Thursday, March 3, 2011


So reading Exodus took me a lot longer than I had anticipated due to real life circumstances getting in the way and taking up my time. That and large sections were so tedious that I found it hard to motivate myself to complete it.

In general exodus covers the "exodus" of the Jews from Egypt and pharaoh. This is where the first bout of tedium set in, which was essentially:

Moses: "Let me people go"
Pharaoh: "no"
Pharaoh: "Ok you can go"
Pharaoh: "No wait I changed my mind"

The only real conclusion to draw from all this is the ruthlessness of Yahweh and bias for certain people over others. Which is a very human concept, and not consistent with an "all loving" God.

The second half of Exodus is related to the Jews traveling and endlessly complaining about it, their faith wavering in God, despite the fact that only a few weeks/months ago the plagues/passover etc happened to free them. Even I, if presented with that evidence would have to conclude the existence of a God that was on my side.

What really struck me about Exodus was the last 10 or so chapters, which were, putting it bluntly, about home furnishings. Starting with God explaining in meticulous detail about the specification for the "tabernacle", then essentially a cut and paste job with "then they build the tabernacle to this specification" for the following five chapters.

This is the most detail I see in ANY religious book, and it is related to curtains...perhaps if a little more attention was paid to giving this detail in other specific elements, I might be a little more swayed by it.

The obvious main point most people take from Exodus is the 10 commandments, but these are almost an afterthought to all the other stuff going on, and no real continued focus is put on them.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Ultimately there was very little new information in Mark that wasn't contained in more detail in Matthew. A few inconsistencies occurred, such as the colour of Jesus' robe when he was being mocked as the King of the Jews and a few other minor things, but these can be expected from a story that is coming from two different prospectives, a lot of the time from people who weren't there in person.

A couple of interesting points were reinforced during this book however, one being the concept of being "saved" (a very big thing in the American baptism brand of Christianity), being the only way to go to heaven (regardless of your actions), the other being the underlying hypocrisy of Christianity. I mean this not so much in the sense of within the bible or this specific book, but the human nature of it, extracting out parts that they wish to follow and include in their specific church's doctrine, and conveniently ignoring other pieces.

One example of this from both Matthew and Mark was the reference that to divorce your husband/wife then take another partner is a sin, and is considered adultery. Those familiar with English history will know that this is the very point that spawned the Chruch of England from Catholicism as Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife and re-marry and the church at the time would not let him. To my knowledge most American churches currently allow divorce and to me this illustrates the human nature of religion, to make it convenient.

As I said Mark really threw up nothing new that wasn't contained previously, so I will not dwell on it.

Next up is Exodus, and back to the early days of the Earth where God was far more personally involved than my current experiences of Him in the new testament.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


So in brief, the book of Matthew is a fairly rapid run through of life life of Jesus from birth to death (and Resurrection). It includes some fairly lengthy speeches by Jesus, and some very well known ones such as the sermon on the mount.

One of the first things to surprise me was that in telling the story of Jesus' birth there was no reference to being born in a stable, in a manger or of the inn being full (all commonly well known as part of the nativity). I can only assume that this will be covered in greater detail in another New Testament book. It does, however detail such acts as Herod's murdering of all children under 2, a star guiding the three wise men (or kings) and virgin birth. Interestingly at one point when the wise men arrive, it says they go into a "house" and find Jesus. This is either a mistranslation or an inconsistency, which I will have to wait to find out.

The part in Matthew that really stood out to me more than anything else was something that gave me a minor epiphany regarding why people choose to be Christian. The section in reference is Matt 6:14-34. This is specifically the part of the sermon on the mount where Jesus talks about priorities in life, and is summed up by him saying "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his riotousness; and all these things shall be added unto you". This is to say that if you believe in God, and devote your life to Him, he knows, and will provide everything else you need (food, water, clothes etc). This I feel must be a major driving force for many Christians who do not wish to trouble themselves with the worries of every day life such as how much money they have (or don't have), where their next meal is coming from etc, because God will provide it. Strangely I feel that people in Africa would feel even more strongly about this principle, even though they are the ones being the most screwed by it.

Another important part of the sermon on the mount was Jesus retrospectively going back and slightly altering the 10 commandments to adhere more to what he wanted Christianity to be about, as a separation from Judaism. For example "Love they neighbour and hate thine enemy" was modified to remove the last part, resulting in such common phrases as turn the other cheek and love thine enemy. Other slight "moral" changes are added to "do not kill" and "do not commit adultery", specifically with the latter referring to the lust of another person while married would result in you being considered adulterous. This makes me think of a post I saw on wikipedia which went into the differences between Judaism and Christianity. Where Judaism is more concerned with what you DO, Christianity is far more concerned with what you THINK. I feel that this specific alteration on the part of Jesus sums this up nicely.

At times during the book I found Jesus a little frustrating due to the way he assumed authority over people, not just in a moral way (which, can be expected from the son of God), but in an intellectual way as well. There are many times that great thinkers challenge him and he gives a parable as an answer and is afterwards thought of as being a great thinker. The wonderful things about parables is that they can be read into in a number of ways, and actually rely on the intelligence of the interpreter, rather than the speaker, who may have meant something quite difference.

Much of Matthew is filled with parables of what heaven is and how to get in there, a well known one being "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" and many others in Matt 13. Ultimately they all boil down to the same thing; give up everything you have here, worship God and you get into heaven (pretty much regardless of what you do otherwise). This doesn't seem far from the American brand of baptism where if you are "saved" you go to heaven regardless as God forgives everything.

Aside from my aforementioned epiphany I didn't take a whole lot of new knowledge from Matthew, aside from one more point of interest.

Throughout Matthew Jesus uses the line "O ye of little faith" (Then proceeds to intellectually insult the person who he is speaking to). When on the cross Jesus also appears to have a lapse of faith, twice crying out "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Perhaps the son of God did fear death after all, despite the "knowledge" that he was going to get resurrected and his endless cries of "hypocrite!" at people may have been better aimed at himself.

Next on the reccomended reading list is Mark.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Those of you who know me will know that I am a "devout" atheist. I condemn all religion for its blatant hypocrisy, social control mechanisms and brainwashing.

I felt however, in the interest of fairness I should attempt to read all the holy books in their entirety in order to more accurately assess why people feel the need to resort to religion. I started by reading the bible, and will post an evaluation of each book as I complete them. I am reading the bible in the "suggested 52 week reading order" as illustrated in the King James version of the bible (though I do not intend it to take me 52 weeks to complete).


One of my main problems with Genesis, is a problem I have had with it for some time from when I first read parts of the bible. That is that God created Adam and Eve as the first humans, who had 2 sons, Cain and Able. Now out of no where two wives seem to appear for Cain and Able. Initially I thought this might be some neat side stepping by the author to avoid the issue of incest, however as this occurs later on in Genesis anyway, and is not condemned I approached the problem slightly differently.

In Genesis 1:24-31 God creates animals and man, it then goes to detail the creation of the first man and woman (Adam and Eve) in the garden of Eden. Now the only way I can solve this problem logically is to say that Adam and Eve were essentially "test runs" at the beginning of the 6th day, and he then went on to create further people outside of the garden who Cain and Able then run into at a later date.

So that problem put aside the main thing that I drew from Genesis was the spiteful, petty, unjust nature of Yahweh (God of the old testament). For example in Genesis 12:10-20 Abraham and his wife enter Egypt and for fear of being killed Abraham tells the pharaoh that his wife is his sister. As a result the pharaoh takes his wife and marries her. As a result of this deception on Abraham's part, the pharaoh is punished with plagues.

Another example comes in Genesis 11:1-9 where Yahweh deliberately hinders the progress of man by creating the concept of multiple languages, to stop people understanding each other and thus achieving their full potential.

Several areas of Genesis were essentially just lineages of the primary characters, and held little interest for me as the vast majority of people were of no importance. The whole book, however is riddled with deceit and manipulation ranging from daughters getting their father drunk in order to sleep with him, dressing up to steal a brother's blessing and passing off one daughter as another.

One of the most common messages in Christianity is illustrated in the story of Joseph, which illustrated the concept of "all things happen for a reason" and "God has a plan for everyone", though even this story involves people being framed for crimes they did not commit, both by family and trusted associates. Morality in Genesis seems to be a far cry from what most Christians claim to adhere to, and I imagine will be corrected later in the new testament.

Ultimately Genesis will always be remembered for two things. God creating the earth Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (a single line which apparently disproves evolution to most Christians) and for the genocide (actually that isn't the right word), planetacide of the earth with the great flood and Noah's Ark (I won't even start on the logistics of this, but we can assume some kind of quantum effect was in place).

My next stop according to the recommended reading order will be Matthew, the first book of the new testament.