Why couldn't I say the same about Lord of the Rings?
Anyone who has read the Old Testament would know better than to make this statement. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)
I personally am unsure about this. I think this would be a much more convincing statement if the word "bible" was replaced with "belief in G-d".Yet, I do have to point out that your quote in from the bible is out of context. The wife gets executed in that case because she cheated on her fiancé. The lack of virginity is proof of that...Not saying this makes it fully defensible, but it's not as bad as you made it out to be
But if the book was written by the supposed creator of the universe, an omniscient being, how can we question the morality of executing a woman for having more than one sexual partner over the course of her life?If God wrote that verse, how can it be anything but fully defensible? Isn't it above reproach, above rationality?
There is a long list of absurd extracts, whether provided in full context or not, in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy is a bigoted, misogynistic bloodbath led by a petty, jealous diety. One either believes the text is to be taken literally or not. If not - and in doing so one implicitly concedes the text is created by men - then the Bible becomes a list of 'morals' one can cherry pick from to defend any position. Not really indispensable to morality as a larger concept.
The fact that the Bible contains verses that reflect the time in which it was written does not take away from the fact that it was the most revolutionary moral book of the time, and for much time after.Religious readers of the bible overwhelmingly know how to infer the good messages that are in the Bible without imbibing the elements that reflect the time in which it was written.On top of all of this, the negatives of the bible are consistently overstated, usually for personal/political reasons.The takeaway: humans need a law book to ground them. Humans have proven to be no better when led by their rationality than when being led by religion. There is a good case to be made that the bible represents the best text to serve the purpose of curbing humanities excesses and creating a decent world.
What is it about the Bible that makes it good?Based on your argument, I think you're saying that there are some parables and instructions which contain valid moral lessons. If so, no one disagrees, it's a moot point.The point is that you could say the same thing about Lord of the Rings, in that it's moral is that humans should curb their lust for power. Romeo and Juliet teaches us that love transcends old tribal grudges. And so on.If the argument you're making is that many pieces of literature through human history can offer valuable moral lessons, and some more than others, there's nothing special about the Bible.The point is, as you say, religious leaders infer which passages are good and which are bad (by using their rationality, I might add), and then teach lessons based on those. In other words, the only way you can actually get a moral positive out of the Bible is by approaching it from a secular standpoint, as part of the history of human moral reasoning and storytelling.Now, if you're making the theistic argument that it was written by an omnipotent, omniscient creator of the universe, which necessarily implies that the book cannot be incorrect and is above human rationality... that is where the problem of totalitarian dogma, the most destructive idea in human history, enters the picture.
Totalitarian dogma didn't exist in G-dless Nazi Germany, The Soviet Union, and Fascist Italy? You act as if humans only d bad things when they are led by dogma which includes g-d.Unfortunately, dogmatism takes many different forms, and is always dangerous, but it doesn't stem from belief in G-d rather than the tendency for humans to follow dogma at the expense of society.
The beauty of the Bible is that it combines an overarching moral framework with the authority of a G-d that is omnipotent. The other works you mentioned do not do that. Furthermore, reading the Bible rationally is not "secular." Medieval Jewish Scholars had already developed and promoted rational reading of the text as being "the will of G-d" in the 10th century.
Totalitarian dogma absolutely existed in all three of those places, The idea of a God-King is ancient and common, these three countries were just following the lead of Persia, Egypt, and many others before them.Instead of having faith in a god and a holy book he supposedly wrote, they had faith in a dictator. Their propaganda and mythology use many of the same tropes that religions do. Look at the "creation myth" of North Korea, it's no coincidence.The problem isn't only religion, but its root: faith--belief without evidence. The opposite of reason. If you believe that morality is a decree from on high, to be taken on faith, it doesn't matter who it comes from. We see, time after time, atrocities being committed by the faithful.Reason, not faith, is our tool of survival. Every human achievement has come from reason.
I would agree with you if what you were saying was possible. But it is not. The irony is that fascism developed out of the reason of philosophers who shunned G-d for the sake of reason(Sorel, Nietzsche). It is impossible to hold reason as the standard bearer. It just won't work.Can you provide a theoretical situation in which reason will bring us to peace a prosperity? Every time Reason was tried on its own, it led to the same catastrophes dogmatic religion caused.And consider this: is it not "reasonable" for the intelligent and manipulative elites to trick the heard into following them blindly? Of course it is reasonable. So unless you can posit that the herd will also be reasonable enough to not get tricked by the elites, your fantasy of "reason" will lead to more authoritarianism.
But I do agree, that if you created a world in which all humans were able to reason strongly without influence of their emotions and vices, reason would be a fantastic way to organize society.Wake me up when you achieve that.
I made no proposals of what is possible or impossible, I merely pointed out that every human achievement has come from reason.Was the construction of New York City an act of reason or faith? Does an engineer plan an electrical grid by prayer and belief, or by reason and analysis?Does a suicide bomber believe that he will go to Paradise based on reason or faith? Does he have any falsifiable evidence to go on, or is it purely an unquestioned (and unquestionable) promise from an unquestioned (and unquestionable) book?Reason builds and faith destroys. And yes, they sometimes exist simultaneously: someone with faith-based ethics can be a competent engineer, for example. A faith-based ethic can justify to him the construction of a Nazi death camp.You worry that the elites might manipulate the "herd." Every historical example of this entails a "herd" of people duped by faith.I do not advocate reason for some and faith for others. I think that we're all capable of thought, we all have free will, and we should each exercise our thoughts to the best extent possible. This is the opposite of obedience and submission to any power, earthly or imaginary.To your second comment: reason is a matter of choice for each of us. In every moment, you have a choice to be rational, to act on an emotional whim, or to obey dogma. "Organizing society" based on reason is a contradiction in terms, you cannot force people to be reasonable.Yes, there's a problem that some people won't always do the right thing. Yet, to propose faith--the opposite of thought--as the solution to a lack of thought... it's self-refuting.
Maybe if you meant the satanic bible, as it's the only one that not only does not condone rape, but actually requires affirmative consent.
Except maybe the parts about killing "witches", killing every living thing when you make a "holy" war, etc. Check out evilbible.com and become educated.