I don't normally manage to catch "Thought for the Day" but this morning I was awake listening to "Today" at ten to eight. Clifford Longley, sounds gentle and soft spoken. You can read the transcript here
He used his slot to inform his audience how the Bible tells us deal with widows and orphans. He supported his piece with a few biblical quotes both from the old and new Testaments. As if somehow the antiquity of that book alone means something.
It was of course a classic piece of cherry picking. I've no doubt that the Bible has some good advice about widows and orphans. I suspect that Mr Longley believes, as do most Christians, that the Bible represents the written word of God. That the scriptures are our source of morals.
Richard Dawkins' description of the Bible is beautifully concise.
' To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird, as you would expect of a chaotically cobbled together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated,distorted and "improved" by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors and copyists, unknown to us and mostly unknown to each other, spanning nine centuries.'
Back to Longley's cherry picking.
Let's take a couple of examples of Dawkins' weird bits. And they don't get much more weird than the story of Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah.
Before God was to rain fire and brimstone on the poor inhabitants of Gomorrah, he sent two male angels to tell Lot to leave the city. The men of the town demanded that Lot should hand them over so that they could sodomise them.
'Where are the men that came into thee this night? Bring them out to us so that we may know them'.
And it gets worse. Lot refuses, and then-
' I prey you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now my two daughters which have not known man; let me, I prey you, bring them out unto you, and do ye with them as is good in your eyes: only unto these man do nothing; for therefore came under the shadow of my roof '
And if you are starting to think, unlike Longley, that the Bible is not much of a moral guide, flick through to the Book of Numbers.
Here we read that Moses is told by God to have a go at the Midianites. All the Midianite men were slaughtered and their cities burned. But the Midianite women and children were not killed. I can hear a sigh of relief. But no, Moses gave orders that all the boy children and all the women who were not virgins, should be killed . And what happened to the virgins? Well, they didn't escape Moses' wrath.
' But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves'
So there we have genocide and child abuse on an industrial scale.
This is the problem with the Longley argument. I think we should look after widows and orphans, but not because on anything in scripture. After all, I don't suppose he would be recommending we hand over our daughters to strangers to be raped.