Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A New Concept: The Bible as a Model for Religious Tolerance

In The Star, Monday January 9 ("No need to politicise a biblical debate") Denzil Jones says, without a hint of irony, "Let's practice religious tolerance and adhere to true biblical prescripts".

What a lovely double oxymoron!  Firstly, the Bible (along with the Qur'an) is one of the most religiously intolerant of documents!

Consider: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me", death for adultery or even collecting firewood on the Sabbath.

The New Testament is not much better, what with "no man comes to the father but through me", and exhortations to convert all nations.

Jesus had no objection to slavery and the suppression of women, which decent people consider abhorrent today.

The second oxymoron, of course, is "true biblical prescripts".  The Bible is largely myth, so what does Jones mean by "true"?
Perhaps he means that we should only follow the biblical prescripts that we regard as morally true?

In that case it is not the bible that sets the standard, but the enlightened human conscience.

Which means we don't need the bible anyway.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

An Atheist Against Religious Intolerance

Sent to The Star, Johannesburg Sat 07/01/2012 21:13, not published, and Sun 08/01/2012 17:55 to The Times, Johannesburg (who published most of it the next day).

As an atheist, I would like to record my strongest condemnation of the Christmas bombings of churches in Nigeria, now followed by a fatal attack on a northern Nigerian church.

While I don't think religion is a good idea, I –alongside most atheists– believe in religious freedom: People have the right to practice whatever creed they wish, as long as they obey reasonable laws (including that they don't coerce others).

Religion should be allowed to wither and die under the spotlight of reason and science: Never by intimidation.

The use of force by people like Boko Haram who believe their religion supports violence, should be opposed by all decent atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and even followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Monday, 2 January 2012

The "Word of God" is fiction about an imaginary being.

Sent to the Sunday Times, Johannesburg, Mon 02/01/2012 10:15; not published.

In the Saturday Times of 31 December 2011 (masquerading as the Sunday Times of 1 January 2012), Readers' Views, "No Apology Required",  James Mentor has a lot to say about the Editor quoting what he calls the "Word of God".

There is nothing wrong with quoting the bible as we would quote any other international literature.

The problem is with people who think the bible is special, even divine, or has some sort of authority.

The bible approves of slavery and genocide and the suppression of women.  It may have been useful at a time when people were ignorant about the structure of the universe and the causes of disease, or could only be moral if they believed in heaven and hell.  We have moved on from this.

If a god had written the bible, would we not be impressed by the foresight, the wisdom, the compassion, the grace, the poetry of this being?  Instead, the god of the bible is a caricature of the worst in humanity: Stupid, jealous, angry, vindictive, and capricious.

No: The bible is largely a work of fiction, and the god it portrays is, thankfully, imaginary.