Religion and the Brutal 'Morality' of God

There are those who believe scripture is the true source of morals or rules for living and claim to base their morality literally on the Bible. This is consistent with the religious accusation that a materialistic view of the mind is inherently amoral and that religious conceptions are to be favored because they are inherently more humane. As an example of 'Biblical morality', consider two stories taken literally from the Bible.
The first is an excerpt from Carl Sagan's book The Demon Haunted World:

  "We are enjoined in Micha to do justly and love mercy; in Exodus we are forbidden to commit murder; in Leviticus we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves; and in the Gospels we are urged to love our enemies. Yet think of the rivers of blood spilled by fervent followers of the books in which these well-meaning exhortations are embedded. In Joshua and in the> second half of Numbers is celebrated the mass murder of men, women and children, down to the domestic animals in city after city across the whole land of Canann. Jericho is obliterated in a kherem, a 'holy war'. The only justification offered for this slaughter is the mass murderers claim that, in exchange for circumcising their sons and adopting a particular set of rituals, their ancestors were long before promised that this land was their land."... [...my comment here:... what is it about circumcision? Why does this omnipotent, universe-creating God need a piece of my penis? Maybe if god were a female (?) she would require a sliver of a woman's labia majora?] Back to Sagan:
"Joshua "destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded" (Joshua 10:40). "
Sagan goes on to say: "And these events are not incidental, but central to the main narrative thrust
of the Old Testament. Similar stories of mass murder (and in the case of the Amalekites, genocide)
can be found in the books of Sault, Esther and elsewhere in the bible. "

Now contemporary religious persons will probably say, "well look at it in historical context", a convenient excuse for the pathology of the Bible. What does it matter if terror, torture and murder occurred millenia ago or yesterday? I'm sure the terror and agony, directed by God himself, and experienced by those who were slaughtered in ancient times was no less horrifying than if it occurred yesterday, and still, according to fundamentalists, this is the book on which our morals, literally, should be based.


Another Biblical example of the book from which the religious base their morality, this time a 'core story of the gospel' from Richard Dawkin's "The God Delusion":  
  " In the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.... two male angels were sent to Sodom to warn Lot to leave the city before the brimstone arrived. Lot hospitably welcomed the angels into his house whereupon all the men of Sodom gathered around and demanded that Lot should hand the angels over so they could (what else?) sodomize them: 'Where are the men which came into thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them' (Genesis:19 5),... yes, know them in the Biblical sense! ... But Lot's halo is tarnished by the terms of his refusal: 'I pray you brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.' (Genesis 19:7-8)." The story of Lot and the Sodomites is eerily echoed in Chapter 19 of the Book of Judges, where once again it is demanded of Lot to hand over his (divine) male guests for the same purpose. But Lot is quick to sacrifice his daughters, responding "Nay, my bretheren, nay, I pray you do not so wickedly....behold here is my daughter a maiden and his(priests) concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them and do with them what seemeth good unto you....(Judges 19:23-4). In other words, Lot is saying enjoy yourself my humiliating and raping my daughters and the priests concubine. The daughters, following their 'humiliation' are subsequently killed by the mob (Judges 19: 25-6).

Even if modern theologians protest that these stories should only be viewed as allegorical, the questions remains: an allegory for what ? As a moral lesson? What kind of morals could could one derive from these appalling stories? And, according to Gallup, approximately 50% of the American electorate take the scriptures literally. These are but two examples of, to put it lightly, the allegorical morality of God. One almost has to come to the conclusion that if people base their morality literally on the Bible, they have either not read it, or understood it.

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