that Arthur Eddington, a British Astronomer (read: spent his life studying the very body that Einstein described) was once posed the question “Do you really believe it when people say there are only three people in the world who understand Relativity?” His reply, whether accurate or anecdotal, still speaks volumes about the complexity of this body of science; after considering a moment, he said “I can’t think who would be the third.”

The problem is, we’ve only just scraped the surface; if Creationists are trying to bury The Big Bang theory six feet deep, understanding Special and General Relativity is only the first spade strike; you are just breaking ground. In order to get deeper, you have to begin to understand minute details of astrophysics, a notoriously complicated system of mathematics that is only just able to explain the movements of planets and stars, the idea of an expanding universe, the calculations required to explaining the increasing speed of expansion. Hell, if you were to compare the Big Bang to a cherry bomb, we are still so close to the beginning of the bomb going off that the explosion is still growing. That may not be an accurate analogy; the physics of our rapidly expanding universe are so complicated that they don’t make sense mathematically based on what we know, so we are forced to come up with educated guess-and-test scenarios to even make the math work. “Oh, well there you go! We found something you can’t explain in a science so young there are several people older than the entire body currently alive! GOD DID IT!” No, no I don’t think that is even in the realm of fair play; your God has said “I know everything,” for at least the last 2600 years (written records of the Old Testament). I think, given that case, science should be allowed to study the Big Bang for at least another 2520 years (the Big Bang was first formalized in 1927). If we still don’t have the answer in 2520 years, hey, I am comfortable saying that maybe God did it. Hell, let’s make a bet; I’ll bet we know how expansion theory works in 2520 years; if we don’t, and we’re both still around, I’ll buy you lunch.

Ah, but we’re still just a couple of feet into our six foot grave, friends. Now we start to venture into the wonderful, weird world of Quantum theory; quantum mechanics, to be precise. See, the weird thing about our universe is that things start to break down when you start looking at really, really, really small things; things on the subatomic level. When exactly do physics start to break down? No one is quite sure; we just know that at some point, when going from large to small, Einstein’s model of relativity starts to break down, physics stops working like we expect, and we have an entire field of study dedicated to this. Conversely, when going from small to large, things are weird then… At some point, they start making sense in a traditional way. Things in the small world don’t just move from one place to another, they pop in and out of existence (in a sense), and they can be entangled; changes to one have an effect on the other. The thing is, given the physics that we do know about the Big Bang, we have to begin employing quantum mechanics at some point after the explosion but prior to its existence as a body subject to traditional physics. The interactions, the odd physics, the unexplainable (currently) phenomena, they all make the Big Bang difficult to fully quantify. And, of course, we understand that even the idea of physics breaks down when all of space-time existed as a singularity; there may have been a universe before, or nothing at all, or the singularity could have been something we completely don’t understand. It could have been something akin to a god, I am not willing to rule it out (though someone with a much deeper knowledge of the physics of the Big Bang may have some knowledge that rules this out that I am not aware of), but certainly I feel comfortable saying it wasn’t the Christian idea of God.

Now we are starting to get fairly deep in our grave. Are you still ready to keep digging, after you have an in-depth knowledge of Relativity, Astrophysics, Quantum Mechanics? Or are you going to keep digging without understanding those fields?

Ah, but even if you understand the minute details of all of those fields and still believe that the God of Abraham was at the beginning of all things, we still haven’t dug our six foot grave to bury the Big Bang theory yet. In order to get deeper, you have to start to understand the idea of Quantum Chromodynamics, and here is where my own knowledge begins to drop off, so you’ll have to forgive me for my more basic descriptions of the following theories. Now, Quantum Chromodynamics is defined as follows:

“In theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics (QCD) is the theory of strong interactions, a fundamental force describing the interactions between quarks and gluons which make up hadrons such as the proton, neutron and pion.”

I am afraid that I doubt I will have a working knowledge of this field of science before we get to the end of this post, but in order for you to dismiss the idea of the Big Bang theory, you first need to understand and find fault in QCD theory. Once you’ve done that, surely you are six feet deep, right?! No, no I am afraid you are not, though you are admittedly getting close. Still, there is more to understand, and things are only getting weirder.

We are now in the realm of the purely theoretical; the realm of almost pure math, where we are using numbers instead of words to describe things that we cannot actually observe. We are tearing apart the universe and using numbers to tell the universe how it works, DAMMIT! The problem is, when there are almost no ways for us to empirically test these mathematical constructs (YET!), we are left in the realm of best guesses. To be fair, thousands of scientists spend thousands of hours each every year trying both to describe the universe’s most odd fundamentals and then prove that their descriptions of accurate. This adds up to multiple millions of man-hours each year, where the brightest, most well educated minds on the entire planet are trying to describe how the very mechanics of the universe work; like tearing apart a watch to examine all the cogs and springs, only there are an innumerable amount of both cogs and springs, and they are all so small we can’t see them.

So when we get into the very depths of theoretical physics, we have come across literal billions of man-hours of science that can only, when added together, begin to describe the universe as though they were infants asked to describe the inner workings of a V6 engine. Imagine there are two children standing in front of a running V6, both asked to describe it. One says “It makes noise, then a car moves.” The other walks around it slowly, sees the pistons moving, see parts rotating, and says “I don’t know, but those moving parts have something to do with it, and I am going to spend the next few years figuring it out.”

Which one, then, better describes the approach of “God did it!” when working with science so complex that there is no mind in the world that could possibly understand it all?

Now here is where the Dunning-Kruger effect comes in at full force. The greatest, brightest minds in the world say “I don’t know, and I do not have the expertise to know.” Minds home schooled, with no formal education in physics, who hold government office are comfortable saying “Well, of course I know! I know all the answers!”

The very funny thing is that the Bible is 800,000 (or so) words long, and I would be surprised if the body of papers about the Big Bang alone measure only that many pages (seriously, I’d imagine there are far more pages than merely 800,000 out there). I have read the Bible; I’ve gone through it several times. I have seen strange contradictions, interactions, falsities, missed prophecies, historical inaccuracies, and even then I know that there are people who know far, far more about the Bible than me. That being said, there are people who know far less about the Bible, having never read it themselves, who would feel comfortable telling me that it is an inerrant document, the literal Word of God, having no contradictions, and that physical science and history is only correct when it aligns with the book they have never read, and here we have another almost egregious example of Dunning-Kruger at work.

The point is this; when you are going to parrot something that someone has told you, such as “God did the Big Bang!”, please at least make a strong effort to understand what you are saying. I am one man, but I have made a very strong effort to understand, as well as a layperson can be said to understand, the physics involved in the Big Bang. I have read a great deal about Relativity, about Astrophysics (even if I cannot do the math that this field requires), the various facets of Quantum Theory, and I am afraid that after having read thousands of pages, I have to extend my arms and offer something that I would describe as trust, but you might describe as faith. I do require some degree of faith that the math all works out in the end, because I find that I am incapable of doing the math myself at my current level of education.

The difference between my growing knowledge and the idea that the Bible is all you need is that I am constantly learning. Maybe some day I will know enough that I will not require faith, or science will understand enough that the theories describing the universe itself can be boiled down into forms that can be understood by the layperson.

The thing about your faith is that it is in a book that you have either read once, or from which you cherry pick verses, or that you have never read at all. If you are going to tell me that your Bible is inerrant and literally true, read through the entire thing, and tell me in your own words how you justify that. If you are just going to parrot people who have done it before you, saying exactly what they said to me, that shows a lack of understand, or a lack of comprehension, or a lack of having read the material at all.

What I have done here today wasn’t parroting information about the Big Bang; I told you about the theory in my own words, using my own understanding. I could do the same (and have, at some length) regarding the Bible and factual errors as well as inconsistencies… But the funny thing is, even then, I have done a ton of external research. A great place to start, and to start with an absolutely theistic leaning, is with the works of Reza Aslan. His book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is an incredibly in-depth look at the historical validity of the Gospels contained in the Bible. To clarify, the book does not aim to tear them apart, it aims to tell an accurate history of Jesus and the early Christian Church, to form a coherent single narrative out of the disparate tales contained in the Gospels. I mean, I find it odd that you can say the Bible is inerrant and free of contradiction when none of the four primary canonical Gospels seem to be able to agree on the life of Jesus. In any case, I would like to hear your refutations of the points made by Aslan in this book. Some of the points include the fact that no census was taken that would have required Joseph to go to Bethlehem, the fact that “going to the city of your fathers” in no way describes how a Roman census was conducted, or the fact that, as he was born of a virgin who was impregnated by God himself, Jesus would have had zero drops (that is 0%, none, nil, 0/1, 0/100, zip, zilch, nada) of blood that would tie him in any way to the lineage of David. To go even one step further, the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke give two completely different genealogies of Jesus, and that barely matters because genealogies of the time were done through the male line, and it was Mary’s blood in him anyway. What was the genealogy of Mary? I don’t know, I don’t even know who her Grandmother would have been, let alone tracing back her history some 42 generations, let alone 76 generations. Another odd thing is that the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke both have David in Jesus’ lineage, but the generations between David and Jesus in the Gospel of Luke was some forty two, and in Matthew was twenty seven. Even more damning, these ‘detailed’ generations contain only two names in common.

There, a single paragraph. If you can tell me, in your own words, why the genealogy of Jesus is listed so differently between the two Gospels (and, while you are at it, why his genealogy matters at all, if he was born of a virgin), and how you still believe the Bible to be inerrant and literal, then we can continue this dialog forward. If you send me nothing but a quote from someone who never seems to be able to defend themselves in a public forum, I am afraid we have reached an impasse.