Tuesday, July 24, 2012

#66- Analogies, Parallels, Precedents, and Understanding

My NIV Bible.  This will be in a museum one day.
It is 100% true that I don't understand 100% of the Bible.  It is 100% true that I am learning everyday.  I get 100% upset to be told by believers that I don't understand their Bible.  My Student New International Version (NIV) Bible was dumb down to a middle-school level.  They practically guided the reader on what to think and how to think about it.  It was amusing on one hand and insulting on the other.

This post is an attempt to show a Bible theist that I do understand their book.  I disagree with a lot of it.  I also acknowledge that there is an almost endless stream of interpretations and apologetics for most of the Bible.  For the purpose of this blog entry I will use a story in 2 Samuel Chapters 11 and 12 to illustrate understanding and context.

1.  Context

Nathan used an allegory to show David the errors of his ways.  He knew exactly what context to use to encite David to react positively to the way he (Nathan) wanted him to.  Had Nathan been blunt with his appraisal of David's behavior he may have been harmed or not well received.  This story is so powerful to me as it is the #1 way that I try to show Bible believers that they share the same ethics as me and that they don't really value the morality of the book.

2.  Analogies

As a poet I use analogies almost without thinking about it.  I think we all tend to use common things that we are familiar with in order to translate fuzzy ideas and concepts into something more familiar. One of the biggest objections and hurdles that I have with Yahweh and the people who worship him is the concept of GENOCIDE.

My notes.  This story was really insightful.
The Holocaust was an attempt at genocide by the regime of Adolf Hitler.  It is one of many mass atrocities that one human group has attempted on another for various reasons.  Rwanda had a horrible episode of heinous barbarism in the mid 1990's as one group tried to wipe the other out.  These two recent cases are fresh in some people's minds and I don't know of anyone who is willing to defend Adolf Hitler's actions toward the Jews and others.  We all seem to instinctively understand that no amount of reworking of the obvious evil of the Germans can right their actions.  This should be painfully obvious to the Jews as they were the ones who suffered the most under Hitler.  At press time I don't know of any Jew who is openly revolting against the idea genocide in the Jewish Bible.  To be fair, Jews are quiet as a group overall.  Their Christian brethren are more boisterous but are reluctant to "call a spade a spade".

3.  Parallels

I was born in Haiti.  A land that once possessed an indigenous people called the Arawaks and Tainos.  They were wiped out by greedy explorers who were, among other things, Christians.  Other colonials came to what became America and slowly to more and more land.  In order to justify this travesty somebody came up with the idea of "MANIFEST DESTINY".  This basically meant that the European invaders felt entitled to the land and their march westward by virtue of their religion.  After reading the Bible I know exactly where they got this ghastly concept from.

The above is a historic fact.  The stories of Genesis and Exodus are said to be historic as well by believers.  In Genesis Abraham hears a voice that eventually promises him a plot of land for his descendants.  The parameters of this real estate is explicitly described.  Eventually, Moses comes a long and before long the natives of the "Promised Land" start dying.  Yahweh ordered a genocide.  The native Canaanite nations didn't even know about a deal between a man who was dead for hundreds of years had struck with an invisible voice. Moses and Joshua saw to it that men, women, children, and animals were killed.  The Jews made sure that they robbed the riches of the Canaanites.  The soldiers were told to save some of the little girls for themselves to pleasure themselves.

I automatically understood that this was a ploy to warrant the slaughter of people to grab land.  I still get an amazing array of excuses about this very simple story.

4.  Precedents

The Nazi officers told the world courts that they were only following orders when they killed the Jews.  This became know as the "NUREMBERG DEFENSE".  When I was in Iraq we had rules of war.  We just couldn't shoot anyone we wanted.  It is against this background that I compared the character of Moses, Joshua, David, and the rest of the Israel soldiers of the Bible.  Simply put I could not see me killing for an invisible being.  If I told my fellow soldiers or superiors that the invisible voice that told me to kill was the same one of the Bible I would be prosecuted faster for being insane as well as violating the rules of engagement.  I knew Yahweh would not come to my rescue then and would not do so now.  Even if my superiors told me to do something illegal or immoral I knew I would be held liable ultimately.  This is how I feel about Yahweh.  I would naturally rebel against evil orders.  This made the Old Testament very crude and barbaric to me.  It was the opposite of what I expected.  Andrea Yates proved that listening to invisible creatures is not going to work in the court of law.

5.  Understanding

I have heard the excuses of the believers on the matters noted above. They not only fail to change my mind but they enrage and sadden me.  If they understand the Holocaust then they understand how I feel.  If they can sympathize with the millions of indigenous peoples that were laid to waste then they can understand how I feel for the Canaanites.

I understand and I disagree.  When all else fails I will try to employ "Nathan's Trick".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#65- Sadness and Atheism

My mother once told me that if I searched too much I would go crazy.  Another guy I knew told me that the most learned people in the world either went insane or were seen as such.

Coming from Haiti my mother and family pushed education on me as an absolute premium.  Education or knowledge was precious because it was paid for, it gave the pupil social status, and was essential for survival in Haiti.  My mother paid for tutors to hammer in lessons.  We were instructed through rote memory.  I've received countless beatings in order to finish in the top 3 of the class.

Now in the United States my mom told me learning could make me nuts.  Yahweh denied Adam and Eve access to the Tree of Life after they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  I remember the exact spot that I stood as I read this ridiculous, sobering, and anti-intellectual opening salvo to what would become the tome that lead to my apostasy not only of Christianity but to religion altogether.

I have been sad in the past as a Christian and I have been sad as an atheist.  People sometimes say that religion gives one hope and that atheists lack this and thus will be surly.  I disagree with this but I think I know why people say these things.  My sadness in regards to religion comes from the frustration of knowing more than my peers.  My sadness comes from the behavior of the religious.  I am indeed melancholy when I recognize the motivation behind the recent anti-homosexual movements in America and the Uganda.

It is upsetting to have people tell me that I didn't try Christianity properly.  I believe I suffered what is essentially a mental breakdown when I succumbed to the realization that people don't care about peace, that people are only concerned about their circumstances, and that gods are indifferent.  I was told to pray to the Holy Spirit.  I did that.  I was asked to read the Qur'an.  I did that.  I was told to speak to innumerable leaders or doctors of different strands for faiths. I did that.

I found the Bible to be ridiculous.  I found the agents of god to be psychopaths.  I found Yahweh to be a murderous zealot.  I found Nehemiah to be a crazy fundamentalist.  I found plenty of racism in the Bible.  I understood genocide because I have read and seen plenty on the Holocaust.  I lived through the era of the massacres of Rwanda and political anarchy in Haiti.  I know from history that the Europeans stole America from the natives and brought slaves from Africa.  I am well aware the Nuremberg Trials excuse of "just following orders" that the Nazi officers used.  All these evil motifs played out as I read the Bible.
I suffered through the stages of grief.  There was a time when I wanted to vindicate god from Yahweh and the Bible from obvious human corruption.  I really, truly wanted (and still want to) avoid Armageddon by telling all peaceful, truth-seeking people of the harm in religion.  All these noble goals drove me to be sad and bitter.  But this dark period was just before I accepted that I was an atheist.  I still get sad now as a non-believer but for very normal and understanding reasons.  I suspect that believers get sad at about the same rate.

I have gone through what my mother had warned me about.  My mother knows significantly less than me in some areas and she gives me signs that she prefers it that way.  She is not alone in this blissful state of ignorance.  Most of the religious people I have met cleave to ignorance.  Those who have some idea of the problems in their religion play word games and mental gymnastics with concepts.

This gives me a bleak outlook for the future of humanity.  In other words, it makes me sad.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

#64- Apologetics

I didn't know what apologetics was at the time but I wanted to defend god from what I was learning. At this time in my life I had been exposed to "Fossilized Customs" and I think I had read the entire New Testament.  I had doubt, reservations, and questions about the religion that I accepted and the Bible.  I had issues with the nature of truth overall.  I may have taken philosophy at school around this time as well.

The time had come to make the decision to take the Great Commission seriously.  I had read the command for myself and if I was going to call myself a follower of Jesus then I would spread the Gospel.  Very few of my peers cared about religion beyond the socially required routines and certainly did not take the Great Commission as far as I knew.

During that time our Sunday School had secured these comic book versions of the New Testament that was the latest attempt to engage and motivate the pupils to learn.  Also at that time there was a call for volunteers for people to talk to strangers around the church about Jesus.  This was my opportunity to practiced the Great Commission.  I did not do it.  I could not do it.  I had what I can only describe as an "allergic" reaction to the thought of me proselytizing.  I remembered the book "Things Fall Apart" and the history of the "New World" and I did not want to tell people about Jesus.

I wondered what I would do if someone I met knew of the evil that is in the Bible.  I already consulted with my pastor and his answers were not satisfactory.  That is when I decided to appoint myself as defender of god by learning as much of what I could about what an objector of the Bible may tell me.  In other words I was entering apologetics unwittingly.

I started with the contradictions in the Bible.  I landed in a Muslim site of all places. I examined every single claim brought forth.  Some of them I knew others I didn't.  Everyone was accurate.  I asked my Sunday School teachers to verify my work and they either did not want to or dismissed the work.  I looked for more problems in the Bible and found more.  I studied and verified as best as I could.  At the end, the Bible was found to be evermore defective then I could ever imagine.

I was distraught.  I was bewildered not because I was a fundamentalist but because I wondered how all these problems could not have been detected and corrected by this time.  I could not be a defender for a guilty party.