Category Archives: Skeptical Stories

The Bible – On The Waterfront

Retouched versions of this picture from the ge...

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Isn’t this exciting? We’re out of the tedium of Genesis (world created, man falls, many people live and die. Oh, and attempted forced buggery and a spot of incest). We’re into Exodus now; the Bible has got going, that tricky first chapter is out of the way and the real action can start!

When the chapter begins, both Joseph and the Israelite-friendly Pharaoh are both dead. The new Pharaoh didn’t know Joseph and so has no idea that he has to be nice to the Israelites. Which is a really odd bit of continuity, did the previous guy not leave any notes? Did all his advisers die (silly question, if this is in the time of the pyramids, the answer is probably yes), but still. He tells the midwives that when they attend a birth they should kill the baby if it’s a boy. The midwives don’t do this (they fear God, apparently) and say that the women are too lively and give birth before the midwife gets there. And the Pharaoh believes this! New Pharaoh master plan: cast the boys into the river. Genius.

The hero of this chapter is Moses and the story of him being put into the river by his mother is a well-known one. Or so I thought. I had always been told that he was set adrift in his “ark of bulrushes” and that the Pharaoh’s daughter happened to find him. However, lets look at the text, shall we? (Exodus 2:3-5) Read the rest of this entry

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The Bible – Joseph is an Evil Genius

Benjamin embraces Joseph

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Joseph‘s story continues… Ten of his eleven brothers travel to Egypt to buy food to get them through the famine. Incidentally, something has occurred to me: in the tales of Joseph, God seems to be more bothered by getting Joseph into a position of power than in either preventing/alleviating the famine or in making the Israelites get through the famine. If Israel is the chosen land, why on earth are they the ones who have to go begging? If I chose a land, I’d make damn sure that they had enough to eat; were free from ills and didn’t get invaded once a week. If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, why not skip to the end and give Israel everything that they need? Anyway…

Joseph recognises his brothers and pretends not to. It’s not enough for him to crow over them, he wants to really lord it over them. So he jails them and sends one back to get the brother. No he doesn’t, he lets all but one go and they have to bring the youngest brother, Benjamin, back with them. Seriously – chapter 42 lets us see every discarded plan. So, when the 9 brothers return home, they realise that they have been sent home with all the grain they bought and the money they bought it with – this sends the family into a panic because it looks as though they have cheated Egypt. Reading through this chapter, by the way, I get the impression that the brothers have done some growing up and realised that they what they did was wrong, but they are tied up in the story they told when they sold Joseph. Joseph however has not moved on – he has wealth, power, respect and a new family and yet he still wants to make sure his brothers suffer. Joseph is meant to be something of a role model, by the way. As are Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, Lex Luthor, and I think you get my point. Anyway, Benjamin is not sent to Egypt, their father decides to hold him back in case he is captured or killed and makes the father unhappy. And the brother who is supposedly in jail? He’s still there.

Upshot is, they return to Egypt, with Benjamin, and more money and gifts for Joseph. And lo, they have a meal.
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The Bible – St Augustine on Science and Scripture

The earliest portrait of Saint Augustine in a ...

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Another little aside from our regularly scheduled programming. I found this from somewhere – I think it was Twitter or my RSS feed but can’t find the link – if it was via you, please step forward to claim your cash prize (please note: “cash prize” may be moon-speak for “link back”). The quote was found on Pib’s Home on the Web:

St Augustine said:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7]

– This translation is by J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41.

So what is St Augustine saying here? Bear in mind that this was written by a man who lived from 354-430 AD and yet it is as true now as it was then. He is saying that Christians would be foolish to challenge scientists with the alleged science found in the Bible. He puts forward the view that if you try to correct someone by mistakenly using the Bible as a foundation for the correction when it pertains to their field, they are far less likely to believe anything else you say about the Bible.

The quote comes from The Literal Interpretation of Genesis and is of note to all the Young Earth Creationists and to those who mistakenly believe that the Bible can be used to show that much of our scientific knowledge can be found there. St Augustine was a prolific writer, a thinker and philosopher and also appears to have been a very down to earth speaker. For example, as he lay dying a man came to him to ask that he lay hands on his son to cure him. St Augustine replied that if he had any power to cure the sick, he would surely have applied it on himself first. He is now on my “to read” list.

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The Bible – I Have a Dream

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dream (painting by...

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When last we saw Joseph, he had been sold into slavery by his loving brothers and had his death faked. Obviously, things could only get worse! Joseph is sold to an Egyptian – the Bible hates the Egyptians – and is made the head servant over all the other servants. In fact, he is so senior and highly thought of that his master abdicates all responsibility to Joseph (Genesis 39:6):

6And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. Read the rest of this entry

The Bible – Absolutely Fabulous Darling

Joseph_Coat_Of_Many_Colors

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At this point, the Bible pauses to enact a musical written by Saint Andrew, Saint Lloyd and the Hermit Webber. what Chapter 37 tells us most assuredly is that teenagers have no idea of tact or diplomacy and leaves us wondering how any of us made it through without being murdered. Yes, it’s the story of Joseph (and possibly a multi-coloured external garment).

Jacob and family have moved to Canaan, where they were not known. Joseph as we know from the tale, was the youngest and most favoured of all Jacob’s 12 sons. And his brothers were most put out about this. Joseph had a dream; in the dream there were 12 sheaves of wheat and one of the sheaves stood up straight and the other 11 were bowed down to it. The upright sheaf was owned by Joseph, in case you needed that extra detail. Now, Joseph was not a bright lad – his brothers were already grumbling about dream number one – because he tells them about a second dream in which the sun, moon and (eleven) stars were bowing to him. Side project for my loyal readers: if you have siblings, go to them and tell them that they will bow down to you because you will be above them all. Now describe your injuries.

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The Bible – Surrogate Motherhood

A white dog nurses two red panda cubs in the z...

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I’m stepping away from the normal Bible posts for a minute or two. In a comment (which I fished out of my spam queue – either Akismet was being over-zealous or this is a proper spam comment which actually made sense!), Ikedi made the following comment:

I dont think you are doing the bible justice here at all, that Son Hagar had was called Ishmael. Sarah was barren, and Abraham didn’t pimp anybody. Sarah asked Abraham to sleep with the maid servant Hagar so she could have a child on behalf of Abraham and Sarah.

Today I believe what Sarah wanted Hagar to be is a surrogate mother….

In my response to Him (her?) I pointed out that the vast majority of this site is written facetiously, but what has actually happened is a blogger’s dream: someone asked a very pertinent question that prompted me to find out more! After all this time, I’m nearly a proper blogger!! Anyway, enough of that. I did a little digging and found some stuff out…

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