Friday, May 4, 2012

As long as we're in the business of trying to amend things ... #AmendmentOne


My man, Eric "Def" Shepherd (@eshep -- an #FF if there ever was one) has speculated as to what Amendment Two might contain. Perish the thought.

A dear friend who was concerned about sharing too much anti-Bible sentiment on facebook, where Bible-credulous friends might get their knickers in a twist, shared a funny note with me off the 'book. Luckily, I have no such compunctions about expanding on and posting what she shared.

Look, if religious types want to amend our state Constitution to make if fall in line with their (hateful, barbaric) religious values, then -- turnabout being fair play -- secularists such as myself should be able to propose amendments to their text. The first proposal is not mine, it came via my friend's friend, but I've got several to add and will rattle off a few:
  1. Amend Leviticus 18:22 to: "And lo, it came to pass that we were a bit strong on the whole who-should-lay-with-who thing. Go nuts. But we're really serious about the Rayon blends."
  2. Amend 1 Kings 7:23 to get the value of pi correct. We don't need to go out to the last known digit, your silly text is long enough already, but let's at least get some wording around the value being greater than 3. "Approximately 3.14," would be sufficient. Simple errors of mathematics undermine the venture, don't they? This should be an easy sell; it must be embarrassing to religionists for their omniscient being to be ignorant of mathematics that even today's elementary school children know.
  3. Correct all errors of scholarship. This should be non-controversial as well since it is an acknowledged problem that the many different translations contain any number of errors that are fixable. The Bible is, after all, a book written by men and has sustained significant revision over the years.
  4. Correction to all errors of science. This is a sweeping change that will need a detailed list to be hammered out in committee, but let's start with cosmology, then work our way through the other sciences and remove everything that is just flat out wrong. It also would have been nice if the Bible had contained a single nugget of scientific knowledge more advanced than what was (thought to be) known at the time it was being written by ignorant savages. I'll leave it as an exercise for the religious to find any one example of scientific knowledge their omniscient being has ever let on that is more advanced than what our scientists today know. After such a thing has been found, peer-reviewed, tested, and determined to have explanatory and predictive value, it could then be included. Good luck with that, by the way.  There are more difficult to classify errors of science that seem to overlap with errors of history and possibly scholarship. For example, James 3:7 was known to be wrong when it was written, is still clearly wrong, and one would be hard-pressed to imagine it could ever hope to be right. It is so mind-boggling stupid an assertion to make it doesn't so much fall under one branch of human knowledge as all of them.
  5. Amend all errors of history and let's start putting some dinosaurs in the Old Testament. There was no Flood. This one is going to take a lot of work.
  6. Amend the Ten Commandments. As Sam Harris noted, considering these were the only things the alleged God ever saw fit to write in his own hand, therefore must have been pretty proud of, he sure did a half-assed job. I'd be surprised if the average fourth grader, if asked to come up with a handful of rules to being a good person, couldn't do better. 
  7. Proposed, before we start applying the other amendments, let's see how much time we can save by applying the Jefferson Bible edits.
  8. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus didn't just come along preaching peace and love in sandals like some  hippie do-gooder. Let's clean up his image by amending his more bloodthirsty ravings (Matthew 11:11-12) with more of the Love Your Neighbor stuff. Because, clearly, people are falling down on this one.
  9. Let's amend all the passages that imply or explicitly state women are inferior to men (again, too numerous to list but Ephesians 5:22-24, is a New Testament example) with a blanket statement: "Dudes, chill, women are human beings and should be treated with respect, not like chattel."
  10. Let's do away with notion that slavery is OK. The issue of slavery is one that has been solved to the satisfaction of all civilized peoples. It is an unacceptable, unjustifiable, and purely barbaric practice that has no place in the modern world. The passages that relate to how slaveholders should treat their slaves are too numerous to include in this post, so I would propose excising all references to slavery and letting the proposed revision to the Ten Commandments proposed above be the final and only word on the matter. Or, if it must be separate Commandment to keep things discrete, then let it be "Thou shalt not enslave anyone. Ever." 
Proponents of Amendment One, are you concerned some of the above are too general or broad in scope? Don't you dare bring that up until you answer the same concern about Amendment One. You've failed to do so either by evasion or outright lying every time you've been asked. Some nerve you've got.

Too nitpicky for you? Do I expect too much from allegory and fable? You admit then we're talking about allegory and fable? Please explain why you feel the need to amend the Constitution of North Carolina to punish your fellow citizens for expecting to be treated as equal citizens, your allegory and fable notwithstanding.

Don't like the idea of getting your sacred text fixed up by people (like me) who have no respect for your "Biblical values"? Great, then you understand why I want you to keep your religion out of our government. This is a simple, foundational, essential American value. You can't have freedom of religion without freedom from religion. Secular government is the only thing standing between our democratic, progressive society and the depradations of the backwards, superstitious governments of places like Iran and Afghanistan. 

We are not a Christian Nation. We are a nation. We may be full of Christians, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, animists, and what have you, but none of those religions get to own our government. It is, or was designed to be, by and for the people. All the people. Even we atheists. 

I've done this several times, and I'll keep doing it so get used it, but I strongly encourage everyone, even you true believers, to get involved in a secular organization such as Americans United or to protect yourself from the fundies and their accommodationists, or the Sharia Law proponents -- if that's your fear -- and make sure our government stays true to itself. We are a secular nation. We can work, believers and non-believers together, towards the common goal of freedom and the liberty to seek a happiness for ourselves that does no harm to others.

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