No One Follows the Bible

by Luke Muehlhauser on May 30, 2010 in Bible,Video

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Beelzebub May 31, 2010 at 12:56 am

Of course. It’s pretty obvious. However, I think you can ascribe psychological utility to the major dichotomy between the OT and the NT. Let’s face it, most hard-core social conservatives love the ruthless injunctions of the OT, but then hide behind the kinder, gentler incarnation of the NT the moment OT barbarism is exposed. I submit that the two in concert are necessary to continue the Biblical charade. I won’t even call it “Christianity” because it isn’t “Christianity.” If it were, it might have some semblance to the Christianity that Jefferson attempted to create with his redacted Bible. And that philosophy would never, ever, ever survive. The two, however, the good cop/bad cop, seem to be able to endure for centuries.

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humbly May 31, 2010 at 1:37 am

aside from a few comments near the end, i’m afraid this is a tired and lazy argument. when will we hear an atheist or unbeliever actually grapple with covenant theology – of whatever brand – and NT fulfilment? until we do, the arguments sound like more they belong in primary school. these are just lazy cheap shots which reveal he is in the same camp as the new atheists – arguing from a position of ignorance.

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Beelzebub May 31, 2010 at 1:55 am

The point is that nobody live up to NT stricture either. The NT philosophy still seems as radical as the day it supposedly came out of Jesus’s mouth, and perhaps this is the key to its longevity. I suggest that any pop philosophy that has any staying power must contain these sweet and sour ingredients. There must be the base appeal to our obvious human nature, and there must be the impossibly unattainable vision of a superhuman state. Finally, there must be the recognition and mediation between the two. With Jesus, monotheism hit all three cherries on the slot machine.

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humbly May 31, 2010 at 2:59 am

i can’t comment on your pop philosophy thesis – but in the NT one has to recognise the presence of nuance, contrast and hyperbole. for example the passages cited about hating your father and mother are pretty obviously hyperbolic and to suggest that anyone who doesn’t renounce their family is not following the bible is, frankly, just plain stupidity. too many christians and atheists alike read the NT literature as simplistic and flat, whereas in reality it needs to be read as deeply nuanced and varyingly styled, and with sympathetic attention to context, feel, audience, genre etc. the problem with taking this approach is that it is much harder work, and thus the temptation is always to take the path of least resistance, particularly when that path is lined by apparently easy pickings. the hard work pays off, however. one final comment – i would in no way deny that there is a huge amount of selective reading and hypocrisy within christianity and will not defend that.

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To humbly May 31, 2010 at 4:52 am

Yes, he is ignorant of suffocated apologetics. So what? It’s not useful to know that.

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noen May 31, 2010 at 6:00 am

“the arguments sound like more they belong in primary school”

This is exactly right. Much of what passes for atheism, especially on YouTube of all places, is little more than a pissing contest by 14 year old Internet Tough Guys.

Atheism is secular fundamentalism and makes the same error that religious fundamentalism does. The error of idolatry or rather, of Biblical literalism, i.e. worshiping the text.

The reason why is because the New Atheists in general, and again especially so on YouTube, commit the fallacy of scientism. They are just religious fundamentalists who have lost their faith and replaced their God with Science.

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Hermes May 31, 2010 at 6:09 am

Humbly, why Abrahamic religious views and texts and not others?

After all, what *requirement* do people who aren’t in your religion or even believers in your type of theism obligated?

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Hermes May 31, 2010 at 6:10 am

Luke, thanks for the video.

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Lorkas May 31, 2010 at 8:31 am

Scientism isn’t a “fallacy”, and misusing the term fallacy doesn’t get you anywhere.

There’s a difference between an idea that is wrong, and an error in reasoning in an argument.

You reveal yourself as a troll, noen, when you respond to Pat Condell’s position about insulting believers by insulting him, and then come into other threads and trash a whole group of people by calling their contributions a “pissing contest”. Your rhetoric shows you to be nothing more than a troll, so I don’t know how you get off thinking yourself so much better and cleverer than those “14 year olds” on YouTube.

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Hermes May 31, 2010 at 8:41 am

Luke, the ping back at the top of the list of comments seems like an unrelated finance ‘make money fast’ link farm.

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lukeprog May 31, 2010 at 8:58 am

Hermes,

Thanks, removed. A constant war against spam!

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humbly May 31, 2010 at 9:30 am

hermes … sorry i can’t understand your question. is there a typo there?

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Josh May 31, 2010 at 10:10 am

Humbly,

It seems profoundly weird to me that to has to “recognise the presence of nuance, contrast and hyperbole” in the NT. Is God a post-modernist? It’s really not hard to write clearly, and it seems like it would be REALLY important to make sure that the only testament to your existence is super duper clear… maybe God just likes fucking with us.

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Jeff H May 31, 2010 at 12:16 pm

This guy’s argument doesn’t make sense. The first half, he is saying, “The Bible says whatever people want it to say, so people use it to justify whatever they want.” Then the second half, he says, “Nobody actually follows the Bible, because this is what it really says.” But uhh…didn’t he just get finished saying that the Bible says whatever people want it to say? That would imply that when he discusses what the Bible actually says, that it’s just his own interpretation of it.

I think he needs to pick one or the other and just stick with it.

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rvkevin May 31, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I think he needs to pick one or the other and just stick with it.

No, it still makes sense. If the Bible says two contradictory things, then people will choose whichever one fits their preconceived notions (their interpretation) and ignore the other. In this sense, “The Bible says whatever people want it to say” and since its impossible to follow contradictory messages, “Nobody actually follows the Bible.”

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Hermes May 31, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Humbly, what I wrote was awkward at best. If I think of an appropriate question, I’ll post it at that time.

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humbly May 31, 2010 at 1:09 pm

josh,

i really don’t think it’s that hard to recognise those things (nuance/contrast/hyperbole etc) … which only points all the more to the inanity of lazy arguments like the ones in the video. their presence does not obscure meaning, they’re pretty standard concepts in all literature – not sure why you think that’s weird – and whatever one thinks of the bible, it’s no less than literature.

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Rob May 31, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Humbly,

My Christian neighbor thinks that we should kill homosexuals because the Bible says clearly to do so in Leviticus. So, I admit I am ignorant of “covenant theology” or whatever. I am not ignorant of the bible-inspired blood lust of my neighbor.

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Zeb May 31, 2010 at 8:52 pm

No one follows the Bible… in other news, no one follows the encyclopedia.

He is right though, no Christians follow the Bible. They follow the Christian faith, which they receive from their churches. The Christian Bible is a tool used in the practice of the Christian faith. It’s a shame that some particularly vocal strains of Protestantism have popularized the idea that the Bible is some sort of text book or manual on life, the universe and everything and that a straightforward interpretation of it is a) possible and b) correct. But even the most fundamentalist sola scriptora literalists are using a extremely community arbitrated version of “what the Bible means” whether they acknowledge it or not. I can’t fathom why so many atheists insist on a naive stab at literalist interpretation to a text that they don’t claim is authoritative or even cohesive.

The point is that nobody live up to NT stricture either.

That’s not quite true; there are many people who spend their lives in radical pursuit of the NT ideals. Some pretty much reach the goal. I’m thinking of some of the monks and nuns, and the emergent Christian communities I’ve known. Granted, they are a very small minority of the people who call themselves Christians.

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humbly June 1, 2010 at 2:17 am

rob,

if that’s what your neighbour believes, then he is equally ignorant of these issues, and shame on him.

consider this: the people who wrote the NT wrote things which at first sight appear to contradict the commands of the O.T. However, they still viewed the O.T. as the inspired word of God and stood by it wholeheartedly. That leaves us with 2 options: either they were plain stupid, or the issues are more nuanced and complex – at least to our 21st century eyes. Videos like the ones above appear to assume the former option. Which ironically only seems to add weight to the view that it’s this guy who’s the stupid one.

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Hermes June 1, 2010 at 3:48 am

Humbly, that Christians can’t seem to agree about their own religious ideas is not a problem for non-Christians let alone atheists to address. If you dismiss your peers, why should anyone take any Christian seriously?

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humbly June 1, 2010 at 4:06 am

hermes, i don’t see the logic there, never having said that it was a problem for atheists to address. luke disagrees with dawkins on a number of things. does that mean i shouldn’t take either of them seriously?

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Hermes June 1, 2010 at 5:22 am

hermes, i don’t see the logic there, never having said that it was a problem for atheists to address.

You wrote;

“when will we hear an atheist or unbeliever actually grapple with covenant theology – of whatever brand – and NT fulfilment?”

…and…

“if that’s what your neighbour believes, then he is equally ignorant of these issues, and shame on him.”

Showing that you;

1. Wanted non-Christians to address specific issues, and potentially other unmentioned issues.
2. You personally discarded ideas of another Christian.

As such, your comment that …

“until we do, the arguments sound like more they belong in primary school. these are just lazy cheap shots which reveal he is in the same camp as the new atheists – arguing from a position of ignorance.”

… is not appropriate.

luke disagrees with dawkins on a number of things. does that mean i shouldn’t take either of them seriously?

Now now, you’re not making much sense yourself at this point. Fess up to it as I did before when you called me on it.

That said, your comparison would make sense if I were dragging in Hindus and Muslims and not just the subset of theists under the category of Christians.

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corn walker June 1, 2010 at 7:05 am

“That leaves us with 2 options: either they were plain stupid, or the issues are more nuanced and complex – at least to our 21st century eyes.”

Actually there are more than two options. Other options include their having been hypocritical, that the texts are full of contradictions that people resolve according to their preference, and that people pick and choose from among the moral guidance on offer in the bible, ignoring those prescriptions and proscriptions that are in conflict with their evolved moral understanding.

I write this in full realization that the cotton/linen pants I am wearing are in violation of the law and the jeans my wife is wearing are an abomination to the lord, so obviously I’m just one of those “new atheists” that hates god and I am trying to justify my disobeying his law.

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Lee A. P. June 1, 2010 at 11:24 am

“when will we hear an atheist or unbeliever actually grapple with covenant theology ”

“Covenant Theology” is another example of the mental gymnastic Christians engage in to try to rectify all of the difficulties of the Bible.

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noen June 1, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Lorkas
“You reveal yourself as a troll, noen, when you respond to Pat Condell’s position about insulting believers by insulting him, and then come into other threads and trash a whole group of people by calling their contributions a “pissing contest”. “

But Luke said it was ok. Luke said that insults are a good thing because they led to his conversion to atheism. If that is true then you should welcome my insults because they could lead you to deconvert.

I find your hypocrisy worthy of mockery. You think that mockery is a good thing when you do it but object when others use it. I can’t understand that.

It’s almost like you think that you are always right, everyone else is wrong and that the ends justify the means.

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Hermes June 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm

You’re so out of your element. Just go away and leave the big kids alone, OK?

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Jeff H June 1, 2010 at 7:32 pm

rvkevin:
No, it still makes sense. If the Bible says two contradictory things, then people will choose whichever one fits their preconceived notions (their interpretation) and ignore the other. In this sense, “The Bible says whatever people want it to say” and since its impossible to follow contradictory messages, “Nobody actually follows the Bible.”

I get that. But how do you one minute say “The Bible has contradictory messages” and then the next minute say, “This is what the Bible really says.” Well, I guess it would work if you said, “This is what the Bible really says: A and not-A.” But he doesn’t; he just goes on to talk about giving away all your possessions, which is clearly only one half of a contradiction, where the other half would have something about gaining worldly wealth. So I still think he’s being inconsistent. His idea that the Bible “really” talks about giving away all one’s possessions is only fitting in with his own preconceptions about what the Bible says – and probably about what makes Christians look most foolish.

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