1. Religion & Spirituality

Discuss in my forum

Austin Cline

Comment of the Week: Thinking Harder About Biblical Stories

By August 28, 2012

Follow me on:

The Bible, and especially the Old Testament, is filled with suffering, death, and destruction. Sometimes those events are obvious, but in many cases they are glossed over in favor of describing the experiences of those who benefit from the suffering of others.

The Wicked Struggle to Survive
The Wicked Struggle to Survive
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty

What would happen if believers focused a bit more on those who suffer than on those who benefit from the suffering? What would happen if believers focused a bit more on the suffering of all those who died in the Great Flood than on Noah's family of survivors?

What would happen if believers focused a bit more on all those Egyptian first-born children who died and the families they left behind than on the Hebrews who got the warning and survived?

Bruce writes:

I recall an incident as a child in Sunday School at a United Church in Leaside, ON Canada. The teacher talked about the flood of Noah. The class assignment was to draw a picture of the flood. All the other children drew pictures of the ark with the required two giraffes on deck and a violent sea. I drew a picture of a young child drowning who was destined to die -- not because of any sin they had committed -- but because his or her parents having worshiped the wrong deity.

Another time the assignment was the Exodus. I drew a picture of a Egyptian slave family burying their first-born child who was killed by an angel of the Lord because the parents were not informed about the necessity to paint blood on their doorpost. This all happened because God hardened the heart of the Pharaoh so that he would not let the Hebrews go.

I suspect that these experiences influenced my conclusion as a teenager that such a deity made no sense to me, If he existed, then I could fear him, but could never respect him. I became an Agnostic and have remained such for six decades, to date.

[original post]

You're clearly not supposed to focus on those who suffer, just on those who benefit. It's like an action or disaster movie where lots of people are getting hurt or killed in the background -- you're not supposed to think about them, you're supposed to focus on the hero. Some people find that troubling and problematic because it may desensitize us to violence and suffering.

At least in such contexts we clearly recognize we are looking as fiction, though. If desensitization is a problem, how much more of a problem is it when events are occurring in stories that are being presented and accepted as real, truthful history?

Comments
August 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm
(1) Victoria says:

OK, it was the first thought that popped into my head.

You said, “What would happen if believers focused a bit more on the suffering of all those who died in the Great Flood than on Noah’s family of survivors?”

They would be Mormons baptizing the dead.

September 1, 2012 at 2:31 am
(2) P Smith says:

“You’re clearly not supposed to focus on those who suffer, just on those who benefit.”

That’s no surprise. Like any ideology, political or religious, they invent self-serving arguments to justify greed, abuse and atrocities. There’s a sociopathic glee among the religious – mostly christians, it seems – of seeing the “unsaved” being killed or “punished by god”.

The “saved are superior to the unsaved” is as much a superiority complex as whites over blacks, aryans over jews and non-whites, of the rich over the poor, or jews over goyim and Palestinians.

Claiming that “god” will cause atrocities against “them” is used by the religious to justify committing the atrocities themselves.

.

September 4, 2012 at 5:11 pm
(3) Peartree says:

All bible stories are myths, and none should be believed.

For example, there is no written proof anywhere that anyone like Moses existed,or there was an Exodus. Moses is merely a legend that Jews made up to try and give them a hero to worship.

Modern Israel decided that if you are oppressed, bullets are a better answer than prayers. In that they can take pride.

I went to Hebrew School when I was young, and it made me an atheist.
I asked my Rabbi why a god would be concerned with freeing about
100,000 slaves, but didn’t give a damn about 6MM jews being murdered by the Germans. Must have been at a convention hobknobbing with other gods.

And speaking of the killing of the first born Egyptians, wasn’t the
Pharoah a first born son? They kept him for dramatic license.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.