Deleterious effects of pseudo-skepticism via evilbible.com

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For some reason the Fine Art America site had the following section posted within a forum Makes Being An Artist A Little Tougher…. Perhaps slightly un-contextual to the site’s purpose but hey it is, after all, in keeping with the do what thou wilt nature of cyberspace. Therein, it was noted:

I’m playing around with the stumble feature again, and stumbled on this:

For some reason the Fine Art America site had the following section posted within a forum Makes Being An Artist A Little Tougher…. Perhaps slightly un-contextual to the site’s purpose but hey it is, after all, in keeping with the do what thou wilt nature of cyberspace. Therein, it was noted:

I’m playing around with the stumble feature again, and stumbled on this:
****( “2nd. Commandment, Exodus 20:4 “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water below.” Old Testament punishment- Deuteronomy 27: 1 5 “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image.” That’s right kids don’t EVER draw, sculpt or paint or else god will curse you. Wanna be an artist, a photographer, take a picture of yourself or family? TOO BAD, God says no! You better drop out of art class before he smites you with boils.”) *****
http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/5NmXf0/www.evilbible.com/Top_Ten_List.htm
I think I’m going to hell ………oh well.

Evilbible.com is a website that purports to expose the Bible’s true and wicked nature. The contents of evilbible.com have been carefully considered, researched and found fallacious as it manipulatively promulgates misunderstandings, misinterpretations, misapplications and miscomprehensions of the Bibles contents, concepts and contexts.

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They weave tall tales by taking texts out of context to make pretexts for prooftexts. The more someone relies on evilbible.com for their information about the Bible, the more you can be assured that they know not of what they speak (evidence discrediting evilbible.com is found here).

Having said that, further note that the author of the comment in question, sadly, appears to have simply read, copied and pasted from evilbible.com without being skeptical enough to actually look up the texts and discern the context. Let us be honestly and biblically be skeptical enough to do so as the Bible praises the Bereans for doing as they daily double checked everything that Paul taught them (Acts 17:11).

Note that the conclusion is that, biblically, we cannot “EVER draw, sculpt or paint or else god will curse you…TOO BAD, God says no!…”

The supposed supporting evidence is quoted directly from the Bible with citations provided so it must be true and accurate—right! Some people, on whichever side of the aisle, actually function on this level: someone states that the Bible states thus and such and so it must be so.

Let us review the claim and elucidate it in the next segment as the author claims to have quoted:
1) The “2nd. Commandment”
2) From “Exodus 20:4”
3) Which reads, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water below”
4) And that the “Old Testament punishment”
5) Is found in “Deuteronomy 27:15”
6) Which reads, “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image”

I will now elucidate the fallacious nature of claims made in the discussion referenced above as the commentator expressed a sentiment that actually represents a common misconception.

Generally, some people argue against icons of various sorts by appealing to the commandments against making images—there is no such commandment. Yet, the sentiment is actually an uncommon misconception as it is taking it as far as claiming the condemnation of any and every art form.

Let us begin with Exodus 20:4 and note that verse 5a reads, “you shall not bow down to them nor serve [worship] them…”
That the verse refers to “them” means that it is, of course, referring to the images mentioned in the previous verse. Thus, only quoting verse 4, as the commentator did, is taking the commandment out of context by tearing it in half. The commandment represents a complete thought and the thought is do not make an image in order to worship the image and not merely, do not make images.

Now, what of Deuteronomy 27:15? The author of the comment only quoted a portion of verse 15, the entirety reads, “‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’”

Note that considering the greater context of the Ten Commandments we know that this is in reference to making images in order to serve/worship them and so they will seek to set them up in secret for the purposes of idolatry.
Thus, the readily discernable immediate and greater context make is clear what is meant by the condemnation of making images; that making images is not being condemned but making images in order to serve/worship them is condemned.
Further evidence of the accuracy of this conclusion is the fact that God actually command them making of images such as:

The making of images of cherubim (Exodus 25:18-20, 37:7-9, 26:1, 31, 36:8, 35, 1st Kings 7:18-20, 22).
Images of fruits (Exodus 28:33-35, 39:24-26).
Images of flowers (Exodus 37:19-20).
Images of oxen, lions, lilies, palm trees and bulls (1st Kings 6:23-29, 7:18-20, 22, 25-26, 29, 36, 2nd Chronicles 3:14, 16, 4:5, 13, 5:7-8).

Lastly, consider an interesting case in which “the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent…’” (Numbers 21:8)—“fiery” meaning that it was to be an image of a poisonous serpent. Yet, when years later the Israelites began serving/worshiping this image Hezekiah, the king at the time, “brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan” (2nd Kings 18:1, 4).

The making of the image was actually commanded by God but much later when it was misused as an idol it was destroyed and it was named Nehushtan which means “a thing of brass”—in other words, you are worshipping a mere piece of brass that has been shaped into an image.

Thus, we see that with a little discernment, with a little curiosity, with a little skepticism, with actually going through the trouble of opening the Bible and seeing what it has to say for itself; fallacies such as those promulgated by the author of the comment in question are dispelled.

For a detailed consideration of the issue of images, please see On the Treatment of Images.

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