The Law Lie - 1 - Morality

In Mesopotamia approximately 5,000 years ago, the following penetrating wisdom was conveyed to Zi-ud-sura (or Ziusudra) by his Sumerian father Curuppag (or Shuruppak), the son of Ubara-Tutu (or UbarTutu):
To get lost is bad for a dog, but terrible for a man… On the unfamiliar way at the edge of the mountains, the gods of the mountains are man-eaters.
As to why I call it “penetrating wisdom”, from painful experiences trying to create this post I can attest that it’s terrible to get lost, there are many unfamiliar ways at the edge of the mountains, and the gods of the mountains truly are man-eaters!

Less figuratively, what I’ve been trying to do in this series of posts is to describe features of what I call:
The Mountainous God Lie – Lingering social evils from initial misunderstandings and then subsequent deliberate falsification of the records, plus manipulation of ignorant people by stupid or poorly educated or power mongering priests and politicians:

• That gods exist,
• That people have immortal souls imbued by the gods,
• That birth of children is controlled the gods,
• That the dead are ruled by the gods,
• That people have souls, which are judged by the gods,
• That stars and their constellations are signs from the gods,
• That movements of stars tell stories of gods,
• That dreams contain messages from the gods,
• That magic displays the mystery of the gods,
• That mysteries conceal the secrets of the gods,
• That sacrifices are needed to placate the gods,
• That rituals reveal knowledge of the gods,
• That mistakes are ‘sins’ against the gods,
• That sins offend and are punished by the gods,
• That clerics can forgive sins on behalf of the gods,
• That clerics are in contact with the gods,
• That clerics exercise authority on behalf of the gods,
• That clerics are spokesmen for the gods,
• That clerics preach the wills of the gods,
• That clerical “knowledge” is direct from the gods,
• That clerical hierarchies are established by the gods,
• That rather than serving themselves, the clerics serve the gods,
• That paying the clerics placates the gods,
• That prayers have power to persuade the gods,
• That tithes are collected on behalf of the gods,
• That “oracles” and “prophets” speak for the gods,
• That “truth” is told about prophets and gods,
• That a “race” of people was chosen by the gods,
• That oaths are binding when sworn to the gods,
• That covenants can be established with the gods,
• That morality is defined by the gods,
• That customs are created by the gods
• That laws are dictated by the gods,
• That leaders are chosen by the gods,
• That rulers know right by the grace of the gods,
• That justice is the jurisdiction of the gods,
• That order is ordained by the gods,
• That punishment is performed by the gods,
• That judges are judged by gods,
• That leaders rule by the grace of the gods,
• That kingdoms are established by the gods,
• That the fate of societies is controlled by the gods,
• That human rights are endowed by the gods,
• That people should put their trust in the gods,
• That believers gain grace as a gift of the gods,
• That wars are waged on behalf of the gods…
Actually, but metaphorically, the “Mountainous God Lie” is more like a mountain range – or even like a series of mountain ranges – and in previous posts of this series, I’ve been trying to climb just one of the mountain peaks, namely, the lies contained in the first five books of the Old Testament (OT), i.e., the Pentateuch. So far, I’ve explored (superficially) mostly just the lies about the existence of any god and how the authors of the Pentateuch [for convenience identified as Ezra and co-conspirators (Ezra & C-C)] mostly just plagiarized myths from other cultures, albeit modifying the myths to promote their own agenda (to rule the Israelites on behalf of their Persian masters). In future posts I plan to continue exploring the biblical mountain range (especially the mountain range of lies known as the New Testament) and then to explore some of the lies contained in the mountain ranges of lies known as the Koran and the Book of Mormon.

But starting with this post, I want to undertake some preliminary explorations of other peaks in the Mountainous God Lie, those that I call “the Law Lie”. The features of this Law Lie are contained in the above list of features of the entire God Lie, specifically
• That oaths are binding when sworn to the gods,
• That covenants can be established with the gods,
• That morality is defined by the gods,
• That customs are created by the gods
• That laws are dictated by the gods,
• That leaders are chosen by the gods,
• That rulers know right by the grace of the gods,
• That justice is the jurisdiction of the gods,
• That order is ordained by the gods,
• That punishment is performed by the gods,
• That judges are judged by gods,
• That leaders rule by the grace of the gods,
• That kingdoms are established by the gods,
• That the fate of societies is controlled by the gods,
• That human rights are endowed by the gods,
• That people should put their trust in the gods,
• That believers gain grace as a gift of the gods,
• That wars are waged on behalf of the gods…
This Law Lie is perpetrated in every one of the “holy books” mentioned. For example, in the OT, there is the lie that “the Laws of Moses” (whatever they might have been, whoever he might have been, if he existed at all!) were given to him by God. In the series of posts starting with this one, I plan to illustrate this Law Lie, suggest how it started, and why it has been perpetrated. In this post I’ll focus on the part of the Law Lie that deals with morality, i.e., the lie that morality is defined by the gods.

In these posts, my emphasis will be on the history of the Law Lie, but I plan to illustrate only a little of this history, simply because the subject is so huge, my knowledge of history is severely limited (having spent my career doing research in the physical sciences not in historical studies), my remaining time is relatively short, and there are practical restrictions on the extent of these posts (since, as I described at the outset of this series, they sum to only one of the appendices in my on-line book). All of which I mention to prepare the reader for my taking a number of shortcuts in this post, shortcuts summarized as follows:

1. I’ll omit detailing the meanings for and differences among the concepts of ‘morality’, ‘ethics’, ‘customs’, and ‘laws’. Recently, to relieve space pressures on this post, I summarized in my other blog what I describe in substantial detail in Part 3 of my on-line book. Here, to summarize that summary (!), I’ll state just 1) that all four concepts deal with trying to (as given in the Oxford American Dictionary’s definition of morality) “evaluate the extent to which an action is right or wrong”, and 2) that it’s usually convenient to distinguish who does the evaluation. As a result, I’ll mean by ‘morality’ that individuals decide the extent to which an action is right or wrong, by ‘ethics’ that a group decides (e.g., a professional group defining the group’s ethics), by ‘custom’ that the community decides, and by ‘laws’ that the community’s (or society’s) government decides. Also, I’ll repeat from my other blog: of these four concepts (morals, ethics, customs, and laws), I consider morality to be fundamental, because once a “sufficient number” of individuals agree on “the extent to which an action is right or wrong”, then ethics, customs, and laws usually follow – albeit, sometimes slowly.

2. It may be useful to repeat, also, the fundamental point that any value (including those involved in defining morals, ethics, customs, and laws) can be defined only relative to some objective. Therefore, to evaluate the extent to which an action is right or wrong, it’s necessary first to evaluate whether the goal that would be pursued by the proposed action is right or wrong. Therein resides the source of the sometimes-large differences in morals, ethics, customs, and laws, because different people choose different goals. For example, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, etc. consider Abraham’s proposed act of murdering his son to be highly moral, since they agree that the prime goal of humans is to obey their god, whereas humans not suffering from the god delusion, not infected by the viral god meme, consider Abraham’s proposed act to be highly immoral, since we’re convinced that one of the prime goals of humans is to help our genes to not only survive but thrive.

3. I’ll also omit detailing the natural origins of morality (and therefore of ethics, customs, and laws); already, I’ve written probably too much on the subject (e.g., starting here and continuing, e.g., here). Instead and again as a summary of a summary, all life has adopted as its prime goal simply to continue living. Thereby, nature has provided (and continues to provide) all animals with the fundamental basis of all morality, namely, the survival of the animal’s genes. As a result, as an example, a wolf “knows” that it’s highly immoral to attack a bear alone, but in a pack, the act may not be so immoral. Similarly, the human animal’s prime goals, pursued either alone or in “a pack”, are the survival (or, better, “thrival”) of the individual and the individual’s “family”, however the individual chooses to define “family”. Those “dual survival goals”, dictated by nature, can then provide a broad base for morality. As a result, as reviewed by Michael Shermer in his 2004 book The Science of Good and Evil:
The following characteristics appear to be shared by humans and other mammals, including and especially the apes, monkeys, dolphins, and whales: attachment and bonding, cooperation and mutual aid, sympathy and empathy, direct and indirect reciprocity, altruism and reciprocal altruism, conflict resolution and peace making, deception and deception detection, community concern and caring about what others think about you, and awareness of and response to the social rules of the group…
Unfortunately, however, the amazing imaginative power of the human brain can be manipulated (and has been manipulated, especially by clerics), e.g., to fixate on the imagined concept of “life after death”, and pursuing such fictitious goals can (and does) lead many people to adopt bizarre bases for their morality, e.g., to claim that the highest morality is to serve their fictitious god (in ways dictated by clerical con artists). As an example, a Muslim can be convinced that blowing himself (or, now, even herself) up for the “jihad” is the act of highest moral value – instead of the madness that it is.

I should add that I’m aware of inadequacies in the above summaries; yet, I want to turn, now, to some illustrations of how Ezra & C-C incorporated the Law Lie into the Pentateuch approximately 2400 years ago.

For some people, even the age of the Pentateuch stimulates respect. But meanwhile, the earliest written records about morality are approximately twice as old as the OT (not 2400 years but 4800 years!), and as the example below illustrates, nature (i.e., experience) had already taught humans perfectly clear meanings for the concepts of ‘morality’. That is, thousands of years before Moses allegedly received the Ten Commandments from God, people had already received ample instructions – hundreds of “commandments” – from nature, informing them the extent to which actions are right or wrong (e.g., to live productively in cooperative groups).

As perhaps the best case in point, consider more of The Instructions to Zi-ud-sura (or Ziusudra) from his father Curuppag (or Shuruppak), son of Ubara-Tutu (or UbarTutu), a portion of which I included in an earlier post. When these Instructions were first recorded isn’t known. The following was translated from clay tablets dated to be from about 2600 BCE, but it’s probably one of thousands of similar tablets, since these Instructions seem to have been used to teach Sumerian scribes their trade.

Let me add, incidentally, that I hope readers will take additional pleasure in reading these Instructions from realizing that they seem to be the world’s oldest “manuscript” (ms.) that recorded “ordinary thoughts” by ordinary people about ordinary events. In particular, notice that these Instructions are approximately 2,000 years older than the similar advice to his son, Perseus, written by Hesiod, a contemporary of Homer.

In the following quotation (copied from the tremendous website: The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, hosted by The Oriental Institute, University of Oxford) I’ve kept the line numbers (of the lines on the clay tablet); the ellipsis (…) represent missing text (lacuna), and the question marks (?) represent translation uncertainties. In a few places I’ve added notes in brackets […]; I’ve put some statements of this quotation in italics for emphasis (namely, those that I found especially interesting) and put some in bold italics for even more emphasis (for reasons to be explained).
1-13. In those days, in those far remote days, in those nights, in those faraway nights, in those years, in those far remote years, at that time the wise one who knew how to speak in elaborate words lived in the Land; Curuppag, the wise one, who knew how to speak with elaborate words lived in the Land. Curuppag gave instructions to his son. Curuppag, the son of Ubara-Tutu gave instructions to his son Zi-ud-sura:

My son, let me give you instructions: you should pay attention! Zi-ud-sura, let me speak a word to you: you should pay attention! Do not neglect my instructions! Do not transgress the words I speak! The instructions of an old man are precious; you should comply with them!

14. You should not buy a donkey which brays; it will split (?) your midriff (?).

15-18. You should not locate a field on a road;… You should not plough a field at {(1 ms. adds:) a road or} a path;… You should not make a well in your field: people will cause damage on it for you. You should not place your house next to a public square: there is always a crowd (?) there.

19-20. You should not vouch for someone: that man will have a hold on you; and you yourself, you should not let somebody vouch for you {(1 ms. adds:) that man will despise (?) you}.

22-27. You should not loiter about where there is a quarrel; you should not let the quarrel make you a witness. You should not let (?) yourself… in a quarrel. You should not cause a quarrel;… the gate of the palace… Stand aside from a quarrel… you should not take (?) another road.

28-31. You should not steal anything; you should not… yourself. You should not break into a house; you should not wish for the money chest (?). A thief is a lion, but after he has been caught, he will be a slave. My son, you should not commit robbery; you should not cut yourself with an axe. [Notice the use of metaphors.]

32-34. You should not make a young man best man. You should not… yourself. You should not play around with a married young woman: the slander could be serious. My son, you should not sit alone in a chamber with a married woman.

35-38. You should not pick a quarrel; you should not disgrace yourself. You should not… [tell] lies;… You should not boast; then your words will be trusted. You should not deliberate for too long (?); you cannot bear… glances.

39-41. You should not eat stolen food with {anyone} {(1 ms. has instead:) a thief}. You should not sink (?) your hand into blood. After you have apportioned the bones, you will be made to restore the ox, you will be made to restore the sheep.

42-43. You should not speak improperly; later it will lay a trap for you.

44-46. You should not scatter your sheep into unknown pastures. You should not hire someone’s ox for an uncertain…

47. You should not travel during the night: it can hide both good and evil.

48. You should not buy an onager [“a wild ass found in northern Iran and bordering areas”] it lasts (?) only until the end of the day.

49. You should not have sex with your slave girl: she will chew you up (?).

50. You should not curse strongly: it rebounds on you.

51-52. You should not draw up water which you cannot {reach} {(1 ms. has instead:) grasp}: it will make you weak. {1 line unclear} [Another metaphor?]

53. You should not drive away a debtor: he will be hostile towards you.

54-57. You should not establish a home with an arrogant man: he will make your life like that of a slave girl. You will not be able to travel through any human dwelling without be being shouted at: “There you go! There you go!”

58-59. You should not undo the… of the garden’s reed fence; “Restore it! Restore it!” they will say to you.

61-62. My son, you should not use violence (?)… You should not commit rape on someone’s daughter; the courtyard will learn of it.

63-64. You should not drive away a {powerful} {(1 ms. has instead:) strong} man; you should not destroy the outer wall. [Another metaphor?] You should not drive away a young man; you should not make him turn against the city.

65-66. The eyes of the slanderer always move around as shiftily as a spindle. You should never remain in his presence; his intentions (?) should not be allowed to have an effect (?) on you.

67. You should not boast in {beer halls} {(1 ms. has instead:) breweries} like a deceitful man: {(1 ms. adds:) then your words will be trusted.} [By the way, one of the oldest Sumerian writings (from about 3200 BCE) is a recipe for making beer!]

73-75. Curuppag gave these instructions to his son. Curuppag, the son of Ubara-Tutu, gave these instructions to his son Zi-ud-sura.

76-82. A second time, Curuppag gave instructions to his son. Curuppag, the son of Ubara-Tutu gave instructions to his son Zi-ud-sura: My son, let me give you instructions: you should pay attention! Zi-ud-sura, let me speak a word to you: you should pay attention! Do not neglect my instructions! Do not transgress the words I speak! {(1 ms. adds the line:) The instructions of an old man are precious; you should comply with them!}

94-96. The palace is like a mighty river: its middle is goring bulls; what flows in is never enough to fill it, and what flows out can never be stopped. [Governments haven’t changed much in ~5,000 years!]

97-100. When it is about someone else’s bread, it is easy to say “I will give it to you”, but the time of actual giving can be as far away as the sky. If you go after the man who said “I will give it to you”, he will say “I cannot give it to you – the bread has just been finished up”. [People haven’t changed much either!]

103-105. The artistic mouth recites words; the harsh mouth brings litigation documents; the sweet mouth gathers sweet herbs.

126. You should not pass judgment when you drink beer.

127. You should not worry unduly about what leaves the house.

128-130. Heaven is far, earth is most precious, but it is with heaven that you multiply your goods, and all foreign lands breathe under it.

131-133. At harvest time, at the most priceless time, collect like a slave girl, eat like a queen; my son, to collect like a slave girl, to eat like a queen, this is how it should be.

134-142. To speak arrogantly is like an abscess: a herb that makes the stomach sick. [A powerful metaphor!]

143-145. Curuppag gave these instructions to his son. Curuppag, the son of Ubara-Tutu, gave these instructions to his son Zi-ud-sura.

146-152. A third time, Curuppag gave instructions to his son. Curuppag, the son of Ubara-Tutu gave instructions to his son Zi-ud-sura: My son, let me give you instructions: you should pay attention! Zi-ud-sura, let me speak a word to you: you should pay attention! Do not neglect my instructions! Do not transgress the words I speak! {(Some mss. add the line:) The instructions of an old man are precious; you should comply with them!}

154-164. You should not buy a prostitute: she is a mouth that bites. You should not buy a house-born slave: he is a herb that makes the stomach sick. You should not buy a free man: he will always lean against the wall. You should not buy a palace slave girl: she will always be the bottom of the barrel (?). You should rather bring down a foreign slave from the mountains, or you should bring somebody from a place where he is an alien; my son, then he will pour water for you where the sun rises and he will walk before you. He does not belong to any family, so he does not want to go to his family; he does not belong to any city, so he does not want to go to his city. {(1 ms. adds 2 lines:) He cannot knock at the door of… he cannot enter…} He will not… with you, he will not be presumptuous with you.

170-171. Fate is a wet bank; it can make one slip. [!]

172-174. The elder brother is indeed like a father; the elder sister is indeed like a mother. Listen therefore to your elder brother, and you should be obedient to your elder sister as if she were your mother.

175-176. You should not work using only your eyes; you will not multiply your possessions using only your mouth. [I guess that, in those days, there weren’t many clerics!]

177. The negligent one ruins (?) his family.

178-180. The need for food makes some people ascend the mountains; it also brings traitors and foreigners, since the need for food brings down other people from the mountains. [That reminds me of a line in Book XVII of Homer’s Odyssey (written about 2,000 years later!), where Ulysses states: “(A) man cannot hide away the cravings of a hungry belly; this is an enemy which gives much trouble to all men; it is because of this that ships are fitted out to sail the seas, and to make war upon other people.”]

189-192. By grasping the neck of a huge ox, you can cross the river. By moving along (?) at the side of the mighty men of your city, my son, you will certainly ascend (?).

193-201. When you bring a slave girl from the hills, she brings both good and evil with her. The good is in the hands; the evil is in the heart.

202-203. A loving heart maintains a family; a hateful heart destroys a family.

204-207. To have authority, to have possessions and to be steadfast are princely divine powers. You should submit to the respected; you should be humble before the powerful. My son, you will then survive (?) against the wicked.

208-212. You should not choose a wife during a festival. Her inside is illusory (?); her outside is illusory (?). {The silver on her is borrowed; the lapis lazuli on her is borrowed} {(1 ms. has instead the line:)…; the jewelry on her is borrowed…}. The dress on her is borrowed; the linen garment on her is borrowed. With… nothing (?) is comparable.

216-217. You should not buy a donkey at the time of harvest…

220. A woman with her own property ruins the house.

221. A drunkard will drown the harvest.

242-244. Nothing at all is to be valued, but life should be sweet. You should not serve things; things should serve you…

246-247. You should not abuse an ewe; otherwise you will give birth to a daughter. You should not throw a lump of earth into the money chest (?); otherwise you will give birth to a son. [Is there some other option?!]

254. The wet-nurses in the women’s quarters determine the fate of their lord. [Compare this with the line written by William Ross Wallace (1819–1881): “The hand that rocks the cradle… rules the world.”]

255-260. You should not speak arrogantly to your mother; that causes hatred for you. You should not question the words of your mother and your personal god. The mother, like Utu, gives birth to the man; the father, like a god, makes him bright (?). The father is like a god: his words are reliable. The instructions of the father should be complied with.

261. Without suburbs a city has no center either.

262-263. My son, a field situated at the bottom of the embankments, be it wet or dry, is nevertheless a source of income.

266-271. {To get lost is bad for a dog; but terrible for a man} {(1 ms. has instead:) An unknown place is terrible; to get lost is shameful (?) for a dog}. On the unfamiliar way at the edge of the mountains, the gods of the mountains are man-eaters. They do not build houses there as men do; they do not build cities there as men do.

278-280. Praise be to the lady who completed the great tablets, the maiden Nisaba, that Curuppag, the son of Ubara-Tutu gave his instructions!
By the way, as a “word to the wise”, one way to easily get lost “on the unfamiliar way at the edge of the mountains” is by trying to gain more information about Zi-ud-sura (or Ziusudra), who received such wise instructions from his father, Curuppag (or Shuruppak), son of Ubara-Tutu (or UbarTutu). Readers who are oblivious to warnings will probably find that Ubara-Tutu was the last Sumerian king prior to a devastating flood, that Shuruppak was actually the name of the city (now the city of Tall Fa’rah in Iraq) that was flooded, that Ziusudra was later called Atrahasis (or Atram-hasis), meaning “the ultra-wise”, and that it was Curuppag’s son, Ziusudra (or Atrahasis), who survived the flood in a barge (or ark), who in the Epic of Gilgamesh is called Utanapishtim (or Utnapishtim), and who in the Pentateuch is called Noah!

For readers who haven’t become lost on such paths, please consider the following. Below is a repeat of the quotations from the Instructions that in the above I had put in bold italics – along with some comparisons (in red) that I trust are familiar to readers who’ve read the OT:

You should not speak improperly… You should not curse strongly…Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain…

You should not speak arrogantly to your mother… You should not question the words of your mother… The instructions of the father should be complied with.Honor thy father and thy mother.

You should not cause a quarrel… You should not pick a quarrel… My son, you should not use violence…Thou shalt not kill.

You should not buy a prostitute… You should not play around with a married young woman… You should not commit rape on someone’s daughter… You should not have sex with your slave girlThou shalt not commit adultery.

You should not steal anything… you should not commit robbery…Thou shalt not steal.

You should not… [tell] lies…Thou shalt not bear false witness…

You should not serve things; things should serve you… Thou shalt not covet…

I would then ask readers to judge which story seems more reliable:

1) That ~2,400 years ago, Ezra and co-conspirators (Ezra & C-C), who were then living in Babylon, just happened to have an exact copy of what God – the creator of the universe, the original symmetry-breaking quantum fluctuation in a total void, Himself – gave to Moses as the Ten Commandments, or

2) That ~4,800 years ago in a town in Mesopotamia near where Babylon was established ~800 years later, a father assembled for his son some sensible instructions for living and dictated them to “the lady who completed the great tablets, the maiden Nisaba”, instructions that humans had learned by experience were valuable for cooperatively living in groups during the previous tens of thousands of years, and that, ~2400 years later, Ezra & C-C plagiarized the Instructions from Curuppag – just as they obviously plagiarized the myths about Curuppag’s son (Ziusudra aka Atrahasis aka Utanapishtim aka Noah).

Readers who chose the first option, above, should scroll back a few pages and re-read the Instructions from Curuppag. Other readers, those accustomed to thinking for themselves and thereby able to avoid that potentially perpetual “Do Loop”, will probably surmise that other options were available to Ezra & C-C. For example, Ezra & C-C might have seen, by themselves, that such obvious rules were advantageous for people living in groups.

As another possibility, the authors of the Pentateuch (obviously familiar also with the literature of the Ancient Egyptians) might have had a copy of what the Ancient Egyptians called The Book of Coming Forth by Day but which is now commonly called The Book of the Dead, the oldest copy of which is from ~1600 BCE. In turn, though, The Book of the Dead is a compilation of earlier works, including The Coffin Texts and, from still earlier, The Pyramid Texts, the earliest copies of which were found in the pyramids of pharaohs Unas, Tei, and Pepy I, who ruled during the 2300s BCE. And still in turn, The Pyramid Texts describe rituals that undoubtedly were established much earlier. Thus, when the thoughts in these books were originally conceived is unknown, but a date similar to the date of the Instructions from Curuppag seems not unreasonable.

The earliest of these Egyptian texts describe how the pharaoh ascends to the sky (e.g., climbing a ladder, as in Jacob’s dream, described in Genesis 28) and the dead pharaoh’s journeys through various imagined places (including the Sea of Reeds, which is how “Red Sea” in the OT is correctly translated). But relevant to specifying “moral law”, of most significance for the authors of the Pentateuch is the moral code of the Ancient Egyptians that’s recorded in the portion of The Book of the Dead entitled “The Negative Confession”, namely:
I have not committed sins against men.
I have not opposed my family and kinsfolk.
I have not acted fraudulently in the Seat of Truth.
I have not known men who were of no account.
I have not wrought evil.
I have not made it to be the first [consideration daily that unnecessary] work should be done for me.
I have not brought forward my name for dignities.
I have not [attempted] to direct servants [I have not belittled God].
I have not defrauded the humble man of his property.
I have not done what the gods abominate.
I have not vilified a slave to his master.
I have not inflicted pain.
I have not caused anyone to go hungry.
I have not made any man to weep.
I have not committed murder.
I have not given the order for murder to be committed.
I have not caused calamities to befall men and women.
I have not plundered the offerings in the temples.
I have not defrauded the gods of their cake-offerings.
I have not carried off the fenkhu cakes [offered to] the Spirits.
I have not committed fornication.
I have not masturbated [in the sanctuaries of the god of my city].
I have not diminished from the bushel.
I have not filched [land from my neighbor’s estate and] added it to my own acre.
I have not encroached upon the fields [of others].
I have not added to the weights of the scales.
I have not depressed the pointer of the balance.
I have not carried away the milk from the mouths of children.
I have not driven the cattle away from their pastures.
I have not snared the geese in the goose-pens of the gods.
I have not caught fish with bait made of the bodies of the same kind of fish.
I have not stopped water when it should flow.
I have not made a cutting in a canal of running water.
I have not extinguished a fire when it should burn.
I have not violated the times [of offering] the chosen meat offerings.
I have not driven away the cattle on the estates of the gods.
I have not turned back the god at his appearances.
I am pure. I am pure. I am pure.
Thus, even if Ezra & C-C didn’t concoct their moral code (claimed to be from God) by plagiarizing the Sumerian Instructions from Curuppag, surely the above list from The Egyptian Book of the Dead was sufficient. Put differently: if Moses ever existed and if he had been schooled in the ways of the Egyptian priesthood (as is commonly claimed), then since almost certainly he would have been required to memorize the above “Negative Confessions” as part of his training, he didn’t receive his “revelations” from God but from his school master!

But no matter the specific origin of the moral code claimed in the Pentateuch to be conveyed to Moses by God, it seems much more likely that Ezra & C-C simply massaged existing moral codes, all of which were conceived (with the help of experience) not by any god but by earlier humans – and always with the purpose of helping people to live productively in cooperative groups. I would therefore ask the reader to judge 1) if substantial evidence appears to support the contention that a “Mountainous God Lie” has been foisted on humanity by claiming that morality is prescribed by any god, and therefore, 2) if some people (such as this writer) appear to be justified in becoming angry at clerics for indoctrinating children and hoodwinking “mentally challenged” adults with their damnable lies, a part of the world’s longest running and most pervasive con game.

Further I’d ask readers to consider an obvious reason why the clerics of the world perpetrate their lies. Thus, I suspect that they found it much easier to collect tithes by claiming that some particular “moral principle” must be followed “Because God said so” rather than by saying “Because Curuppag said so – and ‘The instructions of an old man are precious; you should comply with them’!

With that, however, I don’t mean to accuse all clerics as co-conspirators in a massive con game. Most clerics I’ve known are as ignorant as their followers – and actually, most clerics in America, Asia, and Europe (e.g., Evangelical, Mormon, and other cult “missionaries” from American backwoods, Catholic clerics from Africa and south of the American border, and Muslim clerics from the most backward nations of the world) seem more ignorant (more superstitious) than their followers: the near-sighted led by the legally blind! In other words, the majority of clerics, I suspect, probably “believe” what they promote, probably because their mothers told them it was “true”. But behind them in history, above them in the clerical hierarchy, and in front of them at the parasitic feeding-frenzy are the liars: knowing the origin of their lies, certain that no god ever gave any instruction to any human, confident that they’ll continue to profit from their con games, and living a life of luxury derived from their quackery.

Further, though, and most unfortunately, it’s not just clerics who promote and perpetrate the Law Lie. To see another example, consider the following, written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. It’s from his 27 June 2005 dissenting opinion on the McCreary Country, Kentucky et al. versus ACLU lawsuit dealing with display of the Ten Commandments in a U.S. government office. In this quotation, I’ve omitted Scalia’s references, replacing them with {…}, and added some notes in brackets, […].
Besides appealing to the demonstrably false principle that the government cannot favor religion over irreligion [“False principle”? Scalia is claiming that the U.S. government can favor religion over irreligion?! That claim should certainly be challenged! For one, the U.S. Constitution states that the government should have nothing to do with religion. Thus, Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” and Amendment I states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” As Jefferson summarized in 1782: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. [Italics added] It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Besides, what does Scalia mean by ‘religion’ vs. ‘irreligion’ – and whose definition is to prevail? Scalia’s obvious definition (see below) relates ‘religion’ to “the gods”. In contrast, M.M. Mangasarian’s definition (contained in “Religion is the science of children; science is the religion of adults”) means that Scalia’s ‘religion’ is just childish science. So, if Scalia’s claim is coupled with Mangasarian’s definition, then Scalia is claiming that the U.S. government favors childish science over adult science! Really? Scalia is claiming that the U.S. government can’t favor modern ideas in astronomy, biology, chemistry, ecology, geology, mathematics, medicine, physics, etc. over the preposterous “science” in various “holy books”? Would Scalia have all U.S. government policies conform to biblical principles of a flat Earth only ~6,000 years old, the sky held up by four props, rain caused by a leaking vault in “the heavens”, curing of illnesses by “driving out devils”, π = 3, etc.? Wouldn’t it be preferable if government activities were based on the best available science?!], today’s [majority] opinion suggests that the posting of the Ten Commandments violates the principle that the government cannot favor one religion over another {…}. That is indeed a valid principle where public aid or assistance to religion is concerned {…} or where the free exercise of religion is at issue {…}, but it necessarily applies in a more limited sense to public acknowledgment of the Creator [and for some strange reason, I doubt if, by “Creator”, Scalia is referring to the symmetry-breaking quantum fluctuation in the original void that led to the Big Bang].

If religion in the public forum had to be entirely nondenominational, there could be no religion in the public forum at all. [Bull! It depends on what’s meant by ‘religion’. There are no denominations in physics, chemistry, biology…! Scalia is obviously hung up with childish science!] One cannot say the word “God” or “the Almighty” [it depends on what is meant by such words!], one cannot offer public supplication or thanksgiving [it depends if the thanks are to producers or to nonproducers, a perfect example of the latter (nonproducers) being all clerics], contradicting the beliefs of some people that there are many gods, or that God or the gods pay no attention to human affairs [or the most certain knowledge that humans have ever been able to gain (even more certain than the knowledge that they exist), namely, that there are no gods – and never were any!].

With respect to public acknowledgment of religious belief [Define “religious belief”! In contrast to Scalia’s definition, I “religiously” hold to the “belief” that all opinions should be held only as strongly as relevant evidence justifies.] it is entirely clear from our Nation’s historical practices that the Establishment Clause permits this disregard of polytheists and believers in unconcerned deities, just as it permits the disregard of devout atheists [and just as historical practices and the original Constitution permit the disregard of the rights of women and Blacks. But just because that’s the way it was doesn’t mean either that that’s the way it should be or will always be! To see the stupidity in Scalia’s statement, try it with the word ‘Blacks’ (or any minority) substituted for the phrase “devout atheists”, i.e., “…it permits the disregard of {the opinions of} Blacks (or any minority).”].

The Thanksgiving Proclamation issued by George Washington at the instance of the First Congress was scrupulously nondenominational – but it was monotheistic. [Well, of course it was monotheistic! Do you think that there was more than one symmetry-breaking quantum fluctuation that created our universe?!] In Marsh v. Chambers, supra, we said that the fact the particular prayers offered in the Nebraska Legislature were “in the Judeo-Christian tradition” {…} posed no additional problem, because “there is no indication that the prayer opportunity has been exploited to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other, faith or belief {…}. [What a crock! It disparages belief in the efficacy of the scientific method and in people’s faith that they can solve their own problems, without the help of invisible pink elephants (or giant Jabberwocks or whatever) flying around in the sky!]

Historical practices thus demonstrate that there is a distance between the acknowledgment of a single Creator and the establishment of a religion. [Yes! And historical practices demonstrate that the distance is very small: once clerics indoctrinate children that the sky is filled with invisible flying pink elephants (or whatever), then the clerics soon have their collection plates ready and their con game is up and running.] The former [a single creator] is, as Marsh v. Chambers put it, “a tolerable acknowledgment of beliefs widely held among the people of this country.” {…} [Tolerable to whom! It’s not tolerable to those who consider all organized religions to be con games and all gods to be figments of deluded minds, delusions put there by conniving clerics and power-mongering politicians.]

The three most popular religions in the United States [Ah hah! So, never mind the Constitution, never mind the rights of minorities; instead, let’s have a popularity contest!], Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – which combined account for 97.7% of all believers – are monotheistic. {…} [Believers in what, fairy tales? What about those of us who believe in the scientific method?] All of them, moreover (Islam included), believe that the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses, and are divine prescriptions for a virtuous life {…}. [So what? There was a time when everyone “believed” that the Earth was a flat plate. Just because the majority of people believes something doesn’t make it so!] Publicly honoring the Ten Commandments is thus indistinguishable, insofar as discriminating against other religions is concerned, from publicly honoring God. [Which “God”: some giant Jabberwock in the sky or “the god” of science, i.e., the scientific method? Further, though, the Establishment Clause states that the government (or any government agency) has no business “honoring” your God (or anyone else's)! Its job is to install sewers, build bridges, deliver the mail, organize collective defense, decide on appropriate laws, etc. – NOT including laws promoting your mythical god!] Both practices are recognized across such a broad and diverse range of the population – from Christians to Muslims – that they cannot be reasonably understood as a government endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint. [What a stupid statement! It disregards, for example, Mangasarian’s assessment (quoted above), in that, thereby, the government endorses childish science (i.e., religion), discriminating against the religion of adults (i.e., science).]
Now, of course I agree that all people should be free to hold and promote whatever worldview they want. But I and other Americans are paying Scalia his salary to protect the American Constitution, not to promote his wacky worldview, and while I’m paying for his salary, he promotes the blatant examples of the Law Lie that “the Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses, and are divine prescriptions for a virtuous life”!

Now, I admit: probably it would be more “politically correct” if I described Scalia as being mistaken rather a liar. Perhaps it’s so. Perhaps he truly is so poorly educated that he “thinks” that there’s some giant Jabberwock in the sky that created and controls the universe and dictated morality. But that would mean that Scalia makes critical (life-changing) decisions based on absolutely zero evidence! Surely such a person doesn’t belong as a judge in any court, let along in the U.S. Supreme Court. So, whether or not it’s politically correct, wouldn’t it be kinder to call Scalia a liar rather than a fool?

In any event, I’m pleased to notice that improvements seem to be occurring. For example, in the comments section of the 20 January 2009 New York Time’s article ‘The Speech’: The Experts’ Critique, “Grant” wrote:
I was encouraged to hear President Obama acknowledge that we are “a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.” I can’t recall any mainstream politician who has ever granted non-believers the dignity of that same recognition and acknowledged them as a part of this country… What a refreshing change from the offensive comments made by the offensive Joe Lieberman [candidate for Vice President on the Gore-Lieberman ticket] on the campaign trail in 2000, who admonished us… “never to indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion” and claimed that “the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”
More progress can be expected as Scalia, Lieberman, and (unfortunately) so many others “leaders” who promote the Law Lie join G.W. Bush in obscurity.

Moreover, though, if they’re not lying, if they truly believe the nonsense that they’re espousing, then not only are they fools, they’re immoral: what they’re doing is wrong; it’s evil. Others have said similar:
A wise [person]… proportions his belief to the evidence. [David Hume]

To believe without evidence and demonstration is an act of ignorance and folly. [Volney]

The foundation of morality is to… give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibilities of knowledge. [Thomas Henry Huxley]

So long as men are not trained to withhold judgment in the absence of evidence they will be led astray by cocksure prophets, and it is likely that their leaders will be either ignorant fanatics or dishonest charlatans. To endure uncertainty is difficult, but so are most of the other virtues. [Bertrand Russell]

It is wrong always and everywhere for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence. [William Kingdon Clifford]

We ought to do what we can towards eradicating the evil habit of believing without regard to evidence. [Richard Robinson]
Sam Harris summarized it well in his 2004 book The End of Faith:
It is time we realized that to presume knowledge where one has only pious hope is a species of evil. Wherever conviction grows in inverse proportion to its justification, we have lost the very basis of human cooperation. Where we have reasons for what we believe, we have no need of faith; where we have no reasons, we have lost both our connection to the world and to one another. People who harbor strong convictions without evidence belong at the margins of our societies, not in our halls of power.


The Mythical Monster Moses - 2

From my admittedly superficial investigations reported in the first half of this post, I’ve reached two, tentative conclusions. The first is that, if one seeks reliable information about Moses, then such a search would probably devour the rest of one’s life! If the reader thinks I exaggerate, then after admitting that I sometimes do (to try to emphasize a point), I’d challenge the reader to peruse what Mudarras Kadhir Gaznavi has written about Moses, starting here, and then peruse the two-part analysis of “Moses and the Exodus” posted by The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies, starting here. And my second tentative conclusion is that, at the end of such investigations, I wouldn’t be surprised if one discovered that Ezra & Co-Conspirators (Ezra & C-C) composed their mythical Moses by forming a “composite” of all possible Moseses!

But again (as I stated in the previous post), whoever “the real Moses” might have been doesn’t matter, because a 100% guarantee (or more accurately, a 99.99999… [continue for ~500 nines!]…999% guarantee) can be given that the Moses described in the Bible is a myth: no real Moses pulled off any supernatural stunts (“miracles”) and no real Moses talked to any god – because (in the vernacular) there ain’t any (and there never were)! So, regardless of what crumb of reality might be contained in the existence of a real Moses (or more than one!), I want to return, now, to listing additional “ingredients” available to the authors of the Pentateuch for “cooking up” their mythical Moses. In the previous post I listed six such ingredients; here, I continue with:

7. Miracles and Similar Silliness.
There are a number of literary sources that could have provided the Old Testament (OT) authors with material for all the supernatural silliness described in the Pentateuch dealing with “miracles”. [I put “miracles” in quotation marks because the word ‘miracle’ has two meanings. One meaning is to describe an event that has an extremely low probability of occurring, as in, “It’ll be a ‘miracle’ if I ever finish the task of plumbing the full depth of the damnable God Lie!” The other meaning for ‘miracle’ describes alleged events used to concoct essentially all religions, i.e., some “supernatural stunt” (an event caused by some “supernatural force or agent”). Here, I’m addressing this second type of “miracle” – the type that in reality never occurs, simply because what occurs is, perforce, natural; so, “supernatural” forces, agents, events, etc. (such as gods, angels, miracles, etc.) don’t exist.]

As for the alleged “miracles” described in the Pentateuch, first consider Moses’ “magical staff”. With God’s help, Moses (and his brother Aaron) allegedly caused a host of troubles for the Egyptians, including parting the Red Sea (or, translated correctly, “the Reed Sea”), to let the Israelites pass, and then closing it, drowning the Egyptian army. The ancient Egyptian literature has many examples of the “importance” of such “magical staffs” and associated “miracles”.

One example is entitled The Legend of the Taking of Joppa, which tells a story about the Egyptian retaking of a Palestinian town for Thutmose III. The full story is long; I’ll quote only a little to indicate the “importance” of the king’s staff, starting with the report to Thutmose III from a messenger from “the country of Kharu [Palestine]”:
“The vanquished of Joppa [it’s not clear if that’s a person’s name or it refers to a group, similar to referring to an enemy as “he”] has revolted against his Majesty (l.h.s. = life, health, strength) [namely, King Manakhpirriya, i.e., Pharaoh Thutmose III] and he has massacred the foot soldiers of his Majesty (l.h.s.), also his charioteers, and no one can stand with him.”

When the King Manakhpirriya (l.h.s.) [by the way, this use of “l.h.s.” for “life, health, strength” is similar to the Muslim custom, started ~2,000 years later, of adding “pbuh” (peace be upon him) behind Muhammad’s name – although, actually, there's some controversy about that] heard all the words that the messenger had said to him, he fell into a rage like a cheetah of the south. “By my life, by the favor of Re, by the love borne for me by my father Amon, I will destroy the city of the vanquished of Joppa; I will make him feel the weight of my arm.”

He called his nobles, his captains of war, also his magician-scribes [note that the scribes were also magicians!], and repeated to them the message that the Governor of the land of the North had sent him. Lo! they were all silent with one mouth; they knew not what to reply, either good or evil.

But Thutiyi [a commander in the army] said to his Majesty (l.h.s.): “Oh thou to whom the Entire-Land pays homage, command that there be given me the great staff [italics added] of the King Manakhpirriya (l.h.s.), the name of which is ... tiut-nofrit. [Staffs were so important that they had proper names; here, though, a part of this name is missing from the original papyrus.] Command also that there be given me foot-soldiers of his Majesty (l.h.s.), also charioteers of the flower of the brave ones of the land of Egypt, and I will slay the vanquished of Joppa, I will take his city.” His Majesty (l.h.s.) said, “It is excellent, excellent, that which thou hast spoken.” And the great staff of the King Manakhpirriya (l.h.s.) was given to him, and foot soldiers were given to him and the charioteers which he had asked for.

[After preparing for battle, Thutiyi sent the following message to the “vanquished of Joppa”:]

“I am Thutiyi, the general of infantry of the land of Egypt, and I have followed his Majesty (l.h.s.) in all his marches to the lands of the North and the lands of the South. But lo! now, the King Manakhpirriya (l.h.s.) has been jealous of me because I am a hero, and wished to kill me [but if so, why would he still add “l.h.s.” to the king’s name?!], but I fled before him, and I have brought the great staff of the King Manakhpirriya (l.h.s.) [along with a trap to ensnare you!] and I have hidden it in the baskets of forage for my horses, and if thou wilt, I will give it thee, and I will be with thee, I and the people who are with me of the flower of the brave ones of the army of Egypt.”

When the vanquished of Joppa heard this he [fell for the trap!] rejoiced greatly, greatly, for the words that Thutiyi had spoken, for he knew that Thutiyi was a hero who had not his equal in the entire land. He sent to Thutiyi, saying, “Come with me, and I will be to thee as a brother, and I will give thee a piece of land chosen from what is the best of the country of Joppa.”
As readers can find from the referenced site, the rest of the story is interesting: it provides a forerunner (by about 500 years) for the tale of the Trojan horse! But with the above, my goal was simply to provide an example of a story, available to Ezra & C-C on papyrus (e.g., when the Persians conquered Egypt) in which a special staff (in this case, the king’s staff) was central to the story. In Exodus, Moses’ staff is called the “staff of god” (Exodus 4, 20).

With “the staff of God”, Moses and Aaron allegedly pulled off a bunch of “miracles”, which surely anyone with the intellectual capabilities of at least a six-year old consider to be on par with the “miracles” in children’s TV cartoons. But amazingly, believing Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Mormons say that Moses and Aaron actually pulled off their supernatural stunts. Do they also believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, and Bugs Bunny?! Doesn’t it bother them – at least a little – that the OT reports that also the Egyptian priests pulled off many of the same “miracles”?!

As for details of the alleged supernatural stunts, Ezra & C-C could of course let their imaginations run wild. They claim, first, that first Moses and then Aaron threw the magic staff to the ground and it became a snake – but then, the Egyptian magicians did the same with their staffs (Exodus 7, 12). Next, Aaron used the magic staff to turn all the water in Egypt to blood (Exodus 7, 22) – but then, the Egyptian magicians did the same (although how they could have done it, after all the water was already blood, is a minor detail that apparently didn’t bother the authors). And so on the silliness continues: Aaron used God’s staff to create a plague of frogs that “covered the land of Egypt” (Exodus 8, 6) – but it was matched by the Egyptian priests. How Aaron’s frogs could be distinguished from the Egyptian priests’ frogs is another minor detail omitted; perhaps Aaron’s frogs croaked in Hebrew, while the rest croaked in Egyptian!

The next two magic tricks Aaron conducted with God’s magic staff (or wand!) led to swarms of gnats and flies (Exodus 8, 16–24), which for some unexplained reason, the Egyptian priests couldn’t duplicate – perhaps because gnats and flies being so common in Egypt, no one noticed the change! And so on it goes, getting sillier and stupider, including (Exodus 9–10) killing all the livestock (multiple times!), boils, hail, and locusts. “The Ninth Blow” (starting at Exodus 10, 21) was a real doozy: darkness for three days. That, thereby, after 72 hours without the Sun, the temperature would have dropped by about 40°F (~20°C) every 12 hours, leading to a total temperature drop of about 240°F (~120°C), freezing every living thing to death (including the Jews), is just one of those minor details that needn’t concern “true believers”.

The finale of this silliness – or more appropriately, this horror story – was the killing of all Egyptian firstborn (Exodus 11–12). Note that God specifically states (so the authors allege) that He purposefully made the pharaoh “obstinate”, leading to all the horrors allegedly inflicted on the Egyptians, so that (Exodus 12, 26) the Jewish people would have a story to tell their children about the greatness of their god! Elsewhere, I already criticized the hideousness of this story, this god, and that (to this day!) Jewish people still “celebrate” this alleged atrocity in what they call Passover (since God, while spreading his hideousness, allegedly “passed over” the Jewish homes). I repeat my desire that every Jewish person in the world would reject this story (and their god) as a diabolic lie, most likely concocted by Ezra & C-C to entrap the Jewish people into paying the tribute that the Persian emperor Darius demanded from his fifth satrapy.

But returning to the thrust of this post, the question arises: Did Ezra & C-C have anything to stimulate these stories (besides unconstrained imaginations)? At least a partial answer to that question seems to be that the authors could have used what appears to have been a “literary construct” called The Admonitions of Ipuwer, copies of which were probably available to the authors when their Persian masters conquered Egypt. These Admonitions (see here and here) include the phrases
Foreigners have become people everywhere… the Nile is in flood… poor men have become the possessors of treasures… many dead are buried in the river… let us banish many from us… the River is blood.
When these Admonitions were written is uncertain, but interested readers can find that the consensus view among Egyptian scholars is that they were most likely composed (predominantly as a literary construct, describing chaos) no later than the Hyksos rule and probably earlier, after the world’s second known social revolution (which occurred in Egypt in about 2000 BCE) – although many “defenders of the faith” have (dishonestly) claimed that these Admonitions attest to the reality of Moses’ “miracles”, which allegedly occurred centuries later.

For Christians, Muslims, Mormons, etc., the most famous supernatural stunt claimed to have been conducted by Moses was to separate the Red Sea (or, translated correctly, the Reed Sea), leading to the drowning of the Egyptian army (an incident without corroboration from Egyptian sources and which is probably a priestly exaggeration of an incident in which some army’s chariots were stuck in the mud somewhere, e.g., on some tidal flats). The silliness of parting waters as a part of an army’s campaign is also contained in myths about Sargon the Great, who lived ~1,000 years before Moses allegedly lived and about whom an Assyrian myth states:
“But I, Sargon… led my army over the Tigris and the Euphrates, at the peak of the flood, the spring flood, as (if it be) dry ground.”
Other myths about gods or the favorites of gods parting waters are described in the 1884 book (available at Google books) by J.W. Bouton with the snappy little title: Bible Myths, and their Parallels in Other Religions: Being a comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of Heathen Nations of Antiquity, considering also their Origin and Meaning. Examples (see especially pp. 55-57 of Bouton's book) include the similar "miracles" performed by Bacchus (or Dionysus or Osiris) and, in Hindu tales, by Chrisna's father Yasodha, and as given in the Rig Veda, the Indian sage Visvimati.

Similar nonsense was also “standard fare” in Egyptian literature. A famous example (a part of the Tales of the Magicians, which seem to be the first Egyptian stories written) is described in The Temple of the Cosmos by Jeremy Naydler, who starts his description with the sarcastic statement:
Division of waters was certainly a skill known to have been practiced by Egyptian magicians as far back as the Old Kingdom. The Papyrus Westcar relates how the Fourth Dynasty king Snefru (the predecessor of the better known Khufu or Cheops [who commissioned the building of the Great Pyramid in about 2500 BCE]) was one afternoon enjoying a diversion from the cares of state by being rowed on his royal lake by twenty beautiful young women from his palace. Now it happened that one of these girls dropped her pendant in the water, and in her distress ceased rowing. Because she was the leader who set the stroke for all the girls on that side of the boat, they all stopped rowing. The result, we may imagine, is that the royal barge was soon going round in circles. King Snefru, finding himself unable to console the girl with promises of another pendant to replace the one she had lost, called for his chief magician, Zazamankh. Zazamankh hastened to reassure the king that all would be well. Then, stepping forward to the front of the boat, he proceeded to pronounce “words of power” over the waters. He then rolled back one side of the lake, piling it upon the other, so that a cliff of water was formed. The papyrus states: “Now, as for the water, it was twelve cubits deep in the middle, and it reached twenty-four cubits after it was turned back.” [That, by the way, is a standard trick used by tellers of “magic stories” (used for more than 4,000 years!): after describing some magic feat, the storyteller immediately adds some fact that’s obviously true (thus, here, if the water was originally 12 cubits deep, then doubled, it would be 24 cubits deep) – as if “truth” were contagious, acquired through close contact! I mean, if the 12 cubits were doubled to obtain only 23 cubits of water, then obviously the alleged miracle would be a fake. Right? Riiiight.] As a consequence, the pendant could soon be discovered lying upon the exposed bed of the lake. The girl having retrieved it,* Zazamankh once more pronounced words of power over the waters and returned the half of the lake that he had displaced to its original position.

*[Incidentally, although it’s a minor point, yet to try to keep the record straight (and to give the reader the treat of reading the original of a ~4,000 year old manuscript!), the translation of the original papyrus that’s available on the internet states that, actually, Zazamankh retrieved the pendant from the lake bed – although, the girl then “retrieved” it (in the sense that she repossessed it):

And his Majesty said, “Haste, bring me the chief reciter Zazamankh,” and they brought him. And his Majesty said, “Zazamankh, my brother, I have done as thou sayedst [i.e., gone for a boat ride with his female rowers], and the heart of his Majesty is refreshed with the sight of their rowing. [Happiness is having 20 beautiful young women rowing your boat in unison!] But now a jewel of new malachite of one of the little ones is fallen in the water, and she ceases and rows not, and she has spoilt the rowing of her side. And I said to her, ‘Wherefore rowest thou not?’ and she answered to me, ‘It is for my jewel of new malachite which is fallen in the water.’ I replied to her, ‘Row on, for behold I will replace it’; and she answered to me, ‘But I want my own piece again back in its setting’ [pouting like a child!].” Then the chief reciter Zazamankh spake his magic speech. And he placed one part of the waters of the lake upon the other, and discovered the jewel lying upon a shard; and he took it up and gave it unto its mistress. And the water, which was twelve cubits deep in the middle, reached now to twenty-four cubits after he turned it. And he spake, and used his magic speech; and he brought again the water of the lake to its place.]
Besides having 20 beautiful young girls rowing your boat in unison, happiness is apparently possessing “words of power”, “magic speech”, and the ability to keep a boat on a steady keel while the water is parted, doubled, and then replaced! – plus, apparently, believing that silly stories, fairy tales, and “sacred scripture” are “gospel truth”. But otherwise, it’s mind boggling that so many people in the world (including most Muslims, fundamentalist Jews and Christians, Mormons, etc.) actually “believe” that Moses parted the waters of the Red (or Reed) Sea. In particular, a February 2004 ABCNEWS/Primetime poll found that “64 percent [of Americans] believe the story of Moses parting the Red Sea is ‘literally true, meaning it happened that way word-for-word’.” That’s terrible! How could anyone be so gullible – so dumb?! Next, they’ll be believing that some giant Jabberwock in the sky will be angry at them, and punish them – for eternity – if they don’t exactly follow all the laws that the con-artist clerics claim were laid down by their god!

8. Supernatural source of laws.
Still another ingredient for the Pentateuch stories was the lie (essentially universally accepted at the time as “truth”) that the gods were the source of the people’s laws. The most obvious (and famous) example is the laws of Hammurabi, which I’ve reviewed elsewhere and which were carved into stone approximately 600 years before Moses allegedly did his engraving. And actually, it may reveal something about the authors that they had Moses allegedly carve his commandments in stone, whereas an Egyptian priest would have been expected to write his laws on papyrus. As for the Ten Commandments, already I’ve pointed out their similarity with the Sumerian Instructions to Zi-ud-sura from his Father, a copy of which (on a clay tablet) has been dated to be from about 2600 BCE, and in a later post, I’ll show their similarity with ancient Egyptian codes.

The reason why primitive people reached the conclusion that the gods dictated the laws seems obvious. They found themselves in possession of customs and regulations that their ancestors (and animals!) had discovered (via trial and error – and successes, i.e., via the scientific method) would promote their own and their group’s survival (e.g., the desirability of helping one another, sharing, empathy, detection of cheaters, prohibition of adultery and incest, etc., including prohibitions against eating certain foods), as well as various customs that served to distinguish the group (e.g., various modes of dress and the Egyptian custom of circumcision). Not realizing that such regulations and customs had a natural advantage (for the survival of individuals and the group), the people concluded that their god must have dictated “the laws”.

And thus the authors of the Pentateuch have their god specify a huge number of laws (most of which were, almost certainly, already the customs of the people), including laws about how to sell your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21, 7–9), about the acceptable way to beat your slaves to death (Exodus 21, 20–21), and about sexual activities acceptable to the priests (e.g., Leviticus 18, 6–23; 20, 9–21). Here, though, I don’t want to again go through the barbaric laws that the clerical authors claim were dictated by their god and that religious fools consider to be appropriate still today (e.g., dealing with misogyny, slavery, and sexuality). Elsewhere, I’ve commented on serious inadequacies even in the famous Ten Commandments, and starting here, I’ve posted five chapters on some of the horrible policies promoted in the laws that Ezra & C-C claim were stipulated by God.

In a later post, I plan to comment a little on some similarities among the alleged “law givers” of many different cultures, including Moses, Manu, Minos, Bacchus, and Numa. Here, I’ll just quote a few paragraphs from T.W. Doane’s book Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions (p. 59):
Bacchus [or Dionysus, who originally (~2,000 BCE) seems to have been an Indo-European god] was called the ‘Lawgiver,’ and his laws were written on two tablets of stone. This feature in the Hebrew legend was evidently copied from that related of Bacchus, but the idea of Moses receiving the commandments from the Lord on a mountain was obviously taken from the Persian legend related of Zoroaster. Prof. Max Muller has said: “What applies to the religion of Moses applied to that of Zoroaster. It is placed before us as a complete system from the first, revealed by Ahuramazda (Ormuzd), proclaimed by Zoroaster.”

The disciples of Zoroaster, in their profusion of legends of the master, relate that one day, as he prayed on a high mountain, in the midst of thunders and lightnings (“fire from heaven”), the Lord himself appeared before him, and delivered unto him the “Book of Law.” While the King of Persia and the people were assembled together, Zoroaster came down from the mountain unharmed, bringing with him the “Book of the Law,” which had been revealed to him by Ormuzd. They call this book the Zend-Avesta, which signified the Living Word.

According to the religion of the Cretans, Minos, their lawgiver, ascended a mountain (Mount Dicta) and there received from the Supreme Lord (Zeus) the sacred laws which he brought down with him.

Almost all nations of antiquity have legends of their holy men ascending a mountain to ask counsel of the gods, such places being invested with peculiar sanctity, and deemed nearer to the deities than other portions of the earth.
That ancient people came to such conclusions is understandable. That, to this day, all Muslims, all “good” Mormons, most Christians (all Christian “fundamentalists”), and maybe the majority of “practicing” Jews (some day they’ll get it right!) still “believe” that their god is “the great legislator in the sky” (if now no longer involved in specifying traffic laws, yet still He’s in charge of “the moral law”) is also understandable – when the power of childhood indoctrination and the weakness of some people’s intellectual capabilities are considered. Nonetheless, it’s saddening.

9. Perks for the priesthood.
This, too, is old stuff. As Voltaire said, “The first priest was the first rogue who met the first fool.” No doubt the authors simply copied the list of perks that Persian, Egyptian, Sumerian… priests had perfected – although the authors probably changed some of the details about their “sanctuaries” to suit their own style (e.g., Exodus 24–27), adjusted specifications for their attire for their own comforts (e.g., Exodus 28 & 39), revised the required rituals for their own conveniences (e.g., Exodus 29–30, Numbers 29, Deuteronomy 16), modified the demanded menu items to placate their own palates (e.g., Numbers 15, 18, & 28; Deuteronomy 14, 22–29; 18, 1–8), and of course, set tax rates (e.g., Exodus 30), suitable sin and other offerings (e.g., Exodus 35 & Leviticus 1–5), and collection rates for the "spoils of war" (e.g., Numbers 31) sufficient so that their extra expenses could be easily met. In summary, what the authors of the Pentateuch did was simply provide the reader (or, originally, the listener) a revealing summary of just how avaricious, bogus, bombastic, covetous, despicable, extortionist, fraudulent, greedy, hideous… all clerics are. Who but a priest, I wonder, can read such crap without disgust that any human would be such a parasite.

Meanwhile, of course it’s unknown what might have been the exact source of both the “laws of Moses” and “priestly perks” described in the Pentateuch. There are hints, however, both in the Bible and from archeological discoveries, that both the “perks” and “laws” originated during the 7th Century BCE during the time of King Josiah of Judah. Thus, during Josiah’s reign (as given at 2 Kings 22, 8):
The high priest [of the Yahweh religion] Hilkiah told Shaphan the adjutant-general that he had discovered the book of the law [of Moses, i.e., the “Book of the Covenant”] in the house of the Lord [allegedly built by Solomon, approximately 200 years earlier].
I suspect that most skeptics respond to such a claim with something similar to:
“Sure you did! You’re the high priest. Somehow, the single most important document in your religion (containing the laws of Moses) was misplaced for 200 years! And now, conveniently, you just happen to find all these laws – which will enable you to slaughter the priests of competing religions, regain control over the people, and live off them as the parasites that you are? Riiiight. And is there any chance that you have some great, ocean-front property for sale in Arizona?”
Meanwhile, though, archeological evidence suggests that major religious reforms did occur approximately during the time of King Josiah. That (and more) is summarized in the following quotation from an author who uses the pseudonym “M-theory”:
To trace the foundations of this ongoing Biblical bonfire, we must go back to 1999. All hell broke loose in Israel in November of that year when Prof. Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University announced: “The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander the desert, did not conquer the land, and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes.” Moreover, the Jewish God YHWH had a female consort – the goddess Asherah!

His conclusion that the kingdom of David and Solomon was at best a small tribal monarchy, at worst total myth, has made enemies for him in the camps of traditional Jewish and Christian belief systems. He asserts: all evidence demonstrates that the Jews did not adopt monotheism until the 7th Century BCE – a heresy according to the Biblical tradition dating it to Moses at Mount Sinai…

Modern historical disciplines studying the biblical era uniformly conclude that Exodus could not have been written earlier than the 7th century BCE, and certainly not by the Biblical Moses who at best is a fictional combination of Egyptian personalities.

In Israel itself, 7th Century BCE is the period in which the archaeological evidence presented by Herzog suggests the emergence of Jerusalem as a cultural centre occurs. By all accounts, it is a cultural centre struggling to find an identity and nationality for itself and, given the discovery of the Jewish texts displaying Yahweh having a consort in the form of Asherah, it is not difficult to piece this jigsaw together.

In 639 BCE, Josiah, king of Judah, is known to have introduced wide-ranging religious reforms and brought additional areas of “Israel” under his control. It is during this period that “polemics” against and “inversion” of a wide variety of religious and cultural sources are brought together to form a religious and political unity.
Consequently, it seems reasonable to conclude that the “perks and laws” that Ezra & C-C were working from (to construct their Moses tale) were likely whatever the high priest Hilkiah claimed he had found – although that’s not to suggest that Ezra & C-C didn’t adjust the “perks and laws” to suit their own purposes (and deviances).

10. Atrocities committed on God’s behalf.
Now, whereas I'm finding it difficult to contain my disgust with the OT and all clerics, then similar to Thomas Paine, I “hasten to the end of it.” But before terminating this two-part post, I feel compelled to add some comments in response to something else Paine wrote in his book The Age of Reason:
Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the [OT] is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel. We scarcely meet with anything, a few phrases excepted, but what deserves either our abhorrence or our contempt…
My sentiments are similar to Paine’s, but it seems appropriate to point out that, even in their descriptions of such evils, the authors of the OT demonstrated little originality, since similar descriptions were available for their plagiarizing.

That is, to be fair (even to the contemptible Ezra & C-C), I propose that they probably weren’t so psychotic as their stories suggest: history had informed them that such horrors (as they claimed were perpetrated by the mythical Moses) had been committed by earlier rulers. For example, Ezra & C-C probably had heard (or read) about the atrocities committed under the leadership of the Egyptian pharaoh Thothmes III (c.1480–1425 BCE, commonly regarded as the most powerful Egyptian king, “the Alexander the Great of Ancient Egypt”) and committed under the leadership of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser (who ruled from about 1115–1076 BCE).

Courtesy archeological research, descriptions of such atrocities are available. For example, the following is a portion of the “Discourse of Amen-Ra, Lord of Thrones”, claimed by Thothmes III to be praise of him by the “supreme god” Amen-Ra. This “Discourse” was recorded on a stone tablet, and as per usual, to the quotation I’ve added some notes in brackets.
Come unto me! Tremble thou with joy, Oh my Son, my avenger, Ra-men-Kheper, endowed with life everlasting [i.e., as with the rest of the pharaohs, Thothmes III claimed to be a god and therefore claimed to be “endowed with life everlasting”]!

I [the god Amen-Ra] am resplendent through thy love, and my heart is dilated on beholding thy joyous entrance into my Temple. My hands have endowed thy limbs with living strength; thy perfections are pleasant in my sight [i.e., it’s not enough that Thothmes III considers himself to be “beautiful”; he claims that the “chief god”, Ra, considers him beautiful!].

I am established in my Abode. I give thee victory and power over all the nations. I have spread the fear of thee throughout all lands [i.e., Thothmes III ruled by fear – just as Ezra & C-C chose], and thy terror unto the limits of the four props of heaven [in the days when the sky was held up by “four props”, as described in the OT].

It is I who magnify the dread of thy name, and the echo of thy war-cry in the breasts of the outer barbarians. I stretch forth my arm, and I seize the people of Nubia [i.e., modern-day Ethiopia] in myriads, and the nations of the North [including the Canaanites] in millions, and I bind them for thee in sheaves!

I have cast thine enemies under thy sandals, and thou hast trampled their chiefs under thine heel. By my command, the world in its length and its breadth, from East to West, is thy throne!

Joyful of heart, thou dost traverse the lands of all the nations, none daring to oppose thee. Thou hast sailed the waters of the great sea [i.e., the Mediterranean], and thou hast scoured Mesopotamia in victory and power.

I have made the nations to hear thy war-cry in the depths of their caves, and I have cut off the breath of life from their nostrils. I made their hearts to turn back before thy victories.

My glory was on thy brow, dazzling them, leading them captive, burning them to ashes in their settlements. [And he calls them “barbarians”?!] Thou hast struck off the heads of the Asiatics, and their children cannot escape from thee [similar to the atrocities claimed to have been committed by Moses, Joshua, et al.].

Every land illuminated by thy diadem [i.e., his crown] is encircled by thy might; and in all the zone of the heavens there is not a rebel to rise up against thee. The enemy bring in their tribute on their backs, prostrating themselves before thee, their limbs trembling and their hearts burned up within them…
Another example of the despicable behavior of ancient tyrants is the following, which is just a small portion of the text written for the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I on prisms and clay tablets (inscribed ~300 years after Thothmes III):
Ashur (and) the great gods, the guardians of my kingdom, who gave government and laws to my dominions [i.e., another case of a god dictating the laws] and ordered an enlarged frontier to their territory [as Ezra & C-C claimed their god ordered], having committed to (my) hand their valiant and warlike servants, I have subdued the lands and the peoples and the strong places, and the Kings who were hostile to Ashur [the one true god!]; and I have reduced all that was contained in them. With a host of kings I have fought… and have imposed on them the bond of servitude. There is not to me a second in war nor an equal in battle. I have added territory to Assyria and peoples to her people. I have enlarged the frontier of my territories, and subdued all the lands contained in them.

In the beginning of my reign 20,000 of the Muskayans and their 5 kings, who for 50 years had held the countries of Alza and Perukhuz, without paying tribute and offerings to Ashur my Lord, and whom a King of Assyria had never ventured to meet in battle betook themselves to their strength, and went and seized the country of Comukha. In the service of Ashur my Lord my chariots and warriors I assembled after me… the country of Kasiyaia, a difficult country, I passed through. With their 20,000 fighting men and their 5 kings in the country of Comukha I engaged. I defeated them. The ranks of their warriors in fighting the battle were beaten down as if by the tempest. Their carcasses covered the valleys and the tops of the mountains. I cut off their heads. The battlements of their cities I made heaps of, like mounds of earth, their movables, their wealth, and their valuables I plundered to a countless amount. 6,000 of their common soldiers who fled before my servants and accepted my yoke, I took them, and gave them over to the men of my own territory. Then I went into the country of Comukha, which was disobedient and withheld the tribute and offerings due to Ashur my Lord: I conquered the whole country of Comukha. I plundered their movables, their wealth, and their valuables. Their cities I burnt with fire, I destroyed and ruined…
Thus, the atrocities that Ezra & C-C advocated and that Moses and Joshua allegedly committed were apparently “the norm” for megalomaniacs of the time. Examples in the Pentateuch include destroying villages, killing all males and married women but taking virgin girls as “spoils of war” (as described at Numbers 31, 9–18) – or killing everyone (Deuteronomy 2, 34 and 3, 6). Also, for people of “distant lands”, offering “peace” if they would become slaves of the Jews, but killing all males and taking their women and little children as “spoils” if they refused (Deuteronomy 20, 11–14), but for the Canaanites, “you must not allow a single living thing to survive; instead, you must utterly annihilate them” (Deuteronomy 20, 16–17), etc. Such hideousness continues past Deuteronomy (meaning “second law”) through the Book of Joshua (which some scholars suggest was part of the same crazy production that led to the Pentateuch, which then should be called the Hexateuch).

So, given that such horrors had historical precedent, one might be inclined to be lenient in one’s criticism of the authors of the Pentateuch (or Hexateuch), but I’d argue that the authors deserve unconditional condemnation, because 1) with the deceitful purpose of ruling the Jewish people, Ezra & C-C lied (in reality, Moses et al. didn’t engage in the atrocities described in the OT), 2) Ezra, in particular, added racism to the evils attributed to Moses, and 3) with their writings, Ezra & C-C not only bolstered but prolonged such abominable behavior. To end this post, I’ll try to justify those three indictments.

That the Pentateuch authors lied follows not only from the most established “fact” that humans have been able to discern (namely, nothing is “supernatural”; therefore, neither gods nor “miracles” exist or have ever existed) but also from recent archaeological research. For example, in their book The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts by Israel Finkelstein (director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University) and Neil Asher Silberman (director of historical interpretation for the Ename Center for Public Archaeology and Heritage Presentation in Belgium), a book well summarized in an article in Sunrise magazine (February/March 2003) by Sarah Belle Dougherty, the authors conclude:
…the emergence of early Israel was an outcome of the collapse of the Canaanite culture, not its cause. And most of the Israelites did not come from outside Canaan – they emerged from within it. There was no mass Exodus from Egypt. There was no violent conquest of Canaan. Most of the people who formed early Israel were local people – the same people whom we see in the highlands throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages. The early Israelites were – irony of ironies – themselves originally Canaanites!
But although, essentially certainly, the atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Moses et al. never occurred (and therefore, consistent with my first indictment, Ezra & C-C lied), yet (consistent with my second indictment, that Ezra was a racist), the OT reports that Ezra, himself, instigated a horrible “ethnic cleansing” campaign. Thus, at Ezra 9, 2, Ezra complains
They [the Israelites] have taken women of these nations as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy race [italics added] has become mixed with the foreign population…
Then, after Ezra introduced his horrible “holy race” concept, he says to the Israelites (at Ezra 10, 10):
You have committed an offence in marrying foreign wives and have added to Israel’s guilt. Make your confession now to the Lord the God of your fathers and do his will, and separate yourselves from the foreign population and from your foreign wives.
And so, good-little sheep that they were depicted to be, the Israelites obliged, abandoning their “foreign” wives and children, so that (Nehemiah 13, 3):
When the people heard the law, they separated from Israel all who were of mixed blood [italics added].
Setting aside (at least for the moment) the evil of Ezra’s racism, it seems rather amazing that, thereby, he was surpassing his alter-ego’s alleged barbarism, because clearly his mythical Moses wasn’t racist. Thus, as an example and assuming Moses wasn’t black, recall his marriage to the black (Cushite) woman – which, however, stimulated condemnation from Moses’ brother (Aaron) and sister (Miriam). But then, God reportedly punished them for their racism (Numbers 12, 1), seemingly suggesting that Ezra concluded that his (and Aaron’s and Miriam’s) racist views should take precedence over God’s views!

Yet (perhaps strangely), I think the more serious indictment is neither that Ezra C-C lied nor that Ezra was a racist, but that the damnable lies they fabricated were so effective! That is to say, the result (the OT) prolonged the evils that they depicted, so that to this day (approximately 2,400 years later!), it’s still used as a “manual” for ideologues and megalomaniacs (be they Jews, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, or even atheists such as Stalin and Mao) to force their “truth” on other people. Would that all people would appreciate that the concept of “truth” is applicable only for “closed systems” (such as pure math, games, and all religions), whereas for “open systems” such as reality, the most that can be determined are estimates for the probability that any statement is true.

As for how Ezra & C-C “prolonged the evils”, consider this. In contrast to statements in the Bible (and in the Koran, the Book of Mormon, etc.), the proclamations (written on tablets or stelae) of earlier megalomaniacs, such as Thothmes III and Tiglath-Pileser, were (most likely) generally ignored by subsequent people (most of whom couldn’t read, and even if they could, they probably were either not interested in the braggings of earlier tyrants or purposefully tried to destroy the writings of such maniacs). But not so for the Jews (and subsequently, Christians, Muslims, Mormons, etc.). Instead, the horrible writings in the “sacred scriptures” of their “holy books” were (and still are!) listened to eagerly, memorized, recopied, revered… and horrors of horrors, children were (and still are!) indoctrinated with such hideous behavior, being solemnly told that the fictitious stories are “true” and that such evils are approved by no less than the creator of the universe. Thereby, such horrible stories weren’t trampled into the bloody dust of history where they belong; instead, they stimulated the horrors of such monsters as “Saint” Constantine, Muhammad, the popes of the Inquisition era, Hitler, and so on.

A case in point is Hitler and the Holocaust. In Mein Kampf, Hitler stated: “I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.” Where did he possibly get such a crazy idea? And of course the answer is: from the Bible. As for the Holocaust, Jews to this day understandably proclaim: “Never again.” But to try to insure “Never again”, then “for cryin’ out loud”, why don’t the Jews do something about it – besides arming themselves to the teeth? Don’t they see that Hitler’s mentors were Moses and Ezra?! If the Jews want an end to racism, ethnic cleansing, extermination… then disown, disclaim, and destroy the damnable Bible – save for a few copies, tucked away in secure corners of obscure libraries, available for select scholars to study how horrible humans once were!

Another case in point is Muhammad. Think about where he got his horrible ideas and where “modern” Muslim maniacs get their ideas (that destructive fanatics should rule). In the Koran, it’s clear that Muhammad got his ideas from Ezra & C-C’s fabricated stories about Moses, Joshua, and other fictional megalomaniacs – and “modern” maniacal Muslims treat Muhammad’s machinations of Ezra’s stories as “the truth”. And though one can appropriately describe the current president of Iran, Ahmadinejad, an idiot for “believing” such nonsense, yet one can equally blame religious Jews, for not only “believing” the nonsense in their “holy book” but for continuing to do so for more than 2,400 years. In particular, if the Jews want maniacal Muslims to regain some humanity, then the Jews should be shouting from their rooftops: “The stories about Moses are a pack of lies! The Torah is wrong – and therefore, so is the Koran!”

And to think that the stories fabricated by Ezra & C-C about such a monster as Moses have polluted not only the Jewish people but also Christians, Muslims, Mormons, and others for more than 2,400 years, stories loaded with lies, which gullible people swallowed, poisoning entire cultures and the abilities of people to think and to imagine for themselves. Consequently, I’d take Paine’s condemnation of the Bible one step further and maintain that the Bible is the worst concoction in the history of the world. I reach that conclusion not just from the evils it depicts, but because it (or more accurately, the clerics who promote it) has managed to convince such a horrible number of people that it’s “true”!

In contrast to what has happened, what (I wonder) might have been the history of the world if the brilliant ideas of the Greek philosopher Xenophanes (c.570 – c.480 BCE) had been promoted instead of the damnable ideas of Ezra & C-C. Xenophanes ideas about gods are contained in the fragment:
If cattle and horses, or lions, had hands, or were able to draw with their feet and produce the words which men do, then horses would draw the forms of gods like horses, and cattle like cattle, and they would make the gods’ bodies the same shape as their own.
Would that everyone in the world would understand what Xenophanes said about the gods. Aristotle (384–322 BCE) repeated Xenophanes’ idea in simpler terms:
Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life.
And thus, Ezra & C-C not only drew the literary character Moses as a megalomaniac (“in their own image”), they similarly drew their god (Yahweh) as a beast, a picture that Richard Dawkins aptly describes in words in his book The God Delusion as follows:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynist, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
But even more importantly than understanding that all gods were created by humans in their own images, would that Xenophanes ideas about “truth” (as translated by Karl Popper) were universally acknowledged as valid:
But as for certain truth, no man has known it, nor will he know it – neither of the gods nor yet of all the things of which I speak. And even if by chance he were to utter the final truth, he would himself not know it, for all is but a woven web of guesses.
But Xenophanes wisdom obviously didn’t enlighten the majority of the people of the world. Instead, a huge number of people truly “believe” that “God” (i.e., the creator of the universe, i.e., the symmetry-breaking quantum fluctuation in the original void that led to the Big Bang) was involved in communicating the crap in their “holy books” to humans, whether their “sacred scripture” be the OT, the NT, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or whatever. Say it isn’t so! How could people be so dumb?!

And the answer seems clear: people want answers, they want to think that they’re special, they want to think that their lives have some grand purpose (beyond the purposes that people decide for themselves), that their death can be avoided, and so on. As a result, people fall in love not with their imagined god but with their “holy books”, their “sacred scripture”, their story books, their fables concocted by con-artist clerics – because their books tell the people what they want to hear. They believe because they want to believe – consistent with the meaning of “belief”, which with ‘lief’ the Anglo-Saxon root word meaning ‘wish’, ‘belief’ means “wish to be.” But as my mother used to say: “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.”

In reality, and in summary, Moses was just a mythical tyrant in a line of infamy that stretches from Tiglath Pileser to Pol Pot and from Genghis Khan to Stalin. Moses was a mentor for Muhammad and Hitler. Who but the insane would want to follow the morality of Moses? He ruled by fear; he was a homophobic, misogynist, murderer, and genocidal war monger, who promoted slavery, ordered the raping of virgin girls, and the execution of mothers and their children. But he was God’s favorite – which should tell everyone about the character of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Mormon god – or more accurately, the clerics who concocted him.

It’s enough to make what-we-hope-are-average humans scream: “Religious people of the world: smarten up! All religious crap is just that: crap. You’ve been had – by a bunch of lame-brain but conniving clerics.”