New vs. the Old Testament

(written 11/12/03) Whee. Short post. Too much going on in life (chorus rehearsal last night, salsa class tonight). Maybe another long post tomorrow.

While I’m on the general anti-religion bashing theme, I was chatting with a friend about the people who think that the Bible is the literal word of God. The interesting bit to me is how they can reconcile the gods of the Old and New Testament. Old Testament is all “I am a vengeful God full of wrath”; New Testament is “For God so loved the world…” Plus, the Old Testament has all sorts of crazy stuff that I don’t see how people can take literally; my favorite example is Genesis 19:8 where Lot tells a mob in Gomorrah that they can have his two virgin daughters and do with them what they please, if they’d just leave him alone. And Lot is the one guy God saved from Sodom. This is the approved behavior. Craziness.


My theory on the whole Old and New Testament thing is that it makes perfect sense if you treat the church as a meme, designed to perpetuate its own survival. Once you have a loving, merciful New Testament God, how do you keep the rabble in line? You’ve got good cop, you need bad cop. Old Testament God serves in the role of bad cop. He’s angry, He’s vengeful, He’ll smite you down just for thinking the wrong thing. So now you have the carrot of “Jesus loves you”, and the stick of “And if you don’t do what He says, He will smite you down and punish you with an eternity of Hell.” This makes it much easier to run crowd control.

In fact, I’m going to do a whole post at some point about rule design to perpetuate power, but not tonight.