There is currently a lot of talk in the news about the importance of showing respect to the various holy books of the various “revealed” religions and to the “revealed” religions themselves. A lot of this came about when the Christian preacher in Gainesville, Florida, Terry Jones, threatened to burn Korans as well as the controversy over Muslims building an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero. Jones claims that the slumlord imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam pushing for the building of the Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, promised to have the Islamic center and mosque moved from Ground Zero to another location if Jones did not burn the Korans. However, Rauf claims he never made any such promise. And in spite of the fact that the Islamic center and mosque is still being built at the same location which Jones objected to, Jones has not placed his threat to burn copies of the Koran back on the table. It makes you wonder what the real motivation for Jones to call off the Koran burning was. Was it the visit he received by government men in black in early September?
Terry Jones aside, we need to ask ourselves WHY we should show respect to the “holy” books and the ideas and teachings they contain. When we look at the definition of “holy” we see the first definition is, “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.” We need to keep this definition of “holy” in mind whenever we read a book that is held up by its promoters as a “holy book.” Applying this definition to the Bible and to the Koran we see both of them fail miserably in even coming close to being “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.”
Starting with the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament we see there is not much good in it. Taken in its entirety it appears primarily as instructions on how to put Israel “on high above all nations of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 28:1)
One telling reality about the Old Testament being primarily for the promotion of Israel over all is the most important prayer in Judaism, the Shema. This prayer is so important Jews are required to recite it twice a day; one time in the morning and one time in the evening. The Shema is taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41. However, if you read what is above and below Deuteronomy 6:4-9 you see that this most important of all Jewish prayers has nothing to do with making the world a better place or for the good of the soul of the person reciting it. Instead it is for material gain in the here and now for the Jews and for Israel. And it is only intended for Jews as is evident from the first line of the prayer which is found at Deuteronomy 6:4 which reads, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”
Looking at 6:1 we read, “Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:” Like the vast majority of the Bible, this verse is ambiguous. Is God getting ready to teach some new commandments, statutes and judgments to the Hebrews? Is he talking about teachings he’s already given them? Or is he talking about both prior teachings and teachings he’s about to give them? (Of course, in reality the teachings are from the Hebrew clergy, and not from God.)
From 6:2 it looks like the most important thing to the Hebrew god/Hebrew clergy is that the Hebrews fear “the LORD thy God”/clergy. It reads, “That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.” Fear is very big in the “revealed” religions!
6:3 instructs, “Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.” So this verse is instructing the Hebrews to obey the commandments that the Hebrew clergy pretends are orders from God. The reason to obey them is not for personal enlightenment or for a healthy soul or for salvation but so that the Hebrews and Israel “may increase mightily” as their god, the Hebrew clergy, promised.
The first line of the Shema is found at Deuteronomy 6:4. This verse reads, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” This clearly demonstrates that the prayer is intended for Hebrews/Jews and Israel only. As the American Jewish comedian Lewis Black made clear on his DVD Red, White and Screwed, the Old Testament is a Jewish book and is not intended for Christians or for anyone else.
Verses 6:5-9, which make up more of the Shema, instruct Jews to love their god with all of their heart, soul and might and to have the words the Jewish god/Jewish clergy are teaching them and/or have taught them kept in their hearts. It goes on to instruct the Hebrews/Jews to diligently teach their children these commands and to constantly talk about them throughout the day and to even go as far as to tie them to their hands and put them between their eyes and to put them up on the door posts to their homes.
The Shema then skips to Deuteronomy 11:13-21. However much of what it skips over is very revealing and informative. None of it is about a reward in some far away time and place called heaven but is instead centered and clearly criminally focused on the very real here and now. Verses 6:10 and 11 promise the Hebrews who follow the rules of their god/clergy “cities, which thou buildedst not, houses full of good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not.” In other words, they’re going to steal all of these things from their neighbors with their god’s blessings. This shines a light on why a meaningful peace between Israel and the Palestinians will not happen.
Verses 12-19 are warnings not to forget the god who delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt, instructions to always fear the Hebrew god of Israel because he is a very jealous god and that by keeping his commandments the Hebrews will be able to conquer new lands and “to cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken.”
Verses 20-25 instructs Hebrews to always keep the myth of God freeing the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery in the forefront of the minds of their sons. It is interesting to note that modern archeology has not found any evidence of significant numbers of Hebrews being held as slaves in Egypt. And in spite of the Cecil B. Demille’s (it’s not well known that Demille is responsible for having 10 Commandments plaques put in government buildings in 1956 as a way to promote his movie and his Judaism) mythical movie The Ten Commandments, it was skilled and proud Egyptian craftsmen and workers who built the Pyramids, not Hebrew slaves. In the book Exodus by Carol Meyers on page six we read, “After more than a century of research and the massive efforts of generations of archaeologists and Egyptologists, nothing has been recovered that relates directly to the account in Exodus of an Egyptian sojourn and escape or of a large-scale migration through Sinai.”
In chapter seven of Deuteronomy we see the Hebrew god/Hebrew clergy giving orders to the Hebrews to “smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them” referring to the seven nations of people who lived on the land they were about to take. It seems the Hebrew god was afraid the people he ordered the Hebrews to commit genocide against may persuade the Hebrews to give up their Hebrew god/clergy and adopt their god. After this warning and an order not to mix with the people they were ordered to slaughter, God allegedly tells the Hebrews in 7:6, that the reason he demands the Hebrews commit genocide against the seven nations and not mix at all with them is because the Hebrews/Jews “art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” This false teaching of Hebrew/Jewish superiority which claims a divine origin is reflected in the way Israel mistreats the Palestinians today.
It is important for everyone to know the root causes of religious violence so they can be objectively addressed and hopefully corrected and done away with. By showing respect to such despicable and misery producing beliefs and ideas which do not deserve any type of respect at all, we are only giving more life to religious violence and the destruction it brings. And we’re also, by giving respect to beliefs that do not deserve it, keeping strong the wall the clergy have erected between people and their Designer.
God Gave Us Reason, Not Religion
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