Irrationality in the Bible

Superstition

The Bible claims that random decision generators like dice are controlled by God and should be treated as infallible. That’s how the Bible encourages people to answer important questions, like whether someone is guilty of breaking the law. That or perform other silly rituals, like making people drink dirty water, and wishing for the water to harm them, but only if they’re guilty.

Another Bible-approved way to answer hard questions is to ask priests or prophets. (Or you can follow Paul’s example and just assume your own dreams are telling you about something real.) The priests are to be treated as infallible and always unquestioningly obeyed. And anyone who thinks the priests might not be so perfect is to be killed.

The Bible makes fun of superstitious people consulting fortune-tellers and divination instruments… and then advises them to consult these other fortune-tellers and divination instruments instead. It also makes fun of people praying to worthless pagan gods instead of the Bible-approved God. But I think you’ll find you get pretty much the same results no matter which god you try asking for help or answers.

The Bible claims that seeking God is all you have to do to fully understand what’s right. It tells both kings and commoners to obsessively follow all its terrible rules, and indoctrinate their children with them. And it’s portrayed as a good thing when a foreign king decides to kill or otherwise punish his subjects if they don’t obey the biblical laws.

The Bible claims that curses are only effective when they’re deserved. This is the kind of thing that leads people to falsely think unfortunate people must be getting what they deserve. It discourages people from trying to either identify or fix the real cause of the problem.

The Bible blames mental health problems on “evil spirits“. And it commands sick people to seek help from religious authorities, rather than doctors. Jesus does say the sick need a doctor, but that’s just a metaphorical way of referring to himself. The Bible portrays the care of actual doctors as useless and the wrong choice, claiming that human help is worthless. It threatens people with curses and destruction if they rely on anyone but God for help. But in reality, it’s religious healings that are useless and the wrong choice.

Anti-intellectualism

The God of the Bible seems to hate it when humans are smart. When he created humans, the first thing he told them they must not do was to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge, which would give them wisdom. God thinks wisdom and knowledge are useless. When he sees intelligent people, he kills them or turns them into fools, because he likes them better that way.

God also seems to hate seeing humans make any technological progress. When he saw that people were developing better construction techniques so they could make an unprecedentedly tall building, God wasn’t happy with them. He didn’t want people working together and figuring out ways to do amazing new things. So he put a stop to that project by restricting their ability to communicate.

Then when God had people build things for him later on, he wouldn’t let them use any tools. He threatens to punish people just for using fire to help them see. He’d rather they blindly trust him as they walk in the dark.

Paul made a point of intentionally becoming foolish and ignorant when he preached. He demonized philosophy and taught his followers that it was futile to try to be wise or knowledgeable. Even Solomon claimed that investigating deep questions is somehow not honorable, that you shouldn’t rely on your own understanding, and that gaining wisdom and knowledge is pointless and only brings sorrow1 and death. Why do these people hate wisdom and thinking so much? Probably because they realize that that kind of thing can lead people to see how wrong the Bible is.

The Bible says you should respond to foolishness with similar foolishness. Why? Because otherwise, the fool will think he’s wise. But that would only be a bad thing because he currently isn’t in fact wise. Thinking you’re wise isn’t inherently a bad thing, as the Bible claims it is. That would mean people would need to be either foolish or wrong, and people should be neither of those things. So how about educating the fool and feeding him wisdom instead of more foolishness? If you help him become wise, then he’ll be right to think he’s wise. But if you live by the Bible, you’re not allowed to even point out foolishness.

Anti-truth

The Bible claims that the fear of God is the proper foundation of knowledge. But it’s actually the worst imaginable obstacle to true belief.

The Bible also promotes willful ignorance. It says you should avoid listening to what people say about you so you won’t hear them cursing you. That sounds like a bad idea to me. If people hate me, I want to know about it, so I can do something about it!

The Bible tells us to seek to be perfectly like-minded and never disagree about anything. How do we do that? Are we supposed to just accept whatever other people believe just because it’s what other people believe and we were told to think the same as other people? That’s definitely not a good idea if you care about truth.

Another thing that’s a bad idea if you care about truth is discouraging debate. When people disagree about something objective, that means at least one of them has a false belief. That’s a problem, and that problem is a lot more likely to be corrected if people are willing to discuss the issue with people who disagree with them. Arguing may sometimes be unpleasant, but it’s important.

So of course the Bible discourages debate. It claims that quarreling is for fools, that God hates people who “stir up conflict”, and that you should hate them too. It approvingly describes Jesus making his opponents afraid to question him. It focuses on the unpleasant aspects of arguing, and pretends there are no benefits.

Instead of discussing your disagreements and trying to resolve them, it tells you to just ignore opposing ideas. It says you should agree to disagree and not argue, which means choosing to let avoidable false beliefs persist. It even blatantly says that people who disagree should remain fully convinced of whatever they already believe. Which in this scenario definitely includes false beliefs. The Bible is totally anti-truth.

And then of course there’s faith, which is a mix of gullibility and closed-mindedness and other forms of stupidity that the Bible pretends is somehow a virtue. I’ve written a whole other article about that. Faith breaks the connection between your beliefs and reality, making it the worst possible way to think if you want your beliefs to be true.

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