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Statistics Show Biblical Literalists Sin Against Their Religion Every Time They Go To Church

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?

god church and bastardsAt 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.

16 comments to Statistics Show Biblical Literalists Sin Against Their Religion Every Time They Go To Church

  • Mark

    I’m an amateur genealogist and have expanded the genealogical research in my family tree to include the new field of genetic genealogy. As such, I have had my Y-DNA tested for markers that denote my paternal lineage back in time. These markers are passed down from father to son with only occasional mutations changing them slightly. Using paper records I have traced my paternal lineage back 12 generations to medieval Switzerland (Basel). Another man whom I have been working with has the same sur-name and also traces his ancestry back to Basel Switzerland at the same time. We share a common ancestor who lived in the area in the early 1600s. So, we always assumed that we were closely related and paper genealogy has shown this conclusion to be valid.

    However, the genetics show otherwise. Our Y-DNA samples are remarkably different. One of our lineages has a “Non-Paternal Event”, as it’s known in the genealogy community. Basically, a bastard, where the family name was passed to a son, but not the family genetics. As the field is growing it’s becoming understood that these sorts of events are much more common than genealogists ever realized. It could be an unmarried woman who gave her family name to a child rather than giving the child the biological father’s surname. Or, it could be a woman who became pregnant due to an affair, and passed the child off as her husband’s. In either case, the genetics passing to the child did not match the family name.

  • J Clifford

    Hey, Mark, I’ve also got ancestry way back in Switzerland, Basel and elsewhere. Nice to meet another member of the family… unless my genetics actually come from that traveling shoe repairman from Serbia…

  • Mark

    Also, I think you need to look at the math from another angle. I have 512 9x g-grandmothers. Figure each woman in my family tree had 3 daughters (a fairly good estimate prior to last century). That means that each of my 9x G-grandmothers has about 60,000 9x g-granddaughters currently alive. If 2% of my 9x g-grandmothers produced a bastard child then that would account for over 600,000 people who are the descendants of bastards. If you include the intervening generations then we have nearly a million people. And that’s just my family tree. If you add in all of the women alive 10 generations ago I think it would be nearly impossible to find ANYONE who is not the product of a bastard within the last 10 generations.

  • J Clifford

    Good point, Mark, though there’s some childhood mortality to deal with in there as well.

    Clearly, the writers of the Bible were not skilled at mathematical thinking.

  • Dave

    The word “bastard” here means “mixed.” This law comes from Mosaic law (Old Testament) and is meant for Jews only. The next verse, apparently overlooked here resulting in your creating a straw man argument, states that “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation…” and gives the context for the commandment. Moab, for example, was a “nation” descended from a child born to Lot and his own daughter, and this nation was not to be “mixed” with the Jewish lineage. Gene pool and stuff. Within Judaism much more room was given to non-traditional liasons; Jesus himself was descended from the sex worker Rahab, and his own lineage through Joseph was in doubt from the beginning.

    Peregrin, the commandment you cite has nothing to do with Christianity, literalist or otherwise. The New Testament admonition to “be not unequally yoked” may be a reference to the “mixture” warned about in the Old Testament (which Testament by the way Christians are under no constraints to fulfill) and Christians generally understand it to mean choose marriage and business partners from those in the Faith, but there is a great difference between an admonition and a commandment.

    “Bastard” simply does not carry the meaning you are using in your argument, which would be a pretty good argument if not so carelessly presented out of context.

  • Peregrin Wood

    Dave, it’s kind of odd to me that you accuse me of building a straw man argument, when at the beginning of the article, I point out that there are many kinds of Christians besides Biblical literalists. This article specifically writes about Biblical literalists, a kind of Christian that insists that every word of the Bible is literally true, and that often attempts to force the Bible’s worst ideas on everybody else, whether those ideas come from the New Testament or the Old Testament. My argument is that Biblical literalism is a straw man religion – or, you might say, paper thin.

    The point of the article is to examine the claims of Biblical literalists on the terms of literalism, which yes, of course are completely lacking in context. That’s what Biblical literalism is all about, Dave. I don’t see how you expect me to consider the Biblical literalist perspective given the many cultural contexts in which the Bible was written by its many authors, when the whole point of Biblical literalism is to insist that the Bible is divinely and eternally true, regardless of cultural developments, and that it has only one true author.

    Just by insisting that I talk about the cultural context of this line of the Bible, you’re agreeing that Biblical literalism is absurd. You’re agreeing to the second option I present at the end of the article, by treating the Bible as a human document, with a cultural context and meanings that aren’t really universal.

    But, okay, let’s take a look at Deuteronomy 23:2

    Let’s see whether the experts agree with your interpretation.

    I’m looking over at biblegateway.com, at Deuteronomy 23:2 in all the English translations of the Bible available there.

    21st Century King James Version: “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.”

    American Standard Version: “A bastard shall not enter into the assembly of Jehovah; even to the tenth generation shall none of his enter into the assembly of Jehovah.”

    Amplified Bible: “A person begotten out of wedlock shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall his descendants not enter into the congregation of the Lord.”

    Common English Bible: “No one born of an illegitimate marriage [Deuteronomy 23:2 Heb uncertain] can belong to the Lord’s assembly either. Not even the tenth generation of such children can belong to the Lord’s assembly.

    Complete Jewish Bible: “A mamzer may not enter the assembly of Adonai, nor may his descendants down to the tenth generation enter the assembly of Adonai.” What’s a mamzer? The Jewish Virtual Library reads: “MAMZER (Heb. מַמְזֵר), usually translated as “bastard.”

    Contemporary English Version: “No one born outside of a legal marriage, or any of their descendants for ten generations, can fully belong to the Lord’s people.”

    Darby Translation: “A bastard shall not come into the congregation of Jehovah; even his tenth generation shall not come into the congregation of Jehovah.”

    Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition: “A mamzer, that is to say, one born of a prostitute, shall not enter into the church of the Lord, until the tenth generation.”

    Easy-to-Read Version: “If a man’s parents were not legally married, that man may not join with the men of Israel to worship the Lord. And none of his descendants to the tenth generation—may join in that group.”

    English Standard Version: “No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord.”

    English Standard Version Anglicized: “No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord.

    Expanded Bible: “No one born ·to parents who were forbidden by law to marry [of a forbidden marriage] may come into the ·meeting to worship [assembly of] the Lord. The descendants for ten generations may not come in either.”

    1599 Geneva Bible: “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.”

    God’s Word Translation: “A man born from an illicit union may not join the assembly of the Lord. No descendant of his may join the assembly of the Lord for ten generations.”

    By the way, Dave, the Jewish Virtual Library, citing the Encyclopedia Judaica, explains that the definition of a mamzer / bastard in Hebrew is much wider than just having to do with the Ammonite / Moabite distinction. If you’re going to preach to me about context, at least get it right.

    Good News Translation: “No one born out of wedlock or any descendant of such a person, even in the tenth generation, may be included among the Lord’s people.”

    Holman Christian Standard Bible: “No one of illegitimate birth may enter the Lord’s assembly; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, may enter the Lord’s assembly.”

    Jubilee Bible 2000: “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.”

    King James Version: “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.”

    Authorized (King James) Version: “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.”

    Lexham English Bible: “An illegitimate child may not come into the assembly of Yahweh; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants may come into the assembly of Yahweh.”

    Living Bible: “A bastard may not enter the sanctuary, nor any of his descendants for ten generations.”

    The Message Bible: “No bastard is to enter the congregation of God, even to the tenth generation, nor any of his children.”

    Names of God Bible: “A man born from an illicit union may not join the assembly of Yahweh. No descendant of his may join the assembly of Yahweh for ten generations.”

    New American Standard Bible: “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord.”

    New Century Version: “No one born to parents who were forbidden by law to marry may come into the meeting to worship the Lord. The descendants for ten generations may not come in either.”

    New English Translation: “A person of illegitimate birth may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation no one related to him may do so.”

    New International Reader’s Version: “No one who was born to a woman who wasn’t married can join in worship with the Lord’s people. That also applies to the person’s children for all time to come.”

    New International Version: “No one born of a forbidden marriage nor any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation.”

    New International Version (UK): “No one born of a forbidden marriage nor any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation.”

    New King James Version: “One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord.”

    New Life Version: “No one who was born to parents who were not married will go into the meeting of the Lord. And none of his children will go into the meeting of the Lord, even to the children’s children of ten families in the future.”

    New Living Translation: “If a person is illegitimate by birth, neither he nor his descendants for ten generations may be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.”

    New Revised Standard Version: “Those born of an illicit union shall not be admitted to the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of their descendants shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.”

    Orthodox Jewish Bible: “A mamzer shall not enter into the Kahal Hashem; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the Kahal Hashem.”

    Revised Standard Version: “No bastard shall enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord.”

    The Voice: “No one born from an illegal or incestuous union may come and worship the Eternal. This prohibition stays in effect for 10 generations.”

    World English Bible: “A person born of a forbidden union shall not enter into Yahweh’s assembly; even to the tenth generation shall no one of his enter into Yahweh’s assembly.”

    Wycliffe Bible: “A child born of whoredom shall not enter into the church of the Lord, unto the tenth generation.”

    Young’s Literal Translation: “A bastard doth not enter into the assembly of Jehovah; even a tenth generation of him doth not enter into the assembly of Jehovah.”

    Most of these versions don’t agree with your interpretation of what the Bible is, Dave. That’s the weakness in your defense of this passage, and in the claims of the Biblical literalists as well: Anyone who is talking about “The Bible” is talking about their interpretation of a text, not a literal, cleanly defined document that has just one true meaning, or even one true version.

    Really, who are you to say that the version of the Bible that another Christian uses is less true than the version you prefer? Who are you, Dave, to say that another person’s interpretation of what Deuteronomy 23:2 means is less true than your interpretation of what the passage means?

    I can point out that your assertion, that one line in Deuteronomy chapter 23 defines what the next line really means, conveniently skipped over the very first line of Deuteronomy 23, in which it is commanded by the writer, or by God, or by the religious censors who edited the line, or whomever, that “No man who has his sex part crushed or cut off will go into the meeting of the Lord.” (New Life Version) Right there, setting the tone for the whole chapter, is a prohibition from religious worship by men who have mangled genitals, but you’re claiming that the whole thing is about maintaining pure genetic bloodlines. That just doesn’t make sense, Dave.

    But then, The Book of Deuteronomy, as with the whole Bible, isn’t really about anything, on its own. It’s about what people think it means. There isn’t really even a single such thing as The Bible, for that matter. The Bible is like The Doctor, with tons of reincarnations, no one of them more truly the titular character in Doctor Who than any of the others. Does it make sense for anyone to say, “The Doctor has straight hair!” He does, and he doesn’t.

    I’m arguing that the Bible, really, is a rather stiff form of fan fiction. Different kinds of Christians make it what they want, and so anybody who claims that they can nail it down and say what The Bible really means is ignoring the reality of the many different, conflicting things that The Bible actually is.

    Getting uptight about what The Bible says and trying to live your life in strict accordance with what you think that it’s telling you to do is as dim witted as getting upset about the most recent James Bond film, in which we see James Bond and Miss Moneypenny meet for the first time when it’s documented on film that the two were actually introduced on screen 50 years ago, and Miss Moneypenny was not of African descent back then.

    Which is the real Miss Moneypenny? Neither of them are real.

    Which version of The Bible is the real Bible?

  • Dave

    Thanks Peregrin for your thoughtful reply. I have my own concerns with Christians who may want to bring what one could call errant doctrine into the everyday life of the nation. My point was predicated on one distinction that you have not made, that being the difference between the Old Covenant that was given to the Jews, and the New Covenant out of which was birthed Christianity. As I said, no Christian, literalist or otherwise, is under any obligation to keep the Old Covenant. Even literalists make this distinction. One identifying mark of a New Covenant believer is that they believe “Christ is the end of the law to all who believe.” The old law is known to Christians as “the law of sin and death,” the new law is known to them as the “law of the Spirit and life in Christ Jesus.” Indeed, this will inform their views when entering the voting booth and one such as yourself may have concerns about it, but the fear that millions of Americans want to turn the nation into an Old Testament Jewish Theocracy I think is simply unfounded.

    Out of town for a couple days. Thanks for the forum, I enjoy it.

    • pling

      I don’t think the concern is about an Old Testament Jewish Theocracy in the USA, Dave. The concern is about the many pushy Biblical literalists who actually DO claim that Old Testament laws still apply to Christians, and to everyone else, too. Why do you think the Biblical literalists are so hungry to slap what they call The Ten Commandments on everything? Why do you think they want to prohibit homosexuality? It’s the Old Testament Christian literalists use to justify these ugly policies – not the New Testament. They’re happy to say that ancient Jewish laws apply to Christians when they like those laws.

    • Jim Cook

      Dave,

      What was it Jesus said about Jots and Tittles again? Could you remind me of that verse?

      Peregrin,

      I wonder if it counts if you use a Long Island accent. “You baaaaaastaaaaad!”

      • Dave

        Jim, no Jot nor Tittle of the law shall pass away before all [the law] is fulfilled indeed is given as a quote from Jesus, as well as “It is finished,” his dying words which most Christian sects take to be referring to the Old Covenant. “The handwriting of ordinances that was against us which was contrary to us he has taken out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” That’s a Christian doctrinal point found in Colossians, which refers to the Law, or Old Covenant (with its Jots and Tittles) having passed away.

  • JeffD

    The main theme of the Bible: We are all broken. God has offered the fix. It’s so simple and easily understood by a kindergartner yet so complex that it can confuse learned scholars.

    • pling

      Really? That’s the main theme of the Bible?

      I thought it was: Do things the way we want you to do them, or suffer eternal torture, and also, there’s a supernatural being who just so happens to want you to do things exactly the way we want you to do things. Can’t see him? He’s invisible!

      Any kindergartener can tell this is nonsense, which is why Christians have to spend years indoctrinating their young to ignore the nonsense in their ideology.

  • JeffD

    You missed or dodged both points.

    • pling

      No, Jeff. You’re just not willing to see that the character of God in your Biblical mythology has been at the root of problems in our real society, rather than solutions. We don’t need the kind of bloody, brutal “fixes” that the Bible describes your god as implementing… with more bloodshed and despair in the future.

  • JeffD

    pling, Don’t pretend to know my God from how you misinterpret the Bible.

    • pling

      How is the eager Christian prediction of your god’s coming slaughter and torture of non-Christians something I can interpret as sonething other than a sign of the belief in and worship of a nasty and bloody supernatural being? Where’s the misinterpretation in that? Is it all okay, because you think your god is allowing people the chanxe to become his minions as an alternative to torment and execution? Or is it that you think that eager prophecies of your god’s violence against non-Christians is some kind of weird metaphor for “love”?

      But no, my reading of your cruel god mythology isn’t just from the Bible. History shows that Christianity is a religion of the sword. Why would I want to join that legacy?

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