21 August 2012

Richard Dawkins: The Playboy Interview

OK, I guess I have to buy another issue of Playboy.

(The last one that I was forced to buy was back in  February 2007, when my post on God's killings was mentioned in its "Raw Data" section.)

But the September 2012 issue has something even better: a long interview with Richard Dawkins.

Playboy and richard dawkins

You can read some of it here, but to get the whole thing you've got to buy the issue. (I know it's a bit embarrassing, but it has to be done.)

The thing that struck me the most was this question about the Bible:
PLAYBOY: You’ve read the Bible.
DAWKINS: I haven’t read it all, but my knowledge of the Bible is a lot better than most fundamentalist Christians’.
And that's probably true enough. Most Christians haven't read the Bible; it's a lot easier to believe in the Bible if you've never read it.

Still, I'm surprised that Dawkins hasn't read the Bible, the whole goddamned thing from cover to cover.

Of course, it's not necessary to read it all to know enough about it to reject it. The first and last few verses are more than enough:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1
If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book  ... He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Revelation 22:18-20
Dawkins knows enough about "the plagues that are written in this book" and the nasty nature of its imaginary god to reject both the book and its supposed author. I don't know how anyone could do otherwise.

But enough of all that. I've got to go get the September issue of Playboy.

August 22 Update: I got the issue and guess what? The entire interview is included in the above link. But don't let that stop you from buying a copy -- for the pictures. (There are three photos of Dawkins that aren't included in the online interview.)

15 August 2012

The Judith massacre: hang ye up this head upon our walls

In my last post we saw how God helped Judith cut off the head of Holofernes. It probably looked something like this.

Not a pretty picture, eh?

But God had a good reason for inspiring this act of barbarism: he did it to encourage the troops and to terrorize the opposition.

Here's how it happened.

When Judith returned to the Israelites, she took Holofernes' head out of the wallet, and showed it to them, assuring everyone that no sex was involved in the murderous deed.
She brought forth the head of Holofernes out of the wallet, and shewed it them, saying: Behold the head of Holofernes the general of the army of the Assyrians, and behold his canopy, wherein he lay in his drunkenness, where the Lord our God slew him by the hand of a woman. ... The Lord hath not suffered me his handmaid to be defiled. Judith 13:19-20  

Achior (an unbelieving Ammonite that happened to be around at the time) had this to say about it.
God ... hath cut off the head of all the unbelievers this night by my hand. Judith 13:27
He was, in fact, so impressed with the whole thing that he decided to become a Jew right then and there, cutting off his own foreskin to seal the deal. Glory!
Then Achior seeing the power that the God of Israel had wrought, leaving the religion of the gentiles, he believed God, and circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, and was joined to the people of Israel. Judith 14:6
Judith told the Israelites to hang Holofernes' head on the wall and wait a bit until the Assyrians see the headless body of Holofernes wallowing around in his own blood. Then, while they're freaking out about that, attack them while they're running away. God will help them kill them all.
Judith said to all the people: Hear me, my brethren, hang ye up this head upon our walls. ... when the captains of them shall run to the tent of Holofernes, and shall find him without his head wallowing in his blood, fear shall fall upon them.And when you shall know that they are fleeing, go after them securely, for the Lord will destroy them under your feet. Judith 14:1-5
So that's what they did. They hung Holofernes' head on the wall. Then they all screamed and took off after the fleeing Assyrian army.
They hung up the head of Holofernes upon the walls, and every man took his arms, and they sent out with a great noise and shouting. Judith 14:7
Meanwhile one of the Assyrians went into Holofernes' tent and saw his headless body sweltering in his blood. So he screamed bloody murder and rent his garments.
Vagao ... perceived ... the body of Holofernes, lying upon the ground, without the head, sweltering in his blood, he cried out with a loud voice, with weeping, and rent his garments. Judith 14:14
Then he ran out and told all the people.
He ran out to the people, and said, One Hebrew woman hath made confusion in the house of king Nabuchodonosor: for behold Holofernes lieth upon the ground, and his head is not upon him. Judith 14:15-16
When the Assyrian chiefs and army heard about that, they did what all biblical characters do in such cases: they tore up their clothes and started screaming.
When the chiefs of the army of the Assyrians had heard this, they all rent their garments ... And there was a very great cry in the midst of their camp. Judith 14:17-18
The entire Assyrian army was so shook up by the whole thing that they all ran away.
When all the army heard that Holofernes was beheaded, courage and counsel fled from them, and being seized with trembling and fear they thought only to save themselves by flight. Judith 15:1
The Israelites chased them as they ran, killing them all (with God's help, of course) with the edge of the sword.
The children of Israel pursuing in one body, defeated all that they could find ... with the edge of the sword. Judith 15:4-6
How's that for a likely story?

Since the text doesn't say how many were killed in this God-planned and assisted slaughter, I just gave it the usual 1000.

See here for many more images of Judith and Holofernes.

God's next killing: Ananias and Sapphira

14 August 2012

Judith is blessed above all women (for cutting off a sleeping man's head)

If you were to ask Paul Ryan (or any other Catholic) who is the most blessed of all woman in the Bible, he'd say, without the slightest hesitation, Ayn Rand.

OK, just kidding. Ayn Rand isn't in the Bible (not even Paul Ryan's Bible). Every Catholic (even Paul Ryan) would say that Mary the mother of Jesus is the most blessed of all woman.

And there's some evidence for that. Here, after all, is how the angel Gabriel addressed Mary in gospel of Luke:
Hail [Mary], full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women. Luke 1:28
It's the first part of the "Hail Mary" that Catholics say 53 times when saying the Rosary.

But there are two other women in the Bible that could qualify for the Most Blessed of All Women award.

Remember Jael? You know, the one that drove a tent stake through a sleeping man's skull?

Here's what the Bible said about her:
Blessed above women shall Jael ... be, blessed shall she be above women ... She put her hand to the nail ... and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples. Judges 5:24
So Jael is blessed above all women -- including Mary, I guess.

But there's one more competitor -- Judith.

Her story is found in the Book of Judith, which is in the Catholic Bible, but is considered apocryphal by Protestants. Here's her story.

Judith was a beautiful widow who fasted all the time (except on the sabbath) and wore haircloth on her loins.
And she wore haircloth upon her loins, and fasted all the days of her life, except the sabbaths, and new moons, and the feasts of the house of Israel.  And she was exceedingly beautiful.  Judith 8:6-7
She asked God to help her kill her enemies the way he helped Simeon slaughter the newly circumcised Hivites in the Dinah/Shechem love story massacre.
O Lord God of my father Simeon, who gavest him a sword to execute vengeance against strangers, who had defiled by their uncleanness, and uncovered the virgin unto confusion: And who gavest their wives to be made a prey, and their daughters into captivity ... who were zealous with thy zeal: assist ... me. Judith 9:2-3
And the prayer worked. God, the great beautician, made Judith even more beautiful, so she could seduce and murder the Assyrian general, Holofernes. 
The Lord also gave her more beauty ... so that she appeared to all men's eyes incomparably lovely. Judith 10:4
The heart of Holofernes was smitten, for he was burning with the desire of her. Judith 12:16
She lied to him about her intentions, partied with him in his tent; then, after he fell asleep in a drunken stupor, she cut off his head. 
Holofernes was made merry on her occasion, and drank exceeding much wine, so much as he had never drunk in his life. Judith 12:20
Holofernes lay on his bed, fast asleep, being exceedingly drunk.  Judith 13: 4
Judith stood before the bed praying ... Saying: Strengthen me, O Lord ... that it might be done by thee. And when she had said this, she ... loosed his sword ... And ... she took him by the hair of his head ... And she struck twice upon his neck, and cut off his head. Judith 13: 6-10
And for that act, Judith is declared to be blessed above all women upon the earth.
Blessed art thou, O daughter, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth ... God ... hath cut off the head of all the unbelievers this night by my hand. Judith 13:23-27
So now you see my problem, don't you? Who is the most blessed woman to ever live? Mary, Jael, or Judith?

I think it has to be Judith. Mary and Jael are "blessed among women," but Judith is "blessed above all women." So I think Judith wins the gold.

But maybe someone should ask Paul Ryan just to make sure.

Guess I have to add another killing to God's list!

God's next killing: The Judith massacre

07 August 2012

2 Nephi 31-33: Nephi makes an end of his prophesying and proposes a simple test

Well, we've finally made it to the end of 2 Nephi, where Nephi makes an end of his prophesying.
And now I, Nephi, make an end of my prophesying. 2 Nephi 31:1
And Nephi is quite proud of what he's written; it suffices him, since he has spoken plainly according to the plainness of his prophesying.
The things which I have written sufficeth me ... I shall speak unto you plainly, according to the plainness of my prophesying. 31:2
For his soul delights and glories in plainness.
For my soul delighteth in plainness ... I glory in plainness.  31:3, 33:6
And though he'd like to say more, he can't, because the Spirit stopped his utterance, leaving him to mourn because of the unbelief of people who just plain don't care about plainness.
And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief ... for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be. 32:7
But Nephi has written what he's written and he thinks it's of great worth.
I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth. 33.3
And you'll agree with him about that, unless you're controlled by the devil.
No man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil. 33:5
So if you believe in Christ, you'll believe in Nephi's words, because they are the words of Christ and Christ gave them to Nephi (550 years before Jesus was born).
If ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me. 33:10
If you doubt that, here's a simple test: Ask Christ to show you that Nephi's words are Christ's words.
And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye -- for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words. 33:11
That'll work, guaranteed. 

Or it better, anyway. Because if it doesn't, God will condemn you to hell on the last day.
And you that will not partake of the goodness of God, and respect the words of the Jews, and also my words, and the words which shall proceed forth out of the mouth of the Lamb of God, behold, I bid you an everlasting farewell, for these words shall condemn you at the last day. 33:14
Good luck on the test.

02 August 2012

Billy Graham and Mark 7:9: No picking and choosing allowed!
(You must stone to death your disobedient children.)

God, I love Billy Graham's answers. And they're getting better all the time.

Here, for example, is L.K.'s July 31 question:
I find it inspiring to read the Bible, but I can’t go along with those who say it’s the divine Word of God, because frankly I find some of it kind of hard to swallow. Why can’t we just choose the parts we agree with and leave the rest alone?
And Billy Graham's answer:
We could do this, of course; many people actually do exactly that — picking and choosing what they’ll believe in the Bible while rejecting the rest. They are like the people of whom Jesus said, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” (Mark 7:9).
So, Yes L.K., the Bible has some awful stuff in it. But you can't just pick and choose what to believe: you have to believe and obey it all -- just like Jesus said in Mark 7:9.

But what was Jesus talking about in Mark 7:9? To understand that, you need to look at the context. Here are the relevant verses from Mark 7.
7:5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?

7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

7:8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

7:10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
In this passage, Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for not washing his hands before eating. He defends himself by attacking them for not killing disobedient children according to the commandment of God: "He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death."

The "commandment of God" that Jesus referred to is found in Leviticus 20:9.
For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.
And Jesus had a good point here. The Bible is clear about children -- those that curse their parents (Leviticus 20:9), or strike them (Exodus 21:15), or refuse to obey them (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) are to be killed, in the latter case by stoning to death. But the Bible is much less clear about washing hands before eating.

So don't worry too much about washing up before meals. There's not much in the Bible about it and Jesus didn't bother with it. But if your kids disobey you, you know what you have to do.

You don't have to ask Billy Graham about it. He and Jesus have already answered that question for you.