Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Of Talking Snakes and Talking Asses

Science and Religion: Two Distinct, Separate Institutions of Philosophy and Thought

More often than not, Christian fundamentalists claim that the Bible is a literal, rather than allegorical, factual book, aligned with the standard tenets of Science. Such ridiculous claims can be gleaned by morons, such as the Ken Ham from "Answers in Genesis", an other unctuous religious morons who actually construe Science to fit into their narrow, biblical worldview.

In this post, I hope to highlight a few of these "enlightened facts" of the Holy Babble: Be prepared for a good hearty laugh.

The Talking Snake?

This slithery creature is the subject of vehemence in many a culture, thanks in no part to the fact that a good portion of snake species are poisonous (Even the non-venomous kinds, such as the anaconda and the python, can devour and swallow a small child), and the slithery, creepy nature of their legless, slender bodies.

In the Book of Genesis, the bible describes the beginnings of Creation, a supposedly perfect utopia which was supposedly created in 7 days: Light that engulfs the planet, the stars that light up the sky like Christmas lights, the Beasts of the Earth, and so on and so forth.

Amidst the grandeur and splendid myriad of God's wondrous Creation, the asinine Creator did let loose the one creature that was to foil all of his painstaking work: The Crafty, Willy Talking Snake!

Genesis Chapter 3:1-6 describes the chain of events:

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

How preposterous and pernicious a creature, this talking snake! To think that the charming creature (The talking snake would, if it was alive today, charm the pants out of our modern day snake charmers) had the temerity to tempt the very first two humans, God's very own image, on this lonely planet!

As the Cosmic super godfather, Yahweh couldn't let this dastardly Creature go unpunished: Along with Adam and Eve, who were banished from paradise (Eve got a worst deal for her role as temptress; she was made to suffer the pain of child birth, and most importantly, sow the first seeds of misogyny which would plague women kind for posterity), the snake became the first, ignominious creature to suffer the wrath of the deity:

Genesis Chapter 3:14 describes the extent of this divine punishment:

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.

Ah, the snake now crawls on its belly: Now this would seem to suggest that the original talking snake could walk (or maybe fly!)! A walking, talking snake in paradise!

Indeed, the irony of this so-called perfect utopia was destroyed by the mere presence of a creature, which really gives us a glimpse of the fallacious idea of an omnipotent, omni-benevolent deity. If anything else, this dreary episode speaks of incompetence on the part of God.

Not to mention the ludicrous idea of a walking, talking snake.

Balaam's Talking Donkey?

The donkey shares a special place in the books of antiquity: Along with other forms of property, such as the ox and yes, women, the donkey is one of the few essential items in the desert wastes of the middle east. Turn to Numbers Chapter 31, and it is clear that donkeys are considered prized commodities in the list of war booty.

But.... a talking donkey? That certainly stretches the imagination a bit, but like the talking snake, when it comes to Biblical nonsense, the sky's the limit (Considering that a host of folks, including Elijah and Jebus, did fly to the heavens)!

King Barak's Fear for His People

Balaam Whips His Disgruntled Talking Donkey

As a continuation of Numbers Chapter 21, Chapter 22 opens with an pervasive fear expressed by the King of Moab, Balak, the son of Zippor.

Having witnessed the destruction of the Amorites by the Israelites, Balak sends his emissaries to Balaam, hoping that he will put a curse on these murderous hordes of God.

Barak Seeks Help From Balaam

Numbers Chapter 22: 1-8 highlights the dire situation:

1 Then the Israelites traveled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho.

2 Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, 3 and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.

4 The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, "This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field."
So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5 sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the River, [b] in his native land. Balak said:
"A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Perhaps the6 Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. n I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country. For I know that those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed."

7 The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said.

8 "Spend the night here," Balaam said to them, "and I will bring you back the answer the LORD gives me." So the Moabite princes stayed with him.

9 God came to Balaam and asked, "Who are these men with you?"

The idea of putting a curse upon your erstwhile enemies is, to put it bluntly, an exercise in futility. That said, what is baffling at this point is, God didn't know the identities of the elders and princes who were in the company of Balaam! An all-knowing God who doesn't know the acquaintances of his followers?

As the story unfolds, after God was informed of the ill-intentions of these visitors by Balak, God commanded Balak not to bow down to their demands.

God Changes His Mind

Undeterred, Balak sent in princes who were more distinguished than those emissaries from the first expedition; this time, Balak found it incredibly difficult to reject their pleas. Even God relents, telling Balak to "go with them, but do as I tell you".

15Then Balak sent other princes, more numerous and more distinguished than the first. 16 They came to Balaam and said:
"This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, 17 because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me."

18 But Balaam answered them, "Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the LORD my God. 19 Now stay here tonight as the others did, and I will find out what else the LORD will tell me."

20 That night God came to Balaam and said, "Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you."

So, God changes his mind, and, to Balaam's chagrin, God's mind changes so fast that Balaam simply can't keep up!

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat her again.

26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?"

29 Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now."

30 The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?"
"No," he said.

A talking donkey, it seems, doesn't seem to alarm or startle Balaam: He carries on a verbal debate with his own ass, as if it were a mundane, household affair!!!!

What is more perplexing is that Balaam was actually obeying God's command when he followed the princes; yet, God was furious with Balaam for following his very own orders! A case of severe, medical dementia for the all-important Cosmic Godfather???

Biblical Hogwash: Snakes and Asses Do not Talk

Reasonable, rational people do not believe in fantastical, incredulous tales of the biblical sort: Extraordinary claims do require extraordinary proof.

Sane, rational people also do not accept the ludicrous idea of talking snakes and donkeys: Yet, the bible is full of ludicrous creatures and events which requires a gigantic leap of faith, and when faith has to be invoked to acquire belief, it is not difficult to detect the whiff of bullshit that permeates such exaggerating claims.

If asses and snakes could talk, we'd be having mass debates with these beasts: The ass would perhaps form trade unions and demand for higher wages, and the snakes, well.........they could become hucksters and chalartans in the Benny Hinn mould!

Christians who claim that the bible is a bastion of truth should really take a real good look at what really is written by these dubious authors of scripture, and stop making an ass of themselves.

Keeping an Open Mind???

By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.
-Richard Dawkins