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Chapter Five: Faith in action

Section 7: My way

People's faith reflects their personality, not the God they claim to believe in.

Have you seen this letter? It's been floating around the internet for some time. Attributed to various individuals, none of whom acknowledge writing it, it's addressed to Laura Schlesinger, the US radio talk host notorious for her hostility to homosexuals and homosexuality. The same points made here also came up in an episode of the TV show The West Wing. If you've read it before, scroll down to the rest of this section.

5.7a Dear Dr Laura

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have

Can faith move mountains?

People create God in their own image. What happens when they not only believe in God but put their faith into action?

The results are predictable: good people do good things in the name of religion and bad people do bad things. They act in God's name but God is irrelevant.

5.1: Doing good
Much good is done in the name of God ...

5.2: Doing bad
... and much bad

5.3: Men and women
Subjugating half humanity

5.4: Child abuse
Perverting young minds

5.5: God and Mammon
God can make you rich!

5.6: Apostasy
Sentencing disbelievers to death

5.7: My Way
People's faith reflects their personality

Finished this chapter? Move on to

Chapter 6
A Moral Code

Religion makes a strong claim to morality - only God and faith, apparently, keep us moral.

It's a nice idea, but it's totally false. A close examination of religion indicates how immoral it is - only humanist values guarantee a truly ethical approach to life.

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to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

5.7b The Bible tells me so

Obviously, the letter-writer's main point is to ask why fundamentalists - who claim that the Bible is the inerrant work of God - ignore many of the Bible's commandments to focus so much time, money and energy on condemning one form of behaviour which is actually discussed very little in both the Old and New Testaments . . .

. . . while gay and sympathetic Christians point to exactly the same book and insist that it proves that God loves us all. At the same time, rationalists stand on the sidelines, noting that fundamentalist and progressive Jews and Muslims make exactly the same opposing points in those religions.

Or peer into the ugliest corners of Christianity and you will find a small number of pale-skinned people claiming in all sincerity that dark-skinned people are children of the devil - a stance reflected in Islam by a few dark-skinned people who are convinced that pale skins are a sign of Satan. Come back into the mainstream and meet one group of believers who insist that only men can represent God, and on the other side of that divide another group who are convinced that women too can wear the robes of priesthood. Around the corner you'll find Creationists say that God created the world less than 10,000 years ago, arguing with believers who have no trouble combining God with evolution. And so on and so on.

In brief, for every conceivable opinion, attitude and prejudice, you will find a believer who insists that their views are sanctioned or mandated by God - and the more theologically inclined among them will swiftly point to the scripture or pronouncement that supports his claim. No evidence, no argument, will shake their faith. This is what the Bible tells them; other interpretations are plain wrong.

5.7c My faith, not God's

What should reasonable people make of this? It doesn't need a degree in psychology to come to the conclusion that an individual's faith is based not on the word of God, but on that person's character and outlook on life. Believers who are uncomfortable with homosexuality use scripture to confirm their viewpoint; those who believe God made them gay are equally convinced that the Bible or Quran approves of them.

People with rigid, unforgiving personalities can easily find passages in the scriptures that show that God is vengeful and unforgiving. Those of a more generous nature will find verses that prove that God is compassionate and loving. Men uncomfortable with women point to doctrine that prohibits women priests; men with no such reservations find theological proof that allows them. The next time you hear a believer argue a point of principle, listen not to what they say, but why they say it - their words reveal not the word of God, but their own strengths and weaknesses.

Believers claim that God gives them principles to follow, but that is not true. The reality is that believers attribute to God the principles they already hold. People's faith reflects their personality, not the God they claim to believe in.

Chapter Six
A Moral Code

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If God existed, he would...

admire the beauty of a universe that he did not create

recognize that eternity is meaningless

deny both heaven and hell

disown all men and women who speak in his name

denounce the harm caused by religious "morality"

help the human race to thrive without him

If God existed, he would be an atheist.

What is the difference between science and faith?

science is certain of nothing and requires proof of everything

faith is certain of everything and requires proof of nothing

Which do you trust?

"I know there is no God"
"I believe there is no God"

Check the answer

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