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2009-10-07

Genesis 3:15 seems pretty self-explanatory, right? Because the serpent tricked Adam and Eve, people and snakes shall be enemies all the live-long day. In reality, humans fear snakes because some their venomous bites and lack of reptile understanding. However, many people, herpetologists especially, enjoy snakes and often keep them as pets. So much for God's curse.

While this verse seems relatively benign, it's actually very sinister to some people. There is a theology called Christian Identity which believes that the Jews and all non-white people are descendants of Eve and the serpent (AKA Satan), while white people are the offspring of Adam and Eve. They interpret this verse as a command from God to hate non-Caucasians. Some adherents to the Christian Identity movement go as far as to say that non-white people don't have souls. Of course, I don't think anyone has souls, but that's just me!

I must echo the words of Steven Weinberg, "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion."

 

Comments

Winterset writes:

 

Hey! I have a soul! I have two souls! One on each foot... Oh wait, that's spelled differently... damn...

Okay, so non-white people don't have souls. That must mean that the word "soul" is defined as "melanin deficiency". I like that definition. It works for me.

I do have to argue the Weinberg comment, however. This, obviously, is just because I'm feeling picky this morning. Good people do bad things (and vice versa) all the time without religion being involved. Goodness/badness is not an all or nothing proposition where one little thing can tip your scale. Take Abraham Lincoln, for instance. That guy was a barely-mitigated bastard (and essentially an atheist) but he happened to do a couple nice things and the historians spun him into a veritable saint. On the other end of the spectrum, the Marquis De Sade was actually an extremely upstanding and generous guy, but did a couple of really nasty things and now he's forever known as the man after whom "sadism" is named.

Religion doesn't change the definitions or character of "good" and "evil". It merely allows people to believe they can put off paying for the evil and won't get rewarded for the good anytime soon. This certainly makes evil seem the more safe bet in this world. Religion also makes people think they stand no chance of being good because even the smallest infraction will send you to eternal damnation so why not just be as nasty as hell?

I'm a good person and I've done some nasty things. I'm sure the same could be said for everyone here. Then again, I'm kind of an optimist and I think people in general are good until they get into groups. Then the least-common-denominator effect starts to take over.

That's just me, though.

Hallway writes:

 

Dammit! Winterset stole my joke! CURSE YOU!

kris writes:

 

is "curse you" even a threat to an atheist? ;)

Mr-know-it-all writes:

 

Is it a threat to anyone? If he had said "fuck you" would you have done that question? It's just an insult, man.


On the souls bussiness, "soul" is just the escence of "human", in the most Aristotelian sense possible. Now, as we know, Aristotle was wrong in everything (about Phisics and Morals at least, I haven't read his texts on politics but I wouldn't bet on his favor). "Things" are just groups of atoms orbiting and magnetizing and stuff, so if anything has an escence, they are space and energy, nothing else. So the escences become that which allows you to say "that's not a chair, it's a couch", which is pretty random if you think about it.
Similarly, the soul is a word you use to deny the category of "human" to some people you don't like, be them black people, american natives, women, sentient computers, whatever. The first three HAVE been used in that way historically; the later is theorically possible, but perhaps not materially, and certainly not a good idea.
Or, as I once told a guy on high school (we where discussing the artificial inteligence thing) "even, if we assumed there is such a thing as soul, and that the soul is needed to think, AND that I made a computer that can think, it means my computer has a soul. Now, than can mean Allah choose to grant the computer a soul, or I found a way to make souls, or the pc sucked the soul of a kid who starved to death in Uganda; it doesn't make any difference whatsoever so shut up".
Note 1: I said "Allah" just to spite him. He was an Evangelist Christian if my memory serves.
Note 2: He didn't shut up.

hmmmm.... writes:

 

i dont think that you need soul to think. whether or not we have a soul or how to define it is a different ball game altogether

Ray writes:

 

Personally, I don't care if we have (a) soul(s) or not.

We're here, and that's what matters. No one has proven the existence of an afterlife either, so our souls going somewhere else after death or being used in reincarnation, is equally unimportant; No known person has gone to an afterlife and told living people about it, and no one who was reincarnated, if there was anyone who was, ever said that they were reincarnated.


We have no proof, and we're already here. To our current knowledge, but maybe not our beliefs, we only get 1 life.


Therefore, why should we care? That is my philosophy.

Hallway writes:

 

I think that 'curse you' counts as a generic insult. For all you know, I'm a twenty-foot tall penguin that practices witchcraft, buts that's just silly.
I'm don't practice witchcraft.

Kim writes:

 

Ray's on the right track: if we don't know what happens to us after death, it means either there isn't any after death, or God is telling us, rather pointedly, that knowing what it is is unimportant.

Katy writes:

 

But there are a LOT of people who claim to be reincarnated versions of this or that person! Personally, I know a lot of stuff that I never learned - how do I know it? I have no idea - I just do. It's eerie.

My dad has sympathies with the Xtian Identity movement. The description you gave is a bit simplistic - it's not that they necessarily hate all non-whites and Jews (well, OK, they hate Jews ...), it's just that non-whites aren't really *people* you understand ... not *true* people, anyway. According to the Identity movement, they're what are called "mud" people and as such should be left to their own devices and not mingled with. I find the whole business odious - it's why I don't see much of my family. It gets harder and harder to bite my tongue as the years go by ... *sigh* but my dad is old and set in his ways and it accomplishes nothing to argue with him except to aggravate both of us and create bad blood, so I watch my tongue and try to steer the conversation elsewhere ...

Katy writes:

 

BTW - I love snakes - I think they're neat. I'm particularly fond of venomous snakes. I used to have a ball python as a pet, but feeding him was a problem - because I also love rodents. So, no more snakes as pets for me, unless I can find one that will only eat crickets ...

JFluffy writes:

 

i have a friend who has a snake.

*le gasp*

a lie in the bible? whatever could this mean!?
/sarcasm.

 

Oh the irony!