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Hi everybody, it’s Stefan Molyneux from Freedomain Radio. I hope that you’re doing very well. This is Religion, Family and the Bible, and I’m creating this as I am trying to create a library of places where I can send people who have the same questions or criticisms or issues or problems, over and over again, I can send them to one place; rather than engaging in that, Keanu Reeves in the Matrix 2, massive whirling dervish combat of all comers, I can actually send them to one place where at least they can get my perspectives on a particular problem so that I don’t have to photocopy this all over again.
This is an examination of religion, family and the Bible.
So what is the problem that, for the past few years, has continually landed itself in my inbox, on my board, in my call-in shows and so on?
Well, Christians (and this is not only Christians, this applies to all of the three major Old Testament religions) they’re constantly telling me about the virtue of themselves and of other Christians and of Christianity as a belief system. They say, “I love my parents, they’re good people, and they are Christians, so how can Christianity be associated with error or corruption? …I know a lot of people who are decent, charitable, kind, respectful, loving people…” and so on.
Now, I respectfully (and occasionally not so respectfully) disagree, and this causes people to get highly outraged and upset, and I can understand why, because I’m saying, “I’ve never met your parents, I don’t even know who you are, but I know them better than you know them, and I can tell that they’re bad people, and it’s not prejudicial, I can tell that they’re dishonest or corrupt people…” I can understand why this is so volatile to people. So rather than run through the argument over and over again individually, I thought I’d just create a resource where I can step through at least my perspective on this issue, so that hopefully some clarity can be brought to the discussions. All right.
What is a Christian? Because we have to understand that first so that we know what it is that we’re talking about. Obviously a Christian believes that the Bible is the work of a perfectly moral, all-knowing and all-powerful being. If God is partly evil, or is ignorant of many things, or lacks power, then clearly he is not a God as we would understand the Christian conception of it.
Also, just by the by, a Christian is someone who believes that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever, if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so that he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree, and so on. It is all too sane for words.
So, if you worship an all-knowing, an all-perfect deity (an A.K.A.P.D.), you cannot disagree with him. You cannot disagree with this deity if he is all-knowing, all-perfect. This is just elemental logic, this can’t be escaped. You can come up with all the prevarications you want, this particular fact cannot be escaped.
If I say that my invisible friend Bob is always right, always always always, perpetually, eternally, without any doubt, always, then I cannot disagree with Bob without destroying the premise that Bob is always right! It’s not complicated. There’s some stuff in philosophy that’s really complicated, this is not one of those things. If Bob is always right, I claim, and he says, “Go north!” — if I do not go north, but instead go south, then Bob, by definition, through my actions, is no longer portrayed or can be conceived of as always right.
If Bob is not always right, but only sometimes right, then there must be an external standard by which Bob is judged. If, whenever Bob points and says, “North be that way!”, if Bob is only sometimes right, then we can measure his rightness relative to, say, a compass. In this way, it is the compass that is always right, and Bob’s statement is only right to the degree that it matches what the compass indicates. Are you with me so far?
Why is this important? Well, people claim that religion gives them certainty, particularly, of course, moral certainty. This is like saying that your invisible friend Bob is always right when he tells you which way is north. Ah, however, if there is another standard by which you can judge God and Bob, a higher standard, then we should ditch our faith in both God and Bob, and instead examine, and understand, and learn about this higher standard, this objective compass, which is a little thing we call philosophy, love of wisdom.
So the religious thesis: “Our God is all-powerful, all-knowing and perfectly moral. We know God’s wishes and commandments from the words in our holy books. For this thesis to be true, there must be no errors whatsoever, whatsoever, in these holy books. The moment that an error is found, God is no longer an A.K.A.P.D. If I claim that there is not one typo in any one of my books, that falls, that fails, that is completely contradicted, that is a falsified thesis when a typo is found. Not that hard, really.
Ah, but cometh the religious fog. When biblical contradictions are discovered (of which there are almost as many as there are syllables in the Bible), a number of fog elements are introduced: “Oh, it’s a matter of interpretation. Ahh there were translation errors,” and blablabla… “Ah, the values are different than they were,” blablabla, “There was an original meaning, which may be lost,” and this kind of stuff, right? …Ahh, my friends. (laughs) This is all pure nonsense.
An all-knowing, all-perfect deity (an AKAPD) has the capacity to make itself perfectly clear to everyone. If this deity decides to be ambiguous or contradictory or to portray commandments which are purely immoral, and to allow its most crucial messages to humanity to become mistaken, or perverted, or corrupted, why then the deity is not all-perfect. It has the power to make sure that its statements are clearly understood by everyone, and therefore if it chooses not to exercise that power, then it’s not perfect. If it doesn’t have that power, then it’s not all-powerful.
For instance, if I claim to be absolutely perfect at reproducing fine works of art, and then I attempt to copy the Mona Lisa while blindfolded and using a paint roller, then clearly I am not perfect at art reproduction.
As an all-knowing deity, God knows in advance what will happen to his words over time; if he doesn’t know, then he’s not all-knowing. He knows in advance every single translation error, every single piece of lost text, decisions about what stay in the Bible, every single interpretation, every single splintering into every single school of thought (the Anabaptists, the Zwinglians, the Calvinists, the Lutherans, the Catholics), he knows all of this exactly as it’s going to happen, and if he does not know even one of these things, then of course, he is not all-knowing.
So disagreeing with the deity: well clearly if God disagrees with himself at any time, then he is not all-perfect and clearly not all-knowing. Equally clearly, if any mortal human being rejects or opposes any of God’s word, he is placing his own judgment above God’s knowledge; this of course is not only madly vainglorious, but logically completely impossible: you cannot be more knowledgeable than an all-knowing being. If God knows absolutely everything, you can’t claim to know more than God, because that would indicate that God’s knowledge is short of some perfect standard.
If I claim to be more knowledgeable than my favorite AKAPD, it can only be because that deity is not all-knowing.
Ah, the inevitable humanity and fallibility of the whole affair.
The moment that God is not all-knowing, which occurs the moment that you disagree with anything that God says, it goes right out the window. The moment that error is introduced, all religion becomes a simple, human affair. Human beings are prone to error, particularly in hot pursuit of self-interest. The self-interest of religion is clear: money, power… Thus when error is introduced God doth vanisheth.
If I say, “Ah, dudes, I have an invisible friend named Bob who can always tell me exactly where north is,” what happens when Bob points me in the wrong direction? Clearly the only thing that differentiated Bob from a figment of my imagination was his infallibility. The moment that he is fallible, the thesis that he exists completely vanishes. Error occurs in the mind, thus any unverifiable concept which exhibits error must exist in the mind only.
So let’s move on to the good Christian.
With that in mind, let us turn to an examination of one or two little Biblical commandments to determine the morality of this all-knowing, all-perfect deity, this AKAPD.
So, let’s have a look at just one of the commandments that we would generally understand to be not good, from a moral standpoint:
- Kill people who don’t listen to priests. – “Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the Lord your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:12
- Kill witches. – “You shall not let a sorceress live.”
- Kill homosexuals. – “If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.”
- Kill fortune-tellers. (We don’t have to get into all of these, you can see them)
- Death for hitting your father or mother.
- Death for cursing your mother or your father.
- Death for adultery.
- Death for fornication.
- Kill the nonbelievers.
- Kill the false prophets.
- Kill the entire town if one person worships another god.
- Kill the followers of other religions.
- Kill those who blaspheme.
- Kill anyone who approaches the tabernacle.
- Kill people for working on the Sabbath.
- Kill the sons of sinners.
- And then, in one of my favorite episodes from this freak show horror story called the Bible, 42,000 people are legitimately murdered because someone mispronounced the word “Shibboleth,” in other words, they didn’t give the correct gang sign, and so you could kill everyone pretty much in the country.
So all of these injunctions, “Kill, murder, slaughter, mutilated, genocide, kill kill kill,” all of this of course is followed by… something like…? Oh, right: “Thou shalt not kill.” …(sighs)
So thus this all-knowing, all-perfect deity contradicts itself. It’s like the genocide of the Flood: God kills everyone except Noah, and then puts a rainbow up and says, “Sorry, I’m never gonna do that again.” And of course if the all-knowing all-perfect deity changes his mind and reverses his decisions, either the old position was bad or the new position is bad: if killing everyone in a flood was bad, then promising never to do it again is good, but then it means that God has an imperfect decision-making process, is not all-knowing, is certainly not all good. Because two opposite decisions — kill everyone, promise never to kill anyone again in this way (which of course he breaks) — they can’t both be good. Something can’t be moral and its complete opposite is moral as well, and therefore we have an imperfect, and at best morally tortured, deity.
Of course, if Bob says, “I am infallible, and you should always go north under conditions A-Z,” and then later says, “You should never go north, under any circumstances,” then Bob is what, in philosophy terms is technically known as a total dick.
Ah, enter the sparkly and shiny New Testament, the new covenant, “Good News,” they say. Of course, most of the OT moral commandments are evil; you’ve got your basic rape, murder, genocide, incest, child abuse, child sacrifice, slavery, torture, animal mutilation, and so on… some guy has to produce 100 foreskins as a dowry… just evil crap all the way through, and this is all stuff that is advocated as morally good. Most Christians will attempt to bypass these evils by claiming that ‘Jee-zis done contradict them all,’ and of course even if this were perfectly true, it wouldn’t solve anything.
Jesus is the son of God, and it is the prophecies in the Old Testament that are supposed to predict his divinity… If the Old Testament is evil — full of evil, contradictory, horrible, gruesome, disgusting, vile, hideous and heinous moral commandments — then the fact that it predicts a deity that men should worship… If God is evil (as in the Old Testament he clearly is), if God is evil, and God says, “You should worship this guy who’s coming along,” then clearly, Jesus would be an evil deity, even if we did accept this basic premise.
That having been said, let’s have a look at Jesus in the Old Testament, because if the New Testament is supposed to be something which vindicates or changes the position of the Old, God changed his mind, sent his son to whatever whatever, right, then clearly Jesus should reject and repudiate what is in the Old Testament, including the prophecies which predict that he will be the Messiah.
Ah, but unfortunately old buddy J doesn’t do that at all, he says “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:18-19. “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter to become invalid” (that is, the Old Testament) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish, but to fulfill, amen I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part of the smallest part of the letter will pass from the Law until all things have taken place,” and you can look these things up. “There is no prophecy of Scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will, but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.” So everything that’s in the Old Testament is all-perfect and the direct word of an all-moral, all-perfect, all-knowing deity.
Criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children, according to Old Testament law, whoever curses his father or mother shall die. (sighs)
“The Scripture cannot be broken,” which is reference to the Old Testament,
and, of course, my particular favorite, the one that puts the old God laser directly on my enormous, giant, femme, shiny forehead: “But those mine enemies which wolud that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me,” Luke 19:27. Not a particularly good or reasonable or nice moral commandment for those of us who are atheists, and in my case, particularly the strong atheists, which is to say that God made an atheist so strong, He can’t even beat him in an arm-wrestling contest.
These are the facts of the Bible. Get mad at me? I didn’t write the damn vile document.
Endless scientific error, this goes on and on:
Insects have four legs, bats are not mammals but birds, the world is flat and has four corners, I mean… Exactly as you’d expect from a bunch of sun-baked, crazy-ass people a couple thousand years ago.
It advocates endless moral evil, the murder of unbelievers, the abuse of children, the rape of women, mass murder, genocide, torture, slavery, all the other sorts of moral horrors, and really you can only understand the Bible as a handbook for a criminal gang, such as the mafia or the government. It’s all about how to kill your enemies, how to provide the secret signals, how to indoctrinate the children, how to kill anyone who tries to get you to join a rival gang, or doesn’t give you the right handshake… It’s a manual for an evil and violent criminal gang.
So given these facts, when I point out to Christians (or the children of Christians or of the other big two) that their belief system advocates my murder, what would be a reasonable, considerate and moral response for said Christians or these born thereof?
Well, imagine that I’m a Jew, and I’m pointing out to a Nazi that his belief system advocates my murder. Some guy’s a total follower of Hitler (and of course Hitler has killed far fewer people than the name of God has); if I’m a Jew and some guy says, “I’m a Nazi and I’m perfectly moral, my parents are Nazis, and they’re perfectly moral,” and I say, “Well, you know (laughs), you may say that they’re perfectly moral, but their belief system does counsel them to kill me.” What would be a reasonable response? “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, I had no idea, that I considered the Bible as the highest moral ideal and that it commands me and all other Christians to put you to death. I can completely understand why this would be highly offensive to you, particularly since these crimes have been regularly committed throughout history. Since I reject the vast majority of moral commandments within the Bible, I can no longer honestly call myself a Christian, because the moment that I put my knowledge and will and reasoning above God’s, God is no longer all-knowing or all-powerful, and certainly is almost completely evil in the Bible, and therefore I cannot worship that which is evil and limited, because that’s the opposite of what God is suppose to be, which is unlimited and perfectly moral.”
Of course, this never happens. Year after year after year after year after year after year, I point out these basic facts to Christians, they get angry, and ooh! At who? At God, for all of the evil that God did and counsels and so on? At their parents for lying about God’s virtue or at least being ignorant and refusing to examine this basic and simple question? Oh no! Of course, all of these “brave, moral heroes” get only angry at the most reasonable and most rational person in the room (which, guaranteed, is not their parents). They become highly offended when I say that… Sorry, this is supposed to be they or their families subscribe to a belief system which advocates my murder.
“We don’t wanna kill youuu,” they say, as if that concludes the matter. Well, not so much.
This is the basic reality: if you claim to be a Christian, and you do not want to kill me, or my wife, or people at the Freedomain Radio boards, or other atheists, or people from other religions, or anybody who doesn’t believe exactly what you believe, then by God! you are not a Christian.
This is true of any of the Old Testament religions: you cannot be a Christian and substitute your own judgment in direct contradiction to an all-knowing, all-perfect deity. It is mad vanity to say that you are wiser and more knowledgeable than your God; the moment that you admit your God is in error, there is no such thing as a God. Error occurs within the mind in an unverifiable, completely contradictory being outside of your mind, if that being ends up being in error, then the last thesis that you have for claiming the existence of that being, which is omniscience, ceases to exist. The error is revealed as directly within your own mind.
To the degree that somebody is moral and honorable, rejects murder, genocide, child abuse, mutilation, torture, and all these kinds of ghastly crimes, he is the exact opposite of a Christian.
When I point this out, of course, people get very angry at me. This is morally insane, and that is actually the kindest term that I can come up with for this particular situation.
If someone worships a moral code that advocates my torture and death, and I have the temerity to point that out, who should we get angry at?
If a Nazi comes along and says, “I worship as perfect a belief system that says I should put all Jews to death,” and the Jew says, “You know that’s offensive, right? You do realize that that is sick and shitty cult behavior, and that of course if the Bible were not so thoroughly embedded in the mad insanity of humankind, it would be banned by any reasonable society as vile hate literature.” I mean, I can’t put out a book or a podcast advocating the murder of homosexuals! That would be a hate crime! The Bible, of course, a different matter.
I didn’t write the Bible. I didn’t raise you as a Christian. I didn’t lie to you about God and virtue. I didn’t drag your ass off to church. It’s not my fault. It’s not my fault that this genuine tragedy occurred for you, if you’re a Christian. I do have sympathy, I really do have sympathy for that situation that you’re in, but getting angry at me? You cannot justly shoot the messenger, you just can’t.
You have to go and talk to your own family about this kind of stuff, and point out the evils that are in the Bible, and help them to understand that they simply can’t be good people and be Christians.
Getting angry at me is just rank cowardice. I mean, if there’s a shred of decency left within you, then getting angry at me is not something you should be doing. It’s not fair. It’s not my fault.
How can I confidently say that your parents cannot be good or rational people, if they are Christians?
Well, philosophy’s got a basic (laughs) Holy Trinity, you could say: Reason leads to Virtue leads to Happiness. And this is the only path that you can get. And this is not unique to philosophy; if you look at the science of nutrition, reason, I mean an accurate analysis of reality, leads to good eating habits, which leads to health. Same thing with medicine: rational use of exercise and medicine and good eating, leads to good health, which of course leads to happiness. This is the scientific method in general.
So if you have parents who are Christians, then they do not have reason, because reason completely destroys the concept of deities and religious cult superstition, leprechauns, ghosts, Zeus, Thor, Heimdallr, Shiva, Set, and ghouls, and ghasts, and beholders, and elves and hobbits and all of these kinds of things, although the elves and hobbits are a little bit closer to what could be conceived as possible.
But if you do not have reason, then you cannot have virtue. And if you do not have virtue, then you cannot have happiness. This is the holy trinity of philosophy; I’m not gonna attempt to prove this here, but this is sort of the perspective that we come from.
You cannot take opposing directions to the same goal; this is just a basic fact of reality. You cannot go both north and south to get to the same place. I mean, I know the world is round, and you can get all tricksy with this and that, but just logically, you cannot go both north and south to get to the same place.
So if reason leads to virtue leads to happiness, then if you have the opposite of reason, you cannot get to virtue or happiness; you just can’t. Now, if you have virtue and happiness, then you have reason, and it will be corrupted or clouded by the fact that you profess allegiance to an evil and contradictory fantasy like religion. But this is just the basic equation.
Thank you so much for watching, I’ve tried to keep this relatively short. For more on the philosophy of personal and political liberty, please do with the visiting, FreedomainRadio.com, you can pick up a free book: On Truth, the Tyranny of Illusion, a very short read, it’s only 71 pages. Only for you today, my friends, only 71 pages. Have a read through it, I think that it’s an essential book to help you understand the difficulties of transmitting irrationality, particularly in familial and cultural settings.
As I mentioned before, free podcasts, books, articles, videos, thriving online community. Come and chat about this stuff with people on the board, we have thousands of listeners, and don’t waste your life on superstition. You are too precious an entity; you are too deep and rich and rational and passionate and powerful and creative and wonderful a human being to waste your life on the shallow stupidity of superstition. Don’t do it. Take the better road.
Thanks to evilbible.com for giving me some of this stuff. You can have a look there. That’s it for me. Thank you so much for watching, and I will talk to you soon.