Gut Rumbles

December 16, 2003

bible study

When I was going through my religious phase during college (I don't know what I was seeking at the time, but I never found it), I became really intrigued by three stories in the Bible that led me straight to athiesim. I still ponder those stories today.

The first was the Book of Job. Just step back and read that story, not as some kind of word of God, but as a simple story about human nature. God comes across as a real dickhead. Satan tempts GOD!

The gist of the story is that God is really proud of Job's devotion and considers him to be a dedicated and obedient servent of the Lord. Job also happens to be rich and prosperous, so Satan tells God, "Take away his worldly wealth and Job will lose his faith."

God replies, "No, he won't"

Satan says, "Yes, he will. I double-dog dare you to do it. Go fuck mercilessly with Job and see how fast he drops you like a hot rock."

Like some dumbfuck kid in a sandbox, God fucks mercilessly with Job to prove Satan wrong. Not only do I believe that using Job as a pawn in some etherial bet between God and Satan was morally wrong, I have serious doubts about an all-knowing and all-seeing Omnipotent God who didn't know from the beginning how the bet would go.

Satan goads God to keep fucking with Job for a long time, and God sucks that shit up like a Hoover vacuum cleaner. Job ends up broke, sitting on an ash-heap and covered with scabs. God smiles when he sees that picture. "See? He still loves me," he says to Satan.

Satan finally concedes the bet and Job is given back everything he lost, except the many years he suffered while God fucked with him like a six year-old boy pissing on an anthill on a fucking dare from someone God KNEW was evil. I can't worship a God who operates like that.

I never understood the story of Abraham and Isaac, either. Abraham is asked by God to go sacrifice his beloved son, just so God can test Abraham's faith. Didn't God already KNOW? WTF? We've got the creator of heaven and earth, who did all of that work in six days, and he doesn't know whether Abraham is faithful or not? That's not God. That's a government bureaucrat wanting some fucking paperwork to justify his job.

I also never understood why people praised Jesus for raising Lazarus from the dead. If a good man goes to heaven when he dies, where he sits in a land of manna, milk and honey, why in the hell would you thank someone for dragging you from paradise and putting you back into a really shitty world? If heaven was a reality, Lazarus would have risen from the dead and punched Jesus right in the nose, while screaming, "WHY COULDN'T YOU JUST LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE? I WAS IN HEAVEN, YOU ASSHOLE!"

I have a lot of problems with the Bible.


The "Lazarus" story made me suspect the whole thing was bullshit too.

How many ancient people do you know that would welcome someone "back from the dead"?

I don't think so.

Posted by: Greg on December 16, 2003 01:39 PM

Let's not forget that whole Hagar/Sarah thing which STARTED all this shit we're going through now.

Great blogging as usual.


Posted by: mark on December 16, 2003 01:40 PM

I think it was the Job story that convinced me God was a woman.

Posted by: Rube on December 16, 2003 02:18 PM

Stop reading the stories like a third grader and you'll understand them.

At the very least, you should understand that the stories are about faith.

Man, being weak, needs to be tested. That's what gives him the hope of faith. Knowing that in the end, the Lord will see him through.

If you don't have faith, you can still read the stories in a dozen other ways that actually make sense - ie, Lazarus was undergoing a death ritual, not actual death.

Just pissing on Bible stories because you're in a bad mood and God doesn't give you a direct line to explain hisself hardly seems the act of a rational man who has truly sought to understand.

Bad tack to take here. There aren't many documents that have been more accurate in human history.

Might I suggest it was the oral interpretations you received and not the stories themselves?

Posted by: TheYeti on December 16, 2003 02:20 PM

And here I always thought the whole Job story was to illustrate that it's easy to have faith when everything is all happy and life is just perfect. If you still have faith when everything goes to shit, now, that's somethin' else.

But that's okay. I like the matriarchal views of some of the AmerInjuns that the lineage goes through the wimmen, and they own all the property and the children. (I think the Jews have something similiar, if yo' mama was a jew, then so are you.) After all, it makes a lot of sense. Before the advent of DNA testing (g) nobody really knew who daddy was for sure 'cept for mama, and she wasn't sayin' .

Posted by: SwampWoman on December 16, 2003 02:35 PM


I think the problem is that people DON'T read them like 3rd graders and instead try to inject all sorts of mystical BS behind it. Also being a "true believer" will fuck with your critical reading skills and won't allow you to be a reasoned judgement based on observation and fact.

Another reason I'm glad my parents didn't raise me in the church.

Posted by: glenn on December 16, 2003 02:40 PM

Rob, you missed the even greater point of the story. When Lucifer first challenged God a sort of cosmic bet was struck between the two of them. Satan said he could run the world better and man would love him better. God basically said, I'll take the bet, big boy. Let's see what you can do with Earth and man. The deeper point of the Job story is that Satan caused all the ill that befell Job. God sent NONE of it. Re-read the story carefully. Satan sent the winds and caused the ills that hit Job.

We've had a running argument in Arkansas between our legislature and the Governor whenever legislation cites natural disasters as "acts of God." If you read the Bible clearly and understand it, these are not God's acts, but Satan's while he still has dominion over the Earth.

Again, re-read the story. God didn't do those things to Job. In other words, you've got the wrong guy. Satan did it.

Posted by: Adam on December 16, 2003 02:41 PM

Dear Glenn:

Good post -- I went through the same phase in college - I was hell-bent (now; THERE's a phrase!) to find answers -- not only did I not find them; I became convinced that if anyone ever had, they were the Ancients.

Marcus Aurelius was a role-model for me; spiritually speaking; long before the film "Gladiator" made him cool. As to Hay-Zoos -- well; the Romans were right. He was a petty criminal who deserved what he got. They just didn't go far enough to root out the cult afterward.

The Old Testament? Full of allegories and fables. Your use of three of the most obvious Biblical Failures of Logic only further reinforces things.

(Psst! Yeti's a putz. You know this; though....)

Be well!


Posted by: Will on December 16, 2003 02:44 PM

God ALLOWED IT TO HAPPEN to Job on a fucking dare from Satan. Explain what I'm missing again?

Posted by: Acidman on December 16, 2003 02:56 PM

Are you all pissed off because you figure God's fuckin' with you? Maybe God IS a woman.

Posted by: SwampWoman on December 16, 2003 03:01 PM

I don't know how serious any of this discussion is but there is some depth to the three stories that you mentioned Acidman that are intriguing and go a bit deeper than what has been mentioned by others . . .

But I doubt you would appreciate me telling you what my understanding of those scriptures are . . . or at least I would . . and I do not want to appear to be hypocritical . . . if I am wrong . . . I'll be happy to comment . . .

Shoot me an email and we can discuss this topic at length . . .

Also . . . keep up the good work . . . your posts keep me entertained for much of my day!!!


Posted by: Websch01ar on December 16, 2003 03:09 PM

Rob, until man, in the persons of Adam and Eve, disobeyed God everything was great and fine and life was large in the Garden of Eden. Since then, Satan gets his chance to dominate the world and mankind and attempt to usurp God thru his dominion on Earth.

Man is given the ability to choose, freewill as it is often called, what they will believe, who they will obey, or even the choice to not believe. I know Who I believe in and if I'm right, I get eternal life. If I'm wrong, there's no penalty.

In Job, the story clearly illustrates Satan's power on Earth. Could God had stopped it? I'd wager he could have. Yet, that would have only proved Satan's challenge to be true. Whether we like it or not, Satan and God both are a lot more powerful than us and we may not always understand their intents. Regardless, I'll take God. He's gotten me out of plenty of trouble, even when I denied He was helping me out.

Posted by: Adam on December 16, 2003 03:17 PM

Good posting Adam, but he'll never get it, because he doesn't want to.

Posted by: Alaska Kim on December 16, 2003 03:21 PM

Anybody who lets their life decisions be dictated by what some book written thousands of years ago has got bigger issues to deal with than the metaphysical question of whether of not "God" is pissed at you.

Besides - who in their right mind would worship some genocidal maniac who allegedly wiped out an entire human race, save for a dozen or so people on an ark, just because he had a bad hair-day?

Posted by: Bob on December 16, 2003 04:01 PM

That's about the most ignorant thing I've heard in a while.

Posted by: Alaska Kim on December 16, 2003 04:21 PM

My last comment was for BOB.

Posted by: Alaska Kim on December 16, 2003 04:24 PM

Amen, Kim

Posted by: Eb Dawson on December 16, 2003 04:28 PM

Bob -

I guess you have a better understanding with your few short decades.

Calling the book old is a pretty weak argument. Even if the Bible is purely a collection of fables with absolutely no divine intent, it still presents a way of living, several actually, that are geared towards living a better life.

Do you dismiss all knowledge from those older than you? If a book says don't put your hand in fire, does that mean it's just old mysticism?

People who feel the need to reflexively smack down religion (and the efforts of thousands of the world's best critical thinkers in philosophy, science, and art), tend to mask a deep fear that somehow they don't get it.

I'd be pretty pissed too if I was incapable of understanding a message.

I'm not trying to attack Acidman, I'm pointing out this post suggests his Atheism is based on denying God, not denying the existence of God. The examples he gave have a lot of symbolism in them that can be analyzed outside of the tenets of Judaism or Christianity. His take on them is wrong.

Posted by: TheYeti on December 16, 2003 04:30 PM

Well, they say nuthin' riles folks up like discussing religion or politics. Nice to see that played out here.

I can respect the folks with a deep & abiding faith in their god. 8 times out of 10, they're good folks.
OTOH, there's those that instantly get offended to the core at the thought of someone who doesn't believe the way they do. They usually end up as the crackpots and zealots that give the extreme conservative branches of religion a bad name.

There's a few posts here supporting Rob's view, and few looking from the other side of the ring. Of the opposing views, the ones that disturb me the most are the ones that imply Rob holds his view 'just because he doesn't know any better' or 'he read the stories wrong'. They offer to set him straight by listening to their interpretation.

OK, there's how many sects of Christianity? How many synods and chapters and flavors and styles of worshipping God out there? They can't all be right. Offering up your version in place of the one he holds does not make your version preferable, or even true. It just makes it different.

Add to that the myriad of religions throughout the globe. Sure, you've got the Good Book full of true and wondrous stories that goes back thousands of years. Guess what? So do the Hindus. There's no guarantee that any of you, whether Buddhist, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Jew or whatever, are correct in your beliefs. We can't all be right.
Some folks are gonna be mighty suprised when the light goes out. NO ONE knows what happens after death until it happens, and anyone claming they do is peddling snake oil, tales of 'bright white tunnels' and 'speaking with angels' notwithstanding.

As for whether Rob's denying God's existence or just denying God is really a moot point.
For someone to tell me that my beliefs are immaterial would be the absolute height of condescension. When THEYETI tries to define Rob's atheism for him, here's what I hear...
"What a cute story you invented. Now run along and play. Don't worry, God's looking out for you, whether you see him or not!" as he pats Rob on the head. Your belief is not his belief, or mine, and assuming you're correct just because of your faith, or hope, or teaching, or divine revelation via an acid trip is faulty thinking. I'd use the word logic, but that word is almost useless in discussions of religion.

Ok, I've ranted long enough. I'll leave you with a quote I picked up on the 'net somewhere. It's a lot more eloquent than I am, and sums up a lot of what I feel about atheism.

"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

Posted by: El Capitan on December 16, 2003 05:10 PM

"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."

El Capitan,

Your quote above is just plain silly. Atheism, by definition, means - "Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods." - (American Heritage Dict.)

Belief in many gods is called polytheism. Belief in one God is called monotheism. Only the belief that there is NO god is atheism

Posted by: Roy on December 16, 2003 05:52 PM

God neither loves nor hates us.

As for the third story, hail Mark Twain! "All people have had ill luck, but Jairus's daughter & Lazarus the worst."
- Notebook #42, 1898

Posted by: Horse with no-- on December 16, 2003 06:38 PM

Well, Roy, congratulations. You COMPLETELY missed the point. I was not trying to give you a dictionary's definition of atheism.

OK, one more time for the slack-witted...

For all of you that profess a belief in one particular religion (and it doesn't matter which one), start to count up all the other religions in the world. Take off your shoes and socks to help you count if you run out of digits and feel the need for more.

Now, once you have a list of all those other religions that you don't believe in, add one to the total, and you get MY total.

For all the reasons you have for not believing in the other religions, they are exactly why I don't believe in yours, whatever it may be. That's the point of the quote.

Posted by: El Capitan on December 16, 2003 06:52 PM

Damn El Capitan...yooz good. You hit the nail on the head in that first post and you beat me to telling Roy that it flew 5 miles over his head.

Posted by: An Agnostic on December 16, 2003 07:04 PM

Rob, seems to me that the Bible comes apart right in Genesis. If Adam and Eve were truly the first humans, and they had two sons Cain and Able and the sons married.....their sisters?

Posted by: Ed on December 16, 2003 09:07 PM

just out of curiosity, is there a word for someone who believes in God, but thinks religion is a crock o' shit?

I'm that.

In other words, the bible was written by people, but God exists and is at this point, I imagine, pretty flabbergasted. Luckily, he's got Hank Williams and Johnny Cash to hang out with, otherwise he'd probably throw an asteroid at us.

Posted by: Rube on December 16, 2003 09:20 PM

[I wish to apologize in advance for the pomposity of this post.]
The ultimate heist, and the greatest dehumanization came with the projection, then transference, of the very real human powers we have onto/into a "God" separate from us humans, thus leaving us poor humans inherently powerless, confused without any hope of understanding, and -- just to top things off -- inveterate sinners. But, fortuneately, Man creates this God, not the reverse. Otherwise, as Acidman shows, we are in deep shit.
But the fact that God is our own creation, also means that the things we seek, we already have, as God is modeled on us. Thus, the Spirit is instead within us, along with the sought for powers or capacities -- for freedom and goodness, for example.
On the other hand, begging for help from, kissing the ass of, or -- the height of powerlessness and ultimate degradation -- having "faith" in this now totally separate Entity of our own concoction all represent the abandonment of our own selves, thus insuring the meaninglessness of life. But there is a choice we have.
Ironically, or perhaps significantly, the Bible also gives the choice, noting that "The Kingdom of God is within." On the Bible's own terms, then, the human's mistake is to instead follow the "Great Deceiver" -- always the enticer, the promiser, the One who will give you what you seek, especially life after death, if you only follow, abdicating your own power.
The Great Deceiver from this standpoint is God. It is also ourselves. But we have the choice: to lead out of our own power or to follow out of our own self deceit, or from our own hopelessness or fear. "'To be or not to be' is the question." The answer is not really difficult.

Posted by: Ga-ne-sha on December 16, 2003 10:48 PM

Rube, I don't know about anybody else, but I call that sane.

"How many synods and chapters and flavors and styles of worshipping God out there? They can't all be right."
Who says? Who says that they can't all (or even a vast percentage of them) be right, or --at the very least-- hold a valid nugget of truth? I wouldn't go into forty different countries speaking the same exact language and expect to be comprehended. It's my opinion that, since God created us wonderfully unique, our hearts speak different languages. What my heart comprehends may not mean diddly doo-dah to the next guy and vice-versa. This doesn't make either one of our forms of worship inherently wrong (nor does it give us license toward sweeping generalizations and blanket dismissal and persecution of one another), as our aims are the same: To serve God. You know, that whole 'we are all part of the body of Christ' thing.

1Corinthians 12:12-21 illustrates this beautifully.

Most conventional religions have forgotten the emphasis on love that comprises the better part of scriptures. That's a damn shame.

Posted by: Jett on December 16, 2003 11:02 PM

Jett, the mistake you make -- and it's a common one -- is that you assume "God" and "conventional religions" all refer to Christianity, and therefore that they share an emphasis on love "that comprises the better part of scriptures."

Many, many religions aren't Christianity- or bible/scripture-based.

Plus, only the second half of the Bible really focuses on love. The first half can be pretty damn nasty.

Posted by: bhw on December 16, 2003 11:33 PM

Rob, The book of Job always pissed me off too, back when my parents were dragging me to church and everyone, including my miserable parents, was insisting that Christianity was the way to happiness. (cards on the table: I'm a Buddhist) As you said, the omnipotent God ALLOWED Satan to send all the misery to Job. Ergo, God was partially responsible for it. Even at the age of 10, unable to think, brainwashed, I smelled bullshit in there somewhere. There seemed something awfully unjust and capricious about this God that Christians preached was the essence of Love.
Having said all that, I would rather have practicing Christians next door than mammon-worshiping atheists or agnostics. Atheists and agnostics please note, I'm not saying _all_ of you reject ethics.

Posted by: Daniel Day on December 17, 2003 12:47 AM

BHW--I was assuming nothing. I am speaking within my *own* frame of reference. I can't speak to anything else, as it would be presumptuous to do so.

And notice I patently didn't say 'latter part'; what I said was 'better part'.

Posted by: Jett on December 17, 2003 01:24 AM

The first two stories, I agree with you in general. Lazarus, however, wasn't in heaven. He was DEAD. The gates of heaven didn't open until Jesus himself died. He died for our sins, sacrificing himself so that we may enter heaven. Weither or not you believe that, it does make the story consistent.

Posted by: Tim Harrnacker on December 17, 2003 07:15 AM


"just out of curiosity, is there a word for someone who believes in God, but thinks religion is a crock o' shit?"


Same here. I believe that there is a God. I use the term "God" because I was raised Roman Catholic, and that's what we call the "Big Guy" upstairs. I also believe in Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, etc. - it's the same dude. It's not a case of "Our God is better than your God", it's simply "We call God a different name than you call Him."

Religion is what happens when fallible mortal men attempt to define the supernatural and mystical. As they are mundane, corporeal beings, they fail each and every time they attempt to put Him in a neat little box with their particular markings on it.

I think it's perfectly rational to believe that there is a higher power, but that attempting to create a system by which we worship that higher power is wrong.

I have a fundamental problem, for example, with going to Church every Sunday. I am considered a bad person, not worthy of being a godfather to the children of one of my closest friends (who is my daughter's godfather), because I do not attend Church. However, his brother-in-law, who is a known thief, liar, and all-around GFN, is worthy of being a godfather because he goes to Church once or twice a year. We won't even mention the sister that is 30+, sponges off her mother, and has a bastard child, who is also a godmother...

Something else comes to mind as well. When I was a boy, I had a good friend who went to Church every Sunday with his family. I attended Church with them one Sunday after a sleepover Saturday night. His dad fell asleep about five minutes into the sermon. He proceeded to sleep for the entire mass, getting woken up at the end for communion.

He's a good person, because he goes to Church, even though he sleeps through the whole thing? Why does putting yourself in a particular place at a particular time make a difference? If I honor, respect, and believe in God, what difference does it make where and/or when I show this?

Posted by: Guy on December 17, 2003 08:15 AM

just out of curiosity, is there a word for someone who believes in God, but thinks religion is a crock o' shit?


Posted by: arrogant bastard on December 17, 2003 09:45 AM


You are , if your blog is a true depiction of you, a decent and generally honorable man. I don't, then, understand why you should be so down on religion. Whether you believe in it or not is immaterial to the larger argument that it is extremely beneficial socially within the parameters of a secular society. Read George Washington's Farewell Address for a much longer and better argued examination of this position. Washington thought religion "indispensable."

As for being an athiest, I'm afraid I doubt you. You do have moral absolutes--you've said so. Apparently you have them because you know right from wrong, and you know right from wrong best through the feelings you experience as the results of your, and others', actions.

Those feelings of good when you do right, and bad when you do wrong, often don't correspond with what would be your own natural self-interest. Again, I refer you to your own blog archives for proof. I submit, just as an exercise for your inspection, that the good feelings you get in doing things for others, particularly when you stand to obtain absolutely no benefit from your actions and may possibly even suffer for them, is proof of the Spirit of God manifest in man. It's there in you, denials notwithstanding, and a lot of us (your regular readers) see it for what it is.

I suggest you reexamine your moral code and ask yourself WHY you see certain actions as right and wrong. It might move you from atheism (which, again, I really don't believe you are) to agnosticism, which sounds like a much better fit for you at this time.

Just my $0.02.

Posted by: Dan McWiggins on December 17, 2003 03:03 PM

First, Bob. Read more deeply into the passages preceding the flood. There was much more than just wicked humans. In only two instnaces does God send overwhelming destruction through fire or water. They have something in common that exceeds wicked humanity. Wicked humanity alone is not enough for God to send destructive power. Brownie points to whoever can first say what that thing in common was...

El Cap, Sure, I threw in a little interpretation, but my initial point holds. The way Rob first laid it out about the story of Job is inaccurate factually. A quick read of a few passages would show that error.

Also, El Cap, the atheism quote says "I just believ in one fewer..." I'd take your point if it said I just 'disbelieve' in one more god than you.

Okay, Ed clearly they had many children after Cain and Abel. That's as narrow a view as the fundamentalists who insist the Earth was created in seven days despite scientific proof to the contrary.

GA-NE-SHA, Two things--one I would dispute that man created God, but I will agree that over time we have painted Him a certain way that we can more easily identify with. The fact is God is not like us, does not look like us (except in the case of Christ), and really is so infinite, it will be impossible for our finite minds to ever fully comprehend Him and his nature.

BHW, of course the second half is different. For Christians, the controlling text is the New Testament. The Old Testament hold many great things of value, but it's inclusion is of great importance to illustrating the foundation that Christ was the Messiah.

Guy, sorry about the unfortunate sitatuion with the Godfather thing. Instances exactly like you describe is what first soured me on my traditional Protestant church. It is also part of what prompted me to go back and read the Bible for myself and not what I was programmed to believe. I wasn't programmed anything bad necessarily, I just didn't get the whole story and meaning and now that I do, it means so much more to me.

Posted by: Adam on December 17, 2003 03:55 PM


I've been asked before how an atheist knows right from wrong, and my reaction is--shock.

Would religious people really not know good from bad if their religious educations hadn't covered it?? What if you'd been absent that day?

I know what would hurt ME, and I assume the same things would hurt others. I find it unpleasant to cause misery, no gods required.

How do you know your god is good?

Posted by: kate on December 17, 2003 10:02 PM

To El Capitan and "An Agnostic"...

It was you two who missed the point.

I made no comments either way about anyones belief or non-belief in God or religion.

El Capitan's quote states that "...we are both atheists". I merely pointed out the fallacy in that statement. Anyone who believes in a God or many gods is NOT by definition an Atheist.

Now, how bout one of you two slack-witted imbeciles show me how I'm wrong. Keep in mind that I have posted absolutely NO statements regarding my own attitudes toward religion.

Posted by: Roy on December 18, 2003 09:28 AM

It's late...I've been way too busy and haven't read you in days. Nobody will probably ever see this now but THIS post is the reason I always come back and read you Rob...
I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!!!! you just explain it so much more entertainingly than I could.

Posted by: Lisa on December 21, 2003 10:52 PM

There's nothing to gain and nothing to lose.

Posted by: Garelik Jane on January 21, 2004 09:18 PM
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