Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Completely fascinating religion research

Today, I googled "people killed by God in the Bible." A wealth of resources came back that provided for some fascinating reading. Here are some links you just gotta check out (the discussion in the comments to these posts are often fascinating too):

How many people did God kill in the Old Testament?

In a previous post, I've listed and counted God's killings in the Bible. But I only included those that said exactly how many were killed by God. I came up with 2,301,417. But that didn't include some of God's most impressive slaughters. How many did God drown in the flood or burn to death in Sodom and Gomorrah? How many first-born Egyptians did he kill? The Bible doesn't say, so there's no way to know for sure. But it's possible to provide rough estimates in order to get a grand total. (New total: 34 million.)

Who has killed more people -- God or Satan? [This one is no contest.]

I've tried to assign numbers to the un-numbered killings in the Bible. You can see the detailed list here. The results were even more lopsided: 33 million (plus or minus a few million) for God; 60 for Satan.

Which is more violent, the Bible or the Quran? [Turns out it depends on how one measures it -- total violent passages or violent passages as a percentage of the whole.]
So the Bible has more cruel or violent passages than the Quran. But the Bible is a much bigger book. How do they compare when size is taken into account?

Violence and Cruelty Total verses Percent
Bible 907 31173 2.91
Quran 520 6236 8.34

When expressed as a percentage of cruel or violent verses (at least as marked in the SAB/Q), the Quran has nearly three times that of the Bible. (8.34 vs. 2.91%).

These posts (from Dwindling in Unbelief) often link to:

The Skeptic's Annotated Bible,
The Skeptic's Annotated Quran, and
The Skeptic's Annotated Book of Mormon.

These sites index these "sacred texts" according to fourteen different categories (Absurdity, Injustice, Cruelty and Violence, Intolerance, Contradictions, Science and History, Interpretation, Family Values, Women, Good Stuff, Prophecy, Sex, Language, Homosexuality). There's some really good research here -- and the sites are user friendly and easy to navigate.

But just so you don't think these are just hater sites, note that one of the categories is "Good Stuff" -- they don't overlook the good stuff, they just show how few "good stuff" passages there relative to all the awful stuff.

Good stuff in the Bible.

Good stuff in the Quran.

Good stuff in the Book of Mormon.

For his tireless (and helpful!) research, Steve Wells is hereby named The RFK Action Front Person of the Week!

Update #1: Look, I'm not saying spirit doesn't have a place in this world. I'm agnostic on that point. But what I am saying is that a spirituality written by violent primitive people based on a brutal and cruel god, does not move the world forward. Indeed if we are going to reduce suffering in the world, we're gonna have to find another way.

Update #2: One of the fascinating things about doing a post like this is how terrifying it is. It really shows the way that culture impacts ideation when even the thought of posting something contrary to the prevailing myths gives one pause.

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