Uncommon Sense

February 26, 2022

Why Does the Holy Bible Require Interpretation?

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:30 pm
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This is especially frustrating because we went through the Protestant Revolution (and wars, wars because of it) on this point. One of the foundations of that revolution was Sola Scriptura, which basically claims that the Bible is the sole source of information regarding Christianity. The Protestants were objecting to the Catholic Church’s tendency  to claim an unbroken apostolic tradition, which they often wove out of thin air, as a source of their knowledge. They also have numerous conclaves and “bulls” that pronounced what the Bible really meant. The Protestants were having none of that. The Bible was good enough for them.

So, why is the Bible not immediately understood by anyone reading it? Why is the Bible chock-a-block full of boring and nonsensical passages? And, just how the Hell does anyone put themselves forward as a super-duper biblical interpreter, when they are centuries removed from the writing of those texts?

I read an article just yesterday claiming that we have been misinterpreting the Book of Genesis all along. So, all of those other interpreters were wrong? Just how the heck are we supposed to differentiate a true interpretation from a guy who has a cool story one could just read into that text? For example: the Great Flood was an historical event! No, it wasn’t; it was physically impossible! Yes, it was, the Bible is inerrant! Well, in this case it made a mistake, okay? No it didn’t! The Bible doesn’t make mistakes! Well, interpreters do!

There is an indoctrination song taught to the very young “. . . Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so . .  .” Uh, actually Jesus taught that we were to love “our neighbors,” our neighbors meaning fellow Hebrews/Jews, not people who will be born on a continent not yet discovered by people from that neck of the woods. It all depends upon interpretations, no? And if so, the meaning of the Bible is determined by the interpreters, not the authors of its various books. Oops.

The Shepherd and His Flock

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:27 pm
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Many religious leaders in many religions use the metaphor that they are shepherds of their flocks, their congregations. Some go so far as to adopt the shepherd’s crook as a symbol of their office. I am a firm believer in the Law of Unintended Consequences and I think that using this metaphor shows how they really think. They say they are to protect and guide their flock (as if they couldn’t find food by themselves) but what do they really think?

Imagine a shepherd and a flock out in the middle of nowhere. Now, what is the fate of the sheep/goats being herded? Basically, they will be milked, fleeced, and finally killed and eaten. And what is the shepherd’s job, then. It is to prevent animal predators from killing and eating the sheep/goats depriving us of that bounty, and to prevent human predators from stealing the flock to milk, fleece, and eat them.

So, from the standpoint of the flock, what use is the shepherd? Possibly it delays slightly what always happens (milking, fleecing, killing and eating). So, the major beneficiary of the shepherd’s actions? The shepherd’s paymaster, in that the shepherd preserves the bounty of the flock for his superiors.

So, now you know who priests, ministers, and other “shepherds” of the church serve and it ain’t the flock.


According to The Guardian “UPS reported record profits in 2021 as it increased shipping prices; its profits grew nearly tenfold in 2021 to $12.89bn from $1.34bn in 2020. Its stock price hit a record high in February 2022. UPS is projecting more growth in 2022, with the expectation to hit 2023 financial goals a year early. The company approved a $5bn stock buyback program in August 2021.”

So, how did UPS celebrate their good fortune? By rewarding their employees, maybe? No, they cut the wages of their part-time employees, the backbone of the company, from $3 to $6 per hour. Some of these cuts reversed wage increases made just last year.

Geez, I thought it was God who was supposed to work in mysterious ways. Apparently the new corporate playbook justifies all actions with “Because We Can.” That slogan is up on a plaque in their corporate offices next to “Greed is Good.”

February 23, 2022

Read the Bible, Y’all!

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:01 am
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I was watching a movie in which a small Texas down was destroyed by a tornado. It was as if the town had been run over by a giant rotary lawn mower. Nothing much over three feet high was left . . . except one building, the town’s church. Of course the minister claimed that it was a miracle and that his good god had spare his house of worship. Had I been there (I have always wanted to act), I would have asked him: who owned all of those houses which were flattened? Of course, he would look at me puzzled, so I would answer for him: Christians. And who owned all of those businesses that were destroyed? Answer: Christians. And all of the people killed or injured? Christians. And the cats and dogs and livestock that were killed? I’ll bet they were Christians, too.

If that story had been in the Bible, the interpretation would be those Christians were being punished for transgressions against God and so they were absolutely sure who was punishing them, the one building in the town “owned” by God, was spared. Miracle? You are talking miracles? It was a miracle all y’all weren’t slaughtered by the vengeful God above.

How could anyone who has read the Bible interpret the total destruction of a town, save one church building, as a miracle? Amazing.

Addendum Yes, I know it was fictional movie, but the writers were writing what people expected to hear and they didn’t want to write nonsense that would lose their audience.

Unfettered Capitalism Fells a Giant Company

Netflix is currently running a wonderful documentary titled: Downfall: The Case Against Boeing.

Because of a merger and an accompanying change in management, Boeing Company went from an engineering-led company to the darling of neoliberals everywhere: a company focused solely upon “shareholder value.” Running a company focused solely on shareholder value is a crap economics theory fomented by economists on the leash of greedy assholes.

In this case, a company with a sterling reputation, which was quite profitable, ended up losing its reputation, killing hundreds of people, plus paying a $2 billion dollar fine to the FAA. And that is not all. They lost employee loyalty, along with tens of thousands of employees along the way.

This should be a case study for business and finance schools in all colleges and universities of how not to run a company of this type.

February 21, 2022

I Am So Tired of the Anthropic Principle

I recently saw a video in which the anthropic principle was put forth as a very good argument for the existence of a god or gods. If you are unfamilair with the term it is also called the “fine tuning argument.”

This argument goes that the universe has been fine-tuned in order to ensure that intelligent life arises (actually us, specifically us made in “God’s image”). The claim is that if any one of a large umber of fundamental constants of nature were to be different by a small amount, then life would not exist. Their claim is, therefore, those values were set by some god so that life, especially intelligent life could exist.

This is basically a theological argument, not a scientific one, so I will treat it as such. (Some scientists have point out that the basic premise is wrong, that some fundamental constants could be different and very little affect would be seen.

First, there is intelligent life in this universe, the only one of which we are aware. If there were others and they had different fundamental constants, then their argument would be better, no? But we are here and we can ask the question. So, this universe does allow the development of intelligent species and it has fundamental natural constants, but:
• Could those constants be different? (We do not know.)
• Could those constants depend upon one another and so are constrained to be what they are? (We don’t know.)
• Is there any evidence that magic has been deployed in the creation of the universe? (If so, we haven’t found any evidence to support that point.)
• Is there scientific evidence supporting the existence of a god or gods? (So far, none.)

And, some of the changes in the fundamental constants seem to indicate that no universe at all would be possible, so why has “life,” especially intelligent human life” been chosen as the reason for the constants being what they are. Maybe the constants were set to create large quantities of vacuum or black holes, or some other such things and life and intelligent life were just accidents.

This is a classic case of Theological Grasping of Straws, as was the case when “the Big Bang” was postulated. Theologians literally jumped on the bandwagon from the second and third stories of their seminaries to claim that “God did it.” Of course, they really didn’t understand “it,” i.e. the Big Bang, and so today we have religious noobs claiming that the universe was created from nothing in the Big Bang. (No, it was not.)

And even if some god, or a powerful alien such as the character Q in the Star Trek universe, were to have set the fundamental constants of our universe to be what they are, could you tell whether that entity left for other pastures or is still around? (No, you can’t.)

Once again, the faith peddlers are grasping at straws, using reason (gasp!) and science (gasp!) to bolster their case for the validity of their beliefs. In so doing, they are undermining their claim that all you need is faith and that faith is more important than reason.

What Does It Mean to Believe in Jesus the Christ

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:54 pm
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The most quotes Bible verse, by evangelical Christians has to be John 3:16, “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This sounds like a biblical “Get Out of Hell Free” card, but what does the word “believe” mean. Just what does this involve? Can we just say “I believe” and we are in? One poster on the Medium.com site said that, in this case, “believe” means “trust,” that one has to trust that Jesus will guide their lives. This sounds like a “Jesus take the wheel” plea and I could go into just how it is to get this “how to live my life” guidance from Jesus (most Christians are not doing the obvious things stated in the gospels). Is there a Jesus hotline or website somewhere? Oh, the various churches say they speak for Jesus? Now, that’s TRUST!

I commented on the gentlemen’s post with this–

All you are doing is replacing the vague word “believe” with another vague word “trust.” It doesn’t help much. Also, it is telling that that Bible quote doesn’t show up until gJohn, the “different” gospel. If it is so quotable, and hence is considered at the core of so many Christian’s beliefs, why did it not appear in gMark, gMatthew, or gLuke? Why did we need to wait for gJohn to hear this oh, so important message?

I contend that many of these aspects of ideology come from Saul/Paul and not Jesus. What little we know of Jesus’s teaching come from the gospels and Acts of the Apostles and if those can be “trusted,” Jesus didn’t claim or teach most of what modern Christianity seems to be.

Jesus didn’t claim to be a god. If anyone had said that in his presence, he would have rent his clothing and declared blasphemy, like any other pious Jew of the time.

Jesus didn’t claim to be co-equal with “the Father/Yahweh.” If anyone had said that in his presence, he would have rent his clothing and declared blasphemy.

Jesus didn’t claim that “faith, not works” was the path to salvation, in fact, he said the exact opposite.

What Jesus does say about “how to be human and how to follow God” (as was claimed by this poster) is to repent one’s sins and then follow God’s commandments. Nothing there about faith, certainly not “faith in Jesus.” Jesus was also, like his scriptures, preaching to Hebrews/Jews and not Gentiles. Paul supporters alone came up with the Great Commission, even thought that contradicted what Jesus said earlier.

Jesus also warned about scripture being corrupted, as any number of prophets also warned. His cleansing of the Temple is inexplicable if that practice was ordained by “the Father.” It was not. (Jeremiah 7:22-23) Plus when the second Temple was destroyed, the Jews stopped the sacrifices and there was no response from Yahweh. No “Where are my sacrifices, my burnt offerings, I miss their divine aromas.” No response at all.

Jesus also clarified other aspects of the Law, e.g. “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” So John 3:16 is Paulianity, not Christianity as Jesus wanted it.

COVID Let Us Down

In yesterday’s news was an announcement that Queen Elizabeth II of the UK had “got the COVID,” apparently from her son, Charles. But, disappointingly, all she got was a case of the sniffles. COVID is nature’s way of culling the herd, killing off the old, the weak, the unfit and reducing the population pressure on the world’s environment. It had just one job to do and it couldn’t do it!. You could also say it was God’s pan to do the same. (I won’t but you could.)

And here is a 95-year old monarch that flies through this modern version of the plague as if it were nothing.

Not just QEII but all of the other monarchs are useless and always have been. They only existed because their predecessors, back before history, managed to convince a number of lackeys to ride their coattails, The game plan was oppress the poor, gather wealth, share some of it with the lackeys and voilà. And then, because the first monarchs were so very special, their children had to be special, too, so many of the special kids inherited their parent’s abilities to oppress the poor, etc.

It is the elites that tumble economies, that start wars, that build useless grandiose tombs to their egos. We contribute because we “want” strong leaders.

Who will rid us of these troublesome monarchs? (Notice the sly Shakespearian reference?) COVID might have helped but it couldn’t take out a 95-year old woman, for Pete’s sake.

Addendum And, yes, yes, I am expecting backlash from Queen lovers (not the Freddie Mercury sort). But they would bolster their case were they to put up a decent argument for their continuation. Most now say that they bring tourism into the country, as a primary argument. (Lame, oh so lame—build an amusement park, it will actually make money.) They say they bolster spirits. (I respond by asking “Who bolstered the spirits of the Brits during the Blitz more: King George or Winston Churchill?”)

Tax the Churches

A massive document leak from the Swiss bank Credit Suisse has some very interesting information buried in it. The leaker claimed that he/she was a whistle blower on secrecy laws that he/she thought were immoral, hence the “sharing” of the documents.

According to a report in The Guardian, one Vatican-owned account in the data was used to spend €350m (£290m, $397m) in an allegedly fraudulent investment in London property that is at the center of an ongoing criminal trial of several defendants, including a cardinal.

Gee $400,000,000 available to invest in London real-estate. Now that sounds like a religious mission, doesn’t it?

Some argue, that churches should have the right to invest “excess” funds to make profits used to support the church’s religious missions. I argue that there should be no excess funds, according to their scriptures, and that “The love of money is the root of all evil” applies (1 Timothy 6:10: For the love of money is the root of all of evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. KJV)

The Catholic Church is embroiled in many, many controversies: the Irish workhouses for girls, the sexual predation on altar boys by priests and subsequent cover-ups and denials by church officials, the Vatican Bank scandal, and now these illicit, high dollar real estate “investments.” Is this an actual church or a Ponzi Scheme masquerading as a church? Is the Catholic Church being run as the Christian Mafia?

As a matter of fact, their scriptures are packed with over 2,000 verses about money, tithing, and possessions. That’s twice as many bible verses about money than faith and prayer combined. This is also usually a source of quote mining that can be used to support any nefarious activities on behalf of believers. You be the judge.

  • Matthew 19:21-26: ”Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”
  • Proverbs 15:27: ”Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live.”
  • Matthew 6:24: ”No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
  • Luke 12:34: ”For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
  • Exodus 22:25: ”If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.”
  • Deuteronomy 23:19: ”You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest.”
  • Proverbs 10:22: ”The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.”
  • James 1:27: ”Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
  • Hebrews 13:5: ”Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • James 5:1-6: ”Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.”

Tax the churches. Reduce their temptations! Help the poor (the rest of us are rapidly becoming “the poor” again).

February 20, 2022

Maybe This is a Pet Peeve, But . . .

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:57 pm
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I have commented on this before, but I was watching TV and someone referred to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and stated that it was important to the “three major religions.”

So, I was wondering, did he mean:
Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism?
or Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism?
or Christianity, Islam, and Chinese Traditional Religion?
or Christianity, Islam, and Ethnic Religions?
or Christianity, Islam, and African Traditional Religions?
or Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism?
or Christianity, Islam, and Spiritualism?

Oh, you are pretty sure he meant: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, the #1, #2 and #10 religions by numbers of religious adherents. Those three account for the following percents of religious adherents: 31.1%, 24.9% and 0.2%, respectively (see the table below).

What he should have said was that the Temple Mount is important to the three Abrahamic religions. That would have been correct.  Judaism is in no way a major religion, unless you are gauging the ability to get itself into trouble.

And why “Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist” would be listed on this list of adherents is beyond me, as if there was anything to adhere to:

Christianity 2.382 billion 31.11%
Islam 1.907 billion 24.9%
Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist 1.193 billion 15.58%
Hinduism 1.161 billion 15.16%
Buddhism 506 million 5.06%
Chinese traditional religion 394 million 5%
Ethnic religions excluding some in separate categories 300 million 3%
African traditional religions 100 million 1.2%
Sikhism 26 million 0.30%
Spiritism 15 million 0.19%
Judaism 14.7 million 0.18%
Baháʼí 5.0 million 0.07%
Jainism 4.2 million 0.05%
Shinto 4.0 million 0.05%
Cao Dai 4.0 million 0.05%
Zoroastrianism 2.6 million 0.03%
Tenrikyo 2.0 million 0.02%
Animism 1.9 million 0.02%
Neo-Paganism 1.0 million 0.01%
Unitarian Universalism 0.8 million 0.01%
Rastafari 0.6 million 0.007%
Ahmadiyya 10 million 0.14%
total 7.79 billion 100%

Source Wikipedia (as of the year 2020)

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