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      It is said that once upon a time, Siddhartha Gautama, before he was the Buddha, was sitting on the ground and was overwhelmed by a great feeling of sweetness towards all that lived, from the bug he saw on the ground, to the grass, and trees, to all the people, and including himself, without any […]
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Sunday School: The most dangerous verse in the bible

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

(New Living Translation 2007)

This is the fundamentalist’s default answer to everything.

In the meantime, check out this video from The Thinking Atheist called “The Shell Game”. BTW, you don’t have to be an atheist to appreciate what Seth is talking about.


42 Responses

  1. there are so many interpretations it gets confusing. 🙂

    • I think all versions of that Proverb are very clear and unambiguous. “When in doubt, leave it to God. You’re own reasoning skills are useless and should be avoided”
      It’s the exact opposite of the freethinker’s proverb:
      “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

      • I guess that puts anyone with any kind of intuition or extra powers of perception out of the business of using their talents for living life. I don’t know how you get through motherhood without either of those powers to fall back on.
        RD, don’t you get how silly this super skepticism gets after awhile?

        This guy in the video has nothing to teach you. You are already smarter than he is. He’s just a different brand of snake oil salesman. And he isn’t saying anything new, I head these same bait and switch arguments as a kid back in the 60s. Even as a 10 year old kid I wondered why my parents couldn’t see through such guys who had to travel around with their own hand pump to pump up their own ego.

      • the freethinker’s proverb:
        “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

        Hmmm. There’s value in this proverb, but it doesn’t leave much room for “trust” (as in “to trust someone”), now, does it?

  2. Love the Story of Suzie:

    • Yep, Seth is pretty good. I think he is filling a space, along with Margaret Downey. They’re *happy* atheists. As much as I love Richard Dawkins and agree with much of what he says, I find him a sweet, kind hearted egghead but he he’s too impatient with the believers.
      Seth has a more charming touch and since he came out of the religious community, he’s more of a bridge to rationality.
      It’s too bad we don’t hear much from the panentheist perspective. That’s the one that Einstein favored.

      • Sweet and kindhearted? Are you aware of his response to a woman blogger who wrote about her discomfort at being propositioned in an empty elevator at 4am after she had made a presentation at an atheist convention? Dawkins is a pig. His nasty reply set off a sh*t storm which revealed a number of male atheist posters who are probably Obots. Misogny is not solely the province of believers.

        • No, it isn’t. What’s REALLY weird about misogyny is that it’s not even the sole province of MEN. 😕

          • And that, in fact, is not so weird. In a society so permeated with misogyny it is not surprising that it has found its way insidiously into so many women

        • You know, I read that account about the elevator encounter and I think the woman who wrote it was overreacting. No really. Just because some guy gets into an elevator with you early in the morning and asks you to his room doesn’t mean they are preparing to rape and sodomize you. Nothing actually happened. No threat was made. To me, she just came off sounding silly, like the millions of mothers who won’t let their kids go outside and play because they might be kidnapped by a pedophile. If she was really that afraid, she might have not gotten on the elevator by herself in the first place. OR she could have grown the fuck up and realized that she has the right to her own body on her terms and that if she didn’t want to hang out with the guy, she didn’t have to. The fact that he got off the damn elevator without her shows that she had more control over the situation than she makes out.
          Personally? I HATE this kind of behavior from women. They want equality and respect and they also want to reserve the right to be a victim whenever they want by virtue of their smaller physical size. Carry a fucking taser if you’re that afraid, fergawdssakes. Or stay in your room. The world is a big, strange and sometimes dangerous place. Learn to deal with it.
          I have no idea what Dawkins said about this incidence by I was fairly incensed and impatient with her.

  3. Good Morning. You also can replace the word LORD with other ones as well… just to give a break to some kneelers on a Sunday.
    I think a particularly nice fit is WOMAN, with JUDICIAL SYSTEM running a close 2nd.

  4. Ahhh, Sunday brunch: greek omelet with spinach, fresh tomatoes and feta cheese, hash browns, ruby red grapefruit and Peet’s coffee (saved for Sunday). Deeeeelishus!

  5. Here’s a bonus OT Dealbreaker for you.

    Genesis 1:27-28

    English Standard Version (ESV)

    27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

    28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

    Um, Where to start? Seems like a throw-in or a sop to me IMHO.

  6. hmmmnn, where to start? First, looks like an atheist church service to me where the preacher is trying to indoctrinate the young and malleable. He talks about a shell game, but then he plays one by using the word “Christians” but only quoting or reporting the words and beliefs of fundamentalists. He’s kind of a younger snottier Pat Roberts.

    I have always found agnostics more reasonable and closer to being non-religious, than atheists.

    • Maybe you’re right… please tell us more about these rational Christian beliefs the Atheist Church slanders. It’s very hard for atheism not to turn into a religious belief any day now.

      Hope that’s not too snotty fer yah.

    • I think there is a problem with the way atheists are perceived. Anything that comes out of their mouths look offensive but that comes with many, many years of indoctrination of how we are supposed to view them. We are told they are godless heathens, arrogant, offensive, elitist and materialistic. We are told that they have no morals. None of these things are any more true of of atheists than anyone else.

      The other problem is the way Christians see their own bible. The texts of other religions sound crazy and unbelievable but ours do not because we have been surrounded by them and taught to feel like they are normal. I guess I am out of step but I can’t remember a time when I actually believed the stories in the bible. Whenever I thought about them, they never made any sense to me. And as I get older, I find more biblical texts that are cruel and sadistic. For example, before God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for, well, whatever they did there, Lot offered his virgin daughters to a crowd of men. That crowd came to have sex with some male guests of Lots but that kind of sex was unacceptable so he offered the crowd his virgin daughters. Then God destroyed the towns for wickedness. The thing is we all heard about the destruction of the town for wickedness but Lot gets away even after he threw his daughters to a sex crazed crowd? How does this make any sense at all, Teresa? But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Much of Genesis is lifted from Mesopotamian myths and texts and quite a bit of Leviticus too. That whole bit about taking slaves from foreign countries? It’s covered in some Sumerian document that’s about 1000 years earlier than Leviticus. The reason you want to take foreign slaves is because you want to make them feel like they don’t belong anywhere so that they’re easier to control. The whole thing is sick.

      There is some good stuff in the bible. Job is good, Ecclesiastes is good, some of the historical stuff is worth reading, Song of Solomon reminds me of some Sufi poems and the parables of Jesus, beatitudes and understanding the chronology of his life (other than the mythological birth and resurrection) are worth keeping. Pitch the rest. It’s all pinched from somewhere else including polytheistic religions. I think the Jews became monotheists because they wisely knew that the priests of Egypt and their worship of many gods were running a racket and had the potential to suck the state treasury dry. Also, the more abstract god of Akhenaten made more sense and was just simpler.

      So, not a lot of this bronze age holy scripture can withstand much scrutiny. In fact, many seminary trained people, especially those that have gone to the Princeton Theological Seminary, quickly come to realize that modern biblical scholarship is able to discount much of the bible. Even the New Testament doesn’t add up if it is read horizontally. It’s a dilema. Some of those seminarians can’t reconcile the irreconcilable and become agnostics but they all say that the pastor who graduates and manages to keep the faith knows all of this stuff. He or she just can’t spring it on the flock because they wouldn’t take it well.

      It’s sad but true. Seth is just pointing out what your preacher won’t tell you. There’s tons more where that came from. So, my question to you is why is it that the religious who believe the frankly unbelievable command such respect and deference but the guy who tells you the truth does not? Don’t the people who expect you to live by the bible have an obligation to make sure they’re not leading you into endless contradictions, implausibilities and needless judgementalism that ends up making so many people miserable? I think we can say without a shadow of a doubt now that the god of the bible does not exist. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a god. He just doesn’t exist in that book.

      • Question… rd did you just write that on the fly? If written responses are the way to heaven you are there in spades 🙂

        • It’s an illness called hypergraphia.
          Read it a couple of weeks from now and it won’t be nearly as good.
          Plus, I hate to edit. Generally, it gets written once and never corrected. Grammar nazis beware.

      • I think the Jews became monotheists because they wisely knew that the priests of Egypt and their worship of many gods were running a racket and had the potential to suck the state treasury dry.

        Why do you think the priests of Egypt were running a racket?

        Also, the more abstract god of Akhenaten made more sense and was just simpler.

        It may have been simpler, but that doesn’t mean it made more sense in a pre-modern religious environment. It likely made little sense at all, which probably explains why it didn’t last very long.

        • These events happened roughly at the same time at the end of the bronze age. Akhenaten went all monotheistic and didn’t make any friends among the temple priests. If you take the entire pantheon of Egyptian gods and reduce it down to one, there goes an awful lot of job security for the priestly class. Come to think of it, that’s kinda what’s going to happen to the clergy in this country in the next couple of decades.
          Anyway, the *true* exodus story is that the Israelites didn’t leave Egypt. They kicked Egypt out. At the end of the bronze age, there were invasions by the “sea peoples” and a lot of social disruption. The slaves of the Egyptian city states in Canaan revolted and took to the hills. The theory goes that they met up with a small contingent of Jews who left Israel at roughly the same time who had been hanging out with the Midianites, a nomadic tribe that believed in one god, whose name was Yahu. I am not making this up. The Canaanites combined one of their gods, El, with the Midianite god Yahu and Voile! Yaweh was born. Monotheism does make life much simpler. One temple. One god. It’s an abstract deity and the only physical manifestation of him is the shekinah light. The commandments forbid the making of idols so there’s no confusion about his attributes when he’s in this or that pose. In terms of the evolution of theology and metaphysics, it’s a big step forward. I think Ahkenaten was ahead of the Israelites even. His god is more associated with the natural world. He was a brilliant phaoroh. But whatever. Monetheism is cheaper, easier to understand and allows the Jews to take their religion to the next level, setting out code of conduct and morality (that was appropriate for the day but completely outmoded today).

          • I’m sure he didn’t make any friends among the Egyptian priests, and yes, they were paid for their services, but that doesn’t mean the priests were simply running a racket. That’s applying a modern perspective to a pre-modern religious environment. The priests mediated between the Egyptian people and the gods and goddesses of nature in all its forms. Egyptian religion was complex because nature is complex. By trying to replace this with monotheism, Akhenaten may have simplifed the religion, but only by turning it into a totalitarian system (“There is no god but Aten, and Akhenaten is the sole mediator between Aten and Egypt”). Totalitarianism is inherent in monotheism; it comes with the territory. And it is completely incompatible with pre-modern religious thinking. Totalitarian religion wouldn’t have made sense spiritually to the priests or the people. Not surprisingly, it didn’t stick.

            When you have time, you should read “The Spell of the Sensuous” by David Abram. It presents a very different perspective on polytheism and paganism (“nature religions”). You might be surprised.

          • Thanks, I’ll add it to the stack. 😉

            Yeah, I think it is a racket to some extent, just like the Vatican is running a racket of sorts. They’re sitting on piles of cash and real estate and perpetuating their role at the top of the pyramid is more important than addressing the needs of their adherents. Now, you might see religion and immutability as one and the same thing. But when the religion starts to become so out of touch with the lives of the people who it is supposed to be serving because the world and society has changed, then, yeah, I think it crosses into the realm of being a racket.
            I have nothing against people worshipping anyway they want but the big building projects and the amount of resources consumed by the priestly class in ancient Egypt must have been a burden on the state and what did it really serve except the priests? How did it help the 99% except give them some expectation of a better afterlife?
            What you might see as authoritarianism I see as sensible. There is only one god and nature is its manifestation. The problem is that people weren’t expecting it. And no doubt the priests had their own version of Fox news, after all they were the ones who could read and write. Akhenaten was a visionary who got ahead of his people at the worst possible time. The dark ages were about to start and he was unable to deal with that politically.

    • Teresa, I hope you understand that I am not trying to get on your case. I’m simply trying to point out that the reason Christian Americans don’t find the whole bible ridiculous is because we live in a culture that is drenched with this stuff. There is no balance.
      Over the past two hundred years, archaeology has uncovered and translated and reassembled the facts about the bible and the more people look at those facts, the more the fabric of this belief system falls apart. I’d be surprised if any of the biblical archeologists started their studies thinking that they would be turning the bible on its head. More likely, they were looking for confirmation but they found contradiction instead and a timeline of mythology that stretches back to the dawn of writing itself. Once you know that and think about it, it’s hard to take the bible literally. Very hard.
      But Americans don’t want to hear that. And that’s why I think there is so much religion forced down our throats right now. History and truth are catching up to the religious and this is a frantic and panicky response to that. In another decade, we will either totally consumed with a culture war between the religious and the non-believers or we will just skip over all of that unnecessary ugliness and become more like the Europeans who have dumped the religion thing for the most part. Why tear yourself apart when you don’t have to?

      • The Europeans, at least those who live in the more western parts, have dumped their traditional religion mostly as a consequence of what happened to them between 1914 and 1945. Americans need to have something similar happen to them before they will dump their religion the way western Europeans have.

        On the positive side, western Europe has become good “mission territory” for Buddhism, particularly the Tibetan variety.

  7. [QUOTE]I’m simply trying to point out that the reason Christian Americans don’t find the whole bible ridiculous is because we live in a culture that is drenched with this stuff. There is no balance.[/QUOTE]

    Maybe they haven’t read it?

    • Are you familiar with the story that Julia Sweeney tells about the day a couple of Mormons came to her door?

      • Yeah RD, this is great… I ddl’d her whole show & audiobook just a few weeks back, hilarious. Right now I’m reading Dan Barker’s Godless… a book every Christian should be ALLOWED to read (grin).

        ps. I don’t know how to do HTML quotes here.

    • I suspect that many of my brethren and sisthren 😉 who believe the Bible is inerrant have never read the uglier parts, as the more sensible denominations correctly do not emphasize them.

      • Or maybe the God of Israel really does have two sides to his personality, that is, both a nice side and an ugly side, and the writers of the bible were simply conveying that.

        “Don’t get the God of Israel angry. You wouldn’t him when he’s angry.”

        • Er, “Don’t get the God of Israel angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.”

          • Nah, we talking apes have both kindly and hostile sides to our personalities, so it’s natural for us to assume that a non-human intelligence would be the same way.

            Also, part of that stems from the belief in the gods or the one God as being responsible for natural events–hence the tendency to assume that natural misfortunes, of any scale, represented either the wrath of a sternly just paranormal being, or else the malice of an unjust one.

          • Oh, as an old comics geek, I enjoyed the Hulk reference. 😀

            ‘Nuff said, true believers! Excelsior!

            Flame On!

            I say thee NAY!

            It’s clobberin’ time!

            Imperius Rex!

            Up, up, and away–oops, wrong company! :mrgreen:

  8. [blockquote]In another decade, we will either totally consumed with a culture war between the religious and the non-believers…[/blockquote]

    Talking Snakes, Religious Sectarianism and Genocide vs Evidence, Rationality & Freethinking. Can’t wait.

    Here’s a crosspost I mused on a few weeks back.

    Three physical warrants of any MAJOR Religion
    1. Performing the TRUE God’s will.
    2. Leading a Righteous life belonging to a moral code accepted by its own consensus.
    3. An everlasting life after death OR a rebirth cycle.

    What else?… besides design & intent.

  9. The problem with Proverbs 3:5 is that many of the people who claim to speak for the LORD are either lying, or deluded–and that includes some of the writers of Scripture. Hence, I make frequent use of the “priesthood of the believer” doctrine, which allows me to interpret the Scriptures for myself, rather than accepting the commands of some all-too-human authority figure who might be mistaken, or worse, out to exploit me for his benefit (usually his, since this is a patriarchal religious establishment).

    Zappa 3:5–“Remember, there’s a big difference between kneeling down and bending over.” :mrgreen:

    I go by the verse in John’s First Letter that “God is Love”. (1 John 4:16) Very well, does this other Scripture or doctrine fit with the idea of a God who loves us talking apes (why I don’t know, but I’ll take it) and wants the best for us? If not, I assume it is at least partially erroneous.

    Yes, I said “talking apes”. The preponderance of evidence for evolution by natural selection does not challenge my faith. One reason I do NOT support “intelligent design” is the callous and amoral nature of the natural universe. Much of the capacity for aggressive and exploitive behavior that religions refer to as “sin” is a set of adaptations to the fact of an amoral natural environment of limited resources. Sometimes, aggressive and exploitive behavior works best for getting one’s DNA into the next generation, or else it would have been bred out.

    I think if a benign intelligence had created the Universe, it would have been biased so that predatory behavior always, or at least usually, failed, while loving behavior usually succeeded. Of course, that is not the case in the actual biosphere, so I doubt God had anything to do with the biosphere.

    I think S/He came from outside the universe, from some absolute Elsewhere, and adopted us. Of course, that’s my Protestant heritage talking–“unmerited grace”. Unmerited because since God did not create us, S/He has no obligations to us.

    So why bother believing at all? Because I need to. Some people don’t, and I don’t think God will be angry with them for that. S/He doesn’t have an ego to be bruised, the way we talking apes do. My life is an irremediable disappointment, so my only hope for enduring happiness is if there is a God and a benign afterlife. Conversely, if my earthly life were consistently happy, that would only make it all the worse that it must end some day.

    To quote at length from one of my favorite “troubled teen” movies, Pump Up The Volume:

    (One of “Hard Harry’s” listeners has just shot himself dead a short while ago.)

    “They say I’m disturbed. OF COURSE I’M DISTURBED! We’re all disturbed, and if we’re not, WHY NOT? Doesn’t this blend of blindness and blandness make you want to do something CRAZY? Well then, DO SOMETHING CRAZY! It makes a HELL of a lot more sense than BLOWING YOUR FUCKING BRAINS OUT!!!”

    Of course, nowadays “Hard Harry” wouldn’t risk crossing the law by operating a pirate radio station (nor would the FCC ever have gone to all the trouble shown in the movie to bust a teenager operating a pirate radio station). Harry would just keep a blog and/or a social media page. Technology marches on. 😀

    Yeah, I’m crazy to believe God exists and loves us. But that’s not even HALF as crazy as blowing my fucking brains out, or destroying myself more slowly through booze or illegal drugs would be.

    Peace, love, and soul, y’all. (RIP Mr. Cornelius)

  10. Hey, I found the source of Zappa 3:5 on YT! 😀

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