the brilliantly leaping gazelle

Category: religion

If hell actually existed, I’d burn in it for all eternity for this….

MGOver the last few days a rather troubling thought has struck me, and so I thought I’d share it with you. During the last month or so, whilst the media has been awash with allegations of sexual assaults and various types of unwanted and unwarranted behaviours, it appears to me that another sexual predator has been lurking in plain sight.

His crimes may well have been committed many years go but are blatantly boasted about today. Celebrated even. These are no mere allegations, but reported as fact, with the victims deluded into thinking that happened to them was acceptable. If indeed the past is to be viewed through the lens of the prevailing norms of what is and what isn’t acceptable now, exactly how far back in the past should we go in this journey of exposing wrongs? Who is exempt?And why?

I can’t help but feel that what is happening now is happening at just the right time. I mean not the right time, in the sense this should have happened years ago, but the right time inasmuch as it is the right time of year, when the Christmas season is soon upon us. I mean Christians frequently bang on about what lessons the Bible has for us regarding modern life and how its – highly dubious – morality sets us some kind an example to follow. Nowhere is this more starkly illustrated than in the story of the “Immaculate Conception”. I contend that there’s nothing “Immaculate” about the “Immaculate Conception”. Immaculate means pure and clean and two things the “Immaculate Conception” is so not is pure and clean; it’s the very antithesis of those things.

In case you need reminding of the details, here’s an extract from the Gospel of Luke (C1 v: 26 – 38)

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

And this isn’t the first time God does this either. In verse 36, where it says “ Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month”, Gabriel admits that God did it to someone else. Like that would be of some comfort!

I know that some of you reading this will think that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. But am I? Really? You should be asking yourself why you think that, and consider that perhaps my interpretation has validity. Some celebrate the birth of Christ like some kind of wondrous event, instead of a monstrous one. Why is this actively celebrated, in Nativity plays at schools where this kind of abuse – and that’s what it is – acted out by children? They might go further and say I’m being too literal or twisting the Bibles words. Again, am I really? It clearly says that God has found so much favour with Mary that he’s going to impregnate her. And she thinks it is a good thing? Is this really what we should be indoctrinating young girls with, that their bodies are not their own?

Just because things in the Bible are supposed to have taken place over two thousand years ago does that make it somehow alright? Whilst I might believe that all religions are basically fairy stories for grown ups, last week I had the misfortune to be in a church the other day where the preacher was an evangelical Christian and clearly believed that the bible abounded with self-evident truths, and clearly he is not alone in his dangerously erroneous beliefs.

I know that the all of the so-called sacred texts of all religions are deeply problematic, with a highly dubious morality, but as I was brainwashed as a Catholic until I read Darwin as a teenager, I can only comment on the Bible. Why does religion get an exemption from the re-evaluation of the norms of now? Perhaps the only miracle of the Virgin Birth is that some of you still think of it as a miracle!

According to the bible, God could go all Bruce Banner…!

In my last post, I deservedly ridiculed some of the frankly bizarre beliefs that hold sway in modern life. Such as UFO’s, the Loch Ness Monster, acupuncture, and the moon landings being faked. I observed that despite there being no credible proof for any of these, they somehow remain lodged in people’s consciousness as truths.

Now for the biggest mass delusion of all. I’m referring, of course, to religion or as I call it, a fairy story for grown ups. Quite how, in the 21st century – over 150 years since Darwin conclusively proved evolution wasn’t just a theory, but verifiable fact – religion isn’t a fading superstition but a flourishing worldwide activity, is a cause of serious concern.

This post will therefore be a tad longer than usual, because I’ve included some background on me, and I’ve also quoted and referenced the bible (The Revised Standard Version). The lesser known sources anyway, as I figure you’re familiar with the Adam and Eve story?

Like pretty much every child with religious parents, mine indoctrinated me into theirs, which just happened to be Catholicism. I knew my mum viewed going to church as more of a social activity than anything else, and my father saw religion as something you paid lip service to, especially if there was communion wine on offer.

Up until my confirmation I was the model of probity. It was during my confirmation classes that things started to go right, I was told I could choose a confirmation name and I was given a book of saint’s names to look through. Told I was allowed to have two, I considered my options and then said I want my confirmation name to be James Bond.  Only to be told that yes, even though there was a St James and a St Bond and that yes, even though I could have any two I wanted, no, having James Bond as my confirmation name wasn’t acceptable. Later, when I was studying Nazi Germany as part of my A Level history, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the Nuremburg rallies and religion. Specifically, that fact that there was a kind of group think at work, whereby otherwise quite rational people would get swept along in the carefully orchestrated emotional fervour of the moment and would become part of the group. It was about this time that I read Darwin and all of the unformed thoughts in my head suddenly coalesced.

As Julie Andrews sang in ‘Do-Rei-Me’ in ‘The Sound Of Music’, “Lets start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” So lets. In the beginning there was nothing, blah, blah, blah, until in the greatest magic trick in the history of ever, hey presto, God created the world. Never mind who created God! Fast forward a bit and he created man, Adam, in his own image. More blah. Adam was lonely, so God created Eve, using one of Adam’s ribs.

Two problems spring to mind here. One, if God created Man out of nothing but dust (Gen 2 v7), then why did he have to go all rib thievery on Adam? After making the entire universe we’re expected to seriously believe creating a similar but different breeding companion for Adam was beyond his creative imagination and competence? Really? I know women are complicated, but he’d just created the universe and everything in it.
Two. Why didn’t Adam haggle? As anyone who’s ever been to a market anywhere in the world knows, the first price opens negotiations only, one isn’t expected to actually pay it, as this scene from Monty Pythons ‘Life of Brian’ demonstrates. What if Adam had done the same thing? I mean, women are great and everything, don’t get me wrong, but for one rib we got woman? If we could lose one rib, why not two? Or three? We’ll never know what we could have got because Adam couldn’t haggle.

Moving on, the first humans were Adam and Eve. After eviction (And that’s problematic. As any parent knows, if you draw attention to a thing, and then tell a child not to do a certain thing with that thing, guess what?) Anyway. They have Cain and Abel, Cain murders Abel, “Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Gen 5 v 16) Did he have a kip in the land of Nod? No, he got busy. “Cain knew his wife and she conceived and she bore Enoch; and he built a city and called the name of the city after the name of his son, Enoch.” (Gen, 5, v 17)

Now who exactly this wife was and where she sprang from is never explained, but it isn’t called the holy bible for nothing, it’s full of holes! No, the really troubling aspect for a book that later on gives us ten rules to live by, is that god is morally flexible when it suits him. Cain, his wife and their son Enoch, populating an entire city? You can see where I’m going with this can’t you? I don’t need to go there, although Cain and Enoch must’ve gone there. Repeatedly.

But that didn’t bother God, it was only when “The Lord saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth… the Lord said ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground.” (Gen 6 v 5 & 7) that he got all Bruce Banner – (The Incredible Hulk) – “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” that he flooded the entire world. Or as Eddie Izzard puts it, did an Etch A Sketch erase. Which meant breaking one of his own moral edicts for everyone else – thou shall not kill – thus proving that the first commandment was ‘Thou shall do as I sayeth, not as I doth’ But hey, he’s God, who’s going to tell him off? Mrs. Badcrumble? So, God kills everyone in the world, “He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the ground.” (Gen 7 v23), except for Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.

That’s it.

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’ (Gen 9 v 1), “These were the three sons of Noah and from these the whole earth was peopled.” (Gen 9 v 19.) Again, I’m not going to go there. But can I just make the observation that six pages into a supposedly ‘good book’, we’ve had genocide and incest on a – dare I say it – biblical scale.

Sodom and Gomorrah? God gets all Bruce Banner again (Gen 19 v 23-26) It’s the same throughout the Old Testament. Jericho? It’s God doing his Bruce Banner shtick by proxy “Then they utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep and asses, with the edge of the sword.” (Josh 6 v 21) Only a cynic would think that kind of violence is eerily prescient of the religious bloodlust of ISIS. “But all the silver and the gold, and all the vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” (Josh 6 v 19) Er, hang on; doesn’t ISIS fund their terror that way?

If anything, the God of the Old Testament is a testament to the transformation that God undergoes before the New Testament. Out goes the vengeful, violent and capricious version and is replaced by a more compassionate, peaceful and level-headed version. It’s as if Bruce Banner went into rehab and left The Hulk in there when he came out. The lord does work in mysterious ways, after all…

And to any Christians reading this who are offended, I say this; a) what part of the title of this blog post induced you to read it, b) my soul isn’t damned, the only soul I’ve got is my a@sehole and c) as Bill Hicks once said “You’re Christians…forgive me.”

Next time…Necessity is the mutha of re-invention…