“When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.”
There is big debate in some parts of the world as to whether everything was created as it is now, or whether it evolved. Personally, I can’t see how evolution could not be happening; it is obvious that, as the biblical quote above makes plain, children take after their parents, especially on the physical level. Hence, there is evolution: otherwise there would be no reason why our children should resemble us. But that is just the start, of course. I’m going to make deeper arguments than that on this page – but even the fact that the bible acknowledges it I see as a good start! Ultimately, my argument is as I’ve used on my God page, that if there is a god who created us, that god also gave us brains and it would be and insult to god for us not to use them! Yet many creation supporters are basically conned out of thinking for themselves with lies and biblical blackmail (believe this or you’ll be damned). Does an infinite god really need to blackmail us when he gave us brains to think with? Surely a good god would want us to think and decide for ourselves what is the truth – and to believe that, whatever it really is. Plus, blackmail is immoral. Remember that the next time some religious advocate tries to blackmail you into “believing” – a belief based on self-interest is not good enough for a truly good god anyway, surely. The belief has to be genuine to count. Not that I think the God of the bible is “good” anyway: the evidence of the bible is quite the opposite overall, in my opinion. We know he started off as a perfectly normal Bronze Age mountain/thunder/war god, in fact, and was given his infinite attributes by biblical writers only later (after he instructed his worshippers to exterminate his rival gods and their tribes, including the kidnapping, rape and murder of women, children and even animals).
What I say here about the bible goes equally for the Torah (which is the same as the Old Testament), the Talmud and the Koran (which is different, but is all about the same God, and God knows, some of its followers give the impression of being somewhat Bronze Age in their outlook still). Many other religions have similar beliefs about Nature and God or Gods. Probably only Buddhism and Shinto are different enough to be excluded, that I know of: Buddhism because it is essentially empirical; they say try the meditation and see what you find (and they say there is no god anyway, ultimately), and Shinto as they have no theology as such: they dance and worship Nature or Nature spirits in a somewhat shamanistic style. Shamanism, or stone-age religion, witchcraft, Confucianism and so on are not really part of this argument either.
I was inspired to write this page after watching the following video by Aronra. I rate this as 8/10. It would be higher but perhaps because of the massive amount of material it contains, it is done at tremendous speed – it really needs a series of half-hour videos rather than this frantic 2h54m one. Nevertheless, it contains a wealth of really good material and should be watched (if you have the time). The video displays many references and I will use some of them more specifically myself.
I am not going to reiterate all of his arguments: he has made them quite effectively. My intention is to show some of his references (and one or two others) to make life a bit easier for you, and to say a few things from my own point of view. What is my point of view? Well, I don’t really think of myself as an atheist, although I lack belief in the God of these religions so probably technically, I am. However, I don’t deny that there might be a god or gods of some sort – but not the sort promoted by these primitive religions: a wise old man in the sky somewhere, watching our every move. I accept that there may exist some extraordinarily advanced beings in or beyond this Universe – aliens or angels (or demons) if you like – that would seem god-like to us. But a supreme, omniscient, omnipresent, omni-everything-else god? Maybe, but I doubt it since there is no clear evidence for it, unless you count the Universe itself as being that god (pantheism), in which case what we have is more like sophistry (word-play) with no practical consequence following from the belief. Anyway, if there is one infinite god, then it seems to me that there ought to be an infinite number of infinite gods, since infinity is greater than one! And I don’t accept that such an evil Universe as this one, where almost all living beings spend the majority of their time in fear of being eaten or having their territory stolen by rivals, and the majority die by being eaten, or from disease (much the same thing) or starvation, and where greedy, corrupt and vile people tend to rise to the top of the competitive heap as a matter of course, could have been created by a good god, or a competent one, anyway. If there was a creator of this Universe some 13 billion years ago, it probably was not much of a god.
Some people say that the Universe itself is evidence of a god, but what it may be evidence of, if anything, is unclear. It presents us with evidence of its own nature… and that’s all. Amazing, complex, yes. Designed? Not necessarily. And it’s that loophole that the god argument from design falls through and so fails to be proven.
Evolution by Natural Selection – Definitions
- This is the process by which, according to Darwin’s theory, the creatures best fitted to their environment tend to survive better and so are more likely to successfully propagate their characteristics to subsequent generations. Modern biology finds evidence that these characteristics are propagated via the genetic code.
- Natural Selection
- This is the process by which fitter creatures are selected by Nature (their environment): less fit ones tend to die younger and reproduce less effectively.
- Belief in the literal interpretation of the creation of all things as related in the bible (or other religious text).
As in my cultural background the bible is the main religious text, most of what I say will be related to that; but other ancient religious texts seem to be much the same.
Creationists argue that the bible is the word of god and must be regarded as absolutely correct. As the bible states that god created everything in six days (although they quibble about what a “day” is), it must therefore be true.
The main arguments against this are that the bible is not the word of god and evidence suggests we arrived here after some 13 billion years of the development of the entire Universe.
It seems to be to be easy enough to discredit the bible as being the word of a good god. Whether it is the word of an evil god seems harder to disprove, since it is clearly a badly written, confusing and (as the quotes given below demonstrate) an evil-promoting work. Furthermore, many creationists argue that if evidence conflicts with the bible, that evidence must be ignored! I can’t see a good god promoting such a bad idea. If the evidence of your eyes suggests a car is about to run you over, and this conflicts with the bible (since it doesn’t mention cars), should you not jump out of the way? Any god worth worshipping would have to be a god of the truth at the absolute minimum, surely. The facts, after all, must have been created by god too.
Many creationists argue that the (vast number of) facts that point to evolution have been put there to test our faith. But how do they know that god isn’t testing our honesty instead? Or our intelligence and autonomy and willingness to think for ourselves? They never seem to mention that.
When pressed, creationists claim that religion and the bible are our source of morality, but it is easy to show (as Aronra does) that in fact the bible promotes evil. No book written by a good god would promote such a morality. Here are just a few references to biblical morality, taken from whichever translation happens to show up in a quick search. Readers might not agree that all of the behaviour here is necessarily condoned by God, or may complain that some passages are too much out of context, but overall, it is plain that the God of the bible condones much of what is described (and does some of it himself).
- Human Sacrifice
- Leviticus 27:29 “No person specially set apart for destruction may be bought back. Such a person must be put to death.”
- Judges 11:29-39 (Jephthah kills his daughter because he promised God he would do so)
- Numbers 31:31-40 (32 prisoners are sacrificed along with various animals)
- Animal Cruelty
- Joshua 11:6 “And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”
- 2 Samuel 8:4 “David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.”
- Genesis 19:30-38 (Lot’s daughters get him drunk so they can impregnate themselves from him)
- Genesis 20:12 (Abraham admits that his wife is his half-sister)
- 2 Samuel 13:1-15 (Amnon rapes his half sister)
- Leviticus 25:44-45 “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.”
- Exodus 21:2-6 (instructions about when to free a slave and under what circumstances he may take his family with him.
- Abuse of Slaves
- Exodus 21:7 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are.”
- Exodus 21:20-21 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.”
- Spousal Abuse
- Numbers 5:11-31 (if a husband merely suspects his wife of adultery she will be poisoned by the priest – this is considered by scholars to be describing an induced abortion)
- Deuteronomy 22:13-21 (if a husband falsely accuses his new wife of not being a virgin he shall be whipped and may not divorce her, ever, but if his accusation is true she shall be stoned to death)
- Child Abuse
- Genesis 22 (God thought it was OK to arrange a mock sacrifice of Abraham’s son Isaac)
- Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (a disobedient son may be stoned to death)
- Proverbs 22:15 “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”
- Proverbs 23:13-14 “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”
- Psalm 137:8-9 “O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!”
- Child Molestation
- Numbers 31:17-18 “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.”
- Talmud Sanhedrin 55b and 69a-69b and elsewhere “A maiden three years and a day may be acquired in marriage by coition, and if her deceased husband’s brother cohabits with her, she becomes his.”
- More moral advice from the books of Judaism (but read the comments also and make your own mind up).
- Hosea 9:11-16 (God aborts the pregnancies of the people of Ephraim)
- Numbers 5:11-21 (describes an induced abortion for a woman suspected of adultery)
- Numbers 31:17 (as under Child Molestation above – women who have known a man by lying with him may be pregnant yet must still be killed)
- Hosea 13:16 “The people of Samaria must bear the consequences of their guilt because they rebelled against their God. They will be killed by an invading army, their little ones dashed to death against the ground, their pregnant women ripped open by swords.” (God prophesies and wills abortions by the sword)
- 2 Kings 15:16 (It was apparently OK to slaughter the pregnant women of Tipshah)
- Genesis 34:25-29 (a town is slaughtered and looted in revenge for defiling Dinah)
- Deuteronomy 20:13-14 “When the LORD your God hands the town over to you, use your swords to kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the plunder from your enemies that the LORD your God has given you.”
- Numbers 31:7-12 (destruction of the lands of the Midianites)
- Exodus 2:12 “After looking in all directions to make sure no one was watching, Moses killed the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand.”
- Judges 9:5 “He went to his father’s home in Ophrah and on one stone murdered his seventy brothers, the sons of Jerub-Baal. But Jotham, the youngest son of Jerub-Baal, escaped by hiding.”
- Judges 11:29-39 (God condones the killing of Jephthah’s daughter)
- 2 Samuel 18:15 “And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.”
- Judges 14:19 “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father’s house.”
- Ezekiel 20:26 “I let them pollute themselves with the very gifts I had given them, and I allowed them to give their firstborn children as offerings to their gods-so I might devastate them and remind them that I alone am the LORD.”
- (and many more)
- Leviticus 26:29 “You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.”
- Deuteronomy 28:53-57 (the beseiged will eat their children, their afterbirth, etc.
- 2 Kings 6:28-29 “She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”
- Jeremiah 19:9 “I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh because their enemies will press the siege so hard against them to destroy them.”
- Ezekiel 5:8-10 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations. 9 Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again. 10 Therefore in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat their parents. I will inflict punishment on you and will scatter all your survivors to the winds.”
- Genesis 6:11-17 “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress[a] wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.”
- Exodus 27: “Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’”
- Exodus 35: “And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made.”
- Numbers 21:3 “The LORD listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns; so the place was named Hormah.”
- Deuteronomy 2:32-34 “When Sihon and all his army came out to meet us in battle at Jahaz, 33 the LORD our God delivered him over to us and we struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army. 34 At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed[c] them—men, women and children. We left no survivors.”
- Deuteronomy 3:3-7 “So the LORD our God also gave into our hands Og king of Bashan and all his army. We struck them down, leaving no survivors. At that time we took all his cities. There was not one of the sixty cities that we did not take from them—the whole region of Argob, Og’s kingdom in Bashan. All these cities were fortified with high walls and with gates and bars, and there were also a great many unwalled villages. We completely destroyed[a] them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying[b] every city—men, women and children. But all the livestock and the plunder from their cities we carried off for ourselves.”
- Deuteronomy 7:1-2 “When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you — and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally.[a] Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.”
- Deuteronomy 20:10-17 &qWhen you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby. However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the LORD your God has commanded you.”
- Joshua 8:18-28 (The Israelites destroy the kingdom of Ai, killing all 12,000 inhabitants)
- Joshua 10 (Various cities and kingdoms utterly destroyed because God fought for Israel)
- Joshua 11 (More kingdoms destroyed; animals crippled too)
- 1 Samuel 15:3 “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”
And just in case you think the New Testament, which is supposed to have superceded the Old Testament, is any better, think again. It doesn’t have so many references to such things, but it has a few. Certainly Jesus’ Golden Rule (treat others as you would like others to treat you) is a good one. But why didn’t God introduce it earlier, in Genesis?
- Ephesians 6:5-8 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”
- 1 Timothy 6:1-2 “All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.”
- Abuse of Slaves
- Luke 12:47-48 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Archaeology and the Bible
Aronra mentioned in passing that none of the stories in the Bible are backed by archaeological evidence. That is, none of them can be shown to be true. This is probably a bit of an exaggeration since many of the kings named did indeed exist even if the stories about them cannot be verified; but it is the case that the lack of evidence for some of the stories strongly suggests that they are false. For example, the empire of Solomon and David has no mention in any royal documents from any of the other kingdoms that existed at anything like the time this empire was supposed to exist, yet all other empires from the region are mentioned copiously in letters, receipts and so on. There is one mention of the House of David on an inscription discovered in 2007, dated long after his supposed time of existence, and that is all.
These two videos are of a lecture by Hector Avalos discussing archaeology and the bible.
How Archaeology Killed Biblical History
[38 minutes and 22 minutes respectively]
You might also find these three episodes of a BBC documentary interesting (they are 1 hour long each). They are written and presented by Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou, a Biblical scholar from the University of Exeter.
The Bible’s Buried Secrets 1: Did King David’s Empire Exist?
The Bible’s Buried Secrets 2: Did God Have A Wife?
The Bible’s Buried Secrets 3: The Garden of Eden
This article isn’t finished yet, so: to be continued…