July 30, 2020

God Hates Yeast

open bible

Back in 2007, I made the questionable decision to read the Christian bible (not to be confused with the Satanic bible) from cover to cover once again. Why? It had been a long time since I last read the whole thing, well before I had read much about atheism. When I referred to biblical passages here (something I did rarely), Christians often complained that I was taking the passages out of context. Maybe I was. So I picked up a parallel bible with the NIV version presented column-by-column with the King James version. I stuck with it for a while but lost interest before making it all the way through. It was much worse than I remembered, but it did generate a few posts. This is one of them, written right about as I hit the middle of Leviticus.

I'm not sure, but I think this might have been my first time reading the NIV translation, and it did make for an easier read than the King James. Still, I found myself going back-and-forth to compare both versions and note some of the seemingly important differences. This was one of the things that prevented me from finishing because it slowed the process down so much.

One fascinating example of the differences between these versions, both of which somehow manage to be the inerrant word of some sort of god, is that the NIV replaces "thou shalt not kill" with "you will not murder." At least to my mind, there is a meaningful difference between "kill" and "murder." Murder is a crime. Killing may or may not be a crime depending on the circumstances.

Genesis always makes for an interesting read, and I genuinely enjoy it every time. A certain beauty is evident in some of the language and imagery. Of course, one must set aside the realities of modern science to some degree or else one will experience it as little more than a list of false claims about nature. But I think I mostly managed to get past that and appreciate it for what it was.

The god described in the first three books of this bible is difficult to recommend. It is presumably almighty and yet needs to rest while creating the universe. It is presumably wise beyond measure but places two forbidden trees (that of knowledge and that of life) in the Garden of Eden where early humans can access them. It evidently botched its first attempt at creating humanity so badly that it was necessary to slaughter everyone it had created except Noah and his clan. Any way one slices it, this god seems to be quite flawed.

Ah, but what about its infinite goodness? Well, there is little question about this. This god repeatedly refers to itself as jealous and demonstrates wrath, impatience, cruelty, intolerance, and many other undesirable traits. The god described in Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus is willing to provide humanity with a number of laws, the majority of which are completely ignored by virtually all modern Christians. This god makes it clear that it is to be honored with animal blood and burnt offerings (i.e., animals sacrificed and burned on altars); however, most modern Christians would never dream of doing this. They would probably even equate such acts with Satanism even though they were mandated by the very god they claim to worship.

The infamous passage in Leviticus does indeed state that male homosexuality is wrong (and that men who engage in homosexual must be killed), but this is embedded among so many other laws given to humanity that it hardly stands out. It is fascinating that so many modern Christians obsess about the couple brief mentions this receives while completely ignoring the call for blood sacrifices, the clear requirement of stoning for minor crimes, and the multitude of references to the evils of yeast.

Please don't misunderstand - I'm glad that today's Christians ignore nearly all of the laws their biblical god hands down in these three books. It is just that I am puzzled that anyone claiming to be a Christian can ignore all of this, selectively choosing the couple parts that make them feel good while neglecting the bulk of what is actually there. This is not the sort of god who is likely to react favorably to such neglect. If I believed in such a god, I don't think I'd go near anything containing yeast!

An early version of this post appeared on Atheist Revolution in 2007. It was reworked into this post in 2020.