The Ethics of the Bible.


What is the main ethic contributions of the Bible?

A lot of people think that our western ethic and moral values are based on Christianity and the Bible. And without this glorious and holy heritage we all would be immoral and unethical perverts. This is of course rubbish and a product of 1700 years of the church's biased propaganda of itself and it's outdated teachings. Our western culture is of course not unaffected of the Christian Church's total religious domination the last 1700 years, but in fact, most of what we call human rights and values are based on ideas and philosophy from Antiquity (mostly Greek and Roman) forming the base for the human ideals developed in the Renaissance period.

These ideas were finally formulated in the Declaration of Human Rights after the French Revolution, at a time when Europe gradually had liberated itself from the religious medieval legislation and the Church's negative view of man and nature.

This humanization of legislation and society happened against the Church's will, not because of it. In fact, the Church has always tried to fight any kind of human and scientific progress. The Pope, Pius 6., condemned the declaration of human rights as a "monstrosity" in 1791, and later Popes followed up this. Gregory 16. declared the liberty of faith as "insane" (deliriamentum) in 1832. In 1868 Pope Pius 9. called the Austrian constitution which declared the freedom of speech, press, faith and teaching, and treated all religions equally, as a "disgusting law" (infanda lex).

But what is the moral in the teachings of the Bible? First and foremost, the Old testament is full of all kinds of mainly useless religious rules. Rules made in a time and in an uneducated primitive society where no science existed and magical thinking was the common trait. The Christian God is a vengeful, intolerant, angry and punishing God. And the most common punishment for breaking the rules in the Bible is death, usually death by stoning. (Most enlightened western people are appalled by the harsh and medieval Sharia-laws of Islam, no-one seem to see that we find the exact same laws and recommended punishments in the holy Bible).

And the Old Testament is brimming over with stories where God kills tens- and hundreds of thousand people in one blow. (Not a very moral thing to do, not even 3000 years ago.) The multitude of bizarre rules in the Bible are not particularly consistent or coherent either. Examples: The death penalty is seemingly suitable for men having long hair, for children not obeying their parents, for cursing your parents, for (men) not being circumcised, for eating bloody meat, for girls not being virgins when wed, working on Sundays etc etc. Again, it's not exactly very nice thing or considered of particular high moral standards to kill people for trifling matters like these. The view that the Jews were the "chosen people of God" together with their strong religiosity, lead to the by far most extreme nationalism in Antiquity. A fundamental ethnic intolerance is at the heart of the story of Israel. And Christianity, based on the Jewish god and religion, adopted this charming trait, and refined it to the most extreme religious intolerance.

Intolerance is also specific to monotheism, and it plays a particular central part in Christianity. All (pagan) polytheistic religions were usually tolerant and including, Christianity was not a problem for them. Christianity on the other side was and is an intolerant religion, and non-orthodox and deviating ideas and opinions are not tolerated. Since the beginning, the holy "Christian" Church has persecuted, tortured and killed heretics for seventeen centuries! (Most heretics were not pagans but other Christians.)

The useless Ten Commandments
Of the Ten Commandments, the first five rules are purely religious and regulating your relationship with God. So they are not particular helpful as guidelines for human to human conduct. Four of the last five commandments are all common "rules" found in most cultures past and present, and not at all particular to Christianity. The last commandment is concerned with "to covet" your neighbour's ox, wife and whatever, something which is beyond legislation. It's no point regulating people's yearnings or desires. It's just stupid.
As guidelines for human relations or for societies the Ten Commandments are tragically insufficient. From an all-knowing and omnipotent "God" we would expect something less banal, insufficient and crude!

And Jesus is not any better: Jesus uphold the bizarre laws of the Old Testament as he say "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." (Matt. 5:17) and "….it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail." (Luke 16:17).

The immorality in the biblical laws, commandments and rules, are found in the motivation behind them. You shall not kill/steal from/lie to a "brother" because its "Gods will", not because it is an evil unethical thing to do to your fellow man. At the same time it's obviously fine to kill people outside your own tribe/congregation. God himself does this all the time by the thousands in the "Good Book"..

"Religion is an insult to human dignity.
With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things.
But for good people to do evil things,
that takes religion."

Steven Weinberg