Friday, September 23, 2011

Pure Unmitigated Evil

A young girl was stoned for the crime of being raped.

Georgia and Texas have been in the news recently for executing individuals despite calls for stays of the execution after evidence following their conviction seriously brought into question their guilt. 

The Catholic church, the self appointed moral authority, rapes little children continuously for decades, lies about it and covers it up, and faces no meaningful accountability.

The United States government has targeted one of its own citizens for assassination without due process.  It also held one of its citizens and service members without charges and without access to a lawyer under inhumane conditions for three months before finally charging and continues to be held without conviction.

US troops execute a family with five children and attempt to cover it up by ordering an airstrike to destroy the evidence.

What do all these things have in common??? Well, none of them have anything to do with the title of this post.

You see, the world is a fucked up place where evil people do evil things (hell, even outwardly decent people do evil things).  And this is no better evidenced than by a group of atheists in California who decided they needed to:
  • Prohibit Christians from going to church
  • Stole money from local churches to use for abortions and drugs
  • Force Christians to renounce their faith and convert to godlessness
  • Physically injure Christians because of their beliefs
Oh wait, no.  None of that actually happened.  Instead, these vile, inhuman, atheists tore up photo-copied pages of the Bible.  Specifically, the Backyard Skeptics tore up copies of the pages of the Bible that represent immoral and inhuman requirements on the faithful:
Group members will rip out verses in the Bible such as Deuteronomy 22: 14-31, which says if a man finds his wife not to be a virgin, the community can stone her; or a later verse in the same chapter the Backyard Skeptics say can be interpreted to say that virgins who are raped will be forced to marry their rapist.
Condemning stoning and rape - pretty fanatical stuff right?  You'd think they might find some support in those Christians that awkwardly try to distance themselves from the Old Testament's barbarous teachings. [and they may be out there, but I haven't heard them.  Feel free to speak up!]

But, not surprisingly, people are upset because such a show of defiance to The Written Word of God makes Jesus sad.

Indeed, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield writes about this in the Washington Post's On Faith section, and it gets off to a very poor start.  Here's the first sentence:
Fanatical atheism is no worse and no better than fanatical religion, though it may be more bitterly ironic.
You're really going to claim that "fanatical atheism" (whatever that means) is no better than fanatical religion?  The New Atheists of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet and Christopher Hitchens (and many more) give lectures, write books and op-eds.  Presumably these are the fanatical atheists Hriscfield is referring to.  Contrast that with the aforementioned stoning in the name of Islam.  Or the man who murdered an abortion doctor in the name of Christianity.  And your conclusion is that the far end of atheism is no better than the far end of religion?  That's just bizarre.
[Tearing up photo-copied Bible verses] doesn’t sound terribly humane to me, and I am quite sure that destroying texts, however much one may object to them, is the opposite of free thought.
In a way he's right, destroying inanimate, non-living objects isn't humane - it has nothing to do with humanism.  But the implication is that its inhumane, which is stupidly wrong: its a piece of paper.  And no, this isn't the equivalent to burning books and destroying knowledge.  Firstly, the Bible is perhaps the most printed piece of literature ever, so there's no legitimate concern that destroying one or even a thousand will result in any substantive loss.  Secondly, they didn't even destroy the Bible itself.  By making photo-copies there is no net gain or loss.  Thirdly, the Bible has been digitized, so even if you destroy the pages its printed on, you could make billions more copies from a single file. (I wonder if he would object to deleting an electronic file of the Bible or closing a browser that's displaying Bible verses?)  So let's get over this notion that destroying a photocopy of the most printed piece of literature is somehow anti-intellectual.  Its not; its symbolic.
While they may not draw on traditions such as “Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or “Love your enemy,” there are plenty of parallel teachings in secular thought which are just as ennobling.
You clearly missed the point Hirschfield.  The Backyard Skeptics specifically note that they are ripping up the inhumane verses while specifically saying that they agree with some of the Bible on purely secular grounds [from the Backyard Skeptics website:]
In addition to this, we wanted to make a point about how immoral several Bible verses are – so we ripped photocopies of the verses in public while mentioning that there are also moral, good stories in the Bible, but are the stories good because they express a humanistic viewpoint, or are they good because the claim to be inspired by God?
So yes, the Bible isn't pure evil - the Backyard Skeptics never claimed it was and acknowledge when it sends a moral and humane message.  But Hirschfield didn't do his research.  Then he devolves into the mealy-mouthed theological apologetics that makes my eyes gloss over.
The issue is making the choice to read as seriously those teachings which dignify the lives and faiths of those with whom we disagree, as we do those teachings which don’t.
What the hell does that even mean?  Dignify the lives and faiths?  WTF.  I think all he wants is for people to realize that that stuff about stoning has to be read very very seriously with a stern face and furrowed brows to actually appreciate how it dignifies life.

But to publicly criticize the notion of stoning and rape, that is pure evil.

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