Fields: On Passover, Don’t Gimme That Ol’ Time Religion

BY SAM FIELDS

 

On Tuesday I attended a Passover Seder at my cousin’s home.

It was good food and company.  If you have never attended one I encourage you to do so. If you are Christian let me remind you that The Last Supper was a Seder.

The guidebook for conducting a Seder is called the Haggadah and there are dozens of different ones.  The one we used is the same one that was used in Obama’s White House Seder. It’s called The Maxwell House Haggadah because it’s produced by the coffee company…“Good to the last prayer.”

Like all of these kinds of events, Seders purport to be a time of introspection, thought, contemplation, etc. In practice the range of questioning is rather narrow.

In the case of the Seder the parameters are typically limited to controversial questions like: “Moses, greatest man of his time or greatest man of all-time?”

That’s not my style.

Yes, I could get into the fact that, notwithstanding the Book of Exodus, there is not a scintilla of archeological evidence to support the claim that large numbers of Jews were ever slaves in Egypt, built the pyramids, or fled to the Sinai for forty years after leaving the Pharaoh’s army to drown in the Red Sea.

Instead, I was pilloried for attempting to talk about something that was a lot more sensitive and relevant to today—Yahweh’s reason for visiting the Ten Plagues on the Egyptians.

Part of the Seder includes dipping your finger into the wine and putting ten drops of Manishewitz on your dinner plate.  It commemorates the Ten Plagues that the Hebrew god put upon Egypt to change the Pharaoh’s heart about letting the Jews check out of the Motel Luxor.

I have serious problems with any direct or indirect approval of that notion.

Rather than whack the Pharaoh—which undoubtedly would have sent a message to his successor—the story unquestioningly endorses Jehovah punishing the innocent to get Pharaoh to change his mind.

Forget about the “frogs, “boils,” and “locusts”.  Ultimately, trying to make His point, the Hebrew god kills Egypt’s eldest males, notwithstanding they are clearly innocent children.

 

Collective Punishment Wrong

 

It’s a technique known as “collective guilt/collective punishment”.

The Bible sees it as perfectly acceptable as long as it is performed by the right folks on the wrong folks.  It’s the moral underpinnings for the Bible endorsing the later genocidal-collective punishment of the Hivities, the Jabest-Gilead tribe, the folks in Jericho and a lot more non-Hebraic uncircumcised types.

But that lesson and technique are not just for ancient times.  With the Bible as a rational, we continue to practice this technique of “getting your attention.”

In 1892 our government justified giving twenty members of the 7th Cavalry the Medal of Honor because it viewed the events at Wounded Knee, South Dakota as heroic!  History now sees it as a “collective punishment” – the massacre of innocent women and children perpetrated by soldiers who were angry at the conduct of a few rebellious Indian braves.

In 1942, when some unknown Czech partisans assassinated Gestapo bigwig Reinhard Heydrich, the German response was to kill thousands of innocents in the towns of Lidice and Lezaky.  Many were burned alive in a barn.

Kill’em All And Let God Sort It Out was the who, what, when and why credo of Lt. William Calley’s massacre in the Vietnamese village of Mai Lai.

It’s the rational for the Israeli Army destroying the homes of Palestinian parents when one of their kids has committed an act of violence against the Israeli occupation.

In modern times we are attempting to remedy this evil concept of the ancients.  Collective punishment, which can be seen in the Bible as a God’s holy invocation, is today a war crime that gets you life in prison.

Since it is probably impractical for States Attorney Mike Satz to indict Jehovah, maybe it’s time to see those sections of the Bible for the evil ideas they propagate rather than as an unquestionable rationalization for the work of The Almighty.

The Seder might be a good place to start.



19 Responses to “Fields: On Passover, Don’t Gimme That Ol’ Time Religion”

  1. Lex Rofes says:

    Nice article. I agree with many of your sentiments, that we need to question Judaism and religion more thoroughly. I say that as someone who loves and connects to religion (specifically Judaism) precisely because I do allow myself to ask fundamental and difficult questions. I do believe you misunderstood the ten plagues “commemoration” as you put it. It is done specifically to express regret at the fact that the ten plagues were used. You spill a cup of wine from your glass to diminish your joy. A similar passage relates how God weeps when the Sea drowns the Egyptians because, although Pharaoh had acted poorly, they are his children just as much as the Israelites.

  2. Nannie Panther says:

    Hey Sam
    Most of the time I’ll lean on your side of thinking but not this time, you are way out of line. You have forgotten about Hitler, and the evils or rulers that came way before us. You may be book smart like many people who choose who choose to spit in the air but be careful because one day it will come back to hit you in the face.
    This world is in a tail spin of non believers and this my friend will continue to feed hate!

  3. christine says:

    Um, Sam you really do need to do your research. Archeologists have indeed determined the altar that Moses used when he returned from Mt. Sinai.

    Apparently for all of your education, you never grew in any real Biblical knowledge beyond that of a comic book level. Most Christians realize that the Bible, written by many different authors, displays mankind’s evolving understanding and relationship to our Creator- and thus are not literalists. You know that, but chose to bloviate otherwise. It is tiring.

  4. Chaz Stevens, Malcontent says:

    Killing at Jericho

    When the people heard the sound of the horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the city from every side and captured it. They completely destroyed everything in it – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, donkeys – everything.

    (Joshua 6:20-21 NLT)

    ***

    Religion is a virus that needs to be eradicated.

  5. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear Sweet, Sweet, Confused Christine,
    You’ve seen reports that archeologists have located the Ark of the Covenant???? I’d like to see that Internet link and their evidence.
    Until then I assume you are once again confused. So let me straighten you out.

    Harrison Ford is not actually an archeologist and Raiders of the Lost Ark is not a documentary.

    FROM BUDDY:

    This from a recent National Geographic sums it up. Sam and Christine should pay attention to the last line that the scientific method can not prove or disprove anything.

    “Searches for such biblical relics are compelling, says archaeologist and National Geographic Society fellow Fred Hiebert, but ultimately doomed to failure. Even if there is an ancient, Ark-like object in Ethiopia, he asks, how do you determine it’s the one from the Bible?
    ‘We are talking about things [at] the crossroads between myth and reality,’ he said. ‘I think it’s great to have stories like [that of] the Ark of the Covenant. But I do not believe, as a field archaeologist, that we can use the scientific method to prove or disprove [them].’”

  6. Kevin says:

    Actually, Buddy, not to sound pedantic, but properly applied, the scientific method CAN disprove things (as long as it is possible to collect evidence for or against a proposition).

    But you are right, and this is crucial… the method never PROVES anything. A theory or even an axiom based on 100,000 previous observations is only good until the 100,001st one comes along and other evidence follows it.

    But it IS quite good at shooting down stuff.

    Kevin.

  7. SAM FIELDS says:

    I don’t know who this guy at National Geographic is but his reasoning is foolish.

    He is correct that no evidence exists to support the Covenent story. He is incorrect to imply that the debate is a “wash” because there is no evidence to prove the story is false.

    Because you can never prove a negative does not mean that all wacky ideas are up for debate.

    I say there is a “flying spaghetti monster” on the other side of the Sun. I have no evidence this is true. But you have no evidence it is not true.

    Therefore, it’s a fifty/fifty proposition???? I don’t think so.

    FROM BUDDY:

    The quote referred to archeological proofs to events in the Bible.

    In my opinion, you can’t use the lack of a relic in this case to disprove or prove anything. It only means that definitive proof can’t be found. Your belief that The Covenent never existed is equal to the beliefs that it did exist. Neither side can prove their position. Baically we’ve got to take what you believe, Sam, on faith….faith in non-belief.

  8. Kwityerbitchin says:

    Religion for Sam Fields is like pearls before swine.

  9. SAM FIELDS says:

    The absence of evidence is evidence.

    The Bible describes the Exodus as involving 600,000 men. With women and children that would be in excess of 1 million roaming the Sinai for 40 years beginning around 1250 BCE.

    The archeological record should be replete with tens of thousands of artifacts (chards, pots, pans, coins, weapons you name it) that are datable to that era in the towns and campgrounds that they would have been set up.

    The results….zippo, nada, nix.

    Are there stories of plagues and ecological disasters in Egyptian hieroglyphics? Yes. None from this era. They are all from the Old Kingdom into the Middle Kingdom which is about 800 earlier.

    Relgious faith is just a licence to lie…beginning with yourself.

    FROM BUDDY:

    The absence of evidence might mean something, Sam, when you defending those accused of crimes. It doesn’t prove anything in this case except that proof hasn’t been found yet.

    The archeological record grows daily. You have no idea what might surface in the future. So don’t be so quick to call those who disagree with you liars.

  10. Chaz Stevens, Malcontent says:

    Dear Christians

    In the following argument of nine premises, I will aim to convince you that Jesus of Nazareth was a fictional character, and not a real person. I do not intend to sway the beliefs of many of you, nor even budge them – I know this to be an impossibility, for if the religious mind is well-trained at anything, it is circumventing rational argument. I only intend to sew seeds of doubt, in the hopes that perhaps some of you will nurture them and let them grow. Here goes.

    1. Much, if not most, of the Bible is arguably fiction. Quit being so intellectually dishonest, Christians – this is the twenty-first century. That means the burden of proof is on YOU. If you make a claim about the universe, it is up to you to prove it is true, not the other way around. It is not up to us, the rest of the world, to prove your claims false – that is not scientific thinking, that is anti-scientific thinking. Because I am a man of my times, and believe in correcting ignorance, what I am doing here is out of courtesy to YOU, just as if I were to argue publicly that there is a Flying Spaghetti Monster orbiting Venus preparing to blow up Planet Earth, one of you would probably, out of simple human decency attempt to correct me and point me towards the truth. This is my way of doing that. Now, back to the Bible being fiction… that part’s easy. Find me a snake with vocal chords, water that is dense enough for a human being to walk on, or a chemical process that converts complex carbohydrates to fish. Until then, you’re out of luck, sucker. The evidence wins, and the evidence sides with me. These are invented stories… fictional dramas meant to impart some moral lesson. They are not real.

    2. Following point two: from an objective, scrutinizing view, there is no reason to believe one story in the Bible over another. We cannot honestly engage shades of truth here – either the books in the Bible are historically true or they are not. Since they almost ubiquitously contain material to make the scientific person skeptical, we can chance to say the same is true of the entire book: either it happened, or it didn’t. Therefore, it is no less plausible to disbelieve the Jesus myth than the myth about Enoch the nine-hundred year old man or the creation myth wherein God pats the first humans out of clay. Here’s a hint: humans, like all other complex organisms, reached their present condition by millions of years of natural selection through the self-preservation of certain greedy genes. We can observe this happening today; anti-biotic resistant bacteria are a good example. Plus, we’ve mapped the human genome – we know our ancestry, and it’s simian. Even Pope John Paul II said evolution is a historical fact. People did not come from clay.

    3. By definition, intellect, or “reason” is the ability to revise one’s beliefs in light of better argumentation. Taking simple, empirical data from the the world around you should make it easy to determine that the physical laws of the universe DO NOT CHANGE. It therefore stands to reason that “miracles” can only possible be one of two phenomena: A, an outside agent actually interfering with the laws of the universe; or B, hyperbolized coincidences. Considering the Bible was written in a time when allegory was the most common form of journalistic reporting and most people still believed spitting on a wound was an appropriate way to cure it, it is far more reasonable to assume the latter.

    *Side note: Seriously Hoss, let me clue you in on something: things that are impossible to do now – like walking on water, resuscitation after days of biological death, and wine magically turning into blood – were just as impossible 2,000 years ago. There’s a much greater power in the universe than “belief.” It’s called “observation.”

    4. To believe these stories, you must create strange rationalizations that do not hold up to true intellectual scrutiny. This brings us to the issue of honesty. Without deluding yourself, can you honestly answer the following questions? Such as, why doesn’t God heal amputees? He heals everyone else miraculously, right? But neither you nor I have ever seen an amputee grow back a leg. Oh wait, God has a special plan for them. But isn’t he supposed to be loving and just? What’s with the discrimination, man? Or how about Jonah surviving in the belly of that whale? Wouldn’t he be partially digested after three days? Maybe Baby Balooga had a slow metabolism?

    5. Following four, and this one is my favorite: if Jesus is the one true messiah, the only God, whom you shall hath no other gods before him, yada yada, how come so many gods DID come before him having nearly identical biographies? There are no less than two dozen god-men of the ancient Mediterranean whose birth was heralded by a bright star in the East (Sirius, for those who don’t practice astronomy), who were also adored by wise men, walked on water, fed the hungry, resurrected the dead, were crucified and rose again, etc. Many even had the same birthday as Jesus – December 25th! Not coincidentally, this was the Roman Holiday of Saturnalia centuries before the clergy decided to call it Jesus’ birthday. Surprise! Christians plagiarized earlier religions. I cannot spell it out any clearer than that. Knowing that, how can one believe anything Christian doctrine teaches? How do you even begin to separate what was invented from what was borrowed? You don’t. The cold, hard truth is, it was an old story then, and it’s an old story now. These messianic archetypes – the man that is god, the man who conquers death – existed long, long before Jesus came around. They were old news when soap was a cutting-edge technology, before written language was even invented. They are ancient fucking history. Jesus was not the antitype of these messianic figures, he was their distillation.

    7. Following point 6. If you are skeptical of this information (and you should be, as doubt is the seed of all knowing), investigate the matter for yourself. One hugely recurring problem I find when debating with Christians is that they either know very little about other religions or are ignorant of their existence entirely. This is counter-intuitive to me, and perhaps my own fault in failing to understand the religious mind. Shouldn’t it be fairly crucial to make the most educated decision in choosing a religion, if practicing the “right” one is important to you? For example, you wouldn’t want to choose a religion based on plagiarism, would you? Or one that literally absorbed every earlier belief system it encountered through endless politicizing or the diplomacy of the sword? Well, better crack those books then – there’s a whole heap of gods who fit the Christ mold long before Christ. I suggest you begin by researching Mithra of Rome, Attis of Frigia, Dionysis of Greece, Krishna of India, and Horus of Egypt. The last should be of particular interest to you, as his mythology is almost an exact carbon copy of Jesus’, right down to the twelve apostles and three-day rebound time after being murdered by jealous clergy. Though, I should point out that Horus was worshipped nearly 1000 years BEFORE Christianity began spreading through the Hebrew-populated Roman colonies. This should come as no surprise to you, as it’s written right in the bible that the Hebrews came out of Egypt.

    8. On a more serious note. Western civilization may have been “built” on Judeo-Christian values (at least the “don’t kill” and “don’t steal” parts), but we have become a modern society and have adopted the scientific way of thinking. While the aforementioned values have indisputable merits, maintaining the dogma in its entirety is no longer necessary, especially when we consider the violence and segregation it has caused throughout the ages. Furthermore, philosophically speaking, Christian ethics are severely outdated. Since the Enlightenment, the Western World has seen far superior ethicists to Jesus of Nazareth. Kant and Mill, for example, created life-affirming ethical systems that can be applied to a wider range of people without destroying their culture or beliefs about where the universe came from and what kind of sex they should consider perverse. Truly, there is no reason to cling to the old way any longer. We have adopted science and reason in every other aspect of our lives… yet somehow we have retained Bronze Age ethics? It makes no sense. Why should we continue to believe it is better to be tribalists than to be humanists? This mentality is not compatible with a just, egalitarian society. Besides, Jesus may tell us to love one another, but he also says we should maintain the Old Testament in its entirety – no cherry-picking – which means we technically must condone rape, incest, slavery, and genocide (!). If we can do away with these parts (and we have), why not do away with the whole thing?

    9. In the grand scheme of things, it would be generally permissible for one to believe in Christian ethics if it were readily understood that Jesus was not a historical person, and the story is allegory. However, if you are a Christian, you probably do believe that Jesus was a real human being. This is a threat to both the advancement of science and the absolution of religious conflict in the world, two issues that are paramount to our survival as a species as our planet nears carrying capacity and is dangerously on the brink of overheating. It creates too slippery a slope for other theocratic nonsense to take hold; for example, tthe mindset that human beings can literally live after death (how many soldiers would we send to die if everyone believed this is the only life?); or that preserving the existence of cell clusters which bear no conceivable human traits is somehow a better aim than alleviating actual human suffering; or that sex is harmful, but killing, bigotry, and total obedience to clandestine authority are healthy practices; or that blood sacrifice is a value modern societies should endorse. But Jesus WAS a real person, you say! There’s a plethora of evidence! No, not really, outside of the gospels. And those hardly count as “evidence.” They are secondary sources at best. Here’s why: if a historical Jesus really lived and died between 0 and 33 CE, then we know beyond a doubt that at least forty years passed before the earliest gospel – the one written by Mark – was scribed. Because the aforementioned gospel discusses the destruction of Solomon’s temple, we know it was written in or sometime after 70 CE. Given the lifespan of the period, that means the author or authors were at best infants or young children when Jesus of Nazareth was supposed to have been crucified. Moreover, the gospel writers are not themselves mentioned in the gospels, and they make no claim to actually having met Jesus. None of the apostles who walked with Jesus nor anyone who even met him wrote accounts to that effect. Granted, there are certain mentions of a “Christ” in the writings of Mediterranean historians from that period (not Justin Martyr or Pontius Pilate – sorry, but those are proven forgeries). However, if are a serious Christian, these should be of little consideration to you, as you know “the Christ” is really a title that simply means “the Anointed,” and was taken up by many rabbis of that time. In not ONE of these documents is a man named Jesus, or Yeshua of Nazareth mentioned.

    In conclusion, the gospels which discuss the life of Jesus of Nazareth are at best hearsay, almost certainly hyperbolized, and at worst complete fabrications. What we can determine beyond a doubt is that for at least four decades after his death, everyone in the world, including his sworn followers and students, simply forgot their messiah existed. If that doesn’t cast on you a serious shade of doubt, then nothing will, and perhaps I’m not “the fool”.

  11. Kevin says:

    Sam, you are thinking like a lawyer, not a scientist. These two pursuits have VERY different standards of evidence evaluation and logic.

  12. Christine says:

    Think anyone is gonna be citing MAOS or quoting Chaz Stevens, 2000 years from now?

  13. Chaz Stevens, Malcontent says:

    @Sam

    In years past, I worked for NASA helping field a space platform that studied the Sun.

    I’m assuming, your FSM vehicle is hovering inside a Lagrangian Point — and if it’s behind the Sun, it would have to be L3.

    And while we’ve never “landed” something in L3, NASA has the STEREO mission — two satellites in Earth’s orbit; one ahead and one behind. If something was at L3, we’d have spotted it that gear.

    And all of this assumes you’re thinking it’s a space vehicle, and not a planet. Even a smallish planet, say 100KM wide, would have an impact on the orbits of other planets (wobble them a bit).

    Then again, I’ve only consulted a shitload of graduate level books on arithmetic and planetary science, and NOT the bible. So maybe it is indeed a fucking miracle.

    Happy pastifus to you.

  14. SAM FIELDS says:

    Kevin,
    Correct, there is a difference in the use of evidence between science and the law.

    Religion on the other hand does NOT use evidence it uses “faith” i allows anyone to believe anything you want and then act offended if your beliefs are challenged by the facts.

    If you do not think the law requires evidence I suggest the next time you go to Court explain to the judge/jury that you have no evidence but you should win anyway because you have “faith”.

    The Biblical story of Exodus claims that a 1,000,000 plus Jews were wandering the Sinai desert for 40 years. Yet, we have not found a single chard or bone.

    Religious faith, without evidence, is just a license to lie to yourself and others.

    If you do not believe me ask the talking snake.

  15. Kevin says:

    Sam,

    I am well aware of the differences in evidence and proof between the law and the scientific method.

    And you are of course correct about religion.

  16. justme says:

    did you play hide the matzoh?

  17. Duke says:

    I’m Irish / Itlaian and was raised Roman catholic. My best buddy is Jewish. I was invited to his house for Passover dinner. It was very nice. His wife was reading from a book and we had to dip pieces of celery in wine. Then we all laughed about the times back in the 70′s when we worked at Bagel Nosh in Lauderhill, and the owner taught us how to make matza ball soup for the early bird special. You get a very big pot of chicken broth and you get a few loaves of wonderbread. Then you ball up the pieces of wonder bread and throw em in the broth. And that’s how the old guy who owned Bagel Nosh made the matza ball soup.

  18. justme says:

    that’s how the old guy who owned bagel nosh made “matza” ball soup for the irish/italians lol

  19. Duke says:

    Those folks standing on line for the early bird special weren’t Irish / Italian. Plus, back then, there was nothing west of University Drive. The only place to go after the shows at Sunrise Musical Theater was Bagel Nosh. That place was jammin 24/7. It’s a laundromat now.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Listing all pages