25 October 2007

Suggested Bible stories for the next Barna survey

As I mentioned in my last post, a new Barna survey claims that two thirds of American adults believe in the literal truth of the stories in the Bible, and concludes that "people believe that their personal trust" in the biblical God "is warranted" from these stories.

But of course the entire survey was set up to produce the desired result. The selected stories were the safe and familiar ones found in children's Bibles (and are the only ones that most adults are familiar with today).

I wonder what the result would be if the Bible stories were selected at random. What would happen, for example, if the following six stories were selected?

1) God kills every Egyptian firstborn baby.

At midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle .... and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. Exodus 12:29-30

2) God sends fiery serpents to bite and kill his people (for complaining).

And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Numbers 21:5-6

3) Moses commands his soldiers to kill every boy, woman, and female child (except for the virgins).

And Moses was wroth with the officers ... And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves. Numbers 31:14-18

4) God orders the Israelites to kill every Amalekite man, woman, and child.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts ... go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. 1 Samuel 15:2-3

5) David buys a wife with 200 Philistine foreskins.

And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. ... Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. 1 Samuel 18:25-27

6) God kills husband and wife for not giving all their money to Peter.
(Or maybe for lying about the amount of money that they had.)

Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? ... And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: ... And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost. Acts 5:1-10

Would people believe in the literal truth of these stories? Would they still "believe that their personal trust" in the biblical God was "warranted" by them?

Barna should do a survey to find out. (I'll bet the believers would drop from two thirds to two percent.)

24 October 2007

Taking Bible Stories Literally

Oh boy, a new Barna survey is out!

This one is trying to find out if Americans still believe those cute Bible stories they were taught as kids. And, not too surprisingly, most (about 2/3) still do.

Here are the "six renowned Bible stories ... offered to adults for their consideration," along with the overall percentage who believed the story was “literally true, meaning it happened exactly as described in the Bible”:

1) Jesus rising from the dead (75%)

2) Daniel and the lion den (65%)

3) Moses parting the Red Sea (64%)

4) David and Goliath (63%)

5) Peter walking on water (60%)

6) The six-day creation story (60%)

From the survey, the Barna group concluded that "these and other Bible stories inspire people to believe that their personal trust in that powerful God is warranted. Although some people may dismiss such writings as fairy tales for children, the data indicate that the typical American has adopted these accounts as the foundation of a valued faith in God."

Okay. But what I'd like to know is this: Why did Barna choose these six stories for the survey?

I suspect that there are two reasons:

1) They are the stories that most people are familiar with.

2) They are stories that most people can stomach.

The stories are familiar not because most people have read them, but because they were read to them when they were children (and very few have read them since). The text and illustrations made it all seem so appealing, comforting, and certain. They were included in the Barna survey because when it comes to religion, familiarity breeds, not contempt, but acceptance and belief. And belief was what the Barna survey was trying to find.

17 October 2007

New Rule: A Religious Test with Bill Maher

Okay, this "New Rule" is a bit old (It was on Bill Maher's 21 Sept 2007 Real Time show), but it's a good rule to follow.
New rule: just because the constitution doesn't have a religious test for office, doesn't mean I can't.
If you believe you're in a long-term relationship with an all-powerful space daddy who will, after you die, party with your ghost forever, you can't have my vote....
Maybe a president who didn't believe our soldiers were going to heaven might be a little less willing to get them killed.

Mitt Romney is right about the Bible

It's boring!

Here's what Romney said about it:
I find myself having to read for an hour or so before I can fall asleep. And thanks to the Gideons, I've got good material.
Yes, Mitt is right about that. The Bible is boring. So boring, in fact, I've considered adding it as a separate category at the SAB. Try reading 1 Chronicles sometime. Now that's good Romney bedtime reading material.

But Mitt should give the Book of Mormon a try when he has trouble sleeping. Here's what Mark Twain said about it:
The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so "slow," so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle--keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate.
Try the Mitt Romney bedtime test yourself.

Which do you think is more boring?

Landover Baptist Pastor Preaches to Atheists

Jesus, I love to hear Pastor Deacon Fred preach! Here are some excerpts.
When the Lord gets a bee in his bonnet about something, he turns into a killing machine.
Now anyone familiar with this wonderful book [the Bible] will know that if there's one thing that the Lord enjoys more than making free booze at wedding parties, it is killing.
Hosea 13:16 says, 'The people of Samaria must bear their guilt because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword. Their little ones will be dashed open. Their pregnant women, ripped to pieces.'
Yes that's right. God wants us to constitutionally ban abortion, but he's not above using it to get back at folks that tick him off.
We have an invisible friend on our side who is more powerful and diabolical than this Mohammad fella.