RAISE YOUR HANDS...now keep them up!

The Bible is so completely full of superstitious claptrap, so astoundingly packed with incongruous garbage and superficial hogwash that freethinkers find themselves strapped to systematically dismantle the book. When we consider the erroneous information, the credulous stories, the long list of dangerous ideals taught therein, we conclude that the Bible is a well of perversion that never seems to run dry.

Some of these biblical falsehoods come in the form of gross scientific errors, mixed with inane hodgepodge that we’d expect to find only in third-world countries, or perhaps melting-pot city slums, where voodoo practices are carried out by gold-toothed gypsies with criminal records, held up in dilapidated, one-room houses with snakeskins and ceremonial beads garnishing the doors somewhere out in the bayous of Louisiana. Examples of these biblical butcherings of sensibility include cattle looking at striped rods to produce striped offspring (Gen. 30:37-39), stars that fall to earth (Rev. 6:13), curses that cause the thighs of adulterous women to rot (Num. 5:12-21), and this example of superficial hocus-pocus…

“10. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” (Exod. 17:10-12)

I think it is all too clear that this is not what Paul had in mind when he referred to “lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting” (I Tim. 2:8)! All throughout the New Testament, we are given the message that it is faith that sets us free and gives us the victory (John 8:32; I John 5:4), that if we have faith as a grain of mustard seed, mountains will be moved (Matt. 17:20). Believers assure us that God is concerned with the spiritual, not the physical things of this world, yet here is a bizarre story where God’s chief representative of the Old Testament had to claim victory in battle by what amounted to a feat of physical endurance. God’s strength wasn’t enough. Moses’ faith wasn’t enough. God wanted good shoulder muscles, and in the absence of that, a stone to sit on so Aaron and Hur could hold up the arms of the beloved leader of the Exodus. God’s victory in us is dependant on our ability to hold our arms above our heads for an extended length of time; surely that is not the message God wants us to learn here, is it? If this is not vain, it is hard to say what would qualify as such.

I’m not even going to try and imagine theistic excuses to put a spiritual twist on this account and make it seem believable. The idea of some man having to hold up his hands and a rod to win a battle creates some chuckles as we begin to think of how God could have had more fun with Moses and demanded that he stand on his head or do cartwheels all night to defeat his foes!

Jesus commended the faithful centurion for having faith that Jesus could speak the word only and his servant would be healed (Matt. 5:5-10). I wonder why Moses couldn’t call upon the same faith to eradicate his enemies without making the effort a silly ordeal? Jesus told his followers not to pray like those who use vain repetitions in prayer, thinking they would be heard for their “much speaking” (Matt. 6:7). Apparently this principle does not apply to the use of our bodies!

I find this tale strangely similar to a psychic in my own city who took advantage of a gullible family member of mine who was convinced by this phony that she had to bury a certain keepsake item a foot underground with a jar of “holy water,” a scarlet handkerchief imported from Israel, a clipping of goat’s hair, and a feather from a bald eagle to “cleanse away evil energies.” I guess all gods want their people to carry out aimless rituals and “go through the motions” to some extent.

Humorous and inexcusably vain examples of ignorance such as these will always serve as a testament to a progressive society that there are many things in the past that we are glad to have seen perish in the abyss of time.

(JH)

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hard to say with the Moses story and the 'holding up of his hands' for that victory - it's re-told account - as far as the truth to it - I think Jewish people & Christians alike can see something 'good' in the story - for example - perserverance. Is the story real? Well, there's no answer to that - it's an account none of had the chance to view.

Good blog dude!

Eric said...

What century are we living in again?

John W. Loftus said...

This story of Moses, just like the healing properties of the Pool of Siloam, Samson's hair giving him strength, Jesus putting mud in a man's eys to heal him, Daniel being in charge of the Magicians, and the branchs that increased Jacob's flock of sheep all are evidence of the use of Magic in the Bible, which was supposedly also condemned in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

I'm no OT scholar or nothing (and will never be a claim of mine) but those are stories as far as I can tell - are they uses of magic - well that's an inference (actually not in the text in some of those scenrio's - the Daniel one I don't know) - but it's an opinion of what you see there - who am I to say you're wrong?

raymond said...

I don't remember which famous person said the religions of today become the literary folktales of tomorrow. But perhaps these tales are some of them.

Eric said...

I hope "tomorrow" comes soon so people won't blow each other to bits or try to tyrannize over others because of fairy tales anymore.

Anonymous said...

"I hope "tomorrow" comes soon so people won't blow each other to bits or try to tyrannize over others because of fairy tales anymore." (Eric)

Oh they still will - remove religion and we are hoping that this will stop - we actually have no proof this is the case. We are humans - we will invent new fairy tales.

Glenn Dixon said...

It is now plainly obvious to me (although it was never so plain when I was a believer) that the Bible itself, internally, describes the Hebrews as being every bit as pagan and superstitious as any of the other cultures of the time. This includes the first Christians as well. Umim and Thummim, casting lots, divination, etc. are all acceptable methods of producing supernatural results if God is involved, but doing them on your own is verboten! Graven images are bad, unless you put them in the original temple at Shiloh, and then it's perfectly fine. And it's biblical to have slaves all the way through to Revelation, but now you can't find one Christian who would attempt to justify it in modern times, even using the Bible. Bronze Age people described their belief in God using primitive concepts and terms, and modern Christians read it in awe of the God described therein.

I would write more on this topic, but first I must go check my goat pelt to see if it got wet overnight.....

Eric said...

The more religion [and thus the Bible] is examined, the more inconsistent and ironic it becomes.

It would be best for a "moral giude" not to contradict itself, which the Bible does a hundredfold.

Laws there may be in it, but there are too many "exceptions" and inconsistencies than should be acceptable.

Anonymous said...

"And it's biblical to have slaves all the way through to Revelation, but now you can't find one Christian who would attempt to justify it in modern times, even using the Bible" (Glenn)

I find this one a little on the 'reading into' it side of biblical interpretation. I can't find a single endorsement of slavery within the biblical text (actual endorsement and call for it to continue until the end of time) - very possibly the OT has such writings (although Christians never spoke out against slavery - which is too bad - and horible). History may show one thing but the texts can't lie to an honest reader - just maybe the reader wasn't so honest as they had hoped in the past - apparently logic has gotten better.

Lory Jean-Baptiste said...

John,

I would like to point out a contradiction in your beliefs.

1. You believe that the God depicted in the Bible is sometimes cruel.
2. You believe that the God depicted in the Bible cannot exist because if he existed he would not allow so much suffering in the world.

You're not really dealing with the God of the Bible. You're dealing with Anselm's or Augustine's theological ideas about God. Thier's is a simplistic God. What kind of personality can be described in a single world--omnibenevolent? This is a very flat and cartoonish God.

However, the God of the Bible is very complicated and at times paradoxical. The Christians I know believe that God is "a jealous God" and "a vengeful God." In Christ we see the loving and forgiving God. In Christianity God is a deep and complex being. He's not some divine pez dispenser doling out pleasure and joy.

Wouldn't you agree that in your POE arguments you're not really dealing with the complex Christian God described in the Bible?

John W. Loftus said...

Lory, yes I know. From my studies the farther we go back in time in the Bible the more sovereign God is. Everything that happens seems to be attributed to him in the earlier portions of the Bible. God sends evil spirits, even lying spirits; he creates chaos, he allows satan to destroy Job. This God you refer to is modeled upon the ancient conception of kings who ruled over their kingdoms and did whatever they wanted with their subjects. But as time developed, these lying spirits and satan himself were thought to operate of their own wills in order to divorce God from the idea that he causes evil. Satan then become the evil one in the NT, with these spirits as his demons (taken from Genesis 11), while God became love in the NT. Later Christian thought based upon philosophical considerations came to the conclusion that God is perfectly good, and Christians have adopted that view ever since.

So, which God would you like to defend here? I'd like to know, for there would be different arguments that I would use to debunk them.

The barbaric one? Or the perfectly good one? I reject them both, for different reasons.

Anonymous said...

"The Lord works in mysterious ways." Or so I was always told. The fact is, if someone wants to believe this bullshit, they're gonna come up with any number of crackpot excuses to justify their delusion (such as Lory Jean-Baptiste, above).

Nice post.

JR said...

Very intersting that the exact moment you felt so compelled to decribe this event as claptrap ( and my subsequent reading of it) is the moment that the Holy spirit prompted me to study again this story of Moses as the basis for a more in depth view of what prayer is all about.
You see, God is not restricted in speaking or dealing with any of us by some convention or commonality, but rather the Creator of the universe is free to reveal his ways in any form He chooses. To say that he only responds to a simple expression of faith alone is such a restriction. Paul not only had to believe but next he had to put his foot out in order to walk on the water. Jesus himself not only healed people by a simple spoken word, but he also told them to go bathe in the pool or he rubbed mud into anothers eyes. Strange stuff huh! Did they get healed? Apparently so.
Satan on the other hand never has a new idea, but can only raise questions. Something like the Dem's and GW who says, 'Well if you don't like my plan, show me yours'.
You my friend are on the wrong team. If you don't like the handbook of life on this planet - show me yours!

Anonymous said...

Jr,

No, it isn't interesting at all. The simplest and obvious reason that the "holy spirit" "prompted" you to study again the story of Moses, is that it wasn't the "holy spirit", but your own reasoning capacity that did so, in the most ordinary of ways. You received a conceptual prompt from the text you read, which your reason fixed upon as interesting and worth pursuing, which it was, since it pointed to a fault in a conceptual framework you hold to be very important. It does not surprise me, unfortunately, that you would confuse, and indeed seek to hide, your own reasoning capacity beneath the mysterious blanket of the "holy spirit".

The remainder of your comments reveal the extent to which you have become alienated from your own reasoning capacity. They amount to nothing other than "god can do what he likes and if we expect him to act in a rationally accessible or consistent way, then we restrict him". But this in itself simply shows how far you appear to accept that we ourselves may restrict god, by our attitudes towards him. Perhaps you accept more of the idea that we built god, than you think... In any case, if he both exists, created US, and is omnipotent, we needent be concerned about restricting him. But if he does not restrict himself to rational, or at least somewhat consisent means of interacting with humans, then this doesn't render him MORE free than he would otherwise be, just more capricious, and self-defeating. If god requires, for me to succeed in some enterprise, that I should carry a paperclip in my ear whilst dancing a polka every five minutes, given that he is omnipotent, and free, this is simply capricious, and rather cruel. It is treating me as an absurd plaything. And the example is quite apt for the bible. (e.g. consider Ezekiel's sleeping requirements, and other commandments he was obliged to follow). Christians often harp on and on about freedom. Free will is supposed to be essential to god's plan for our place in his universe. But if I know that, absent the paperclip and polka routine, I may end up in HELL, or else lose my wife, or my life, or a battle, then it would be deeply irrational, and foolish for me not to do the paperclip-polka. The arrangement is pure coercion, and freedom to disobey is analogous to the freedom of a galley slave to choose to stop rowing.

The idea that the bible is the "handbook of life on this planet" is just beyond laughable. Have you not noticed that in your so called "handbook", the earth is NOT A PLANET! Any real handbook would have included the periodic table, the speed of light, and the cosmological constant, among other useful things. There is not a SINGLE LINE in the bible which is anachronous, in the sense that it could not have been written by an ordinary person inhabiting the particular age in which it was in fact written. In the bible, god and jesus spend an awful lot of time attempting to convince us to believe in them. They go on and on about this sign, that miracle, pointing to the Leviathan, and the Behemoth to show how great they are. But no mention of a galaxy. What of the other 100 billion galaxies? What of a quasar? Oh yes, and while I'm on that, is heaven above? It is stated as being so in your "handbook", but we live on a ROTATING SPHERE. A single number, without any further ado, such as the cosmological constant, or some figure from atomic physics with an accompanying statement such as "when the time is right you will know this", would have proved beyond reasonable doubt to the whole world that the bible was the word of the Universal Architect.

According to your handbook, god said to moses on Sinai that it's ok to beat your slave so hard that they can't walk for three days, but not so hard so that it kills them. Well... is it?

Enough for now. Great site.

Aye,

Steven H.

Anonymous said...

Jr, and all,


I should have added, concerning the fatuous comment about "show me yours", that what I said in my previous post should show that your god has failed adequately or at all to give any accurate details of the plan of the construction of the universe, of biological life, or indeed of anything aside from the organisation of Iron Age and Ancient tribal states.

Humans, on the other hand, and scientists in particular, have shown YOU an enormous variety of these things. Newtonian/Einsteinian/Quantum physics; Chemistry; Biology; planetary motion; the nature, location and distance of astronomical bodies; ecology; economics; history; sociology; architecture; medicine; computing; ethics; the Genome of the Human race itself... the list goes on and on and widens by the day. You really shouldn't have asked, mate.

I'm glad you did, though. Thanks for the opportunity.

Aye,

Steven H.