Religion

Sure, I’ll Actually Think Biblically About Everything, Biola

The first time I heard of Biola, I thought it was an educational institute dedicated to biology. I was disappointed to find out that Biola is actually the oddly twee abbreviation for “Bible University of Los Angeles.”

Alrighty, then. Many fine (and not-so-fine) educational institutes have religious origins, even religious outlooks and messages. What can I do, really.

Then, I started seeing this billboard on my nigh-daily trek up the 55 North freeway.

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The billboard was apparently part of a larger campaign to promote Biblical thinking about everything.

I suppose that because the re-tweets numbered fewer than a dozen and only one person re-shared the corresponding Facebook post, they realized they weren’t going viral and had to pay to get attention.

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(The ever-awesome Elizabeth caught this.)

I’d imagine that they’ll elicit a snicker rather than incite Biblical thinking about everything by targeting ads to this site.

As I live relatively nearby, I contemplated a response to their marketing campaign. Showing up on campus with a posse of people each in a current state of violation of at least one Biblical principle — one person eating shrimp cocktail, another wearing mixed fibers, two people of the same gender kissing, a married woman whose husband declared that she hadn’t been a virgin on her wedding night, and so on — sounded kind of fun. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that calling out the absurdity of the Bible by violating its principles yourself is just so… played.

Instead, I’m going to think Biblically about everything. “Everything” includes Biola’s website, right?

Their faculty page reveals that they have have female instructors, ones who brazenly sport pearls and braids, no less! Unless those women teach women-only courses, they are in clear violation of the Bible.

Lest I rely too heavily on the misogyny of Paul, who is clearly a rather low-hanging fruit of a target, I turn to Leviticus, one of the favorite thump-worthy section of the Old Testament. Shockingly, according to their president, Biola isn’t in favor of putting their gay male students to death.

I wanted to continue with Leviticus by bringing up Biola’s explicit condoning of shellfish, but then I found a piece written about that very topic on their site.

Christians ought to look for the principles behind the different Old Testament laws to discern what they say about God’s unchanging holiness, he said. An essential part of this is to understand what the rest of the Bible teaches, especially in the New Testament, he said. Homosexual behavior, for instance, is clearly shown throughout the rest of Scripture to be inconsistent with God’s will – whether in Genesis or in Paul’s letters, Saucy said. “You find it as a running theme throughout the Bible,” he said. “If you didn’t have it anywhere else, and you didn’t have strong implications from creation, and all you had was Leviticus, then it would be a more difficult question.”

Am I to believe, then, that when they say “Think Biblically about everything,” what they mean is “Use your personal judgment to figure out what in the Bible is worth paying attention to and what is worth utterly ignoring”?

Sounds suspiciously like something a lot of us are accused of engaging in, that term thrown out by Bible-lovers worldwide as if it were a slur rather than a descriptor: moral relativity.

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The horror.

See the alleged trump card Biola advocates using against “New Atheists.”

What makes your moral standard more than a subjective opinion or personal preference? What makes it truly binding or obligatory? Why can’t I just ignore it?

Right back atcha, Biola.

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Heina Dadabhoy

Heina Dadabhoy [hee-na dad-uh-boy] spent her childhood as a practicing Muslim who never in her right mind would have believed that she would grow up to be an atheist feminist secular humanist, or, in other words, a Skepchick. She has been an active participant in atheist organizations and events in and around Orange County, CA since 2007. She is currently writing A Skeptic's Guide to Islam. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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17 Comments

  1. They certainly aren’t thinking about their acronym… It should be BUOLA. Or BIULA.

    I always get a chuckle out of the woo-woo ads that pop up on science/skeptical sites, and the religious ads on predominantly atheist sites. :)

      1. What matters to me is people creating and promoting articles about this stuff. I could care less about a silly billboard.

        I’m an atheist myself, but not a militant one. I feel writing like this does a disservice to your belief systems and the idea you’re trying to spread. The religious right in this country went completely apeshit when those myth billboards were created, much as one would expect them to, being ignorant knee-jerk people. We’re supposed to be BETTER than that, but writing things of this nature only serves to draw parallels between the two groups. You don’t want that.

        1. Wait, I’m going apeshit? That’s news to me. I was being silly and my point wasn’t that they have a billboard, it was about the message on the billboard. I guess you just saw the picture and assumed such was the case.

          1. By the way, Heina, while it’s probably obvious, I want to be clear I was responding to whogivesashit. I really appreciate your contributions, AND your playfulness.

        2. Sounds to me like you’ve come to the wrong website. You’re at a “calling out bullshit for what it is” website. The hand-wringing-fainting-couch-tone-trolling websites are thataway >>

        3. Okay, I will grant you that your comment regarding a response to bemusing advertising is very dumb and presumptuous, but keep in mind that–wait. I lost my train of thought. There was more than dumb and presumptuous, right? Right?

  2. Not that I agree with the Biola people’s point of view, but what they’re talking about isn’t exactly moral relativism. It’s more what I would call “evolving understanding,” not unlike what we deal with in science.

    What I think they’re actually doing (as opposed to what they say they’re doing) is interpreting biblical dictates to fit their own (culturally derived) sense of universal morality.

    As for “moral relativism,” it seems to get misused a lot (cf. the Wikipedia article on it.) If the people here — or atheists in general — were truly moral relativists (in what Wikipedia calls the “normative” sense), they would be approving of the people in Pakistan and Bangladesh who put apostates from Islam to death because, after all, that’s what their culture says is The Right Thing(tm).

    1. Nah, I’m not going to reject the bible. It makes great reading, at least in parts. There are lots of really weird (and often kinky) stories in there. Some of them I suppose you could see as “moral lessons,” but mostly as illustrations of bad behavior (sort of like Wilhelm Busch.) We folks today are staid and boring by comparison.

      But I admit, the books of the prophets are mostly pretty tiresome and repetitive, as are a lot of the psalms, so I skip them. Someday I should publish a “good parts” edition of the bible.

      1. I’m pretty sure Kathy meant it should lead you to reject the Bible as a historically accurate depiction of the creation of the Universe and actual events. It’s a book of myths. Of course there are interesting parts of it, just as there are interesting stories from all sorts of other religions and societies. Stories that we reject as historically accurate depictions of the creation of the universe and actual events.

        Unless you’re going to argue that Athena really did burst out of Zeus’s head fully formed and armored….

  3. Sure, I’ll actually think biblically about everything.

    Many non-Christians argue that Christians are intolerant of other beliefs. Yet can we exam what intolerant means. Intolerant means “not tolerant of views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own. (Webster)” Would not it be in tolerant to bash someone else’s beliefs. Yet When Christians make objections to someone else’s beliefs it is called intolerant. Anyone else that criticizes Christian beliefs is considers legitimate and not intolerant of Christian beliefs. It seems to me that our standard in this country of intolerance is one sided. Moreover this sign is meant to recruit Christians to a Christian University. Likewise this sign would only make sense if you held a Christian worldview. If you did not it would not matter because you do not hold the Bible in the same esteem as Christians would, but being a Christian the Bible asks Christians to think in this manner. Moreover your quote in Leviticus does not apply to Christians. If you look at Acts 10:14 all foods are good to eat for those who believe in Jesus Christ, hence the name Christian. Likewise you also made a quote regarding woman. If you were to hold to this belief as a Christian that woman should not teach. Paul’ letter is for Christians in a church context. Within the Christian worldview Biola University is not a church it is a university, and therefore Paul writings about woman do not apply in this context.

    Thank you for your blog, good read.

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