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Evil Bible

There is a web site called “evilbible.com” which lists a lot of the material from the Bible which the site’s creators consider to be corrupt, violent, or immoral in some other way. It makes a lot of good points although I do have to say that it is rather one sided and ignores some contradictory material where the Bible is quite good. But that isn’t the purpose of this particular site and there are plenty of others designed to just present the good stuff.

Generally there are excuses and rationalisations for the evil material in the Bible but how convincing is this stuff? Well it varies, but I think there is some material in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, which is inexcusable without using the most ridiculous convoluted logic (or lack of logic), so let’s have a look at one particular verse (or two verses) I find quite interesting…

The Bible clearly accepts slavery and specifies rules which slave owners should follow. It doesn’t say that slavery is fundamentally immoral in any way, yet most people (including Christians) would say it is now. So if slavery isn’t inherently immoral what is? Do God’s moral rules change with time? If they do are they real moral rules at all or just some temporary whim of the creator?

Have a look at this rather interesting rule from Exodus 21:20-21: “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.”

So this says several things. First, it is OK to use physical punishment on a slave. Second, you can kill a slave without punishment as long as the slave’s death takes a day or two (instead of being immediate). And third, a slave is a possession (“for he is his money”). How can this be anything but evil?

Some sources try to justify this by saying it was part of the older tradition of societies at the time and that new standards have been introduced in the New Testament. But I have two issues with that. First, the NT doesn’t exactly condemn slavery either, so it is barely much of an improvement on the OT. And second, does God change his mind? Was slavery OK at one point but then suddenly became more acceptable? Surely an immoral activity is always immoral not just good or bad depending on the standards of society? (at least morals are absolute for most religious people, I would claim that they are precisely based on societal standards although I would still have issues with supporting slavery).

For example, here is a justification of the verse I found on the web: “An entirely different culture. Slavery was an accepted practice and women could be treated as property. In Islamic countries, it’s pretty much that way now.” So God didn’t try to fix this problem because it was an accepted practice? Isn’t he supposed to tell us what is acceptable instead of just changing his rules to fit? And many Christians would claim that Islam has similar rules today because they are deluded. Does that mean that the followers of the OT were also deluded? Maybe they still are, and the followers of the NT too!

But slavery is a minor issue compared with a lot of the activities God approves of in the Old Testament. Mass murder, ethnic cleansing, rape, and other heinous crimes are actively ordered, encouraged, or at least tolerated by this “loving God”. As I said above, I think the “Evil Bible” site does just consider one aspect of the message of the Bible (and that’s fair enough because that is why the site exists) but it is an aspect which cannot be ignored, no matter how hard the Bible’s followers try to make excuses.

Parts of the Bible are interesting, other parts are confusing, others are practically meaningless, and some present undoubtedly positive ideas. But there are also parts which are truly evil and if this represents the mind of the god that the Bible is about then I don’t want to have anything to do with him!

  1. March 19, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Hello I am Trae and I just want to share something with you.. I became more focus on the part where you said the the Bible accepts slavery. It is not the kind of slavery that you may think it is. It’s not the African American slavery. We are slaves of God. And by that I mean God is our Master . He’s the head of our lives. That’s what the word means.. and our society took that word “Slave” and put it to African Americans because they had a master.. and that master was the head of their lives they were in charge. So when you see the word slave in the Bibile, it doesn’t necessarily means that is with A-Americans getting whipped and starving ! God Bless

  2. OJB
    March 19, 2015 at 9:07 am

    If you read the verses from Exodus which I quoted I think it’s fairly clear they are talking about slavery in the conventional sense. Also, why would we want to be slaves of God anyway?

    • November 15, 2016 at 1:43 am

      Have you ever trusted someone enough to do what they say without questioning them, knowing that they have your best interests at heart?

  3. November 15, 2016 at 1:28 am

    evilbible.com is so one-sided, shallow, and context unaware that it makes for a very poor refutation of the Bible. The site must be taken seriously only because so many people falsely think it is good argumentation. Here are some observations on the slavery issue:

    Slaves were property, usually collateral for debt. This was an economic distinction, not a moral one. A slave was property, but still human. The owner was allowed to punish, but he was not authorized to kill. Lesser crimes should result in lighter punishments. Suggesting that the Bible says that beatings were encouraged or allowed for any reason is just silly. If a slave ran away from his master because he was abused and took asylum, he could not be returned to his master.

    In general slavery of fellow countrymen was temporary and what we would call indentured servitude. If the slave chose permanent slavery, the owner was obligated to care for that slave for life. The option of permanent slavery was the slave’s to make. The contract was up to 6 years or life. There was no option to discard an old slave after their peak years had gone by or to rid them of their family. If the slave was a foreigner, the owner took on a lifetime duty to care for that slave, because that slave could never become a property owner. The duties of master and slave are not one-sided but had mutual obligations. Slavery was a form of social welfare in addition to its economic function.

    If you want to make an argument that the alternatives to slavery (e.g. starvation, poverty, economic theft, etc.) were preferable, then by all means do so. Sure the Bible allowed slavery, but if you think it advocated the modern abusive sense you are deluding yourself.

    Is slavery fundamentally immoral as described above? Are loans immoral? How about high interest rates? Is an extended employment contract immoral? Is welfare immoral? Should charity be mandated? It’s quite obvious that ‘slavery’ (a loaded word if I ever heard one) as a wide concept isn’t fundamentally immoral any more than we can make sweeping judgments about a whole host of social issues. Probably most historical implementations of slavery are absolutely fundamentally wrong, but we seem to have lost the ability for nuance.

    If there are more compelling arguments regarding slavery and the Bible, they are not presented on evilbible.com.

  4. OJB
    November 15, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Call me a sad, cynical person if you wish, but I question everything. Even if I think a person has my best interests at heart they could still be making a mistake, so I examine everything before acting on it or taking it as fact.

  5. OJB
    November 15, 2016 at 2:05 am

    I think I made it fairly clear that I understand the problems with the evil bible web site when I said “…I do have to say that it is rather one sided and ignores some contradictory material…”. In that way it is very much the same as the apologist sites which are full of obvious errors and oversimplifications, but from an opposite perspective.

    I can’t believe that you are trying to justify slavery as OK. This is exactly the type of rationalisation that slave owners in the US used. I’m pretty confident in saying that there is no way you would make this kind of argument if this material was sourced form anywhere else apart form the Bible.

    And that is the danger of religion, because people have to believe stuff – even when it is untrue or immoral – just because it is in an old book, and their thought processes then become confused and illogical.

    As Steven Weinberg said: “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

  6. November 15, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I’m not trying to justify slavery. Why would I do that? Slavery is not something that society wants or needs. That wasn’t really the issue, was it? The original notion was that slavery was a fundamental evil. That’s about the most extreme moral judgment you can make. It’s not justified. That doesn’t mean slavery is a great thing. Nuance. Any society that can eliminate slavery and replace it with a lesser evil is an improved society.

    I decided to address the issue because leaving such a one-sided view is dangerous. I’m not saying that people are going to flood your site to look for a counter-argument to evilbible, but it’s still an interesting discussion, as seen by your response.

    “I’m pretty confident in saying that there is no way you would make this kind of argument if this material was sourced form anywhere else apart form the Bible.”

    Why not? Selling one’s work to pay debts has been a foundation of economics for all time. Are you suggesting that the Bible should have forgiven people who racked up debt? Besides labor, how exactly would such a person pay off that debt? Should they have been beaten or killed instead? Perhaps left to starve? Or perhaps you believe in a society that bans credit?

    “This is exactly the type of rationalisation that slave owners in the US used.”

    Complete nonsense. Slaves were stolen. Slaves were treated as non-human. Slaves were abused. Runaways were returned. Slave owners were not living under Jewish law. You should be ashamed for uttering such a statement.

  7. OJB
    November 15, 2016 at 2:34 am

    I think we all understand the difference between being an employee, being a servant, and being a slave. And I think we all know which of these the Bible was really describing.

    And I agree that within the context of the society at the time in some cases it probably wasn’t a totally bad thing. But that means that the Bible was just a result of societal norms when it was written, and isn’t an absolute source of morals, just like any other book of philosophy, theology, or myth.

    American slave owners used the Bible as a justification for owning slaves and treating them the way they did. Was that not the situation? Maybe, according to your interpretation of the Bible, that was an incorrect, and the Bible was also used as a justification to stop slavery. Any conclusion could be justified, and that’s the problem when people look for facts in a book of mythology.

  8. November 15, 2016 at 3:13 am

    “And I think we all know which of these the Bible was really describing.”

    No, apparently we don’t.

    “But that means that the Bible was just a result of societal norms when it was written, and isn’t an absolute source of morals”

    Of course these rules under discussion were for the intended society. But the Bible doesn’t just describe a specific economic and civil government system. It has moral guidelines, ceremonial religious guidelines, history, poetry, morality tales, and many other types of topics.

    Can you draw broader conclusions from the specifics? Yes. The treatment of runaway slaves tells us, not that slavery is awesome, but that we should provide refuge to the abused. Separating underlying moral principles from specific civil codes is perfectly legitimate.

    Your conclusion about absolute morals doesn’t follow for both reasons.

    American slave owners used the Bible as a justification for owning slaves and treating them the way they did.

    This is one of the great tragedies of American history, if not for Christianity as a whole. Any time the Bible or the name of Jesus is used to commit atrocities is a time of great sorrow. But you can’t tell me that slave owners were particularly interested in the historically accurate view of the Bible. You are absolutely correct that the Bible was used to stop American slavery. As it rightly was.

    But this is a general issue with religion that should be addressed. Does terrorism in the name of Jesus indicate a problem with Christianity? Jesus was charged with terrorism and he was cleared of the charge. Do you know what to call terrorism in the name of Jesus? Disobedience. American slavery was also gross disobedience.

  9. OJB
    November 15, 2016 at 3:47 am

    Well the problem is that you make all of these judgements based on your interpretation, and while I agree your interpretation is quite moral according to your and my moral codes, that doesn’t make it any more correct. The thing about these holy books is that everyone thinks they have the correct interpretation.

    The Islamic terrorists think they are doing what the Koran tells them, and we could possibly make a good case to say that they are right. The same applies to the Bible. It is a book of “moral guidelines, ceremonial religious guidelines, history, poetry, morality tales, and many other types of topics” as you said. But all of these are confused and contradictory.

    That should be no surprise since it is sourced from so many different authors (most completely unknown) over a long period of time and with quite different agendas.

    I have no problem with that, as long as people recognise the Bible for what it is, and don’t think it is the word of God and has some absolute value and meaning.

  10. November 15, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    “The thing about these holy books is that everyone thinks they have the correct interpretation..while I agree your interpretation is quite moral according to your and my moral codes, that doesn’t make it any more correct”

    The answer to this isn’t to get rid of God. It’s to get the correct answer. You throw up your hands as if to say that we can’t judge the difference between a Christianity that supports abusive slavery and one that abolishes it. Nonsense!

    Your belief that there are no moral absolutes intrudes on your ability to call things what they are. You criticized me for being forced into defending an untenable position, but that is exactly what you are guilty of doing. Not everyone’s moral positions are equally valid. The one thing I can do under absolute morality is call a spade a spade.

    Can we make the wrong moral judgment? Yes. So we try to learn from our mistakes and be humble and loving when making moral judgments. We should consider our own moral failings before worrying about someone else.

    Most of the disagreements within Christianity (and between world religions) are not disagreements on morality. Most are differences on theological, doctrinal, and procedural points. When there are moral disagreements, they usually pertain to applied morality rather than essential morality.

    “confused and contradictory”

    When you see an apparent contradiction, do you assume that it is a contradiction or do you try to find out if there is another more sensible conclusion? Perhaps you are confused because you are unable to separate good from bad. Application of reason goes a long way. Evilbible.com takes the intellectually dishonest approach to contradiction and is almost completely worthless as biblical criticism. It is nearly impossible to distinguish the few good points amidst the overwhelming bad.

  11. OJB
    November 15, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Yes, we should get the correct answer if there is one, but there isn’t. We are looking for meaning where none (or very little) exists. Religious texts are like the theological equivalent of a Rorschach inkblot test (without getting into a debate on the scientific accuracy of that test). People see what they want to see, in what is basically just noise.

    You say not everyone’s moral positions are equally valid. I would mainly agree with that. Moral standards are the outcome of social norms and these change over time, but at any one time they do exist and different people’s values match them to lesser or greater extent.

    When I see what looks like a contradiction I usually consult a source which supports the religion concerned to see how valid the explanation is. Sometimes there is a reasonable explanation, but usually there is just a ridiculous rationalisation.

    We can argue all day about what is contradictory and what isn’t though. Here’s a fact which I think proves my point: Most Christians say they are following the same source (mainly the Bible) yet there reach wildly different conclusions. Clearly people’s interpretations of the Bible are full of contradictions. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Bible itself is but the end result is the same.

    • December 2, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      we should get the correct answer if there is one, but there isn’t

      There is the meaning as intended by the authors and the ‘deeper meaning’ or truth/correctness/applicability of that meaning. It is most certainly possible to determine the original author’s intentions (‘exegesis’) by a wide variety of critical literary techniques. Any ‘deeper meaning’ truths (‘theology’) that do not conform to the original author’s intentions are ‘eisegesis’ and should be tossed. So yes, we can easily judge some positions as more objectively valid than others. It just takes time and effort.

      The problem with evilbible is that it horribly fails at proper exegesis and jumps straight to (anti-)theological statements. You do the same by assuming that no answer exists without demonstrating it.

      It doesn’t matter what people think is the correct interpretation, but what is the correct interpretation. Your presupposition biases your judgment against anything that might contradict the assumption.

      More formally:
      (1) There is no such thing as absolute truth.
      (2) Therefore, biblical interpretation is arbitrary (i.e. there is no correct answer)
      (3) Therefore, there is no such thing as absolute truth in the Bible.
      The third conclusion is circular with the first. Sometimes you make the argument assuming arbitrary interpretation to prove the lack of absolutes, rather than assuming lack of absolutes to prove arbitrary interpretation. If it isn’t circular, then I’m not sure which of the two you feel is the assumption and which is the conclusion. If you let me know, I can target my responses more accurately.

      ..reach wildly different conclusions..

      I’ve already addressed this in my last comment. There is a high level of core homogeneity among the various branches of Christianity. Also, you fail to consider a host of other valid reasons for difference in interpretation other than the validity of the text itself.

      full of contradictions

      Hardly. There are precious few passages of the Bible that can even be considered critically contradictory when taken in proper context.

  12. OJB
    December 2, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    It is possible to guess at (to be fair, an expert’s opinion is probably a bit better than a guess) what the author’s original meaning might have been, but never to be sure. As far as deeper meaning is concerned, I think that often gets back to the inkblot test again.

    I have heard many contemporary authors asked about meaning in their works say that there just isn’t any. It’s up to the reader to create meaning. Nothing wrong with that, if you are interested in fiction and mythology, but it’s not a path to the truth.

    I’m not quite sure what you are getting at int the middle part of your comment. What I will say is that there is an absolute truth, but we can never be sure we know what it is. That’s more my philosophical perspective than a scientific one.

    Contradictions exist in many forms in the Bible. There’s the big thematic ones like the OT teaches kill your enemy and the NT teaches love your enemy. Then there’s the errors in detail (which are everywhere) like the genealogy of Jesus.

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