How Genesis Is Not Only Literally False, But Metaphorically False
Posted by Daniel Fincke
Mary Midgley argues that only the views of fundamentalist literalists are refuted by the fact of evolution:
Appeals to evolution are only damaging to biblical literalism. Certainly the events described inGenesis 1 are not literally compatible with what science (from long before Darwin’s day) tells us about the antiquity of the Earth. But this is not news. The early Christian fathers pointed out that the creation story must be interpreted symbolically, not literally. Its message centres not on the factual details but on gratitude for the intelligible unity of the creation. Later Christian tradition always understood this, even before the historical details began to be questioned.
This argument is so old that I feel justified in simply replying by reiterating the points I made in an old post.I
just because science-accepting Christians offer to read Genesis only metaphorically does not exempt them the metaphorical or mythical meanings from scrutiny. Just being a myth does not make the ideas contained within it automatically true.
If this was indeed a book described by God, why is it false both literally and metaphorically? Can’t God get his story right? If he was divinely writing books why not just be literally true and tell us about evolution in the Bible? Why not tell us we emerged through a long process and because we were naturally selected for different environments and ways of life than those in which we presently live, we must take care to correct for some of our ill-fit cognitive tendencies. In other words, if this were a divine book it would get these sorts of facts right. But it doesn’t. Because it wasn’t inspired by God it was dreamed up by ancient people doing the best they could to imagine and wonder what things were like.
There was nothing wrong with that at the time, but now we’ve moved past those primitive guesses and we should accept that authorities once taken to be true simply are not. That’s not “war” against Christianity and religion, it’s how reason works. We abandon ideas and authorities when they are proven false.
The problem with religion is that it wants to freeze us in the past. We must forever think of humanity as fallen, even when we realize we’re just descended from other animals and not from a pristine state of human perfection in a pristine garden. We must forever think that pain comes from a curse when in reality it’s just an adaptive trait that warns us of danger and it existed long before humans could have ever sinned. We must forever think of humans as inherently corrupted by some ancestor’s sins instead of fundamentally innocent beings who learned a set of social relationships of cooperation and hierarchy while still lower order primates and are still struggling to learn the best ways to take care of our own needs and flourishing while balancing the interests of our society.
Religion insists we must always freeze our knowledge, we must suspend our ability to say, “oh, the old religious myths turned out false—we’re not inherently evil, we’re not to blame for suffering in the world, we don’t have to mistrust our natural drives as corrupt—just instead see them as sometimes ill-fit for contemporary society since they evolved in another time for different needs.”
Religion tries to teach people to defer to ancient authorities who have no knowledge credentials and to override free, rigorous, and sincere reassessment of what is good and bad in our nature. Religion teaches you that bronze age people’s fantasies are somehow divine revelations when there is not a single good reason to think so. They have no special knowledge that only a God could give them. They didn’t give us the theory of quantum mechanics as a gift from the designer of quantum mechanics. They don’t seem to know any single fact about that alleged creator’s world that they couldn’t have made up themselves. So why think they got special knowledge from that creator?
It goes on and on and on, Lisa. There is no good reason to believe. The Bible is false on every level. The legal code it gives is repulsive barbarism and the antithesis of the democracy I believe is just and enlightened. The genocides of the Old Testament are the height of immorality. They’re indistinguishable in their evil from the actions of Hitler. There are commands to slaughter men, women, infants, to rip open the wombs of pregnant women. It’s pure corruption and no sign of divine wisdom. It took a turn away from faith to Enlightenment to get the democratic institutions and scientific advancements that make possible an egalitarian society and technological power to extend lifespans into the 70s and to create powerful means of creating and communicating. Faith doesn’t do these things. It freezes knowledge in the past, it teaches us to hate our human nature as fallen, and it opposes the spirit of free, secular society. And in all these ways, it represents an obstacle to people’s free reason and rational decisions about ethics.
the non-literal reading of Genesis is just as false as the metaphorical one. When religious people argue that the Garden of Eden story is unaffected by scientific knowledge they ignore the fact that the Eden myth asserts an initial state of perfection from which we have fallen because of a sin. But that’s not “metaphorically” or “mythically” true. Our ancestors were (1) not even better human beings than us, let alone “metaphorically perfect” humans, in fact they were “lesser” evolved than we are socially, culturally, morally, and physically—pretty much by every standard we have for judging human excellence, (2) they did not incur pain on the universe, either literally or metaphorically, since it already preexisted our arrival by millions of years, and (3) our tendencies towards ethical failings and our sufferings are not punishments for any sins (“original” ones or otherwise, either literally or metaphorically) but are in fact explicable in terms of both the precision and imprecision of complex sets of strategies for social and environmental success that proved most benefiical to our survival. Similarly our intellectual shortcomings have everything to do with an evolutionary necessity for making judgments of a local kind coupled with an evolutionary indifference to judgments of highly precise theoretical kind.
In other words, an evolutionary understanding of primeval history exposes not only that the Genesis story is not literally true but that its mythically presented propositional claims that pain in the universe is connected to moral failing, that moral failing is a punishment for a sin, that the need to work and for women to suffer excruciatingly during child birth are both owed to matters that are our faults, and that humanity was initially better off than we are now are, are all flat out false.
And finally I want to repost two superb videos that add much, much more to those points I just made. The first points out the falsehood, both literal and metaphorical, of Eden myths and the points out the harmful consequences of such thinking.
embedded by Embedded Video YouTube Direkt And start Christopher Hitchens’s brilliant speech below (maybe my favorite of his) and think about whether the scientific picture of reality he presents is one that we were made in the image of God by a benevolent personal God who selected the ancient Israelites to reveal himself to us and to provide us with our morality:
I would like to propose that religious beliefs be placed in the DSM as a category of mental illness for the following reasons:-
(1) Hallucinations – the person has invisible friends who (s)he insists are real, and to whom (s)he speaks daily, even though nobody can actually see or hear these friends.
(2) Delusions – the patient believes that the invisible friends have magical powers to make them rich, cure cancer, bring about world peace, and will do so eventually if asked.
(3) Denial/Inability to learn – though the requests for world peace remain unanswered, even after hundreds of years, the patients persist with the praying behaviour, each time expecting different results.
(4) Inability to distinguish fantasy from reality – the beliefs are contingent upon ancient mythology being accepted as historical fact.
(5) Paranoia – the belief that anyone who does not share their supernatural concept of reality is “evil,” “the devil,” “an agent of Satan”.
(6) Emotional abuse – religious concepts such as sin, hell, cause feelings of guilt, shame, fear, and other types of emotional “baggage” which can scar the psyche for life.
(7) Violence – many patients insist that others should share in their delusions, even to the extent of using violence.
Excusing Genocide – How Modern Christians Excuse and Justify Genocide
By Austin Cline
Because Christians treat the Jewish scriptures as holy, they must contend with the morality of behavior depicted in those scriptures — both the behavior of those characters held up as exemplary and the behavior of Yahweh. How Christians deal with the issues raised by that behavior can tell us a lot about Christianity and Christians.
It’s no surprise that Christians in the past either ignored the genocidal stories like those in the Book of Joshua (because they couldn’t read the stories themselves) or accepted them as normal (because their own society was so violent). This began to change in the Enlightenment, though, as scholars and philosophers began to subject their own religion to more critical scrutiny.
One theological shift was especially important: whereas in the past Christian theologians assumed that whatever Yahweh did was good because Yahweh did it, during the Enlightenment they started to assume instead that Yahweh did or ordered things because they were good. This allowed them to evaluate the morality of actions and ordered attributed to Yahweh.
The importance of this shift should not be underestimated. The previous approach was ultimately passive because it required a person to accept as legitimate, just, good, and moral, whatever was attributed to God — no questioning, doubt, or skepticism was permitted. The Enlightenment approach, in contrast, required a more active engagement with both the text and one’s own moral reasoning. It required the Christian to not only make a judgment about the actions and commands attributed to God, but take responsibility for that judgment.
As a consequence, many Enlightenment thinkers concluded that the stories of genocide were patently immoral. This contributed to some leaving Christianity entirely because they couldn’t remain part of a religion which worshipped such a barbaric deity. Others concluded that the stories were simply a product of their times — that the ancient Israelites lived in a violent age, were as violent as other societies around them, and naturally believed in a god that would command them to do horrible, violent things.
As John Rogerson writes in “The Old Testament: Historical Study and New Roles,” in Companion Encyclopedia of Theology:
“The Old Testament was not, therefore, a collection of examples of pious living worthy of imitation by Christians; it contained stories of Israelites who lived in barbaric times when human life was valued cheaply, and when belief in God was sufficiently primitive for people to believe that he could legitimately command immoral acts.”
These realizations did not entirely end all Christian use of genocidal stories in their theological systems, though. One major reason is that so many Christians have refused to accept the premise that their god only does or commands things which are good. Instead, they hold to the older view that whatever their god does or commands is, by definition, good. Combined with reading the texts as literal, factual history they conclude that the genocidal destruction of the Canaanites was necessarily a good act.
As a consequence, more than a little bit of time and effort is invested into trying to get people today to accept that genocide is good when Yahweh orders it. Modernity is in large part a product of the Enlightenment, which means that the sorts of moral reasoning that characterized the Enlightenment are now taken for granted. People aren’t as willing to just accept without question the genocide can be good for any reason, even this one, so apologists struggle to find other rationalizations.
William Lane Craig, for example, argues not only that Yahweh was perfectly justified in ordering the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites, but that any such orders that might come today would be equally justified. Indeed, he argues that we humans have a moral obligation to commit genocide whenever and against whomever Yahweh commands:
The command to kill all the Canaanite peoples is jarring precisely because it seems so at odds with the portrait of Yahweh, Israel’s God, which is painted in the Hebrew Scriptures.
…According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God. Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfill.
He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are.
This is a direct defense of the pre-Enlightenment idea that whatever Yahweh commands is automatically good, but Craig still felt it necessary to argue that the command was somehow good for independent reasons as well:
By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. …So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.
So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children?
The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.
What William Lane Craig is describing here is a completely amoral being — a being that cannot even conceive of morality, much less act morally and exist in any sort of moral relationship. It’s little wonder, then, that it would be described as massacring large numbers of people without second thought or a tiny twinge of the conscience. It has no conscience. No empathy. No moral sense whatsoever.
What do you consider to be the exact definition of atheism?
There are many incorrect definitions of atheism floating around. It’s important for religious extremists, in their deliberate attempts to misinform (see my previous post about lying for Jesus), that atheism be depicted as nonsensical, demonic, or irrational. For example, this display:
It says: “Atheism: This is the belief that there is no god. This is a very common belief of those who do not wish to be responsible for their actions, as if there is no god there is no judgment. This belief was started by Charles Darwin, but has very recently (within the last 30 years) become a popular religion.”
I do a talk called “Atheism 101″ that covers the definition of atheism, among other things. In it, I discuss the difference between agnostic/gnostic and atheistic/theistic. The question should not be worded, “Are you an atheist or an agnostic?” but rather “Are you an atheist or a theist?” and independently, “Are you 100% certain that God does or does not exist (gnostic) or do you acknowledge a possibility that you are wrong (agnostic)?”
I tweeted back to the Atheist Alliance:
@atheistalliance Atheism can be defined precisely as “the lack of faith in the existence of a god or gods.”
I think this is the most precise and accurate definition I have come across. In my talk, I use this. For a thorough breakdown of the definition of atheism, with sources, I recommend this webpage.
This has been on my mind because I received the following message today:
Your professed “belief” in the religion of athiesm has everything to do with your selfish desire to continue in your favorite sins. You have a strong motive to hope that there isn’t a Holy God who will punish you for your sins. Those making a profession of faith in the religion of atheism hope that if they scream loud, long, and shrill enough, they will be able to convince themselves that God doesn’t exist. I don’t believe that your even an atheist Dave.
Atheism is not a religion. The definition of a religion is arguable, but the one I use and agree with comes from anthropologists Drs. Craig Palmer and Lyle Steadman in their excellent book, “Supernatural and Natural Selection: The Evolution of Religion.” They define religion as “a communicated acceptance by individuals of another individual’s ‘supernatural’ claim, a claim whose accuracy is not verifiable by the senses.” They continue: “The distinctive property of such acceptance is that it communicates a willingness to accept the influence of the speaker nonskeptically. While supernatural claims are not demonstrably true, they are asserted to be true” (pg ix). Since atheism makes no supernatural claims—in fact many atheists are metaphysical naturalists—it definitively is not a religion.
My belief that atheism and science are the most likely contenders for an accurate description of the universe’s workings have nothing at all to do with sin. I don’t believe sin exists. I believe that some acts and behaviors are anti-social and, on ethical grounds, should not be committed. I believe that other acts and behaviors are pro-social and, on ethical grounds, should be encouraged. But I find the whole concept of sin—transgressions against divine law—to be ridiculous. I don’t believe there is any such thing as divine law, because I am an atheist.
This entire statement is just a bare assertion. In no way does the sender attempt to provide reasons for the claims he is making, or explain on what basis exactly he is claiming to know these things about me and other atheists.
I think the sender is unable to see atheism for what it really is because doing so would make him insecure in his faith. It’s necessary for him to misunderstand atheism because atheism, understood, is the more rational position. So he builds a straw-man and uses it as a human shield. It’s really quite pathetic, pitiable even.
What’s really wrong with his message, though, is where he says “[atheists make] a profession of faith.” Atheists lack faith by definition. Faith comes from the Latin “fidere,” which means “to trust.” In the theological sense, this means trusting that God exists, or that God will provide, etc, even though the logical arguments and evidence are insufficient for belief in themselves.
I am proud to say that I do not have faith. I am a skeptic: I have an attitude of doubt, an inclination toward incredulity. I think faith is dangerous, irrational, archaic, and puerile. If you are a logical person, a good critical thinker, and you come across an argument that lacks evidentiary backing, contains fallacies, or is nonsensical, you do not [continue to] believe that argument. Faith is the admission that you are not being logical, that you are not a good critical thinker, continuing to believe something when the reasons you have to believe it aren’t good enough on their own. Saying you have faith is saying, “Here are the reasons I believe this. Here is the evidence supporting why I believe this. Oh, the reasons have logical problems? Oh, the evidence is not very strong? Well, I choose to believe it regardless.” Or even worse, sometimes people say, “I don’t need evidence. I don’t need logical arguments. I have faith.” Faith is the very model of a circular argument. As Mark Twain is credited with saying, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”
I have never met a Christian who claims not to have faith. If you call yourself a Christian and do not have faith, I would really like to hear from you. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith, it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:1 says: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” This is directly at odds with skepticism. It is my position that if you are a skeptic, and you also claim faith in a god or gods, you are doing one or the other incorrectly.
I think my favorite part of this, though, is where he says, “I don’t believe your [sic] even an atheist, Dave.”
This is my license plate:
(Atheos is Greek for atheist). If I’m not an atheist, I don’t know who is.
Thanks for reading. Until next time,
Dave Muscato is the Kansas/Missouri-Area Volunteer Network Coordinator for the Secular Student Alliance. He is also a board member of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A non-traditional junior at Mizzou studying economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday and twice monthly for the Humanist Community at Harvard. His website ishttp://www.DaveMuscato.com
Anyone who understands the definition of atheism must acknowledge that all children are born atheists, including those born to Christian parents. Atheism is nothing more than the lack of acceptance of the theistic belief claim (i.e., some god or gods exist). A theist is one who believes that god(s) exist; an atheist is one who does not share this belief. The newborn child cannot even entertain such possibilities and thus lacks theistic belief. Atheism is the default position, and this is where we all begin.
In order for Christians to argue against the reality that all children are born atheists, they must distort the meaning of atheism. They must convince themselves and their audience that atheism is a religion, a philosophy, or a worldview. They claim that atheism is an explicit repudiation of religion and that it involves faith that no gods exist. Such distortions in the meaning of atheism allow them to claim that children cannot be born atheist because atheism requires the same sort of deliberate choice required by religious belief.Atheism is not a belief system but lack of acceptance of one particular belief. It requires no faith; it is the absence of faith. It is the null hypothesis, the default condition, the natural starting point for each of us.
But why must Christians distort the meaning of atheism at all? Why should they even care if their children are born atheists, especially when it is likely that they will begin brainwashing them at an early age? There are many reasons, ranging from a need to see the child as connected to them through the manner they consider most important (i.e., religion) to the harsh implications of infant mortality to their belief system.
To expand on this latter point, consider the Christian parent whose child dies before the child is capable of forming the cognitions necessary to comprehend theistic belief. According to this parent’s own Christian doctrine, this child is likely destined for hell. This is where non-believers go, and this child is clearly a non-believer. The Catholics toyed with limbo as a way out, but the evangelical Protestants now engaging in America’s “culture wars” never really warmed to this idea. Even theism will be insufficient for such a parent, as a personal relationship with Jesus is thought to be the only vehicle for salvation.
It should be remembered that Christians have created this doctrine for themselves and should be solely responsible for unraveling the many conundrums it presents. Distorting atheism is not an acceptable way out of the mess they have made.
In the Sunday Review section of the New York Times on Jan. 6, Susan Jacoby, a self-described atheist, secular humanist and freethinker, wrote an op-ed entitled, “The Blessings of Atheism: It is Here & It is Now.” In it she argues that atheists should be more assertive about spreading their point of view, and she makes the claim that “the absence of an afterlife lends a greater, not a lesser, moral importance to our actions on earth.”
The “blessing” of atheism, Jacoby seems to say, is that death puts an end to suffering: “atheism is rooted in empathy as well as intellect. Those we love suffer no more.” The author of a forthcoming book on Robert Ingersoll, the well-known American freethinker, she quotes from Ingersoll to reinforce her point: “The larger and the nobler faith … tells us that death, at its worst, is only perfect rest … the dead do not suffer.”
Those who lack the atheists’ certitude that there is no afterlife, and who have never seen, and never will see, proof of the existence of God, are the thousands of agnostics — those who do not “presume to know.” Some are tempted toward the notion that underlies the famous bet of Blaise Pascal, the 17th century French philosopher.
The reasoning of Pascal is the following: in the absence of any proof of the existence of God, reason does not indicate to us whether to believe in Him or not. Since the choice is free, it is reasonable to lean, by calculation, against agnosticism: in effect, to decide to believe in God and live in consequence of that decision. If one leads a life in conformity with a belief in God, this guarantees inestimable benefits if it is revealed, after death, that God exists — and costs nothing if he does not exist. Whereas agnosticism, in the latter case, does not bring any benefits, and on the other hand it is met with infernal punishment if God indeed does exist. Thus, it is rational to put faith in a belief in God and to lead a life that conforms to it.
Consequently, it is rational to act as though God exists and to decide to believe that he exists. But is this too deceptive, too “utilitarian”? Not really, given the fact that one is operating from a state of total ignorance as to what comes after life. In this regard, it is interesting to recall that Francois Mitterrand, a noted secularist, asked to be given the sacrament of extreme unction shortly before his death.
Richard Dawkins, one of the leading writers in the “new atheism” current, and the author of “The God Delusion,” brings an implacable reasoning to this dilemma that haunts the many — especially those approaching the end game:
“As long as there is no certitude either for or against the existence of God, a number of intelligent men will continue to believe in him, just as other intelligent men will believe in other things for which they do not have a convincing argument … What evidence could verify or falsify the hypothesis of God? … The only thing that can resolve the question is an experience beyond the grave … If the options after death are either a beatific vision (God) or nothingness (no God), it is therefore poignant to consider that believers will never discover that they are wrong, whereas atheists will never discover that they are right.”
The Christian’s Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes…The world has corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession- and take the credit of the correction. During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. the Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood.
Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry…..There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain.
– “Bible Teaching and Religious Practice,” Europe and Elsewhere
Demonic Possession video proves that Satan, demons and exorcisms are REAL
Posted by Derek Murphy
I swear not 3 months goes by before I see the movie trailer for a new cinematographic take on the “Demonic Possession” genre.
The newest in this long, long chain of movies (all of which are eaten up by the faithful as pop culture affirmations of religious experiences, based on TRUE STORIES of demonic possession and exorcism), is “The Possession: Darkness Lives Inside.” The tagline: “Fear the Demon that Doesn’t Fear God.”
Proof that Demonic Possession is Real?
“The Possession”, like all exorcism and demonic possession movies, claims to be based on a true story.
But try finding the real evidence to back it up – and you’ll usually come away empty handed (I’ve seen links that go to Catholic Websites that then link to Satanist Groups (who don’t actually believe in a real Satan – they only use Satan as a symbol forhumanist values).
Our beliefs have the power to change our reality, and our perception of that reality.
We see and experience what we believe in.
Why I don’t believe in Possession
1) I’ve experienced demons before. They were a horrifying manifestation of Sleep Paralysis symptoms, which I believe are the root of most religious experiences. I saw and heard demons when I was a Christian. Later, I had UFO abduction experiences. Now that I have no beliefs, I don’t really get them anymore.
2) I’ve also had some pretty serious depression/anxiety/craziness – when I felt like every morning was a nightmare hassle and I wasn’t satisfied with anything, and nothing could make me happy. That’s a serotonin disorder. Not a demon.
3) Religious people, especially Christians, get possessed. The more zealous you are, the more terrified of losing control to those dark forces that are ALWAYS trying to get you ALL THE TIME, the easier it will be for you to lose it. If demons were real, they wouldn’t only attack Christians (unless maybe you think they don’t give a damn about the rest of us, cuz we’re doomed anyway).
But almost all faiths have some kind of demonic possession. Who doesn’t get possessed? Atheists. If they screw up, it’s their own damn fault.
The more important question is:
Who the Fuck is in Control Up There?
OK, sure, God allows us free will. He wants us to love him completely, and he wants it to be our choice.
But he never offered Satan, or the demons (fallen angels?) the same deal. They get to rule Hell, until the end of time.
And yes, maybe even God allows Satan to tempt us (like he did with Job) just to make sure that we really love him (the same way a jealous girlfriend would get a friend to try and sleep with her boyfriend, so he could win her trust by not cheating).
But apparently, if these movies and the whole idea of demonic possession are to be believed, God also allows demons to wander around the earth and take over our bodies by force, against our will, and kill people. And he usually picks children, because they’re freaking terrifying.
So there’s a bunch of murdering kids with demons inside of them. If they die they probably go to Hell.
What’s God doing about it?
It’s one thing to say that James Holmes went crazy and shot people, and God didn’t stop him because he doesn’t interfere with free choice. It’s another thing to say that maybe a demon that God let out of Hell took over his body (rather than just destroying all the fallen angels, God allows them to play a violent and active role in humanity).
The truth is this: all of these “Satanic/Demonic Possession” or “Exorcism” movies are Christian Propaganda, focusing on the only tangible aspect of their faith: the evil. (“God is Love” is an internal emotion – you couldn’t make a movie about how awesome faith makes you feel).
Satan is the god who actually interferes and interacts with humans. Satan is the only one who actually caters to desires and wishes (traditionally, God never gave you what you wanted, and Satan was the temptation of following your desire rather than what God allowed you to have; hence all of the “sold my soul to Satan” literature.)
These days, with “The Secret” and other New Age, Eastern influences, we’ve come to believe that “God” allows us to manifest our own selfish desires, that we are destined to be bountiful, that we are co-creators.
All of that, however, stems from ideas directly taken from a Modernist perspective which was fiercely anti-religious and often openly Satanic (using Satan as a liberal symbol for revolution, freedom, and rationality).
Since the Red Scare of the 50′s, and then the Satanic Panic of the 70′s, (and more recently with the religious patriotism following 9-11), Americans have been forced into religion; to be un-religious was the same as to be, respectively:
Only in the past decade have we begun, slowly, to shake off these shackles and allow creative independence again – and these angry, violent possession movies are the contemporary version of the medieval Hellfire scare tactics that used to get people back into churches.
Are they good entertainment? Sure – but the line “Based on a True Story” promotes a wholesale adoption of a Christian system of Good and Evil which has always been intrinsically flawed; and allowing such a blatant misuse of the word “True” is what allows millions of adults to blur the lines between fiction and reality, believing in Satan but not The Hulk or other fictional characters.
Now that I’ve seen the movie…
Now that I’ve seen the movie, I have a better picture of the real factors influencing this horrific story (some of these you have to read between the lines of the plot subtext):
A father who’s always away from home (and possibly beats his children)
A high-strung, emotionally volatile wife who drinks (and probably cheats)
They get divorced
The youngest daughter acts up, make-believing, talking to herself/invisible friends/ telling lies and stories maybe even
Being a freaky little psycho bitch from Hell child
There probably was a creepy antique Jewish box involved
They probably did contact some Jewish guy, even possibly tried an exorcism
They probably did say stuff like “Doctors can’t help us! We need spiritual guidance!” and reject medicine.
The crisis bring mommy and daddy back together, the girl stabilizes
Things that almost certainly did not happen:
The creepy death/suicide in the beginning
Tons of scary moths
An MRI showing another person living inside a little girl – ie medical proof
The girl finding the box after her dad threw it away
The girl making mom’s boyfriend’s teeth fall out
The car accident at the end
That’s what “Based on a True Story” and “These Events Really Happened” means.
One great line of the movie:
Dad goes to the Jews for help. They say “These things are best left in God’s hands.”
He says, and I’m paraphrasing, “Are you fucking kidding me? My daughter is possessed by a devil and I should leave it to God?” (implying that, either God allowed this to happen, or he caused it to happen, and he will stop it only when he feels like it). It’s tricky: Belief in Demons should make you an atheist – or at least make you pissed off that God is such an asshole. But it doesn’t.
Mormonism is a religion less than two centuries old, but in this short time it has managed to accrue a long list of embarrassments which the church leaders would prefer were kept silent. These embarrassments range from textual inaccuracies to scandals in the life of the founder, Joseph Smith. Of all religions, it’s difficult to believe this one has caught on given the long list of embarrassments that follows!
Embarrassment: Book of Abraham
The Book of Abraham, one of the central texts of Mormonism, is a poor translation of Egyptian papyri. Fragments of the original text were found and studied by renowned historians with credentials and experience. These experts discovered the fragments to be scraps of funeral spells used to help spirits move on to the afterlife. There were no resemblances between the text and the supposedly divinely-inspired translation that Smith invented. As well as the mainstream Mormon church, other related churches, such as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, still believe it to be a canon work that represents the will of God. Apologists for the Book claim that modern Egyptologists are simply translating the text wrong – basically meaning that Joseph Smith is the only human to have lived who understood Egyptian hieroglyphics correctly (aside from the Egyptians themselves of course).
Martyr or Coward?
Embarrassment: Smith’s death – suicide, heroic, or somewhere in between?
Some say that Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, fought back bravely against attackers, but others believe he committed suicide by jumping out of a window. A few things are certain – he shot and was shot, and at some point, fell out of a window. He used a smuggled pistol to shoot at a mob and did not die a martyr’s death in any case, as is claimed by many Mormons. There is quite a stark contrast between Christian martyrs who – in virtually every case – trusted God enough to welcome their death and Joseph Smith who so lacked belief in his own “religion” that he was terrified of dying.
Embarrassment: No archaeological evidence
The claims made by the Book of Mormon mention specific tools, technologies, crops, and animals that simply didn’t exist in those regions at the times stated. For example, horses, cattle, sheep, and swine weren’t roaming between 2500 BC and 400 AD, as claimed. Most of these species were introduced in 1493 by Christopher Columbus. Similarly, barley and wheat weren’t grown, iron and steel weren’t being produced, and systems of weight and measurement such as the Mormons claim existed simply aren’t supported by archaeological evidence.
Embarrassment: Plagiarism of the King James Bible
There are specific quotes in the Book of Mormon that are found in the King James Bible and other modern works that Joseph Smith had access to. For example, Alma 5:52 is identical almost word-for-word to Matthew 3:10. Smith plagiarized 478 verses from the book of Isaiah, and 201 are identical to the King James Bible. If this book were truly divinely inspired, it wouldn’t have been pieced together from pieces of the books that Smith read!
Embarrassment: Magical underpants
The temple garments worn by Mormons supposedly provide protection against temptation and sins. They are even credited with saving people’s lives during natural disasters in Mormon urban legends, which is ridiculous to most people without supernatural beliefs in magical clothes. They are seen as sacred and cannot be removed unless absolutely necessary, but then should be put on again as soon as possible. One wonders whether Mitt Romney’s underwear is “Mormon-approved.”
Embarrassment: Polygamy – now it’s valid, now it isn’t?
The first forty years of Mormonism involved plural marriage, a form of harem-keeping by men who were taught by Joseph Smith that it was a doctrine worth following. Smith then proceeded to marry half a dozen women in 1843, yet he denied to the public that he practiced this polygamy. He had at least forty wives in his lifetime, some of whom were thirteen years old, and Brigham Young had fifty wives. Now, the modern view is that polygamy is unacceptable, which seems to be a revelation brought about by the illegality of polygamy. The Mormon god can has changed his mind, it seems!
Embarrassment: First translation mysteriously lost
The Book of Mormon, when first translated, was given to a friend who supposedly lost them. Joseph Smith should have been able to retranslate them from his “golden tablets” – the original source of this book – and yet he found an excuse to avoid this. He said that they were not allowed to be in the Book of Mormon anymore, clearly because if the original were to be found and compared with the new translation, the inconsistencies in the text he made up would be discovered. Pictured above are seven lines that Smith claimed he copied directly from the mysterious (and missing) golden tablets on which he said the Book of Mormon was written.
Embarrassment: Witnesses were excommunicated
Two groups of witnesses supposedly saw the translation of the Book of Mormon, yet they were all excommunicated after disagreements with Smith. It seems the first group of three witnesses found it too much of a hoax to stay in the church after witnessing this, so a second group needed to be found. These eight men signed statements claiming to have seen and handled the golden plates, though it was later revealed that they hadn’t actually done so. In other words, Smith forced them to lie about seeing the plates.
Embarrassment: Stolen temple rituals
Symbols and rituals for Mormon temples were stolen from Freemasonry. Some of these rituals include the symbols on the “magic underpants” worn by Mormons, a secret handshake that Freemasons exchange somehow becoming the handshake people must give angels in order to enter the highest heavenly kingdom, and more. Joseph Smith was expelled from the Freemasons for this theft, though he still tried to appeal to the Masons in the mob that came to kill him by giving the first words of a Mason signal of distress, abandoning his created faith in his last moments.
Slaughter of Innocents
Embarrassment: Mountain Meadows Massacre
In the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857, a gang of Mormons banded up to attack a wagon train of families from Arkansas on their way to California. The aggressors pretended to be Native Americans so they could achieve a political goal, and when they feared discovery by the victims, murdered about 120 men, women, and children over the age of seven in order to avoid leaving witnesses to testify as to who was really behind the attacks.
These embarrassments add up to a damning conclusion: Joseph Smith managed to string along his followers for decades, and even today, churches and communities exist that believe these ridiculous fantasies. The embarrassments listed above are just the beginning for the Mormon community, who would just as soon explain away each reason to doubt their deeply-held convictions – a sad state of affairs for any logical human being.