Thursday, January 2, 2014

Yes, People Should Fear The Woodland Park Fundie Invasion!

"I grew up in Woodland Park and still live in the area. My family and I will not want to engage any of these people on the street trying to convert us. Besides doing our banking from a drive-up window, I do not foresee us doing any business in Woodland Park again. I would rather not support a town that in turn supports a man who believes HIV people should be put to death.

Additionally, the fact that he believes (according to the article) that he can make dead people come alive is absurd"   - S. Platt in Colorado Springs Independent, Dec. 25, p. 4

The letter writer was referencing the setting up of a "bible college" (probably like 'Smokehouse Online Bible College' in FLA) in Woodland Park, not far from us. It is being pushed by one Andrew Wommack, best known for instigating a 'kill the gays'  bill in Uganda (since revised to 'only' life imprisonment).   If it had passed, the original form of the law would have allowed  the execution of all HIV-positive LGBT people in that country. It would also punish friends, family members, and co-workers who don't report LGBT people to police within 24 hours. This is what we secular folk are supposed to "tolerate"  of our nutty Xtianoid Fundie brethren. But, as anyone knows, the basic premise of tolerance is that one is not obliged to tolerate intolerance, especially as evinced in the pending Uganda bill. That is the paradox of it.

The letter writer himself is correct to be concerned, because if Wommack's entity is spawned it means the little burg will be directly supporting extremists and nuts who seek to spread "knowledge" but are really spreading bunkum about "demons", "conversion" and other bollocks. The paradox of the fundagelical morons is that they can't even see the paradoxes of their own bible-based morality. For example, they rant and rave about abortion and "preserving life", yet are willing to pass a law to permit gays (born that way on account of genetics) to be executed.

These fundagelical reprobates actually believe their Bibles contain their moral answers. But if they knew the actual content, I can’t see why they’d do that! For instance, 2 Kings 2, 23:24 allows children to be slain by wild animals if they insult their elders or any authority  (in this case a prophet).  Thus, the Bible is not offering any kind of absolutist moral teaching, but rather more plausibly regurgitating the bloodthirsty thoughts of the vengeful, limited-minded human who wrote it.  Why can't fundies see that? Likely because, like Andrew Womack, their brains are as bloodthirsty as the OT writers.

Similarly, by Deut. 22:22 both John Edwards and his former girlfriend (Riele Hunter) would have been stoned to death. The bible fails here by flouting the absolutist code for 'No killing' (in the 10 commandments) and even worse, allowing it for adultery.

Meanwhile, by Deut. 21: 18-21 we read[1]:

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them,  then his father and mother shall seize him, and that,  when they chasten him will not hearken unto them; Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place. .  And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die; so shalt thou put evil away from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear,

So, any insolent or intemperate son would have to be taken to the outskirts of a city by his parents who'd let the elders stone him to death. While the modernist may think this insane, there are actually fundamentalist Christian apologists who seek to parse it in a way that makes it palatable! The Website for The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry  (CARM) claims, for example[2],

"In the Old Testament God appears harsh for three reasons. First, it was to demonstrate the exacting requirements of the Law, a perfect and demanding standard. Second, it ultimately demonstrates the need for grace that would eventually be manifested on the cross. Third, should rebellion take root the very heart of the gospel would be at risk since the prophecies of the Messiah coming to and through Israel could be undermined should rebellion become rampant and society fall apart causing the prophecies to fail. Therefore, we can conclude that this harsh requirement was a necessary legality to instill and designate the necessity of family order and respect and to ultimately provide another safeguard that would ensure the sacrifice of Christ."

But these rationalizations amount to nonsense. ”Exacting requirements of the law” is in reality no different from the harsh Muslim Sharia law where thieves get their limbs hacked off or women are whipped to death for adultery.  Just because “God” allegedly proclaimed it doesn’t make it morally right and indeed, this is a justifiable basis to question whether this is any real God at all, as opposed to a phantasm percolating in the temporal lobes of an ancient brain. Somewhat similar to the modern schizophrenic or psychotic who claims: “God told me to kill that child!”

The appeal to “grace” is also fulsome and not required, nor is any invocation of "the cross", since even if a historical Jesus actually existed and suffered crucifixion there’s no evidence of a God-man or Savior[3].  The obsession with rebellion and family order isn’t compelling either, given multifold alternatives existed that didn’t require slaying the son. In addition, one can rightfully argue that the apologists are resorting to a slippery slope logical fallacy with the claim that a simple family issue would metastasize into a national rebellion and putatively “failure of prophecies” if the extreme sanction hadn’t been enforced. In any case, the matter of the reality of biblical prophecies also must be questioned, especially whether their fulfillment is always in terms of ex post facto confabulation by zealous scribes using already existing Old Testament pointers.

My point is that the bible cannot be an arbiter of moral authority, far less absolute authority. A more serious and adult take on the whole issue of the biblical God is offered by Lloyd Graham in his 'Deceptions and Myths of the Bible':

"Man owes God nothing, not even thanks. Whatever is, exists because of necessity and not divine sufferance. And whatever exists suffers because of nondivine Causation. Our world is full of suffering, tragedy, disease, disaster, pain; we demand a better reason than religion has to offer. "

Perhaps for this reason, Graham insists that it is the de facto creations humankind- who are the genuine authors of workable morality (dynamic justness not moral justice) not the claimed Maker portrayed in the Bible. Religious scholar Elaine Pagels makes much the same point in her book, The Gnostic Gospels,  pointing out that the Gnostics regarded the biblical deity as a degenerate sub- being which they called demiurgos..

Again, both Graham’s epigenetic god and the Gnostics' demiurgos are crude God-concepts, hence must be viewed in the light of limited human brains, deficient in their own aspirations to truth or even testability. The danger is that when moral or ethical testability is absent, then uncontained absolutism can result  - with devastating consequences.  Jacob Bronowski has maintained that because human knowledge is limited, and further - the human brain is limited in its processing capacity- one must temper expectations and especially refrain from absolutist moral judgments.  The reason is that only partial aspects will be glimpsed and then invoked to fabricate a false or pseudo morality. As Bronowski has put it:

"The Principle of Uncertainty or, in my phrase the Principle of Tolerance, fixed once and for all the realization that all knowledge is limited."

 The question is how long it will take for those like Andrew Wommack to get this into their thick craniums.

[1] Deuteronomy, The Old Testament, 321 (The Authorized King James version)
[2] See, e.g.
[3] This is the take of Biblical scholar and member of the Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan, with whom I concur when he refers to the historical Jesus as a Mediterranean “peasant Jewish Cynic”. Such Cynics were “hippies in a world of Augustan yuppies”. See: Crossan: The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant, 421.

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