Rev Ian S Markham wrote Against Atheism, Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris are fundamentally wrong.  Here we are looking at how Markham subjects us to horrid thin defences of his religious scriptures.  The three atheists are clear that the Bible God violates his own standards and Christians violate their own standards by using the Bible in worship and validating it and citing it as a moral authority.  Markham thinking of his Episcopal Church salary begs to differ.

His handling of it shows marked cherry-picking from the dreaded fundamentalist evangelical scholars.     That is one reason why liberal Christianity as represented by Markham slowly starts turning the clock back.

The book turns to Milgrom who said that the reason for the God-given food laws in Leviticus is to help the people of Israel respect life. This is done by limiting eating to some animals. Limiting further by saying the animals must be killed humanely. Not eating blood “as acknowledgment that bringing death to living things is a concession of God’s grace and not a privilege of man’s whim.”

The ban on inhumane killing would have done. And God could recommend eating animals that are not advanced like cows. A smart man like Milgrom certainly knows better. And to say that a God permits you to kill certain animals for food and that makes it right is religious extremism. It is one thing to do something that is possibly evil and cruel or harmful but when a God is supposed to command it that is a new problem, religious fanaticism. What do we need to be commanded or permitted to kill animals and eat them for? We are going to do it anyway. It's just celebrating blood but not in the way Milgrom suggests!

Then we are told that as there was a covenant between God and Israel had to do things differently from other nations around it so it could stand out. A covenant that makes no cultural difference is not a covenant at all. This is contradicted by saying that the ban on the eating of the pig was shared by all people in that region. But then we are told that cults devoted to dark forces in the underworld did venerate the pig. We should think though that the cultic thing should not be enough to drive the ban on pigs. It was just copied from the other nations roundabout.

The book speaking of original sin which led according to the Book of Genesis to bad things there and then and soon further evils came goes, “It remains an act of disobedience, but it is an inevitable and necessary act of disobedience. In the same way as teenagers necessarily and inevitably push back on their parents, so all of humanity forms our identity by pushing back on God. However, this pushing back carries significant risk and dangers: it can lead to hubris, where we start denying any need for a creator, and to an unregulated sense of desire. It can lead to murder, mayhem, and wickedness.”

Rubbish.  There would be some hope for that take if the Bible said Adam and Eve went for years before rebelling.  They might only have been created ten minutes. 

If God makes us and we have to rebel then he is to blame for putting that impulse in us. The Bible says God cannot tempt but this is more. It's virtually programming the person to do evil. Are such doctrines sinister and underhand? Is it a polite and manipulative way of getting people to serve a bad God? Jesus then did not save us but lied if the answer is yes.

The logic about Deuteronomy 7:1-7 where utter genocide of other nations is commanded by God and then God says don’t marry with them is terrible. The author tries to make out the marriage ban means the genocide is not utter destruction. The logic would work if genocide didn’t take years but could be done in five minutes!  Markham in his hypocrisy is trying to excuse a command, "Brutally kill them all", with the irrelevant fact, "They were not all dead."  He is as good as saying that the killed ones left the killers no choice!

The author then complains that Dawkins condemned this but didn’t mention that these nations were sacrificing children. So we have an admission that genocide was justified in Christian eyes – and on religious grounds: exterminating a religion for killing children in worship. This is softened a bit, not significantly we must add, by the claim that it would be wrong to kill literally everybody for there had to be members of those cultures who were against the abominations. That is still an alarming view. It presupposes that God really did seem to give the command and the seem is big enough to justify obedience.

Markham needs to tell us what he thinks should be done with countries that are too liberal on abortion.  What does he think of fellow Episcopal clergy who bless late term abortion clinics?

The book says that proof texting the Qur’an to argue that the true Muslim or true believer will agree with being violent today in the name of religion is eccentric. Then why do a huge number of commentators and scholars do that? Proof texting is careless on the face of it a lot of the time. You need to look at the worldview and the bigger picture. But that does not change the fact that if proof texting is a bad practice it may still show that something is true.  It is not always bad.  And the fact remains that 99% of religions are doing it and 99% of believers depend on proof texts.  Human nature knows we all rip stuff from the context but sometimes harmful sayings are just harmful in or out of context.  The Bible and Qur'an are still a disgrace for the expressions and wordings they use.   They remain irresponsible and criminally so.

The author condemns suicide bombing as deeply evil for “it involves the double sin of taking one’s own life and the taking of innocent non-combatants. To create a culture which celebrates such actions is also wrong. ” To this I would say that to celebrate Jesus’s celebration of the blood plastered Old Testament law of God and of Moses the mass murderer is reprehensible.

The book virtue signals about homosexuality. With incredible psychic powers, it tells us that the writer of Leviticus and St Paul who are supposed to have condemned it did not know about homosexual orientation.  Leviticus keeps it simple, it is the sex act that is wrong.  Paul spoke of burning with desire for the same sex so he had some idea.  Paul spoke of men turning from women to men and women turning from men to women.  Given that gays and lesbians can manage sex with the opposite sex and marriage then was not about love or desire but reasonable companionship there is no reason to go down the distorting way that Markham does.

The virtue signalling is not inclusive to LGBT who do not want loving relationships.  Not all people do.  In today's world, casual sex is the norm.  It is odd to say the Bible condemns only "bad" homosexuality for that is just shifting homophobia from some gay targets to others some of which are extremely vulnerable.  LGBT sex workers are clearly not privileged in the way those who are able to be affirmed and marry and raise families and be supported are.

Leviticus is hinted to have only banned gay sex for it wanted to be different from other nations but that is a lie. The ban occurs among a whole pile of regulations that follow from holding that the only sex that is right is between a man and woman in marriage. For example, adultery is slammed.  It is not cultural. Also the text condemns actions and is not commenting on whether an orientation or not would make a difference or any love or commitment. The ban on adultery covered couples who were committed too but married to other people. Markham can read and knows fine well that God never said that it is about keeping Israel different from those other nations.  He only told it not to copy the other nations.  That is all.  It says that no nation, Israel or its neighbours, should be having gay sex or committing adultery or incest.

The notion that the Sodom story only condemns gang rape may think of rape as terrible only when it is man on man for gay sex is just a terrible thing in the first place. If the mob were going to rape why did they go to the door and knock and ask for Lot to send the men out to them? They were just asking!

The amount of space spent on rationalising the Bible erasure and prohibition of same sex activity shows that Markham is a hypocrite.  Why is he not telling us more about how wonderful and loving God is supposed to be?  This is about his job.  Why is he not trying to affirm those who divorce and remarry who are a bigger percentage in the Church?

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