Clerical Enslavement of Thoughts

It may seem insensitive, but it can be argued that, compared with religious people, slaves were relatively fortunate: although their bodies were enslaved, their thoughts weren’t. They were free to think, and with skill, they could even express their thoughts.

For example, black slaves in the American South expressed their thoughts in songs and stories. Some examples of such stories are those collected, adapted, and compiled by Joel Harris in a series of Uncle Remus books, first published in 1881, in which the fictional character Uncle Remus tells stories in “Harris’ version of a Deep South slave dialect.”

Illustrative is The Story of the Deluge, and how it came about, but it’s too long to quote in full, especially since all Uncle Remus’ tales must be read slowly – actually, phonetically – to allow one’s mind to translate the language into English! But in summary, Uncle Remus tells a little (white) boy sitting near him that the cause of the worldwide flood was not as given in the Bible (i.e., because people were evil) but instead, one day when the animals were in assembly and the discussions became heated, an Elephant accidentally stepped on “one er de Craw-fishes”. The “other Crawnshes” complained (of course), but their complaints were ignored. Then (again by accident), “de Elephan squshed anudder one er de Crawfishes”, sending both the craw fish and their friends (mud turtles and spring lizards) into a frenzy, whereupon:
"So dar dey wuz, de Crawfishes, en dey didn’t know w’at minnit wuz gwineter be de nex’; en dey kep’ on gittin madder en madder en skeerder en skeerder, twel bimeby dey gun de wink ter de Mud Turkie en de Spring Lizzud, en den dey bo’d little holes in de groun’ en went down outer sight.”

“Who did, Uncle Remus?” asked the little boy.

“De Crawfishes, honey. Dey bo’d inter de groun’ en kep’ on bo’in twel dey onloost de fountains er de earf; en de waters squirt out, en riz higher en higher twel de hills wuz kivvered, en de creeturs wuz all drowuded; en all bekaze dey let on ’mong deyselves dat dey wuz bigger dan de Crawfishes.”

Then the old man blew the ashes from a smoking yam, and proceeded to remove the peeling.

“Where was the ark, Uncle Remus?” the little boy inquired, presently.

“W’ich ark’s dat?” asked the old man, in a tone of well-feigned curiosity.

“Noah’s ark,” replied the child.

“Don’t you pester wid ole man Noah, honey. I bonn’ he tuck keer er dat ark. Dat’s w’at he wuz dar fer, en dat’s w’at he done. Leas’ways, dat’s w’at dey tells me. But don’t you bodder longer dat ark, ’ceppin’ your mammy fetches it up. Dey mout er bin two deloojes, en den agin dey moutent. Ef dey wuz euny ark in dish yer w’at de Crawfishes brung on, I ain’t heern tell un it, en w’en dey ain’t no arks ’roun’, I ain’t got no time fer ter make urn en put urn in dar…”
And thus, at least some black slaves (de Crawfishes) rejected the Judeo-Christian religion of their masters (de Elephans) – and remained masters of their minds.

Of course, the classic example of slaves maintaining freedom of thought is the case of the slave from Samoa, Aesop. As one of hundreds of examples, consider his fable about The Eagle and the Arrow:
An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whiz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. "Alas!" it cried, as it died, "We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction."
And so it is with all religious people: they supply their clerics with the means of their own destruction, that is, they supply their minds. For many different reasons (childhood indoctrination, fear, greed…), religious people relinquish freedom to think for themselves.

To enslave the minds of their followers, clerics tell their own, engaging, fables and stories. In the Old Testament (OT’s) Book of Genesis, for example, the fabricated fables are about the beginning of the world, about the first humans, about a worldwide flood, about the Jewish patriarchs (Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc.), and so on. Below, I’ll briefly outline some of the fables about the patriarchs, with which the damnable clerics hoodwinked the poor Jewish people, starting with the story about the patriarch addressed in the previous post, i.e.,

As I already outlined, the story at Genesis 9 describes Noah as a hateful, spiteful, drunken lout, with a serious psychological hang-up about nakedness and with zero understanding of justice, advocating slavery: after he fell down naked in a drunken sleep in his tent, he cursed his grandson (and all his grandson’s descendants) with perpetual slavery for the non-sin (namely, seeing Noah naked) not of his grandson but of his son. Yet, the clerical author’s (“J’s”) descriptions of Noah include: “Noah had won the Lord’s favor”, “a righteous man”, “the one blameless man of his time”, “he walked with God”, “exactly as God had commanded him, so Noah did.” Surely, upon first hearing or reading the story about Noah, rational people experience some “cognitive dissonance”, puzzled with a question such as: “How could it be that such a no-account as Noah ‘won the Lord’s favor’?”

Abraham [originally called Abram, before (like a little boy) he changed his name to Abraham] is the alleged patriarch of the Jews and is the claimed founder of all the “Abrahamic religions” (viz., Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, etc.) – although most scholars agree that Zarathustra should be given most of the credit/blame for fabricating all four of those intellectually barren religions. In any event and as I reviewed elsewhere, in the stories about Abraham (which run through Genesis 12 to 22) he's depicted as a cowardly, lying, conniving pimp, who after entrapping leaders to sleep with his prostitute wife, his half sister Sarah (aka Sarai), Abraham capitalizes on the honor of his victims to blackmail them (for sleeping with his wife). The stories also relay that he raped an Egyptian slave girl (Hagar), disowned his resulting son (Ishmael), abandoned both Hagar and Ishmael, and initiated the Egyptian-clerics’ practice of circumcising all males in his household – a brutality that Jewish priests continue today. Abraham (similar to Jesus, Paul, Muhammad, and the founder of Mormonism, Sidney Rigdon) was also psychotic: he responded to a voice in his head that told him to leave Mesopotamia for the land of the Canaanites, to claim ownership of the Canaanites’ land, and to kill his son Isaac (i.e., infanticide) as a “sacrifice to the Lord.” In sum, surely sane people would agree that Abraham was contemptible.

And yet, the clerics (who concocted the stories – or massaged the myths – about Abraham) claim that this hideous person who intended to slit his own child’s throat, this lying, pimping, conniving, blackmailing, raping, psychotic Abraham, was “righteous” (Genesis 15, 6) – because he had faith in the clerics’ god, i.e., he did exactly as he was told. Thus, the voice in his head allegedly told him (Genesis 22, 18):
“By my own self I [Yahweh] swear: inasmuch as you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son [which actually isn’t correct, since Abraham’s raping the Egyptian slave girl, Hagar, led to his son, Ishmael], I will bless you abundantly and greatly multiply your descendants until they are as numerous as the stars in the sky and the grains of sand on the sea-shore [clerics love hyperbolae!]. Your descendants shall possess the cities of their enemies. [Why, instead, didn’t Yahweh make Abraham’s enemies his friends?!] All nations on earth shall pray to be blessed as your descendants are blessed [or, depending on one’s perspective, “will be thankful that they weren’t cursed as your descendants were cursed – with con-artist clerics”], and this because you have obeyed me.”
And thus again (as in the case of the no-account Noah, so too in the case of the contemptible Abraham), the damnable clerics convey the message: “You people aren’t to judge who is righteous; we will do the judging; your job is to obey [us clerics].”

Incidentally, it’s clear that this story about Abraham was written (or earlier myths were massaged) much later than when he allegedly lived. Thus, at Genesis 15, 7, God allegedly said to him:
“I am the Lord who brought you [Abraham] out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”
But the Chaldeans didn’t live in southern Iraq until ~1,000 years after Abraham lived; therefore, it would have been just about as ludicrous if the author had claimed:
“I am the Lord who brought you out from southern Iraq [named in 1920!] to give you this land to possess.”
Although Lot (Abraham’s nephew) isn’t normally identified as a patriarch of the Jews, the fanciful story about his involvement in the Sodom and Gomorrah affair has had major ramifications (namely, idiotic clerical claims that the first symmetry-breaking fluctuation in the original total void is opposed to homosexuality). Further, and more relevant to the point that I’m trying to make, the story provides another illustration of the game that the clerical authors decided to play (by concocting stories or by massaging old myths).

Thus, similar to Noah and Abraham, Lot was judged by God to be “righteous” (i.e., the clerics concocted a story about a fellow they claimed was the only “righteous” man in town). But then, consider what Lott allegedly said to the men who wanted to have sex with Lott’s two male visitors, specifically (Genesis 19, 8):
“Look, I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do to them whatever you please. Only don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
Surely anyone with an ounce of humanity reacts to such a horrible example of a father with something similar to: “What a beast! If guns were available, Lot should have been shot!”

Instead, though, the clerics claim that Lot was the only righteous man in town (homosexuality thereby judged by the clerics to be a greater “evil” than inviting a mob to rape your daughters). Further, after Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt (because she didn’t do what he had commanded, namely, not to look back), the “righteous” Lot impregnated his two daughters. So again, the clerics claim authority to define what’s moral (enslaving specific groups of people, lying, pimping one’s wife, blackmailing honorable people, raping slave girls, attempting infanticide, abandoning one’s child and its mother, favoring one child over another, offering one’s daughters to be raped by a mob, incest…) and to define what’s immoral (seeing nakedness, homosexuality, and above all, not obeying the clerics) – and then, the clerics threaten immature, non-thinking people that they’ll be punished by an imaginary god if they don’t do as they’re told.

And I would add, not entirely incidentally, that the god who interacted with Abraham and Lot is depicted as certainly a wimp compared with the god of the Persians depicted in Genesis 1 (who snapped his fingers, or whatever, to create the world). As in the case with the Tower of Babel myth, Abraham’s god couldn’t determine what was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah without a personal visit (so much for his omniscience), and Abraham is depicted as having a nice little, face-to-face chat with his god (in which Abraham managed to show God the injustice in his original plan).

Isaac wasn't quite so abominable as his father, Abraham, who almost murdered him and abandoned his brother Ishmael. According to the cleric who concocted the story (or massaged an older myth), Isaac learned from his father the trick of hiding behind his wife’s (Rebecca’s) petticoat (lying that she was his sister, whereas the story relays that she was his first cousin), but Isaac didn’t manage to capitalize on Abraham's trick of blackmailing the men who removed it (Genesis 26, 7).

Also similar to Abraham’s treatment of his two sons Isaac (whose mother was Sarah) and Ishmael (whose mother was the Egyptian slave girl Hagar), but unlike a normal father, Isaac showed favoritism for one of his sons (Esau) over the other (Jacob). And also similar to Abraham, Isaac was hung-up on the idea of “blessings” (either the blessing he would give to his son or the blessing he would receive from “the Lord”), not realizing that blessings are mere words (whereas any person’s success is more likely attained via intelligence, good plans, hard work, and perseverance). Thus (so the clerics claim at Genesis 26, 12):
When Isaac planted in that land, he reaped in the same year a hundred times what he had sown, because the Lord blessed him.
From which the people listening to the clerics and reading their silly stories are expected to conclude, no doubt, that success depends not on an individual’s efforts but on “blessings” received. In sum, then, the clerics repeat their damnable message: “If you do as you’re told, then like Noah and Abraham, you’ll be blessed; if you don’t, then like Adam and Eve and Cain, you’ll be cursed.”

Jacob (aka Israel)
Isaac’s son (Abraham’s grandson) Jacob (aka Israel) was a real SOB. His mother, Rebecca, had twin sons: Esau (the first borne) was Isaac’s favorite and Jacob (borne “clutching onto Esau’s heels”) was Rebecca’s favorite. Jacob’s litany of skullduggery included the following:

1) Jacob refused to give his hungry brother food until Esau swore to give his birthright to him (Genesis 25, 29-34);

2) Jacob tricked his father, Isaac, into blessing him (Genesis 27) rather than, as Isaac desired, blessing Esau (and thereby, similar to Abraham and Isaac, Jacob was apparently too dumb to realize that blessings by anyone or any god are just meaningless words);

3) Jacob cowardly ran from Esau when he learned how Jacob had tricked him (Genesis 27, 41-45);

4) Jacob unabashedly proposed to bargain with Abraham’s god, as given at Genesis 28, 20 [in which the clerics introduce the idea that the cultural practice of tithing, i.e., giving a tenth of one's captured "spoils" to the tribal leader (see Genesis 14, 20), should be extended to tithes for God]:
“If God is with me [Jacob] and protects me on this journey I am taking and gives me food to eat and clothing to wear, and I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will become my God. Then this stone that I have set up as a sacred stone will be the house of God, and I will surely give you [God] back a tenth of everything you give me.” [Which even I would be willing to do (i.e., give a tenth back of everything someone gives me!). Yet, surely people who can still think for themselves would ponder a number of puzzles, such as: 1) What data support the concept that any god gave anybody anything? 2) A lot of data support the concept that what people think they’re giving to God is actually consumed by the clerics! and 3) What about the stipulation (given later in the Bible) that people aren’t to test God?!]
5) Jacob outdid his grandfather, Abraham, by raping and impregnating the slaves of both his wives (Leah and Rachel);

6) Using magical tricks with speckled rods (Genesis 30, 37) Jacob tricked his uncle (Laban), father of his two wives, out of most of his livestock;

7) After that, Jacob cowardly snuck-away from Laban (similar to how he snuck-away from his brother Esau, after tricking him out of his inheritance);

8) He bribed his way back into his brother Esau’s favor;

9) He did nothing to punish the fellow who raped his daughter, Dinah;

10) He said nothing when two of his sons “made a deal” with the fellow who raped their sister Dinah;

11) When his two sons tricked the rapist and murdered him and his family, Jacob then decided to (once again) cowardly run away; and

12) Jacob personally fought (wrestled) with God all night, out of which encounter he received a dislocated hip (God’s omnipotence apparently was waning!) and the new name, Israel – and thereby, the name of the patriarch of the “twelve tribes of Israel” (allegedly, his twelve sons – conveniently for the fantasy, the same number as the twelve signs of the Zodiac).

And out of his life of cowardice and trickery, Jacob (aka Israel) got a blessing from the Lord, once again because (according to the clerics who wrote this crap) Israel followed God’s orders.

Incidentally, it’s again easy to get a hint about when the story about Jacob was concocted (or an older myth was massaged), because Genesis 36, 31 states:
These were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king ruled over the Israelites…
So, the clerical author was writing this story after the first king ruled over the Israelites, ~1,000 years after Jacob allegedly lived. It would have enhanced the prophetic reputation of the author if he had written that they were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before the Phillies won the World Series!

At Genesis 38, a stimulating little story is inserted about one of Israel’s twelve sons, Judah [older than the more famous (and Israel’s favorite) son, Joseph, Judah was the fourth son of Leah and patriarch of the strongest of the twelve tribes of Israel, of Judaism and Judea (the southern kingdom) fame]. It’s probably best if the reader examines the story in full, copied here from the NET Bible [to which I’ve added some notes in brackets]:
At that time [when his brothers sold Israel’s favorite son, Joseph, into slavery] Judah left his brothers and stayed with an Adullamite man named Hirah. There Judah saw the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua. Judah acquired her as a wife [presumably paying the going rate to “acquire” her] and had marital relations with her. [The compilers of the NET Bible sometimes seem to try to be a little more “delicate” when dealing with sex; the King James Version states that “he took her and went in unto her.”] She became pregnant and had a son. Judah named him Er. She became pregnant again and had another son, whom she named Onan. Then she had yet another son, whom she named Shelah. She gave birth to him in Kezib. Judah acquired a wife for Er his firstborn; her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord killed him. [So, say the clerics: “Be good and you’ll be blessed; don’t, and our God may kill you, just as he killed essentially everyone in the flood.”]

Then Judah said to Onan [his second son], “Have sexual relations with your brother’s wife and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her so that you may raise up a descendant for your brother.” [At this time, God apparently hadn’t informed people (or didn’t know) much about genetics, but he apparently did inform people that a man’s duty was to have sex with his brother’s widow.] But Onan knew that the child would not be considered his. So whenever he had sexual relations with his brother’s wife, he withdrew prematurely so as not to give his brother a descendant. What he did was evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord killed him too. [So, claim the clerics, God watches your every move (even though he had to visit the Tower of Babel personally and to send messengers down to Sodom and Gomorrah). God especially watches your moves when your pants are down, and if you “do evil in the Lord’s sight”, then your number’s up.]

Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s house until Shelah my son grows up.” For he thought, “I don’t want him to die like his brothers.” [So, Judah wasn’t truthful.] So Tamar went and lived in her father’s house. [Women are to do what they’re told, doncha know; otherwise… well, remember what happened to Lot’s wife, a pillar of salt.]

After some time Judah’s wife, the daughter of Shua, died. After Judah was consoled, he left for Timnah to visit his sheepshearers, along with his friend Hirah the Adullamite. Tamar was told, “Look, your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep.” So she removed her widow’s clothes and covered herself with a veil. She wrapped herself and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the way to Timnah. (She did this because she saw that she had not been given to Shelah as a wife, even though he had now grown up.)

When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute because she had covered her face. [I wonder if Muslims know that (according to "God's holy truth") a woman who covers her face is a prostitute?!] He turned aside to her along the road and said, “Come on! I want to have sex with you.” (He did not realize it was his daughter-in-law.) She asked, “What will you give me in exchange for having sex with you?” He replied, “I’ll send you a young goat from the flock.” She asked, “Will you give me a pledge until you send it?” He said, “What pledge should I give you?” She replied, “Your seal, your cord, and the staff that’s in your hand.” So he gave them to her and had sex with her. She became pregnant by him. She left immediately, removed her veil, and put on her widow’s clothes.

[Isn’t this a great little story to instill “family values” in children? I can hear the pastor now: “Now, children, let’s review the lesson so far. So far, we’ve learned that you’re expected to have sex with your brother’s widow, but when you do, then go all the way: if you boys ‘spill your seed’ anywhere but where it belongs, then God will punish you. Similarly, if any of you children masturbate, then God will punish you. In addition, I hope all you children see that being a prostitute and soliciting prostitutes are perfectly normal and healthy family values."]

Then Judah had his friend Hirah the Adullamite take a young goat to get back from the woman the items he had given in pledge, but Hirah could not find her. He asked the men who were there, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim by the road?” But they replied, “There has been no cult prostitute here.” So he returned to Judah and said, “I couldn’t find her. Moreover, the men of the place said, ‘There has been no cult prostitute here’.” Judah said, “Let her keep the things for herself. Otherwise we will appear to be dishonest. [It’s not that he was opposed to being dishonest (witness the dishonesty in his sending Tamar back to her father’s house), but he didn’t want to “appear to be dishonest.”] I did indeed send this young goat, but you couldn’t find her.”

After three months Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has turned to prostitution, and as a result she has become pregnant.” Judah said, “Bring her out and let her be burned!” While they were bringing her out, she sent word to her father-in-law: “I am pregnant by the man to whom these belong.” Then she said, “Identify the one to whom the seal, cord, and staff belong.” Judah recognized them and said, “She is more upright than I am, because I wouldn’t give her to Shelah my son.”
What a great little story, just brimming with “family values”! I wonder if the clerics who promote it are eager to have children recreate the story as a little skit:
“Okay, Tommy, you can be Er. Dick, you can be Onan. And Harry, you can be Judah. To get more people involved, let’s have four of you girls – Helen, Rose, Alice, Louise – be four different Tamars. Helen, you have sex with Tommy. Rose, you have sex with Dick (and Dick, don’t forget: you’re supposed to pull out before you ejaculate). Alice, you can be the prostitute-Tamar and have sex with Harry, and Louise, you can be the pregnant-Tamar. I’ll be God and do the killing. Also, we’ll need a couple of more people to be Hirah and the sexless-son Shelah – but you guys stand by: if Dick screws-up and doesn’t pull out soon enough, you should just jump right in and take his place (assuming that’s okay with you Rose). And oh, Helen and Tommy, since the script doesn’t say what Er did “that was evil in the Lord’s sight”, I want you two to improvise: let’s see some real-kinky stuff, kids – something I'd kill for!”
Think of the hypocrisy of the people who seek to ban pornography and yet proceed to distribute the Bible – to children! Also, think of the hypocrisy in the suggestion that men who hire prostitutes are blessed, but prostitutes are to be burned. And by the way, although it’s obvious from the above story that God approves of abortion, let’s hope that humans can improve on his approved method: in God’s method, the fetus is aborted by immolating the pregnant woman! Anyone have a Plan-B?

And what a contrast between another horrible idea in the above myth versus the humane idea in the Greek myth about Trophonius:
In Greek mythology, Trophonius was a son of Erginus. According to the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, he built Apollo’s temple at the oracle at Delphi with his brother, Agamedes. Once finished, the oracle told the brothers to do whatsoever they wished for six days and, on the seventh, their greatest wish would be granted. They did and were found dead on the seventh day. The saying “those whom the gods love die young” comes from this story.
Thus, think of the additional pain of the bereaved who are indoctrinated with the idea that those who “do evil in the Lord’s sight” (or “who do evil in the eyes of the Lord”) are killed versus the comfort they could find from the thought: “Those whom the gods love die young.”

But the end of the above story does provide a little hope for womanhood: notice that the woman who was wronged, Tamar, outsmarted the Jewish patriarch (the deceitful, male-chauvinist, hypocrite, jaundiced) Judah.

As did his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac, Israel (aka Jacob) violated natural relations between parents and their children, choosing a favorite child: not Judah but Joseph. The clerics who concocted this crap are presumably preparing their followers to accept the ludicrous proposition that the creator of the universe similarly plays favorites, identifying the Israelites as his “chosen people.” Joseph’s brothers allegedly hated him (because he was their father’s favorite son and because they didn’t like his interpretations of his dreams) and sold him into slavery – which might contain a lesson for any religious Jews who can still think for themselves (although that’s probably an oxymoron).

As is the case for most stories in the Bible, the silly stories about Joseph’s adventures as a slave in Egypt and then rising to power are fictitious. Essentially all the stories about Joseph (certainly including the story about his master’s wife enticing him to have sex with her and then her reaction when she was rebuked, as well as the story about Joseph’s interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dreams and then Joseph’s rise to power second only to the Pharaoh) are mangled rewrites of much older Egyptian myths from thousands of years earlier. In fact, even the story about storing the excess food in seven years of abundance in preparation for a seven-year famine (Genesis 41, 47) was already recorded in The Epic of Gilgamesh more than a thousand years earlier. But the Jewish clerics apparently added their own flourish to the earlier stories, including making Joseph a tyrannical ruler (fitting for the clerics’ plan to rule the Jewish people). Thus, starting at Genesis 47, 21, the Jewish clerics added:
Joseph made all the people slaves from one end of Egypt’s border to the other end of it. But he did not purchase the land of the priests because the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh and they ate from their allotment that Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land. [And so, according to the Jewish priests, the Egyptian priests didn’t become slaves – it being so highly inappropriate, doncha know, that a priest should become a slave.]

Joseph said to the people, “Since I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you. Cultivate the land. When you gather in the crop, give one-fifth of it to Pharaoh, and the rest will be yours for seed for the fields and for you to eat, including those in your households and your little children.”

They replied, “You have saved our lives! You are showing us favor, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.” [Can’t you just imagine the people’s happiness at becoming slaves!]

So Joseph made it a statute, which is in effect to this day [written when?!] throughout the land of Egypt: One-fifth belongs to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s. [Wow, isn’t that amazing.]
The clerics who wrote this crap are so damn transparent: a good person (Joseph) protects the wealth of the priests! Who would have thought!

But upon arriving here at the end of Genesis and considering all its silliness, a thinking reader surely asks something similar to: what’s to be made (so far) of the clerics’ concoctions? Well, the answer depends on the bias of the reader (or, revealing my own bias, it depends on how badly the reader’s thoughts have been contaminated by the damnable clerics). For example, consider the following recently-posted assessment by an author whom I’ll identify shortly:
This morning I ended up reading only one chapter. I was “reading the 16s”… so I decided to start with the first one – Genesis 16 – and I never made it anywhere else.

Here’s what you find in chapter:

1. Sarah suggests that Abraham sleep with their Egyptian servant Hagar.
2. Abraham agrees.
3. Hagar gets pregnant.
4. Hagar shows contempt for Sarah.
5. Sarah blames Abraham.
6. Abraham says, “She’s your servant. Do whatever you like with her.”
7. Sarah treats Hagar so harshly that she runs away.
8. Hagar ends up… by a spring in the wilderness where the angel of the Lord speaks to her.
9. The angel tells her to return to Sarah and promises that Hagar will have more descendants than she can count.
10. She will have a son named Ishmael who will be like an untamed donkey.
11. He will live in open hostility to all his relatives.
12. Realizing that she had seen the Lord, Hagar calls him “El Roi,” the God who sees.
13. She returns home and gives birth to Ishmael.

There is nothing but trouble in this chapter of the Bible. No one looks good except the Lord.

Sarah makes a foolish suggestion.
Abraham follows the foolish suggestion.
Hagar disrespects Sarah.
Sarah complains to Abraham who passes the buck.
Sarah mistreats Hagar who runs away.

And then the Lord himself intervenes.

I love stories like this because they remind me that God is the real hero of the Bible. During a radio interview I was asked why so many Bible characters had serious flaws. My answer was simple. That’s all God has to work with. All the perfect people are in heaven. The only ones on earth are the folks with serious weaknesses. The talent pool has always been pretty thin when it comes to moral perfection. God works with sinners because that’s all he has to work with. In heaven we will all be vastly improved – perfected by God’s grace. But until then, he uses some pretty ornery people who fall short in many ways, and he does some amazing things through them.

Genesis 16 is a mess.
And then God steps in.

That’s what grace is all about. We do the messing up – and God does everything else.
Well, before I comment on the above assessments by an as-yet-unidentified author, it seems appropriate to review what else God allegedly did, as “revealed” in the entire Book of Genesis. To that end, consider the following list of acts of cruelty (alone) by God and some of his “righteous” followers, as given in Genesis (alone), and as listed at the website that contains the Skeptics Annotated Bible (which I wish everyone would read!):
1. Because God liked Abel’s animal sacrifice more than Cain’s vegetables, Cain kills his brother Abel in a fit of religious jealousy. (Genesis 4: 8)

2. God is angry. He decides to destroy all humans, beasts, creeping things, fowls, and “all flesh wherein there is breath of life.” He plans to drown them all. (6: 7, 17)

3. God repeats his intention to kill “every living substance ... from off the face of the earth.” But why does God kill all the innocent animals? What had they done to deserve his wrath? It seems God never gets his fill of tormenting animals. (7:4)

4. God drowns everything that breathes air. From newborn babies to koala bears – all creatures great and small, the Lord God drowned them all. (7:21-23)

5. God sends a plague on the Pharaoh and his household because the Pharaoh believed Abram’s lie. (12:17)

6. God tells Abram to kill some animals for him. The needless slaughter makes God feel better. (15:9-10)

7. Hagar conceives, making Sarai jealous. Abram tells Sarai to do to Hagar whatever she wants. “And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled.” (16:6)

8. “I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.” I guess God couldn’t find even ten good Sodomites because he decides to kill them all in Genesis 19. Too bad Abraham didn’t ask God about the children. Why not save them? If Abraham could find 10 good children, toddlers, infants, or babies, would God spare the city? Apparently not. God doesn’t give a damn about children. (18:32)

9. Lot refuses to give up his angels to the perverted mob, offering his two “virgin daughters” instead. He tells the bunch of angel rapers to “do unto them [his daughters] as is good in your eyes.” This is the same man that is called “just” and “righteous” in 2 Peter 2:7-8. (19:7-8)

10. God kills everyone (men, women, children, infants, newborns) in Sodom and Gomorrah by raining “fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven.” Well, almost everyone – he spares the “just and righteous” Lot and his family. (19:24)

11. Lot’s nameless wife looks back, and God turns her into a pillar of salt. (19:26)

12. God threatens to kill Abimelech and his people for believing Abe’s lie. (20:3-7)

13. Sarai tells Abraham to “cast out this bondwoman and her son.” God commands him to “hearken unto her voice.” So Abraham abandons Hagar and Ishmael, casting them out into the wilderness to die. (21:10-14)

14. God orders Abraham to kill Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham shows his love for God by his willingness to murder his son. But finally, just before Isaac’s throat is slit, God provides a goat to kill instead. (22:2-13)

15. Abraham shows his willingness to kill his son for God. Only an evil God would ask a father to do that; only a bad father would be willing to do it. (22:10)

16. Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, is “defiled” by a man who seems to love her dearly. Her brothers trick all of the men of the town and kill them (after first having them all circumcised), and then take their wives and children captive. (34:1-31)

17. “The terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them.” (35:5)

18. “And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.” What did Er do to elicit God’s wrath? The Bible doesn’t say. Maybe he picked up some sticks on Saturday. (38:7)

19. After God killed Er, Judah tells Onan to “go in unto they brother’s wife.” But “Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and… when he went in unto his brother’s wife… he spilled it on the ground… And the thing which he did displeased the Lord; wherefore he slew him also.” This lovely Bible story is seldom read in Sunday School, but it is the basis of many Christian doctrines, including the condemnation of both masturbation and birth control. (38:8-10)

20. After Judah pays Tamar for her services, he is told that she “played the harlot” and “is with child by whoredom.” When Judah hears this, he says, “Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.” (38:24)

21. Joseph interprets the baker’s dream. He says that the pharaoh will cut off the baker’s head, and hang his headless body on a tree for the birds to eat. (40:19)
And by the way, the above list includes only “acts of cruelty”; other acts of debauchery (and for the entire Bible, not just Genesis) are given at the referenced website.

So then, returning to the as-yet-unidentified author’s assessment that “No one looks good [in Genesis] except the Lord” and “God is the real hero of the Bible”, perhaps the reader has guessed that it was written by a mass murderer on death row. I would have thought so, but actually, it was written by “Dr. Ray Pritchard, Author, Speaker, and President of Keep Believing Ministries.”

“Keep Believing Ministries” indeed! Never mind the evidence, just keep-on believing. If you can just keep believing that “in God there is no unrighteousness”, then you’ll be “blessed by the Lord” – not only with cognitive dissonance but quite likely, with a clinically confirmed psychosis.

And meanwhile, what an amazing difference there is between the Bible’s stories and Aesop’s fables! Writing about Aesop’s fables, Donna L. Preble expressed it beautifully: “Fables are not to be believed but understood.” In contrast, in the case of the Bible, understanding is beside the point: the Bible (so the clerics tell us) needn’t be understood; it’s to be believed!

But for those of us who seek understanding to eliminate any cognitive dissonance, what’s to be made of these crazy stories in Genesis? Well, my own assessment (more evidence for which I’ll provide in later posts) is that Ezra & Co-Conspirators (Ezra & C-C), who put the preposterous Pentateuch together, marveled at what the Egyptian and Persian priests had accomplished – and sought to emulate them. They saw that the Egyptians and Persian priests controlled their followers not by force but by trickery: by putting stories into the people’s minds and thereby, by controlling the people’s thoughts. So, charged by the Persians with taking control of the Jewish people (to ensure that taxes were paid and the people were loyal to the Empire), Ezra & C-C massaged a bunch of old myths (which the Jewish people vaguely knew) into myths that repeatedly stressed the same message:
“Never mind understanding: we’ll do the understanding; you’re to do the believing! If you do what we say, you’ll be blessed; if you don’t, you won’t. In a word, OBEY (us priests).”
To concoct their stories, of course the Jewish clerics had to lie. In truth, they didn’t know how the world was created, but they heard the Egyptian priests say that their god created things by just naming them and they heard the Persian priests say it was created in six days; so, they put the two stories together and conveyed their resulting lie to the Jewish people as “the truth”. In reality, they knew they didn’t know, but they claimed that they did. They knew that they didn’t know what their god said while he allegedly created the world, but they claimed they did – for a purpose: to get the people to obey them.

As another example, they knew that people died, but they didn’t know why. From all the myths about how the first people were created by the gods, they considered it obvious that all humans must be descendants of the first mother and father; so, they decided that the first parents must have done something wrong, and for their “sin”, they (and all their descendants) were sentenced to death. They knew that, in truth, they didn’t know any such thing, but they concocted a story filled with lies – for a purpose: to get the people to obey them.

Similarly with the story about the flood. They knew that the Jewish people had heard about a worldwide flood, just as they had. They didn’t know why the world would have been flooded, but the old myths of course claimed that the gods did it. So, they asked themselves why the powerful creator god of the Persians would have flooded the world, decided on a possibility, and retold the story, flooded with what they knew were lies, claiming to know what they didn’t know – for a purpose: to get the people to obey them.

And so on it went, the same with all their stories (about why there are rainbows, about why there were so many languages, about slavery, about why some cities were destroyed by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, about why some people left their homeland for other locations, about why some women had children and others didn’t, about why circumcision was practiced in Egypt, about why some people were successful and others weren’t, and so on): they knew they didn’t know the reasons, so they concocted reasons, full of lies, claiming to know what they didn’t know. And all of it done with the same overarching purpose: to get the people to obey them.

And unfortunately, tragedy of all tragedies, the foolish Jewish people (half of whom, don’t forget, must have had below average intelligence) accepted their clerics’ concocted stories as “true”. As Robert Ingersoll (1833–1899) wrote in Liberty in Literature in 1890:
Only the very ignorant are perfectly satisfied that they know. To the common man the great problems are easy. He has no trouble in accounting for the universe. He can tell you the origin and destiny of man and the why and wherefore of things. As a rule, he is a believer in special providence, and is egotistic enough to suppose that everything that happens in the universe happens in reference to him.
And thus the foolish, egotistical Jewish people bought into their clerics’ con game – and unfortunately for humanity, similar con games (run by Hindu, Christian, Mormon, and Muslim clerics) are still being run throughout the world. In each case, the clerics fill the minds of their followers (approximately half of all people in the world!) with stupid stories, loaded with lies. In the process of accepting such stories as “true”, the people lose their most precious possession: freedom to think for themselves.

Once again, Robert Ingersoll saw it clearly:
There are some truths… that we should never forget: superstition has always been the relentless enemy of science, faith has been a hater of demonstration, hypocrisy has been sincere only in its dread of truth, and all religions are inconsistent with mental freedom.

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