An Atheist Reads The Bible: All Men Must Die

I’ve been watching Game of Thrones lately and I’ve been surprised at the similarities between it and the Bible. You would think that they would be complete opposites but they have more in common than your local priest would like to admit (especially with this week’s episode involving the Faith Militant). Both are filled with violence, incest, murder, sexism, war, betrayal, religious fanaticism and arbitrary rulers. Reading the Book of Leviticus, I noticed a particularly strong essence of Valar Morghulis (All men must die) both in the sense that women are ignored and in the sense that, no matter how hard you try, sooner or later you’ll end up tripping up and being killed.

There are laws about pretty much everything you can do in a tribal society and pretty much every law carries the death penalty. If you sacrifice your child to Molech (which was either the name of a God or the name of the process of child sacrifice by fire), you will be stoned to death (why was this law needed? Was child sacrifice so common that it had to be forbidden?). If you curse your mother or father, you will be put to death (has anyone not broken this rule?). If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbour, both will die (note that it says nothing about married men committing adultery with single women). If a man lies with his mother-in-law or daughter-in-law, both will die.

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

As Ireland is currently in the middle of a referendum on marriage equality, this line is particularly important. Think of all the hardship and misery created by it. Even today, although we’ve come so far, being LGBT can still be incredibly rough, due in large part to religion. This is to say nothing of the fact that for most of history homosexuality was illegal and in some places still is. To this day, the Catholic Church and many religious people think homosexuality is an abomination and oppose marriage equality (although they don’t call for the death penalty, why do they pick and choose which parts of the Bible they follow?). What I don’t understand is why God supposedly thinks it’s an abomination? What is wrong with homosexuality (note that the Bible never condemns lesbianism)?

If a man sleeps with a woman and her mother, it is a depravity and they will all be burned to death. If a man or woman sleeps with an animal, both they and the animal must die (this is the 3rd or 4th time the Bible has outlawed bestiality, were people not getting the message the first time? It also seems a bit harsh to kill the animal when it wasn’t it’s fault). If a brother and sister uncover each other’s nakedness, they shall be cut off from their people. I think this means sex and death, but it would be helpful if the Bible used less euphemisms. If a man lies with a woman during her menstruation period, he has “uncovered her fountain of blood” and they put shall be cut off from among the people. “If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity.” Didn’t God kill a man in Genesis for not taking his brother’s wife? A man or woman who is a medium or necromancer shall be put to death (this is the 3rd time this has been forbidden, were they running rampage raising zombies all over the place?).

Chapter 21 deals with the rules for the priests, who are forbidden from approaching the dead unless they are close relatives as it will make them unclean. They are forbidden from shaving their head, trimming their beard or getting tattoos. They cannot marry a prostitute, a woman who has been defiled or a divorced woman (are you allowed to get divorced?). If a daughter of a priest whores herself or profanes her father, she shall be burnt to death. The chief priest cannot go near the dead, not even if it is his own parents. He cannot leave the sanctuary and his wife must be a virgin. No one who has a blemish may offer a sacrifice to God. No one who is blind or lame or mutilated or a dwarf or a hunchback or even an injury or a foot too long or someone with “crushed testicles”. If an animal is sacrificed, it too must be without blemish.

God spends a lot of time talking about how he is to be worshipped, including the next two chapters.  He’s so vain he probably thinks this book is about him. There must be many festivals to praise God and tell him how great he is etc. If anyone works during these holy days, they must be killed. In chapter 24, a man got into a fight and cursed, so God demanded him to be brought before all the Israelites who must lay their hands on him, before they stone him to death. Whoever blasphemes the name of God, must be executed. This is the logic of ISIS and the Charlie Hebdo shooters and it’s not a nice thought that your religion (if you are Jewish or Christian) has the same fanaticism. This blog is probably blasphemous so I should be thankful that no takes the Bible that seriously.

Whoever takes another human life must die. Strangely, no context or conditions are given. But what about in war or self-defence or execution? Is killing someone always wrong? So far, an awful lot of people have been killed, both by God and his followers, was that wrong? Whoever takes an animal’s life must replace it (fair enough). Then we have the famous “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Nowadays, that’s seen as pretty primitive and vicious and we’ve more or less moved on to a kinder form of justice. But how could mere humans come up with a better justice system than God?

Chapter 25 marks a shift in focus away from killing people and more towards economics. Six years farmers may till their land, but the seventh must be a Sabbath and no work can be done. Now having everyone in the country stop growing food at the same time sounds like a recipe for famine, so to avoid this, God will make the sixth year so productive that the crop will last 3 years. Call me sceptical, but I wonder what happened if this bumper crop didn’t appear?

Every 50 years there is a Jubilee when all debts are forgiven and loans cancelled. From an economics point of view, this is interesting. How could a modern financial sector operate without repaying debts? Could it? Could a modern economy operate under these conditions? Another economic issue is that God owns all the land, so there is no private property, everyone simply rents their land. All property exchanged must be returned in the Jubilee year. Does this mean the land distribution was more or less permanently fixed? If a man becomes poor and sells his land, he can redeem it at the next Jubilee, which makes me wonder why anyone would buy land. There couldn’t really be a market for land or property under these conditions and the Bible itself says that the price will depend on the number of years until the next Jubilee. The only exception is a house in a walled city, which can be redeemed within a year, otherwise it is lost forever.

“As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you.” (25:44)

You may buy slaves from the nations around you, but you cannot make fellow Israelites your slaves. Considering that we’ve just gone through several chapters of killing people for trivial reasons, why is slavery not condemned, but even permitted? How can the Bible claim to be a moral code when it has no problem with one of the most terrible institutions ever created? Why are harmless activities like worshipping another God or being gay punishable with death, yet there is no punishment for something as horrific and oppressive as slavery? What sort of moral code sees a woman’s period as an abomination, but has no problem with slavery?

God then makes the Israelites an offer they can’t refuse. If they worship him, he will increase the crops in the field, the fruit on trees and generally increase prosperity. He will give them peace in their country and remove the sword from the land (much of the later books deal with the many wars the Israelites fought and eventually lost). But like a tyrant who lavishes favours on his followers, he is extremely vengeful to those who cross him. If they disobey God and not follow his rules: he will inflict them with diseases. Their enemies will eat their crops, they will defeat the Israelites and rule them. The land will go barren and they will be punished sevenfold for your sins. God will release wild beasts against them. God himself will take a sword and smite them and starve their cities. They will be so hungry that they will eat their own children. God will destroy the cities and the land will be devastated. The Israelite nation will be wiped out and their bones will be left to rot.

I can see where the phrase “God-fearing” came from. It’s literally an entire chapter devoted to all the ways God will destroy you if you don’t do everything he says. This would put me in absolute terror of this destructive despot I would be forced to obey. Good thing he’s not real 🙂

The Book of Leviticus ends with God literally putting a price on a human live (guess that solves that old philosophical question). Of course, being the Bible, it’s another opportunity to remind women that they are second class citizens. A man between the age of 20 and 60 is worth sixty shekals, but a woman is only worth thirty shekals. The Bible literally says that a woman is only worth half a man. This is true across all ages, between the age of 5 and 20, men are worth twenty shekals and women only ten etc.

Thus ends the Book of Leviticus, the main lesson of which seems to be that everything is unclean, everything unclean is punishable by death and women don’t matter.

For the rest of the series, see here.

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13 thoughts on “An Atheist Reads The Bible: All Men Must Die”

  1. Re (Leviticus 20:13 and “As Ireland is currently in the middle of a referendum on marriage equality, this line is particularly important. Think of all the hardship and misery created by it. ”

    Most Evangelical Christians in the US argue that the NT constitutes a new covenant and supersedes the OT, that the OT addressed the covenant with the Jews alone. Whatever the case, when anyone cherrypicks or even quotes the OT, you need to ask (1) if the OT is the word of God and (2) if it is equal in standing to the NT. If they answer “no” to the second part, ask them “what parts of the OT are still good and how do they know?” I ask this because Leviticus says we shall not wear clothes made of mixed fibers and most all men are wearing underwear that has cotton, polyester, and Spandex in it. “Its an abomination! Stone them!”

  2. “Does this mean the land distribution was more or less permanently fixed?”
    -Looks like it. It’s a good way to prevent landlordism and maintain the priests’ tangible wealth. At least the Aaronite priests had the sense to keep urban land markets free.

  3. 1. “I’ve been watching Game of Thrones lately and I’ve been surprised at the similarities between it and the Bible.”

    Maybe because it is written by the same people… 😉

    2. “being LGBT can still be incredibly rough, due in large part to religion.”

    ?

    3. “This is to say nothing of the fact that for most of history homosexuality was illegal and in some places still is.”

    What about China or Japan? They are not Christians or Jews or Muslims. It must be the paradise of the homosexuals…

    4. “To this day, the Catholic Church and many religious people think homosexuality is an abomination.”

    What is an “abomination”, btw?

    5. “What is wrong with homosexuality?”

    No more wrong than bestiality or prostitution I suppose. (Notice that I didn’t mention paedophilia too though in the West children lose their innocence very early with the ubiquitous pornography around them. But who cares?)

    Or maybe there was a high prevalence of homosexuality among the ancient Jews and their “fathers of the nation” were concerned that this will weaken the Jews in their life-or-death struggle with other nations because of the consequent low natality. An argument that another “father of the nation” – Putin, would like…

    And what was the Jewish God, Yahweh, but a personification of the “father of the Jewish nation”?

    6. ” I think this means sex and death, but it would be helpful if the Bible used less euphemisms.”

    The Bible was not written in English let alone contemporary English. It seems that God is not an Anglo-Saxon but don’t tell this to the Americans and the English…

    7. “No one who has a blemish may offer a sacrifice to God. No one who is blind or lame or mutilated or a dwarf or a hunchback or even an injury or a foot too long or someone with “crushed testicles”.

    Wow, what a boor! He is like the people who didn’t give me the job, regardless of my qualifications, because I have a conspicuous birthmark on my face. Basterds! Fascists! And one guy in the panel was the head of the antidiscrimination committee of the department… Indeed, man is made in the image of God!

    8. “There must be many festivals to praise God and tell him how great he is etc.”

    Festivals very much enjoyed by the bored people – Christmas, Easter. Even by “atheists”.

    9. “Whoever blasphemes the name of God, must be executed.”

    Other societies kill you because you blasphemed against the ideology of the party-state or nowadays in Britain or the USA you are fired if you said something “politically incorrect”. Deja vu all over again. But you will never say something “politically incorrect”, do you? LOL.

    10. “This blog is probably blasphemous so I should be thankful that no takes the Bible that seriously.”

    You seem to be the only person I met that takes the Bible seriously…

    (However, not even the Christian homophobes take the Bible too seriously…? )

    11. “Then we have the famous “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” Nowadays, that’s seen as pretty primitive and vicious and we’ve more or less moved on to a kinder form of justice.”

    What, you killed somebody and you spend nowadays in some Western countries only three years in gaol or pay some fine. Is this justice? And who decided on those hilarious punishments some “enlightened” liberal self-styled elite? No, God was closer to what is eternally right here.

    12. “From an economics point of view, this is interesting. How could a modern financial sector operate without repaying debts?”

    I am pretty sure it functioned better than many economic systems advocated by the socialists…

    13. “How can the Bible claim to be a moral code when it has no problem with one of the most terrible institutions ever created?”

    Why, is there an absolute moral code – “the moral code”?

    And, slavery “the most terrible institutions ever created”? Really? What about war? What about being given the choice between death as a defeated nation or a life of slavery? What would you have chosen?

    Anyway, slavery even in the West is still a banal reality. And not because “the loom couldn’t weave by itself”. No, for much deeper reasons that go to the core of human nature. But to understand this you should start reading some Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Ibsen, Dostoyevsky, Freud, Chekhov… I will read then with more interest your blog…

    14. “God then makes the Israelites an offer they can’t refuse.”

    And it has been a very good deal! Jews are still around while all other nations contemporary with the writers of the Bible have been extinguished for a log time by now. God has been very good with the Jews (collectively, and that is the only thing that matters) indeed! Hallelujah!

    15. “I can see where the phrase “God-fearing” came from. It’s literally an entire chapter devoted to all the ways God will destroy you if you don’t do everything he says.”

    Deus sive Natura, as another Jew aptly put it… If a disaster befalls on you, whom to blame? Deus sive Natura… Jewish subtlety…

    16. “Good thing he’s not real.”

    Ah, so you finally got it? This is the point from where you will start to understand the true meaning of Judaism!

    17. “The Bible literally says that a woman is only worth half a man.”

    Nowadays is the other way round… I failed to get the job because I was a White middle-class MAN. Not good times to be a man nowadays…

    (Btw, do you have a job? A proper job. A good job. A corporate job. Me neither. 😦 )

    1. Corto, most of the time I don’t know what you are talking about. You also seem to talk out of both sides of your mouth, by criticising both the Bible and those who criticise the Bible, often in the same comment. What do you actually believe? Where do you stand?

      You don’t seem to understand the negative consequences of centuries of homophobia by religion and the harm it caused to LGBT people. I suggest you go out more.

      “What is an “abomination”, btw?”

      I suggest you ask the Church or a dictionary. Why do you ask obvious questions? What point are you trying to prove?

      “No more wrong than bestiality or prostitution I suppose.”

      You think that two men loving each other is the same as whoring yourself for money or having sex with animals? What is wrong with you?

      “Wow, what a boor! He is like the people who didn’t give me the job, regardless of my qualifications, because I have a conspicuous birthmark on my face. Basterds! Fascists! And one guy in the panel was the head of the antidiscrimination committee of the department… Indeed, man is made in the image of God!”

      You think you’re being clever or funny, but you’re not making any sense.

      “Other societies kill you because you blasphemed against the ideology of the party-state or nowadays in Britain or the USA you are fired if you said something “politically incorrect”. Deja vu all over again. But you will never say something “politically incorrect”, do you? LOL.”

      Who has ever gotten fired for saying something politically incorrect and what does it have to do with the topic? By politically incorrect you probably mean you belief that gay people are similar to sheep-shaggers.

      “You seem to be the only person I met that takes the Bible seriously…”

      Have you never met a Christian before? You really need to get out more.

      “What, you killed somebody and you spend nowadays in some Western countries only three years in gaol or pay some fine.”

      Okay now you’re making stuff up. Murder is not punished merely with a fine, that’s a lie.

      “I am pretty sure it functioned better than many economic systems advocated by the socialists…”

      Well that’s not a very high standard. Also debt default is a socialist policy so they’re not that different.

      And, slavery “the most terrible institutions ever created”? Really? What about war? What about being given the choice between death as a defeated nation or a life of slavery? What would you have chosen? Anyway, slavery even in the West is still a banal reality.”

      War isn’t an institution. Saying something is better than death is no defence of it. Where does slavery still exist?

      “And it has been a very good deal! Jews are still around while all other nations contemporary with the writers of the Bible have been extinguished for a log time by now. God has been very good with the Jews (collectively, and that is the only thing that matters) indeed! Hallelujah!”

      Only if you ignore the many times they’ve conquered by other nations, the centuries of pogroms and discrimination, to say nothing of the Holocaust. I would hardly say the Jews have had a good or easy history.

      “This is the point from where you will start to understand the true meaning of Judaism!”

      So the point of Judaism is that there is no God? That’s nonsense. Then why is God constantly mentioned in the Torah and by Jews?

      “Nowadays is the other way round… I failed to get the job because I was a White middle-class MAN. Not good times to be a man nowadays…”

      You can’t be serious! You can’t honestly think that you have a hard life just because you are white middle class man. You are part of the most privileged group in society. Would you rather become a black working class women?

      Corto, I don’t want to be rude, but your comments have a lot of nonsense in them. Please raise your standards.

  4. So, now I got it, you are an “atheist” merely because Catholicism (Christianity) is homophobic and sexist… Hmm…

    Nietzsche was an anti-Judeo-Christian too, but an anti-feminist… And politically very incorrect! More to my liking 😉

  5. Yes you are blaspheming. But as you rightly said no one will attack you. Not because we don’t take the Bible seriously but that we don’t take you seriously. Unlike you who has overlooked any of the acts to be sinful, like a brother sleeping with his sister (incest), a man sleeping with neighbour’s wife.

    You think Christians who give less credence to the old testament are cherry picking? What have you done? Have you noticed the paradox in you? Out of the 66 books you cherry picked Leviticus to form the framework of your anti Christian ideology about violence, death and sexism?

    Well perhaps you missed the point that Christianity is not violent. Neither is it Death. Nor sexism. When Jesus was surrounded by women, Mary, Martha, Magdalene people like you raise eyebrows of flirtation. Where do you stand? To the Christian violent dies not figure in opinion differences. That is why you are still alive. You have the audacity and the impunity to voice your views no matter how inaccurate and blasphemous. Something you should consider a privilege-because you dare do this openly in the Arab world and you can be sure your return ticket will render useless. Something that was carved out of Christian believes.
    When Christians speak against those abominable acts you perceive lovable we don’t slit your throat. But it remains that perhaps we are being over cautious which is good in the sender that we don’t want you to infest our younger generation with those vile acts. To say that homosexuality were existing among the Israelites only exposes your parochial view of the Bible. It wasn’t necessarily that they were involved in those acts. Throughout their journey they had been warned of the practices of the surrounding nations who sacrificed babies to their gods, practiced homosexuality and beastiality among others. In the sight of God they were evil and so it is.

    It looks as if you want someone to always come to you with guns to rob your home? I don’t think so. You want people put away from you. And so they are imprisoned.

    Even though I know you will hate to read my last paragraph I cannot refrain. You cannot say that no one told you to desist from doing what animals won’t attempt doing on the day of reckoning. Thus, a male dog sleeping with a male dog or any other animal species. May be that is the next research by the pro LGBT community to proof that there is. Sometimes I wonder why scientist call human beings higher animals? No wonder people buy into the idea of evolution. These homosexual acts which animals we apparently evolved from to this day never practiced and us practising is indeed evolution.

    1. You need to

      1. read the bible

      2. take a history lesson.

      Christianity isn’t death? Tell that to all the people who have been killed and burnt at the stake by Christians in countries all over the world. Tell that to the American Indians.

      Christianity also claims that all those who reject it will be tortures for eternity in fire… not so good my friend.

      I can tell Christianity has totally helped you to be a more ethical and moral individual who correctly understands how genocide and human sacrifice are such positive things. Not to mention rape, insect, racism and slavery.

      bravo my good man bravo!

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