The Bible as Engine of Extremism, Continued

In my previous post on "Southern Slavery As It Was", I cited two modern-day Christian pastors who claim that black slavery was a positive and beneficial institution. To throw some cold water on their rosy claims, in this post we'll hear from a person with firsthand experience of it: Frederick Douglass, the great American abolitionist and orator who himself escaped from bondage and later chronicled his experiences. I'll cite passages from Wilson and Wilkins' book asserting the gentle and … [Read more...]

Southern Slavery As It Was: The Bible as Engine of Extremism

This weekend I saw Lincoln, which was a tremendous movie. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a compelling performance as President Abraham Lincoln during the closing days of the Civil War, when he battled with a fractious Congress to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery permanently in the United States. Among the movie's many strong points is that it unambiguously presents the Civil War as first and foremost a battle over slavery (which, according to the people who started … [Read more...]

The Creation Order of Genesis

The discovery of the Higgs boson brought forth a fresh crop of high-minded religious apologists to favor us with platitudes about how science and religion can be reconciled, if only we "extremists" would stop fighting about it all the time. Here's one of them I came across the other week, who asserts that the creation order given in Genesis contains a hidden correspondence with the picture of life's evolutionary history assembled by scientists. As always, he has to phrase it in insufferably … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses: Preachers’ Kids

One of my favorite features of the old site was "Little-Known Bible Verses", a regular series highlighting frequently overlooked passages from scripture that are immoral, bizarre, or contradict well-established parts of Christian belief. In the past, I've discussed verses saying, among other things, that true Christians should greet each other with a kiss (try that one at your church!), that they should be communists who reject private property, that they'll be able to do better miracles than … [Read more...]

The Mystical Dogma of Human Equality

Recently, the Catholic writer and apologist Mark Shea fielded a question from a reader who was disturbed by pro-slavery Bible verses quoted on an atheist billboard in Pennsylvania. Here's the letter, in part (HT: Friendly Atheist):One of my atheist/anti-Church friends posted a sign by American Atheists quoting Colossians 3:22 (Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord.") (Funny how they … [Read more...]

Perfecting Man’s Moral Shortcomings

In the Book of Exodus, there's a bizarrely out-of-place story that I've always found hilarious. This is immediately after God has told Moses that he's going to be God's messenger to Pharaoh, listing all the signs and wonders Moses will be able to do to convince the Egyptians of his authority, and sent him on his way:"At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah [Moses' wife] took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet … [Read more...]

What the Bible Could Have Said

Via Slacktivist, I came across a post on the Christian blog Exploring Our Matrix that asks a perfectly reasonable question: Why Doesn't the Bible Contain Superior Medical Advice? ...you will look in vain in the pages of the Bible for a recommendation that people cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze and cough. You will find mentions of strong drink, but nothing about distilling the alcohol and using it to clean wounds or disinfect anything at all. The author presents this as a problem … [Read more...]

The Problem of the Magi

If you search on "what the Bible says about astrology", you'll get a flood of evangelical websites with advice like the following: Astrologers, Satanists, witches, psychics, and all those who are dabbling in magic of some kind - take heed: Man's efforts to predict omens and tell the future through magic are always fruitless. These "gifts" come from Satan, not from your Creator. Dabbling in these will only result in certain spiritual death. God says so. (source) God command [sic] His people, … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses: The Holy Kiss

Fred Clark of Slacktivist has been on a tear lately, posting some outstanding articles about the theological roots of dominionism and its influence in American politics. And today, he wrote another post that inspired me.This post was about a new book by the sociologist Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible, which deplores a group whom Smith dubs "biblicists" (I'd probably just call them fundamentalists). These are Christians who believe that the Bible is a perfectly self-sufficient guide … [Read more...]

The Biblical Cruelty of Child Beating

In 1877, the great freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll wrote these words about the then-common practice of corporal punishment:I tell you the children have the same rights that we have, and we ought to treat them as though they were human beings. They should be reared with love, with kindness, with tenderness, and not with brutality. That is my idea of children....I do not believe in the government of the lash. If any one of you ever expects to whip your children again, I want you to have a … [Read more...]


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