31 May 2011

The Egyptian military and the Bible agree: Sometimes virginity tests are necessary

Earlier this spring, the Egyptian military arrested women demonstrators in Tahrir Square and subjected them to "virginity tests." According to an Egyptian general, these tests were done for two reasons: 1) to prove that the Egyptian authorities didn't rape the women, and 2) to prove that the women were prostitutes.

And the test worked like a charm. All of the women failed the test, proving that they were prostitutes (since they were non-virgins) and that the authorities did not rape them (since you can't rape a woman who is not a virgin).

Since Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, I thought I'd check to see if the Quran mentions virginity testing. It doesn't, so far as I can tell.

But the Bible does.

Here, for example, is how Moses told his military leaders to apply virginity tests on Midianite women. (God's 26th Killing)

Have ye saved all the women alive? ... Now therefore ... 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

I suspect that the test procedure was similar to the Egyptian military's, but the outcome was different. The Egyptians tortured, terrorized, and humiliated women prisoners; the Israelites killed those who failed the test and enslaved (and raped) those that passed.

The same test was used in Judges 21, where the non-Benjamite Israelites were looking for wives for the Benjamites after their unsuccessful God-inspired genocide attempt. (It's a long story, see here for the details.)

Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the children ... utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man. And they found among the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead four hundred young virgins, that had known no man by lying with any male: and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh. Judges 21:10-12

And, of course, virginity testing is required whenever a woman gets married. If she passes (by providing "the tokens of her virginity"), she becomes the possession of her husband; if she fails, the men of her city stone her to death.

If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you. Deuteronomy 22:13-21

"Virginity tests" are a degrading form of torture that should be condemned by everyone, regardless of nationality or religious belief.

But how can a Bible believer condemn such tests when they are approved and promoted by the Bible?

26 May 2011

Hasa Diga Eebowai!

To listen to the other songs in "The Book of Mormon" click here.

23 May 2011

Zephaniah 1:2-3: After the Rapture (whenever that may be), God will kill every living thing

I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea. Zephaniah 1:2-3

(You might not be able to tell just from reading it, but this passage shows God's concern for the environment and his attitude toward poverty and justice. That's why it is highlighted in both the Green Bible and the Poverty and Justice Bible.)

God is going to burn to death every living thing on earth, as he explains in Zephaniah 3:8 (which is also highlighted in the P&J Bible).

All the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

Christians aren't bothered by this, though, since it won't happen until after the Rapture. They'll be in heaven, while everyone and everything else is "devoured with the fire of [God's] jealousy."

So it all works out fine in the end. God's justice, concern for the environment, and his love for humanity will be clearly shown when he burns everyone and everything on earth (except the Bible-believers, of course).

That is why believers have been saying for nearly 2000 years, and still say today, "Come Lord Jesus!" They are looking forward to the day and the hour that Harold Camping tried to predict.

(Mr. Camping has a new date, by the way -- October 21, 2011.)

20 May 2011

Let the scoffing begin!

There shall come in the last days scoffers ... saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 2 Peter 3:3-4

18 May 2011

Zimri burns to death

Remember Zimri? The guy that killed Baasha’s wall-pissingfamily and friends for God? Well, now it’s his turn. What goes around, comes around – a lot in the Bible!

After Zimri killed Elah (Baasha’s son), he replaced him as king of Israel.
In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah to reign over Israel … And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk ... And Zimri went in and smote him, and killed him … and reigned in his stead. 1 Kings 16.8-10
It didn’t last long though, just long enough to perform his mission from God.
As soon as he sat on his throne … he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that  pisseth against a wall,  neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends. Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD. 16.11-12
A week later, the people of Israel chose Omri as king.
In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah. And the people … made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel. 16.15-16
And then, of course, Omri, along with everyone in Israel, went to pay Zimri a visit.
And Omri … and all Israel with him … beseiged Tirzah.  16.17
When Zimri saw Omri and “all Israel” attacking, he burned himself to death.
When Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king's house, and burnt the king's house over him with fire, and died. 16.18
God was pleased with the way the whole thing turned out. Zimri burned to death for “doing evil in the sight of the Lord.”
For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin. 16.18-19
The Bible doesn’t say what the evil was. The only thing that we know about Zimri is that he murdered Baasha’s son, Elah, and all of Baasha’s wall-pissing family and friends.

But that wasn’t evil, since God wanted them killed. So what was it?

Maybe Zimri had some golden calves in his closet or something.

God's next killing: The drought of Elijah

16 May 2011

Leaders in Free Thought intervew

I've been away for a while, revising the SAB, trying to get it ready to publish in book form. I have a little hermitage (trailer, really) by the lake where I go to get things done. This trip it was Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, and Amos. I've updated the SAB accordingly.

So that's why I haven't been posting lately. And if you've submitted a comment and found that it hasn't been posted, well blame it on my cell phone (or me). The only internet access I have at the hermitage is a smart phone, and I'm a bit of a clutz in punching buttons on it. So sometimes when I wanted to press "publish" I got "delete" instead. Sorry about that. Re-submit and hope I push the right button this time.

Meanwhile, here's an interview that I did with Leaders in Free Thought.

06 May 2011

Take the Sam Harris challenge: Improve the Bible, Quran, and Book of Mormon in less than five minutes

The truth is that religion, as we speak of it (Islam, Christianity, Judaism), is based on the claim that God dictates certain books. He doesn't code software; he doesn't produce films; he doesn't score symphonies. He is an author. And this claim has achieved credibility because these works are so profound that they could not possibly have been written by human authors.


How difficult would it be to improve the Bible?

Anyone in this room could improve the supposedly inerrant text scientifically, historically, ethically, or spiritually in a moment.

OK, so let's try to improve the Bible. I'll start by suggesting that the following passage be deleted.

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;

Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:

But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. Deuteronomy 13:6-10

That's much better. A kind and loving God wouldn't tell us to kill our family and friends for disagreeing with us about religion.

What about the Quran? Could that be improved?

How about removing this verse?

Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great. Quran 4:34

There. Now men can't claim it's OK to beat their wives for being disobedient. That's quite an improvement, I'd say.

And now for the Book of Mormon.

I nominate the following verses for removal.

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done. 2 Nephi 5:21-23

Now the LDS church doesn't have as much to be embarrassed about.

And now it's your turn. Spend a few minutes improving these three perfect books.