Thomas Jefferson, questioning the miracles of the New Testament while approving of some of Jesus's moral sentiments, produced a thin volume called The Jefferson Bible, edited literally with a razor and paste. Jefferson removed many of the contradictions, atrocities and absurdities from the Bible and, in the end, there weren't many pages left.
In Evidence that Demands a Verdict, biblical apologist Josh McDowell cites the derivation of "canon" as coming from the root word meaning "reed," coming to mean some sort of standard. With regard to the Bible, a canon is an officially accepted list of books:
This is important is important with regard to the fundamentalist's attitude towards the Bible. If the Word of God is inerrant, or something close to it, then deciding that a book is a member of the canon is to proclaim it infallible. The true believer now regards a canonical book as no mere human creation, but God-breathed and incapable of error. It now has magical powers. It has been observed by some Christians that fundamentalists do not so much worship Jesus as worship a book; thus they are bibliolaters.
--Larry A. Taylor, The Canon of the Bible
Many modern clergy and their "flocks" consider the infallible word of their god to be allegory and not to be taken literally. This excuse is a way of getting around all of the contradictions, rapes, murders, genocide and other nonsense with which the Bible is filled. Large segments of the Christian faithful select only those passages that support the morality they deem worthy. This behavior is called "cherry-picking." The obvious question is, "If you already know which morality stories you wish to accept, then why do you need the Bible at all?"
Cherry-picking can be easily understood when one considers the stories of Moses. The "noble" Moses ascends Mount Sinai and returns with a book of laws. The part of the story that follows is often ignored or considered to not be taken literally. Moses proceeds to read the commandments, one of which is "Thou shalt not kill." Moses notices that his followers have been worshiping a golden calf. In anger he forces his followers to grind up the golden calf and then consume the powder. Next he tells them to draw their swords and kill everyone 'till none are left. Thus the first to break one of the Ten Commandments was Moses.
EX 32:27: And he said unto them, thus saith the Lord God of Israel, put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.
EX 32:28: And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men
Then there is this lovely story from Numbers:
NM 31:7 And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males.
NM 31:9 And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones...
NM 31:10 And they burnt all their cities wherin they dwelt...
Not satisfied with this, Moses continues his depraved rampage as follows:
NM 31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
NM 31:18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
That's right, you read correctly. Moses ordered all the male children murdered. He orders all the women who are not virgins murdered. He then gives all the virgin women to his soldiers to do with as they desire. Why don't Christians teach this story in Sunday school?
The average Christian accepts that the Bible is flawed. This point is where they must find a way to rectify their intellect with their desire for an afterlife in heaven. This is the end goal: To not piss off the Almighty Sky-Fairy, in hopes of receiving the most coveted and holiest of all R.S.V.P. invitations - a ticket to heaven. This is where the cherry-picking begins: Acceptance of the "nice stuff" and dismissal of the murders, rapes, incest and even genocide committed by such heroic characters as Moses or Abraham. Certainly God would not be pleased if they were to take note of those little indiscretions.
Many Christians I know don't accept the Adam and Eve story but then accept the resurrection story. Not only is this a contradiction but it is the most ridiculous of all cherry-picks. Without the Adam-and-Eve story there is no need for redemption. Therefore no reason at all for the Christ fable.
Unshaken by this simple reasoning that even a child can understand, the faithful cling even tighter to their book. Intellect reeling, they hold their hands over their ears muttering "I can't hear you." Such explanations fall on willfully deaf ears as the huddled masses quake in fear of the great grab-bag that is eternity. Not realizing their repeated errors, as their knowledge of the real world grows they continue to retreat using even more ridiculous explanations "just in case," they say, "just in case."
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