“Out of Context”

by Luke Muehlhauser on February 22, 2010 in Bible,Video

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Aeiluindae February 22, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Yay pitfalls. I’ve been the Christian in that video on occasion. Its easy to gloss over the stuff that you agree with. However, sometimes context does confirm the obvious, and it also be a source of entertainment. For example, apparently (I’m no greek expert, but this what I’ve been told), the epistles ascribed to Paul have been toned down somewhat, in terms of terminology, in the English translations.
Studying the Bible is fun for me because there are hilarious things, things that seem obvious, but have more layers of meaning, things that can be taken pretty much at face value, and things that are really hard to make sense of.

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Hermes February 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Ever read John 3:16?

After reading John 3:16, did you ever then go on to read the next few verses?

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Aeiluindae February 22, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Yes, and I see your issue. I’d yell context for the entire chapter, just for fun. The christian take on sin and stuff can make remarkably little sense at times, because it’s tied up in all sorts of arcane terminology that lots of Christians don’t even quite understand. Not exactly helpful.

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Lorkas February 23, 2010 at 9:23 am

The best part of this video is the point that you can throw in a Quran quote with a bunch of Bible quotes and the Christian will defend it along with the others if he doesn’t recognize it as from the Quran.

On the other hand, quote a terrible Bible verse along with some Quran quotes, and they’ll condemn it along with the others.

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Jake de Backer February 23, 2010 at 11:21 pm

I can’t conceive of the dogma-pretzel that people live in which demands that they explain the ignominious and cosmically detestable actions articulated in the Old Testament. We, atheists/agnostics, are allegedly without the proper foundation necessary to remark on objective moral values while theists declare the moral high ground as their territory because they get to have their morals and values grounded in a being, nevermind that the being in mention possesses the capacity for the myriad crimes enumerated in this video. Sorry, theist’s, if it’s between your moral foundation grounded in Yahweh or none at all, in this case as with nearly every other, I’ll take none at all.

This, for the most part, appears to be analogous to a salesman hocking a product for which he has confidence only in certain aspects yet, nonetheless, needs to feign confidence in the whole to make the sale. I know no theist WANTS to defend the atrocities elucidated in the Old Testament, and in fact would much rather spend your conversation with atheist’s talking about Jesus’ proclamations of love and neighbors, but you’re forced to play these apologetic acrobats because hey, who are you to question the God you believe put you here and you supposedly have a relationship with. I get it. Sad stuff. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe some of you sincerely and honestly feel all the behavior in the OT was justified or is being “taken out of context” or was “alright for that cultural context” in which case, your depiction in this video is an accurate representation of your disappointing lack of intellectual and moral integrity.

J.

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lukeprog February 23, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I wish Christians and atheists could at LEAST agree on something simple like the immorality of genocide. That would be progress, I think.

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Beelzebub February 24, 2010 at 3:33 am

For a lot of Christians, the OT is the deal-breaker. They reject it, as Dan Barker did. A lot of others feign ignorance and keep their heads in the sand. Other use the “context” thing, but as far as I’m concerned they’re morally lost the moment they start down that path. Finally, the truly putrid amongst them accept all of it, hook line, genocide and sinker. These are the Christians you really don’t want to meet in a dark alley.

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drj February 24, 2010 at 5:41 am

lukeprog: I wish Christians and atheists could at LEAST agree on something simple like the immorality of genocide. That would be progress, I think.  

Just to be devil’s advocate here for a second, I don’t know if its necessarily fair to suggest that most Christians explicitly condone genocide. Most would almost definately reject the idea that genocide can sometimes be morally acceptable. For better or worse, they think they have a consistent and sensible position that lets them call it genocide when humans do it, and something else when God does it (or commands it). We can (and I think rightly) argue against that theory, but we cannot, in all faithfulness, say that they condone genocide as a principle.

The reason I have some sympathy on this point is the amount of times I have been on the other end of similar accusations, especially in abortion arguments. For many theists on the other side of the argument, it seems to be a nigh impossible point to grasp, that I don’t actually think its morally permissible to commit murder, and that the nature of a pre-sentient fetus renders the term inapplicable. (Just an aside: I’ve tried to explain this view to them by way of analogy with the OT God and murder, and have actually had some pretty good results in getting otherwise stubborn, unwavering folk to accept the idea that I really don’t think murder is morally permissible).

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Hermes February 24, 2010 at 10:19 am

Beelzebub: For a lot of Christians, the OT is the deal-breaker. They reject it, as Dan Barker did.

Agreed. When my BNL did that, I replied with a quote from Jesus saying ‘not a bit of the law will pass away’. He was stunned for a moment as he had to agree with me but didn’t expect an atheist to quote Jesus. He then started to think to himself, so the conversation naturally ended there. Since he’s smart, I have hope that he — like Dan — will figure it out one day.

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Hermes February 24, 2010 at 10:28 am

Drj, very good comments.

drj: We can (and I think rightly) argue against that theory, but we cannot, in all faithfulness, say that they condone genocide as a principle.

To add to your good comments…

I’ve had some argue exactly that genocide was acceptable in one other situation; “Things were different back then.”. The same is often used to justify slavery. Talk about moral relativism!

It’s not too unusual for other people (usually strident literalists) to say that if Yahweh commanded them, or if it were the ‘end of days’, then genocide and other acts against non-Christians and people that are not Christian enough would be moral or even required.

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Reginald Selkirk February 24, 2010 at 10:44 am

Kirk Durston: Apologist for Genocide

But the most repulsive part of Durston’s talk was when someone from the audience asked why Durston’s condemnation of genocide would not apply equally well to the god of the Old Testament, who indulged in genocide himself, in particular the genocide of the Canaanites. Suddenly Durston’s tune changed. Instead of condemning this genocide, Durston sought to justify it. Genocide was OK, he claimed, if his god ordained it. Indeed, he said that the only thing that prevented him from going and out murdering people for his advantage was his religious belief…

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Hermes February 24, 2010 at 10:57 am

Kirk Durston as quoted by Reginald Selkirk: Indeed, he said that the only thing that prevented him from going and out murdering people for his advantage was his religious belief…

It still shocks me when I see things like that. It is simultaneously a self-degrading statement and a bigoted slam on all that aren’t like him in their theistic beliefs.

Ob. Steven Weinberg quote;

With or without religion, 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.

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Hermes April 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm

[test ... repost from http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=8295 ]

Sorry Hermes, the question is about prayer (as you said in one response), not about the inerrancy of a certain literalist interpretation of the Bible.

Zeb, as a former Catholic myself, I understand that position in general. The quotes are not denominational.

They are accurate in context. See for yourself using whatever version of the Christian Bible you prefer. Here’s a site that may have your version on-line and ready to search;

http://www.biblegateway.com

Note that I say the quotes are in context because at most I’ve seen effective arguments against only 1 of them and a plausible (but not very convincing argument) against another. This is from various Christians including theologians.

If you are saying that the Bible is not reliable or can be ignored, we can stop right now. On that point, I would agree with you. You should agree with one of the possible conclusions I listed as well.

If you followed the details I provided yesterday, you’d know why I write that now.

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