WILLIAM EDELEN: Using The Bible To Justify Views



The Contrary Minister

We are always making God our accomplice so that we can legalize our own inequities. -Henri Frederic Amiel

Those adhering to a strict interpretation of the bible are most often the ones who use the Church and the bible to justify and condone their social, political and moral views. At the same time they inflict these views on others as “gospel,” the only truth.

The abortion or pro-life issue is a good example. If a person wants to simply say “I do not like abortion, I am against it,” that is fine. That is their opinion and they have a right to express it.

It is when they start using the bible and the Church to justify their pro-life position that I cringe. They apparently do not realize how inane and unhinged they appear when thy march around carrying signs quoting the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” or equally absurd signs using the Church, bible, or God for justification.

After Moses told the people that the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” order came from God, he then proceeded to give some of the most vicious commands in the history of civilization, telling the Hebrews to kill just about everything that walked or moved. Moses told them that God blessed all of this barbaric slaughter. He gave commands for genocide, to kill babies and children. Thousands were slaughtered as a result of the commands of Moses. Quite obviously the commandment not to kill was not taken seriously or literally by the man who presented it to the Jews.

Christians who try to justify the pro-life position and are breaking into clinics should read the history of their church. The church has one of the most horrible, unjust and cruel records in the history of our species, from Constantine through the Inquisition to the Salem witch horror. The torture chambers of the Christian Inquisition were filled with instruments that stagger the human mind and sensibilities: racks, thumb screws, iron maidens, knives, whips, scourges, fire, tongs and hoists. It is painful to read how these were used on innocent human beings. Those using the Church and the bible for justification of the pro-life position condemn abortion as “murder of the unborn,” while the Church itself has a 1600-year history of horrible and brutal murders of the “born.” I would suggest that those mindlessly waving banners, destroying property or calling names take time to reflect on the hypocrisy of their position. Let them simply say, “I am against abortion” and let it go at that.

Another example: The circus that played within the walls of the 20th century, produced by the clowns of creationism, brought back to my mind the pathetic comedy of the Scopes trial of 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee. William Jennings Bryan was brought in as the champion of the creationists. Clarence Darrow offered to defend John Scopes, the biology teacher who was being tried for teaching evolution. The following exchange will explain what I mean by the “clown of creationism.” The New York Times called it “the most unbelievable court scene in Anglo-Saxon history.”

Darrow: You have given considerable study to the bible, haven’t you, Mr. Bryan?

Bryan: Yes, I have studied the bible for over 50 years.

D: Do you claim that everything in the bible should be literally interpreted?

B: Yes, I believe what the bible says. I believe the bible absolutely.

D: Do you believe the story of the flood to be literal?

B: Yes, absolutely.

D: When was the flood?

B: I would not attempt to fix the day.

D: Well what do you think?

B: I do not think about things that I do not think about.

D: Do you ever think about things that you do think about?

B: Sometimes.

D: How long ago do you think the flood was, according to the bible?

B: Two thousand, three hundred and forty eight years, B.C.

D: And everything not on the ark was destroyed?

B: The fish might have survived. They could swim.

D: Don’t you know that there are ancient civilizations thousands of years older than your creation date?

B: No, that is not so. They would not run back beyond biblical creation.

D: You do not have knowledge of ancient civilization, is that it?

B: I do not know how old they are.

D: Do you have any idea how old the Egyptian civilization is?

B: No.

D: Do you know how old the Chinese religion is?

B: No.

D: Do you know how old the religion of Zoroaster is?

B: No, Sir.

D: Have you ever tried to find out?

B: No.

D: Do you believe that the sun was literally made on the fourth day?

B: Yes.

D: Well, then, according to the story they had an evening and a morning the first three days without sun?

On and on it went.

Will Rogers, America’s beloved columnist and humorist, wrote these serious words in his next syndicated column after the trial: “All the other things William Bryan has been wrong on didn’t do much harm. But, now, when he says he is going to make it (the bible) a political issue, and get it into the Constitution of the United States, he can’t just ever do that. He might make Tennessee the side show of America, but he can’t make a street carnival out of the whole United States.”

These days we are still hearing the psycho-ceramic (crackpot) circus played again and again in state capitols, in small towns and large ones where fundamentalists would dictate their laying aside the truth and revelations of research for their strict adherence to archaic beliefs.