Thursday, January 17, 2008

Seeing Is Believing?

I've talked about faith so much that it makes me sick, but still it's an almost daily battle. One of the main contributors to my sorrow is the Judeo-Christian holy book. The bible is filled with stories and metaphors of people who didn't believe and were subsequently punished or hurt for it. The book breeds this ideology of faith so much so that it still affects humanity to this day.

You Gotta Have Faith!
Take for example, the story of Balaam's talking ass in Numbers 22. In a nutshell, the king of a town called Moab was afraid for his people because God's chosen people were destroying everything in their path (like good little believers do). This king sent forth for a guy named Balaam, a prophet. The king's men asked Balaam if he would mind putting a curse on these Israelites. Balaam talked it over with God, but of course these were God's people they were talking about, and God ordered Balaam not to curse them. Balaam told the king's men to go back to their country because Yahweh wouldn't let him curse their enemies.

The men did, but not taking 'no' for an answer, the Moab king sent another larger band of men for Balaam. They found Balaam and delivered the message from the king: "now do not refuse to come to me. I will load you with honors and do anything you say. I beg you to come and curse the people for me."

Being the ever-obedient one, Balaam replied that even if the king gave him is whole palace of silver and gold, he still couldn't disobey his God. He offered to let the men stay the night there before traveling back. Here's where it gets screwy...

No! I Mean, Yes! I Mean, No!
The bible says that Yahweh came to Balaam that night, and said "Have not these men come to summon you? Get up and go with them! But do only what I tell you to do." Once again, this is an example of God sending mixed messages. This can be explained if one considers the pantheistic religions of which Judaism and Christianity (and others) were molded from, but that's another topic.

So in the morning, Balaam saddles up his donkey and heads back with the men to Moab. The bible says that "God's anger was kindled because he went"...WTF?? So God says, "don't go!", then he says "okay, go" and then gets mad because he goes?! Perhaps Yaheweh's getting Alzheimer's?

As if this weren't enough to sell the story, it gets even loonier! So Balaam is riding his donkey, traveling back with the men from Moab, when God sends an angel to stand in the middle of the road. Balaam can't see this "angel of the lord", but his donkey can, and doesn't want to continue on down the road, but veers off into the open countryside. Balaam hits the donkey and steers her back toward the road.

Think about it, he's ridin' along, and his donkey leaves the road, so he strikes it and steers it back toward the road. Remember, Balaam can't see the angel that God sent to block the road cause he was pissed that Balaam went.

The angel then moves up the road a little ways and stands in the road between two vinyards, where there are walls along both sides of the road. The donkey has to squeeze right up against the wall to go past the invisible angel, and doing so, it crushes Balaams foot into the wall. Balaam of course beats his ass's ass again.

The angel then positions itself at a narrow passage (like maybe a bridge or something) where there's no way for the donkey and rider to go around. Get the picture -- it's like telling a joke, there's power in the one-two-three. The donkey can't go around the angel, so it lays down in the road. By this time Balaam is fed up with this damned stubborn donkey and lays his riding stick across its head one more time.

Talking Outta My Ass
The bible -- the holy book that some people believe every word of -- then says that Yahweh gave the donkey the power to talk! It tells Balaam that it doesn't understand why he beats it all the time, to which the infuriated (though not-so-much amazed) Balaam replies that he'd kill it if he only had a sword. The donkey then asks, "Am I not your donkey, and have you not been riding me all your life? Have I ever behaved like this with you before?"

"No," answers Balaam (now remember, a man is having a conversation with his donkey). God then opens Balaam's eyes so that he can see the angel standing there. Balaam bows down beside the donkey, in yielding to the angel of the lord.

The angel then says, "Why did you strike your donkey three times like that? You are lucky she turned aside or I would have certainly killed you by now, though I would have spared her." Huh? Wait, I know the story is trying to teach the lesson that you should just believe without evidence, but let's not forget that the donkey *could* see the angel, but Balaam *could not*. How would sparing the donkey but killing the rider be justice?

Balaam says to the angel, "I didn't see you standing there, but if what I'm doing displeases you, I'll turn back." The angel tells him to keep going, but to say only what he/God tells Balaam to say.

Flip-flop! So...wait a sec....huh?! So the point of the story not go, but then go, then not go because God's angel is blocking the way, but because he can't see it he thinks his ass is just malfunctioning, so he beats it, but that's bad, so he should go anyway?!

Oh, Just Do Whatever The Hell You Want
There are tons of these kinds of screwy stories. There's the ultimate tale of "put your trust in God" with the story of Doubting Thomas, who wouldn't accept that Jesus had risen until he actually poked his fingers into the deity's wounds. The bible is filled to the brim with these kinds of stories, teaching the "value" of belief without evidence is always better.

I hope you can see that it isn't.


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