Chapter 14 - Why does God love animal sacrifice?
However, if you need additional evidence, then we can approach the Bible from another angle and reach the same conclusion.
To any normal human being, the idea of animal and human sacrifice is both abhorrent and nauseating. The dictionary defines "sacrifice" in this way:
Any normal person is disgusted by religious sacrifice, and you would imagine that God is too. Ritual slaughter like this has nothing to do with an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, prayer-answering creator of the universe. The idea of killing an animal, splattering its blood about and then burning its flesh is, quite obviously, absurd and ridiculous. God would have nothing to do with animal sacrifice.
But then we examine the Bible -- the holy word of God and the single authoritative source of all information about Jesus -- and find passages like these:
Leviticus Chapter 1
"If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to offer a male without defect. He must present it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord . He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He is to slaughter the young bull before the Lord , and then Aaron's sons the priests shall bring the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He is to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. Then Aaron's sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the burning wood that is on the altar. He is to wash the inner parts and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord .
"If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, he is to offer a male without defect. He is to slaughter it at the north side of the altar before the Lord , and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle its blood against the altar on all sides. He is to cut it into pieces, and the priest shall arrange them, including the head and the fat, on the burning wood that is on the altar. He is to wash the inner parts and the legs with water, and the priest is to bring all of it and burn it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord .
"If the offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, he is to offer a dove or a young pigeon. The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. He is to remove the crop with its contents and throw it to the east side of the altar, where the ashes are. He shall tear it open by the wings, not severing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is on the fire on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord .
Here is another example:
Leviticus Chapter 5
'Or if a person touches anything ceremonially unclean-whether the carcasses of unclean wild animals or of unclean livestock or of unclean creatures that move along the ground-even though he is unaware of it, he has become unclean and is guilty.
'Or if he touches human uncleanness-anything that would make him unclean-even though he is unaware of it, when he learns of it he will be guilty.
'Or if a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil-in any matter one might carelessly swear about-even though he is unaware of it, in any case when he learns of it he will be guilty.
'When anyone is guilty in any of these ways, he must confess in what way he has sinned and, as a penalty for the sin he has committed, he must bring to the Lord a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.
'If he cannot afford a lamb, he is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the Lord as a penalty for his sin-one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. He is to bring them to the priest, who shall first offer the one for the sin offering. He is to wring its head from its neck, not severing it completely, and is to sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering against the side of the altar; the rest of the blood must be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering. The priest shall then offer the other as a burnt offering in the prescribed way and make atonement for him for the sin he has committed, and he will be forgiven.
Here is another example:
Leviticus Chapter 7, The priest's share
Here is another example:
Leviticus Chapter 9
Then from the basket of bread made without yeast, which was before the Lord, he took a cake of bread, and one made with oil, and a wafer; he put these on the fat portions and on the right thigh. He put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons and waved them before the Lord as a wave offering. Then Moses took them from their hands and burned them on the altar on top of the burnt offering as an ordination offering, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire. He also took the breast-Moses' share of the ordination ram-and waved it before the Lord as a wave offering, as the Lord commanded Moses.
What does your common sense tell you about these passages?
When looking at passages like these in the Bible, everyone can see the problem. Animal sacrifice is abhorrent, and it has nothing to do with an all-knowing and all-loving God.
For most people, no further evidence is needed. It is obvious that primitive men wrote the Bible, not God. God would have nothing to do with the Bible if these passages are in it, and the Bible is an all-or-nothing book (see Chapter 13 for details). No all-powerful, all-loving God wants people to kill animals, splatter their blood, cut them up into pieces, arrange the pieces on an altar and burn them so that he can "smell the pleasing aroma." There is no difference between the Bible's book of Leviticus and the insanity of the Aztecs.
Therefore, in the same way that the slavery passages in the previous chapter prove that God did not write the Bible, these animal sacrifice passages prove that God did not write the Bible. The whole notion of an all-knowing, all-powerful God purposefully writing this material is patently absurd to any rational human being.
Keep in mind that all of this material about animal sacrifice is found in the Old Testament of the Bible. This is the same place where we find the Ten Commandments. Only about 20 pages separate Exodus chapter 20 -- the source of the Ten Commandments -- from Leviticus Chapter 1.
If you are a Christian, how do you handle these passages in the Bible? A Christian has a problem, because it is hard to put faith in a book that harbors numerous passages where God demands animal sacrifice. As with the slavery problem discussed in the previous chapter, there are two possible approaches for a Christian:
Suprisingly, many Christians embrace these parts of the Bible. Only in the context of this abhorent practice does the horrific death of Jesus on the cross (as portrayed in the movie The Passion of the Christ) make even a modicum of sense. For Christians, the human race had to actually move into the realm of human sacrifice to finally appease their God. Senselessly killing animals was not sufficient. According to the Christian faith, Jesus is the human sacrifice that satisfied God.
For example, here is something that a Christian minister might say:
When we read about animal sacrifice in the Old Testament, what we discover is a God who must be insane. No rational human being can accept that an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God could possibly support animal sacrifice.
But then we turn to the New Testament and find that God has moved beyond insanity. God becomes a monstrous absurdity who demands human sacrifice. In other words, Christians are dwelling in the same realm as the virgin-killing Aztecs.
Contemplating the crucifixion
Have you ever thought about how bizarre the crucifixion story is? Imagine the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe sitting on his magnificent throne in heaven. He looks down onto earth and says to himself:
Since I am all-knowing I know exactly what the humans are doing and I understand exactly why they commit each sin. Since I created the humans in my own image and personally programmed human nature into their brains, I am the direct author of all of this sin. The instant I created them I knew exactly what would happen with every single human being right down to the nanosecond level for all eternity. If I didn't like how it was going to turn out, I could have simply changed them when I created them. And since I am perfect, I know exactly what I am doing. But ignore all that. I hate all these people doing exactly what I perfectly designed them to do and knew they would do from the moment I created them...
So here's what I am going to do. I will artificially inseminate a virgin. She will give birth to an incarnated version of me. The humans will eventually crucify and kill the incarnated me. That will, finally, make me happy. Yes, sending myself down and having the humans crucify me -- that will satisfy me. I feel much better now.
Chapter 21 explains where this bizarre story actually comes from. It has nothing to do with "God".
Thinking about our sacrificial God
Have you ever stopped to think about it? If you are a Christian, have you ever thought about how uncomfortable this is? You are worshipping a God who demanded animal sacrifice, and then was finally "appeased" by human sacrifice. Many Christians seem to actually revel in human sacrifice. How else can we explain the tens of millions of Christians who flocked to the movie The Passion of the Christ?
Have you ever consciously thought about how truly uncomfortable this situation is?
Please simply take a moment and think about what you have read in this chapter. Here are two points of view for you to consider:
Now, let's look at another example that is just as outrageous...
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