Pharyngula

Inanity squared

Yikes—it’s like some kind of horror movie: Inhofe meets Robertson.

Look, Pat, I don’t have to tell you about reading the Scriptures, but one of mine that I’ve always enjoyed is Romans 1, 22 and 23. You quit worshipping God and start worshipping the creation — the creeping things, the four-legged beasts, the birds and all that. That’s their god. That’s what they worship.

I’m not a big fan of the Bible, and every time I do dig into it, I find myself disgusted—and this is no exception. I had to look up Romans.

   15So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

   16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

   17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

   18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

   19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

   20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

   21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

   22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

   23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

   24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

   25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

   26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

   27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

   28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

   29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

   30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

   31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

   32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Shorter Romans: Loving nature is really, really gay. And evil.

It’s one of the nastier passages in the Bible, easily twisted into an absolute injunction to be anti-science and anti-homosexual—no wonder it’s one of Inhofe’s favorites.

You know, I really don’t need to compose arguments against religion: just quoting scripture is damning enough.

Comments

  1. #1 Sastra
    July 27, 2006

    19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

    20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

    21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    The way I read this — and the way it is usually interpreted — is as a longer version of “everybody really knows there is a God.” This is sometimes extended to mean “everybody really knows that Christianity is true.” Atheists are liars who choose to pretend to themselves and others that they don’t believe in God just so they can rebel against authority, and sin.

    The belief that those who disagree with you aren’t just mistaken, but dishonest, evil, and fundamentally insincere leads to bigotry. To say the least, it shuts off dialogue. The truth is already plain enough. Nonbelievers don’t need to be persuaded like well-intentioned equals: they can only be chastized and condemned. Nice.

  2. #2 M Petersen
    July 27, 2006

    Oh man, where to start? The quote, though lengthy, still needs more context to be fully understood.

    Sastra wrote:

    Nonbelievers don’t need to be persuaded like well-intentioned equals: they can only be chastized and condemned. Nice.

    I don’t think that’s what Paul is saying here. They need to be persuaded, but if they don’t believe they will be condemned. It’s not up to humans to judge, but to love.

    Romans 1:14 “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.”

    skipping forward to chapter 2, verse 1-11 …

    You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
    But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

    skipping forward to chapter 3, verse 9-26 …

    What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written:
    “There is no one righteous, not even one;
    11there is no one who understands,
    no one who seeks God.
    All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
    “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
    “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
    “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
    “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    ruin and misery mark their ways,
    and the way of peace they do not know.”
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
    Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

    But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

    and skipping way ahead to chapter 12, verse 9-21:

    Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
    Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

    Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

  3. #3 Sastra
    July 27, 2006

    Sastra wrote:

    Nonbelievers don’t need to be persuaded like well-intentioned equals: they can only be chastized and condemned. Nice.

    M Petersen responded

    I don’t think that’s what Paul is saying here. They need to be persuaded, but if they don’t believe they will be condemned. It’s not up to humans to judge, but to love.

    Thanks for the reply.
    In my post I said that the most common interpretation of Romans 19-21 which I have encountered could be paraphrased something like “deep down, all people know that God exists.”

    In other words, persuasion won’t work if people are not being honest with themselves and ignore what they already are aware of. That God made the world is as self-evident as the world itself – what we can know of God is “manifest in us, for God has shown it to us.” There aren’t any *real* atheists or nonbelievers (people who are sincerely mistaken, instead of people who deliberately and willfully turn from truth out of a desire to rebel.)

    Do you see that as (in part) a reasonable interpretation? Do you believe that yourself?

  4. #4 M Petersen
    July 28, 2006

    Wow, trying to play catch-up here. Sorry if I miss a few.

    Sastra wrote:

    Do you see that as (in part) a reasonable interpretation? Do you believe that yourself?

    I agree that is a reasonable interpretation. Definately, people do not want to believe God exists, because that means they would have to admit sin and its further implications.

  5. #5 Sastra
    July 28, 2006

    Sastra wrote:

    In other words, persuasion won’t work if people are not being honest with themselves and ignore what they already are aware of. That God made the world is as self-evident as the world itself – what we can know of God is “manifest in us, for God has shown it to us.” There aren’t any *real* atheists or nonbelievers (people who are sincerely mistaken, instead of people who deliberately and willfully turn from truth out of a desire to rebel.)
    Do you see that as (in part) a reasonable interpretation? Do you believe that yourself?

    M Petersen replied:

    I agree that is a reasonable interpretation. Definately, people do not want to believe God exists, because that means they would have to admit sin and its further implications.

    naturalist asked:

    The physical evidence we see of the “heavens and the earth” prove nothing supernatural to us. What I mean and I am not advocating doing an experiment “with God” but asking for you or any other Christian, Muslim, Hindu etc. using the words written in these archaic texts for an empirical method to prove the existance of a being or force called God.

    Well, I think that if we consider my paraphrase of the Roman passage and M Petersen’s endorsement of it as a “reasonable interpretation” — from M Petersen’s point of view there is no need for any Christian to come up with an empirical experiment, method, or argument to prove the existence of God. You already know there is a God. Your first sentence here is a lie.

    According to the doctrine set forth in Romans (and elsewhere in the Bible), all atheists are trolls. Pretenders. Our so-called atheism is not really a sincere viewpoint, but a smoke-screen rationalization designed to trick, deceive, and stir up strife.

    Such a belief seems to eliminate a common ground on which to have an honest discussion or debate, and I think there is an ethical problem in Christianity because of it. Which is why I agree with PZ, and find this particular passage particularly repellant.

  6. #6 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    I could of predicted that answer. You’re contradicting yourself.

    You already stated that god was unprovable. How can there be evidence?

    It’s hardly contradictory. I think we’re working with differing definitions of evidence and proof. God is unprovable through physical evidence. Short of Him manifesting himself in physical form in front of your eyes, no physical evidence would prove that He exists. That is why I included Thomas in my references, because he didn’t believe until he actually saw and was able to touch Jesus. However, the physical evidence can suggest the existence of God.

    That includes:
    1. Jesus died, was buried, and 3 days later the tomb was empty. The most probable explanation in my mind is that Jesus was God and rose from the dead.

    2. The universe exists. I see design in the universe suggesting a designer. To quote Dr. Dawkins: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    3. The Bible. Prophecy fulfilled and its consistency (that’s right, I said consistency) though written by about 40 people from different continents and over a period of about 1500 years.

  7. #7 M Petersen
    August 4, 2006

    “I see design in the universe suggesting a designer.”

    Where?

    Why don’t you ask Dawkins? Perhaps you’ll believe him.

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