Little-Known Bible Verses V: God Creates Evil

The passage that today's edition of "Little-Known Bible Verses" will examine is, if I say so myself, one of the most shocking in the entire Bible. In a book that contains talking snakes and donkeys, a man taking two of every living species to survive a flood in a wooden boat, and a god who hates pillows, shrimp, mixed fabrics, and fig trees for some reason, that is no mean feat, but I believe this verse lives up to that promise.The problem of evil has vexed Christian theologians for nearly two … [Read more...]

Religion’s Harm to Women

In our society, it is still widely considered rude to criticize opinions and practices that arise from religious belief, no matter how evil or abhorrent they are. Even when it comes to the murderous fanatics who kill in the name of Islam, politicians and other public figures who criticize them often take pains to label their actions as arising from a twisted or self-serving interpretation, as though it would be impossible for a legitimate and sincere interpretation of any religion to inspire … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses IV: The Age of Accountability

What happens to children who die before they are old enough to reasonably understand and accept the Bible's doctrine of salvation? This vexing theological question was not always so vexing. The renowned theologians of antiquity answered it quite simply: they were cast out of God's presence to suffer the eternal torture of Hell's flames. Here is St. Augustine on the fate awaiting infants who died prior to baptism:But even before the outbreak of the Pelagian controversy St. Augustine had … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses III: Every Plant of the Garden

Discerning God's will is always a tricky business, but Billy Graham seems confident that he has it down pat. Witness one of his "My Answer" columns in which he declares that it is not God's will for anyone to smoke marijuana, even if they are a Christian and believe otherwise:Q: A friend of mine gave his life to Jesus a few months ago, and I really believe he meant it. But he's always been kind of a free spirit and says he doesn't see anything wrong with continuing to smoke pot, just like … [Read more...]

Initial Inspiration

Most religions that exist today are of ancient origin, and their scriptures and creeds reflect the immoral beliefs of their times. However, social progress in the civilized world has led to widespread recognition of the immorality of those practices, and many churches today are in the awkward position of disavowing such evils while simultaneously maintaining the sacredness and inerrancy of the texts that teach them. The Bible, for example, explicitly states that women must remain silent in the … [Read more...]

New on Ebon Musings: The Great Sage's Visit

A new essay, "The Great Sage's Visit", has been posted on Ebon Musings. The article poses the question of how people would react if some of the moral atrocities typical of the Bible and other holy books instead appeared in the writings of a human held up as a high authority on ethics.This is an open thread. Comments and feedback are welcome. … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses II: Saving Ourselves

A major theme in modern evangelical Christianity is that humankind is completely depraved, that we are helpless to redeem ourselves by our own efforts and only by trusting in Jesus' redemptive death on the cross can we be freed from sin. But, according to the Christians' own holy text, this is not true. Scripture gives explicit instructions for how human beings can save themselves without God's help, as we can see in the following little-known Bible verse.Then answered the Lord unto Job out … [Read more...]

Little-Known Bible Verses: The Sin of Sodom

One of the biblical stories from which the modern-day religious right draws the most inspiration is the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The religious right has assumed that the sin for which they merited this fate was rampant homosexuality, to the point that "sodomite" has become a derogatory synonym for homosexuals. (Consider the Jack Chick tract "Doom Town", which contains a variety of grossly offensive antigay caricatures.)However, there is some evidence that this is jumping to … [Read more...]

Theocracy Watch III: Education Edition

Never satisfied with compromise, never willing to accept anything less than complete dominion, the forces of theocracy are again on the attack against the constitutional guarantees that have made the United States of America what it is. In particular, there has lately been a rash of cases targeting those who are most vulnerable - the children who attend our public schools. Nowhere is it more important to be vigilant in defending the wall of separation between church and state than here. As the … [Read more...]