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Internet Goosing the Antithesis

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Franc's Challenge - first challenger down

On the comments thread for the original Franc's Challenge, menachem submitted Exodus 23:5. First, let's look at the verse in question in KJV (rememeber, any other VERSION is a PERVERSION) :

"If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him."

The greater context of the verse is a list of things one should do, so this verse stands alone very well. But just so no one accuses me of skipping over some justification, here is the verse in context :

"If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause."


Okay, first of all, the obvious issue here is, who the fuck still has donkeys carrying burdens ? Most people now live in places where we don't exactly need to use domestic animals to carry things. I guess the almighty YHVH didn't want to blow people's minds back then by telling them about "trucks". Way to go, jackass !

Let's be really generous here and imagine trucks instead of donkeys. Now suppose that you own a trucking company and you see the truck of one of your competitors broke down on the road. Should you go and help him ? Well first of all, there's not much you can do about it, so I guess the example is really pointless. If other human beings were in danger, then surely compassion would compel us to at least call for help. But in this principle, we're supposed to be looking at a mode of transport, a mere donkey, not another human being.

Which of course brings the criterion that ALL Bible verses fail - the criteria of justification. Nowhere is it explained exactly why one should help the donkey of one's enemy. Maybe we should, but how are we to know, without any justification whatsoever ? Blank.

Another thing is that there are many different scenarios that could arise even within these parameters. I could be in need of urgent medical help and thus not in a position to help the donkey at all, in which case it would be downright immoral. That is why secular morality, with its emphasis on values and principles instead of children's books scenarios, is infinitely more flexible and realistic than this religious pap.

Okay, it's your turn again. Go ahead and post your own "good Bible verse" in the comments so I can demolish it in a future edition.

Post a Comment


16 Comments:

At 4/11/2006 5:01 AM, Blogger menachem declaimed...

wow. you completely missed the point of the verse. the point wasn't to put aside your differences and make nice with your enemy. that's a nice idea, and the bible deals with it elsewhere, but not here. this verse is all about animal suffering; therefore, your truck comparison falls short.

first of all, animals are still used today as modes of transportation and as beasts of burden by more than half the world's population.

however, if you do want to modernize the verse to try to fit it into today's world, don't change the animal into a truck; rather, change the situation. for example, i would learn from this verse that if i saw my neighbor's cat stuck in a tree, or his dog ingured after being hit by a car, i would set aside my feelings for him, and rescue the cat, or bring the dog to the vet.

you're reaching, and i think your readers, dedicated athiests they may be, will agree with me. there is nothing immoral about this verse.

 
At 4/11/2006 8:08 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Menachem-

There's nothing in the verse to suggest that the suffering of the donkey is bad- if anything, it suggests that the only problem is that the donkey's owner is unable to move his stuff.

If Yahweh cares so much about animal rights, why doesn't the verse say something like: "If you see a donkey crushed by a heavy burden, take it from its owner and feed it water and sweet grass for the rest of its days, for the happiness of a donkey is the highest value."

Because Yahweh couldn't care less about the donkey- Franc's right, a truck would be a perfect modern analogy.

 
At 4/11/2006 8:27 AM, Blogger Vic declaimed...

Not to mention all the sanctioned animal sacrifice in the bible... I'd say god doesn't give a flip about anmial suffering. Why should he? He doesn't even care about people...

 
At 4/11/2006 12:46 PM, Blogger Aaron Kinney declaimed...

God gave humans all the animals for their use in Genesis. Animal compassion is found nowhere in the Bible, especially not this verse. But animal SACRIFICE is a different story...

Lets go drown some pigs in a river! I feel like bacon!

 
At 4/11/2006 2:25 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

So now that I've beaten menachem up, can I have another contestant please ?

 
At 4/12/2006 3:47 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Just for the hell of it, I've been looking closely at the Bible to see if there's anything morally favorable myself. I think the following might come close...

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

Of course, there's no mention of God at all. I'm interested to see what your take on this is, Franc.

 
At 4/12/2006 4:06 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Yay ! A new challenger ! You're on.

 
At 4/13/2006 3:38 AM, Blogger Pavielle declaimed...

Okay. Here you go. The morality of the Bible and Christians.

First let me explain something about Christian morality. god did not just randomly set down laws. He created them so that we would not harm:

God
Others
Oursleves

In that order. The Christian way is to become selfless. I have tried to minimize verses that mention laws against violating God. Rather I have focused on the second two so that it will make more sense to you guys (since you don't believe in God). Enjoy. By the way, I used a version of the Bible called Remix. It means exactly the same things as all the old Bibles, but it is written in modern street talk. I figured that way I would end up having to expalin less! :) If you can find one that is legitmately immoral then I will conragulate you. And please Francois dear, no playing dumb and using silly vain arguments like you did with the donkey verse. I spent alot of time on this and I expect a good comeback.

Galatians 6:1-5
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

Ephesians 4: 31-32
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Romans 12:15
Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down.

Job 6:14
When desperate people give up on God Almighty, their friends, at least, should stick with them.

Hebrews 13:3
Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you.

James 1:27
Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from world.

Job 31:15-25
Didn't the same God who made me, make them?
Aren't we all made of the same stuff, equals before God?
"Have I ignored the needs of the poor,
turned my back on the indigent,
Taken care of my own needs and fed my own face
while they languished?
Wasn't my home always open to them?
Weren't they always welcome at my table?
"Have I ever left a poor family shivering in the cold
when they had no warm clothes?
Didn't the poor bless me when they saw me coming,
knowing I'd brought coats from my closet?
"If I've ever used my strength and influence
to take advantage of the unfortunate,
Go ahead, break both my arms,
cut off all my fingers!

Psalm 82: 3-4
You're here to defend the defenseless,
to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
4Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
and prosecute all those who exploit them."

Hab 2:5-8
"Note well: Money deceives.
The arrogant rich don't last.
They are more hungry for wealth
than the grave is for cadavers.
Like death, they always want more,
but the "more' they get is dead bodies.
They are cemeteries filled with dead nations,
graveyards filled with corpses.
Don't give people like this a second thought.
Soon the whole world will be taunting them:
"Who do you think you are--
getting rich by stealing and extortion?
How long do you think
you can get away with this?'
Indeed, how long before your victims wake up,
stand up and make you the victim?
You've plundered nation after nation.
Now you'll get a taste of your own medicine.
All the survivors are out to plunder you,
a payback for all your murders and massacres.

Eccl 7:9
Brutality stupefies even the wise
And destroys the strongest heart.

Matt 5:5,9
"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are--no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.
"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

Matthew 5:21-22
"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, "Do not murder.' I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother "idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell "stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

Matthew 5: 28-38
"Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: "Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
“You're familiar with the old written law, "Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, "Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best--the sun to warm and the rain to nourish--to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

Romans 15:1
Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. 2Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, "How can I help?"

Proverbs 24:17
Don't laugh when your enemy falls;
don't crow over his collapse.

Proverbs 16:12-22
Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds;
sound leadership has a moral foundation.
Good leaders cultivate honest speech;
they love advisors who tell them the truth.
An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives;
you're smart to stay clear of someone like that.
Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives;
they're like spring rain and sunshine.
Get wisdom--it's worth more than money;
choose insight over income every time.
The road of right living bypasses evil;
watch your step and save your life.
First pride, then the crash--
the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
It's better to live humbly among the poor
than to live it up among the rich and famous.
It pays to take life seriously;
things work out when you trust in GOD.
A wise person gets known for insight;
gracious words add to one's reputation.
True intelligence is a spring of fresh water,
while fools sweat it out the hard way.

Col 3: 9-12
Don't lie to one another. You're done with that old life. It's like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you've stripped off and put in the fire. Now you're dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Lev 19: 10-19
Don't strip your vineyard bare or go back and pick up the fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am GOD, your God.
"Don't steal.
"Don't lie.
"Don't deceive anyone.
"Don't swear falsely using my name, violating the name of your God. I am GOD.
"Don't exploit your friend or rob him.
"Don't hold back the wages of a hired hand overnight.
"Don't curse the deaf; don't put a stumbling block in front of the blind; fear your God. I am GOD.
"Don't pervert justice. Don't show favoritism to either the poor or the great. Judge on the basis of what is right.
"Don't spread gossip and rumors.
"Don't just stand by when your neighbor's life is in danger. I am GOD.
"Don't secretly hate your neighbor. If you have something against him, get it out into the open; otherwise you are an accomplice in his guilt.
"Don't seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people.
"Love your neighbor as yourself. I am GOD.

Proverbs 21:2-8
We justify our actions by appearances;
GOD examines our motives.
Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors
mean far more to GOD than religious performance.
Arrogance and pride--distinguishing marks in the wicked--
are just plain sin.
Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run;
hurry and scurry puts you further behind.
Make it to the top by lying and cheating;
get paid with smoke and a promotion--to death!
The wicked get buried alive by their loot
because they refuse to use it to help others.
Mixed motives twist life into tangles;
pure motives take you straight down the road.

Ex 32:1-10
"Don't pass on malicious gossip.
"Don't link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony. Don't go along with the crowd in doing evil and don't fudge your testimony in a case just to please the crowd. And just because someone is poor, don't show favoritism in a dispute.
"If you find your enemy's ox or donkey loose, take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under its load, don't walk off and leave it. Help it up.
"When there is a dispute concerning your poor, don't tamper with the justice due them.
"Stay clear of false accusations. Don't contribute to the death of innocent and good people. I don't let the wicked off the hook.
"Don't take bribes. Bribes blind perfectly good eyes and twist the speech of good people.
"Don't take advantage of a stranger. You know what it's like to be a stranger; you were strangers in Egypt.

NOTE: Both interpretations of the donkey story were wrong. I checked out a study Bible put together by scholars who know far more than anyone. The message was that you should help the donkey lest it become crippled and useless to its owner. And trucks? Francois that is a pretty pathetic argument. But the same applies. If you see someone whose vehicle is out of order, go help them.

Proverbs 20:1-3
Wine makes you mean, beer makes you quarrelsome--
a staggering drunk is not much fun.

Quick-tempered leaders are like mad dogs--
cross them and they bite your head off.

It's a mark of good character to avert quarrels,
but fools love to pick fights.

Eph 5:3-9
Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.
You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them--the usual variations on idolatry--will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.
Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don't even hang around people like that.
You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true--these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours.
Proverbs 28:10-18
Lead good people down a wrong path
and you'll come to a bad end;
do good and you'll be rewarded for it.

The rich think they know it all,
but the poor can see right through them.

When good people are promoted, everything is great,
but when the bad are in charge, watch out!

You can't whitewash your sins and get by with it;
you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.

A tenderhearted person lives a blessed life;
a hardhearted person lives a hard life.

Lions roar and bears charge--
and the wicked lord it over the poor.

Among leaders who lack insight, abuse abounds,
but for one who hates corruption, the future is bright.

A murderer haunted by guilt
is doomed--there's no helping him.
Walk straight--live well and be saved;
a devious life is a doomed life.

Exodus 20:12-17
Honor your father and mother so that you'll live a long time in the land that GOD your God, is giving you.
No murder.
No adultery.
No stealing.
No lies about your neighbor.
No lusting after your neighbor's house--or wife or servant or maid or car or money. Don't set your heart on anything that is your neighbor's

 
At 4/13/2006 3:02 PM, Blogger Pavielle declaimed...

no takers?

 
At 4/13/2006 3:08 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Pavielle-

There's no justification for any of those! They're just commands. The only one that comes close is Proverbs 20: "Wine makes you mean, beer makes you quarrelsome--a staggering drunk is not much fun."

Everything else is without moral justification, and most of them are outright immoral- Proverbs 16, for example, which forbids pride.

As an aside, I really despise these kinds of "modern" translations. You might as well be using the urban-slang translation "Word on the Street" for all the good you're getting from it. Take my advice and get an honest text-only translation like the New Jerusalem. You'll be amazed at what the Bible actually says.

 
At 4/13/2006 5:28 PM, Blogger Pavielle declaimed...

Haha! I have never actually read the Remix version! I have always used a traditional Bible. I just used this to site verses so that you guys would have an easier time understanding. As for why these commands are justified... *Sigh* do I have to expalin every single one? Alright. I will. Didn't know anyone could be so dense. AS for morality, does it even need justification? How can you justify that it is wrong to murder? To steal? To lie? You can't except to say that they are wrong becuse they harm others. Earlier you guys were talking about the dignity of human life and how Christians were immoral becuase they violated it by agreeing with torture. Now when it comes to other things, you seem to think that placing yourself above all else is better. Which is it? And for you Zach, I will use the same passages The Juresalem Version. The pride thing is reffering to hubris and arrogance. Self dignity and confidence are okay to an extent. Whats so wrong with that?

I wanna know, what you think morality is? Is it self love? Honesty? Kindness? Is there any such thing? What are your moral laws? Why are your moral laws "justified" but not Christian laws? Tread carefully here becuase if you say that morality is merely subjective, then you certainly shouldn't be criticsizing Christians for immorality.

Expect another long blog soon.

 
At 4/13/2006 5:33 PM, Blogger Pavielle declaimed...

Are you guys angry at God? Vic seemed like he was.

How do you approach Christians? With anger and dislike? That is how it seems.

How do Christians try to approach atheists? For my part, with empathy and pity. I once was an atheist and know where you guys are coming from. In fact, I used to use a lot of the sanme arguments you guys did. It seemed fine when I was in it, but believe me, after I became Christian I looked back and wondered how I could have ever thought that was all that life was.

 
At 4/13/2006 6:10 PM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Pavielle-

Of course morality needs justification. Otherwise, how do we know what's a good moral and what's a bad moral? Anybody can come along and say, "Don't do X," but why is doing X wrong? That's why justification is needed. Proverbs 20 implies this justification- drunkeness is not fun, therefore it is wrong to be drunk. None of the other verses you gave even attempted to justify their commands- they're just empty normative statements like, "don't pick your nose," or "don't eat apples," or "always wear green."

The morality that I accept can be found throughout this blog- go back and read through the archives. In a nutshell, happiness is the highest virtue, and acting rationally and symmetrically is the best way to acheive happiness. Any action I take is justified by its adherence to this moral virtue.

Incidentally, Christians are the ones who believe in subjective morality, not me. In fact, atheism is required for objective morality.

Nobody here is "angry at God." At least, no more than we're "angry at Santa Claus" for not existing. What we are angry at, however, is the fact that Christianity continues to instill immorality in what could otherwise be very moral and rational people. My approach with Christians is to figure out if they realize how immoral Christianity is- if they do, but accept it anyway, then they're just despicable, immoral people. But if they don't realize it, then it's in my best interest to try to communicate the immorality of Christianity as thoroughly as possible.

 
At 4/14/2006 12:50 AM, Blogger Pavielle declaimed...

Do you need to justify why you shouldn't murder? Rape? Steal? Huh? I should think it is rather obvious. I guess Jesus and his disciples id as well. But apparently you need to be spoon fed like an infant.

Okay... If it makes me happy... why not? I will murder YOU! It would be in my best interests to do that becuase as I see it, you guys are out to destroy anyone who is Christian. So I should destroy you first. Makes me happy. And if obtaining happiness for yourself is the highest morality, then the law should not persecute me becuase I was being very moral.

Self indulgence hurts others. Selfishness is the cause of war, torture, hate, etc.

Christians very much believe that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong and thus objective morality fyi. If there were not, then there would be no reason for qaurelling about what the best way to be moral is.

And if achieving happiness is the highest moral virtue, then I am extremely moral becuase I am way more happy as a Christian than I ever was an atheist. So you should admire me for that.

And I understand why you see Christianity as immoral. But I don't agree with you. So I guess I am descpicable? Oh well, too bad for me. :)

 
At 4/14/2006 10:03 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Pavielle-

Have you been reading this blog at all? Murder violates the Moral Razor, which I call the Symmetry Test.

Are you really more happy as a Christian? Does it really have to do with the beliefs? Or is it because of all the instant friends you get once you start going to church? I'll tell you this, Pavielle- I used to be a Christian, and once I started to question the truth of Christian claims, I took a good look at all the happiness around me in church on Sunday, and it shocked me how forced and fake everyone looks. I realized that (and I think this is a relic of late 20th Century American Christianity) everyone expects to be happy, and so they make themselves act happy. It was a crushing realization for me, because I was under the same illusion at the time that you're in- I thought that even if there were serious questions about Christianity, at least is makes people happy. But it really doesn't. They reminded me so much of kids who have found out that Santa Claus isn't real, but continue to believe because it reminds them of the happiness they felt when they were still being lied to.

I decided that the happiness of a lie isn't real happiness at all.

 
At 4/16/2006 7:30 AM, Blogger menachem declaimed...

i've been out of it the last couple of days, searching my house for unleavened bread and observing passover, and it looks like this post has passed on into the world of "off-the-front-page," so i guess nobody's reading these comments anymore. that's a shame.

i still stand by my verse. most of the arguments presenting here are based on god's allowing of animal sacrifices, and i don't get the connection. we're looking at one verse, separate from the whole. i could defend animal sacrifice, but it's not the point. and your whole interpretation of the verse as defending the person's enemy rather than defending the animal is just plain wrong. if you'll look in the Talmud, tractate bava metzia 32b, you'll see many laws prohibitting animal suffering and animal cruelty are derived from this verse.

 

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