Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thought Experiment: Biblical Jenga!

When I was younger my friends and I made a drinking game out of the wooden block, tower game called "Jenga." We wrote commands on the blocks such as "Drink 3" or "The person to your left drink 4" or the dreaded "Waterfall!" It was a fun game to bring to parties since I freaking hated Flip-Cup. Playing a game like Jenga while drinking adds another dimension to the original purpose of the game which is: don't be the one make it all come crashing down (which in our world meant you had to drink a full beer as fast as possible). Ahhh...binge drinking at state schools...I digress.

While writing another post the concept of scriptural foundations got stuck in my head. Specifically, when you cut away all the other rituals, theology, and apologetics the basis of Christianity is scripture. If moderate/progressive Christians really believed that the Bible is true, or even remotely true, then they wouldn't be moderate or progressive. They would be Fundies. This also begs the question: if they reject so much of the Bible, then what is the basis of their belief?

What if we took the concept of “Drinking Jenga” and wrote various Biblical commands and laws on the wooden blocks? Pick all the heinous passages from the Bible and imagine them written on these blocks. Just a few examples:

Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them (idols), nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

Leviticus 11:1-3 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things that you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth. Whatever parts the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat.

Leviticus 11:12 Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is detestable to you.

Leviticus 25:44-46 However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance.  You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father.  Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her.

Psalm 137:9 How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock.

Hosea 13:16 The people of Samaria must bear the consequences of their guilt because they rebelled against their God. They will be killed by an invading army, their little ones dashed to death against the ground, their pregnant women ripped open by swords.

John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Luke 19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

So you have these passages and many more from both the Old and New Testaments (FYI: Christians cannot divorce themselves from the Old Testament for convenience. Jesus “said” so in Matthew 5:17-20) written on the blocks. Before we begin pulling the blocks from the bottom to place them on top of the tower, I have one new rule for this version of the game. If the player (a moderate/progressive Christian) does not agree with or does not follow the Biblical law or command on their block, they must discard that block. The block cannot go back onto the tower. Even with our few passages above you can see that that the game would not last long. The tower may not even grow enough to topple. It will just be a small tower with holes in it or even no tower at all. The only blocks that would remain are the ones with passages that include the laws and commandments that ALL cultures have, let alone religions: do not kill, do not steal, do not lie, etc. Basically moral and cultural norms that have nothing to do with, and do not require, religion.

The point of this is not only to show Christians that the Bible is not Holy, but they themselves have abandoned more of it than they consciously realize. With good reason, I might add! We don’t accept the selling of anyone into slavery anymore, let alone our own daughters. We eat all kinds of foods. We most certainly do not smash babies against rocks or kill heathens. There are inter-faith groups where people of not only different Abrahamic religions work together, but also with those from religions completely foreign  to YHWH/Jesus/Allah. This is a sin! Except that it is not and we know this.

This thought experiment illustrates to non-fundamental believers that the basis of faith is scriptural and the scriptures are old, outdated, barbaric and in many cases immoral. There is no reason to hitch your wagon to that train wreck. The reverence for that particular book should end. I can’t expect believers to just up and quit; but please realize that this is where we, as atheists, are coming from. Atheists aren’t “not getting it.” We get it. Quite simply: belief is not the default. Certainly very specific faith claims and religions are not the default. It takes a lot of mental work and gymnastics to believe. The only way you take that block out that commands you to slay the enemies of the Lord and put it on the tower is to ignore your own internal morals and defy your own reason. If you're just scared to be the one that brings it all down then stop playing.



paul said...

Well said.
Great link, btw.

Susan Quilty said...

I love the elegance of this explanation. Well said, indeed.

Abeille said...

I really like this post.