5. Atheist historian Richard Carrier: the Bible on slavery, subordination of women, etc.

Herein I am continuing a consideration of Atheist and historian Richard Carrier’s statements about morality: you can find this whole series here (once it is all posted).


Herein I am continuing a consideration of Atheist and historian Richard Carrier’s statements about morality: you can find this whole series here (once it is all posted).

What Carrier is seeking, which is what every Atheist is seeking, is to condemn people for having different brain-chemistry than his and getting them to, somehow, change their brain-chemistry to match his because his more accurately discerns “the true one” worldview and, well let us face it, discerning “the true one” worldview is his subjective imperative because he seeks to fill the gapping void in the objective meaninglessness with subjective meaning—and even seeking meaning in life is an assertion and/or a desire which came about in humans by accident.

We then get another definition from Richard Carrier which is that what is immoral is that which “ruins human happiness”—yes, with “happiness” being subjective, his demand that ruining human happiness being immoral being an assertions, etc., etc., etc.
He makes a statement that I will follow with specific considerations:

…we’ve abandoned nearly everything gods supposedly told us, discovering that in fact it’s immoral, because it ruins human happiness and conduces to no benefit we really want: from slavery (Leviticus 25:44-46) and the subordination of women (1 Timothy 2:11-15), even their legalized rape (Deuteronomy 21:10-12), to the use of murder to suppress freedom of speech and religion (Leviticus 24:11-16 and Deuteronomy 12:1-13:16), or killing people for violating primitive taboos like picking up sticks on Saturday (Numbers 15:32-36) or having sex (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:13-30 and Leviticus 20:13) or shunning people who eat bacon and shrimp tacos (Leviticus 11) or cheeseburgers or lamb chowder (Exodus 23:19).

Considering that this is about “everything gods” plural “supposedly told us” it is fascinating that he only provides examples from one God—the one and only one.
Now, you will note that he is condemning “slavery…subordination of women…legalized rape…murder…suppress[ing] freedom of speech and religion…killing people for violating primitive taboos…or having sex…shunning people” for food related issues and all of it, merely base on his subjective assertion of that which “ruins human happiness.”

But let us go step by step:
Slavery does not ruin the happiness of the slave owner: this is a fundamental problem with Carrier’s references to the vague generic “we” as in “we’ve abandoned…” It is very simple for Atheists to use the word “slavery” since they know that it will get an emotive reaction and will be defined exclusively as chattel slavery. The Bible refers to a lot of different practices which, sadly, some English texts lump in to “slavery.” Yet, there is indentured servitude (such as a way to pay off a debt) and there is kidnapping people from foreign lands and selling them (which the Bible condemns when it likens it to murder).
Leviticus 25:44-46 states

As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.

You see, Carrier seems to hope that you will not think critically, culturally and historically but will, again, simply react emotionally. Getting “slaves” from the Pagan nations implies getting people away from clearly bad situations and from cultures which treated them horribly, and providing them room and board in exchange for work. If an Israelite so much as knocked one single tooth out of their slave’s mouth, they were to set them free along with enough provisions to begin an independent life. This was absolutely unheard of in ancient culture.

What of “the subordination of women”? 1 Timothy 2:11-15 states:

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

I am unsure who a text which specifies that God created both man and women subordinates women but I am sure about the sense of men and women having different roles: for example, women get pregnant and give birth while men do not have that blessed privilege.

Note that the premise is what to do when receiving instruction. Thus, this is about order in the church such as that women are not to be that which some would term head pastors but are clearly seen fulfilling many other roles such as women had the right to own land, to received inheritance, were prophetesses (in both testaments), were judges, were disciples, were deaconesses, were teachers, worked and owned their own businesses, were present at the day of Pentecost, books of the Bible are named after women, women were the first at the empty tomb while the male apostles were hiding in fear, etc., etc., etc. (see Genesis 1:27; Exodus 15:20; Numbers ch. 27; 2nd Kings 22:14; 2nd Chronicles 34:22; Job 42:15; Proverbs 31:16; Isaiah 8:3; Judges 4:4; Luke 2:36; Romans 16:1-2; Acts 1:12-14, 2:1, 16:14, 21:7-9, 9:36, 18:26; Titus 2:3-4).

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For some related info, see my books (on which I am offering a money saving deal:
Pop-Atheist Bible Expositors (featuring Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Dan Barker and Neil deGrasse Tyson)
Reasons for Being an Atheist: A Comprehensive Guide

“atheist

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