Well, I'm slowly wading my way through that Biblical Defence Of Slavery thing. By way of forcing myself to take a break (it's become something of a capital-P Project), here's a thing or two I've noticed about the general style of argumentation contained therein. They're not particularly new things—in fact I've remarked upon them several times on this very blog—but I kinda need to vent.
Firstly comes one that'll be familiar to anyone who's crossed rhetorical swords with fundamentalists of any stripe. Having one's cake and eating it.
What you do, is you spend a huge amount of effort examining Biblical minutiae—single words or turns-of-phrase—as if they're not contained in a sentence, paragraph or entire story which might lend context, and insist that your reading of them is the only possible reading. Then you further insist that your reader must only consider the passage in question as if it were uttered by an emotionless automaton, with no ability to create metaphor, embellish the facts, out-right lie, write fiction, or simply make a mistake. Should your critic raise a question about what appear to be rather dubious morals on the part of the people (or god) in question, though, you are allowed to invent all sorts of imaginary scenarios which aren't even hinted at by the text.
Take the infamous 'curse of Ham' scene in Genesis 9, for instance. The background is that Noah's got drunk and fallen asleep in his tent. He is either naked or his robe's fallen open. His son, Ham, has wandered into the tent and seen this and rushed out to tell his brothers about it—presumably, though the Bible is silent on why he feels a need to do so, in something of a state of hilarity. His brothers, presumably being complete bloody prudes, rush in (backwards, with eyes averted) and cover the old chap up. (Quite why they need to do so also isn't explained. Just lace the bleedin' tent-flap up, fer Chrissakes!) When Noah wakes up, these party-poopin' humourless gits then go and tell him all about how utterly, shockingly depraved Ham is for having seen the Prophetic Penis (Possibly Perpendicular. Sorry!) and dared speak of it. And so Noah, being the oh-so-morally-upstanding old bastard he is, not to mention probably somewhat hung-over, decides, in his morally-upstanding way, to punish Ham's son, Canaan, for his father's wrong-doing:
And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Now, to me, who happens to have seen a little of human nature, and doesn't believe that the sun shines out of Noah's nether-regions, this is just a silly little tale of a crotchety, hung-over, slightly embarrassed old git getting way too stressed about being made fun of. (That said, it was undoubtedly used to justify taking Canaanites, rather than Hamites, as slaves. The Bible does certainly condone slavery, and with a little healthy xenophobia thrown in. Nowhere, though, have I seen any justification for believing that racism in the modern, skin-colour-based sense, was used by any of the cultures—including the Judeo-Israeli culture—in that area and time, as a sorting-factor when deciding who could, or could not, be taken as a slave.)
The writer of this book, on the other hand, has just spend gawd knows how many pages 'proving' that Ham was 'the first negro.' So, step one, for convoluted reasons of 'I said so,' he claims that the oh-so-literally-true Bible is, in fact, at fault. It was Ham, and all of Ham's progeny who were thus cursed to eternal slavery.
Step two, from thin air, and completely unsupported by the text which he claims is the final word on the matter, he then makes the ludicrous claim that the curse was actually pronounced by the Holy Ghost, using Noah as a mouthpiece, and thus attains the force of a God-given law.
So, by torturous examination of many out-of-context minutiae which we're told must be taken at face-value, we've been led to the conclusion that Ham was the first black person ever to be born. But when it comes time to show that all his progeny are officially cursed by God to be slaves, face-value goes out of the window and we're presented with flight-of-fancy reasoning which relies on completely ignoring that to-be-taken-literally-as-the-word-of-God text, and just making shit up.
Which, okay, I'm ranting about the words of a man who's been dead for at least a century.
Try asking a fundamentalist about God's not-exactly-commendable morals as portrayed in their must-be-taken-literally Bible, though. Different subject, but you'll be faced with the exact same tactics.
The other thing that gets my goat about this is the moral side of it all. Not (only) the specific 'Biblical morality' of the slavery and racism involved, but the more general morality of the basis of the whole argument. It's one I've repeated many times, but frankly, it's one that needs repeating.
Okay, so you've convinced yourself, by impeccable 'reasoning,' that the holy book and deity of your choice say black people or LGBT people, or women, or some other group deserve fewer rights than the rest of humanity. That, just by being who they are, or for doing things which cause no harm, but which God allegedly happens to find distasteful, they should, at best (let's not even talk about the sickening 'at worst'), be denied the same rights you enjoy. Hey, you're quite probably right. Your holy book quite possibly does say at least some of those things; especially if taken as literal truth.
Why, in the name of all that is good, do you obey this being who you portray as a complete and utter bigot?
Just because your god's a morally-corrupt bastard of the first water, doesn't mean you have to make yourself in his image.
Or could it possibly be that you're making your god in your own image? Surely, that'd be blasphemy…
You may use these HTML tags in comments
<a href="" title=""></a> <abbr title=""></abbr>
<acronym title=""></acronym> <blockquote></blockquote> <del></del>* <strike></strike>† <em></em>* <i></i>† <strong></strong>* <b></b>†
* is generally preferred over †