Ladies (and Gentlemen), you sure you like the bible? Really?

I do understand why there are many Christians that don’t take the bible literally, there are some positive messages in the doctrine and there are many positive stereotypes associated with being Christian in the western world. It’s also difficult for most intelligent people to not accept evolution and the Big Bang, so they pick and choose what’s metaphor and allegory, and what’s “real”.  I get along with and respect many liberal Christians, even though I don’t really get it. I may really hate people like Ken Ham and Ray Comfort, but I agree with them that it doesn’t make sense to say you’re a Christian if you don’t fully accept the bible starting at Genesis (I don’t think they fully follow it themselves, but that’s beside the point). This is one of the many reasons I am not a Christian, I realized it would be dumb to put my faith in a book I didn’t fully believe and agree with. I feel like it is intellectually dishonest to cherry-pick certain things just to fit my own worldview. I know many liberal Christians say that the story of the beginning is simply metaphor and accept evolution and the Big Bang, but I’m not really concerned about that part of the story.

Eve has always rubbed me the wrong way. It was confusing to me that Adam was intentionally created and then Eve was like an afterthought. Poor planning on god’s part, all the animals had mates but for some reason Adam didn’t, and his mate had to be made from a piece of him? God doesn’t sound too all-powerful in that instance. During my first reading of the bible on my own as a kid, I distinctly remember Genesis 3:16 giving me a sinking awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. The verse is, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” It wasn’t the pain and childbirth part, I already knew pain was heading my way as someone of the female persuasion; it was of course the husband ruling over the woman part. I couldn’t understand why god would create women to be less than equal to men; it doesn’t sound that loving to me. It confuses me that some Christian women can identify as so and also have liberal leanings towards gender equality issues. Why identify as something that teaches that women are inferior in its holy book if you don’t feel that they are? This question also applies to liberal Christian men. With the verse I pointed to, some could say that it’s just Old Testament and things are different in the New Testament. But according to many Christian sects, Jesus is God, so following that logic Jesus would see women as inferior to men.

I’m only touching on the very surface of misogyny in the bible. I would mostly like to point out that the book starts off pretty quick with it. I have to greatly question the morality of the people that do mental back-flips to justify why it’s okay to say one type of person should submit to another type of person. Even if a Christian doesn’t take things in the bible literally, it’s hard to avoid the misogynistic messages. I also do not understand loving a god that does not love my sex.

womenbibleMEME

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17 thoughts on “Ladies (and Gentlemen), you sure you like the bible? Really?

  1. Hi Atheist Nerd Girl, i’ve commented a few times here in the past but they are all still listed as ‘awaiting moderation’. I hope this one gets through.
    I could never understand the modern acceptance of such misogyny as found in the various scriptures (and there are many versions of each, still being edited for fuck’s sake!)
    While in a number of ways, Jesus and the New Testament can be seen as a vast improvement over the monster of the old one, people must be reminded of other parts of the bible that are also happily ignored by Christians.
    More than once in the New Testament, Jesus informs us of the sacred station of the Old Testament (without, himself, referring to the atrocities of genocide and mass rape that are clear in it.)
    Jesus says that until the very end of time and all existence, we mush heed the laws and primitive codes of the Old Testament.
    So obviously the old ‘Oh, that’s the old testament’ excuse is completely baseless and Christians who put any faith in Jesus and/or the bible are also cheering for the existence of the jealous, warmongering, misogynistic old testament as well.
    If anyone thinks that I am wrong, I encourage them to tell me that they think so, provided they then tell me WHY I am wrong (that I may consider the dispute).

  2. Some Jews have adopted a position that if something in scientific thought or otherwise contradicts the Tanakh, then their understanding of the Tanakh must be incorrect. Evangelicals aren’t intellectual, in the slightest, but, I think you overestimate the amount of misogyny employed in Christian families. I was raised Evangelical and became an atheist. One of my best guy friends got married young, at about 19, to a nice young Evangelical woman. He works his ass off every day and she sits at home doing whatever the hell she wants. The two are utterly inseparable and have been since they met at about age 15. As far as I can tell the two are happy as clams and have been for years.

    So, there’s your reason that some women will embrace it: they get a nice free ride out of it and someone who is well trained and disciplined to work for her to boot.

    I’m not saying she doesn’t love him, she most certainly seems to, and he loves her – but a free ride in this society doesn’t seem like the end of the world to me.

  3. The only religion i received was a class in school explaining all religions,and when you are 12 it is was pretty obvious to see it was just some old mumbo jumbo
    I live in a city where 43% of the population say they have no religion but suspect it is far higher than that so being an atheist is just the norm really and never thought much about it
    I did always know about the tv evangelists and other religious types in the US and it was refreshing when i came on twitter to see atheists like yourself speaking out and standing up for the right to just be a normal rational thinking human being
    keep up the good work
    Phil

  4. I think part of the problem with both the way people like Ray Comfort read the bible (and accept it) and the way some atheists read the bible (and find it objectionable or even horrible) is that both groups tend to read it in English as if it were written in a contemporary literary style in a culture belonging to the modern era. It was in fact written by people in the Ancient Near East and would have been read, first, by people in that culture who understood the literary style and cultural references.

    If you studied Shakespeare in college, we could have a meaningful conversation about Romeo and Juliet. If you just saw one of the movies, we could talk about it, but the conversation would be longer and would have to involve bringing up more reference material. Talking about the bible is like that. People who have a passing familiarity with some passages think they understand it’s plain meaning pretty well. Mostly they don’t.

    So what I’m going to say may not make too much sense. But I’ll take a short stab at it, and if you’re curious, we can talk about it further. If you read through the first part of Genesis, which has the “six days” of creation and ends with the concluding statement in Gen 2:4 “this is the account of the heavens and the earth” you’ll find that this first “book” of Genesis tells one simple story of creation. At the beginning of the story the earth is described as lacking in three specific ways: it is un-structured, it is empty, and it is dark. The story tells how God sets about addressing the three deficiencies: he creates light, he separates and names elements in order to create distinct places (thus adding structure) – the sea, the land, and the sky – and then he fills the structures with life and lights. At the end he creates man (both male and female – God is not fully represented by male humanity alone, but is fully pictured in male and female humanity, and in this passage, male and female are seen as equal to each other and equally imaging God. At this point creation is deemed “very good” and management of creation is handed over to the man and the woman. This is a story of progress: at the end of day one, things are good, but not good enough because more has to be done on day two and etc. There is no struggle of good against evil here, rather it is a story of good maturing into better and still better. This is a story that still resonates with us today in the western civilization and our understanding of history, and is not at odds with the idea of evolution or progressive political movements. At the end of the story, God takes a back seat – he does not really give much in the way of instruction to the man and the woman other than to continue his creative work – organizing things, creating spaces, filling them and lighting them, and the history of humankind is that it seems like this behavior is pretty normal good human behavior.

    My point is mainly that the first part of Genesis is not obviously misogynist and would not have been read that way by ANE readers. The second book in Genesis, the account of Adam, is more complex and introduces two new themes which are added to the theme of progress or maturation. i would posit that the second story (which includes the story of the deception of Eve and Adam’s betrayal of Eve) is not misogynist either, but I won’t go into all that unless you’re curious.

    I guess my only hook here is that if you understand the text better, you could critique it more effectively, and perhaps in ways that are persuasive to people not already convinced that it’s all nonsense. As it is, your characterization of the bible comes off as too much like a straw man when read by Christians who are more familiar with the text. Even if they don’t read it all that well themselves.

  5. Thanks Tim,
    I’m getting most of what you say in your thoughtful comment.
    The time and location where these revelations from god were received by men and written down is understandable. The people who received it, the long period since including many edits (I hear in some places that it is still being edited), the language translations and constantly building common public moral state – these things form quite a believable reason why people might be concerned, hesitant, even annoyed or angry at the more questionable lines in scripture that hint at a god far different from the one described by the various religious groups.

    Is it convenient as well? The nice, heart-warming and just sounding lines that clerics are most fond of repeating to their flocks, can we not assume that these are also heavily affected by the factors I mention above? Or it it only the more questionable lines that are covered by this reasoning? If we are to ignore the monstrous, murderous, genocidal, unreasonable and shamelessly misogynistic parts of holy revelation, is it not fair for us to assume that the whole damn book is compromised by the factors we have both described?
    It seems so strange to me that a valid belief system can be taken to heart which involves such convenient excusing of things that people probably wont like, yet demands that we observe the other, less disturbing aspects … to devote our lives to this convenient explanation for obviously contradictory and objectionable divine revelation .

    That wasn’t the easiest thing to put into words, I hope you understand my confusion on the subject.

    All the best,
    Woody

  6. Thanks, Woody. I appreciate you taking the time to read my comment and respond. I think I get what you’re saying, if I could put it in my own words: If A) the bible is an ancient document which has to be translated and understood in terms of its own literary structure and cultural context, and if it has been modified over time, and if B) all of that gives us room to “explain away” passages that seem monstrous, murderous, genocidal, misogynistic, etc., then C) doesn’t that mean that the whole text could sort of be “explained away,” including any heart-warming and just passages as well?

    I get that objection. If I approached the text with the goal of “explaining away” anything I found personally objectionable, my reading of the text wouldn’t say anything about the text, it would just say stuff about me and my own cultural context.

    But that isn’t my intent. As (I hope) a good reader, I’m just trying to read the text for what it is. After I do that, then we can see whether it turns out to, for example, actually describe god as genocidal or misogynistic. Does this make sense?

    AtheistNerdGirl says that Gen 3:16 is obviously a terribly misogynistic passage. I don’t think it is, but to see whether it really is not, we have to actually put some effort into our reading, in the same way that we would have to put more than ordinary effort into reading and actually comprehending Shakespeare or Chaucer. I get that some people just don’t want to put that much effort into it. They’re probably the same people who didn’t see any point in reading Plato, right? And this seems even less important than that. So why work at it? Just quote mine for stuff that sounds terrible in order to make the point that the whole thing is worthless and/or potentially actually dangerous and call it a day.

    Anyway, if you do think there might be a point in putting some effort into reading the text, a starting point would be to look at book one of Genesis (Gen 1:1 through the conclusion at Gen 2:4) and see whether it makes sense to read it as I’ve outlined it above, and whether that story, by itself, seems misogynistic. If not, then maybe that would form a basis for looking at book 2 of Genesis to see what it would have meant to its original audience.

    I get that this sounds like a waste of time when you already have your mind made up about the value of the book as a whole. All I can say is, maybe a better understanding can lead to a better critique. One that won’t be dismissed out of hand by a believer as ridiculous.

    My feelings will not be hurt either way.

  7. I was raised by Catholic parents, Scottish Catholic parents. Although they never pushed any religious theme upon me, their influence was wonderful upon an upbringing and required no words (which may or may not have been their intention, or maybe religion was not a big enough factor in their own lives).
    In my time of playing the proper role within my family as a child I got the chance to read (or be read) almost all of the bible. I still join family and close friends to play the role at various events, even churches.
    In my teens I didn’t think much on religion apart from being a part of my family duties, but naturally began absorbing information, for and against the whole all-knowing, all-powerful supernatural being thing.
    My twenties, as eventful as they were, included little in the way of religion.
    In my thirties, I gained the will and desire to know more, many things still bothered me and I was keen to know what had been shown to be true, what good reasons existed for me to believe … whatever.
    Because so many different types of thing were in this group, I turned to science. Race, culture, advancement and the state of humanity, historical and modern.
    Scepticism became my interest. Not simple denial, de-bunking (as misunderstood as that word is), cynicism or generally spread doubt, no, Scepticism.
    This field included so much, I began with psuedo-medicines, fraudulent money making activities like ‘psychic mediums (which even the new testament calls for the death of), all manner of cryptids (bigfoot, lake monsters and so on), bad archeology, astronomy and all manner of beliefs based on stories that we have no way of confirming and which cannot survive well designed and controlled scientific testing.
    Religion naturally was a part of the things I was finding out about, faith-healing and the effects on societies, all are pulled up short by investigation.
    Scepticism also teaches an awful lot about belief, about logical fallacies that cannot hold a drop of water and how faith carries these subjects through even to the modern day.
    Atheism is a part of healthy scepticism, if I don’t know, I don’t know and am happy to admit it. But when a supernatural theme survives enlightenment, rational and all available evidence, it’s true, sceptics can come across coarse and inconsiderate.
    I remember being told by a workmate, after some discussion about religion, that I just need to know how to read the bible. From this and from your works on the subject, it feels that if I am a Christian, if I already believe, then I know how to read the bible. Even allowing for the era, the mid-eastern population and the vast array of saviour gods available at the time, I don’t believe in supernatural things. The number of believers, even the number of sighting reports (as per bigfoot) are still not nearly as important to me as the quality of individual reports.

    I appreciate your time and while I will not read Genesis again, or read again any scripture that I have read before, I will also not ask you to read Sceptical literature that I have gained so much information about humanity and our minds from.

    Good discussing this with you Tim,

    Woody.

  8. I hear you saying that you’ve read or been exposed to most of the Bible for a long time and that you’ve developed skepticism toward anything supernatural (from a critical, scientific-method-based analysis of astrology to big-foot to faith healers which pretty much debunks those claims) over a period of at least a decade.

    I think what you’re saying is that A) you’re not, at this point, interested in putting any further effort into examining something that has a supernatural claim behind it since you’ve learned to disbelieve all those kinds of claims for pretty solid reasons. I get that.

    I think that whether you believe in anything supernatural or not (and clearly you don’t), it would still be possible to fairly ask whether the bible is basically misogynist. If it is, it might be a “dangerous book” or at least actively harmful to women if people take it seriously. But to find out whether it actually is, you would have to put some effort into reading it, in the same way you would have to put some effort into reading Marx, to determine what the cause-effect relationship is between his ideas and the actions of purportedly Marxist regimes, for example.

    I think our conversation here is probably at an end, but I, too, have appreciated the discussion, Woody,

    Thanks,

    Tim

  9. Cheers Tim,
    You’re understanding me well and that is a relief when discussing things religious with a believer. There are some points I would make:

    1. Skepticism like mine works with the evidence. No automatic dismissal of whole categories of supernatural, paranormal claims. If it is something repeatable, can be tested, then we can see the results of a well designed and controlled large-scale test. The peer review and retesting of the scientific method ensure that we are finding out not just what is true, but also how often it seems to be true, I realise that supposedly reputable scientific publications have performed errors in the past, reporting things that do not actually pass the logical muster of scientific examination, which teaches us how much stock to put in their journals in future. Don’t get me wrong, witness reports are a form of evidence, still -living first-hand witnesses are an even better form of evidence, to be taken into account when considering the reality of a claim.
    But with no good, authenticated corroboration, it is only a witness report which on its own is easily subject to things like how bad human perception is, how bad our ability to interpret those perceptions is and the added fog that our memories give those interpretations. These things are testable and have been shown to affect our minds. The many natural biases and logical fallacies that affect our interpretation of our perceptions, these are shown, something that supernatural claims seem unable to do without relying on simple masses of anecdotes (the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’). New evidence can be found, good, verifiable evidence that may adjust our view on the case.
    It is still possible and almost a secret desire that greater proof of ghosts, bigfoots, visiting alien spacecraft and reality of voodoo magic is found. Some skeptics (maybe most) would love for this to occur. Whatever our inner feelings about supernatural claims, our viewpoint would be forced to adjust on the subject due to the appearance of much better evidence. That’s what I base my conclusions on, the evidence.

    2. Magic, as skeptical as I am, is something I have felt. I would not repeat here a comment that I made on the ‘lettersquash’ blog (wordpress smoothy) regarding magic. By memory the post was ‘The Steven Cave video’, the third or fourth last post there, I invite all readers to check it out. But my point was that i’ve felt the magic of various things, great friendship, a gorgeous sunset, being in the mosh-pit at an Iron Maiden Concert, it is all magical, yet perfectly natural.

    3. I think you’ve inspired me to re-read Genesis. Although the question of whether it is misogynistic or not has not actually been something I have addressed in this discussion, it is a separate thing that can be assessed. I don’t remember the extent of misogyny in that particular part, so since I claim logical and rational consideration of the evidence to be one of my good points, it is only fair that I have another look to evaluate the strength of your claim that it is not misogynistic. I don’t own a bible but will get hold of one and check out Genesis for this purpose only.

    See? … I’m already gaining the habit of numbering my points, we may have both gained from this exchange, even if we leave it with viewpoints unchanged.

    All the best Tim,
    Woody

    • I thought we were done. But you surprised me! I’ll number my comments that are responsive to yours.

      1. I understand the value of using the scientific method to evaluate claims of supernatural or happenings, and I think the way you described was pretty understandable. I’m aware of cognitive bias and the many things that can affect a witnesses recall of an unusual event. The only thing I would say about all that I think there are limitations to situations where you can use the scientific method to verify whether some very unusual phenomenon actually happened or not, particularly with repeatability. I’ll contrast two situations. Situation 1: using the scientific method to examine a big-name faith healer who has a big crowd, and works the crowd getting people to stand up out of wheelchairs or throw away crutches. Obviously the scientific method works well in this circumstance because you can access people’s medical records, interview them before and after, have them examined afterward. You can easily debunk something like that if it’s fake (and I’m not aware of anything like that not being fake.) Situation 2: An American anthropologist studies a tribe living on islands in South Asia that has almost no contact with the outside world for centuries. He sees a tribe member suffering from malaria. He treats them with chloroquine. They get better. They report the encounter to the rest of the tribe. The rest of the tribe is doubtful of the encounter or the cure and attribute it to the guy just getting better (some people with malaria do). The scientific method is not helpful to the tribe in this circumstance with their level of technology because A) it’s a one-off, and B) the healing in question is dependent on the action or not of another sentient volitional being (the anthropologist) who may not be interested in participating in their experiment. There’s no way to repeat it because they can’t control whether this anthropologist is ever going to come back with more medicine. I’m not knocking the scientific method, I’m just saying it’s useful to be aware of its limitations and to realize that in some circumstances it just can’t be used to rule something in or out.

      2. With regard to your personal experience of “magic” I understand what you’re saying. I think something like “great friendship” is something that exists in the noumenal world rather than the phenomenal world. Friendship is real. And it has phenomenal affects which can be studied using scientific tools. But the existence of “friendship” itself is very much magic. You can’t use a caliper to measure the thickness of the cords that bind your heart to another.

      3. Yes, you’re right. Misogyny in Genesis, if it’s there, can be assessed without accepting or rejecting any supernatural claims. If you are interested in reading Genesis, try biblegateway.com free online bible. No need to hunt around for a paper copy. Pick any version. Just read from Chapter 1, up through Gen 2:4. That’s the verse that concludes the first book of Genesis. The guys who put the Chapter divisions in the bible many centuries ago were unaware of the literary structure that creates natural divisions of Genesis at “toledoth” statements. 20th century archeological findings of cuneiform Babylonian tablets show that toledoth statements were typical on these kinds of accounts and typically come at the end of a tablet. The toledoth statement in Gen 2:4 is” “this is the account (toledoth) of the heavens and the earth.” The next toledoth statement doesn’t come until Genesis 5:1 “this is the account (toledoth) of Adam.” and should be taken as concluding the second tablet (everything from Gen 2:5 up through Gen 5:1). It’s a second, separate story.

      As you read the first story, see if it jives with what I stated several posts back in terms of structure. God creates the world. Initially it is deficient in three ways. He addresses those three deficiencies progressively. He makes man and woman at the end and puts them in a managerial role with a mandate to continue to progressively create. To me, in this first book, there is no indication of misogyny. Man and woman are identified as distinct, but they together bear God’s image equally. Sounds egalitarian to me. But read it for yourself and see what you think. After that, we can look at the second tablet (containing the on its face problematic Gen 3:16 verse) and see whether that ought to be taken in a misogynistic way if you like.

      The first tablet of Genesis is clearly a mythic story: it is an origin story, but its main point is to identify man’s place or role in the world, right? But I’ve noticed that people use evolution in the same way. A scientist with his head down in comparing the genome sequence of humans with chimps or bonobos is just doing science – he’s observing protein-coding sequences and alleles and looking for similarities. That’s science. But when people talk about what evolution “means” they often couch it in terms of explaining man’s place or role in the world. It’s gone from being observations to being mythic. Just something interesting to think about.

      Good luck with your reading,

      Tim

  10. Hi again Tim,
    I’ve re-read Genesis 1-5. It was pretty much as I remembered it and was a reminder of some of the points I raised in less cordial discussions with creationists in the past.
    The order of creation, the number of ribs that required transformation into female companions and so on, but that’s not why i’m here. I chose to examine the question of whether misogyny exists in Genesis.
    In 1, the flip of an ancient coin may have decided which of the sexes was created first, although Man was certainly the first word describing humanity. The flavour of the whole thing was that they would hold dominion over the rest of his world. Creeping, crawling things, fowl flying in the air, fish swimming, the whole thing is for the dominion and pleasure of Man (described in 1 as ‘Male and Female created he them’). Thus, although I sense the dire insult to the rest of nature and the entire universe, I detect no misogyny in 1 without imposing it upon words that don’t say it.

    Genesis 3:16: Unto the Woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

    I assume that the sorrow (pain) that women shalt bring forth children in is the result of the shape and form that primate hips and pelvis must have evolved to allow continual upright stance/movement. I haven’t looked into evolutionary biology for quite a while so I’m depending on my memory for that (lets remember that the folk of the mid-east produced a lot of scientific thinking before Christianity came about). Being part of the ruling handed down to Eve for partaking of the forbidden fruit and convincing Adam to also partake of it is a bit cheeky but if females had written it, would Adam have been the one to blame? I don’t know.

    ‘And thy desire shall be to thy husband’, maybe a simple expansion on the ‘Adultery Commandment’, a little reminder specifically for females. (unnecessary)

    ‘And he shall rule over thee’. I don’t think we can be clearer than that on misogyny.
    From our viewpoint, of course it is misogyny.
    From the viewpoint of the writers of the bible, none of whom knew Jesus personally, it was
    an expected end to the verse.

    My analysis? Of course it’s misogynistic. Our knowledge of the time and place in which it was written may allow us to view these things ‘appropriately’. I don’t know if ‘misogyny’ or any word like it was available at that time or place, I don’t know if such a word is used much in that neighbourhood now!

    But this was the main, important scripture (for Christians). The tale, the message from the one true creator of existence to humanity.
    That his revelations must be viewed through the eyes of ancient, mid-eastern males doesn’t help me to accept its tale and I still am doubtful about an omnipotent god who cannot deliver distinct revelations that are not subject to the common social habits of the time and territory.

    NOW we are done, Tim! I hadn’t tackled that specific question before and for that I thank you.

    pooroldkilgore – I also thank you for your indulgence as Tim and I flooded this section with comment. One of the comments I entered here previously (but which still awaits moderation!) was a description of why I personally find creationism so insulting. If you find it I would be grateful if you could post it. If not, it’s OK, I don’t even have a blog so I cannot complain about your governance of yours. I liked that comment so I will re-write it in the future.

    All the best, folks!
    Woody

  11. Woody, I think you missed my point. In order to determine whether the statement “and he shall rule over thee” is a misogynist statement, I think you need to read it in the context first of the story, then of the tablet, and then of the overall book. Taking it by itself doesn’t tell you whether the writer intends it in a misogynist way any more than taking one phrase out of the middle of Sense and Sensibility would conclusively show that Jane Austen was a misogynist (I would posit the opposite, but you could easily quote-mine to “prove” that she was.) I think that’s just poor reading.

    If you wanted to dig into this deeper, you could first start with the question of whether “and he shall rule over thee” is descriptive or prescriptive. If it’s simply descriptive, then it seems accurate, right? As far as what we know of the ancient world, for most of human history, men ruled over women. On this reading, god was simply making a prediction about what the state of affairs was going to be for many millenia into the future, and it turns out it was an accurate prediction. He’s not saying it has to be, or it must be, or it’s supposed to be, he’s just saying it will be, which isn’t any more misogynist than a modern feminist pointing out that men typically make more money than women. The feminist would not be stating that it’s supposed to be that way, but simply that it just is.

    I would justify this reading (descriptive vs prescriptive) in part by going back to the first tablet which shows man and woman in an egalitarian relationship which is deemed “very good” and noting that the “rule over thee” passage comes later after something bad happened. It’s not presented as being a part of the original idyllic state. Thus the tablet may be suggesting that “he shall rule over thee” is something less than ideal that will be rectified by the coming of the predicted “seed of the woman.” If that’s the case, then maybe that’s an accurate prediction as well, from a Christian perspective of history. Did pratical egalitarianism between men and women arise before the time of Christ, or has it come about since the time of Christ? Did it begin in non-Christian cultures, or did it begin in cultures that had been heavily influenced by Christianity for centuries? I’m not making an argument, I’m just suggesting an alternative reading that I think is at least as reasonable as the misogynist reading that you’ve suggested.

    Also, I’m not arguing here that Genesis has a supernatural origin or should necessarily be taken seriously by anyone today. I’m just saying that if you read it as being definitively, obviously misogynistic, that’s a pretty superficial reading.

    Regarding god’s ability to communicate distinctively apart from cultural context, that’s like saying, couldn’t he have just spoken to Abraham in English? Presumably an omnipotent being could have done that, but what would be the point, right?

    You apologized to pooroldkilgore for saturating the comments here with our personal dialogue, and I echo that. Her blog is probably not the place for this conversation, and I’m happy to end it at this point without diving down any further rabbit trails. I appreciated your cordial and intelligent engagement on this topic, and wish you well.
    Thanks,
    Tim

  12. Hi athiestnerdgirl
    this is not really in relation to anything but found a passage in ( The portrait of Dorian Grey ) and thought you might like it

    Beauty,real beauty,ends where an intellectual expression begins.Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration,and destroys the harmony of any face.the moment one sits down to think,one becomes all nose,or all forehead,or something horrid.Look at the most successful men in any of the learned professions.How perfectly hideous they are ! Except of course in the Church.But then in the Church they don’t think.A bishop keeps on saying at the age of eighty what he was taught to say when he was a boy of eighteen,and as a natural consequence he always looks absolutely delightful.
    Phil

  13. Hi, Atheistnerdgirl,

    It seems prudent to start Genesis 1-3 by looking at its form, and it’s pretty clear it’s a fable or moral story or allegory: in Hebrew, you’ve got a talking snake, a man called “Humankind,” and a garden called “Delight.” And so on. It was never, ever meant to be taken literally.

    But like most good stories it speaks with several voices at once.

    In this view, the woman represents a part of humanity that’s curious and that breaks the boundaries of authority. It’s the part that dares when authority says, “Don’t.” The writers knew as well as we that that’s not a specifically feminine trait, though they would have been (and were) doubtless happy enough to associate that cosmic chaos with women rather than themselves.

    There’s a two-layered meaning there, therefore: a simultaneous slap to our curiosity as well as a justification for patriarchy.

    Thanks for listening.

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