But Those Weren't REAL Christians!
Some Christians say that their predecessors-- the Christians of ages past who burned heretics, hanged witches, tortured blasphemers, hunted and killed runaway slaves, and butchered infidels-- performed all those horrible deeds because of their own human failings, because they had misinterpreted the bible. Modern believers point out that the bible should not be blamed for the deeds of the past, and that human judgment, zeal, bias, greed, etc., are to blame.
One of my correspondents writes: "I do not deny that far too many Christians have committed crimes and sins in the name of God, and I in no way excuse or condone that. But as an atheist you must remember this is no reflection on the fundamentals of Christianity, it is a reflection of the weaknesses and failings of human nature."
No. It may be true that some people will use the bible as justification to do the horrible things they have in mind. But if the BIBLE itself is the source of the evil, how can we blame Humanity?
When it says in Exodus 22:18 "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live", shall we blame those men who killed people as witches, simply because those men believed the bible? Or should we instead blame the bible that commanded them to do it? The Inquisition killed tens of thousands of innocent people because it was instructed to do so in the pages of the bible... all because of the harmless and make-believe practice of "witchcraft". How did the witch hunters misinterpret Exodus 22:18? Is there another possible interpretation? The killers were acting in accord with the Book, the Book in which they believed contained the absolute and literal Truth. How can we possibly say that they were "fanatics" or "misguided"?
Shall we blame those men who have killed homosexuals-- (remember Matthew Sheppard who was killed a couple of years ago, and tied up to a fence post)-- shall we blame the men who have read Lev. 20:13 "If a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death."? Or should we blame the book in which they read it? Should we put the blame on bigotry or homophobia for the hatred that many people nowadays feel toward homosexuals? Or on the book that instilled that hatred in them?
Some Christians hear about the Muslim custom of killing their own relatives who have converted to other religions, and they say: "How horrible and intolerant!" Yet the Christians fail to realize that their own bible has the same regulation: "If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods", do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death." Deut. 13:6-9 Of course, anyone in the Western World who carries out this biblical command from God isn't a real Christian... they must have misinterpreted this command.
Or when men have read (from their true and flawless bible):
Ex. 22:20 "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed."
Lev. 24:16 "And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death." Shall we blame the Crusaders for killing countless thousands of 'infidels'-- believers in other gods-- or the Book that plainly told them to do so? Surely the Crusaders were not born with the desire to march across from Europe to the Middle East and kill tens of thousands of Muslims?
Here is a question for you: Do you think THEY thought they were "real" Christians? Do you think they believed just as strongly and deeply as any modern Christian? If modern Christians IGNORE all these commands that are given all throughout the bible, what makes them "real" Christians?
Should we blame the slave owners who cited Levitucus 25:45-46 as proof that slavery was given to them by God: "Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy... and they shall be your possession... they shall be your bondmen forever." Shall we blame the slaveowners, or the Book in which they believed? A book that not once condemned or forbad slavery? A Book that had a chance to set a Commandment against slavery, but failed to do so.
Read the following verses:
Ex. 31:15 Whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Ex. 21:15 He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
Ex. 21:17 He that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
Ex. 22:19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
Lev. 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.
Whosoever read these verses and carried them out...shall we blame "the weaknesses and failings of their human nature"-- or the book from which the instructions for killing were taken?
If there had been no book, there would have been no killings.
Should we blame the Southern Baptists for their offensive belief that wives should "submit to their husbands"? Or should we blame the book that gives them this belief, the book that says "wives should submit to their husbands in everything." Ephesians 5:24, and "For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 "Women are to be silent in church. If they have any questions, they are to ask their husbands at home. It is a shame for women to speak in church". 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. How can anyone claim that the belief that 'women are inferior to men' is an un-Christian belief? It is a very Christian belief!
Should we condemn those husbands who control, intimidate and beat their wives? Why? The bible does not.
Christians constantly chant about the right to life, and claim the sanctity of innocent life, whether it is an unborn child, a small child, defenseless adult, or the elderly. They oppose abortion, euthanasia and mercy killing. Do they really care about the "innocent" lives, or are they really trying to assert their domination over individual autonomous rights? One has to wonder, because all of these categories of innocent people that Christians claim to defend are routinely butchered by God's Chosen People. "Then [the Israelites] utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, sheep and asses, with the edge of the sword." Joshua 6:21 "And the Lord our God gave him over to us; and we defeated him and his sons and all his people. And we captured all his cities at that time and utterly destroyed every city, men, women and children; we left none remaining..." Deuteronomy 2:33 "Samar'ia shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open." Hosea 13:16 "Men'ahem sacked Tappuah; because they did not open it to him, therefore he sacked it, and ripped up all the women in it who were with child." 2 Kings 15:16 "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling..." 1 Samuel 15:3 "'Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women...'" Ezekiel 9:5 The claim that Christian values incorporate respect for life finds no support in the bible.
Passages that describe rampant killing of innocent people are far more numerous in the bible than passages which speak about love and good will.
How can the Christian condemn the polygamy of the Mormons, when polygamy is clearly condoned in the pages of the bible? (GE 31:17, GE 36:6, DT 21:15, JG 8:30, SA 5:13, KI 11:3, CH 14:3, CH 11:21, 13:21)
How can the Christian condemn the parents who refuse to take their sick child to the hospital, and the child dies? They received their instructions directly from the New Testament (James 5:14-15).
When the New Testament tells us that "There are those who must be silenced," (Titus 1:10-11), and also that there are books that should be burned, how can we blame those who silence other people and burn books?
Blaming "human nature" for the horrible instructions in the Bible is simple a way that modern Christians can excuse the bible from the atrocities that it contains. It is far too difficult to rationalize these biblical histories with the kind, loving, forgiving Father that they believe in; therefore most Christians simply ignore these verses, pretend they don't exist, invent some reason why they are no longer enforced (see "But That's the Old Testament!"), or they blame human beings for the deeds. I can't say I blame them...