I recently butted heads with someone in an atheist message board who took issue with me. He seemed interested in the history of religion. However, he was a bit skeptical of the claims being made that Yahweh kills people in the bible. Couldn't it be, he thought, that the bible was just re-interpreting natural disasters as God? Besides, he says, all the God killings you mention are "just" natural disasters anyway. God doesn't really kill anyone in the bible, and besides: the ancient religious texts are valuable, and people like me only serve to obfuscate valuable texts. We are hurting people and our complaining is misguided. Perhaps I am insane, and my boxed-in dogma and radio show has gone to my head. Maybe I should work on escaping from my dogmatic thinking, as he has.
First misunderstanding: the Jewish and Christian religions as claimed in the bibles, is fundamentally the death knell of mythology. From Genesis on, as interpreted by the christian religion, the characters are no longer symbols, but are meant to be real people that lived. They are meant to be deeply believed.
Yet it doesn't matter what is meant. It doesn't matter what the original tellers of the mythology the bible stories are taken from meant .
As a witness for reason and non-belief, I am dealing with belief in the here and now. Christianity and its scriptures are presented as the premiere belief and behavior systems to follow. Whether the believer is liberal or conservative, literalist or idealist, the teachings, not the supposed history, of the bible, are held up and presented as the height of morality. Believers and non-believers alike spread the urban mythology that a very long and difficult book holds the keys to life and meaning.
This is why I (and so many others) so maddeningly insist on presenting the bible as it really is. Whether Yahweh or Jesus were supposed to have existed divinely or naturally or not, their teachings are not admirable, as many theists, atheists, agnostics and others claim. These claims are either made from heresay, or from an appalling lack of moral sense. I know that most people do not agree that they should behave like the characters in the bible behave. Yet they behave as their god, rabbi, or teacher commands. Maybe there were natural disasters in history that slightly resembled the raining of fire and brimstone over Sodom and Gomorrah. But how does this justify the bible's treatment of it as a just and good event? Maybe the Indris River's flood thousands of years ago was the basis for many flood stories in mythology. But how does this justify the bible story that implies the holiness and necessity of the terrible, senseless deaths? Maybe there was a guy once that died from sex with his sister-in-law, but how does this justify the bible's treatment of this as just punishment by God? And finally, maybe there are volcanoes and molten lava, but how in any possibility, can this justify the eternal punishment of people for not believing in the divinity of Jesus?
I don't care if every last word of the bible is meant to be symbolic. I don't care if some Christians believe it to be literal, symbolic, or a big fashionable diet. This ancient scripture teaches that nature is corrupt, and that man has two choices in life: to follow the teachings of the book and live forever (hardly ever taken as allegory) or to follow your nature (Satan) and die, as humans do, and be a terrible person. There are hardly any other religions that teach this concept, and the ones that do are not "worth preserving." Even if they are ancient. Ancient? Put it in the museum. As far as the teachings: we should do what science does when information turns out to be false: throw it out, and move forward.
Good. Now the guy who I "bumped into online" is my bitch. Figuratively, at least. Now that's worth preserving.