How Religious People Interpret the Bible In Any Given Debate

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  1. #1 by Nam on July 12, 2015 - 6:49 AM

    I can see someone renewed https://popreflection.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/how-religious-people-interpret-the-bible-in-any-given-debate/ for
    a decent period, is that to help with search engine optimisation?

  2. #2 by agrudzinsky on August 3, 2014 - 12:03 AM

    And the point of the Bible is certainly not these issues at any rate – as in, there is no attempt at introspection or philosophy. The Bible is dogmatic, it is about rules, obedience, hierarchy, punishment and reward. It is not about intelligently, open mindedly and philosophically approaching life’s questions.

    If you noticed, I said “I think, that’s the point of the bible”. Bible makes many points and everyone sees his own. But I would never claim what certainly is or is not the point of the bible. (Speaking of dogmatism.) I don’t think, the bible is dogmatic. People who read the bible can be dogmatic, including atheists. Dogmatic opinion is an opinion that does not allow any alternatives. Would you ever admit that your own opinion of the bible and religious people may be dogmatic and stereotypical? Your post blindly covers all religious people in “any given debate”. Generalizations are, generally, not true :-).

    Yes, the bible is about rules, obedience, hierarchy, punishment, reward, and many other things. I believe, one should approach these things intelligently, open-mindedly, and philosophically. And, if you read the bible in its entirety, yes, there are passages about blind obedience to authority, and there are passages like Ruth or Daniel praising disobedience to authority. There are also passages in NT about breaking the rules (sabbath, hand washing, etc.) So, even if I wanted to follow bible blindly, I would have to think which rule applies where.

    The Bible doesn’t ask any questions, nor does it encourage independent thought. It is very strict in what it requires.

    OK. Consider these two proverbs that follow each other in Proverbs 25:

    4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
    5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.

    What does that require? Shall you answer me or shall you not? There are also whole chapters dedicated to following the letter of the law. If bible did not require any thought, there would be no need for sermons and interpretations.

    The Bible is a reflection of our limited understanding of the world a few thousand years ago and a tool to organize people.

    I’d say, it’s still a reflection of our limited understanding of the world even now. And, yes, religion is quite useful to organize people.

    It has since been used as a means of control, subjugation, oppression and in of itself is a book about blind obedience to a higher power with the expectations of a divine reward or punishment. The Bible purports to have all the answers (god) instead of asking the questions and genuinely positing ‘I dont know”.

    I’ve touched the point regarding obedience above. I’ve heard this opinion so many times. I think, it’s a stereotype. Yes, religion has been used to control, subjugate, and oppress. Many other things have been used for these purposes as well, and religion has been used for other things than those.

    Quite honestly, when I read the bible, the “I don’t know” thesis is quite obvious to me. Take the parable of the lost son in Luke 15. It does not say, who is right or who is wrong – the father, the young son, or his older brother. It’s just a story. You may think, it implies that there is “right” or “wrong” there, but it is not so. There are multiple aspects to each character and multiple possible views.

    • #3 by popreflection on August 3, 2014 - 12:38 AM

      I have touched upon a lot of the things you talk about here on this blog and i am not inclined, nor do I have the time, to except them. What I will say is that if a book “makes many points and everyone sees his own” as you stated, then it is about time to step back and wonder if this book really is the word of some divine entity. I would say the fact that it is vague and can be interpreted in many different ways depending on what you wanna get out of it suggests that it is not. Why would god be ambiguous in its message? What’s the point of being elusive? Playing hard to get, so to speak? Is that supposed to inspire me?

      To point that out is not being dogmatic.

      That said, I think the Bible is clear in its message on many levels and to say that it is metaphorical and literal, that it is about everything yet nothing when the shoes fit is frankly nothing but a great tactic to muddy the waters and to try to find excuses for the passages that don’t quite fit what you know or think to be right.

      The truth of the matter is that the Bible is a book of fiction and fairy tales, just as your god is a figment of your imagination, wishful thinking. To quote a book of fiction to me as evidence for it being real is not valid. So all those interpretations of verses you do for me, you may as well pick up a fairy tale took of any kind and start quoting from there. I suggest The Grimm Brothers.

      There is no god my friend, there is nothing to suggest that there is. If that is what you need to believe to make it through the day, I am not going to stop you. As long as you keep your religion to yourself and not try to impose its rules on the rest of society, you can believe in Hobbits as your messiah as far as i am concerned. However, I do encourage you let go of those silly superstitions you hold on to, see the Bible for what it is and emancipate your mind.

      Atheism is a necessary condition for emancipation of the mind, but it’s not a sufficient one. But you have to free yourself from superstition first. What’s innate in our species isn’t the fault of religion. But the bad things that are innate in our species are strengthened by religion and sanctified by it. The fact is, we are a mammalian species half a chromosome away from Chimpanzees and it shows. Curing ourselves of religion is only the beginning.

      • #4 by agrudzinsky on August 3, 2014 - 1:24 AM

        I would not trust a book pretending to answer all questions regarding the issues we discussed. First you blame the bible for being dogmatic and being too restrictive. Now, you are unhappy that it’s ambiguous and unspecific. You just don’t like the bible. I think, the bible is a fairly good image of humanity – with all inaccuracies, contradictions, and even atrocities. For me, reading it is like looking into a mirror. I may get upset by what I see there, but it is silly to blame the mirror for that.

        A lot of quite real things, good and bad, are based on fiction and myths. It does not bother me that bible is a collection of myths.

        Regarding atheism, I don’t think it’s necessary. But if you need it for something, that’s OK. I don’t believe that you have to believe things that I believe. :-). Perhaps, it may break your stereotype that all religious people are eager to impose their beliefs on everyone else.

        • #5 by popreflection on August 3, 2014 - 10:04 AM

          That religious people are eager to impose their will on everyone is not a stereotype. Just look around you – you may not even need look any further than Hobby Lobby – to see the extent to which religion and religious people have influenced public policy and the lives of everyone else. One of the reasons I write about religion is that religion is harmful. In a very real, tangible manner. Just look at marriage equality, abortion and anti choice, stem cell research, creationism and intelligent design and such nonsense being taught in schools.

          The Knights of Columbus, for example – as one example of a myriad of similar ones, spent over $2 million in the last election cycle alone on anti-same sex marriage efforts – with their tax exempt money. It was the Mormons who put Prop 8 on the ballot in the 2008 election etc etc.

          Another example: Arizona, a state whose legislature is infested by religion and religious ideology to such a degree that the long list of measures and laws the state has enacted resemble more something the Ayatollahs in Iran might agree with than legislation one would expect to find in the constitution of a state of the United States.

          The Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), a conservative Christian advocacy organization, is responsible for having backed and co-drafted 123 laws and measures since the group’s 1995 establishment, including the state’s 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That effort was spearheaded by the group’s president, Cathi Herrod.

          Again, I DO believe that religion, for the most, DOES A LOT OF HARM and the evidence is all around you – both in this country in the form of a lot of public policy and laws influenced by religion (to the detriment of many) and in history since the inception of religion. And that whether you personally do harm or just endorse an organization/movement that does harm, it really, in the end, is kinda irrelevant to the debate. I am glad you are not, but the majority of your fellow religious brethren are meddling and therein lies the problem.

          That said, just from a personal perspective, I do find religion and the concept of god idiotic. To be so arrogant and narcissistic so as to assume that the billion galaxy universe was just created for us, the idea of a father figure who make you one way and then sets the rules at the opposite waiting for you to mess up so he can punish you; a narcissistic genocidal god that creates you for his worship and amusement etc.

          If you look at the historic, anthropological and social context with which organized religion was created it is so obvious it is man made. I find immense wonder in the beauty of the universe and the fact that we dont know. And not knowing doesn not mean there is a god and something being beautiful also does not mean there is a god. Why this insistence that there has to be a creator? Anyway, I digress. As I said, a lot of these issues have been touched upon in here and in the blogs of many atheists. I encourage you to seek them out if you so desire. And thanks for not imposing your religious beliefs on others and keeping them to yourself.

          • #6 by agrudzinsky on August 3, 2014 - 10:21 AM

            Those are all valid concerns. I myself think that religion should not be mixed with politics. However, people find all kinds of dubious arguments to push their political agenda. These arguments don’t have to be religious. So, I don’t think religion itself is “harmful”. It can be (and often is) used in harmful ways – that’s more correct.

            What I don’t like in posts like yours is that it blindly covers all religious people. I just don’t like indiscriminate statements about whole groups of people – blacks, immigrants, hispanics, homosexuals, etc.

        • #7 by popreflection on August 3, 2014 - 1:27 PM

          1) Please name me one atheist inspired/lobbied/drafted piece of policy. And, if you for some bizarre reason can find one, please explain how it is detrimental or has proven to be detrimental.

          So, no, you cannot dismiss or trivialize the horrible things happening at the hands of religion and the religious by saying “yeah, everyone can be an asshole”, when in reality, this itself is neither a valid argument – it is a strawman – and simply beside the point. Atheism is currently punishable by law in 13 countires and in seven of those (all Islamic) it is punishable by death. I don’t really see atheists going out there executing people, rounding people up and else punishing them for any reason. And before you bring up the tired “staling/Hitler were athesits” strawman, let me stop you right there and lead you to this article as i am not going to spell it out again (https://popreflection.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/today-in-conversations-with-theists/).

          And yes atheists can be assholes too. But at least we don’t blame our assholishenss on an even bigger asshole in the sky.

          I am so sick and tired of religious people and their apologists for turning every debate critiquing religion around to make it about them and how unfair it is to all of THEM.

          I am sorry to say but if you are someone who, for example, pays tithe, teaches Catholicism or whatever faith you subscribe to at the moment to school children or talks about your faith etc, someone who goes to church, patronizes it in any conceivable way then you are part of the problem. To seriously think that simply because you (and i dont mean you personally, but the religious person in question here) are not personally picketing against, say, gay people getting married, or molesting school children or hating on gays and lesbians, that means you are off the hook and just separate from the movement you are choosing to endorse, is beyond ridiculous and dishonest.

          Now that doesnt mean that , unlike what you and others here seem to think, I go tell every religious person this kind of stuff to their face (that would be a full time job), but what I dont abide is this shameless obfuscation of matters eliding the harms of religion by evoking strawmen of various kind and bad apple analogies with stuff like “but not all Christians.” I mean so what? Not all Christians are, but the ones that are, are the problem and that is what we are talking about here. And those people who are the problem are not some freaking minority or the fringe. I really doubt you understand that about religion

          I think it was Tom Petty who said that if he was in some club and fond out that there had been generation of people abusing children and that that club was covering it up, he would quit the club instead of giving them more money. If you do, then you are part of the problem. Own it.

          I think Hannah Arendt summarized it pretty neatly in The Banality of Evil. Good intentions are not good enough to be off the hook.

          So, yes religion is detrimental and its followers are pandering to a detrimental (not to mention ridiculously unreasonable, silly, fairy tale ridden, shit that can be disproven by a fifth grader) agenda and world view, even if not all of them actively themselves do evil things. But you know how the saying goes”…the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” (And please dont tell me religion teaches morals and is a source of morality. Although a very extensive debate, all I can say is that if someone needs a fictional book to be their source of morality, that, right there is some fucked up shit, not to mention that the most religious countires are some of the most immoral. When you drag out yet another dead body onto the streets, you cant tell me about religion being your source of morality).

          Religion is irrational, unreasonable, harmful, and detrimental and I need to respect religious supremacy as much as I need to respect white supremacists.

          • #8 by agrudzinsky on August 3, 2014 - 2:26 PM

            I myself is tired of these arguments. There is nothing I can say that you have not heard before and don’t have a canned response for which I also heard a thousand times.
            Disrespect for other people and their beliefs makes them angry. Anger clouds judgment. Angry people are not guided by reason.

        • #9 by popreflection on August 3, 2014 - 4:19 PM

          Yes, there is nothing you can tell me about religion and the religious person’s retort that I have not heard a thousand times and which I have not answered a thousand times. I could write a question and answer book based on conversations with theists (hint: hence this table being such a handy tool).

          I don’t owe respect to other peoples’ harmful, detrimental beliefs. I dont owe the religious person respect of their beliefs any more than I owe a white supremacist respect of his or her beliefs. I acknowledge it, but then I reserve the right to criticize it and say “no, wait it a minute, that is bullshit.” Respecting other peoples’ religious beliefs is what gets us in trouble.

          And I am not angry, I am contemptuous. And if the things that happen by the religious in the name of their god don’t fill your mind with contempt, then I seriously not only question your judgment but also capacity for reasoning.

        • #10 by popreflection on August 3, 2014 - 4:32 PM

          I also want to point that in the end, criticizing someone’s dearly held religious beliefs is an inherently “disrespectful” and “insulting” thing, so to say. There is no polite way of telling someone that they are believing in a fictional character. That the god they believe in doesn’t exist, that the Bible is a book of fiction and propaganda and all the other criticism. By definition, the very act of criticizing that belief as irrational and even harmful etc. is and will be perceived as insulting, in turn angering the other party.

          • #11 by agrudzinsky on August 3, 2014 - 10:38 PM

            Well, yes. There is no polite way to tell someone that he is an idiot. I just think that it’s impolite to tell people such things, to begin with. That’s not how you start a conversation if you want to convince anyone in anything.

            I am, personally, convinced that most beliefs are irrational. Reason is a slave of passions (paraphrasing Hume). People reason to support what they believe. I see the irrationality of my beliefs. If you don’t see the irrationality of yours, then you are likely to behave exactly like the irrational people which you try to criticize.

        • #12 by popreflection on August 3, 2014 - 11:36 PM

          I dont think there is anything irrational in any of the things I have said to you. And hey, I am not the one believing in some sky fairy who pulls the strings in mysterious ways (for Tim Tebow but not the starving kids in Somalia, because that is just the kind of terrific god he is).

          And yes, of course, it is understood that telling someone “you are an idiot” is insulting. My point was even a step before that: the sheer act of insisting someone religion, even if no profanity or direct insults are employed, is offensive. There is no polite way of telling someone that the book they read and believe to be the word of god and the source of all of their comfort, sanity and identity that was written by a bunch of ignorant, sexist, homophobic goat herders.

          • #13 by agrudzinsky on August 4, 2014 - 1:08 AM

            Theists don’t believe in fairies pulling strings. That’s a straw man or whatchamacallit. You should have known.

            People always appear rational to themselves. All have reasons for what they do and say, even the insane. So, “I don’t think I’m irrational” isn’t a good criterion for rationality.:-)

            I trust people who know that they are irrational more. They usually don’t claim their opinions to be superior.

        • #14 by popreflection on August 4, 2014 - 7:54 AM

          Well, if you believe in the unproven, in some invisible sky god or deity who makes shit happen, who created the billion galaxy universe just for you, in a man walking on water, and coming back from the dead and all that other nonsensical mumbo jumbo as depicted in your creation book of fairy tales also known as the Bible then you *are* being irrational. That is not a strawman by any stretch. Religious people are always quick to point out that despite “science” and “reason” those things don’t prove anything despite the fact that there exist billions of pages of scientific papers and books, findings and studies describing our world perfectly, more so than the bible ever did or could. Yet, all they got going for them is a pesky old book of lies and fairy tales, written and heavily edited by the rulers and goat herders of the time. Now THAT is irrational and unreasonable.

          You are welcome to point out to me how anything I said here is irrational. I mean, after all, I am not the one dabbling in that divine shit as reality thing. I dont believe in some unproven god nor do I believe that he impregnated a peasant woman in some small enclave to being his message of supposed love and generosity to the world…

          (and no, not having all the answers about life does not mean there is a god. you cannot fill gaps in our understanding of the world with god. You just have to then be able to sit back and admit that “you dont know”). Speak of your strawman and muddying the waters….

  3. #15 by silenceofmind on August 2, 2014 - 11:39 AM

    Actually the graphic shows how atheists interpret religious.

    Instead of trying to understand what is going on, the atheist just hallucinates an alternative reality were the absurdity of atheism actually looks reason.

    And what better atheist alternative universe than one where the religious person is hallucinated to look like an atheist.

    • #16 by popreflection on August 2, 2014 - 1:23 PM

      Actually this is precisely how every conversation with a theist goes down. You present them with some reality about the church, religion, their messiah etc. and one of those scenarios takes place, depending on how and when exactly the shoe fits. For example, let us take this passage here from Exodus which says “You can sell your daughter into slavery and allow her master to rape her” (21-7-10)

      “Or

      “You can rape your female slave and be forgiven. But the slave must be punished.” Exodus 19-20-22

      Or

      “You can rape a virgin, but you must marry her and pay her father a dowry of virgin” Excodus 22-16-17

      Now I bet you anything, you are going to employ one of the above mentioned “scenarios” to somehow try to explain away these truthful ruthless and callous things in the BIble, so you may as well not try.

      And trying to understand huh? Someone who believes in an invisible sky god and who uses a book of fiction and fairy tales has no valid argument. And atheists understand just that very well.

      • #17 by silenceofmind on August 2, 2014 - 1:39 PM

        Pop,

        Here is a first principle that is necessary to understand the scriptures you referred to:

        God meets man at man’s own level.

        And in this case, the level of man is pure depravity where rape and abuse of females is the male birth right.

        We know from political science that whatever public activity the government wants to reduce or eliminate, it regulates.

        In the passages you quoted God is beginning the process of rooting out wanton rape, murder, slavery, covetousness, etc., by regulating it.

        Men at that time thought raping women was just.

        After all, in that time period and all time periods up to the founding of America, justice was always the advantage of the strong.

        Since man was strong and woman weak by comparison, it was just for man to treat woman any way he pleased.

        In those times rape of women by men was just because justice was the advantage of the strong.

        • #18 by popreflection on August 2, 2014 - 2:20 PM

          oh your fucking god. Exactly as I predicted. Let’s see, it falls into the “you are taking it out of context” lower left quadrant doesn’t it?

          And I do love me the logic.

          So god creates human beings. And then he tells them they may not disobey him because of course he does. if i was a narcissist I would create things to my own amusement and to worship me too. Then they disobey him by making the horrible mistake of wanting to know more – have knowledge (and of course it is all Eve’s/a woman’s fault) so he curses ALL OF HUMANITY forever and ever as these fallen entities that must suffer. He creates them as these imperfect, horrible human beings who forever have to kiss god’s ass to be brought back into his good graces. So bascially god makes them those rapists and horrible people you described.

          And then he proceed to punish them for it? For punishing them for having created them that way in the first place?

          Are you listening to yourself?

          And those passages are NOT about god trying to root out wanton rape, murder, slavery and genocide. he is using it as a TOOL to punish and get conformity out of his subjects.

          That is like saying the best way we can get rid of genocide is commit some of it or the best way to eradicate rape is raping people who disobey.

          Are you seriously believing the deranged garbage you are spewing? It appears as though one has to be truly lobotomized to understand the Bible because this is some seriously deranged “reasoning”, if not the dumbest thing I have ever heard in defense of why a loving god would routinely employ murder and rape as tools to get obedience out of people. Even if your goal is get obedience (a messed up goal) to do so by encouraging believers to rape and pillage non believers and those who refuse to worship your narcissistic ass is some pretty messed up logic, reminiscent of the mindset of a sociopath – which is exactly what the god of the Bible is. It really is good to know that Satan is the bad guy here.

          • #19 by silenceofmind on August 2, 2014 - 2:29 PM

            Pop,

            I took nothing out of context.

            If fact, my comment gives historical and cultural context to the Bible where your post has absolutely none.

            Since your post is without context it is irrational of you to demand context from your opposition especially when your opposition did exactly as you demanded:

            Give context to the biblical narrative.

          • #20 by popreflection on August 2, 2014 - 2:47 PM

            The alleged context you give to the biblical narrative is made up, irrational, unreasonable crap. If that is what you mean with giving context to things, then you may as well not bother. Making up shit to fit your agenda does bot give context, not to mention that in my response I pointed out precisely why your context is irrational and unreasonable. The context of the Biblical narrative here is that the Bible and its content was written by a bunch of uneducated, ignorant goat herders who did not know any better and for whom rape and pillaging was the only thing they understood, hence incorporating it in their creation myths.

            And at any rate, the point of this post was that discussions with theists always end up in one of those 4 quadrants. You said no. And then when I posted something that does not fit your agenda of how you would like the Bible to be perceived, you did exactly as predicted and said “it was taken out of context”. So there.

          • #21 by agrudzinsky on August 2, 2014 - 8:12 PM

            One can get angry and upset with the bible and god and religious people. One can reject faith (which, IMO is impossible – it’s only possible to replace beliefs with other beliefs, equally unfounded). But the questions of evil, guilt, sin, justice, temptation, etc. and our inability to answer them will not go away. People will always have to deal with these questions. Even atheists, reading the bible, have to think about these issues, just as you did. I think, that’s the point of the bible.

          • #22 by silenceofmind on August 2, 2014 - 2:31 PM

            Pop,

            Yes, I listen to myself.

            And I like what I say and I love myself for saying it.

      • #23 by agrudzinsky on August 2, 2014 - 7:53 PM

        Everyone believes in something invisible. E.g. one’s own intelligence.

        • #24 by popreflection on August 2, 2014 - 8:39 PM

          Um, no not everyone believes in something invisible. I certainly do not.

          And to say that intelligence is invisible (as in, literally, not viewable eith sigh, such as a table, for example) was the same thing as the concept of god is pure sophistry.

          • #25 by agrudzinsky on August 2, 2014 - 10:08 PM

            Here is a good TED talk about invisible things. I’m sure, you believe that, at least, some of them exist. I hope, you “see” the point.

        • #26 by popreflection on August 2, 2014 - 8:52 PM

          Um…yes – asking questions about life and death – right or wrong, good and evil and the meaning of life etc. are something we humans do and can do independently of believing in some kind of a higher power and especially religion. That is a strawan.

          And the point of the Bible is certainly not these issues at any rate – as in, there is no attempt at introspection or philosophy. The Bible is dogmatic, it is about rules, obedience, hierarchy, punishment and reward. It is not about intelligently, open mindedly and philosophically approaching life’s questions. The Bible doesn’t ask any questions, nor does it encourage independent thought. It is very strict in what it requires. The Bible is a reflection of our limited understanding of the world a few thousand years ago and a tool to organize people. It has since been used as a means of control, subjugation, oppression and in of itself is a book about blind obedience to a higher power with the expectations of a divine reward or punishment. The Bible purports to have all the answers (god) instead of asking the questions and genuinely positing ‘I dont know”.

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