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Unholy Writ:: An Infidel’S Critique of the Bible

Unholy Writ:: An Infidel’S Critique of the Bible

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Unholy Writ:: An Infidel’S Critique of the Bible

Länge:
1,834 Seiten
31 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 7, 2011
ISBN:
9781456795719
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

During our brief and perilous journey ex irritum ad irritum, how are we to find, what the German philosopher Martin Heidegger (Sein und Zeit) would call, the true approach to being? How do we answer the question posed by the Apostle Thomas when he asked how can we know the way (Jn. 14:5)? In other words, how should we fill that parenthesis of infinitesimal brevity, which James Joyce (Ulysses) maintained, demarcates each of our lives? The Bible has often been put forth as a supposedly infallible guidebook charting the correct path to an authentic existence (e.g. 2 Tim. 3:16-17). According to its proponents, Scripture is an absolutely dependable life-manual because it is the word of God (Summa Theologica, First Part, Q. 1, Art. 10). However, close inspection of the Bible calls into question its divine authorship; and, thus, its reliability as an accurate roadmap for the soul. In fact, under close examination it proves to be nothing more than a mundane and cobbled together collection of archaic superstitions beginning with the outlandish speculations of Moses concerning the creation of the world and ending with the maniacal ravings of John regarding its destruction. Exposing the true nature of Holy Writ was the main purpose for writing Unholy Writ. The modus operandi for this expos involved a thoroughgoing critical analysis of Scripture. The results from such a careful consideration of its contents clearly demonstrated that any claim that the Bible is some sort of sacrosanct ethical vade mecum is completely invalid. Specifically, the multiple contradictions and absurdities contained in the Bible confer an unreliability upon it that undermines its function as a guide for anything, let alone as some sort of moral map for the journey through life. Furthermore, many of the ideas that are promoted in Holy Writ are actually spiritually harmful. In addition, unless the condoned misogyny, violence, intolerance, injustice, and cruelty can be removed, then it is difficult to view the Scriptures as anything like an unwavering celestial beacon that clearly lights the way through the moral fog that at times engulfs our lives. Moreover, the many errors that it contains, including those about the natural world, undermine the pivotal claim that the Bible is divinely inspired.
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Nov 7, 2011
ISBN:
9781456795719
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

The author earned a B.A. degree in Philosophy from Marquette University and a second baccalaureate undergrad in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, he spent six years as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and Graduate Fellow at the Illinois Chicago at the Medical Center studying Neuroanatomy and Cell Biology.


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Unholy Writ: - T. Joyner Drolsum

1-800-839-8640

© 2011 T. Joyner Drolsum. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

First published by AuthorHouse 11/1/2011

ISBN: 978-1-4567-9571-9 (e)

ISBN: 978-1-4567-9575-7 (sc)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011916099

Printed in the United States of America

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models,

and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Contents

Key to Abbreviations:

Preface

Introduction

BIBLICAL ERRANCIES, ABSURDITIES, RIDDLES, AND MENDACITIES

CONTRADICTIONS: CHRIST IS THE ANTICHRIST

Contradictions in the Old Testament:

Contradictions in the New Testament:

MELTING SNAILS AND OTHER ABSURDITIES

Absurdities in the Old Testament:

Absurdities in the New Testament:

REVELATION: THE RAVINGS OF A MANIAC

Mythological End Times:

Real End Times:

BEHOLD I COME QUICKLY

FALSE PROPHETS AND FALSE PROPHECIES

BIBLICAL MORALITY

GOD’S MALEFACTORS:

BREAKING THE COMMANDMENTS WITH IMPUNITY

MILKSOPS FOR CHRIST:

THE PRUDENT SLAVE MORALITY

MIGHT MAKES RIGHT:

CRUELTY, MAYHEM, MURDER AND DESTRUCTION IN THE BIBLE

INJUSTICES: THE BIBLE AS GOD’S RAP SHEET

MISOGYNY: THE BITTER WATER TEST

SEXUAL ETHICS

OR

THE HOUSE OF HIM THAT HATH HIS SHOE LOOSED

Celibacy and Male Chastity:

Female Virgins and Virginity:

INTOLERANCE: CRAVING FOR A COMMUNITY OF WORSHIP

BIBLICAL BIGOTRY:

AS A DRUNKEN MAN STAGGERETH IN HIS VOMIT:

DIETARY CONCERNS:

CLOVEN FOOTED CUD CHEWERS AND ROAD KILL

PROHIBITIONS AND CURSES:

KEEP YOURSELF FROM THE ACCURSED THING!

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT: STONING THE OX

SUCH LANGUAGE!

LESS THAN EDIFYING BIBLICAL IMAGERY

THE BIBLICAL NATURE OF GOD

FEET OF CLAY:

GOD OMNIPOTENT LOSES A WRESTLING MATCH

"DEUS CARITAS EST"

A CONTRADICTIO IN ADJECTO

DEUS QUOD DIABOLUS ES UNUS:

GOD AS THE SOURCE OF EVIL

THE MAN WHO SAID HE WAS A POACHED EGG:

A SERIOUSLY FLAWED JESUS

THE TRINITY:

THE TRANSMOGRIFYING GOD

THE NATURE OF BIBLE BASED RELIGION

COERCING BELIEF:

BELIEVE OR BE DAMNED!

PREDESTINATION:

DEAR EINSTEIN, GOD PLAYS WITH LOADED DICE.¹

ESCHATOLOGY: SALVATION, DAMNATION

AND THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL

The Mind/Brain Identity Problem and the Immortality Conundrum:

THEOPHAGY AND OTHER SCRIPTURALLY BASED RITUALS

THE BIBLE VERSUS SCIENCE, NATURE, AND TRUTH

COSMOGONY:

CREATIONISM AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN

Vs.

THE BIG BANG AND EVOLUTION

The Primeval Atom:

Sapient Star Stuff and the Maggot in the Cheese:

THE MACULATING OF CONCEPTION:

BESHREW THE TWO-BACKED MONSTER!

MISOLOGY: THOU SHALT NOT THINK!

SACERDOTALISM:

PHINEHAS’ JAVELIN THROW

CONCLUSION:

THOUGHTS OF AN UNREGENERATE APOSTATE

From Neuron to God:

Deicide:

Life without God:

Appendix:

An Apologia for Religious Infidelity

POSTSCRIPT

NOTES

About the Author

This book is dedicated to the Confraternity of the Faithless¹

At A Cathedral Service

That with this bright believing band

I have no claim to be,

That faiths by which my comrades stand

Seem fantasies to me,

And mirage-mists their Shining Land,

Is a strange destiny.

Why thus my soul should be consigned

To infelicity,

Why always I must feel as blind

To sights my brethren see,

Why joys they’ve found I cannot find,

Abides a mystery.

Since heart of mine knows not that ease

Which they know; since it be

That He who breathes All’s-Well to these

Breathes no All’s-Well to me,

My lack might move their sympathies

And Christian charity!

I am like a gazer who should mark

An inland company

Standing upfingered, with, "Hark! Hark!

The glorious distant sea!"

And feel, "Alas, ‘tis but yon dark

And wind-swept pine to me!"

Yet I would bear my shortcomings

With meet tranquility,

But for the charge that blessed things

I’d liefer not have be.

O, doth a bird deprived of wings

Go earth-bound, willfully!

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

The Impercipient

Key to Abbreviations:

O.T. = Old Testament

Gen. = Genesis

Ex. = Exodus

Lev. = Leviticus

Num. = Numbers

Dt. = Deuteronomy

Jos. = Joshua

Jg. = Judges

1 Sam. = 1 Samuel

2 Sam. = 2 Samuel

1 Kgs. = 1 Kings

2 Kgs. = 2 Kings

1 Chr. =1 Chronicles

2 Chr. = 2 Chronicles

Neh. = Nehemiah

Es. = Ester

Ps. = Psalms

Pr. = Proverbs

Ec. = Ecclesiastes

Is. = Isaiah

Jer. = Jeremiah

Lam. = Lamentations

Ezek. = Ezekiel

Dan. = Daniel

Hos. = Hosea.

Jl. = Joel

Ob. = Obadiah

Jon. = Jonah

Mic. = Micah

Hab. = Habakkuk

Zeph. = Zephaniah

Hag. = Haggar (Haggai)

Zech. = Zechariah

Mal. = Malachi

N.T. = New Testament

Mt. = Matthew

Mk. = Mark

Lk. = Luke

Jn. = John

Rom. = Romans

1 Cor. = 1 Corinthians

2 Cor. = 2 Corinthians

Gal. = Galatians

Eph. = Ephesians

Philip. = Philippians

Col. = Colossians

1 Thess. = 1 Thessalonians

2 Thess. = 2 Thessalonians

1 Tim. = 1 Timothy

2 Tim. = 2 Timothy

Phil. = Philemon

Heb. = Hebrews

Jas. = James

1 Pet. = 1 Peter

2 Pet. = 2 Peter

1 Jn. = 1 John

2 Jn. = 2 John

3 Jn. = 3 John

Rev. = Revelation

BM = Book of Mormon

Q. = Qur’an

Preface

"A very popular error: having the courage of one’s convictions;

rather it is a matter of having the courage for an attack on one’s convictions!!!"

—Nietzsche (1844-1900)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). According to this verse, the Bible is a divinely inspired moral guide.¹ For Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.), this supposedly supernatural provenance invested the book with paramount authority.² Based on this tenuous fiat, Scripture has been used by Christian fundamentalists, among others, to support their socially conservative views on such issues as abortion, evolution, homosexuality, capital punishment and stem cell research. Furthermore, they maintain that their position on each of these matters is absolute and unassailable because it is backed up by the sacred word of an omniscient and omnipotent Supreme Being. In short, they buttress their dubious moral positions by using God as an unconditional sanction, with no court of appeal, as a categorical imperator.³

However, the validity of their claim to moral superiority is dependent upon the truth of the proposition that the Bible is infallible because it is the revealed word of God, that, as Thomas Aquinas maintained, in the Sacred Scripture … the Divine Will is made known to us.⁴ This assertion, in turn, rests upon two unspoken assumptions (that God exists and that, if he does so, he also speaks to us truthfully through an ancient book), neither of which is provable. This essential ambiguity makes the central postulate of bible-based religion highly problematic. Furthermore, the statement that the Bible is the inerrant word of God is a petitio principii utterance, i.e. it is a logically fallacious assertion because it begs the question. In other words, its speciousness is derived from the circular reasoning upon which it is based. The fallacy of circular reasoning occurs when the conclusion of an argument is essentially the same as one of its premises. To put it another way, in circular reasoning a conclusion is deduced from a premise containing within itself that very conclusion. In this case, the circularity is expressed in the stated belief that the Bible is infallible because it is the word of God; and what makes it the word of God is its infallibility.⁵ In short, we know that the Bible is the infallible word of God because the Bible tells us so (2 Tim. 3:16). Here is a case in which what is taken as proven never rises above the level of an assumption. Nevertheless, in spite of the flawed reasoning undermining it, the resulting specious ‘divine imprimatur’ is used by fundamentalists to gain the moral high ground in all cultural debates. This purported divine sanction also has the effect of precluding any rational discourse on important social problems.

Besides the problematic nature of its hidden assumptions and the logical errors invalidating its central tenets, the fundamentalist’s reliance on Scripture in ethical disputes is further weakened by the dubious manner in which they usually cite the Bible to support their moral opinions. Specifically, they seem to conveniently disregard any biblical passage that doesn’t fully support their ethical views. For example, when condemning abortion they will only refer to those verses that will serve to bolster their position (e.g., Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17; Jer. 1:5) while disregarding any passage that can be construed as pro-choice (e.g., Ex. 21:22-25). This cherry-picking approach toward Holy Writ also ensures that anything which may call into question its divine origins is safely ignored. It appears that belief in the sanctity and wisdom of the book is somehow established a priori, before it is even opened. When it finally comes time to read the Bible, this is done in such a biased, selective and uncritical manner, that the initial beliefs in its divine nature and in its moral authority are only reinforced. This narrow-minded, blinkered approach is so complete that it filters out any unsettling realities or unorthodox opinions that might challenge any of the preconceived notions about the nature of Holy Writ.

As alluded to above, this modus operandi also allows the fundamentalists to use Scripture to defend and/or promote their own prejudices. This can be seen when moralizing Christians, for whom all important ethical decisions seem to come before any reading of the Scriptures themselves, select and interpret texts in accordance with their prior convictions. They are seemingly motivated by the strength of their opinions rather than by any verbum Dei.⁶ However, Nietzsche warned us that convictions prove nothing in favor of that of which one is convinced; in the case of religions they establish rather a suspicion against it.

This selective approach to ‘verse snipping’ is facilitated by the protean character of the Bible itself in which … everything may be found in it which it is desired to find.⁸ This is true to such an extent that, as Shakespeare pointed out, even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.⁹ However, as Thomas Paine (1737-1809) argued in his pamphlet the Age of Reason, culling corroborative quotes from the Bible without first establishing the book’s authenticity is, as the old adage describes it, putting the cart before the horse:

It has often been said, that anything may be proved from the Bible, but before anything can be admitted as proved by the Bible, the Bible itself must be proved to be true; for if the Bible be not true, or the truth of it be doubtful, it ceases to have authority, and cannot be admitted as proof of anything.¹⁰

Not only do these priggish fundamentalists cherry-pick their references from a dubious book; but they are also not above distorting the meaning of those preferentially selected verses. For example, if they are unable to find a clearly enunciated passage that supports their position, they fall back on the exegetical legerdemain whereby the verses that [say] one thing quite clearly often mysteriously [mean] another.¹¹ In his work, The Dawn, Nietzsche (1844-1900) drew our attention to this disingenuousness when he wrote: Again and again they say, I am right, for it is written, and the interpretation that follows is of such impudent arbitrariness that a philologist is stopped in his tracks, torn between anger and laughter, and keeps asking himself: Is it possible? Is this honest? Is it even decent?¹² Elsewhere he expressed his exasperation over these Scriptural machinations in the following words: What is the point of scientific education, criticism and hermeneutics if such a lunatic exposition of the Bible as is still cultivated by the church has not yet turned the blush of shame into a permanent skin color?¹³

The deceptive practices discussed by Nietzsche can lead to the phenomenon of competing exegesis. Paine was describing this exegetical agon when he wrote the following:

It has been the practice of all Christian commentators on the Bible, and of all Christian priests and preachers, to impose the Bible on the world as a mass of truth and as the word of God; they have disputed and wrangled, and anathematized each other about the supposed meaning of particular parts and passages therein; one has said and insisted that such a passage meant such a thing; another that it meant directly the contrary; and a third, that it meant neither one nor the other, but something different from both; and this they call understanding the Bible.¹⁴

These interpretational polemics mark not only the disputes among adherents of the same religion, but they are often wielded by the bickering believers of different religions. This was even commented upon in the Qur’an:

The Jews say: The Christians have nothing (to stand) upon; and the Christians say: The Jews have nothing (to stand) upon. Yet they (profess to) study the (same) Book" (Q. 2:113).

From the foregoing it can be seen that, in addition to bestowing an aura of infallibility on their moral pronouncements and giving the appearance that their prejudices have divine approbation, Christian fundamentalists have exploited their duplicitous and relativistic approaches to Scriptural exegesis in order to maintain the illusion that the Bible is a divinely revealed, sacrosanct, and inviolable ethical guide. In short, by means of illogic, credulity, bias, and distortion a ‘pia fraus’ or pious fraud has been perpetrated on the spiritually needy. A mundane book has been passed off as being the product of divine authorship.

For the believer, the power of the words in the Bible resides not only in the words themselves, but also in the belief that they come directly from God; and, thus, are of more significance than the ethical pronouncements contained in the profane books written by secular moral philosophers like Kant, J.S. Mill, and Nietzsche, each of whom lacked the presumption to attribute their thoughts to divine inspiration. In the Bible God is supposedly telling us how to behave so that we can obtain the eternal pleasures of heaven while avoiding the neverending pains of hell. It is the purported sacred character of the book that gives the words in it their special meaning and moral authority. And it is this view of the Bible as a holy book with supernatural messages for mankind that enthralls believers but perplexes skeptics.

The skeptic’s confusion is deepened when he reads the biblical admonition to avoid strange doctrines (Heb. 13:9). Can such a warning be directed toward the Bible itself? That the Bible contains at least some strange doctrines is beyond dispute. Consider, for example, the bizarre ‘law of leprosy’ described in Lev. 14:2-53; and the curious proviso in God’s covenant, that a young goat not be boiled in the milk of its mother, detailed in Ex. 34:26. However, does the oddness of certain of its parts undermine the whole Bible in terms of its moral authority? The answer to this question is in the affirmative when the more bizarre teachings it contains are combined with the mass of contradictions and absurdities that one confronts throughout Holy Writ. And when one includes the many instances of violence, cruelty, misogyny, injustice, intolerance, etc. that are either condoned or promoted in it, then any claim that the Bible constitutes either the ultimate moral standard or that it has been inspired by a perfect being becomes highly suspect.

The purpose of the present polemic is to point out those parts of the Bible that clearly illustrate the absurdity of either relying on it as an unassailable divine guide to ethical conduct or believing it to be the product of divine inspiration. In the course of using the verses themselves in discussing such topics as biblical errancy, bible-based morality, the character of the biblical god, the properties of a religion based on the Bible, and the Bible’s stance on science, nature and truth, it will be shown that any belief that it is either divinely inspired or a trustworthy guide to right living is at best misguided and at worst delusional. Consideration will also be given to the problems associated with living in a world devoid of a virtuous and voluble God.

This work is aimed as a challenge to those Christian fundamentalists who wish to follow Peter’s directive that they should be ready to answer for their faith (1 Pet. 3:15). It is also directed to those unbelievers who may wish to arm themselves with arguments against the proselytizing of the seemingly ubiquitous Bible thumpers. And, finally, it is meant for anyone interested in religious matters in general and the Bible in particular.

Why write such an analysis now? Although the topic of the Bible is in a sense universal and timeless, one reason for undertaking an examination of it at this time stems from the need to respond to certain religious zealots, such as those emigrants from reality that comprise the fundamentalist, evangelical, right wing of the Republican Party, whose brand of bible-based intolerance is fueling the cultural wars currently roiling U.S. society. What makes their specific brand of bigotry so threatening is their obvious desire to use political power in a Procrustean attempt to recast the cultural practices of the nation so that they fit within an evangelical religious framework. Evidence for these sinister machinations can be found in a series of quotes from Randall Terry (a prominent evangelical and the founder of Operation Rescue, an organization whose purpose is to intimidate abortion providers):

1) When I, or people like me, are running the country, you’d [anyone involved in abortions] better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we will execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed… . If we’re going to have true reformation in America, it is because men once again, if I may use a worn out expression, have righteous testosterone flowing through their veins. They are not afraid of contempt for their contemporaries. They are not even here to get along. They are here to take over … . ¹⁵

2) Intolerance is a beautiful thing.¹⁶

3) Our goal must be simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God’s law, on the Ten Commandments. No apologies.¹⁷

4) We want our nation and all its institutions to be self-consciously built on the laws and principles of God’s Word… . We are at war – a cultural war… . [We] must move to restore this nation to being a Christian nation.¹⁸

These four quotes can only hint at the extent of Terry’s prejudices and how he uses faith as a screen for fanatical hatred. It would be impossible to plumb the depths of his intolerance because it is seemingly unfathomable. But his zealotry is only a particular instance of a general evil. As evangelists such as Terry, the late, unlamented Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and the rest of their ilk (who clothe their naked bigotry with old odd ends stolen out of holy writ, and seem a saint, when most … [they] play the devil¹⁹ and who are just the sort to make you [want to] throw your Bible away²⁰) spew forth such bigotry and hatred from pulpits, religious periodicals, T.V. screens, and radio stations across America, the country becomes more polarized and the social consequences become more dire. In his Social Contract, Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) warned that wherever theological intolerance is admitted, it must inevitably have some civil effect.²¹ This potential for a caustic spill-over of religious bigotry into the secular realm means that there is a pressing need for a rational response to such fanaticism.

As to the peril that the country is facing, its exact nature can be found in Terry’s diatribe. He and the fanatical religious movement he represents want to establish a Christian theocracy in the U.S.A. based on the Ten Commandments and the Bible. This desire resembles in a substantial way the Taliban’s aim to institute an Islamic theocracy in other parts of the world that would be based on Sharia law and the Koran.²² The negative consequences of such a religious transformation of U.S. culture would most likely include attempts to deny Americans any or all of the following: abortion rights and birth control to women, secular science education to children, civil liberties to homosexuals, and any potential medical advances to the sick that may be gained from stem cell research. In short, the Bible would become the foundation of civil society and would be used to bury any semblance of cultural diversity, individual freedom, or intellectual advancement. Using the Bible in this harmful way would by no means be unique, for as Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) once commented: If books were judged by the bad uses man can put them to, what book has been more misused than the Bible?²³ With the stakes so high, it is important that there be a response to the specious arguments of these Bible-hugging, morally self-righteous people, lest we become, in the words of Oscar Wilde (1856-1900), … dominated by the fanatic, whose worse vice is his sincerity.²⁴

One way this religious domination can be avoided is by pulling the plug on the power source of the evangelical Christian movement. Their source of strength resides in the generally accepted, but nonetheless misguided, belief that the Bible is the revealed word of God. Consequently, the movement’s potency can be enervated by disproving the claim that Holy Writ is sacrosanct. The apagogic method for refuting this assertion will involve disclosing the contradictions, absurdities and harmful doctrines that the Bible contains, the presence of which precludes its sanctity. Furthermore, taking the advice of Augustine that the small and weak words of a writer may gain strength and power from the confirming testimony of great men,²⁵ during this critique recourse will be made to the observations of prominent philosophers, theologians, scientists, historians, novelists, playwrights, poets, etc. whose different perspectives and various insights will help us to better grasp the Bible’s shortcomings. Exposing those weaknesses will go a long way toward undermining the authority of the Bible as an absolute standard for morality as well as calling into question those claims that it is a product of divine inspiration. This, in turn, will also allow us to broaden our attack from one focused on a particularly odious sect of moralizing Christians to the Christian religion itself. This intellectual assault needs to be expanded because the fundamentalists are only the most virulent agents of a pernicious disease, dementia religiosa²⁶, one which feeds even on the very pith of life and which, for the mental health of the commonwealth, requires eradication. Even the Christians know that they are sick; but they believe that their only remedy lies in the Bible. Unfortunately, their sickness gets worse the more this false elixir is imbibed. Indeed, instead of being a panacea, revealed religion is more of a miasma that needs fumigation. In his Age of Reason, the deist Thomas Paine provides us with a description of Christianity that could also serve as an argument for its extirpation:

Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none … more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics. As an engine of power it serves the purpose of despotism; and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests; but so far as respects the good of man in general, it leads to nothing here or hereafter.²⁷

Nietzsche shared Paine’s animus toward this most predominant of superstitions, this foeda superstitio, ²⁸ once calling it the denial of the will to life become religion.²⁹ He often criticized Christianity in his works, as, for example, at the end of his book, The Antichrist, where he wrote the following:

"With this I am at the end and I pronounce my judgment. I condemn Christianity. I raise against the Christian church the most terrible of all accusations that any accuser ever uttered. It is to me the highest of all conceivable corruptions… . The Christian church has left nothing untouched by its corruption; it has turned every value into an un-value, every truth into a lie, every integrity into a vileness of the soul. Let anyone dare to speak to me of its humanitarian blessings! To abolish any distress ran counter to its deepest advantages: it lived on distress, it created distress to eternalize itself.

The worm of sin, for example: with this distress the church first enriched mankind. The equality of souls before God," this falsehood, this pretext for the rancor of all the base-minded, this explosive of a concept which eventually became revolution, modern idea, and the principle of decline of the whole order of society—is Christian dynamite. Humanitarian blessings of Christianity! To breed out of humanitas a self-contradiction, an art of self-violation, a will to lie at any price, a repugnance, a contempt for all good and honest instincts! Those are some of the blessings of Christianity!

"Parasitism as the only practice of the church; with its ideal of anemia, of holiness, draining all blood, all love, all hope for life; the beyond as the will to negate every reality; the cross as the mark of recognition for the most subterranean conspiracy that ever existed—against health, beauty, whatever has turned out well, courage, spirit, graciousness of the soul, against life itself.

… .

I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great innermost corruption, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means is poisonous, stealthy, subterranean, small enough—I call it the one immortal blemish of mankind.³⁰

Elsewhere he said that I regard Christianity as the most fatal seductive lie that has yet existed, as the great unholy lie… .³¹

Christianity’s vulnerability to exposure as a lie lay in its dependence on a spurious supreme being and those vacuous words of the prophets and the authors of the Bible by which he allegedly manifested himself to us. And it is Holy Writ that marks the point at which Christianity is most assailable. For what if it could be shown that Scripture is so riddled with mistakes, so infested with absurdities, so permeated with ill-conceived ideas that the only possible explanation for such a flawed book would be its authorship by imperfect humans? Then, in the words of the eminent Christian theologian, Augustine, the authority of the Scripture [will] begin to shake³² and faith in God will commence to totter. In other words, the twilight of the biblical God will dawn when the clear light of reason exposes his ‘revealed word’ as being only a paltry human production. By a logical progression, the demythologization process will lead back to the ‘revealer’ himself resulting in the demise of that heavenly specter. Furthermore, without the sustaining force of its heavenly source, Christianity will face extinction. This follows because, according to Nietzsche (1844-1900):

"Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing remains in one’s hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God is truth—it stands and falls with faith in God."³³

In other words, Christianity is a justifiable institution if and only if we are warranted in accepting the proposition that the world was created and is governed by an omnipotent, perfectly good deity who has revealed himself to men in the Bible. Thus, belief in the Bible and the belief in God are inextricably tied together. Undermining the belief in one will necessarily lead to an erosion of the belief in the other. And since together they form the bedrock of the Christian belief system, the very survival of this religion depends upon its weathering every assault on the God fiction and the biblical yarns spun around it.

Thus, the stakes are high for the Christian. But they are also high for the atheist who, being inspired by the words of Albert Camus (1913-1960), would like to drive out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile sufferings. [And make] of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men.³⁴ As a prerequisite for recapturing his destiny man must first relinquish his ties to organized religion with its associated evils. For as Thomas Paine once said:

It is incumbent on every man who … wishes to lessen the catalogue of artificial miseries, and remove the cause that has sown persecutions thick among mankind, to expel all ideas of revealed religion, as a dangerous heresy and an impious fraud. What is it that we have learned from this pretended thing called revealed religion? Nothing that is useful to man and everything that is dishonorable … . What is it the Bible teaches us? — rapine, cruelty, and murder. What is it the Testament teaches us? — to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married, and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.³⁵

In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) tells us that the ruin of Paganism, in the age of Theodosius, is perhaps the only example of the total extirpation of any ancient and popular superstition, and may therefore deserve to be considered as a singular event in the history of mankind.³⁶ Is there any chance that it can be duplicated with respect to the modern and popular superstition of Christianity? It is a consummation devoutly to be wished. As Emile Zola (1840-1902) supposedly once said, civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest.³⁷ But, given the long history and global extent of one of the most predominant of the otherworldly superstitions, it would be unrealistic to believe that Christianity could be completely eradicated from our culture. However, the blunting of its influence to any degree would make it that much more likely that we could begin to work out the solutions to our social problems in a more humanistic, more rational and, thereby, more effective manner. The ineffectiveness of the faith-based approach to the amelioration of social ills has been amply demonstrated by social research.³⁸ For example, recent studies have shown a strong positive correlation between the extent of nations’ religious belief and levels of murder, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and other indicators of dysfunction.³⁹ In other words, the nations with the highest levels of belief in God, and the greatest religious observance are also the ones with all the signs of societal dysfunction.⁴⁰ These findings at least open the door to the possibility that redirecting our attention from the ‘other’ world and focusing exclusively on this one may be a more efficacious way of dealing with earthly issues.⁴¹ That even the authors of the Bible seemed to sense this is made clear by the fact that, as pointed out by Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), while the Old Testament made the world and man the work of God, the New saw itself compelled to represent that God as becoming man, in order to teach that holiness and salvation from the misery of this world can come only from the world itself.⁴²

However, this redirection of our attention to this world involves more than overcoming an odious sect of moralizing Christians, or Christianity itself, or even bible-based religion in general. Basically, it has to do with the overthrow of superstition in all its forms. In other words, in order to progress, humanity must finally break free from the shackles of superstitions, per se, and ascend out of the dank stultifying dungeons of ignorance to breathe the rarefied air of free thought. It can only begin this ascent by first ridding itself of the belief that the Bible is in any way a supernatural repository of truth. Truth is not something given to us in a ‘divinely inspired’ book. Rather, it is the product of rational inquiry; it is always based on a sufficiency of verifiable evidence.

Moreover, in the search for truth every attempt should be made to see facts strait on without the interference of any kind of distorting superstitious squint. This would constitute the clearest path to verity. Also, it is the honorable thing to do. As Thomas Mann (1875-1955) wrote in his novel The Magic Mountain, one must call things by their right names; life is enriched and ennobled thereby.⁴³ In addition, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) pointed out in his Novum Organum, that the contemplation of things as they are, free from superstition [is] … dignified in itself.⁴⁴ And, according to William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) it is a duty to mankind:

Belief is desecrated when given to unproved and unquestioned statements for the solace and private pleasure of the believer… . Whoso would deserve well of his fellows in this matter will guard the purity of his belief with a very fanaticism of jealous care, lest at any time it should rest on an unworthy object, and catch a stain which can never be wiped away… . If [a] belief has been accepted on insufficient evidence the pleasure is a stolen one… . It is sinful because it is stolen in defiance of our duty to mankind. That duty is to guard ourselves from such beliefs as from a pestilence which may shortly master our own body and then spread to the rest of the town… . It is wrong always, everywhere, and for every one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.⁴⁵

However, this kind of enlightening empiricism is not the epistemological approach of the Christian fundamentalist. He relies on the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Indeed, for him ultimate truth can not be derived directly from sense experience. Rather, it can only come indirectly from a book purportedly containing God’s extraordinary communications to man. Thus, truth for the fundamentalist possesses a transcendental quality since it originates in another world. This kind of ‘truth’ cannot be verified or refuted by sense experience. It relies on an absolute authority that is grounded on faith.⁴⁶ This makes it sui generis. In other words, truth in the religious sense is essentially a uniquely subjective, unverifiable, phenomenon.

On the other hand, for those of us confined to the Euclidean reality of this world, truth is a verifiable, common and objective entity. It is reality based. This means that the search for truth is a function of the interplay between the patterned neuronal connectivity that constitutes the evolved brain (with its component five-fold sensory apparatus) on the one hand and the four dimensional external world of space/time on the other. Thus, truth seeking is a natural and not a supernatural process. It is a matter of natural empiricism, not of divine revelation. Human knowledge, our storehouse of testable truths, grows and expands incrementally by means of reasoned inquiry and careful observation. Being grounded in reality, its expansion is hindered by irrational superstitious beliefs such as those associated with the Bible.

The word ‘superstition’ is derived from a Latin word meaning an excessive fear of the gods. Thus, from the beginning it has been closely associated with religion. This lexeme has come to be defined as any belief founded on irrational feelings, especially of awe. Affiliated with these kinds of beliefs is a trust in or reverence for charms, omens, signs, relics, prayers, holy books, etc. For the superstitiously inclined these objects and actions possess powers and effects not appropriate to their natures. It is through them that the supernatural interventions to which the natural order is supposedly subject can somehow be influenced.

Superstitions assume numerous forms many of which are considered to be relatively harmless. And several of these so-called innocuous beliefs possess religious underpinnings. For example, crossing fingers for good luck is associated with the Cross of Christ; throwing salt over the left shoulder is supposed to ward off ill luck because it is done to blind the devil; the number thirteen is considered unlucky because there were that many who attended the Last Supper; it is assumed that walking under a ladder brings bad luck because the ladder against the wall forms a triangle, the symbol of the Trinity and people believe that intruding on that shape will incur the wrath of God; and, finally, it is thought that breaking a mirror brings bad luck because it is believed that a person’s reflection is part of the soul and breaking the mirror will unleash the soul and prevent it from returning. Although one might consider these superstitious beliefs to be inoffensive, they do offend against reason in that they promote delusional thinking. In so doing, they can have subtly adverse effects upon the rational fabric of the mind. As Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) pointed out "there are conceptions which are not only false, not only absurd, but which act as disorganizing forces in the midst of the thinking apparatus. They injure the texture of the mind as a habit of gross sin injures the type of the character."⁴⁷ In other words, the habit of magical thinking, the wont to entertain irrational opinions can work their harm by hindering the development or disrupting the activity of reason.⁴⁸ The latter capacity is the quality that marks us as truly human; and, therefore, it is something that should be fostered to the fullest extent possible. Conversely, any thing that endangers the flowering of reason should be nipped in the bud. [This paring does not, of course, include those products of the creative imagination that issue forth in the form of art, poetry, literature, etc. Rather, the only things that should be trimmed from the tree of knowledge are those intellectual cankers wherein the unreal is passed off as real.]

In contrast to the intellectual harm associated with the flights of fancy mentioned above, the history of mankind has offered countless examples of the deadly damage that can arise from superstitious beliefs. As the French priest and crypto-atheist, Jean Meslier (1664-1729) noted, superstition is capable of inspiring the cruelest and most inhuman sentiments in men and there is nothing they are not capable of doing blindly on this vain, false, pathetic, cursed pretext of religion, seeing that in doing the most blameworthy and detestable actions they imagine they are doing the most praiseworthy and virtuous actions.⁴⁹ It is one of the basic contentions of this book that religion is nothing more than glorified superstition. And, as such, it has been, both directly and indirectly, the cause of a great deal of suffering in the world. For example, it would be impossible to enumerate all the dead bodies that have fallen during the long history of the religious wars involving Jews vs. Christians, Moslems vs. Hindus, Moslems vs. Christians, Christians vs. Christians, etc. Of course, those who would attribute these clashes solely to a religious cause would betray a very imperfect knowledge of human nature. More mundane concerns, such as the desire for some form of lucre, whether land, people, or treasure, were invariably involved. However, in each of these conflicts religion was always used to rationalize the greed and hostility of the various combatants. Without exception, each opposing group claimed that God and the right were on their side. Therefore, whatever they did, no matter how despicable, was sanctioned by their special relationship to God. For example, the Jews in the Old Testament used the myth of the ‘promised land’ and their role as God’s chosen people to commit genocide. Here it can be seen how superstition was used to justify the deaths of innumerable people.

In his book The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer (1788-1860) commented on the role metaphysics (which is most often only glorified superstition) played in European conflicts during the Middle Ages. Therein he told us to look back also at all the wars, riots, rebellions, and revolutions in Europe from the eighth to the eighteenth century; how few will be found that have not had as their essence or pretext some controversy about beliefs, that is, metaphysical problems, which became the occasion for making trouble between nations. That whole period of a thousand years is indeed one constant massacre and murder, now on the battlefield, now on the scaffold, now in the streets—all over metaphysical questions! I wish I had an authentic list of all the crimes that Christianity has actually prevented, and of all the good deeds that it has actually performed, in order to be able to put them in the other pan of the balance.⁵⁰

Another example of the genuine harm that can result from superstitious beliefs involves the autos-de-fe of the Holy Inquisition. In these formalized persecutions of nonconformists, religious zealots [like Torquemada (1420-1498) in Spain, Conrad of Marburg (d. 1233) in Germany, Robert le Bourge (c. 1232) in France and Guala the Dominican (c. 1230) in Italy acting under the directions of such Popes as Calixtus II, Alexander III, Lucius III, Innocent III, Gregory IX, and Innocent IV] availed themselves of thumb screws, the rack, and the stake to eradicate dissent over dogmatic issues pertaining to a fictional character, either the God of the Old Testament or his Son in the New Testament. Countless people were subjected to the animadversio debita (due penalty) for heresy, meaning that they died for their opinions. For example, in the course of the the Spanish Inquisition "twelve hundred conversos, penitents, obdurate and relapsed heretics were present at the auto-da-fé in Toledo, March, 1487; and, according to the most conservative estimate, Torquemada sent to the stake about two thousand heretics"⁵¹ in twelve years.

It was not only disputes concerning imaginary beings populating a fanciful heaven that was the source of evil among mankind. There was also the malignant influence derived from the superstitious fears surrounding the chimerical specters populating hell, i.e., Satan, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Eblis, or any of the other fallen angels. For example, the irrational belief in the illusory Prince of Darkness was the cause of the untimely deaths of countless women (and some men) who were accused of being his disciples by witch hunters, like Matthew Hopkins (c.1620-1647) of England and Cotton Mather (1663-1728) of New England. The exploitive Hopkins tilled superstitious ground to make a good living out of the executions of many an old woman whose only crime was having a wrinkled face, a furrowed brow, a hairy lip … a squint eye, a squeaking voice or scolding tongue, having a rugged coat on her back, a skull-cap on her head, a spindle in her hand and a dog or cat by her side… .⁵² The more principled (but no less despicable) Mather, being a man of high minded lunacy, believed it to be his Christian duty to hunt down witches. Doing God’s work in this way led him to play a vital role in the infamous Salem witch trials.⁵³ Such evil men as Hopkins and Mather were bound to reap a large harvest from their awful trade after Christianity had manured the culture with so much superstitious offal (see Ex. 22:18; Lev. 20:27).

The superstitious doctrines of Christianity were not the only cause of grievous harm being perpetrated against the more vulnerable members of society. Moslems have also been guilty of similar abominable actions based on their own brand of supernaturalism. For example, in 2002 Saudi Arabia’s religious police [the mutaween] stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building in Mecca because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, i.e., they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas (black robes) required under a strict interpretation of Islam. In addition, these guardians of public morality stopped men who tried to help the girls warning that it was sinful to approach them.⁵⁴ As a result, 15 girls died. Other instances in which superstition has resulted in genuine harm could be recounted almost ad infinitum and certainly ad nauseum.⁵⁵, ⁵⁶

Among these was the time honored way of legitimizing homicide by invoking the name of Allah or the God of Moses or Christ. One of its more formal expressions was the ritual of human sacrifice, a practice that has tarnished the name of religion down through the ages. Such bloody rites were often perpetrated to appease some god, or for the sake of augury, or to ensure companions in the afterlife. In regard to the latter, mass human sacrifices were a particular feature of ancient states whose dead leaders required their courtiers and followers to accompany them into the afterworld. For instance, the tombs of the first dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs (3100-2890 B.C.) were each surrounded by the graves of their courtiers. Concerning augury, according to the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (90-21 B.C.), the Gauls would kill a man by a knife-stab in the region above the midriff, and after his fall they believed that they could foretell the future by the convulsions of his limbs and the pouring of his blood. We can infer that such religious killings were common in the ancient world since Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) lauds Rome for ending the practice: It is beyond calculation how great is the debt owed to the Romans, who swept away the monstrous rites, in which to kill a man was the highest religious duty … .⁵⁷

However, they weren’t swept out of Asia as evidenced by the fact that human sacrifice was practiced in India up to modern times. Among the practitioners of such barbarism were the members of a cult surrounding the ‘mother’ goddess Kali. She was, according to Hindu mythology, a violent slayer of evil with an unquenchable thirst for blood. In the nineteenth century, a child was killed every day at the Kali temple in Calcutta. These sacrifices were prompted by the irrational belief that Kali would send riches to the poor, children to the childless, and revenge to the oppressed, if they provided her with enough blood.

Such ritualistic murder was not only an Old World phenomenon. It was also practiced in the New. For example, as late as the 16th century, Aztec priests believed that in order to keep the sun on its daily path it was necessary for the blood from the still-beating hearts of their victims to flow down the steps of their pyramids. In addition, within the Inca Empire of South America, children and teenagers were sacrificed to the sun god, bestowing considerable prestige on the child’s parents and on their local community.

Lest it be thought that such barbaric acts are only endemic to the heathen nations, it should be recalled that Christianity itself is based on a human sacrifice, in the form of Christ on the cross (Mt. 27:50; Mk. 15:37; Lk. 23:46; Jn. 19:33). It also has a precedent in the Old Testment where God at least condones the concept of human sacrifice when he commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering (Gen. 22:2). In addition, the Bible contains the report that children were sacrificed to the Ammonite god Moloch (Lev. 18:21). In some fundamentalist Christian families, children are still sacrificed. That is the only way to describe the death of a sick child when it occurs because medical attention has been withheld due to religious scruples (as occurred in Wisconsin in March of 2008⁵⁸). Essentially, these children have been sacrificed to their parent’s superstitious opinions concerning the efficacy of prayer.

It should be noted that it was not only humans who were needlessly sacrificed on the altars of superstition. So were countless defenseless animals. Animal sacrifices to appease the gods or predict the future were common practices throughout human history and they are still practiced today.⁵⁹ The sacrifice of animals also has a rich biblical tradition beginning with Genesis: And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering (Gen. 4:4). In addition, there are many other passages in Holy Writ in which we are told that God desires animal sacrifice because the burning flesh is a sweet savor to Him (Gen. 8:20-21; 15:9-10; Ex. 20:24; 29:11-37; Lev. 1:5; 23:12-18; Num. 18:17-19; Dt. 12:27). Thus we see that anything with a heartbeat, man or animal, can be potential fodder for superstition’s abattoir.

As pointed out above, supersition involves the belief in a supernatural agency that can intervene in the natural order by circumventing its laws. The Bible is replete with fantastical legends and fables recounting such miraculous interventions. Now, there is nothing wrong with fantasy until you attempt to pass it off as reality. And that is exactly what the proponents of the Bible try to do. When we read about the interactions of gods and mortals in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Virgil’s Aeneid we view them as allegorical tales that in an entertaining way often provide us with insights into the human condition. But few would believe that these authors were describing history. Yet when we encounter in the Bible tales relating a virgin birth, an incarnation, resurrections, ascensions, exorcisms, miracles, etc. we are assured by the fundamentalists that they are descriptions of real historical events. According to them, there is supposed to be a real difference between the plots and characters in the biblical stories and their almost identical counterparts in the profane literature. Specifically, the former are to be accepted as genuine supernatural events while the latter are to be judged as being nothing more than literary fictions.

For example, we are asked to believe that Christ calmed the waters (Mk. 4:35-41) but not that Poseidon stirred them up. In addition, we are supposed to accept as true the incarnation of the second member of the Trinity (Jn. 1:14); but not that Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, put off the god and [took on] human shape (The Bacchantes by Euripides, lines 4-5). Also, in the Bible Moses draws forth water from a rock by hitting it with his staff (Ex. 17:5-6; Dt. 8:15; Num. 20:7-13) while Euripides writes of a woman who took her thyrsus [staff] and struck it into the earth and forth gushed a limpid spring (The Bacchantes by Euripides, lines 707 ff.). The fundamentalists insist that the first story is to be taken as a genuine historical occurrence while the second is to be regarded only as a myth. Furthermore, Tacitus reports that using his spittle the emperor Vespasian healed a blind man (The Histories, Book IV, Paragraph. 81) just as one of the Evangelists describes Jesus as doing (Jn. 9:1-7). Likewise, in the Old Testament Samson is reported to have killed a lion with his bare hands (Jg. 14:5-6). Euripides writes of Hercules doing the same thing (Heracles Mad, lines 359-361). For the Bible thumpers, Vespasian was a charlatan, Jesus was a genuine faith healer, only Samson was the real big game hunter, Hercules being merely a character in myth. And in a final example, a daughter is sacrificed by her father to appease a god. Aeschylus and Euripides both wrote of how at the commencement of the Trojan War Agamemnon was willing to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to the goddess Artemis to ensure favorable winds for his military fleet [Agamemnon by Aeschylus lines 1519-1522; Iphigenia among the Tauri, by Euripides, lines 1-41]. Similarly, in the Bible Jephthah’s nameless daughter is sacrificed to God because her father was allowed to win a military victory (Jg. 11:30-39). According to the Bible zealots, only the story in Judges occurred outside the imagination of the writer.⁶⁰, ⁶¹

However, despite the protestations of the fundamentalists, the only real difference between the biblical accounts that are supposed to be historical and the stories in the Greek dramas that are supposed to be taken as mythological is the books in which they appear. This amounts to a discretionis sine differentia, a distinction without a difference since they are all fanciful productions of the human imagination. And since there is no credible evidence outside of Scripture that they ever took place, to deceitfully claim that the biblical stories are in actuality the manifestation of divine intervention in the affairs of mankind is to practice a gross deception. The extent to which it succeeds marks the depth to which human thought is degraded.

This confusing of the unreal for the real, this contriving of a supernatural world to supersede the natural one, this projection of man’s psyche into a God, may be the most insidious aspects of superstition. In other words, its most long-lasting and far reaching harm may well be intellectual. An example of this mental damage involves the warping of young minds by teaching them that a mystical world exists in addition to this one and that it represents ultimate reality. With maturity comes the inevitable disillusionment caused by the religiously fostered disparity between the ideal and the real, between the pleasant unrealities of the otherworld to which death is the portal and the harsh realities of the all too real world into which we are born. Furthermore, the victims of this brain-washing will have to spend an appreciable amount of their adult lives jettisoning irrational and unscientific ideas foisted on them during their impressionable youth by various religious proselytizers; and, in so doing, will come to find that, in the words of Thoreau, it is so hard to forget what it is worse than useless to remember.⁶² Some examples of these false and foolish notions include the claim that dinosaurs and men co-existed at one time, that the earth was created around 4,000 B.C., that everyone is descended from one man, that the first woman was made from a man’s rib, that our dead bodies will someday rise again intact despite having moldered in the grave, that a virgin can bear a son and remain a virgin, that three gods are actually one god, that one god is actually three gods, that a loving god could condemn some of his creatures to eternal torment, that serpents and asses can talk, that there could be natural light without the sun, that the sun could not only stop in the sky but move backwards, that spit can cure blindness, that a god can die, that people can be possessed by devils, that bread and wine can be turned into flesh and blood, that to be sprinkled with water can save you from eternal damnation, and so on. To accept any of these absurdities in the name of faith would render a wise man a fool and prevent a fool from ever becoming wise.

To counteract these potentially pernicious effects, what is needed is a metaphysical rebellion against the intellectual slavery of religious superstition. Mankind must learn to live without submission to any illusory supernatural entity in whatever form it may take, be it Yahweh, Allah, Christ, Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, Zeus, Jove, or some other anthropomorphism. In this way, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc. may each become only a fashion of the times and eventually go the way of the religions of the Aztecs, Incas, Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians. In the case of Christianity, the rock which Jesus spoke of in Mt. 16:18 may eventually be washed away by the waters of time or eroded by the winds of dissent. At the very least, as Schopenhauer (1788-1860) asserted, the ancient wisdom of the human race will not be supplanted by the events in Galilee.⁶³ Moreover, in the history of ideas, revealed religion may only be an ontological ephemera in the ongoing quest to make the condition in which we find ourselves intelligible, a quaint metaphysical notion that was taken seriously for a while before being ultimately rejected, a part of the intellectual detritus that is discarded during the evolution of human thought, like geocentricism. Far into the future it may become like what druidism is to us now—ancient, obscure and all but forgotten.

In an attempt to hasten the demise of at least the Judeo-Christian type of revealed religion, the following commentary on Holy Writ is offered. It is this author’s contention that Unholy Writ, as a sort of Summa Anti-Theologica, represents a devastating critique which, in the words of Thomas Paine, … no Bible believer, though writing at his ease, and with a library of Church books about him, can refute.⁶⁴ Being such, it may play a small but not unimportant role in the ongoing and, perhaps, perpetual battle between reason and superstition, a conflict whose ebb and flow will continually define the limits of our freedom and the quality of our cultural life.

It is axiomatic that the breadth of one’s superstitions is indicative of the depth of one’s ignorance. In this regard, any reliance on the Bible only exacerbates this sad situation by broadening one’s delusions and deepening one’s nescience. For, although it is asserted that the Bible is a divinely inspired moral guide (2 Tim. 3:16), it is in actuality merely the repository of a broad spectrum of false beliefs. The most egregious of which is its nonsensical claim to divine authorship. This assertion only serves to affix a bogus celestial imprimatur onto a myriad of irrational beliefs, inhumane concepts, and misguided principles.

The German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), once wrote that whenever we come across any error, it is to be pursued and eradicated as an enemy of mankind, and there cannot be any privileged or even sanctioned errors. The thinker should attack them, even though mankind should cry aloud, like a sick person whose ulcer is touched by the physician.⁶⁵ This is the spirit in which the present work has been undertaken. In other words, the ensuing critique can be viewed as an intellectual operation during which an attempt will be made to remove at least one of the theistic tumors plaguing mankind. Like lancing a pestiferous pus-filled boil, the aim of this rational surgical procedure will be to deflate the pretentious nature of Holy Writ. This will be done through an exposition of the fraudulent character of the Bible by elucidating its true qualities, i.e., that it is, for example, profanely produced rather than divinely inspired. This effort will commence with a concise account of its composition, a summary of its contents, an explanation for its devout acceptance as the word of God, and a description of some of the alterations to which it has been subject over time. The main body of this work will then involve a detailed analysis of its many faults. This will be followed by a few remarks concerning how science and philosophy have undermined the God concept. After which will come a brief consideration of the problems associated with living without the consoling delusions of revealed religion. Finally, the book will conclude with a brief consideration of the history of religious infidelity; and the viability of atheism as an alternative to theism.

Introduction

Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes begging.

— Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Curiously, the word ‘Bible’ will not be found in the Bible. It is a descriptive term that was devised in about the 3rd century A.D. to describe a cobbled together collection of books that was to eventually form the main corpus of Christian thought. Etymologically, the English word ‘Bible’ is derived from the Latin word biblia. This, in turn, stemmed from the Greek word βιβλία which itself grew out of the term βιβλίον (biblion) meaning paper or scroll. βιβλίον was originally a diminutive of βύβλος (byblos, ‘Egyptian papyrus’), which may trace its origins back to the Phoenician port of Byblos from whence Egyptian

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