But why?

So I was watching the new episode of Creation Today and I just… Am so sad at what they think of how lowly they think of other human beings. The episode itself is about pain and suffering, but for the most part they focus on the low hanging fruit, ignoring what others would consider the real issue.

They talk about how pain is important for our survival, citing a child with CIP (does not feel pain) who constantly injures herself as a result. “Obviously,” their reasoning goes, “pain is important. Case closed.”

What’s really funny is that they opened the episode with Stephen Fry asking why God would give children bone cancer, but ignore that point. “Christianity is the only religion that explains why pain is important.” They never touch on how children with cancer improve our world, but they do argue that general pain does. I mean, often the YEC will resort to misdirection, but they are the ones who brought up Stephen Fry, they are the ones who highlighted this clip of him lamenting children who live short, painful lives, then die, and then they are the ones who completely ignore the point they brought up. That is quite odd, even for them.

The weird part is where they get into ethics; “Atheists just think we are matter doing things to other matter, and why should that matter? Atheists really believe there is nothing wrong with murder!” Why do you get to say that? Why do you think there are no scientific reasons for morality and ethics? Why do you so strongly think you know what I believe more than I do?

I am sad that they think so little of people who are not Christian. They will tell you that they love all people, that they want to spread the word, that they want to convert people… And it works on some, but their methods are so insidious. “You are worthless except to God,” goes their logic, “Your morals are bad, your ethics are bad, you are going to hell, you are ignoring science, facts, and knowledge, you are looking at the world wrong, your thoughts are wrong. So join us, and all of that goes away!”

Wow. I am glad you think so highly of me. I am glad you are so reasonable.

They go further, in the episode; “Forest fires kill hundreds of humans, destroy life, damage habitats. So we should stop them, right? WRONG! Ecosystems require forest fires to thrive!” That is correct, of course; many lives, many trees, many ecosystems rely on forest fires for their regenerative purposes, for clearing out the old to make way for the new. We cannot stop them, and many will die in the future, many homes lost, many lives destroyed, because there is a greater good that comes from it.

But why?

Why did God create the ecosystem, as they would assert, that requires the destruction of so much, the death of so many? Is that pain good? Is it required? Did He have to create it that way? They tackled the question of forest fires from only the first level, assuming they are a given, but why should they be a given in a world created by an all loving, all caring creator? I am not attacking the fact that God did create these forest fires, the true question is “Why?” Why did God create an ecosystem that not only kills His Chosen people, but requires killing.

To me, it is always odd when people cite The Exodus as a reason that God loved his Chosen people. “He went to bat for us! He destroyed the Egyptians! He helped us escape oppression!”

First, he helped you escape after 400 or more years of oppression, by your own count. Second, once you escaped, he didn’t give you a home–you wandered for 40 years in the desert. Not only that, but He, the God who loves you, put strange, almost crazy restrictions on the Chosen people, the people that He loved. Dietary restrictions? You know it! Restrictions requiring the painful and occasionally horrific modification of male genitalia? Absolutely! How about we go back even further, because right out of the gate, even long before this, He cursed all women to monthly menstrual cycles and the pain of child birth, due to them eating a fruit! And, if one thinks about this at even the shallowest level, you have to remember that Eve did not know it was wrong. She and Adam had not yet eaten of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which means they would not have known their actions were evil. Oh, they may have found it odd that they were going against something God said, but all people go against their parents via our apparently God-given instincts. What do you do if your child disobeys you for the VERY FIRST TIME? Do you punish them slightly? Ground them? Get unhappy with them?

I am going to assume you would not curse their entire gender. I would say their entire species, but that isn’t true, is it? God is not good at targeting His curses, for He hit the females of every animal species because of Eve. Those are not the actions of a loving God. Those aren’t the actions of a stable God. Those aren’t the actions of a sane God.

This might seem an unjust attack on Christianity, or on a loving God, but that isn’t what I intended. I wanted to build context. “Why do you believe God loves us?”

Is it the Exodus? We covered that, the Exodus took his “Chosen” people from 400 years of slavery into 40 years of starvation and thirst. During that, His people were subjected to harsh Laws and restrictions. Hell, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he calls what God did “The curse of the Law.” That’s right, God saved His chosen people… Then immediately cursed them. Did He curse the Chinese, who did not know of him? The North American Native peoples? The Mayans? No, He did not curse those people. He cursed His chosen, but not any of his non-Chosen, except for the Egyptians… But thinking about that, they rebounded FAR BETTER than the Jewish people.

During any point in history prior to, and for several years after, Jesus Christ, being a Chosen Person of God was TERRIBLE. It was a curse, a hamper, it required pain and suffering. Pain and suffering of the kind that no other people had to suffer.

Hell, even after Christianity was accepted as the official religion of Rome, being a chosen person of God was awful. Right up through World War 2, where Hitler killed so many Jews, following that ancient religion has been a burden more terrible than God has set out for His non-Chosen. Being a Christian was not flowery, either, for there was the wars with the Muslims, the Crusades, the Inquisition. I hope you were born believing the right version of being God’s Chosen, because even being a Christian could get you killed by other Christians. There is a saying that I love that goes back many decades, and I do not know the original source, but it basically states that prior to the eighteenth century, Muslims were more tolerant of Christians than Christians were tolerant of other Christians.

“But for our pain, we are granted eternal paradise!” But why would God require you to suffer for the blink of an eye, for 10 or 20 or 70 years under oppression and pain, then give you eternal life? That seems such an odd choice.

And then, of course, come the odd questions–if someone has never heard of Christianity, will they go to Heaven? There is an old joke about African Missionaries converting pagans to Christianity. A pagan woman asks “If I become a Christian, will I go to Heaven?”

“Yes,” replies the Missionary.

“But,” continues the woman, “Would I have gone to Hell if I had never heard of your Christianity?”

“No,” the Missionary answers, “You would have been judged by your works, since you had never heard of God, He would not have punished you for it.”

“Then why,” the woman says, exasperated, “Did you tell me about your God?”

It’s sort of funny, but it’s more sad. Do you not read the implication there? In what the Missionary said? “You would have been better off had you never heard of our God, for you would not have had to Believe this particular story to go to Heaven.”

Again, not only are God’s own people punished, but people who are not of His own flock are rewarded for never having heard of his flock. And God loves His Chosen?

It sounds like He loves everyone except His Chosen.

So why?

But why?

Why?

Why do you believe God loves you? Why do you believe God cares? I simply do not have the tools at my disposal to answer that question for myself.

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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’s in a Name

There are many different approaches to a name, and they manage to cover the entire spectrum. I think they are covered in the fantasy universe perhaps even better than by contemporary sources, so I’ll use extensive examples.

In Harry Potter, it is well known that the name of Voldemort is reduced to “He who must not be named,” by the general people… But by people of greater power and renown, such as Dumbledore, he is just Voldemort (or even further reduced to his original name; Tom). It is not a that a name has power, Dumbledore patiently explains, it is that people give it power.

In The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan paints a different picture. You are your name; your name is you. To invoke the true name of the Dark One, Shaitan, is nearly akin to casting a spell, drawing his attention to you. The name Shaitan is not truly a taboo to the lower of people, but it is in this universe that the most learned only are the ones who truly understand the nature of a name. In the first book, it is an ignorant yokel is said to have invoked the name of the Dark One, to prove that it holds no power, and what follows is dark fortune for a long time (crops failing, livestock dying, family coming down sick). It is clear to Robert Jordan that a name holds even more power than it is given by the people, the name is the root of the thread that is weaved into the pattern of destiny.

Why are these two diametrically opposed views even able to exist in our world?

That question is one of philosophy that I’ve barely heard discussed, but more and more there are people around me who mention it. It is Jewish tradition, well known, that you are never to utter the name of God. Further, when speaking of God, highly observant people will write “G-d”, so as to avoid digitally uttering the name of God.

The name is incredibly powerful, invoking it something that one must never do without full conviction.

In contrast, the name of God to most people is barely something worth considering. I do apologize, as I know the following curse is viewed by highly observant Christians as the worst thing a human can utter, but I do have to paint an illustration. The average person will say “Goddammit,” with almost no force, no conviction, a throwaway barely thought about.

In the real world, then, we have both Harry Potter style naming present (the ability to say Goddammit at all, without fear of repercussion being the evidence), and Wheel of Time naming (Those who read the word “Goddammit” feeling as though the world has been profaned).

Which world do we live in?

That is a question that is philosophically weighty, as it says thing about religion that cannot be merely bandied about haphazardly. I cannot tell you for a certain which world we live in, but I can tell you my beliefs.

I believe we live in the world of Harry Potter (not the fantastic elements, though I would hope most readers understand what I mean) as far as naming goes. I believe a name has no power but the power we give it, and that does allow for the Jewish (and some Christian) use of the word G-d, for to them the name has been given a great charge.

That being said, I do not believe the name (certainly to me, personally) has any power. One cannot invoke the name of God to me, and hope that I will give whatever is said more weight. If something is said to have “the weight of the Word of God,” behind it (The Bible. I am talking about the Bible here), I think it should be subjected to every bit as much scrutiny as any word published by a scientist (for the sake of popularity, I’ll reference Dawkins in this column).

It is expected of me, by YECs, that I should believe the Word of God because it has the weight of the Creator–but what does that mean?

We don’t know much of God except by the word of the Bible, and the Word of the Bible uses the name of God as a talisman. The disagreements between myself and the YEC crowd stem from the disagreement of the power of God.

What is God? Well, of course, He is God. Tautological though it may seem, the name, the word, conveys meaning to a degree, but it does not contain power.

Perhaps the meaning of the word contains power; the sum definition of God? That, I suppose, is for the reader to decide.

It is at this point that I have to step back in fear, for things that have been told to me by a good friend whose religious views I have seldom fully understood make some degree of sense–but while he would ascribe a strong power behind a name (I think?), we would disagree on this point. It is only through his context, though, that I am even able to discuss these things.

I am a very young mind in this arena of philosophy, though, and I know there is much I don’t see. Do you think a name holds power? If so, please let me know. Tell me why.

I know I am ignorant in this field, and certainly my knowledge of Jewish tradition (extra-biblical tradition, specifically) is lacking. I read a short essay on why the name of God is held in such high esteem, and I still can’t say I fully understand it all.

It is here that I must assure you that I understand why you hold God in high esteem, but God is a concept far greater than a name.

There is a much longer essay stuck between the lines here, an essay about words themselves. The religious friend I just mentioned would likely be very proud of that statement, it is something I learned directly from him.

Why does the name G-d mean less than writing God? They both refer to the exact same concept. Do you think an omniscient God is not aware of what G-d means?

The rule is that the name of God must never be written where it could be profaned, but is writing G-d not profaning the name before it could be profaned by others? Does that not count? Why doesn’t it count?

If I wrote the word God, then scratched out the “o” and changed it to a dash, that would certainly count as a defacement. But if I write the dash before I ever wrote the “o” it isn’t?

Such an odd set of rules, rules that seem very arbitrary and designed not by the mind of God but by the mind of humans. I understand, of course (from the essay I wrote) that writing G-d is a human construct, not of the Bible, but is born of the fear that someone, some day may deface the name (which, as per Deuteronomy) must never be defaced.

To write, though, “the unutterable name”, a synonym for YVHV (the name of God), still refers to that same name. So why doesn’t defacing the words “the unutterable name” count as defacing the name of God?

What is the meaning of a primary name, and other names? Certainly, to people of strong Jewish conviction, “the unutterable name” is an alternate name for God… But what makes a name “alternate” and another name “primary”? It seems to me to be more human rhetoric at work, where humans have no business working.

Of course, Muslims take that to another level, where the words used to describe God cannot be profaned (altering a Qur’an, or burning a Qur’an, of course, is punishable by death). What gives that very arrangement of words so much power? All of the words of the Qur’an are present in some form elsewhere, so why does that mere configuration have the weight of death? Is this at a higher level than that of the name of God? A lower level?

What is it that makes these things what they are?

I do not know. If anyone has any resources, or any advice, or anything that can help me understand, I am very open to it. I am sure people more knowledgeable than me could tear apart my views simply, or find flaws in my logic quickly, so go at it. I am not opposed to it at all.

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 Real Ten Commandments

This will be a short post, and I will have something of full length forthcoming for the day, but I just thought I would mention it. In Exodus chapter 34, God writes ten commandments on stone tablets. Hurray, right? There is something that popular culture got right!

NOPE!

According to Exodus 34 (and I will cite verse to make sure no one calls me dishonest), the below are the ten commandments. The punishment for breaking any one of the following commandments is that you, your kids, your grandkids, and your great grandkids go to hell (Exodus 34:7)

Commandment One: Thou shalt kill the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and do not forge any contracts or alliances with them. You will destroy their altars to their gods. Only worship me. (Exodus 34:10-14)

Alright, commandment one is somewhat familiar, if a little wordier. Since all of the peoples God commands killed are extinct, the only part left is “Thou shalt have no gods before me,” which is the familiar first commandment.

Commandment Two: Thou shalt not make any idols of worship. (Exodus 34:17)

Again, we are still on familiar ground.

Commandment Three: Celebrate the Passover feast, and make really sure the bread is unlevened. SERIOUSLY! NO YEAST! (Exodus 34:18)

Commandment Four: The first offspring of every womb belongs to me. For the firstborn of every donkey, sacrifice a lamb. If you don’t sacrifice a lamb, break the donkey’s neck (for some reason). For the firstborn son, sacrifice a lamb. (Exodus 34:19-20)

Don’t know why God hates donkeys, but there you go. There is no provision for what happens if you don’t sacrifice a lamb for your firstborn son, but if we use extrapolation…

Commandment Five: No one is to appear before God without a sacrifice prepared. (Exodus 34:20)

Well, that does seem consistent with the personality of the Old Testament God.

Commandment Six: Keep holy the Sabbath. Do no work, light no light, do not start any fires. (Exodus 34:21)

We’ve moved a commandment, but you might recognize this from the original ten you learned.

Commandment Seven: There is to be a festival of the harvest, and you are to sacrifice your first harvest of wheat to God.  (Exodus 34:22-25)

Commandment Eight: When you make a sacrifice to me, make REALLY SURE none of it has any yeast. Or looks at yeast. Or has been in the presence of yeast. Did I mention I hate yeast? Because yeah, I hate yeast. (Exodus 34:25)

Commandment Nine: Sacrifice the first fruits of any soil to God. (Exodus 34:26)

This one seems a duplicate, but it seems God really had a point to make here, and He was going to get it across.

Commandment Ten: Thou shalt not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. (Exodus 34:26)

Yup, that is commandment ten.

Exodus 34:27:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.

So there you go. These are the Ten Commandments that were chiseled in stone.

These are the moral teachings of the covenant of God.

Just thought you should know.

Do as I… What Was I Talking About Again? Part 6

As we walk towards the finale of the epic tale of Exodus, Moses is dragging gigantic slabs of rock down a mountain, the tablets having been inscribed by the Finger of God Himself with every rule He could think of.

Meanwhile, at base camp:

“Hey Aaron, we were all just wondering,” a nervous looking Israelite was fidgeting as he spoke. “Moses has been gone for like… Weeks. Do you suppose he just made all of that God stuff up? And I mean… Like… Now, I am just spitballing here… We need to have gods. We can’t live without them. Now, since he made that God up, we don’t want to believe in Him any more. What say you make up a god for us?”

Aaron looked thoughtful. “You know what? You’re right, he probably made it all up and isn’t coming back. Gather up all that gold we stole from the Egyptians, let’s melt it down and make us a god.”

Aaron collected all of the gold and jewelery from the Israelites and melted it into a cast he apparently had handy of a calf. From it he made a golden calf.

“There you go, Israelites! Against all evidence, and ignoring the fact that I obviously just made this calf in front of you a few minutes ago, this is the god that rescued us from Egypt!” Aaron flung his arms wide in a gesture indicating the glory of the golden calf.  (Seriously, Exodus 32:1-4)

“And since this is our new god, let’s offer it some burnt sacrifices! Since we aren’t following Moses’ stupid God that he totally made up any more, these bulls aren’t doing anything useful anyway!” So they made an altar in front of the calf and sacrificed some stuff to it, because why not?

Then, for the first time in 40 days, the omniscient God looked down the mountain that Moses was slowly descending. “Oh what the hell! You’ve been up here for what? A few weeks? They said they’d worship me forever out of fear! How could they turn so quickly? I am going to smite them so hard”

Moses let the gigantic slabs fall to the ground, and spun on God. “Oh no you don’t. No. You don’t get to ruin my life, then mess with my family and me for over forty years then just smite them. You put so much effort into saving them, why would you waste that? And you promised Abraham that his descendants would number as the stars, and what would everyone say if God just went around breaking promises?”

“Uuuuuugggghhhhhhhhhh. Fine. But you just wait until I tell you the new rules. Those slabs you are carrying down the mountain? Those will practically be invisible beside the paper it will take to write out my new rules.” God crossed His arms in a huff and wandered off to smite something that Moses wouldn’t complain about. He mumbled as He turned “Stupid people don’t realize the amount of awesome they are constantly rejecting.”

Moses turned around and dragged the slabs to near the bottom of the Mountain when he saw that everyone was celebrating in front of a golden calf, just like God had said. Realizing that the Israelites were completely undermining all of his effort, he got so angry that he threw the tablets down the mountain, shattering them that God Himself had written. “Oh, oh, oh hohoho. You know what? I am going to smite some of these idiots myself. I am tired of this crap!”

Moses ran the rest of the way down the mountain, through the people, and poured oil all over the golden calf. He then started the calf on fire, and kicked it over and it smashed (as gold is wont to do) then made the Israelites powder the statue and he shouted “You drink it! YOU DRINK YOUR SHAME! IDIOTS! And you, Aaron! What the hell, man? YOU’VE TALKED TO GOD YOURSELF! You know how He is! What did they do to you, that you actually made this god for them?!”

“Well,” Aaron was staring at his shoes and drinking his burning gold-oil water. “They asked me to make a god, so like… What was I gonna do? Say no? So I made them a god. Well, really, it made itself. You know. With magic. It’s kind of hard to explain.” (Exodus 32:22-24)

Moses was struck dumb momentarily, and Aaron thought he could actually see something break in Moses. Moses turned around and walked to the altar of the Golden Calf. He turned and looked at the people, all in rapt silence looking at him.

“Whoever believes in God, come over here.” Only one group followed him, the Levites.

“Ok, so God wanted to smite everyone, and I thought, you know… How bad could it be? But you know what? This is stupid. This is all stupid. So grab some swords, and kill all of the Israelites in the valley except the Levites. Just… Smite them. As hard as you can. Maybe seeing some wanton destruction in His name will keep God from smiting some random tribe.” The Levites grabbed swords from the armory, and like a giant living lawnmower they killed everyone, their brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers who were not of the tribe of Levi.

As this wanton destruction happened, Moses climbed back up Mount Sinai to talk to God.

“Hey Moses, saw what you did back there. I like it. I like your style. Hey, though, just for good measure I am going to strike all of the Israelites with a plague, so they remember how awesome and merciful I am. Should put the fear back into them, too. It worked so well last time!”

Moses just shrugged and said “Sounds good.”

Good looked at Moses with something that could have been concern, but probably wasn’t. “Hey buddy, you ok?”

“M’fine. Go plague some stuff. I have to go rethink my life.”

“Cool, cool. Oh, by the way, you may be my chosen people, or whatever, but I’m done helping you directly. Seriously, I have almost killed all of you so many times, I’ve just decided to be hands off going forward. You guys don’t deserve to be in my awesome presence anyway.” And for the first time in forty years, Moses felt a sliver of hope that he may yet know something like happiness in his life.

“Oh, but before I go, we have to remake those slabs you broke. I mean, I could put them back together… But I’d prefer if you came back up Mount Sinai. Don’t worry, I’ll still do the writing, but you have to make the slabs. Bring them up the mountain with you tomorrow! That’ll cheer you up!”

Moses had regrets about ever having been optimistic, but the next day chiseled out some slabs of stone and dragged them up the mountain.

When Moses got to the top, God was waiting. “Heeey buddy! Have I mentioned how awesome and merciful and compassionate and slow to anger I am lately? Because I am all of those things. But if you break even one of my rules, I swear upon my own name, I will send you to hell, and your kids to hell, and their kids to hell, and their kids’ kids to hell. COMPASSION! Am I doing this right?” (Seriously. Exodus 34:6. In fact, I think I made it make God sound even more merciful than the Bible version does.)

“Anyway, as part of how merciful and compassionate I am, I feel like now is the time to remind you to go to the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and kill them. Kill them so dead. Like… Turbo dead. Is that a thing? Turbo death? I feel like I should make that a thing. Man, I’m awesome. Turbo-death. So awesome. Hey, I just remembered. When was the last time you had a seven day long party in my name? You should do that. Do that each time you annihilate an entire people in my name. Just so I know you know how awesome I am. AND NO YEAST (Yup, came up again, Exodus 34:25). I hate yeast. It is so… So not awesome. Also, don’t know if I mentioned this recently, but make sure not to cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. That’s important. (Exodus 34:26)

“Anyway, stone slabs are ready. Get dragging. Also, I turned you into a nightlight; isn’t that hilarious? You should probably wear a veil for the rest of your life, or people will make fun of you for glowing. (Exodus 34:33) Have fun, you rascals!”

Moses dragged the slabs down the mountain, and showed them to the Israelites. He also made sure that the Israelites built the box God wanted, and set up a tent with the patterns exactly how God wanted them, because even though God is slow to anger, Moses knew that God would smite them all if the patterns weren’t exactly right. After all of the work was right, Moses made sure to inspect every inch of every piece of the box and of the tent and of the furniture in the tent, before even telling God that it was done. And when he was done inspecting, he inspected again, because he was not going to bargain for the lives of 2 million people again, especially when they didn’t deserve it, and when he himself had ordered thousands of them smited.

For the rest of eternity, the Israelites were blessed with the opportunity to carry a box weighing thousands of pounds with them wherever they went.

The End

What a nice story, am I right?!

Do as I… What Was I Talking About Again? Part 5

When we last left Moses, he was writing down strange and onerous rules pertaining to justice, mercy, and the moral way of living (as punishment for backtalk to God). I won’t list all of the rules in this summary (you can find them in my previous blog posting, The Laws of Morality), but suffice it to say, God was probably just messing with Moses just to see what happens. After Moses had delivered the laws to the Israelites, they said they would happily follow them to avoid pissing God off because they saw what he did to Egypt and they are not as stupid as Pharaoh.

God was just giddy to see the look of fear and terror in His beloved playthings… I mean people. He came down onto Mount Sinai again, and called out to Moses, “Hey buddy, come back up here. Bring Aaron with you, I like him, and bring like… Seventy elders or whatever. I want witnesses. But only Moses comes close, the rest get to watch from a distance.”

“Are you asking me to pick out 70 elders to come up the mountain but still not come close to them just so you can watch 70 elders climb a mountain?” Moses asked sardonically.

“… No. Shut up. Bring the elders. Oh, but before you come up, I need you to be cleansed. So here’s how you are going to cleanse yourselves; you are going to sacrifice twelve bulls, one for each of the tribes with you, and collect all their blood, then take half of it and pour it on yourselves. Then you’ll be clean! Then you can come up the mountain.”

Moses heaved a heavy breath and went to gather twelve bulls, built twelve altars, and made sure he had twelve very large bowls to collect all the blood. He then engaged in the slaughter according to what God had said, because at this point this was probably one of the least frustrating things God had asked them to do, aside from the fact that there was a lot of meat there, and they weren’t allowed to eat it.

Then Moses, Aaron, and the seventy elders climbed Mount Sinai and saw God sitting at the top. Moses was frankly surprised they the elders weren’t killed by God for some reason (no, seriously, Exodus 24:11). Once they got to the top, God told Moses to come up further, away from the elders, and He’d write the Laws of the Covenant on stone tablets for Moses to take down to the Israelites.

When Moses arrived at the foot of the throne of God, he really wasn’t sure what he was expecting. Maybe that he’d get stone tablets quickly? But he wasn’t so lucky.

“Heeey Moses! How’s things with you? Having fun being the caretaker? Hey, I’m gonna spend some time writing these tablets, why don’t you make yourself comfortable?” God cheerfully began carving stones at about the same speed Moses could have.

“I’m… Well,” Moses replied unsurely. “How long are we talking here? How long will I be sitting alone with you?”

“Oh,” God said, then looked at the stones around him thoughtfully. “I should be done in about forty days. But hey, we get to hang out for forty days! I arranged it like this, because I am awesome, and I knew you’d want to hang out with me after being stuck with all those other boring people for so long!”

“I can’t even describe how I feel right now, God. You have no idea.” And so began forty days and forty nights of Moses hanging out with God.

After the forty days, before God sent Moses down Mount Sinai, He decided to drop the bombshell. “Hey buddy, these forty days have been awesome! Thanks for hanging out. But hey, I feel like the Israelites haven’t been sacrificing to me all that much since you came up here, so here’s what you’ll tell them to sacrifice to me when you get down there: I like gold, silver, and bronze, so those are good. Ummmm… Blue, purple, and scarlet string.”

“What?”

“I like those colors. So yeah. Blue, purple, and scarlet. That’s important. Some goat hair would be nice. Make sure you burn it, though.”

“But that will smell awful!”

“Hahahaha! It sure will! Where was I? Goat hair. Right. Ram leather, but only the stuff that has been dyed red. I’d like some acacia wood, too. That stuff is great for medicine.”

“But if you burn it, you lose all of the medicinal parts…”

“I KNOW! It’ll be hilarious. Stop interrupting. Spice-scented olive oil, and any gems you have. Then you’re gonna build an insulated box for me to stay in so I can ride along with you guys.”

“An insulated box? Insulated against what?”

“I have this bad habit of accidentally killing people whenever my mind wanders. If you build the box according to these plans, there is only a minimal chance you’ll all be killed for being too close to me! Aren’t I awesome?!

“Uhhh… Why does the box have to be made almost entirely out of gold?”

“It will be SUPER SHINY! It’ll blind anyone who looks at it! Won’t that be hilarious? And gold is like super heavy. I wanna watch you guys carry it around, everywhere, for the rest of forever. I mean, you guys would never lose something as important as this, right?”

Moses decided to keep all of the future questions to himself.

God looked thoughtful for a second. “Here, have some more plans. One for a bitchin’ tent that you are to put the box in. I don’t want a standard tent, and remember how I mentioned blue, purple, and scarlet? The tent had better be those colors! And I’ll need priests! Can’t have a solid worshiping without priests, right? But how will they know that these priests serve the most bitchin’ God of all time? Hmmm…” There was a brief pause before God continued. “Make the robes out of blue, purple, and scarlet, of course. But the best priest will need a bejeweled breastplate. We don’t want people thinking I am worshiped by peasants, right? How will they know how awesome I am if my priests are boring assholes?

“I think that about covers how they look. But how will I know they are serious about the position? Well, how about this. Have them sacrifice a bull to me, but remove its internal organs and burn those as sacrifice to me, and haul the rest of the body out and burn it in the wilderness. Eheheheh, that corpse is gonna be so hard to carry.

“Also, we’re just warming up. Take two rams and sacrifice them to me. Cut up the first one and cook it, but you can’t eat it. It is mine. The second one, take its blood and mix it with oil, then smear it on Aaron. Actually, you know what? Cover Aaron’s sons with it, too. Yeah, gotta know Aaron is serious about being a priest.”

Moses looked up at God for a moment, setting down the plans for the box. “You haven’t asked him to be a priest yet. How do you know he will even be sort of serious about it?”

God looked at Moses quizzically, “Wouldn’t anyone want to be a priest for such a bitchin’ religion? Wait, I get it! You’re jealous! You wanna be my High Priest. But you don’t have to be, you’re my boi! That’s like… Way better! The High Priest will barely ever get to talk to me! Haven’t we had such awesome conversations?! That’s what I thought.”

Moses again sighed heavily and looked back at the plans for the box.

“Also, bread. Lots of bread. But NO YEAST. You’ll make two different kinds of bread for this. One of the breads will be baked with olive oil mixed in. BUT NO YEAST. The other one will just be brushed with olive oil. ALSO NO YEAST! Did I mention I don’t like yeast? Because yeast is awful. Hell, I’d go as far as to say yeast is me-damned. Me-damned yeast. Hate that stuff.

“Anyway, once you have the bread, give it to Aaron and his sons, and have them wave the bread at me. (Author’s note: What? Seriously, what? Exodus 29:24-26) Then, burn it. Burn all that bread. I want to taste it in the air.

“Now, this is just on day one. For the next six days, sacrifice a bull each day.”

Moses didn’t even look up this time. “How many bulls do you think we have?”

“Psh, you think I care? I like burned bull, and that’s what you are going to keep burning. It’ll be awesome. Also, you think you are going to run out of bulls? Wait for this next one!

Every day for the rest of eternity I want you to sacrifice two lambs. They have to be exactly one year old, so you’d better be calving those sheep every day. Also, wine. Lambs love wine. Sacrifice the lamb with wine.

“Anyway, I think that about covers it. As long as you do this stuff, I will be your God. But if you ever stop these sacrifices, you bitches are on your own. (Exodus 29:45-46)

“Now, this next part is important. I don’t know how many of you there are, so take a census. Also, for every person, take a ransom to ensure their good health (seriously, God blackmails them with plague threats in Exodus 30:12, and asks for protection money). The ransom price is one half a shekel. Also, I want to know how much the people like me, so no one is allowed to pay for anyone else. The poor have to provide their own ransom money! (Exodus 30:15) Use this money for the upkeep of my bitchin’ box. See? I’ve thought of everything. Aren’t I awesome?!

“Now, you guys smell a little funny, so I need you to make a huuuuuuuuuge basin of perfume. Literally enough to last for the rest of eternity, because anyone who makes any more of the perfume as per the recipe I am giving you will be SMOTE. Seriously, dead and sent to hell. This perfume is serious business. Also, only use it on the priests, because they are the only ones who can come even close to me. The rest of the smelly peasants just aren’t allowed nearby.

“And now the most important commandment I will ever give you. No work allowed on Saturday. If you, or anyone, or any of their animals, work on Saturday, even to lift a finger, wash, or whatever, kill them, and I’ll make sure their stay in hell is eternal and horrible.

God then handed Moses the stone tablets that contained not just the ten commandments, but all of the Jewish rules, because it would be hilarious to watch a 90 year old man drag around gigantic slabs of rock.

—-

I think Part 6 will be the last part of Exodus, then I can return to my regularly scheduled updates.

But seriously, this section was ten straight chapters of God making rules. I tried to capture the highlights, but seriously. The specificity is amazing in there for just the smallest things. There’s bread recipes, and rules for the patterns in the tent where they are supposed to store the ark, and rules for the smallest details in the lid of the ark. I am sorry, I really didn’t know how to capture any of this section but also make it funny. There’s just nothing interesting there, for ten straight chapters, except for the fact that the reason that God hasn’t talked to anyone since Jesus was around is because we stopped sacrificing the lambs (probably). So I guess that makes sense.