A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible

A nonbeliever's SECOND reading of the Bible
Hunc tu caveto.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Physicist Lawrence Krauss Soundly Defeats Apologist William Lane Craig in God Debate - In a stunning but perhaps unsurprising upset, Physicist Lawrence Krauss utterly annihilated professional Christian debater William Lane Craig at a debate at North Carolina State University on March 30.

Craig argued four points of deism, and one point about the historicity of Jesus, to lay the case that God is real, and specifically it is the Christian god.

Krauss did well by avoiding Craig's well-known spin doctoring and semantic game, and instead answered the question of the debate specifically.  Is there evidence FOR God?

Krauss said that while it is plausible that a deist god exists, it isn't as likely to be true given that there isn't much evidence for it.  So, we must conclude there is probably no god, especially not a specific one as described in Christianity.

All in all, it was a good debate.  It's one of the few times that I've seen William Lane Craig visibly flustered.  There were some awkward moments when Craig, a Christian theologian, tried to argue physics with Krauss, a physicist.  Craig even antagonized one of the questioners before fully understanding the question.

All in all, the debate was an almost uneven-handed power play in Krauss's favor.  In Krauss's words, "I'm motivated by physics, and Dr. Craig is motivated by thousand-year-old myths and legends."
Micah, from Book of Judges

Introducing Micah, (Judges Chapter 17) - This is a very short chapter.  It introduces Micah, presumably one of the judges of Judah and Israel.  Micah appears to be a pagan, who uses money to make graven images. 

Later in this chapter, he takes in a Levite priest whom I think will play some role in the upcoming chapters.

Partially Informed Chapter Rating

Action: N/A  No action here, this is just the introductory chapter.

Cohesion:  8 - So far, the story makes sense.

Morality:  5 - Nothing particularly immoral, save for the pagan references.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Samson's Big Finale (Judges Chapter 16) - I like how Chapter 16 opens up; Samson finds a harlot and goes in unto her.  This guy's a friggin' rock star!  He then wakes up at midnight, grabs the city gates and the two posts and takes them to the top of a hill.  WTF!!!  And the Bible says nothing as to why he did that.

Well anyways, he winds up falling in love with some chick named Delilah, who seems like a sleeper agent for the Philistines.  She asks him three times what the secret of his strength is, and three times he lies to her.  And each time she reported to the Philistines about his weakness, they lay in ambush waiting to subdue him, expecting him to be weak.  Of course, Samson escaped or otherwise defeated the Philistines.

Then, on the fourth time she pleads.  "Don't you love me?  You lied to me and mocked me three times.  If you truly love me, then you'll tell me what the secret to your strength is."

Samson, who is probably more brawn then brains, actually tells her.  At this point, I'm yelling at the Bible.  Come on!  Can he really be that stupid?  But stupid me, it's just a friggin' story.

So, the Philistines finally capture Samson, take out his eyes, and tie him up between two pillars that happen to be supporting the tent wherein thousands of Philistines are praising his capture.  Samson prays to Yahweh for help to avenge the loss of his eyes. Then, with mighty tug, the two pillars topple over and the whole thing collapses on the Philistines and himself, creating the prototype for the first pre-explosive suicide bombing.

The chapter ends by saying that in death, Samson slew more Philistines then in life.

Partially Informed Chapter Rating Rating the Scripture on a scale of 10 (10 being highest)

Action: I'm giving this chapter a "9" because it is action packed.  Samson is truly an action hero.

Cohesion: I'm giving this chapter a "3" because while I understand the story, I can't help but think Samson is a complete idiot.  Why, after successfully showing that Delilah was basically an agent for the enemy, would he stoop to telling her his secret?

Morality:  A "3".  Not only does he start off sleeping with whores and playing pranks, but he lies three times (which was actually a good thing) and then tells the truth (which was actually a bad thing), and then slaughters wholesale perhaps thousands of Philistines, most of whom were innocent.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Samson slays a Philistine with the jawbone of an ass.

Samson the Superhero (Judges 15) - Imagine if, after being married, your spouse's father suddenly thought that you didn't love his child enough, and instead GIVES them to another person.  What would you do? Of course, you'd probably be angry, but there is a litany of possible things that you could do.  You could reason with him.  You could find the person who now owns your husband/wife and get them back.  There's all sorts of options.

In fact, Samson illustrates this by doing the least expected thing.  He catches 300 foxes, ties them up by their tail, and lights them on fire in the Philistines' cornfield.

The Philistines, puzzled, figure out it's Samson and that he did it because of the weird dispute between him and his father-in-law, over Samson's wife.  What do the Philistines do?  In response, perhaps just as unreasonable as Samson, they light afire both Samson's wife and father-in-law.
Samson gets into such a rage he slaughters a bunch of Philistines, presumably the ones responsible, and then retreats to some rock or a hill.  Then 3,000 men from Judah come to bind him and bring him to the Philistines, so the Philistines won't attack Judah.

When they transport Samson to the Philistines, the Philistines begin to shout at Samson angrily.  Then "the spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson", who grabs a nearby donkey jawbone, and proceeds to slay a thousand men.   I'm starting to think that when "the spirit of the Lord comes upon someone", that's just an Old Testament euphemism for getting into a rage.

Anyways, after the bloodfest, God is happy with Samson's behavior and rewards him with water, found in the hollow of the jawbone.  I'd be thirsty too after killing 1,000 men with a jawbone!!!  

Perhaps the scariest part of this story is that today, perhaps 3,000 years later, people still believe this story is literally true only because it can be found in the Bible.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Samson rasslin' with a lion.  Photo from Paul K, Creative Commons

Samson gets his girl, tears a lion apart with his bare hands, and other fun stuff, (Judges 14) - Samson is such a dude.  He's that hyper-male action hero that we've been watching on TV for so long, like John Wayne, Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Schwarzenegger, etc. that many of us guys looked up to.  Except, he could probably put all of them to shame.  Because he's not just a male action hero, he's the enemy of 20th century progress.  

No matter the complaints against feminism, civil rights, or even animal rights - and there some good ones out there - Samson is totally against female equality and civil rights.

Samson saw a woman who he fancied among the Philistines.  He told his parents, who were a little bit grossed out because those Philistines are unclean and uncircumcised!  (14:3)

When on an outing with his parents to some vineyard in Timnath a lion appeared.  Samson tore it apart with his bare hands.  He went to go visit the Philistine woman, and upon returning he stopped by the lion's carcass and saw bees and honey inside the gut torn out gut of the lion.

He then does something really weird.  He tells a riddle to the Philistine woman's friends and family.  "What is sweeter than honey, and stronger than a lion?"

After seven days they couldn't get the riddle, and after inquiring of Samson the riddle's meaning he falsely accuses them of sleeping with the woman.  In fact, he said, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, then you had not found out my riddle."  

Wow, he calls her a heifer!!!  That was probably a compliment in the Bronze Age.

In any case, the notion that he could just TAKE a wife, that the Philistines are uncleaned, and even the little bit about killing the lion just show that Samson is nothing more than a Bronze Age legend, and that his adventures are counterintuitive to anyone coming from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Samson is one the most famous of Biblical heroes, but he was also one of the most sadistic.

Samson, the Beginning (Judges Chapter 13) - One again, the Israelites start "doing evil in the sight of God."  More than likely, they've sunk into their old ways and began worshiping OTHER gods!  This fake problem is portrayed as the biggest issue for the Israelites, and one of the biggest fears for the author(s) of Judges.

So, a new savior will have to lift these people out of their rut.  If you remember, we recently covered Jephthah, and prior to him Gideon, and so on.  Each of these heroes showed up when the previous hero died, and the Israelites sank back into paganism.  And when they sink into paganism, God gives them to other people.  This time, God gives all the Israelites to the Philistines.  Now, we come to Samson. 

Of course, the woman who was to carry baby Samson was barren, and could not bear any children.  She is, at least in this chapter, nameless.  After all this "coming unto her" by God and angels, you'd think it would be common courtesy to know who this chick is.  But her husband is a man named Manoah.  Yahweh (aka God) sent an angel to tell her that she will, in fact, have a child.  There a few stipulations - she shouldn't drink alcohol, and after the boy is born no one should cut his hair, ever. 

This is just the introduction, of course, and the story continues into the next chapter.