From the Arizona State University State Press, Friday, October 17, 1986, vol. 69, no. 38.

Cultural 'common sense'


In Mark Isenberg's letter of Oct. 10 he states that "Biblical morality is really what most humans see as right and wrong." How fortunate it is that this statement is incorrect!

Holding up the Bible as a paragon of virtue is like canonizing Charles Manson. From the Old Testament we get such moral teaching as: believers should kill nonbelievers who tempt them into worshipping other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6-9), murder of the innocent as punishment for the guilty (Exodus 12:29 and 20:5, Leviticus 26:22, Numbers 14:18, Deuteronomy 5:9 and 23:2, Isaiah 14:21-22), slavery is fine (Exodus 21:7, Leviticus 25:44), mass slaughter and genocide are acceptable practices sometimes ordained by God (Numbers 31:7 and 31:17-18, Joshua 6:21 and 10:40), children who speak against their parents and people who work on the Sabbath should be put to death (Exodus 21:17 and 31:15, Leviticus 20:8), tattoos are evil (Leviticus 19:28), little kids who make fun of prophets should be torn apart by bears in the name of God (2 Kings 2:23-24) and God is directly responsible for all evil as well as good (Isaiah 45:7, Lamentations 3:38, Amos 3:6).

From the New Testament we get: you should give away your property to anyone who merely asks for it (Matthew 5:40 and 5:42, Luke 6:30), it is acceptable to lie as long as it wins converts (Romans 3:7, 1 Corinthians 9:20-23), women must keep their heads covered when praying and may not speak in Church or teach men (1 Corinthians 11:5 and 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:12) and it is good for families to be broken up for the sake of Christianity (Matthew 10:34-36, Luke 14:26).

It is true that many ethical teachings most people agree with (i.e., murder and theft are wrong) are found in the Bible. But people don't agree with them simply for that reason. Ethics based on reason rather than revealed religion has been a field of study for several thousand years, and through it these basic principles have become a part of the cultural "common sense."

Jim Lippard
Senior, Philosophy