Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Too Many Gods (Old Testament v New)

I wonder why Christian churches don’t scrap the Old Testament. Much of it is an embarrassment. The Burning Bush, The Parting of the Sea, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat... All of those are harmless fairy stories, but it’s all the gratuitous violence that compromises the message of the religion.

And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones. ..And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel to commit trespass against the Lord. ..Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man. But all the women children that have not known man, keep alive for yourselves. Numbers 31:9-18 KJV

Slaughtering prisoners of war, raping and killing their widows and sons, and keeping the little girls as sex slaves... Those sound rather like the NATO atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those atrocities, as we know, are committed by Christian troops and supported by most Christian congregations. Unless the Messiah was a psychopath, he would not have approved of them, surely.

Why don’t Christians and their priests and pastors publicly renounce the Biblical atrocities, and the psychopathic god that inspired them? The god that ordered those atrocities was a tribal god, and the role of every tribal god is to advance the interests of its tribe. Moses took an assortment of refugees and moulded them into a brutal military force – the Taliban of its day. He managed that force in what he reckoned were the interests of his new tribe; but it’s hard to see how his actions are relevant to modern Christianity.

All tribes need to have a heritage. Moses and his lieutenants cobbled one together in the wilderness from the various legends of the various communities of refugees. First they worked back to a supposed patriarch (Israel, formerly Jacob), then further back to the Abraham of regional legend, then back to Noah of the Flood, and eventually right back to the physical creation of the First Man by a non-tribal, universal god. The Bible tells us that this creator-god was the same god as Moses’s tribal god; and the two gods came in the Old Testament package sold to the early Christian church. The tale of Abraham’s readiness to murder his son was a constant reminder to the new tribe that the god of the universe has the same cruel standards as the god of the tribal atrocities. Wow.

..Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt offering. ..And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. Genesis 22:2-10 KJV

The third god of Christianity is the “prince of peace” – a wholly admirable person in whose name the reach of his personal ethics was extended to the rest of humanity. “Thou shalt not kill” applied to everybody, he said – no exceptions. Even the Midianites would be safe, and Abraham’s son. Slaughters, rapes and oppressions of tribal enemies might be okay by the tribal god – but they were not okay by the god of love. The god of love was worthy of worship, not the other. So why keep the other on the books?

There is a schism in the Christian religion that needs to be resolved. The meek of the community embrace the philosophy of love: the savages, the philosophy of cruelty. It’s the savages who recruit young men to slaughter and mutilate their way to political dominance around the world, and who relish their gruesome work. The meek... well, the meek go along to get along, I guess.

How can any decent person honour all three gods of the Christian Bible? Until the vicious tribal god is removed from the pantheon, what worth can “Christian ethics” possibly have?