Psalm 137:9 and Dealing With Religious Relatives - EDITED


The other day, a friend of mine left the following quote on her Facebook page, in the info section of her profile:
"Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones" Psalm 137:9
(Gotta love the fricken "good" book)

This is one of my favorite bible quotes as well, mainly because it shows the "good" book as the charming, moral, loving guide that it is. Meaning it is none of those things.

Anyway, a relative of hers sent her a private message on Facebook, saying the following:
This book that you so malign is so important to me and to many whom I love.  I do not understand why you feel such contempt and hatred for Christianity and 'the fricken"good" book'.  For many of us it is the foundation on which we base our lives. It is a history book, a poetry book, and to us, a divinely inspired book - one that shows us how to live and to love and attempts to explain the mystery of life and creation.  Some take it literally, most do not.

This upset my friend a great deal. She has been an atheist for a very long time, and her relative knows this. This was posted in her profile info, not in anyone's face. My friend was just expressing herself, not attacking anyone. So why did her relative have to go out of her way, all of a sudden, to be openly offended?

My friend sent a reply to her, which unfortunately I don't have. It was polite and loving. Her relative answered with the following:
Apparently the unknown person who wrote it was in captivity and despondent after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. Apparently the psalmist was crying out that the Babylonians should be treated as they had treated the Israelites.

This woman goes to bible study classes all the time, so we can see what she is learning there. Classic Apologetics which is: the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of christianity. Because, it seems, if you believe in the bible, you have to prove the only book you've got has something special in it, and when it is shown to be inaccurate, you have to defend it to the bitter end, clinging to your indoctrination in your desperation. Her comment is apologetic, wishful thinking, cherry-picking, selective and downright delusional. I've read the bible. It's not poetic, loving, kind, thoughtful, generous, helpful, divinely inspired, or even accurate in its history.

The bible, and christianity, is full of hate, murder, rape, stoning, killing, sacrifice, fear, anger, jealousy, ridiculous laws and bigotry. It encourages slavery; rape; murdering others; war; blindly worshiping a hateful, jealous god who is neither omnipotent, omniscient nor omnipresent; misogyny and retribution, among many other amoral activities and traits. It is not historically accurate throughout, and steals heavily from neighboring, competing religions of the time.

The bible, and christianity, is inflexible and close-minded, especially against any contradiction to it. So we went through millennia of repression and the Dark Ages because the church destroyed or hoarded all books and learning. Where would we be if we had never experienced the fear and ignorance of the Dark Ages? Much further along than now, that's for sure.

In my opinion, religion is brainwashing: evil and harmful.

My friend is very upset. She doesn't want to argue with her relative because she doesn't want to get in a no-win fight. So what is the best way to respond? It isn't like she wrote this quote on her relative's wall, or anything aggressive.

Yet it seems that religious people feel they are superior and right above all others, giving them the right, nay, the duty, to force their beliefs down the throats of everyone else. To me this is unacceptable.

Have you been confronted by a close friend or relative regarding your lack of faith? How did you feel about it and how did you react? What was the outcome?
If you'd like, you can reply by email at or comment below.

EDIT: An atheist friend of mine IM'ed me to share the following story. He didn't want for the people to find out, since they're christian, so he didn't want to leave a comment:
We were over at a friend's house, drinking. He says the kids have to go to bed soon so they can go to church Sunday morning. Because church teaches morals and manners. Meanwhile their kids (three girls) were screaming at each other, sassing each other (Hanna Montana style?), while one parent was sneaking off to do coke in the bathroom, and the other was telling us how she stole a bunch of stuff out of the salvation army drop off bin. My wife and I were like "wtf?" Meanwhile my two daughters were angels with real manners.


  1. Why must we, as atheists, remain quietly closeted? I do not take personal offense when someone tells me they are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim etc. Yet, when I let my beliefs (or lack thereof) be known, it usually goes over like a fart in church, pardon the expression. I am getting tired of it. I do not want to get into an argument or have someone try "friendly persuasion" to get me to come over to their side. They look at you like you have the plague or something. On many subjects most people are happy to agree to disagree, but this topic brings out the crazy in even the most seemingly rational folks. Is it because they love me so much they don't want me to spend eternity burning in the fires of hell with satan's hot poker up my arse? Or is it because if everyone agrees with them they can be at peace that perhaps they are right after all, that they are not wasting their time in church and bible studies. If everyone agrees, it must be the truth, right? Thanks for allowing me to vent, Neece. You are awesome in your intelligence and logic!

  2. The bible contains plain out contradictions everywhere. The one that got me thinking it all over goes like this:

    1. God drowns the world because of sin.
    2. God then later sends Jesus to Earth, to save those of us who lived at the right time.

    I coundn't understand why Jesus just didn't come to earth before the flood, or right after the banishment from eden for that matter.

    Of course, whenever I raise the notion with a theist, I get the "mysterious god" line. So I then upset them with 1st Samuel 18:3 (where Johnathan and David enter a covenant) to prove the imperfection of the book.

  3. Personally, I'd probably just drop the conversation rather than respond to the relative. There really isn't a way to be successful in that kind of exchange.

  4. There is no winning that argument because, as you said, religious people feel its their duty to educate the unbeliever (if not for the facebook use, I'd say she and I have the same relatives!). As Antimattr suggests, it might be best to drop the conversation. Hopefully, the relative will let it be.

  5. Hey! People of a certain age are "invested" in their religious
    convictions.Talking to them is like talking to Bible bangers who come to your door:they feel compelled by their faith to do what they do, and they aren't interested in what you think.They just want you to listen.

  6. Yes, all the more reason to keep children from being indoctrinated into these false belief systems.

  7. Let me give you a "religous" perspective. You can believe and say what you want. I am one of those Christians who believe what I believe. I'll share with you and if you reject that's your choice.

    What I do find in most athiests though is an intellectual snobbery. For some reason, they think that Christians don't think. Well we do. And when I look at the facts of the Universe it's more of a stretch for me to believe in a Creator than the nonsensical notion of Evolution.

    And really at the end of the day, this is a battle of two world views that can find no collusion.

  8. We "think that Christians don’t think" because you spout nonsense like "nonsensical notion of Evolution".

    Evolution doesn't explain where life came from. It's completely compatible with the view of a creator. You don't think, you regurgitate. Because it's parroted constantly that they aren't compatible, you just follow along like a sheep.

    To be completely blunt, if you only treat genesis abstractly or symbolically, it's practically compatible with the big bang.

    If you thought, you would actually come to realize how many more questions a religion makes than solves. Why does a creator even have to be omnipotent? Why your god over the others? Along those lines, do you not even realize that say, if the Bible were completely true, you're going to hell anyways? I'm sure one of your ten nearest ancestors were born out of wedlock, or in a second marriage.

    Just things like that. Don't kid yourself, you don't think, you regurgitate. Here, tell me what you think heaven looks like, or what heaven is.

  9. Vice Versa, I think that atheists sometimes don't think. Even when I was at University studying pre-med before I came to serve Christ. Evolution is a theory; precisely because it can not be reproduced in a laboratory setting. As a matter of fact it contradicts one of the known laws of the natural Universe; that is the Second Law of Thermal Dynamics.

    I don't regurgitate. I logically think, study the data and make my assumptions based on what I believe to be true. Whether wrong or right, you can't fault me for that. I don't hold up signs. I am not even against evolutionary theory being taught in the schools. My children are taught what is right from a morally and scientifically sound viewpoint in my home.

    One thing we know for sure is that our Universe is still a great mystery. Modern advances in quantum physics prove to us that on the quantum level our Universe behaves in some very strange almost supernatural ways. No one has figured out what holds every atom together. Sure there are theories, but no one can quantify what holds the smallest of particles together. Whatever it is, it is a force so strong that it baffles science seems to move outside of time and knows when it is being studied. That's right, it seems to have a wisdom all of its own.

    Of course I know that Hebrews states that Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power.

    Lastly, if I am wrong about everything, I will have lived my life by a set of morals that benefits my family and does no one any harm. if as you believe, there is no God, I just missed out on some fun. But if I am right, there is a Heaven to gain and for you a hell to face. I don't know what Heaven is like exactly. The Bible only gives glimpses. But I sure want to get there.

    Have a great day. Look forward to your response.

  10. WHOA!!! As you argue, keep in mind that NO ONE can PROVE or DISPROVE that a deity exists.

    Natural law leads me to accept evolution.Most life forms begin as a "polliwog" form, and from there they (I believe) go onward with their genetic makeup.

    If the deity or what/whomever created by evolution, something had to set off the "big bang"-a theory!!

    The Bible is full of stories that try to reconcile humanity to its very sad condition;however, it is full of contradictions.Leave the interpretation to the scholars, and leave the 'mother' alone!!

  11. Actually, I can disprove that certain deities exists. Much like I can disprove that a square circle doesn't exist. I only require for people to come out with their definition of their deity, the rest is fairly easy. For every deity, I can either disprove them, or give their pointlessness.

    Also, I hope you didn't like, try the "that is just a theory" argument. If you did, see the above.

    Along those lines, I fail to see your argument. Nothing had to "set off" the big bang. It happened. The flaw here is the argument that everything has to have a beginning, which has no backing. Energy, as far as we know, can neither be destroyed nor created, so logically it's always existed. This energy, started the big bang, and it may start others.

    The big bang never said that it came from nothing. It has always stated that it came from condensed energy. It never made any claims to where this energy came from. The biggest misconception people have is they think it came from nothing, which is just wrong.

    Following your argument see, the something that had "set off" the big bang would also have had to have something that "set off" that something. You are arguing the "I don't know what did it, so god did it." And that's pointless. You just said you don't know what did it, so you can't claim it to be some god.


    The Bible is full of barbaric and horrendous stories primarily intended to passify and enslave people, stories of lust, murder, revenge, blind obedience, anger, deception... Have you even read it? It's completely barbaric. And I'm not going to leave the "interpretation" with anybody... seeing how people decide to force laws on others based upon their interpretation of this book. Nor will I leave any concept or "mother" alone, and I see no reason why I should.

    Magical mystical deities do not deserve to go unquestioned and uncriticized. In fact, they deserve more, for their outrageous claims and they should be able to handle that. But they can't, because they fall to even the most basic of questions, should somebody simply ask one.

  12. "If the deity or what/whomever created by evolution, something had to set off the “big bang”-a theory!!"

    Science doesn't know what happened before TBB. We had Two & A Half Men before. Just kidding.
    But, science will continue searching for the answer. If people insist on God, I'll insist on a four-legged alien named Ted who made TBB while making moonshine in his shed.

  13. I think you're right, Jenny. I think it's different for everyone, why they feel the need to force their religion down everyone's throats, and you named a few good ideas why that might be.
    Thank you for the awesome compliment, too! :D

  14. I think christians just basically avoid serious study of the bible to avoid the blatant and numerous contradictions and hatefulness spread throughout. Instead they cherry pick a few verses here and there to lord over everyone with self righteousness.

  15. An excellent video link, Johnny, thank you!

  16. Thanks Antimattr, that's what she did.
    I think when dealing with someone you care about, having a relationship is what matters, not so much agreeing on everything or trying to convert or deconvert. Or at least that's how it should be. So in such a circumstance maybe the best way to handle it is to remind all interested parties of that fact.

  17. Yes, I agree, Indy. There's no winner in these situations.
    As far as I know, they both dropped it and have moved on.

  18. That's the beauty of science. It never stops looking for answers, and it never stops asking the big questions. And it's self-correcting! How amazing is that!

    I'd rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned.

  19. Here's what I use to bring those types back to reality.

    First off, lets define reality/real. Real is something I can touch, hold in my hand, or prove in a double blind scientific study. (Concepts like tomorrow, and America don't really exist, ie they arent REAL)

    Next I ask them the following question: Is God a belief or is God real?

    The nuts who answer that God is real are to be avoided, clearly, they arent living in Reality.

    This is why we have the 1ST AMENDMENT to the Constitution: No one can prove their True Faith Belief. So in the USA, ALL religions (even the lack of religion) must be respected.

    Then hit them with this: Your lack of respect of my religious choices, make you un-american!

    I like pitting illusion against another illusion, and then watch their heads spin.

  20. What I see here are a bunch of bitter people willing to twist facts to suit their own viewpoints. At the end of the day, evolution is just a theory that can not be proven and atheism is a world view that can not be proven either. As far as proven the existence of God? It is more of a stretch to believe that all the cards lined up to produce random life than for me to believe in the Jehova God of the Bible.

    And finally. If I live all my life believing a lie I will die and just be gone. You on the other hand, if you are wrong, have a hell waiting on you. So go ahead. Call me dimwitted. Make fun of me. I don't mind. In the end, Jesus is Lord. How will will be done in the earth. And the bible states one day you will be ressurected out of hell, made to bow and declare Jesus Lord before you are thrown into the lake of fire. May God have mercy on you and open your eyes in this side beofre you face the wrath to come.

    Pastor Shane

  21. The 1st Amendment actually contains two clauses, the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, that create a hands-off religion policy for the government*. Unfortunately, this doesn't pertain to private citizens. I agree with you, though, that we ought to interpret that to mean we respect each others' beliefs or lack thereof. Morons suffer from no self-respect anyway, what with letting the invisible guy in the sky do all their thinking for them.

    *I obtained that little lesson from this post by Sheila Suess Kennedy, a very intelligent law professor at Indiana Univ. Law School in Indianapolis.

  22. Wholly crap, Pastor Shane, you're a fuckin' idiot. Of course, someone who takes the Book of Genesis so seriously won't listen to what a woman says. It was a woman, after all, who had to be talked into partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge by a serpent. Nevermind that it took 2 seconds for Adam to chomp right into that nameless fruit. Moral here: Women are evil because they lust after knowledge and caused the downfall of humanity. Of course this wasn't written by men in the Dark Ages and re-written during the Renaissance...naw, good men of God would never do that.

    Yep, Pastor, you're a fuckin' idiot.

    GMN's response better than the rest I wanted to say.

  23. Hey, that's a good point about Adam and Eve. HA! :P

  24. An interesting way to tackle the problem, Joey.

    I like the question is god a belief or is god real. You're right, if they say god is real, you probably can't hold an intelligent discussion with them.

  25. Good points, IndyDina. It would be nice if religious people could play nice and let us all just get along. I have no problem with religious people who keep it to themselves. If that were the case I'd keep my atheism to myself.
    It's the religious that force their twisted morals and beliefs down the throats of others that really piss me off and get me to be an activist atheist.
    I'd rather just agree to disagree and leave well enough alone but that's not really an option.

  26. Hi just wanted to put my .02 cents in. (I haven't read all the comments tho) I believe psalm 137 was written by a Jew who's home was destroyed and he was imprisoned or held captive in some way. It is known that Babylon soldiers destroyed Jerusalem and would have killed Jewish children indiscriminately. This was more of a defense mechanism in wartime because it would effectively cripple a nation in that they would have less people throughout the years to fight for themselves. You can imagine that if someone were to come to your country, enslave you, and kill your children; your first sentiment may be a desire for an eye-for-an eye punishment. It is human nature to want to pay back evil for evil. I think that this verse is showing the common sentiment of Jews in and coming out of captivity. their thoughts of revenge were sinful according to Christ's later teaching of turning the cheek. So I believe this is a good example of how not to live under Christ's grace. However, it shows how sorrowful the Jews were at this time and what they had endured.

    I'm still figuring this verse out but I dont think the verse should be taken so out of context and used as a reason to debunk the scriptures.

  27. You're absolutely right, Neece - if they kept it to themselves, it would be great. I guess the point of Kennedy's article is that we can only legislate the public sector anyway (you know, the way we can legislate Civil Rights without legislating away prejudice).

    I started down my nontheist path as a polytheist standing up for the rights of atheists, agnostics, etc., to speak their minds because the fundies wouldn't STFU. Oddly, my polytheist pals don't preach at me about the punishment I'll receive from all of their gods...go figure. ;)

  28. Thanks for your comment, Xavier. We call the "reasoning" you used Apologetics, making excuses for the bible.

    No matter how you take this verse, in context or out of it, it's horrible. "I don't like X people so I will be happy to watch their children dashed to pieces in the street." It's a horrible thing to even think of.
    Read your whole bible. You'll find children being slaughtered throughout the old testament, often by God himself.
    Read the new testament and you'll find slavery condoned by Jesus himself. This is not a holy book full of wonderful missives on how to be a good, loving person.
    Really read your bible, every verse. Count up the positive verses. Count up the horrible ones where someone is being murdered, raped or slaughtered. See which column is bigger. Note how many times people are killed in the name of your "holy" god. It's pretty disgusting.

  29. Yes, you're right about legislation.
    I started out as a theist. After quite a long quest, I have become a PolyAtheist! I don't believe in many gods! hee hee!

  30. well whatever you call it i cant understand why taking the bible in context is making excuses? I agree it is a horrible thought. That is why Jesus speaks against such thinking during his ministry.

    for example in Mathew 5 starting with verse 38 it says:
    "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[a] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
    Love for Enemies
    43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[b] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[c] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

    Yes these horrible things are displayed in the Bible. They are real world situations. People have these thoughts. that is why we need grace in the first place (sorry that rhymes)

    I'm not a very devout christian or anything I am more of looking from the outside in on both issues most of the time, so please dont take me for an a-hole, I really like these discussions

  31. Wait just a second, this has always bothered me. Do you really believe if someone punches you in the face you should stand there and let them do it again? You call that great advice? You think that's noble and wonderful? It's plain stupid.
    I am not going to get into a boring quote war with you about the hateful vs the few good things Jesus said. He is the one that shouted on and on about burning in hell if you didn't follow him. That's not really very loving.
    And telling people to be perfect is ridiculous advice too. Especially since there is no heavenly father, and the heavenly father mentioned in the bible is also not perfect. Lousy advice! Unattainable ideals! They are not real world situations. It isn't a real world situation to tell a woman who is beaten by her husband to turn the other cheek, or to tell people to lend to whoever wants to borrow from them.
    Ben Franklin handled that one better than Jesus: Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Amen, Ben!
    You're not looking from the outside in. You are giving me the same christian rhetoric that the rest of the christians give. I'm not calling you an asshole or anything. But think about what you're saying is wonderful and beautiful. Really look at it in the standards that we have today, ethically. It's not that great. In fact it isn't relevant or helpful.
    The few things that Jesus said that were really good (like the Golden Rule) are NOT unique to Jesus. Confucius had his own version as did the Greeks and many other cultures throughout history.
    I really don't want to argue. But just think for awhile. Name one really awesome thing that Jesus said that no one else in history also said. If you take out the "believe in me or burn in hell" nonsense, he's really not that great aside from a few pithy concepts that the Greeks and others said as well. Nothing special. He was just (IF he existed at all) an apopoyptic jewish preacher, nothing more.

  32. yes, pastor Shane, you are dimwitted - but I won't make fun of you...I'll just suggest you maybe read some books about how science works or books about how to develop critical thinking skills in addition to your bible. It might help you.

  33. That's the nice way to go about it, Kim. Maybe Shane can read and learn about science and how the world really works. It's so amazing and beautiful and wonderful. It's such a shame to bow and scrape to an invisible, nonexistent god all your life, missing out on the true wonders of the natural world, missing out on your amazing precious life. Maybe Shane can find that instead of his subservience to the bible which only leads him down a path of lies.
    Thanks very much, Kim. :)

  34. @Shane

    RE: "It is more of a stretch to believe that all the cards lined up to produce random life than for me to believe in the Jehova God of the Bible. "

    You do realize that Jehova was a tribal deity created by men, based on several older gods of the region of Mesopotamia, right? He was originally just a god of war with the creator God EL and many other gods above him. The Hebrews were polytheists until they borrowed the concept of monotheism from the Egyptians (cult of the Aten).

    Likewise, most of your Bible's Old Testament was plagiarized off of the earlier Mesopotamian and Egyptian religious texts.

    In light of these facts it is pretty easy to see that your god and your Bible are man-made and a sham.

  35. Exactly, Syrinx, well said. Thank you.

    And remember, Shane, improbable things happen all the time, especially over Billions and Billions of years (you have to say that like my hero, Carl Sagan, emphasizing the B's! :D )

  36. Hey... good article, dubious comments, and sorry I'm late to the party. (Kudos for quoting one of my favorite psalms, too.) Now, please forgive the following soapbox speech.

    First off, I'm an atheist, and I think the Bible is pretty absurd. That said, there are some situations that can't be solved by throwing logic at people. I think it's pretty safe to say that the vast majority of Christians aren't going to listen to your arguments at all, making said arguments pointless. You can't win; all you're going to accomplish is making people on both sides defensive and hostile.

    So many people seem to have this idea that humans are basically rational beings, and that logic creates a universal battlefield upon which we can all resolve our differences with witty argument. I really don't believe that; I think that everyone lives in their own little world which operates according to its own internal logic. Anyway, I'm not really putting this well, but the point is that logic is entirely irrelevant to dogma.

    My advice, for what it's worth - which isn't very much - is to give up trying to make people see things your way, and just resign yourself to having to live with people like this who will never change. All the energy you spend arguing is kind of wasted, unless you enjoy that sort of thing, I guess. If not, it's just going to be frustrating and useless. I realize there are exceptions - there are probably a few people who might be swayed by this sort of argument - but they are very few and far between. If you think those few people are worth it, then more power to you; but that's the best outcome you're gonna get.

    I mean no offense by any of this, and I respect your opinions; just offering my two cents. Have a nice day (and I don't mean that sarcastically.)

    P.S. Yes, I am fully aware of the hypocrisy of arguing that argument is useless. It's kind of a compulsive thing, okay? >_>
    P.P.S. Switch out a few phrases here and there, and this could be an equally effective piece telling Christians to not bother trying to convert godless heathens.
    P.P.P.S. Because I am an obsessive-compulsive jerk, I feel obliged to point out that "neither a borrower nor a lender be" is actually a Shakespeare quote.

  37. Well, Bobson, I disagree with you. I think you put it very well indeed. You're right, humans are not rational, logical beings.
    I think for a lot of people, I agree with you. I don't think arguing with someone with an entrenched world view does any good at all. In fact it probably only makes them more stubborn and self-righteous about their beliefs.
    But people do change. I did. I used to be a christian and wholeheartedly believed in all kinds of woo. But I was open to learning and was able to be humble enough to realize I didn't have all the answers. Now I am a skeptic and an atheist. So it is possible. And that's why I write this blog and run my local atheist and freethinker book club groups. Because sometimes you can help people who are willing to change and grow and learn.