Tag Archive | "bible"

FF Podcast 55 (Audio): Christian Bale Says Moses Was a Barbarian

FF Podcast 55 - Christian Bale Says Moses Was a Barbarian

There’s a new bible story film adaptation. Will you see it? This week, we talk about Christian Bale calling Moses, his character in Exodus: Gods and Kings, a schizophrenic and a barbarian.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Entertainment, Media, Pop Culture, Religion, SocietyComments (0)

FF Podcast 55: Christian Bale Says Moses Was a Barbarian

Are you going to watch Moses on the big screen? This week, we talk about Christian Bale calling Moses, his character in Exodus: Gods and Kings, a schizophrenic and a barbarian.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Entertainment, Media, Podcast, Religion, VideoComments (0)

FF Podcast (Audio) 007: Lady Gaga vs Bigots and Fundies

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast #7

Our newest podcast (that’s also a video) is up! Here, Marge, Ria and Red discuss the current protest of some Christian groups against the Lady Gaga concert, the difficulties of satire in a country where the news reads like stories out of The Onion, and how beauty queen Miriam Quiambao’s courage in defiance of popular opinion has contributed to the awareness of LGBT rights.

What are your thoughts on these topics? Please comment on this page.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Media, Politics, Religion, Secularism, SocietyComments (0)

FF Podcast 007: Lady Gaga vs Bigots and Fundies

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast #7

Our newest podcast (that’s also a video) is up! Here, Marge, Ria and Red discuss the current protest of some Christian groups against the Lady Gaga concert, the difficulties of satire in a country where the news reads like stories out of The Onion, and how beauty queen Miriam Quiambao’s courage in defiance of popular opinion has contributed to the awareness of LGBT rights.

What are your thoughts on these topics? Please comment on this page.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Announcements, Entertainment, Podcast, Religion, SocietyComments (0)

Lady Gaga vs. the Bible: An Obscene-Off

Lady Gaga will perform in the Philippines, but not if some bigots can help it. Biblemode Youth Philippines has gone on Bible Mode, calling for the blasphemous concert to be canceled. Their protest leader, former Congressman Benny Abante, threatened to file a lawsuit if she sings “Judas,” a performance protesters consider obscene, and therefore, illegal.

Penal Censorship

Former Manila Mayor Jose Atienza agrees, saying that such obscenity is punishable by six months to six years in prison under the Revised Penal Code. According to Article 201 — which was also used against Mideo Cruz’s Jesus-Penis-Juxtaposition in Polyteismo — obscenity applies to immoral displays that

(1) glorify criminals or condone crimes;

(2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography;

(3) offend any race or religion;

(4) tend to abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and

(5) are contrary to law, public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts.

Judas vs. Jesus

The music video of “Judas” depicts “Jesus and his disciples as a motorcycle gang and tells the story of Jesus’ betrayal, with Lady Gaga playing the role of Jesus’ girlfriend, who is torn between her loyalty to Jesus and her love for Judas.”

Out of the 5 criteria for obscenity, “Judas” is guilty — by my judgment — of just one: (3) offending any race or religion. (1) doesn’t count (unless the motorcycle gang Jesus belonged to was a criminal one). Nor does (2) because beyond the stunts and gimmicks, many people actually like her music. (4) is arguable but unlikely. And (5) refers to laws, public order, and other supposedly non-sectarian rules — not the doctrines and opinions of a single sect or religion.

Fans vs. Fanatics

Lady Gaga is no stranger to such controversy — South Koreans protested to prevent infecting the youth with “homosexuality and pornography,” and in Indonesia, the Islamic Defenders Front said “they were ready to die to stop the concert.”

But should the concert be canceled — like in Indonesia — or censored — like what could happen here — it’s not Lady Gaga who’ll be affected most — it’s the fans. The right to freedom of expression implies the right to freely access artistic expressions in their uncensored form. To defend their right to enjoy an artist they admire — and to protect the ideals of free speech in general — Lady Gaga’s fans should counter-protest, and I’m suggesting this is how they do it.

Gaga vs. Bible

They should file a case against Biblemode Youth Philippines for giving the youth access to the most obscene artistic expression ever made: the Bible. Compared to the Bible, a Lady Gaga concert looks like an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. No one will dispute this, at least not anyone who has read the Bible — cover to cover, not just homily material. The Bible is so obscene that other than criterion (4), it is guilty of violating criteria (1), (3), and (5) many times over, and of (2) as well — unless you consider “being terrified of God” as a valid purpose.

The Bible is full of obscenity, filled with verses and verses not only of sex and violence, but every form of injustice, intolerance, and incitement of hatred against women, LGBTs, and even children.

I know many of you won’t read the Bible — especially if you’re a Bible-thumping Christian like Manny Pacquiao — so I’ll list just one example for each criterion of obscenity (except the fourth) to prove that more than Lady Gaga, the Bible is deserving of censorship, if not banning.

(1) glorify criminals or condone crimes

The Bible has many graphic stories that depict and even condone slavery, murder, genocide, torture, infanticide, and other atrocities that any non-psychopathic person would consider criminal. Here’s one.

To gain Saul’s approval, not to mention his daughter, Michal, David and his men not only killed a hundred Philistines, they also performed postmortem circumcisions, offering the Philistine foreskins — the 100 they individually counted — as bride price.

(2) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography

Banging on a door, some wicked men wanted to gang rape a man, who was a guest in the house. The hospitable homeowner offered his own daughter and the guest’s concubine to be gang raped instead.

The wicked men didn’t agree, so the homeowner pushed the concubine out from the house into the wicked men. Gang rape ensues. The next morning the homeowner, finding the concubine dead, did the sensible thing and chopped up her body, limb from limb, into twelve parts before mailing them to all the areas of Israel.

Does the story have any other purpose “but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography”? And even if this did teach some moral lesson (pray tell, what?), the violence is just too gratuitous for an allegory.

(3) offend any race or religion and (5) are contrary to law, public order, morals, good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts.

God hates the Midianites because they worship Baal of Peor. He told Moses to kill all Midianite leaders, or else, he’ll keep punishing them with a plague. So Moses ordered Israel’s judges to kill Israelites who converted to Baal worship.

One day, an Israelite man brought a Midianite woman into camp. Phinehas, not a judge, followed the couple into their tent. As they were having interracial interreligion sex, Phinehas thrust a sphere through both of their bodies. (Talk about double penetration.) For taking things into his own hands instead of letting the state (judges) enforce the law, God rewarded Phinehas and stopped His plague.

Child Pornography

Any one of these stories depicts something more immoral than any stunt Lady Gaga could pull, and this is but a small sample of similar stories scattered in both the Old and New Testament. What’s worse, the Bible does more than depict immorality — it condones and even justifies it.

Yet with all the pornography and gratuitous violence in the Bible, it’s probably the easiest book for anyone to access — children included. (It’s a good thing children generally think the Bible is boring. That old copy at home won’t be so dusty if the children knew there was enough sex and gore in it to make most video games dull in comparison.)

Some may argue that the stories aren’t so bad when read in context. But imagine what would happen if a fundamentalist studio were to show a movie depicting these scenes. Would it get a PG rating from the MTRCB? Would it be any different if there was narration that put the scenes into context? And what difference does putting it in book form make? Didn’t fundamentalist groups also call for the censorship of Harry Potter, Da Vinci Code, and the novels of Jose Rizal?

I’d be interested to see the outcome of such a case should Lady Gaga fans follow my suggestion. If they don’t, maybe it’s FF that should challenge the Bible’s immunity to censorship. In any case, somebody should do it. Think of the children.

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (51)

Colors of the Wind

jll7-poca-disneyIn a certain Christian group in Friendster, a certain Jean asked:
…if you are a skeptic or atheist, why you choose
skepticism or atheism? What are the benefits with your choice of being a skeptic or atheist? If you are a believer before, then why backslide from being a christian, your reasons?

The best way to answer Jean’s question is to use one of my favorite Disney characters Pocahontas.

I was (and still am) fascinated by “Pocahontas.” I am referring to the Disney version; naturally this version does not include her having the Christianized name Rebecca and her death for catching smallpox in England and the tragic death of John Rolfe after he returned to Chief Powhatan and delivered him the bad news.

Back to the Disney version of Pocahontas, I adore the song “Colors of the Wind” sung by Judy Khun .

In the song from the movie itself (Not Vanessa Williams’ version) it began with the lyrics, You think I’m an ignorant savage. And you’ve been so many places; I guess it must be so. But still I cannot see, if the savage one is me. Now can there be so much that you don’t know? You don’t know…”

If I was still a Christian, maybe I might say that Pocahontas’ song was addressed to me. You see, too much fanaticism in religion tends to make you too intolerant with other life forms in this planet. Naturally, your tendency is to say that you, as a chosen of God, know what is best for everybody. If people only accept my belief (like Jesus saves) then that person is saved…in my Christian standard of thinking.

Those “ignorant savages” who don’t heed my warning will naturally be condemned to eternal damnation in hell.

Now, have you heard the parable from a Native American… Well…I guess not since this Injun guy is..er anonymous.

Anyway “Anon” (as he calls himself) has a story that tells about a young boy who asked his grandfather about these two wolves inside his mind. These two wolves constantly fight with each other. One wolf represents hate, arrogance, anger, intolerance and superiority. The other wolf represents love, peace, tolerance, understanding, empathy and compassion. The boy asked his grandfather who of the two wolves will win. The Grandfather replied, “The one whom you feed.”

It’s a simple Native American tale. For a Christian who is too hooked on his faith, the story is nothing more but empty babble from an aging Navaho. But for someone who left Fundamental Christianity, it speaks to the heart. That is the problem of fundamental Christianity. Yes, it speaks of love to your neighbors, yet it also speaks damnation, death and destruction to those who don’t follow its rules, doctrines and dogma.

Notice that we can find verses in the Bible that kindle spirits of intolerance toward people of different faith. It is a high priority on Christianity to love its model of a god. The book also contains records of mass murder and crimes against non-Hebrews. Yes, we can read the story of the Good Samaritan yet we can also read the story on how Jesus treated a non-Jewish woman – describing her as sub-human, as a dog.

This kind of mentality lingered till it reached modern Christian fundamentalism. Today, we can see literature from Christian book stores condemning those who practice New Age Religion. Cautioning people as if those who practice New Age are carrying a contagious disease. Rather than knowing why these people have engaged in this new religion, the majority of Christian fundies label these people as deceived fools.

In my Christian years I always thought that I was on the right side. Naturally, all those outside my circle are wrong. So being a Christian, it was my firm belief that everything outside my bubble of influence is from Satan the devil. There is no other choice.

Notice these few examples of how the most famous Christian Evangelists think these days:
Josh McDowell (author of “Evidence That Deserves a Verdict”) said in a Youth for Christ rally in 1994: “Tolerance is the worst roar of all, including tolerance for homosexuals, feminists, and religions that don’t follow Christ.”

The authors of that Christian book series “Left Behind” said that those from other religious faith should all be burn in hell howling and screeching.

Some American soldiers in Vietnam justify the massacre in Mai Lai that butchering babies would purge Vietnam of the commie stain and that they were on God’s side.

Susie Shellenberg explained it on her radio program “Life on the Edge”, “If you are a born-again Christian, you will go to heaven; if you’re following another religion, then by default you will go to hell.”

This is what Fundamental Christianity is all about.

Let us continue:
You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and trees and creature
Has a life, has a spirit has a name.

If you try to listen closely, the song highlights the animistic qualities of Native American beliefs. It should since “Colors of the Wind” was based on a Native American poem.

Native Americans and their culture suffered badly in the hands of the oppressive white invaders, both ethnically and their beliefs. Just read the accounts of what Fr. Serra did to the Native Americans in California.

Let’s not go farther, we can’t deny what Spanish missionaries did to the natives of Philippine Island. Today, thanks for the brain-washing, Filipinos now are condemning their own past heritage as pagans and uncivilized before Spanish Christianity. This is very sad.

“You think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you. But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.”

Now you know why I left Christianity. The message of the song which Pocahontas sang is my reason why. The meaning is very clear. Intolerance with my fellow humans is a big cause why I am not a Christian anymore. Now that I left Christianity, I can now walk in the footstep of a stranger and learned things I never knew. Contrary to Christian claims, I now saw that there are also splendors outsider the Christian bubble of authority. There are some god-beliefs that are not as harsh as that of the Christians. Hinduism is a good example: Instead of having a jealous God, the Hindu Brahma declared, “I am the same to all mankind. They who honestly serve other gods involuntarily worship me. I am he who partakes of all worship, and I am the reward of all worshipers.”

The Bible teaches that slaves must obey their master yet a simple man named Epicurus, a man to whom no revelation was ever made, a man who has never heard the Jewish god nor has read the Christian Bible have said “Will you not remember that your servants are by nature your brothers, the children of god? In saying that you brought them, you look down on the earth, and into the pit, on the wrenched law of men long dead, but you see not the laws of the gods.”

We find the Bible God speaking on his chosen favorite people to buy bondsmen and bondwomen. Zeno, founder of Stoics, centuries before Christ was born insisted that no man could be the owner of another. Jesus, the Christian Messiah, was silent on that matter.

The same God also ordered his chosen people to kill foreigners who entered His temple yet a pagan named Cicero, who had never read the Bible, declare, “They who say that we should love our fellow citizen but not foreigners destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind, with which benevolence and justice would perish forever.”

Epicurus, another pagan, gave some marvelous guidance for human conduct that says “Live with thy inferiors as thou wouldst have thy superiors live with thee.”

The Bible God ordered his soldiers to spare not even the women, the suckling, the young people and the old folks in war. Seneca, a human being said “The wise man will not pardon any crime that ought to be punished, but he will accomplish, in a nobler way, all that is sought in pardoning. He will spare some and watch over some. Because of their youth, and others on ignorance. His clemency will not fall short in justice, but will fulfill it perfectly.”

Today, Christianity turns its head and accuse these noble pagans as “worldly fools!”

The song “Colors of the Wind” tells the beauty of animism in Native American religion. Here she talks about spirits in Nature that guides humans to their everyday life. There is really no talk of dogmas and doctrines, just an unfettered devotion to the world around you. It’s a simple form of worship.

Which reminds me of another story. A Christian evangelist tried to persuade a Hopi woman to read the Bible and accept Jesus as Savior and God. He handed a copy of the Bible to the woman so she could read it. The Hopi woman politely declined the offer and said, “You said that the Bible is where I can find god, yet if you leave that book outside, the rain, the wind and the Sun and all the elements outdoors will destroy it along with your god. Yet my God is the rain, the wind and the Sun and all the elements outdoors, so why will I need the god inside that book?”

Now that I left Fundamental Christianity, my perspective is much wider and I became happier. The chain is broken and I have stopped feeding the first wolf.

I hope that you have read my message and understand why I left Christianity. I wish that someday you will realize my choice so you may not be deaf to hear the voices of the mountains and not be blind so you can paint the colors of the wind.

Posted in Religion, Society, StoriesComments (14)

Statement Regarding New Peso Bills

There has been recent controversy regarding the new peso bills the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines or BSP) will be releasing. Various factual errors have been brought up such as the rare blue-naped parrot on the new P500 bill having a yellow beak and green tail feathers, instead of red and yellow, respectively. On a map found on the P1000 bill, the Tubbataha reef was misplaced.1

Regarding these errors, Fe dela Cruz, a spokesperson for the BSP has said that, “In choosing the design… we are always guided by our commitment to enrich the appreciation and knowledge of the Filipinos we honor on our banknotes…”1

On Radyo Inquirer, dela Cruz also said that the BSP will be evaluating the criticisms regarding the errors on the new bills saying, “pwede namang palitan (it can be changed).”2

While it is laudable that these mistakes are going to be attended to, there is one gross oversight that has yet to be addressed. New bills will be containing this direct quotation from the Christian Bible: “Pinagpala ang bayan na ang Diyos ay ang Panginoon (Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord),”3,4 which comes from Psalm 33:12. This statement can be found above the seal of the Republic of the Philippines.

Original image from GMA news blog, used under fair use. Emphasis by the editors.

This is a flagrant transgression of the non-establishment clause of the Philippine Constitution, which states that, “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Clearly, this is a situation where the government is endorsing a particular religious tradition. While there is an undeniable Catholic majority in the Philippines, our nation also has citizens who are Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Pagan, and non-religious. The emblazoning of this Biblical verse on Philippine currency is an affront to the religious diversity of our country and the separation of Church and State guaranteed by our Constitution.

In its decision against the COMELEC’s order to bar Ang Ladlad from running as a party-list during this past year’s national elections, the Supreme Court said that, “it was grave violation of the non-establishment clause for the COMELEC to utilize the Bible and the Koran to justify the exclusion of Ang Ladlad.5 We see in this overtly Christian statement on the new Philippine peso bills another example in a long-running trend of religious bias on the part of certain sectors in our government.

The quotation from the Christian Old Testament and its placing on legal tender is a manifest violation of the Constitution and the right to religious freedom of the country’s citizens as it forces even non-Christians to participate in the distribution of explicitly Judeo-Christian material. As a body that represents all of its citizens, Christian or not, the Philippine government must be a secular one; it cannot champion the religious beliefs of any particular faith.

We hereby call upon the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to remove the quotation from the Bible from all legal Philippine tender.

1 Agence France-Presse. Philippines in uproar over error-filled peso bills, <http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20101219-309872/Philippines-in-uproar-over-error-filled-peso-bills
> (2010).
2 Zamora, F. Twitter / @ fe zamora: BSP to evaluate criticisms …, <http://twitter.com/amfezam/status/16681407044657152
> (2010).
3 Bauzon, B. C. V. New peso bills feature younger-looking faces, <http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/top-stories/34272-new-peso-bills-feature-younger-looking-faces
> (2010).
4 Lardizabal-Dado, N. New Generation Philippine Peso bills (updated), <http://www.thepoc.net/blogwatch-features/10615-new-generation-philippine-peso-bills.htm
l> (2010).
5 Castillo, M. C. D. Ang Ladlad LGBT Party vs. Commission on Elections, <http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2010/april2010/190582.htm
> (2010).

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (117)

Biblical Morality?

I was intrigued by the quote that I saw in the Internet, something that was said by a certain T.B. Wakeman “The word moral does not occur in the Bible, not even the idea.”
What? How can that be?

I grew up as a Christian and believed that the Bible was the foundation of morality…well…I thought it was, but hey, we can find the Ten Commandments in its pages, right? There is also this Jesus fellow who taught me to be good. That can be counted, right?

Since the Bible was inspired by God and every Christians know that God is good they blame the decay of society and the lost of moral values as the result of the decline in Bible reading and the lack of God belief. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind series and one of the founders of Moral Majority agrees and said, “…since moral conditions have become worse and worse in direct proportion to humanism’s influence, which has move our country from a biblically based society to an amoral “democratic” society. “
Ok…so let us talk about morality base in the Bible.

Since Christians all agree that God inspired the Bible, let us look at God’s morality first.

According to Christian claims, God is suppose to be a god of love (1 John 4:16; Psalms 145:15-16 and Matthew 5:9), a righteous judge (Genesis 18:25), fair (Ezekiel 18:25) and impartial (Roman 2:11).

However, reading the Bible will also give us a different personality.

1.) That this God is a jealous god.
A perfect, omnipotent being getting jealous?

  • Exodus 20:5, 34:14
  • Deuteronomy 4: 24, 5:9
  • Psalms 79:5, 78:58
  • Joshua 24: 19
  • Ezekiel 16:38, 38:19
  • Zechariah 8:2
  • Nahum 1:2

2.) He orders plunder.
Exodus 3:22Deuteronomy 20:14, and Ezekiel 39:10

3.) He deceives.
O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived….” (Jer. 20:7)

If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel” (Ezek. 14:9)

Ah, Lord God! Surely thou hast greatly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reaches unto the soul” (Jer. 4:10).

…God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9-12).

2 Chron. 18:18-22, 1 Kings 22:20-23 and Jer. 15:18.

4.) He command killing (even innocent women and children).
ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put 10,000 to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword” (Lev. 26:7-8).

the Lord said to Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said to the judges of Israel. Slay every one his men that were joined to Baal” (Num. 25:4-5).

Vex the Midianites and smite them” (Num. 25:17).

But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breathes. But thou shalt utterly destroy them…as the Lord thy God has commanded thee” (Deut. 20:16-17).

So Joshua smote all the country of the hills…he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded” (Joshua 10:40).

As I listened, god said to the others, ‘Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children….” (Ezek. 9:5-6).

So I guess Thomas Jefferson was right about God when he said, “A being of terrific character – cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.” In addition, Thomas Paine was correct when he said, “All our ideas of the justice and goodness of God revolt at the impious cruelty of the Bible. It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.”

Reflecting from Xenophanes’ quote…if an ancient culture creates a god, it will reflect their standard of morality, the same on how horses and lions will create their gods.

Now let us talk about God’s only begotten son, Jesus.

Many people, and unfortunately even some freethinkers and agnostics, think that Jesus was a great teacher. People like Thomas Paine calls Jesus as such and Robert Ingersoll who was very impress with the so-called “Sermon on the Mount”.

When I was still a Christian, I also thought that this Man-God excel not only as a teacher but also in regards to ethics. I was 12-years old at that time.

Bible believers say that Jesus’ morality is at its best in the Sermon in the Mount (AKA the Beatitudes). You can see it in Matthew 5:3-11. Well they may be admirable, but it has little value as a moral code. The Beatitudes are unrealistic. If we take away most of its supernatural rewards, what is left are a bunch of Consuelo de bobo (hollow consolations).

The reason behind this is obvious. Jesus is teaching ethics base on the promise of divine rewards and treats of supernatural punishments. He does not teach by the content of his moral code but on his conception of himself and his divinely appointed mission.

How about Jesus’ other moral precepts?

Most of his teachings we re-hashed from other teachers and some were lift from the pages of the Old Testament. The Golden Rule for example was advocated by Confucius (Doctrine of Mean 13) 500 years before Jesus and you can also find it in the Seven Rules of Hillel.

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor that is the whole Torah … (b.Shabbat 31a)

Isocrates (436–338 BCE), the ancient Greek rhetorician have also said,”Do not do to others what would anger you if gone to you by others.”

Matthew 5:39 can also be found in Leviticus 19:18 and in the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

I am good to people who are good.
I am also good to people who are not good.
Because Virtue is goodness.
I have faith in people who are faithful.
I also have faith in people who are not faithful.
Because Virtue is faithfulness
(Tao Te Ching 49)

In addition, the same teaching is seen in Confucianism, the Buddhist’s Dhammapada and at the Indian Ramayana.

Someone said, “What do you say concerning the principle that injury should be recompensed with kindness?” The Master said, “With what will you then recompense kindness? Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.” (Confucianism. Analects 14.36)

Conquer the angry one by not getting angry (i.e., by loving-kindness); conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth. (Dhammapada 223)

A superior being does not render evil for evil; this is a maxim one should observe; the ornament of virtuous persons is their conduct. One should never harm the wicked or the good or even criminals meriting death. A noble soul will ever exercise compassion even towards those who enjoy injuring others or those of cruel deeds when they are actually committing them–for who is without fault? (Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda 115)

Christian apologist Norman Giesler insisted that Jesus ethics is an ethics of love, but American author Ruth Hurmence Green disagrees – “They told me the Bible was a book about love, but I studied every page of that Bible, and I couldn’t find enough love to fill a salt shaker.”

There are other Bible stories that saturated with obscenities, degeneracy and immorality. Some have questionable moral values and others even promote profanity and corruption.
Here are some samples:

Genesis 19:8
Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.

2 Samuel 13:11-14
11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”
12 “Don’t, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me. Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

Genesis 34, The defilement of Danah

Genesis 38, The narratives of Judah, Omar and Tamar

Genesis 30: 14-16
14 During wheat harvest, Reuben went out into the fields and found some mandrake plants, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”
15 But she said to her, “Wasn’t it enough that you took away my husband? Will you take my son’s mandrakes too?”
“Very well,” Rachel said, “he can sleep with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.”
16 So when Jacob came in from the fields that evening, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me,” she said. “I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he slept with her that night.

Genesis 30: 3-6
3 Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my maidservant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and that through her I too can build a family.”
4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, 5 and she became pregnant and bore him a son. 6 Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.

Genesis 16, The story of Abraham and Sarah and the illicit intimacy with Hagar.

Genesis 30: 25-43, Jacob’s trick Laban.

[Visit The Bible Unmasked for more examples.]

When confronted by these issues, Christian apologists like William Arndt say, “When it speaks of sin, it describes it in its ugliness, so that disgust and horror enters the heart of the readers. Not once for a moment, does it leave the high moral level of stern opposition to unrighteousness in all its form.”
What moral value? Ah OK…Peter called Lot a “righteous man” (2 Peter 2:7) even when Lot was giving his daughter to be raped by a mob. What moral value does it show…that giving your daughter to be rape is a good thing to do…I don’t think so?

There are countries out there that have not even heard of this Christian Bible, and there are those who do not care about it, yet they even have a higher moral value compare to Bible-believing western nations. Japan for example, where honesty and honor are of the highest value, deems the Bible as 重要ではない. Most countries in Asia values cleanliness, respect to the elders and reverence to their parents yet they knew nothing of Yahweh, nor Moses, Jesus or Paul yet compare to the most pious Christian nation, their place are not riddled with crime, vices and corruption.

Ironic isn’t it?

Pinoy Atheist

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L2MF Post #06: How to Establish a Religious Corporation

Dear Dad,

It’s been a while since I last wrote a letter. I have been busy for the past five months. The good thing about it is that I have found a job that gave me the opportunity to learn and to earn a living. In the second half of 2009, I was without what you would call a regular job. It was a time when I had to gain more knowledge, to hone my skills, and to gain perspective. The job market was not in a good condition and I was feeling desperate, even depressed.

One fine Sunday morning, while I was attending church, it occurred to me, “Even in a bad economy, these churches still thrive. They offer hope to people who feel that there’s no hope in sight and that only God can help them.” I also recalled that when I was in the United States, I saw at least two churches in every town that I passed through during my road trips. “Hmm… What worked for fast food restaurants, coffee shops and supermarkets also worked for churches. Those churches must have had a lot of property and tax-free earnings.”, I thought. As I was churning a lot of ideas in my mind, I had an “Aha!” moment. “If I can’t find a job, I might as well establish a business… *cough, cough* No, a church. Then, I’ll journey to the West and propagate the bu.. *cough, cough* gospel and gain ca… *cough,cough* converts.” I then did some research on how some Christian churches and denominations were founded. After hours of research, I found out that it is possible to establish a church by forming a religious corporation.

I have come up with a how-to guide for establishing a religious corporation. The procedures may vary depending on the would-be entre… *cough, cough* executive minister.

  1. Have some prior knowledge. In order to establish a church, you must first have a foundation, a body of knowledge to work with. You can gain this knowledge by joining other religions. Learn about their doctrines or dogmas. Read the Bible and other holy texts. You may have to doubt and jump ship from time to time in your quest for the true church.
  2. Do an intensive study of the Bible. This is best done in isolation. Have a pen, a notebook or two, and at least two different versions of the Bible. The more versions, the better, for you might need to refer to more than one interpretation in the future. Read and understand the book/s from cover to cover, for that will give you an edge over your would-be rivals.
  3. Look for Biblical prophecies that coincide with the events of the time (e.g. wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, widespread poverty, advancement of knowledge). Reading Isaiah, the four Gospels, and the Book of Revelation would be a good start. This step will help your church appear to be based on the Bible.
  4. Go out and preach. Over the course of a few days, you may have gained divine inspiration and you are certain that God has commissioned you to preach the gospel. Start preaching to a small audience, say, to your family, friends and community. Organize a small religious meeting. Make sure that what you preach has a strong Biblical foundation so that you can win converts. You may also train some of your converts to become ministers in your fledgling church.
  5. Register the church as a corporation sole. In order to avoid problems in the future, have the church registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a corporation sole, with you as the chief bishop, pastor, executive minister, rabbi or any other designation as a presiding church elder. (NOTE: In the Title XIII, Chapter II of the Corporation Code of the Philippines, a religious corporation is classified as a special corporation.) The registration should coincide with a historic event, something that would change the world (e.g. The Great War). Once you are in the SEC, conduct yourself with firmness of purpose. The officer who is in charge of your case may ask you if you are certain about your course of action. Respond with a steely conviction, knowing that you are doing God’s work.
  6. Strengthen and expand the church. Since you are doing God’s work here on Earth, you will have to edify the faith of your followers and fellow church workers. You will certainly encounter detractors, critics, skeptics, you name it. View the religious persecution as an opportunity to unite the flock. Tell your disciples that this is part of being in the church chosen by God, that they are sharing the same hardships that Jesus Christ had experienced. Keep on doing the work that God has assigned to you. You may have to travel to town after town, establishing congregation after congregation so that church membership will increase.
  7. Expand further. Once you have established congregations and built houses of worship in towns and cities, you may have to tap your pioneer spirit and journey beyond your native land. Don’t be afraid to establish the church in other lands, for it is God’s will that the gospel may be heard by more people worldwide. Preaching to expatriates would be a good start.
  8. Attract attention. Your church has grown and is still expanding. It’s about time that you become known. Don’t fight the critics and detractors, but rather use them for your purposes. The tree that bears a lot of fruit is a good target for stone throwers. Always occupy the moral high ground and lead a decent way of life. Let the people see your church members as different from the rest of society. Maintain unity in the church so that it would become a force to reckon with. Let everyone see the church as someone to be courted, especially when the elections are near.
  9. Use all available media. The 21st century is a great time to propagate the church, thanks to developments in information and communications technology (ICT). Use print media, radio, television, and even the Internet to spread the gospel.
  10. Do what other corporations do. There are corporations that not only do well in their core businesses but also go to other avenues of growth. You may establish schools, hospitals, media companies, and other ventures. Your flock is also a good source of human capital. Discourage church members from joining labor unions, for big name tycoons would prefer to hire them over union workers. Another thing that your religious corporation can do is to have corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Extend help to communities affected by calamities. Conduct medical and dental missions, community cleanups, and other worthy projects. Your church may also participate in environmental programs such as the Earth Hour. (Yes Dad, it’s good to be green these days.)

This how-to guide is a product of months of research and observation. It was conceived during a time when I did not have a regular job. Now that I am back on track in my career, I may not be able to use this guide. Maybe in the future, someone will find this guide useful.

On a final note, I am not of the religious kind, for my spirituality is personal, meditative and nondenominational. If I would be a member of a religious corporation, I don’t want to be an executive minister or a Sunday school president. I would rather become the Chairman of the Bored.

(J) The Freethinking Geek

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The Most Advanced Ancient Book of All Time?

According to Christians…the Bible is advance…advance in what????

Let’s look at their claims:

“It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in…” (Isaiah 40:22)

And again…

(Amos 9:6) “The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the face of the earth, The LORD is His name.” (NASB)

Now is the Earth a dome?

In Isaiah 40:22 for example, the word “circle” doesn’t mean a spherical Earth. The word “chug” refers to a circle…a flat circle. Notice the word “tent” or “dome” in those verses. As specified in Amos 9:6, this vaulted dome or “raki’a” (See: Genesis 1:6-8) is what the ancient Hebrew believe to cover the entire world. It is said that this solid vault or dome held the Sun, the moon and the stars (Gen.1:14-19; Psalms 19:4, 6) and it also provided the boundaries to the divine (Job 22:14 and Proverbs 8:27)

It also separated the water “above” from the water “below”. In fact according to these ancient Hebrews the blue color of the sky was attributed to the chaotic waters above the dome. This solid dome has windows and trap doors in which it release the rain and snow when opened (Gen. 7:11, Isa. 24: 18 and Mal. 3:10)

According to rabbinic traditions, in Nachmanides Commentary on Torah (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman 1194-1270) “Let the expanses become fixed; for although the heavens were created on the first day, they were still in fluid form, and they become solidified only on the second day when the Divine said “Yehee Raqiyaa.” (Also see: Nachmanides (Raban), Commentary on the Torah, vol. 1, pp. 33, 36.)

This is clearly not scientific foreknowledge.

Now here’s something real funny.

According from a certain site owned by a certain Eliseo Soriano…the Bible have the forknowledge regarding the use of crying. Now can that only be found in the pages of the Bible? My papaya naman! It is ancient folk wisdom that crying is good for our health. It isn’t new. Practitioner’s of folk wisdom have routinely encouraged people to allow themselves to cry comforting the suffering soul that ‘ a good cry will help you feel better’.

For example:
The ancient Hawaiians assert there are two chemical reactions within the human body that can accomplish Reconnection with Source Oneness. The first is the “sacred tear” beneath our sadness and hopelessness. Beneath that tear lies the second chemical reaction, said to be more powerful than all the healing agents known to humankind. It comes “out of the blue” with the power of a jackhammer, shattering the seriousness of the entire human estate. A power instantly freeing and balancing to all the body’s chemistry. This is the power of laughter. When it comes in this manner, it comes through the “na’au” (gut level) and will pierce the hopelessness of any situation or attitude. It is not a power to be taken lightly, for the ancient Hawaiians say it holds the chemistry of immortality and will instantly heal any terminal disease. It’s said to be the “laughter of God” which shatters the ridiculousness of hopelessness.

Let’s talk about history:

One of the best weapons used by Christians to confirm the Bible story is Hezekiah’s Tunnel. According to them the discovery of the tunnel built by King Hezekiah authenticates the passages written in the book of Kings. 2 Kings 20:20 states that Hezekiah, “Made the Pool and the conduit and brought water into the city” and in 2 Chronicles 32:30 that he closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the West side of the City of David. This refers to the tunnel which connects the ‘Spring of Gihon’, through the rock to the reservoir called the Pool of Siloam.

“And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” 2 Kings 20:20

“And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?” 2 Chronicles 32:2-4

“This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.” 2 Chronicles 32:30

It was discovered in 1838 when it was explored by the American traveller, Edward Robinson, and his missionary friend Eli Smith.

Let me get this straight, just because something was discovered by archeologists means the whole Bible is literally true. Let me share to you this quote:

In summary, the Bible is not a book of history, yet it contains history and culture, which is more or less borne out by archeology. It’s a book of teachings, and it’s the ideal way to learn the patterns of history. And if we understand that the reason why we’re learning history is to learn lessons, then we have to pay extra special attention to what is going on in the Bible.

Christians are well delighted when archeological proof confirms parts of their beliefs. However, since parts of the Bible are historically true still does not make that the rest of the Bible is true as well. The Bible is still not an accurate history book. It tells about some stories about people and events that might happen in the past and were confirmed by archeologists, but still, the fact of the matter, the Bible should not be in use as historical actuality and that the stories in the Bible are NOT metaphors from which facts can be dig out by the reader.

So let us talk about the tunnel, According to Bible scholars, the book of Kings and Chronicles was written possibly between 450 and 435 BCE. There are even some suggestions that these books were written hundred of years after the events took place (See: I Chronicles 9:1-3). The said tunnel was already been constructed before 701 BCE during the reign of Hezekiah. That means the tunnel already existed when both books were being wrote. Obviously the story was already known by the writers and they just incorporated it on their narratives.

I can think of a lot of historical facts that were incorporated in fiction. For example Cold Mountain by Fraszier is historically accurate as to the civil war events but the tale is fiction. There are others like Les Miserables, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Noli Me Tagere and Floeante and Laura. The settings are true facts but don’t tell me that Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara are real persons.

Pinoy Atheist

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The Bible in a Skeptic’s Eye (Part 2)

In our continuing series, we will now look on the development of the New Testament Cannon.

According to most Bible scholars we have a better idea on how the New Testament took shape. Edgar Johnson Goodspeed (1871-1962) theorized that the surviving Pauline letters were first collected after the publication of the Books of Acts, about 95 CE and the Epistle of the Ephesians was compiled as an encyclical or “covering letter” to head this collection, being paraphrased from several of the authentic letter. This theory was widely accepted among New Testament scholars.

Basing on this theory, the original nucleus of the New Testament was the epistle of Paul, to which was added the “catholic” epistles written by James, Peter, John and Jude and the Pastoral Epistle, a supplement to the Pauline collection dating from 100 -105 CE. The Gospel was added later…they were gathered together into a “four fold evangel” about 150 CE. The whole New Testament was known as the Evangelion (Evangel) and the Apostolos (Apostle).

The first generation of the Church fathers such as Ignatius (35-107), Papias (60-130) and Justin (100-165) were more concern with the Old Testament compare to the New Testament. In fact, a definitive list of the canonical book for the New Testament came from a heretic named Marcion (d. 160).

Marcion, a shipping magnate in the Black Sea port of Sinope, traveled to Rome in about 139CE. He taught that many of the Christian literature were corrupted by Jewish ideas and that the Jewish God of the Old Testament was strict and had condemned all humanity. According to Marcion, Jesus Christ who was absolutely unrelated to the Jewish God will released Christians from this god’s clutches.

Marcion compiled only the letters of Paul (Galatians, I and ii Corithians, I and ii Thessalonians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians) and a “purified” version of Luke’s gospel. If it’s not for Marcion, the Christian Church never would have possessed a “New Testament”.
By 95CE, there are still evidence of apocryptic books being included in the New Testament. The Codex Sinaiticus includes the book Shepherd of Hermas and the Gospel of Barnabas. The Codex Alexandrinus contains the Epistle of Clement, which was said to be written by Clement, Bishop of Rome to the Corinthian church.

The Muratorian Fragment, discovered in Milan by L.A.Muratori and was published in 1740 – was said to be written in 200CE and have rejected most of the apocryptic book, yet it also rejected I and ii Peter, Hebrews, James and iii John. It also included the Apocalypse of Peter, a book that tells the story of how Peter was granted a vision of heaven and hell.

According to Papias (c 60-130) Bishop of Hierapolis, Mark got his information from Peter himself. Papias also said that the authority of the gospel of Matthew and Mark was base on a certain John the Presbyter.

Clement of Alexandria (150-215 CE) said that the earliest gospels were those with Jesus’ family tree.

Irenaeus (c.130-200) Bishop of Lyons, gave the first historically documented list of the four gospels and its authors in 180CE. In all the many available gospels in that time, he chooses only 4 which according to him, “As there are four winds, there should be four Gospel.”

Irenaeus believed that Matthew published his gospel among the Hebrews in their own tongue, when Peter and Paul were preaching the Gospel in Rome and founding the church there. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself handed down to us in writing the substance of Peter’s preaching. Luke, the follower of Paul, set down in the book the gospel preached by his teacher. Then John, the disciple of the Lord, who learned on his breast himself, produced his gospel when he was living in Ephesus in Asia.

Irenaeus was also the first to give a chronological sequence of the writing of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He also drew up a list of writing he considered as canonical. His list consist of 22 books which includes The Shepherd of Hermans but he left out Philemon, ii Peter, ii and iii of John, Hebrews, Jude and Revelations.

But even with Irenaeus’ list, Origen (185-254) who in 230 CE defined what he believed to be the cannon of the scripture for the New Testament included the four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s 13 Epistles, I Peter, I John and Revelation. He also stated that the first gospel was written in Hebrew by Matthew.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 CE) stated that Mark copied and abbreviated Matthew.

The truth in this matter is that Mark is the first Gospel, with Matthew and Luke borrowing passages both from that Gospel and from at least one other common source, lost to history, termed by scholars ‘Q’ (from German: Quelle, meaning “source”).

In the Festal Letter of Athanasius (c. 296-373) Bishop of Alexandria to the Egyptian Churches in 367 he said that there are only 27 books considered as canonical. Athanasius list was confirmed by a council under Pope Damasus.

Pope Damasus (304-384 CE) proclaimed the list of the canonical books in the New Testament which was identical to the modern Bible we have now in 374 CE. Over a period of time, at the Council of Laodicea (363) the bishop agreed to the list and his cannon was later been approved by the Council of Rome in 383 and was reconfirmed at the Council of Carthage in 393, 397, and 419 CE.

However, some churches disagreed. The Book of Revelation for example, was not considered divinely inspired until the 8th century. In the Codex Claromontanus, a 6th century manuscript, the Book of Hebrews was omitted while the Epistle of Barnabas was included and placed between the Epistle of Jude and the Book of Revelation.

Even today, some Christian church, with very old roots, has different set of New Testament books. The East-Syrian Nestoriam Church has cannon of only 22 books. The Ethiopian Church has 38 books which includes the Shepherd or Hermas, i and ii Clement and the Apostolic Constitution.

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The Bible in a Skeptic’s Eye (Part 1)

How can a document, tampered with by kings, tyrants, fools and scholars be the “true” and “inspired” word of God?

According to Christians, the Bible is the inspired word of God and for some it is even inerrant. However, looking at its history, we find that the book has been repeatedly revised and re-written.

Today, in this series, we are going to explore the history of this book.

We begin with the Old Testament.
There are no “autograph’s of the Old Testament that survived. The text we now possessed was transmitted to us by generation of scribes and there are ample evidence of how these scribes both wittingly and unwittingly altered the documents they were copying. There is no reason to suppose that the documents in our Old Testament, at least in the period before they regarded as sacrosanct, did not suffer from the usual type of scribal corruption.

The Old Testament was written during the course of more than one millennium, approximately in the period of 1200-100 BCE. Nine volumes from Genesis to Kings were written in 561 BCE in the time of the Jewish captivity and were edited about 400 BCE. The first five books were separated and canonized to become the written Torah, the four remaining were canonized (with an additional two) two centuries later.

In the development of Israel’s history, the Tanack gradually took form and reached completion in the late Persian period. The first move toward canonization can be seen in Deuteronomy. The Deuteronomist stated that their law was completed and that nothing can be added or removed (Deut. 4:2; 12:32) and that God made the law binding on all generation (Duet. 27:4-8). Scholars suggested that the Book of Deuteronomy was formed in the late 7th century BCE, a product of the religious reforms carried out under king Josiah, with later additions from the period after the fall of Judah to the Babylonian empire in 586 BCE.

The Book of the Law was found in the temple of Jerusalem and was ratified as a divine law of the land (2Kings 23:3)…well that was according to legend. M. L. de Wette suggested that King Josiah had Deuteronomy created as a type of “pious fraud” to further his agenda of religious reform. In that time, the study of the Law eventually becomes more vital than offering and sacrifices. Yahweh, the god introduced by the Jahwist writers (The Jahwist, also referred to as the Jehovist, Yahwist, or simply as J, is one of the four major sources of the Torah postulated by the Documentary Hypothesis (DH). It is the oldest source, whose narratives make up half of Genesis and the first half of Exodus, plus fragments of Numbers) becomes the creator of heaven and earth and the only god in existence.

The second step toward canonization was recorded in the Ezra tradition. During the festival, Ezra read publicly from “the Book of the Law” and instructed the people in the law (Neh. 7:73; 8:18).

The contents of the prophetic cannon appeared to be established between the forth and second centuries in two general groupings: The former Prophets and the Latter Prophets. The Former Prophets were recognized as a Deuteronomic history (Joshua, Judges, i-ii Samuel). The Book of Kings (1 and 2Kings) was written in 600 BCE.

The Hagiographa or Writings are an amorphous literary collection with an obscure history. The Psalms were attributed with King David. The wisdom writings were attributed primarily to Solomon.

The earliest mention of the collection of the Hagiographa were found in the prologue to Ben Sira’s word that he called “other books of our fathers”.

Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, most of our OT documents and actual manuscript evidence for the text of the OT was relatively late.

The Cairo Genizah for example was dated within the 7th and 6th century CE but some so-called “earliest” fragments were dated to the 9th and 10th century.

The Cambridge Codex XIII, a complete Old Testament was made in early as the middle of the 9th century. The Cairo Karaite manuscript of the Prophets may be of the late 9th century.

The3 Aleppo Sephardic Codex was dated in the early 10th century. The Pentateuch Codex (4445) that is now housed in the British Museum is also of the 10th century. The St. Petersberg Prophet Codex is dated 916 CE and the six manuscripts in the Firkowitsch collection at Leningrad belong to the 10th century. The Codex Urbinus 2, now in Vatican, which contains the whole Old Testament, is also dated to the 10th century. The famous Codex L from Old Cairo was dated 1008.

The earliest printed Hebrew scripture were just portions and was also printed in the late 15th century. Example, the Psalms at Bologna in 1477, the Pentateuch at Bologna in 1482, the Megilloth also in Bologna in 1482 and the Pentateuch in Faro in 1487.

The first complete Hebrew Bible to be printed was issued at Soncino in 1488, the second was on naples in 1492 to 1493 and the third at Brescia in 1492. The first great Rabbinic Bible was printed by Daniel Bomberg at Venice in 1516 to 1517. The text was prepared by Felix Pratensis. The second Rabbinic Bible was compiled by Jacob ben Hayyim, a Masorah, in 1524-1525 at Venice. Paul Kahle edited the text of the 3rd edition of Kittel’s Biblia Hebraica (Stuttgarst 1937) and used a purer Ben Asher text base on the Leninggrad manuscript.

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Just My Remarks on Pastor Orlaer’s Comments (Part 3)

We are now on Part 3 of my comments and I’m now going to tackle some of Pastor Vince’s issues using the Christian Bible.

Suffering (A Question on Job’s Theodicy)

There was this site that Pastor Vince recommended that we Freethinkers should read regarding why good people suffer.

After reading it, I noticed that it is quite typical for Christians to use the Book of Job to explain this theological dilemma. The Book of Job seems to be a good case in point why God allows good people to suffer…or does it?

Unfortunately to Pastor Vince and Bro. Tom, the Book of Job fell short in accomplishing such task.

In the first chapter of the said book, we find that Satan has tempted God in an issue regarding Job and his faith. Well…well…well…I thought God cannot be tempted? Now, in the first part of the test, God killed Job’s family…that I think is Test No. 1.

I thought God was omniscient? God perfectly and eternally knows all things which can be known, past, present, and future. So why did he need to give a test to Job? Surely he did not need to test Job’s faith because He already knew the entire outcome.

Why would God kill the herdsmen, the shepherds, the camel care-takers and Jobs’ sons and daughters? What did they do to deserve being killed? Job was the subject of the test, wasn’t he? These other people had their own lives and families.

Christians will quickly answer this by saying that since God gave us life, he has the right to take it back from us. Really? Is that a moral thing to do? If I gave someone something…like a gift, or blood…could I just demand to take it back? Are Christians telling me that God is such an “Indian giver”…there’s always a string attached to his gifts?

What is shocking on the Book of Job is that the whole story is really not about Job’s fidelity. Nope…the so-called test was not about Job nor his faith; it’s about a conversation between God and Satan. God was just proving to Satan that he was right, so he allowed Satan to inflict harm to Job and his family. Good grief!

Somewhere in the middle of the story, Job was allowed to see God and to ask the reason for his suffering. But instead of giving a clear answer, what this braggart (that Pastor Vince called “God”) did was to boast his inflated ego all over the pages of the book…Wow! Talk about a bigheaded son of a bitch!

So why would I worship such a jerk?

According to Bro. Tom, people suffer because of these five reasons: Adam’s sin, other people’s sin, our own sin, satanic oppression, and God’s chastening hand.


Now why am I being punished for Adam’s sin? After all he and his wife were the ones who ate the “apple”, not me. (Note Deuteronomy 24:16 says: The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.)

Why would God harm others for the sin of someone else? Why would God send famine and pestilence to kill innocent children to punish other people?

Why would God send storms or flood to some impoverished community in Bangladesh to punish a sinner living in a large penthouse in Beverly Hills, California?

Oh, and now we must blame Satan? Based on Job’s story Satan needed to get God’s approval first before he could make any damage, right? So why blame the “Yes Man”? It was God’s call, not Satan’s.

So just like these pastors, theologians and parishioners, both Pastor Vince and Bro. Tom are still struggling to find the answer to their own question and by using the Book of Job, the issue on “why do good people suffer” became more problematic than ever.

Who’s Right?

Pastor Vince: Yes, the Bible will be contradicting itself my friend espcially if the one interpreting the Scriptures interprets it all literally and as is without understanding the Bible itself.

I will not explain more of the Bible since it will be a one BIG GIANT topic to discuss. But I can assure you that most if not all of the passages quoted by the article you cited are simply a bunch of misinterpretations.

Who’s making a bunch of misinterpretations?

Ah…the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit, eh?

Pastor Vince, if I will put you in a police lineup, together with the Roman Catholics, the Mormons, the ADD, the INC and the Pentecostals, all of you guys will claim that you are “right” and everybody else is wrong. All of you are claiming certain knowledge on theological or biblical hermeneutical background.

Just an illustration: Let us look at your Matthew 16:17.
Your interpretation here is that it is telling us that faith is enough to be in heaven…Let me refresh your memory:

Biblical teaching from Ephesians 2:8-10 says:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Matt 16:17; Eph 1:19;
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Rom 3:27; Col 1:29;
10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.
To summarize this:
Grace (Coming from God) + Faith (coming from man) = Salvation
Totally different from what Catholic Church teaches:
Grace + Faith + Works = Salvation.

Roman Catholics interpret this differently. For them this is proof that Peter was the first Pope. According to the notes on the New American Bible, “[13-20] The Marcan confession of Jesus as Messiah, made by Peter as spokesman for the other disciples (Mark 8:27-29; cf also Luke 9:18-20), was modified significantly here. The confession was of Jesus both as Messiah and as Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). Jesus’ response, drawn principally from material peculiar to Matthew, attributed the confession to a divine revelation granted to Peter alone (Matthew 16:17) making him the rock on which Jesus would build his church (Matthew 16:18) and the disciple whose authority in the church on earth would be confirmed in heaven, i.e., by God (Matthew 16:19)”.

Beside, the Bible also justifies faith with works. Jesus says that we need to do certain actions before we can be in heaven (see: Mt 5:16; Mt 13:3-9; Mt 16:27; Mt 25:34-36; Mark 10:17-25). You should also read James 3:14-26). Based on these passages, Roman Catholics can justify Grace + Faith + Works = Salvation.

Let’s face it: Christians interpret the Bible to fit their agenda. Martin Luther (1483-1541) created Sola fide to free him on his guilt so he could find inner peace. That is why most evangelical Christians teach the same doctrine…it all boils down to Martin Luther…to the Protestant Reformation.

There is really no truth in these so-called “Bible interpretations”. It’s not interpretation but rather justifications of a certain denomination’s doctrine.

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The Greatest Love of All

I was preparing my first cup of coffee for the day when my ears picked up that song by Jamie Rivera, Tell The World of His Love. I admit this was one of my favorite religious songs; it even put tears in my eyes whenever I heard this song because of the “powerful” message it conveys.

That was before.

“For God so loved the world
He gave us His only Son
Jesus Christ our Savior
His most precious one”

The story of how god “sacrificed” his only son to save us from our sins is a central belief in Christianity. This story is appealing to many people who see it as the ultimate example of love and god’s goodness. But then again, is it?

I have three problems with Jesus’ crucifixion story; they are the following:

1. Jesus didn’t stay dead, did he?

Sacrificing your life (or your son’s life) could be considered as the greatest love of all, but the problem with the Bible story is that Jesus was resurrected after three days. It’s not even a sacrifice in the same way as those firemen who sacrificed their lives (and the future of their loved ones) whenever they respond to a fire scene. How could we consider it as the ultimate sacrifice when god himself knew that Jesus would rise again after three days? I firmly believe that most people, given the chance, will choose to torture and “kill” their only son to save the entire human race from damnation provided that their son will return in mint condition after three days.

2. He died because of our sin which was supposed to originate from the fall of Adam and Eve.

“Why did god put the tree of knowledge in the garden?”

“Why did he create it (the tree of knowledge) in the first place?”

I remember when I asked this question to a religious group. They replied with “that’s a good question, give us your number, and we’ll text you so that you could attend our worship service and then you can ask our pastor”. Unfortunately, they never contacted me. The story of the origin of sin and the subsequent redemption of Christ is one of the most absurd stories I know. Humans made the mistake of eating the fruit of a tree that god himself put there (and god even introduced it to humans) and he can only forgive us by murdering his son who will eventually rise from the dead.

Ezekiel 18:20 states thatThe person who sins is the one who will die. A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity, and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity. The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him.

3. The crucifixion itself.

God was supposed to be the creator of everything and yet, for some reason, the only way he could think of redeeming us is through the death of his only son. We should kill his son so he could forgive us. Can’t god think of any better (and more humane) way for human redemption? Anyone who watched Mel Gibson’s very graphic movie Passion of the Christ will never take crucifixion lightly again. Calling it murder is an understatement. It is also interesting to note that most people find the ritual sacrifice of animals as terrible and yet they applaud the human sacrifice of the Bible. Can’t god just give us another way? One that doesn’t include murder and blood sacrifice?

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