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Agnostic Testimony 13
Dan’s Religious Manifesto (page 1 of 9)

by Daniel Hendricks

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The below is written by my own hand.  It is by and large a summary my religious beliefs.  As I was born into a Christian family, and have thus far only been approached on the street or at home by Christians trying to convert me, this is by and large a critique of Christianity.  I’ll branch out to other religions if Buddhists and Taoists start ringing my doorbell.  People who read early drafts requested scriptural links.  These have been added, generally to more obscure stuff.  This is a living document; so if you have questions, direct them to me at dmhend2@yahoo.com title your e-mail something specific as that is my spam e-mail account and I delete 90% of the stuff it gets.  Examples below are things that I have seen, so are affected by my biases.  If your religion is mentioned below, and I got something wrong, drop me a line.  It’s how I found out Mormons include the Apocrypha in their holy books.

Non-Literal Scripture Content

First off, it must be noted that several Christian denominations hold that either the Old Testament, or the entire Bible is not literally true.  The stories might be exaggerated, or even made up in order to make a point about the nature of God, rather than give a literal history of events.  This section of Scripture Content address those problems that exist regardless of whether the story is literally true, or a story made to make a point.

Old Testament

For starters, much of scripture depicts God as a murderous fiend who will kill at the slightest provocation.  His punishments are severe for minor infractions, and are generally meted out for stuff he could have easily done something about before hand.  At best, it seems like a pantomime.  For instance, Genesis’s Adam and Eve story:

God makes man a curious creature.  God places object near man and says, “don’t eat this.”  God goes away for a while.  God comes back, acts surprised that man ate it, and punished him his descendants for thousands of years with death, disease, mortality, etc. 

Anyone with a two-year old child could have predicted that outcome.  Also, you have the whole question of how an omniscient God even can “go away”, the whole thing reeks of a set-up.  Clearly, God knows he made a curious creature.  He knows the serpent is going to tempt them (actually, he made the serpent).  He knows exactly what will happen the whole time.  (Unless, of course, he is not actually all knowing, in which case, we have a non-perfect God)  Even better, eating of the fruit is what gave man the knowledge of the difference between good and evil… meaning that when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they did not know the difference, namely that disobeying their god would be wrong.

The Flood gives you more insight into God.  He is more than willing to kill everything on the planet to wipe out all but a few of his creations.  But isn’t living on the Earth a punishment?  Wouldn’t more bad neighbors be more of a punishment?  How did he mess up so badly that he needed to basically start over?  (Noah and his family are in an almost identical position as Adam and Eve except that there are a few more of them, and they actually did everything God asked them too)  So you’ve got God making mistakes, and needing to fix them.  And continuing to punish those who had absolutely nothing to do with eating the apple.  No just society on Earth punishes the children for the sins of the father, much less the great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather… why does God? 

By Sodom and Gomorrah , God had narrowed the focus a bit.  He was still killing people he didn’t like, but now just citywide instead of globally.  Again, still a little fuzzy on why he needs to kill vast cities at all.  Living here is still supposed to be punishment for Original Sin, so it seems anything that makes it worse would be something he’d want.  And if he’s all knowing, why wait until the situation got so bad.  Lot of course, managed to get out, he was the great guy who offered to let the mob rape his daughters if they’d leave him alone.[1]  Excellent role model.  Oh, and his wife died because, like Adam and Eve, she was curious… just as God made her.  The other odd thing about Sodom and Gomorrah is that God didn’t know or care what was going on there until someone came to him to complain about it, and he wandered over to look at it.[2] Does this mean he doesn’t know what’s going on?  Or that he really doesn’t care what happens unless someone is bugging him about it?  Maybe that he’s some sort of hit man?  It never really says.

Moses shook stuff up again.  He was pretty much the big effects guy of the OT.  While the closest today’s people get to physical divine signs are silhouettes of Jesus or Mary on a cheese sandwich, Moses got a wide range of stuff.  Pillars of fire and smoke, rivers running with blood, rains of fire, sticks turning to serpents, killing first born males, from old men to newborn infants, and finally, dividing a sea.  Any of these today would immediately make major news, but since the advent of reliable recording devices, none have been seen.  (Sadly, while many plagues came to Egypt , none came to Auswitz)  Again though, God was pretty much all about killing the enemies.  After all, if God could do all these other things, certainly it would have been easier to just teleport all the Jews to North America, in Moses’ time, where they would have had a few thousand years of peace and quiet to live in a holy land that wasn’t surrounded by Muslims. 

You also have lots of injunctions and advice that are pretty much contrary to everything one would think Christianity would stand for.  Rules on how to properly claim and mark slaves.[3]  That insolent children should be killed,[5] but that you cannot kill a child no matter how hard you beat them[6], so that’s okay.  Other wonderful rules involve rape victims being forced to marry their rapists,[4] and a story of a whole city attempting to show their devotion to the Lord by being circumcised, and then the Lord’s followers killing them all while they were recovering, to clam their lands, cattle and women as property.[ 7]

We won’t even touch on all the stuff set down in Leviticus.  Lets just leave it at almost no religion actually does everything in there.  (I think maybe Quakers, but I’m not sure even they do all of it)  Wearing mixed fabrics[14], eating shellfish[9], not eating leftovers after thee days[15], homosexuality[16], and tattoos[13] are all abominations and one should make menstruating women live outside of the main house[12 ]because they are unclean.  Also included are some interesting biological notes that are wildly incorrect, including assertations that insects have four legs[11], that bats are birds[10], and that rabbits chew cud[8].  It has always struck me as interesting that almost everything above is dismissed by contemporary Christians, except for the homosexuality stuff.  Oddly, they can never really provide a reason as to why that one is still a sin, but the rest are not.  In the midst of thousands of protests against homosexuality, you never see any against classifying bat as mammals, wearing mixed fabrics, or even the regular and legal breaking of actual Ten Commandments written directly by the hand of God (over the laws of Deuteronomy and Leviticus) such as adultery, or not keeping the Sabbath holy. 

Continued next page.

                                                                                                                                               

1 Gen 19:8   2 Gen 18: 20-21   3 Deu 15:17   4 Deu 22:28-29   5 Deu 21:18-21   6 Pro 23:13   7 Gen 34   8 Lev 11:6   9 Lev 11:12   10 Lev 11: 13-19   11 Lev 11:20-23   12 Lev 12:2-5   13 Lev 19:28  14 Lev 19:19 15 Lev 19:7 16 Lev 19:22