The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

The Garden Of Good And Evil


Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Robert M. Price, Ph.D.

One of the best known stories in the world is the Bible tale of the Garden of Eden (the Book of Genesis, chapter 2, verse 4, through the end of chapter 3). Many people believe two things about this story that I think are not true. The first of these is that Adam and Eve were actual people who lived in a real place called Eden. The second is that the story tells us the human race is sinful and that life is hard because God is punishing us. Let me explain.

The story of Adam and Eve in Eden is not supposed to be history. The name “Adam” means simply “human being.” When people in a story have names like this, we are reading a fable or a myth, not a story of facts. When we read further and meet another character who is a talking snake, we have to wonder how anyone ever thought this story could be historical fact!

So the story of Eden is not fact but fable. Many fables teach important truths. Does this one? Wait and see. But first, here is why I think the Eden myth does not teach that the human race is sinful. God is another major character in the story, but is he the “good guy” or the “bad guy”? We usually hear that the snake is the villain, and that he is somehow the same as the devil. But the story says nothing about any devil. The devil is a character in other Bible stories but not this one. But not only is the snake not the devil; he is not even evil! I say the snake is supposed to be the hero of the story, the friend of the human race. Let’s summarize the action. Continue reading

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October 7, 2010 Posted by | Biblical Studies | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Was The Real Sin Of Sodom?


The Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah, a paint...

Rev. Patrick S. Chang, Ph.D.

To many anti-gay Christians, I’m nothing more than a “sodomite” who is damned for all eternity. It doesn’t matter that I’ve spent the last decade immersed in the Bible, ancient biblical languages, and the Christian theological tradition. It doesn’t matter that I’ve dedicated my life to preaching, teaching, and ministering to all people, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The simple fact that I’m an openly gay man makes all of that irrelevant. To anti-gay Christians, God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in chapter 19 of the Book of Genesis is a warning to people like me.

Ironically, I believe that these anti-gay Christians actually have it backwards. The true sin of the Sodomites as described in the Bible has nothing to do with same-sex acts per se. Rather, the ancient Sodomites were punished by God for far greater sins: for attempted gang rape, for mob violence, and for turning their backs on strangers and the needy who were in their midst. In other words, the real sin of Sodom was radical inhospitality. And, ironically, it is often anti-gay Christians who are most guilty of this sin today.

The biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah begins when two angels, disguised as travelers, arrive at the gates of Sodom. They meet Lot, a relative newcomer to the city, who insists that they spend the night in his house. The other men of Sodom learn about the two strangers in their midst. In contrast to Lot’s gracious hospitality, which includes preparing a feast for his guests, the men surround Lot’s house and demand that he turn over his guests so that they may “yada” them (Genesis 19:5). Anti-gay Christians have interpreted this Hebrew word narrowly to mean “to have sex with” and thus have interpreted the sin of Sodom as nothing more than engaging in same-sex acts, as opposed to “rape” or “molestation.”

Link to Article (Continue Reading)

October 3, 2010 Posted by | Biblical Studies | , , , | 1 Comment

God’s Stance On Slavery


An excellent primer for anyone who believes that the Bible affirms that God is opposed to slavery. If your ancestors were slaves and you believe the Bible to be inspired by God and infallible, then you need to educate yourself on this issue. Stop passing myths on to our children.

The common apologetic response to the question of how God feels about slavery is that he definitely opposed the historical tradition. The long-time practice of holding innocent individuals against their will could very well be the worst crime humankind has ever committed. The Hebrew god, who is purported to love his people to a degree that we could never comprehend, would certainly have to declare some explicit opposition to slavery, wouldn’t he? Truth be told, the Bible contains not one mention of God’s desire to end slavery. Out of all the “thou shalt nots” and multitude of rules that he provides for us; out of all the chapters that God spends giving us intricate directions for making candles, tents, and temples; and out of all the chapters that God inspires the authors to spend on telling us who begat whom; not once does he ever take the time to abolish, admonish, or reject slavery. Because God is omniscient, he knew a time would arrive when the results of his silence would include the capture, torture, castration, dehumanization, and/or murder of tens of millions of Africans around the world. Even with his unlimited knowledge, God still neglects to spend two seconds of his infinite time to ensure that we have his documented denouncement of slavery. Using elementary deduction and common sense on this scrap of information, we’re already able to conclude that it wasn’t displeasing in the eyes of the Hebrew god for a more powerful individual to own a lesser.

Does the presumably apathetic preference of God toward slavery mean that we’re left with a distant ruler demonstrably indifferent toward the institution? In such a case, perhaps he wants us to use our judgment on whether or not it’s morally acceptable to own other people. Regrettably, an in depth analysis of the Bible tells us that this cannot be the case either. As hard as it may be to accept, even for those doubtful of the Bible’s authenticity, God and the multitude of his appointed biblical authors are strongly vocal in their advocation of slavery. In fact, prior to the American Civil War, slaveholders worldwide used many of the passages we’ll examine to justify their nightmarish treatment of kidnapped Africans.

The orders supposedly given by God are clear enough that I can honestly see how a mentally conditioned Christian would condone or support slavery. If society taught such individuals from birth that the Bible is infallible, even when it drastically varies from their own understanding, many slaveholders would separate from generated cognitive dissonance by submitting to the presumably superior knowledge held by the higher power. Those who broke free from the Christian mindset, illogically justified their way around it, or never supported such religious hatred would eventually coalesce as the abolitionists.

In this modern age, we’d like to pretend that the upcoming passages couldn’t be found in the Bible. Even so, that won’t make them go away. Again, the church often neglects the Old Testament due to the uneasy feelings that its controversial topics, such as slavery, create. Consequently, this chapter may be the only opportunity that Christian readers have to investigate what information we can extract from these slavery-related biblical passages. Certain verses will prominently show that the so-called divinely inspired people speaking on behalf of the Hebrew god unequivocally state that he was in support of slave ownership. Continue reading

September 29, 2010 Posted by | Biblical Studies, Morality | , , , , , , | Leave a comment