The Bible: The Moral Standard?


The Bible, many claim it’s the bestselling book (it’s more of a collection of books, of which there are many different compilations) of all time. The name itself is used as a noun for any reference material that purports to be the standard for its subject. Is the Old Testament an historical collation? People certainly seem to use it in search of archaeological sites and to establish a corroborating reference for the development of ancient civilizations. Did Moses write the Pentateuch? Doubtful, unless he reincarnated five hundred to a thousand years after his death to pen his own memoir and to memorialize the world’s creation. The Documentary Hypothesis suggests that the Pentateuch is actually a blending from four different sources of material written over a five hundred year period starting about a thousand years before Christ. Many of the other books are attributed to the Minor Prophets who claimed either inspiration from God or hearing his words directly. Today, if we knew an author who claims to have written something that was told to him directly by God, he’d be branded a lunatic, so I’m curious how it is that the Bible gets a free pass?

The modern Bible has chapters and verses (something which adds to the quotability of passages), but they are only editorial additions that date back to the 13th and 16th centuries. The presentation of the Holy Scriptures is broken into subsets: law, history, wisdom, and the writings of the prophets.

But the issue which concerns me is the staunch reliance on the part of the religious community in using it as the standard by which we measure our moral code of today. Certainly, the world in general is experiencing a rapid decline in moralistic behavior, but to be guided by a series of texts that were drafted by some unknown authors three thousand years ago, is a bit too far of a stretch for credibility. More to the point, the moral fabric of our society is more complicated and diverse that it was in past millennia, and it fluctuates. There has always been homosexuality, at times it has been more accepted than others, but it’s been around. Several hundred years ago it was acceptable for an older man to marry a girl just past puberty as she was now physically able to provide heirs  – also, let’s face it, he probably had the hots for a younger girl. In 2015, that same man would be recognized as a pedophile. People surely had issues with inner feelings through the ages that would ultimately become known as transgender identification, but that’s more of a recent admission. Psychology dates back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, but it didn’t become a science until the 19th century. Our greater understanding of human complexity because of it alone should antiquate the Bible as a governing source of moral reference.

The most egregious use of the Bible is the cherry-picking of quotes as a basis for an argument. I love this scene from the TV series The West Wing:

I have recently written about the LGBTQ issue of Transgenderism; this is some of what I got in response:

“No amount of glaze can hide the warts on this unnatural aberration”.

She calls transgendered people an aberration. Unnatural? By very definition, if it stems from nature, as we are all creatures of nature, then inherently it cannot be unnatural. What is unnatural is something like Donald Trump leading the Republican polls.

“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Romans 1:26 — Romans 1:27.   

 I’m still trying to figure out what the penalty was that they took into themselves, but I’m guaranteed an enlightening response from someone even more studied in Bible scripture. I’m sure it has something to do with the unfortunate lack of condoms back then.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortions will inherit the kingdom of God.

There you go, folks, we’re all going to hell. I guess as an atheist, I’m spared that fate since I don’t believe in hell, but I digress.

Here’s another:

“You can’t put yourself in front of another person and just say I’m this or that and not expect repercussions. I have a deep sympathy for inner city kids who don’t stand a chance in life of digging out of the poverty and degradation their parents have bestowed upon them. But when I work with them I do it in a controlled environment, I don’t confront their parents or walk into their ghetto world as a white man. You can be whatever you want to be, but everyone will not accept that and you better have enough moxie to know the difference. I do not agree with the LGBT agenda, but I do not ostracize anyone based on that and love and respect people by who they are not what they are. My point is this: if you want to be gay or whatever, that’s your business, but you cannot expect the rest of the world to accept your ideology.”

So does that mean that I can’t introduce myself as a writer in fear that someone who hates writers will not accept me? Will the repercussion be that I’m shot because of it? And tell me, why can’t the rest of the world accept other people’s ideologies, if those beliefs are in no way harmful to the way you wish to live your life?

Then there is the New Testament, the Gospels attributed (doubtfully) to the words of the apostles, the letters from Paul (which includes the words directed at me by my detractor from above), and from James, Peter, and John. These are given divine significance because of their personal association with Jesus Christ as the Son of God (except Paul, he never met the guy). If anything from the bible should be used as the foundation for moralistic behavior, it might be the teachings credited to Christ; at least he taught acceptance and love toward ALL. In fact, if you dispense with the idea that Jesus was incarnate from God and listen to what he had to say, it makes more sense as a teaching than as a crutch we have to lean on in order to behave well.

It has gotten to the point that the moment I hear someone quoting the Bible, my ears close off because whatever argument is being waged is being launched from a faulty platform. There is one axiom that transcends all religions and all civilizations: The Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done to yourself. Let’s go with that one, and forget the rest.

Something to consider for your reading enjoyment:

What we should be allowed to do if we adhere to the Bible

What we should be allowed to do if we adhere to the Bible

The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award: The Polar Divide


In the late 60s and early 70s, an enormously popular TV comedy show, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in, routinely awarded the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate trophy for such things as Congress being unable to pass gun control legislation (click on the link – 47 years ago and we’re still talking), or for cops who sleep on the job, or once for the state of California for passing a law that allowed car dealers to disconnect odometers until the vehicle was sold. Though delivered within the context of a variety comedy show, most recipients were chosen for a more derisive purpose.

So, the Polar Divide. I say polar as in opposite as well as something glacial (big and cold) in nature. It’s what we’ve got. Here’s a short list:

Republican vs Democrat: budget and debt, education, the environment, immigration, and tax reform go through endless yet inconclusive debate.

Congressional Voting

Congressional Voting

Gay Marriage vs Heterosexual Marriage: though the LGBTQ community has finally received legislative support, the debate and posturing continues ad nauseum.

marriage merge

Ban the Confederate Flag vs proudly flying its colors: racist or heritage – an amazing example of how people can be insensitive and egocentric


For those for Obama vs those Against Obama: more like Democrats vs Fox News

Obama Fox 119-300x225

White Supremacists vs Jews and anyone not white: the ugliest face of America

white pride

1% vs 99% (Government, Wall Street, and the wealthiest Americans): the definition of unbalanced.


Freedom From Religion vs Religion (State vs Church): Bible thumpers, atheists, governments, all circling around the mat, pulling quotes out of context, misconstruing the truth, and morons like Pat Robertson claiming we’re all going to be having sex with animals soon because of gay marriage (apply this comment to the marriage item above, as well).

freedom from religion 2

Police Brutality vs Black People: it’s hard to ignore the fact that more unarmed black people are shot by police than any other group, but people also forget that uniformed police officers are often moving targets – when your life is on the line daily, it’s hard to imagine that you don’t overreact sometimes. Unfortunately, an underlying sense of racism fuels the fire, and it’s not going to get better any time soon.

police brutality

American Jihadists against anyone and everyone. As I said in a post a couple of months ago, the war is here, and it too won’t be getting better any time soon.


I’m sure if I thought for another three or four seconds I could augment this list with another dozen examples. Such a huge percent of the news I read and the meme’s I see (I also create memes in the way cartoons try to illustrate the ridiculous, but I do attempt to be truthful) are so heavily laden with finger pointing that things have escalated to the point where truth has been left behind; in fact it’s unrecognizable. Our political candidates are, and always have been, the worst of the lot. They just don’t get that we don’t want to hear what the other guy did wrong; we want to hear what they’re going to do, instead.

Wars often bring a people together (Vietnam notwithstanding), but I don’t see how in the face of these polar divisions we will ever be able to conquer our domestic foes (hell, our own Civil War only had like four major fundamental factors), not to mention those that are ramping up their military overseas: Russia, China, North Korea, and the indecipherable mess that is always the Middle East – loyalties, hatreds, vendetta’s, alliances; they shift faster than the sands of their dunes.

So, on this fine morning, I hereby present the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate award to the Government of the United States and its people for being so addle-brained, capricious, and ignorant that the nation now has a seemingly unsolvable divide and for setting the nation rolling down the hill to oblivion with no emergency brake.

Certificate ver 2

A House Divided…


In June of 1858, Abraham Lincoln won the candidacy for the Republican Party in the Presidential race. He addressed over a thousand people that evening with a now famous speech that, in part, spoke of the rift caused by slavery. He quoted the bible: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

A hundred-fifty years have passed since Appomattox, and we seem to have come full circle. South Carolina is once again the center of controversy (the recent shootings in Charleston were, figuratively, a stone’s throw from Fort Sumter), and the ignominious face of racism has been unmasked, once more. We’re still dealing with the shame and arrogance of the Confederate flag, economic and political issues divide the nation, and terrorism runs rampant throughout the country as it did in the decades leading up to the Civil War. In the 1830s, there were upwards of 115 riots in the then major urban centers, and reports of lynchings were commonplace.

How sad is it to discover that we have learned nothing? For all our advances in medicine, technology, and science, we are still standing on the same foundation of the house that burned to the ground in the most catastrophic domestic war in our history. The Ku Klux Klan, formed in the aftermath of that war, during the so-called Reconstruction, still wreaks havoc. Its influence has spawned more than a dozen other white supremacist organizations, which are just as guilty of radicalizing our young minds as ISIS is.

Historically, I’m amazed that other, stronger nations of the period, like France or England, didn’t capitalize on our weaknesses then and attempt to absorb our nation into their empires. We may not be so fortunate the next time around. China and Russia are both posturing with imperialistic intent, both militarily and economically, and we are insolent enough to assume that we can withstand all-comers.

To borrow a quote from economist, John Maynard Keynes: “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” So how do you eradicate the truly pervasive and deep-rooted notions of racism and prejudice? You can’t undo the teaching of hate, you can’t legislate against it, civil wars don’t eradicate it – in fact, it probably exacerbates it, and you can’t go around shooting people who stand at the root of it all, though the temptation to do so might be appealing. Unfortunately, that would put all of us in the same category as Dylann Roof. Don’t laugh, Charles Cotton, moron extraordinaire and board member of the NRA said that if more people carried guns, nine people might not have died in Bible study class. I kid you not!

Racism is but one of many divides in our country. Politics, always a detestable and unpalatable subject, has practically unraveled to the point of political civil war, and any unifying force seems as remote as the Andromeda galaxy. If a Democrat says the sky is blue, the Republicans will pronounce it will ruin the economy. Economics: Republicans, Super PACs, and the 1% on the right; Democrats, the dwindling middle class, immigrants, and the common American on the left. How are you going to solve that one? I don’t even want to think about the Tea Party. Gays vs anti-gays, blacks and Jews vs white supremacists, Bible-thumping creationists vs the scientists, war-mongers vs the isolationists, union vs non-union, humanitarian aid vs ‘it’s not my problem’ types, or pick any other one you want, the list is inexhaustible.

Is leadership the answer? Right now, there appears to be only two voices out there that seem to make any sense: The Pope and Bernie Sanders. Since the former isn’t eligible for the presidency on any level, this leaves Mr. Sanders – who could possibly take the Republican Party seriously at this point. It’s a long road to next November. I’m not sure if leadership will help since whoever is elected will be hated by virtually fifty percent of the people.

In a recent post on racism, I said the only solution to curbing that problem lies within each of us, individually and the choices we make. I lack the faith that this notion will work in practice for the legion of problems we face. Meanwhile, I hear the timbers around me starting to crack inside my divided house. Anyone out there know a good carpenter? I can imagine someone making the corollary that Jesus was a carpenter. Well, if the guy was as good as so many people believe he was, then this might be a good time for him to make a pit-stop.

Diversity is the cultural norm of the United States, and the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and religion, but there is a price. Diversity is the root of all conflict. It sparks the fuse of superiority and entitlement and explodes in a miasma of hate.