153 thoughts on “Hermeneutics

  1. It is all about intent. Do we want to explain or not? Do we want to understand or not? One thing is for sure, if “we” do not want to explain and “we” do not want to understand then we are wasting our time. Though it may be a fun time had by all 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It all seems rather lazy and silly, like trying to pin down a politician’s double-speak. There is such a thing as context and meaning (much of which is lost on the skeptic or unbeliever), but to duck the material entirely and choose willy-nilly in such a way is patently absurd.


      • I’m not simply referring to the Bible here. A skeptical approach often dissects the affected material looking for holes and contradictions. The intent isn’t so much to understand or gain an appreciable comprehension.

        Or maybe it’s a bit of a catch-22? If you understood it, you would believe, but since you don’t believe, you can’t understand it? I don’t know. It’s confusing. I’m confused. My pancreas is making my head hurt.


      • I think it is the other way round, especially with religious belief. If you understand it, you will not believe it, if you don’t you will believe it.
        But should anything be believed or treated as sacred[sic] because it is antiquated. Why does the bible need such special reverence. Wasn’t it impossible to write it in plain language so that it doesn’t mean what the prince wants it to mean?


      • Now I think you just opened a can of worms within a can of beans on top of an even bigger can of eggs containing beanworms. What exactly is this collection of peculiar ancient manuscripts we know as the Book of Books, the Bible, or as you would likely have it, the Buy-bull? I’m more than familiar with the popular assertions of skeptics and the average scholar, as well as the average believer. The answer seems somewhat mysterious and elusive. Anyway, moving onto the point…

        Are you saying that you don’t believe it because you understand it? And that those who believe it are able to do so because they don’t understand?


      • Interesting question.
        Well I think for those who see the bible as a handiwork of god either dictated by or written through his guidance believe it to be so. Those who see it as a work of man written to a particular audience at a particular time don’t buy the god story at all.


      • It’s extremely difficult to relate to the times in which the various scriptures were written. We live in an age when we can barely comprehend what life was like in the early 1900’s, much less thousands of years ago. It makes my brain break out in a painful rash. And every time I scratch it, I forget how I did it, or what I was trying to do, or where the hell I was.


    • What’s rather silly and lazy? The interpretation, or taking the piss out of the people who don the Magic Decoder Rings to interpret a book which really shouldn’t have to be interpreted in the first place?

      (Forgot to inquire the other day, but i hope you’re feeling better, Quak)


      • I was referring to the magic decoder rings, or at least the ones which allow you to pick and choose which parts of the Bible are “for real” and which ones are not. Either God is God, or He is not. Either He made Himself known through the writings in these books, or He did not.

        As for my health, I’m well medicated at the moment. Hopefully in a couple weeks I’ll be minus a gall bladder and feeling loads better without needing to numb myself into the “stoned age.”


      • And if the interpreter is a local guy and knows based on his own decoder ring what the ancients should be saying to his neighborhood, the he will do well saying that I guess. At that point, the book doesn’t matter. The interpreter of the interpreter is suggesting to the next interpreter what the first interpreter meant who was a fallible scribe scribing and infallible word.


    • “Meaning” of a text does not constitute an agenda to tell the truth. “Context” is the cultural frame in which miracle stories (Christian or any other) are indistinguishable from fairy tales, exaggeration of actual events, or even plain lies. “Meaning” is all too often the method by which people attempt to justify why an obviously made up story should be taken at face value.

      For some reason even in the modern western world we have such an extreme movement like the creationism. Proponents of which are so emotionally attached (or just plain ignorant) to their particular cultural heritage, that they believe they would lose the meaning of their “faith”, if any speck of their religious scriptures were approached whith an acutual scientific integrity, or historical scrutany. And perhaps, they are not wrong in the sense, that scientific knowledge refutes the likelyhood of supernatural interference in reality, they have simply decided to rather trust in the stories presented to them as some ultimate truth…

      Anybody can be wrong, but an idiot is recognized by the way how they cling on to what they learned first, or what they would prefer, rather than where evidence would lead them…


      • As Rabbi Wolpe said:

        “A tradition cannot make an historical claim and then refuse to have it evaluated by history. It is not an historical claim that God created us and cares for us. That a certain number of people walked across a particular desert at a particular time in the past, after being enslaved and liberated, is an historical claim, and one cannot then cry “unfair” when historians evaluate it.”


      • Anybody can be wrong, but an idiot is recognized by the way how they cling on to what they learned first, or what they would prefer, rather than where evidence would lead them…

        This is particularly well said and reminds me of the words of W.K Clifford

        If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it–the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.


    • @ Quack

      There is no context to the bible.
      Like its counterpart, the Qu’ran, it is a shitty rag with no value other than to be used as material to light my Braai ( barbecue) .


      • Ark, I’m fairly certain you can find better uses for those tomes than barbecue material. Paper weights, door jams, fly swatters — to name a few. (Be careful with the Qu’ran, though. Rumor has it the Muslims get a little murderous over its “misuse.”)


  3. I can’t believe that John the Great Atheist has stooped to such intellectual vulgarity.

    You guys already have one of your drones taking this low road.

    His blog is called, “What Comes To My Mind.”

    The propaganda tactic used in this post is to juxtapose something that has been redefined to be ridiculous, with something respectable, thereby destroying its respectability.

    That atheists need to adopt such tactics indicates that they are not able to operate in the arena of ideas using reason and evidence.


    • @SILENCEOFMIND, could you add the link to this other atheist site you are refferring to? It sounds interresting.

      Yes, I agree, John is a “Great Atheist”, but I should warn you of there are serious hazards in authoritarianism (of which even atheists are sometimes found guilty of). That is why you might be mocked for this comment of yours here. Not because people here dislike you as such. So, do not be offended. I, at very least, have hope for you. The mocking is rather because this equating John whith greatness, which is acceptable in a humoristic sense, is also reminiscent of you religious types in general equating greatness so seriously whith authoritarianism of your alledged revelation of your particular god. Do you see?

      When does a text become propaganda? Do not deal flimsy accusations so easily out, then maybe you will also be taken more seriously.

      Humouristic approach does not by any means result there is no “reason and evidence” in the post. Read it again, I think you have the capacity to find it from there. 🙂


  4. An axiom is a self-evident truth. That such heumenism can be applied to the holey* Bible—or any other sacred book used as a snare or pitfall for the undiscerning—is axiomatic.
    “Full of errors? Nay, sirrah—this ship bounces off icebergs—!”

    But still they follow their shepherds and defend to the last gasp, the very last Nelsonian blind eye. Good luck to them if only they’d keep it to themselves—but the buggers don’t, do they …

    And now to read the comments.

    * Riddled with holes.


  5. Another predicament then?

    I just been trying to keep you from flapping in the wind.

    Maybe you all need a little laugh sometimes, how’s thissss.

    “Life’s a bitch, and life’s got lots of sisters” Ross Pressner


    • No predicament, just a brief explanatory look out over the fertile fields of biblical interpretation. You don’t believe Genesis, do you, Bobbie? Not “literally,” correct? You would (i’m assuming) call it allegorical, yet for much of the bibles time on the bookshelves of human imagination people actually believed that poetic musing. Interpretation has of course since evolved, forced as it was, which proves its fictional status. The amusement garnered from this is housed only in watching the dance Yahwehists’ perform in their attempt to make it all sound valid in the Post Enlightenment world.


      • Genesis is not all encompassing John. It is not meant to be a scientific textbook. But you know this. You know what you are running from. It is a tactic the trembling rabbit uses. The interpretation is ‘God created it all’.

        Run, John run.
        Dig that hole, forget the Son,
        And when at last the work seems done
        Don’t sit down it’s time to dig another one.


      • A trembling rabbit? Nah, I’ve read Watership Down and don’t relate to that. I prefer to think my spirit animal is more a hairy nosed wombat, or perhaps a long eared jerboa


  6. I thought hermeneutics was a term reserved for interpreting scripture until I got into some postmodernism. I would say I was enlightened, but that’s not it. Humbling. Freeing. Frustrating. Interesting.


    • Samuel Johnson, the essayist and dictionary-maker of the eighteenth century, said: “Truth, sir, is a cow; which, when sceptics have found it will give them no more milk, they have gone off to milk the bull.”

      But milking the bull is not only futile. It can be positively dangerous to one’s health.


      • That certainly does not seem like a good analogy . A better one would be the “bible” as an airplane which is headed in a death spiral towards earth and there is a parachute named “truth” hanging next to the door, but the indoctrinated religious believer goes down with the airplane (bible) because he decides against saving himself with the parachute (truth).


  7. I think someone mentioned removing the supernatural parts from the Bible. I say that would be a travesty. The text would utterly lose its charm. Had this occurred during the original writing, then the movie making industry would never have brought us The Exorcist, or Gibson’s Passion, or the up and coming Noah.

    Where would the world of fiction be without the infamous supernatural claims of the Bible?

    Your meme, though, it does remind one of the myriad directions that allegory can go. The phenomenon can turn any run of the mill believer into an expert in theology.

    Personally, back during the day, I had always thought Pastor Arnold Murray was the master of interpretations…and he always made everyone feel so small for not being able to see scripture “clearly.”


      • Interpretation must past through discernment.

        Confidence is the key given by the architect.

        Truth is written, spoken, lives, and is unchangeable.

        The equation is unknown to most.


      • Is that what’s written in the inside-cover of the user manual that came with your Magic Decoder Ring, Bobbie? 😉

        “Truth is… unchangeable”

        -Are you saying its aseitic? That would imply your god is immutable, but didn’t it change its mind in Exodus 32:14: “So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.”


      • Using a faulty translation gives faulty meaning.

        “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” Exodus 32:14 AKJV

        “Then the LORD relented and did not bring on His people the disaster He had threatened.” Exodus 32:14 ESV

        These verses speak of the Lord “repenting” of something and seem to contradict the doctrine of God’s immutability. However, close examination of these passages reveals that these are not truly indications that God is capable of changing. In the original language, the word that is translated as “repent” or “relent” is the Hebrew expression “to be sorry for.” Being sorry for something does not mean that a change has occurred; it simply means there is regret for something that has taken place.

        More about this faulty translation of “changed His mind” can be found at Carm. It explains why God relented.


      • Who says its “faulty”? You?

        Regardless, it doesn’t matter which word/s you substitute here, “repenting” or “regret,” it means the same thing: it hadn’t predicted something, and now lamented how things had turned out. The more important part, however, is the “changed his mind.” It had once thought one way, and then altered that stream of thought. Punishment was promised (threatened), then it wasn’t delivered. The course of action was diverted. That, Bobbie, flatly contradicts all notions of aseity…. Not to mention the “regret.” Now, of course, i’m not sure if you prescribe aseity to your god, but i’m guessing you do…. I’m just pointing out it doesn’t meet the requirements of of being an aseitic (immutable) being if it is capable of having second thoughts. Men (men who write fictional stories, more specifically) have changes of mind, not aseitic gods.


      • I don’t think so John.

        If you read the Chapter we find Moses pleading with God on the behalf of His rebellious and ungrateful people; and so powerful was his intercession that even the Omnipotent represents himself as incapable of doing any thing in the way of judgment, unless His creature desisted from praying for mercy.

        “And the Lord repented of the evil” – This is spoken merely after the manner of men who, having formed a purpose, permit themselves to be diverted from it by strong and forcible reasons, and so change their minds relative to their former intentions.

        Exodus 32:14 is not the only verse.

        “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. 1 Samuel 15:11

        “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul” – That is, I placed him on the throne; I intended, if he had been obedient, to have established his kingdom. He has been disobedient; I change my purpose, and the kingdom shall not be established in his family. This is what is meant by God‘s repenting – changing a purpose according to conditions already laid down or mentally determined.

        There are others; Jonah 3:10, Jeremiah 26:19, Psalm 106:45, 1 Chronicles 21:15

        In all these instances, and more, we get a glimpse of Gods’ character: love and mercy for the obedient, vengeance and wrath for the wicked. God moves the faithful and the faithful move God.

        “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but give yourselves to humble tasks. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12


      • The song, Breathe.Second verse
        Run rabbit run
        Dig that hole, forget the sun…
        etc etc
        You made a quip about Watership Down, He was murdering Pink Floyd.


      • Ahhhh! I actually quite like the concept of rabbit holes, though. They promise so much adventure 🙂 It’s funny how how apologists like Bobbie try to attack their opponents. He threatened me on the last post with, what i assume, was his gods wrathful vengeance. Sorry to say, but that’s about as threatening as a hippie saying he’s going to punch me in my aura.


      • The first three albums I bought when I was 13 was Dark Side of the Moon. ZZ Top Tres Hombre, and Ted Nugent ’75. Ah, the good old days when a lid was 15 bucks.


    • Especially since he left out closing stanza of Time, which completes the lyrical narrative on side one:

      Far away, across the field
      The tolling of the iron bell
      Calls the faithful to their knees
      To whisper softly spoken magic spell.


  8. It occurs to me that this subject is about how the believer chooses their own morality over the dictated word of their deity. When there is a right and wrong way to interpret the text it is by definition not a perfect text and cannot be seen to contain perfect or objective morality.


    • Oh, nice observation. A text of a “truth” should require no interpretation at all. If “true” it should remain unmolested by divergences in language, calligraphy, obscure and dead lexicons, future dialects, exotic morphemes, or even illiteracy, senility, and deafness.


    • @MYATHEISTLIFE says: March 21, 2014 at 6:29 am
      “It occurs to me that this subject is about how the believer chooses their own morality over the dictated word of their deity. When there is a right and wrong way to interpret the text it is by definition not a perfect text and cannot be seen to contain perfect or objective morality.”

      Interpretation is done by both Religion and the Science.

      The experiments are made on the basis of the availability of certain data at a certain point of time and the results are interpreted and are accepted within a certain range of accuracy; and there is an implied condition always with the results “if other things remain unchanged”(since everything is moving, so other things don’t remain unchanged); the ultimate check of the results is with the Nature- the Work of God. If there is an anomaly detected subsequently in nature with the result of the experiments; then new hypothesis/theory is made and new experiments are made to remove the anomaly.

      The same way in Religion; as we advance/change in time and place; the previous interpretation/understanding does not remain valid simply because our understanding, though previously it was thought to be correct; but due to the change of time and place an anomaly is detected; when more thought was applied on the original text of the Word revealed one gets to know the mistake of previous interpretation/understanding; it was not the fault of the Word of God, so to make a new and correct interpretation/understanding becomes necessary.

      Science/Nature is the Work of God and religion is from the Word of God; both belong to the same source of One-True-God (Allah Yahweh Ahura-Mazda Parmeshawara Eshawara); both work in different domains for benefit of the humanity; both are complementary to one another and never contradict one another if correctly interpreted.

      Science works in the physical and material domains; religion is for guidance of the humanity in the even more sophisticated and intricate issued of ethical, moral and spiritual realms; nevertheless both are essential for living normal life in this planet Earth, peacefully.

      Let us see below what Wikipedia says on the usage of interpretation:


      • Interpretation (philosophy), the assignment of meanings to various concepts, symbols, or objects under consideration
      • Interpretation (logic), an assignment of meaning to the symbols of a formal language
      • De Interpretatione, a work by Aristotle
      • Hermeneutics, the study of interpretation theory
      • Exegesis, a critical explanation or interpretation of a text
      Math, science and computing[edit]
      • Interpretation (model theory), a technical notion that approximates the idea of representing a logical structure inside another structure
      • Interpreter (computing), a program (a virtual processor) that is able to execute instructions written in a high-level programming language
      • Interpretation function, in mathematical logic a function that assigns functions and relations to the symbols of a signature
      • Interpretation of quantum mechanics, a set of statements which attempt to explain how quantum mechanics informs our understanding of nature
      • Interpreter pattern, a software engineering design pattern
      • Left brain interpreter, the post-hoc construction of explanations by the brain’s left hemisphere
      • Interpreted language, a programming language that avoidsit program compilation


  9. Pingback: Science and Religion both essential for living normal life on the planet Earth | paarsurrey

  10. @JOHN ZANDE says:March 21, 2014 at 12:06 pm
    “Paar…. I think you should read this post. It’s brilliant written.”

    I don’t think it is anyway related to Islam/Quran/Muhammad; there is no commandment in Quran to make anybody a slave.

    If one thinks that there is some commandment to make a human a slave in Quran please quote just a single verse, repeat a single verse, from Quran in this connection.

    Everybody is invited to participate in this discussion. Please don’t give a list; if you have a list then select one verse that justifies your viewpoint.

    Thanks and regards


    • Clearly there must be some sanction somewhere, else Islam wouldn’t have such a vibrant history of slavery. Christianity, of course, is no better. One’s as archaic as the other.


  11. Pingback: No commandment in Quran to make a human a slave: No slavery in Quran | paarsurrey

  12. @JOHN ZANDE says:March 21, 2014 at 8:46 pm
    “Clearly there must be some sanction somewhere, else Islam wouldn’t have such a vibrant history of slavery. Christianity, of course, is no better. One’s as archaic as the other.”

    It is the rulers that do such things; they do things in the name of religion; and exploit people under cover.

    Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Jesus, Socrates, Muhammad (and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad- the rightful successor of Muhammad in our present era ) gave no teachings to make others a slave. There is no such teachings in Quran; I am absolutely certain about it.

    Other founders of religions- the Messengers Prophets of the One-True-God whose names I have given above- their followers are exhorted to defend them in this connection in the first place.

    If they fail to defend them; then I will defend them also after purification of their scriptures as per principles outlined in Quran.

    Please get help from other Atheists/Agnostics/Skeptics/Humanists who have read Quran themselves; to kindly quote just a single verse, repeat a single verse, from Quran in this connection. Please don’t give a list; if one has a list then select ONE verse that justifies your viewpoint the most, for discussion here.

    One could contact the person who wrote the article on the subject from the link provided by one and get help from him, if he can help.

    Thanks and regards


  13. Pingback: There is no slavery in Quran; absolutely none | paarsurrey

  14. Most telling is that slavery is still practiced in the Sudan, Niger, Mauritania and a few other corners of the Muslim world.

    A fatwa
    was recently issued from a mainstream Islamic source reminding Muslim males of their divine right to rape female slaves and “discipline” resisters in “whatever manner he thinks is appropriate”. Not one peep of protest from Islamic apologists was recorded. In 2013, the same site prominently proclaimed here
    that “there is no dispute (among the scholars) that it is permissible to take concubines and to have intercourse with one’s slave woman, because Allah says so.”

    In 2011, what passes for a women’s rights activist in Kuwait suggested
    that Russian women be taken captive in battle and turned into sex slaves in order to keep Muslim husbands from committing adultery. (Other calls for turning non-Muslim women into sex slaves can be found here).

    Since Muhammad was a slave owner and slavery is permitted by the Qur’an, the Muslim world has never apologized for this dehumanizing practice. Even Muslims in the West will often try to justify slavery under Islam, since it is a part of the Qur’an.

    Qur’an (33:50) – “O Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives to whom thou hast paid their dowers; and those (slaves) whom thy right hand possesses out of the prisoners of war whom Allah has assigned to thee” This is one of several personal-sounding verses “from Allah” narrated by Muhammad – in this case allowing himself a virtually unlimited supply of sex partners. Others are restrained to four wives, but may also have sex with any number of slaves, as the following verse make clear:

    Qur’an (23:5-6) – “..who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess…” This verse permits the slave-owner to have sex with his slaves. See also Qur’an (70:29-30).

    Qur’an (4:24) – “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” Even sex with married slaves is permissible.

    Qur’an (8:69) – “But (now) enjoy what ye took in war, lawful and good” A reference to war booty, of which slaves were a part. The Muslim slave master may enjoy his “catch” because (according to verse 70-71) “Allah gave you mastery over them.”

    Qur’an (24:32) – “And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves…” Breeding slaves based on fitness.

    Qur’an (2:178) – “O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female.” The message of this verse, which prescribes the rules of retaliation for murder, is that all humans are not created equal. The human value of a slave is less than that of a free person (and a woman’s worth is also distinguished from that of a man’s).

    Qur’an (16:75) – “Allah sets forth the Parable (of two men: one) a slave under the dominion of another; He has no power of any sort; and (the other) a man on whom We have bestowed goodly favours from Ourselves, and he spends thereof (freely), privately and publicly: are the two equal? (By no means;) praise be to Allah.” Yet another confirmation that the slave is is not equal to the master. In this case it is plain that the slave owes his status to Allah’s will. (According to 16:71, the owner should be careful about insulting Allah by bestowing Allah’s gifts on slaves – those whom the god of Islam has not favored).


  15. Hey John, I didn’t have the capacity tonight to read all the comments and contribute but I wanted to ask you a question. This post is very relevant because I have submitted a KickStarter project that is under review and I would like your opinion concerning my goals and the presentation of my project.

    If you want to hit me up on my blog, via my contact form or even in the comments section of one of my posts, I would like to give you the link to my project submission. I have looked over this thing and been working on it for enough time that I couldn’t see a flaw, minor or serious, if there is one. I need fresh eyes.

    This post Is relevant because my goal is to objectively disseminate in several media formats an objective look at the New Testament.

    I am going artsy fartsy humanistic values, but the Bible still is the foundation for all the failure of humanity.

    In short, I would so much appreciate you getting in touch and looking at my presentation and telling me what to fix before it goes public. In my neck of the woods, this is still an issue, so I have to do this before I can let Enlightenment shine.

    Thanks man.


  16. @BOBBIERILEYJR says:March 22, 2014 at 12:12 am
    “Most telling is that slavery is still practiced in the Sudan, Niger, Mauritania and a few other corners of the Muslim world.”

    It has got nothing to do with Quran/Islam/Muhammad. There is no commandment or teaching in Quran to make one a slave.

    I think it will be clear to one if one listens the following Friday Sermon from Mirza Masroor Ahmad- the Head of the World-Wide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
    He is the fifth rightful Successor to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) – The Promised Messiah – The Second Coming:

    The original Sermon was delivered in Urdu; its translations are available in following languages:

    Urdu, English, Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, French, German, Indonesian, Malayalam, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tamil, Turkish

    Please click the language of your choice by accessing the following link:


    • A fatwa
      was recently issued from a mainstream Islamic source reminding Muslim males of their divine right to rape female slaves and “discipline” resisters in “whatever manner he thinks is appropriate”.

      “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.” 4:36

      What the “right hand possesses” is a term in Quran that happens several times. Slaves are referred to as what the right hand possesses. Muslims can rape slaves as many times as they want. This is allowed in Quran as we read in Chapter 23, “Certainly will the believers have succeeded: They who are during their prayer humbly submissive. And they who guard their private parts, except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they will not be blamed.”


      • This is just another of a great many troubling aspects of Islamic dogma. The Bible gets ripped apart all over the blogosphere for everything under the sun, quite out of context, so I’m always careful about making blanket condemnations of other texts and religious doctrines. But it seems rather unavoidable that the greatest threats the world faces right now are those who follow the Quran religiously to the letter. The obedient Muslim’s duty is to either convert all non-believers or kill them as infidels. Christians are given no such mandate — we are only called upon to share the Gospel and love our neighbors to the extent that we value their lives as much as our own, regardless of whether they ever become believers. And atheists, as far as I can tell, are generally interested in free speach, discovering truth from a scientific perspective, and “live and let live” freedom.

        With this in mind, I have to wonder why atheists and Christians continually go at each other the way we do. We disagree about “truth,” but we stand together for freedom and human rights. Just something to think about….


      • Troubling indeed. It seems Islam denies the Torah. It denies the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets who foretold the Messiah. It denies the greatest commandment and the one who spoke it.

        I feel in my heart great pain for people like our Muslim friend. They are peaceful and loving but the Book they revere is not. The prophet they revere was a man who waged war, dictated how the spoils were to be divided, had many wives and slaves, and liked sex, a lot of sex, even with children (Aisha).

        Remember the USA was founded on freedom. Right this minute there are 313 religions in our home, and we will not tolerate oppression of anyone. If the Muslims living here think for one minute they are going to establish some special concession for their rape they have another thing coming. Islam will never take over the whole world.


      • @BOBBIERILEYJR says: March 22, 2014 at 8:01 pm
        “A fatwa”

        A fatwa means an opinion. Opinions could differ; it could be and is an unsubstantiated opinion and not supported by the context verses of Quran or other verses of Quran.

        A fatwa is not a verse of Quran; and is not binding on others.

        If a sinful Mullah believes wrongly for his vested interest; he is responsible for it not Quran/Islam/Muhammad.

        You have referred to Chapter 23; please read the following four pages in its verse 23:7 for its explanation:

        It will make things clear for you.



      • @Bobbie, “Troubling indeed. It seems Islam denies the Torah. It denies the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”

        You have to understand why this is , Bobbie. Ishmael was THE oldest son who had the rights of the oldest son. The Israelites totally disregarded this to make their little Isaac the fair haired golden boy. Jacob confirms this in Gen 25:31 Deut 21:15-17 also confirms this. “15 If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love, 16 when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love. 17 He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.”

        The fact that Ishmael is almost completely erased in the Torah along with the Israelite’s belief that they were “God’s Chosen People” not to mention the land their God supposedly promised them has only caused turmoil for thousands of years between Jews and Arabs (Muslims) .

        Though I’m not a supporter of Islam, I see why they might be pissed when it comes to the Torah.


      • You interpretation is bent in the wrong direction Ken.

        What does God tell us about Ishmael?

        “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” Genesis 16:12

        Genesis 17 tells about the covenant God made to Abraham and Sarah.

        Genesis 21 tells about Gods promise to make a great nation from Ishmael.

        Hostility is well defined. It can either focus inwardly, causing psychosomatically induced illnesses or suicidal tendencies, or it can project itself outward on some designated hate object. It can be triggered to commit acts of violence, either against a person (homicide) or against a people (genocide or war).

        Ishmael’s hostility and propensity to violence were rooted in the sin of his own scoffing and jealous attitude towards his brother Isaac. Some Muslims today are those in whom this vicious cycle has not been broken. They have voluntarily chosen to identify with Ishmael and have, consciously or unconsciously, embraced the spirit of that ancient and bitter rivalry. The present-day animosity of Islam towards Jews and Christians can be traced to the Islamic embrace of the spirit of Ishmael.

        Basic research reveals well documented evidence the descendants of Ishamel lived in the dessert in a clan/tribe social structure. There were frequent rivalries, blood feuds, and slaughters between the various tribes. And they were idol worshipers. This is the direct backdrop of the creation of Islam.

        In the Quran and Islam, there are certain doctrines that contradict the Bible. These differences are so dramatic that they cannot both be true. If one is true, then the other has got to be fraud. God, or Yahweh, is not the same as Allah.

        As much as we would like to see Judaism, Christianity and Islam as branches of one big happy “family of Abraham,” it cannot be. The stumbling block is Jesus Christ, the “seed of Abraham.” The issue between Islam and Christianity has to do with the way Muslims have departed from the Scriptures and denigrated Christ. In fact, they have gone far beyond doctrinal differences; they have set up a rival religion that seeks to supplant Christianity. Islam has taken an adamant stance against the very heart of the Gospel message, including denial of the deity of Christ, incarnation, atonement, the crucifixion and the question of God as Father, Son and Spirit.

        At first, Muhammad attempted to woo both Jews and Christians. When he was unsuccessful, as neither would subscribe to the idea of a pagan God, he not only turned away from them, but in the case of the Jews, after dispossessing two of the tribes, he banished them, and massacred all the men of a third tribe and made slaves of the women and children. In the case of the Christians, he also reduced them to second-class citizens (Dhimmis) and attempted to destroy the very heart of the Christian message. Having made himself odious to both Jews and Christians, Muhammad then took the step of enshrining violence forever among his followers by sanctifying vengeance (Q. 42:39) and fighting (Q. 2:216; 4:74; 9:5; 61:4). (There are more than fifty separate references in the Quran on the duties and conditions of Holy War).


  17. Pingback: Muhammad- the brilliant star of freedom: No slavery in Quran | paarsurrey

  18. @Quack and Bob

    Wow, see how easy it is find all the terrible parts of someone else’s crappy magic book? How silly it is? How horribly it treats group “X” or advocates terrible things? No relation to your magic book of course…nope nope nope.

    You are experiencing what it is like to deal with people who actually believe in magic and mythical bullshite with the expectation that others take their delusions seriously too.


  19. @Quack

    With this in mind, I have to wonder why atheists and Christians continually go at each other the way we do. We disagree about “truth,” but we stand together for freedom and human rights. Just something to think about….


    Yeah, tis a mystery, Quack. Really. I run around in circles every day thinking, why can’t the whole world be Christian? I mean, we don’t bury kids in the foundations of buildings any more, do we, so what’s the problem?
    Why protest about a doctrine that condemns non-believers to hell, that has fundamentalists in its ranks that teach kids the world is 6000 years old and dinosaurs only ate veggies and slept on the porch until naughty humans sinned and then they grew sharp pointy teeth.

    Divine Command Theory? Pah… that’s not so bad, right? Besides all that was a long time ago. History. In the past.
    Christians are sweet now, aren’t they?

    Too true. Let’s just go after the Muslims.God wills it! , right, Quack?


    • #Ark

      Ah, dammit, you got me. But once again, I am not fooled by your pseudo-atheism. You are a deeply devout Christian — your overall mastery of the Bible and the Christian faith betrays you!


  20. @QUACKZALCOATL : March 22, 2014 at 9:08 pm
    “This is just another of a great many troubling aspects of Islamic dogma.” Unquote

    There is absolutely no trouble; repeat absolutely no trouble with Quran.

    Quran defends itself in the context of the verses and also often at other places in Quran. The original text of Quran is secure and preserved in the original Arabic; and there exist and never existed two versions of Quran in Arabic, so any misunderstandings could be easily removed.

    One who wants it has to read and study though.

    Quran defends other revealed religions also; of course after purification of the scriptures of other religions under elaborate principles given in it and inferred from its verses.


  21. Pingback: Absolutely no trouble with Quran: Quran defends itself in the context of the verses | paarsurrey

  22. @ QUACKZALCOATL: March 22, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    “And atheists, as far as I can tell, are generally interested in free speech, discovering truth from a scientific perspective, and “live and let live” freedom.”

    If Atheists want free speech, freedom of religion; and that scientific perspective is upheld; peaceful co-existence; human rights then I think they should have no trouble with Quran/Islam/Muhammad.


  23. Pingback: Followers of Jesus and Atheists should have no trouble with Quran/Islam/Muhammad | paarsurrey

  24. The meta-discussion recently on this thread is just so rich and full of satisfying schadenfreude; we get to watch the frothy religious punters stage furious debate about whose slice of religious nonsense is better, all the while, slagging on others magic books and beliefs.

    Do, go on guys. Make the case for why your brand of tomfoolery is better.

    *gets more popcorn*


      • Well, we wouldn’t have to belittle it and point out the absurdity of the “explanations” you provide for the universe if you religious folk just kept it to yourselves. Live and let live doesn’t seem to be a message the religious understand, and just as long as you meddle in our secular societies then we’ll have no recourse but to tell you you’re wrong, and so please be quiet.


    • Imagine that! A thread ridiculing hermeneutics becomes the centre stage for its primary proponents. You couldn’t ask for a better coda.


  25. It seems I’m a little late to this party.

    On the part of the argument that focuses on Christians cherry-picking which parts are literal, which parts allegory, which parts poetry, the general criticism has a point, albeit I have some reservations there.

    Nevertheless, I pretty much agree with Quack up above. The skeptical approach seems more interested in dissecting the material to look for holes and contradictions rather than actually trying to understand the material on its own terms.


    • The party is always on, and you’re always welcome 🙂

      Generally speaking, you are correct. Many atheists, myself included, approach the Bible as a demolish-all approach. This though is, broadly speaking, a reaction to fundamentalists who claim inerrancy. The problem however in trying to be a little kinder to the text is that there is absolutely nothing new or even marginally original in the Bible that deserves any great respect. The OT is a mess of insane (plagiarised) nonsense, and the NT is filled with second-hand thoughts. There is nothing Jesus said or did which was new; nothing that hadn’t been said before (and often said much better) by others long before him (if he existed). So, if its wisdom i’m looking for i’d sooner open a book on Aesop’s fables, or rifle through the thoughts of Confucius; works which don’t make a truth claim.


      • Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Pointing out blatant contradictions is certainly a good method to challenge fundamentalists who hold Biblical inerrancy.

        Even though some parts of Genesis may have borrowed (softer word than the one you chose and also not anachronistic) from other Near Eastern Myths, they certainly put their own stamp on those stories. For example, I can see where Genesis 1 may have borrowed from the Enuma Elish, but it certainly is a very different story in many ways with a very different vision of the universe (one that is somewhat unique to it). As for who said what better, how does one establish that? I’m Jewish and I certainly find the Sermon of the Mount to be quite moving stuff. Some of the best moments in all of literature in fact, according to my estimation and many others. It means nothing to me religiously, however.

        The OT makes perfect sense to me. So I’m not sure what you find insane or nonsensical about it!

        To offer a different vision of the Bible, I find it offers many of the same things I value in other works of Great Literature, insights into the human experience (albeit from a theistic perspective), thoughtful and creative use of rhetorical techniques and structures, wonderful sense of imagination, many layers of meaning, interesting puzzles to solve, some wonderful imagery, metaphors, and use of language, and sublime and moving moments!


      • You’re right; “plagiarism” isn’t the best word. No story emerges in perfect isolation.

        I wasn’t thinking the Enuma Elish, rather Zoroastrianism. They have a six-part creation story, the cardinal couple Mashya and Mashyana (Adam and Eve), the duality of the universe, the human condition, the concept of Free Will, and even the End Times prophecies with a Saoshyant – a saviour figure. Moses, of course, comes from the far older Babylonian tale of King Sargon of Agade, which begins:

        “My humble mother bore me secretly. She put me in a basket of rushes and sealed me in with asphalt. Then she put me into the river…. The river held me up, and carried me to Akki, the irrigator who drew water from the river for the people. As he dipped his jug into the river, Akki carried me out. He raised me as his own son.”

        May I ask what you find especially unique in the Sermon on the Mount? The idea of the beatitudes is comforting, but not at all original, as it draws from notions of cosmic justice which the eastern religions birthed many hundreds of years earlier as expressed variously in terms of Karma (literally meaning ‘action’ which includes the fruits and the consequences of those actions), where the soul elevates itself with each rebirth higher and higher up the forever turning wheel of life: samsara. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good stuff, a great social message, but it’d been done and said before, and there’s nothing actually practical in it.

        Many Christians point to the Golden Rule as something unique, but its far from original. The concept dates back to the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1650 BCE) “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” It also emerged in the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (1780 BCE), as well as in the Mahabharata (8th Century BCE) “The knowing person is minded to treat all beings as himself,” in Homer’s Odyssey (6th century BCE), “I will be as careful for you as I will be for myself in the same need,” 6th century BCE Taoism, “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss,” in 5th century BCE Confucianism, “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself,” in 4th century BCE Mohism, “For one would do for others as one would do for oneself,” and was articulated by the Greek, Pittacus (640–568 BCE), who said: “Do not do to your neighbour what you would take ill from him.”

        You’re Jewish? Are you practicing? I have great respect for Rabbi’s. I’ve interviewed many and have been tremendously impressed with their honesty in approaching truth. Have you read my post, “Of Course What You Say is True, but We Shouldn’t Say it Publically”? I think you’d find it pretty interesting. The posts, “A Jewish Obligation?” and, “When Jews Jettison Yahweh” are follow-ups and might also interest you.


      • Consol, afterthought:

        I’m guessing you know this stuff much, much better than me, so let me ask you: have you ever considered the possibility that Jesus (the character) was a metafictional devise? I’ve never seen anyone else ever posit this idea, but it seems quite possible, even reasonable, to me. What do you think?


      • There is something new in the bible or came with Christianity and later on Islam learnt from them, I think, which was not known before in the past ages and that is religious intolerance.


      • Sure, but cosmic justice is present not just in Eastern Religions, but throughout the entire Bible. It is just different parts of the Bible offer different visions of Cosmic Justice; very often visions that are completely alien to our own visions of justice.

        The beatitudes begin with a wonderful example of anaphora (successive descending repetitions of “Bless are”) that rhetorically emphasize who these sermons are meant for: the poor, oppressed, and downtrodden. This is an explicit re-shifting of audience. The audience is those who haven’t seen justice in this world and it promises them one day they will see justice. I like the sense of hope it fills one with, the sense that there will be justice one day, those who do the right thing or the poor will see justice come for them one day. Whether it is true or not as statement of fact is beside the point; it certainly makes one feel it is true and fills one with hope.

        Despite the rhetorical device, each part is a pithy aphorism; it doesn’t waste space explaining details, but makes its statement in an aesthetically-pleasing way that draws one in further and makes each part highly quotable. This section ends by making an allusion backwards towards the prophets of the Old Testament, which is also a clever rhetorical trick. Matthew’s book is designed towards a specifically Jewish audience who of course would’ve seen themselves as following the laws of the prophets. So this rhetorical attack reframes those who persecute the followers of Jesus as being in the role of those who persecuted the prophets. You’re not following G-d and the prophets, you’re against G-d and the prophets if you reject Jesus!

        Keeping Matthew’s rhetorical position in mind, Jesus is meant to be seen as a new Moses come to his people. This is first established with the flight to Egypt and the massacre of the infants, which recall the earlier episodes of Exodus. This is continued here, Jesus gives his famous sermon on a Mount in the same way Moses delivered his commandments on Mount Horeb/Sinai (the two contradictory locations from other books of the Bible). Jesus explicitly states that he has not come to overturn the law, but he is here to reinterpret it. The Jesus in this narrative is offering new interpretations of the Ten Commandments.
        He then offers highly idealistic, probably impossible laws, yet for the most part I can’t fault him for the ideals. They are powerful ideals. Again these employ clever rhetoric of repetition: You have heard it said, but I say . . . All of these ideals essentially point to the Golden Rule of treating others as you wish to be treated, but they seem to go deeper suggesting we should treat others, even complete strangers, as our very brothers and sisters! It might be an impossible ideal, but it is one hell of an ideal to shoot for!

        To summarize: I agree it is built on old ideas, but it takes them into new territories, it has clever rhetoric supporting and some beautiful phrases, and ultimately it is moving stuff.

        Well, as you probably know, Judaism is broken up into three major branches: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. I grew up in the Reform Tradition. So I’ve never been much of a literalist or a strict observer. But I do celebrate major holidays (sometimes!), enjoy the customs and traditions, don’t keep Kosher, I do believe in G-d (but don’t KNOW if one exists, I would be a weak theist on Dawkin’s scale), and I am somewhat interested in Jewish thought and culture. I respect the Bible a lot as a literary work.  

        I’ve read all your other posts awhile ago actually.

        What do you mean by metafictional device?


      • “The audience is those who haven’t seen justice in this world and it promises them one day they will see justice. I like the sense of hope it fills one with, the sense that there will be justice one day, those who do the right thing or the poor will see justice come for them one day.”

        -You see, that’s precisely where I (a Humanist) find religion (in this case, Yahwehism) intolerable. It instills in people a hopeless defeatism. When they are presented with injustice (be it environmental, economic, legal, what have you) they are encouraged by this ethereal promise to just lie down and “believe” things will be sorted out in some postmortem bliss. This is an abhorrent way to live your life. It’s regressive to the extreme and only breeds flatfooted individuals who know not how to fight for justice in this life: our only life.

        Metafiction is a clever narrative tool used to expose the ‘truth’ through illusion by implanting a work of fiction inside another work of fiction, like Will Ferrell’s character Harold Crick in the movie, Stranger than Fiction. The purpose of this method is to draw the audience deeper into the story in the hope they’ll get more out of it. It’s a layered effect, a technique of immersion which until recently was believed to have only first been used in the 20th Century. That, however, has proven to be incorrect. Leeds University’s Owen Hodkinson has demonstrated the tool was not only known to the ancients but was in use throughout the eastern Mediterranean well before the 1stCentury. Importantly, as a tool or method of storytelling, a metafictional story does not seek to hide the fact that it is fiction. Instead it intentionally reminds the audience that they are participating in a fictional story and quite purposefully draws attention to itself. In fact, it shouts out “Look at me, I’m fiction!” and that’s the method’s genius. The function of this devise which deliberately jogs the audience’s mind to remember they’re experiencing fiction (like Emma Thompson’s voiceover narration in Stranger than Fiction) is to encourage the individual to engage the ‘truth’ at a deeper level.

        Jesus, the character, seems to fit this eerily well. We know nothing about his life, and where the anonymous authors do try to add some nuggets here and there, they are so wildly contradictory that it’s hard to believe the character ever drew an earthly breath. What’s interesting is the character Jesus uses parables which are a brilliant example of metafiction in action: a fictional character using fictional micro-stories to make doctrinal points. The character Jesus in fact ‘speaks’ in parables thirty separate times, each one announced variously like “Then Jesus told them this parable”(Luke 15:3-7), or “Jesus spoke to them again in parables… (Matthew 22:1-14). Unlike the sometimes wild variations in what the character does, when he does it, and where he does it these parables do not change to any great extent from one version of the story to another… which seems to point to an aboriginal root of the original Judean story; a story centred on teachings, not a man per say. As if to hit this point home the Jesus character in the wholly Judean gnostic gospel of Thomas (which predates all synoptic gospels by over a generation) does not move or eat or exhibit any life at all. The character simply speaks in cryptic kōans, a form of single-person dialogue, and more specifically in parables when the character himself is addressing larger (fictional) audiences. It’s an ingenious method which exposes the real audience to a fictional audience listening to a fictional character. It’s doubly-ingenious when you consider how easy these core doctrinal points were then able to be transported. A travelling gnostic teacher needed only to remember the parables and sayings, and having those down he or she could easily spin additional parts of a story so as to appeal to different audiences. And spin it they most clearly did, leaving us a veritable zoo of differing characters, but not radically differing versions of the parables themselves.

        BTW. You read “Of course what you say is true…”? What did you think?


      • While I understand what you mean and agree to some extent that such ideas potentially could and often do lead to that position in some or even most Christians, it seems to me that it doesn’t necessarily have to lead to accepting one’s place in life and the status quo. I imagine many find in the beatitudes not just hope in a future after death, but hope for the future during this life. Literature isn’t just a delivering system of philosophical/ideological messages, but also it serves as a reflection of our experiences. These lines can be a powerful force of inspiration! It doesn’t take much imagination to see why these lines might be appealing to various oppressed groups as voicing their experience and hopes, which then can fuel action to changing this world!

        I’ve always thought of metafiction as challenging truth with a capital “T” rather than bringing us closer to it, but I guess I have postmodern metafiction in mind. The only time I remember seeing metafictional techniques in Ancient Literature (or when it stood out to me) were in Aristophanes’ plays. I’ll have to think about Jesus being metafictional. I’m not really sure I would count a fictional character telling a story as being automatically metafiction since I understand metafiction to mean “fiction about fiction” (or at least fiction that explicitly points to its fictionality such as by breaking the fourth wall, etc.) For example, I wouldn’t normally consider Chaucer’s Canterbury tales a metafiction, even though, it involves fictional characters telling stories (and therefore is a series of stories within a frame-story). So it might be how I’m defining metafiction that is the problem. I also think Jesus was likely an historical person who once existed, although obviously not performing actual miracles and such.

        “Of course what you say is true…”? seems to reflect my own understandings of the Bible pretty well. I basically approach it as literature.


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