Plato's Cave - The Orlando Philosophy Meetup Group Message Board › Is Religion bad for Women?

Is Religion bad for Women?

Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 297
As for the fate of the Canaanites, Midianites, and various others conquered and genocidally slaughtered by Yahweh's “chosen” people (ostensibly, and sometimes explicitly, with Yahweh's blessing/sanction), there is little mystery in the Biblical accounts as to their alleged fate given the Israelites' inexcusably barbaric laws at the time (and even less mystery as to why only maidens/young-girls were spared but young boys were massacred)... The rosy-color of one's myopically biased Yahweh-glasses is showing if one honestly fails to recognize the irredeemably genocidal and immoral realities of the Judeo-Christian “sacred” text and is instead inclined to try making excuses for it... The Bible unequivocally and repeatedly supports slavery, including sexual slavery (of which forced-marriage is merely one variety), and including foreign slaves taken in wars of conquest by Yahweh's “chosen” people (practices no disciplined and professional army would or should condone or tolerate — and certainly not one operating under a just war theory compatible with secular-humanist consequentialist ethics, as most contemporary atheists would prefer). Moreover, regarding the specific verse in question, it's plainly and explicitly stated meaning cannot be reasonably doubted: “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves.” (Numbers 31:17-18) If one seriously imagines those instructions are meant to describe them adopting the maiden girls and treating them as daughters (or gently used house-servants rather than chattel slaves vulnerable to rape with impunity) then I have to say that I find the naïveté of such an attitude incredible...
  • Exodus 21:2 — allows one to buy even a Hebrew servant for 6 years
  • Exodus 21:4 — any wife given to the slave by the master, and children born of the wife, remain as slaves when the above slave is freed
  • Exodus 21:5-6 — allows the husband slave to keep his wife/children if he stays a slave of the master
  • Exodus 21:20-21 and Exodus 21:26-27 — regulate the beating of slaves, and states that the owner may not be punished if the slave survives for at least two days after the beating.
  • Leviticus 19:20-22 — gives instructions about the sacrifices that should be made if a slave owner has sex with or rapes an engaged female slave; the slave herself is punished with whipping, but no sacrifices or punishment are required if the slave is not engaged.
  • Leviticus 25:44-46 — the Israelites were allowed to buy slaves from other nations, and then hand them down as an inheritance.
  • Leviticus 25:39 — buying your brother as a slave is allowed.
  • Luke 12:45-48 — the Parable of the Faithful Servant (one of the most immoral attributed to the Jesus character): Jesus discusses the punishment of slaves, and says that a slave may be punished for not doing something he wasn't instructed to do as well as for disobeying a master's will (the parable is a powerful illustration of the servile nature of Christianity).
  • Ephesians 6:5-9 — Paul instructs slaves to be obedient.
  • Colossians 4:1 and 1 Timothy 6:1-3 — also admonish slaves to obey their masters.
  • In his Epistle to Philemon, Paul is allegedly returning a runaway slave to his owner.
  • Matthew 18:25 — people and their children are described as being sold into debt slavery and no criticism of the commonplace practice itself is offered, even as hypocrisy and mercy are discussed (indeed, the context does not redound to God's credit, morally).

Alternatively, if one prefers Thomas Paine's trenchant 1794 analysis of the offending verse in question in The Age of Reason:

"When the Jewish army returned from one of their plundering and murdering excursions, the account goes on as follows: Numbers, chap. xxxi., ver. 13:

“And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp; and Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle; and Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the council of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now, therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him; but all the women-children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

Among the detestable villains that in any period of the world have disgraced the name of man, it is impossible to find a greater than Moses, if this account be true. Here is an order to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers, and debauch the daughters.

Let any mother put herself in the situation of those mothers; one child murdered, another destined to violation, and herself in the hands of an executioner; let any daughter put herself in the situation of those daughters, destined as a prey to the murderers of a mother and a brother, and what will be their feelings? ... it appears, from the 35th verse of this chapter, that the number of women-children consigned to debauchery by the order of Moses was thirty-two thousand."

Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 545
No new gods are needed for the imagining. Only the same creator, sustaining, renewing one which we have already been either introduced to, or have perhaps never met need made be known.
"So I want to turn your attention to this subject: "Loving Your Enemies." It’s so basic to me because it is a part of my basic philosophical and theological orientation—the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. In the fifth chapter of the gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew, we read these very arresting words flowing from the lips of our Lord and Master: "Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven."

Certainly these are great words, words lifted to cosmic proportions. And over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move out into the actual practice of this glorious command. They would go on to say that this is just additional proof that Jesus was an impractical idealist who never quite came down to earth. So the arguments abound. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.

Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t playing. He realized that it’s hard to love your enemies. He realized that it’s difficult to love those persons who seek to defeat you, those persons who say evil things about you. He realized that it was painfully hard, pressingly hard. But he wasn’t playing. And we cannot dismiss this passage as just another example of Oriental hyperbole, just a sort of exaggeration to get over the point. This is a basic philosophy of all that we hear coming from the lips of our Master. Because Jesus wasn’t playing; because he was serious. We have the Christian and moral responsibility to seek to discover the meaning of these words, and to discover how we can live out this command, and why we should live by this command."
-- Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on 17 November 1957.
At one moment you claim the necessity of evil, and the next you decry Moses: Freedom grants you the forum with which to proclaim your arguments, and civility defends it. Without going over, with too fine a comb every point and fine hair you've written, I turn to Steinbeck and review East of Eden.

In your last two bullets:

  • In his Epistle to Philemon, Paul is allegedly returning a runaway slave to his owner.
  • Matthew 18:25 — people and their children are described as being sold into debt slavery and no criticism of the commonplace practice itself is offered, even as hypocrisy and mercy are discussed

    Paul is writing from prison regarding Onesimus, "So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. (Philemon 1:17-20 ESV)

    Matthew 18:25 is the same argument brought up during our last meetup: Indeed look at the debt compared to GDP for the nations. However to understand the statement, one has to read it in context: Matthew 18:21-35

Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 546
"You could drag humankind almost anywhere by manipulating the enormous energies of procreation. You could goad humans into actions they would never have believed possible. ...This energy must have an outlet. Bottle it up and it becomes monstrously dangerous. Redirect it and it will sweep over anything in its path. This is an ultimate secret of all religions."
-- Bashar Miles Teg

Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 302
I don't get any salient point from the Bashar Miles Teg quote... and there are no magic energies in procreation that need an “outlet” — this quote is not a sound description of the various hormonal changes involved in pregnancy and motherhood... Also, most religions do not have very helpful, wise, or progressive things to say about procreation or sex, in general (to the disproportionate detriment of women) — nor does celibacy or chastity tend to “redirect” people's “energy” in any healthy or helpful direction. Furthermore, if you're implying that Moses and his tribe of primitive rapists were “goaded” into their debaucherous war crimes and crimes against humanity by needing a nonconsensual “outlet” for their lecherous lust... then that is hardly an “excuse” for them or their vile God/religious laws.

Regarding slavery, the reality is that the Bible repeatedly supports it and never condemns it... and the context does not in any instance excuse or contradict this ugly and deplorable fact whatsoever. In fact, in Matthew 18:35 God is even described as “punishing” hypocritical lack of mercy (not slaveholding, in general, it should be noted) in a way analogous to debt-slavery!
  • There is also a big difference between debt, in general, versus debt-slavery... and your philosophical or historical arguments against debt with interest and how it plays out in the world (if improperly regulated) cannot exonerate or excuse your vile scriptures (or the immoral God-concept and evil laws which they describe as praiseworthy).
As for Paul, δοῦλος / doúlos = “bond-slave” — moreover, the obvious double entendre implying believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers (deluded mental “slaves” of a different sort, at worst, if you ask me) does not in any way exonerate the literal context and inexcusable connotation of this passage wherein Paul and Philemon participate in slavery and view it as a normal reality of life: supported and regulated under ostensibly divinely endorsed laws.

Indeed, the “creator” (in the unlikely event there is One Who is omnipotent and omniscient and “cares about” humankind whatsoever or is even aware of us) must be a sexist/misogynist dick (based on the “design” of reproductive biology, which also happens to be an abattoir, not to mention the socioeconomic realities of how patriarchy plays out in the world) — and no reasonable person who understands scripture as it was written and intended by its authors can cogently or coherently doubt that the Biblical God's character, actions, and laws are consistently and inexcusably sexist and misogynistic.

Finally, regarding “loving” one's enemies (which, by the way, does not excuse or trump excessively lionized Biblical characters supporting slavery — and cannot “justify” people making pathetic excuses for vile scriptures/Gods whose words support it): I can certainly agree with Robert S. McNamara's prudent “lesson” advocated in his books (as dramatically demonstrated in the excellent documentary “The Fog of War” by Errol Morris) that it is definitely wise to EMPATHIZE with one's enemy (if for no better reason than the consequentialist fact that it can lead to a more ethically-conducted war, swifter victory, or even avoid unnecessary bloodshed)... but “loving” one's enemies is frankly just stupid (and sometimes suicidally so); there are not always viable constructive ways to turn enemies into friends (or ensure peace without at least a credible threat of force if it were violated and then “trust but verify”). The psychology of demonizing/dehumanizing enemies is also not hard to understand — given that most most humans are emotionally tormented by killing; taken to extremes, this psychology is quite dangerous of course (and goes well beyond a mere coping mechanism for soldiers), but the naïveté of extreme pacifism is arguably just as dangerous, if not more so; sometimes, killing is the only rational and conscionable thing to do. It is certainly wise, prudent, and humane to try and look more at the world through the eyes of our enemies in order to understand their opinions, perspectives, approaches, and thought processes — but to love an intractable/irreconcilably-opposed enemy is asinine folly!

Concurrently, the Jesus character was not as ostensibly “loving” as most of his followers ignorantly presume. I would even go so far as to say that, from all accounts, I don't think he was particularly admirable at all — even by the primitive standards of his time (apocalyptic cult-leaders don't impress me, in general), and Jesus probably would not have been an especially pleasant person to be around, assuming he existed; he seems to me like a self-righteous and judgmental prick cloaked in a pastiche of transparently false humility that is much less “loving” than it might selectively/superficially appear to the unwary or credulous. Naturally, those who prefer can “comfortingly” imagine the Jesus character however they would prefer him (regardless of anything even close to an accurate/authentic exegesis of scripture) — but then we might as well trash the Bible as the worthless primitive garbage it is and write some new and better scriptures based on the best and most ethical Jesus fan-fiction available. WWJD is not a question modern people ought to be asking anymore... and that is as true with regard to women as it is with other subjects.

Judeo-Christian or Muslim people who lack egregiously sexist/misogynistic attitudes and practices do so despite/regardless of (not because of) their scriptures (and this is true whether they realize this or not — that is, it’s true whether or not some manage to delude themselves into mistakenly imagining that their scriptures “aren't bad for women” by cherry-picking and selective compartmentalization or looking at the “context” through myopically biased God-glasses).
Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 554
Consider Deborah
Ben Forbes G.
Epicurean306
Kissimmee, FL
Post #: 308
First of all, as a general principle: “considering” a few dubious anecdotal examples (and spuriously imagining them to carry inordinate weight compared to my more numerous and significant counterexamples with specific bearing on the Bible advocating deplorably immoral ethics) does not even come close to counterbalancing or excusing the overarching, unequivocal, and consistently repeated inexcusably sexist/misogynistic patterns of Judeo-Christian and Muslim scriptures — which are rotten and definitely very bad for women to their core. Indeed, bringing up one (out of very few) women in any kind of real authority who are even mentioned in traditional scripture is hardly an impressive example of anything positive or particularly admirable — nor is even this one desperate example unproblematic...

Furthermore, even the stories involving Deborah in Judges seem quite bad for women to me, despite her (at the time) relatively exceptional leadership “authority” — and prophesies of victory are hardly impressive under most circumstances, nor particularly empowering to women in any significant way... Consider:
Judges 4:9 — “Certainly I will go with you,” said Deborah. “But because of the course you are taking, the honor will not be yours, for the Lord will deliver Sisera into the hands of a woman.” So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh.
What is notable here is that God is unduly given all credit for battle victories in these scriptures — and all losses, setbacks, and massacres are conveniently imagined to be His will too... Furthermore, according to that quote, any credit (or blame?) is not given to Jael (Heber’s wife) for assassinating Sisera with a tent-peg by driving it through his head with a hammer (after he is the only survivor on the losing side fleeing on foot after the battle)... instead, the implication is that a powerful warlord like Sisera is humbled by being brought down by a woman. Credit is barely even given to the army that wins the battle, according to Judges 4:13 (since God takes all the credit but never any blame, as usual).

It's also quite hilariously self-defeating that any theist would ever voluntarily draw attention to this particularly ridiculous book (Judges), which is justifiably considered a popular joke among biblically literate atheists — since its story literally implies either that God is far from omnipotent or that the Bible contains glaring/irreconcilable contradictions (because there is no good excuse for why God would allow Sisera’s army to “mightily oppress the children of Israel” with 900 iron chariots that are seemingly unbeatable even with divine favor and help for twenty years, until finally an army of 10,000 men is able to beat them realistically rather than miraculously). For example:
“And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” —Judges 1:19biggrin

Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 555
I think you are trapped in a parochial mindset, perhaps of your own history. What does your mother think of the matter? I asked mine, her answer: no, of course not -- And she is primarily a naturalist, though influenced by nuns. Consider the nuns on the bus. Consider the Queen of Sheba. If the issue is representation then in the Chinese religions there are Nügua and Guanyin, and in the Greek here is an extensive list from paleothea. The Hebrew Proverbs are constant in their advice to turn to Lady Wisdom and the New Testament is continual in its egalitarian praise of hosts such as Phoebe, whom I suspect you'd be quick to denigrate for not supporting your thesis.

I am going to end this post with a video link to Karen Armstrong My wish: The Charter for Compassion.
Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 556
For those interested, Bryony Taylor has written the essay asking the question, "Why is wisdom personified as a woman in the Old Testament book of Proverbs?"


Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 557
From Ben:
It's also quite hilariously self-defeating that any theist would ever voluntarily draw attention to this particularly ridiculous book (Judges), which is justifiably considered a popular joke among biblically literate atheists — since its story literally implies either that God is far from omnipotent or that the Bible contains glaring/irreconcilable contradictions (because there is no good excuse for why God would allow Sisera’s army to “mightily oppress the children of Israel” with 900 iron chariots that are seemingly unbeatable even with divine favor and help for twenty years, until finally an army of 10,000 men is able to beat them realistically rather than miraculously).

10,000 men under the command of a woman documented in the Old Testament. Thank you Ben. While answering my wife, "I'm reading an essay on the why behind wisdom being personified as a woman." She wrapped it up quiet nicely, "That's because woman are smarter than men." Later she said, "We were born smarter, and we continue to be. Men were born stronger, and women smarter. Why do you think God gave man muscles? So that he would feel stupid when he was killing things dumber than himself."

Edit: I left out the word 'not' in the above quotation. The original statement was, "So that he wouldn't feel stupid when he was killing things dumber than himself."

You either get that, or you don't. It is curious that this thread started by a man, and dominated by an additional two has lasted as long as it has. Could it be that we are flexing our muscles more than we are willing to submit to wisdom?
Rami K.
Rammy
Orlando, FL
Post #: 561
Powered by mvnForum

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy