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AIBU?

To think this is an inappropriate passage of the Bible for a school Christmas service?

262 replies

RevolutionofOurTime · 26/11/2019 14:59

DD10 has been asked to do a reading at the school’s Xmas carol service.

The passage is Genesis 3: 8-15:

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" So he said, "I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself."

And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" Then the man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate."

And the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"
The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." So the Lord God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field. On your belly you shall go and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." “

I’m not impressed. Surely they could have chosen other (NT) passages where the focus is not on original sin (and don’t blame a woman for it 🧐)?

I’m an atheist, but was raised a Catholic and I have no objection to DD taking part in the service. I have been to countless midnight masses (Xmas services where I’m from) and I’m sure the Genesis was never the focus.

IABU to think this is not appropriate for a Christmas service?

OP posts:
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BertrandRussell · 27/11/2019 13:41

Yep. And the bit about husbands ruling over wives. An Inconvenient Chapter.

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Xenia · 27/11/2019 13:48

The old testatment is particularly intersting historically - it has all sorts in there, polygamy etc It definitely can add to a child's learning about the past, about the middle east and all sorts, never mind our history and culture.

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Lifecraft · 27/11/2019 13:49

You come across as very ignorant of the Christian faith, if you don’t mind me saying so. The Bible being considered to be the word of God doesn’t mean it needs to have polar bears in it, or MRI scanners. It means - according to the precepts of Christianity - that God’s word was revealed through the media of people who were living in the Middle East. I see nothing silly about that.

MRI scanners weren't around then. So would not have been mentioned, even by god. But polar bears were.

As for nothing silly, god dropped a bit of a clanger in the choice of the recipients of his word. Thousands of years ago, there were educationally advanced and highly civilised societies, in China, or Greece, or even in Rome. These people could have kept proper records of the events. But no, let's ignore them, and reveal the word of god to a bunch of illiterate and poorly educated nomads, traipsing around the desert trying to scratch a living.

Really, if he wanted his word to be recorded accurately and taken seriously by those it was relayed to, he couldn't have made a worse choice of who to give it to.

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Xenia · 27/11/2019 13:53

However that is not the point of it. The point is/was that eveyrone is equal and should be humble and that to let a mere child or poor person have God revealed to them and not some sophsticated people or leaders is kind of the whole point surely?

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churchandstate · 27/11/2019 13:54

If we take something like the virgin birth, which appears ludicrous in light of our 21st century biological approach, it’s actually not that silly. People in the past would have known sex led to pregnancy, and abstinence (generally) to the opposite. They would have known fertility decreased with age and eventually barrenness ensued. So far, so clear.

But they would also have seen some people have frequent sex without pregnancy following as a result, and they would have formed various explanations for this. One of them was that children were a gift from God, a gift that could be bestowed even after hope of pregnancy had faded. And this would be backed up in the Hebrew tradition by stories like Abraham and Sarah, or Mary’s cousin Elizabeth.

So, if God could give the gift of fertility where it was considered impossible for one reason (age or infertility) it wouldn’t seem so silly that God could, if he chose, give it where it was considered impossible for another (virginity).

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SarahAndQuack · 27/11/2019 13:56

But, bertrand, you seem to think there's a watershed around 'scientific method'. And now you're saying that there was no change, that everyone is illogical.

Which do you really think?

I accept that, probably, throughout human history, plenty of people haven't understood much of what they're taught is true. They've just accepted it. But if you're going to argue that contemporary culture is different because a future civilisation could look at us and understand why we believe certain things, you'll have to explain to me why that is not the case with the past.

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churchandstate · 27/11/2019 13:57

MRI scanners weren't around then. So would not have been mentioned, even by god. But polar bears were.

In Christian thought, God exists outside time. Nothing to stop him talking to people about anything he chooses.

And again, in Christian thought, there is no perceived superiority in a person or a community because they are more sophisticated. Rather, it’s more likely to be the opposite, isn’t it?

Anyway, there is no point in arguing with a mind as closed as yours.

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WhatisFreddoingnow · 27/11/2019 14:01

Really, if he wanted his word to be recorded accurately and taken seriously by those it was relayed to, he couldn't have made a worse choice of who to give it to.

And yet there are literally billions of Christians in the world today with at least over a billion Catholics making up that number.

Seems like lots of people took (and still take) the word of God and the establishment of the church pretty seriously in the end.

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BertrandRussell · 27/11/2019 14:22

“ you'll have to explain to me why that is not the case with the past.“

Because the universally accepted method of testing a theory only became universally accepted relatively recently. I am sure there were plenty of people who thought “Hmm- I wonder if menstruating women really do make milk sour” but there wasn’t a universally accepted way of testing the theory.

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SarahAndQuack · 27/11/2019 14:23

Really, if he wanted his word to be recorded accurately and taken seriously by those it was relayed to, he couldn't have made a worse choice of who to give it to.

And herein lieth the point about free will.

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SarahAndQuack · 27/11/2019 14:25

Cross post.

So what?

Yes, admittedly, it is harder to learn about why people came to the conclusions they came to before scientific method. But that does not mean you shouldn't bother to try.

(Incidentally, if you really imagine scientific method will make it possible for people in the future to understand why people hold the beliefs they hold today, you are woefully naive. All the scientific method in the world can't explain even very scientific people's thoughts and choices, including decisions to research certain approaches to a disease and not others.)

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SarahAndQuack · 27/11/2019 14:27

(And btw, do you really think people living c. 200AD were thinking 'wow, I'm a doctor and I'm so hampered by the fact I just jump to random conclusions all the time! Imagine how people in the future will struggle to understand me!' No, that doctor thought 'thank goodness we're now so enlightened - any person in the distant future will be able to read my writings and immediately see why I came to the conclusions I did. What a change from those barbarians of 300BC!')

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churchandstate · 27/11/2019 14:30

Exactly. What we hold to be self-evident is exactly what people in the future will hold to be ridiculous.

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Lifecraft · 27/11/2019 14:36

@churchandstate Anyway, there is no point in arguing with a mind as closed as yours.

There are currently about 3000 gods that people around the world believe in. You totally dismiss 2999 of them as made up nonsense. There's a Nigerian religion that believe god is a giant ant, and the Earth is the ant's excrement. They have stories from the past to back this up. How open minded are you to it being true? Then there's those Pacific Islanders who are convinced Prince Philip is god.

You may think I'm closed minded, but the only difference between us is that you reject 2999 gods, and I reject an extra one.

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Lifecraft · 27/11/2019 14:39

What we hold to be self-evident is exactly what people in the future will hold to be ridiculous.

Complete tripe. In 2000 years, the Earth will still be a sphere, people will still know the Earth orbits the sun and not the other way around. The periodic table will still be accurate, as will all the stuff we KNOW thru scientific endeavour. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a bit dim.

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churchandstate · 27/11/2019 14:43

There are currently about 3000 gods that people around the world believe in. You totally dismiss 2999 of them as made up nonsense.

I do not.

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churchandstate · 27/11/2019 14:43

In 2000 years, the Earth will still be a sphere, people will still know the Earth orbits the sun and not the other way around. The periodic table will still be accurate, as will all the stuff we KNOW thru scientific endeavour. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a bit dim.

Good luck.

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BertrandRussell · 27/11/2019 14:46


(Incidentally, if you really imagine scientific method will make it possible for people in the future to understand why people hold the beliefs they hold today, you are woefully naive.“
I’m not. They will be able to look at the thought process that led us to th the hypothesis, the evidence we raised and the methods we used to test it.

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churchandstate · 27/11/2019 14:46

They will be able to look at the thought process that led us to th the hypothesis, the evidence we raised and the methods we used to test it.

But we can do that about the past now.

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BertrandRussell · 27/11/2019 14:47

“ What we hold to be self-evident is exactly what people in the future will hold to be ridiculous.”

What sort of things did you have in mind?

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SarahAndQuack · 27/11/2019 14:48

In 2000 years, the Earth will still be a sphere, people will still know the Earth orbits the sun and not the other way around. The periodic table will still be accurate

  1. I suspect you are buying into the old 'medieval peoples believed the world was flat, the fools' trope, right?

  2. The periodic table is a description of a set of observations. It's hugely useful. But you do know it's incomplete, right? That's sort of the point. So 'accurate' meaning what, exactly?

    You might as well point to all the discoveries, prior to scientific method, that were 'accurate' but also limited. Newton's writings on gravity, for example.

    I don't follow why you think there is some huge difference between enlightened folk today, and people of the past. We are all trying to make sense of life as best we can. In the past, that has involved writing texts like the Bible. Ok, you and I could point and laugh at the ideas of angels or floods or demons being cast out into pigs. But why bother?
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SarahAndQuack · 27/11/2019 14:49

I’m not. They will be able to look at the thought process that led us to th the hypothesis, the evidence we raised and the methods we used to test it.

Ok then, you tell me how they'll understand us judging the Booker Prize.

I'll wait. Smile

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churchandstate · 27/11/2019 14:50

What sort of things did you have in mind?

Nothing specific. That’s the whole point. There are things we cannot imagine to be incorrect but - I have no doubt - eventually will turn out to be completely misconceived.

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BertrandRussell · 27/11/2019 14:54

So when you said “what we had to be self evident will be exactly etc ....” you were talking bollocks?

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Lifecraft · 27/11/2019 14:55

One of the key differences between religion and science is that if humanity was all but wiped out tomorrow by a deadly virus and those few survivors were left damaged, with no memory or knowledge of anything, what will the world be like in 20K years.

Well we'll still no doubt have gods and religions. But of course completely different gods and religions to the ones we have today. Christianity would not be replicated.

In 20K years we would also have science, and that would be identical to what it is today. All the discoveries we made in the past we would make again, with the same results. Maths doesn't change, nor does physics. These laws are set in stone across the universe and would be discovered all over again. We'd get identical results.

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