Not every Christian is a Biblical literalist, but among the many forms of Christianity, Biblical literalism has a disproportionately loud voice, shouting that its harsh, unforgiving agenda must be imposed upon everyone else. It’s not their choice, say the Biblical literalists. When the Bible says something must be so, then it must be so, without exceptions.
The interesting thing about Biblical literalists is that, although they say that they believe that every work of the Bible is literally true, they usually are ignorant of what the Bible actually says. They know a bit of the Bible, and pick out those parts that they like to best, applying that selective literalism quite liberally. If these literalists ever took the trouble to read the Bible, they would have quite a bit more trouble following its holy word.
Let’s take just one short passage from the Bible to illustrate the point. The Book of Deuteronomy, also known as the Fifth Book of Moses, very clearly lays down this law for involvement in religious congregations: Bastards aren’t allowed to participate. What’s more, the children of bastards are forbidden to enter any religious congregation. The Bible doesn’t stop there, though. The prohibition lasts even longer. The Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 23, verse 2, commands: “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”
Got that? Ten generations of descendents of any bastard are, according to the Bible, prohibited from going into any religious congregation that claims allegiance to “the Lord” – the god arising out of Judaic monotheistic religion. Therefore, even the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren of a bastard are defying the divine will of this god if they go to a synagogue, church, or mosque.
Yes, it seems harsh to forbid all these people from choosing to go to a Jewish, Christian, or Muslim congregation, just because of the action of an ancestor, but rules are rules. For an honest Biblical literalist, this command is the divine will of a god that must be feared and obeyed. But, how can this command be applied?
A bastard is the child of parents who were not married to each other. Some bastards are simply children born to women who don’t have any husbands at all. Other bastards, however, are the products of cuckoldry, in which a man other than a woman’s husband is the biological father of a child.
There are many ways to make a bastard child, but to make things easier on the Biblical literalists, let’s be conservative in the application of this holy law. Let’s suppose that the descendents of the offspring of cuckoldry are the only bastard lineages Biblical literalists need to ban from attending monotheistic religious congregations. That shouldn’t be so hard, should it?
At first, it appears that the number of bastards out of cuckoldry should be a reasonably small number. After all, though some have asserted that as many as one out of every ten babies is the product of cuckoldry, a recent piece of metaresearch asserts a more limited estimate: Just 2 to 3 percent of babies are bastards emerging from cuckoldry. To be generous, let’s go with the lower estimate within this conservative range. Let’s say for the sake of argument that only 2 percent of babies will be counted as bastards.
Banning 2 percent of the population from attending any monotheist religious congregation won’t be very difficult, right? Maybe so, but the Book of Deuteronomy says that it’s the law of the god of Israel to ban ten generations of ancestors of any bastard, not just bastards themselves.
In order to apply this law from the Bible, we have to calculate how likely it is that any given person is a descendent of a bastard, going back ten generations. Fortunately, this isn’t a difficult calculation to make.
The number of biological ancestors in any person’s ancestry doubles every generation one goes back in time. We have 2 biological parents, 4 biological grandparents, 8 biological great grandparents, and so on. (We aren’t counting step-parents and the like here, because it’s bastardry that’s being considered, which is biologically dependent.) By the time we get back to the tenth generation of our ancestors, there are 512 people.
That’s a big group, but that’s just the tenth generation of ancestors alone. We also have to count everybody between that distant generation and ourselves. If any person in that big group was a bastard, then it would be a sin against Biblical literalist Christianity for us to step foot in any church, Jewish temple, or mosque.
For any person, there are, including themselves, 1,023 potential bastards that could lead them to be prohibited by Biblical law from ever going to a monotheist house of worship. According to the conservative estimate of that recent research, two percent of these people are probably bastards from cuckoldry.
That’s a likelihood of 20 bastards within ten generations of any person’s ancestry. A typical person will be prohibited from going to a religious congregation twenty times over, if we apply the law of the Book of Deuteronomy, as Biblical literalists say we must.
But, let’s be generous. Let us suppose that Christians are more sexually faithful than other people. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that members of a Christian family will be twice as sexually faithful as people are on average.
That still would leave 10 bastards out of cuckoldry, on average, in the ten-generation lineage of Christians.
Let’s be generous even further, though, and accept for the sake of argument that Biblical literalists are four times more sexually faithful than other people. Even if that were true, and Biblical literalists were only descended from pure lines of Biblical literalists, then every Biblical literalist Christian could still expect to have 5 bastards from cuckoldry within ten generations of their family trees.
Even if we went with the wild claim that Biblical literalist Christians are 20 times more sexually faithful to their spouses than people on average, it would still be expected that these super holy Christian families would contain at least one bastard within ten generations…
… and this would be excluding all the bastards who were simply born completely out of wedlock.
The overwhelming statistical probability of having many bastard ancestors within ten generations in the past makes this plain: No one can be a Biblical literalist and attend a Christian church. A Biblical literalist Christian congregation is a contradiction in terms.
Christian Biblical literalists are faced with this choice: They must either stop going to church, or stop being Biblical literalists, and accept that the Bible is really just a collection of metaphors, and not really the divine word of any supernatural being.