Hate to ruin your Columbus Day festivities, but what better time to explore one of the worst first impressions in human history and how it was all seemingly condoned by the Good Book.
Columbus’ own stated purpose for his voyage (to India) was to find people who belonged to
“the sect of Mahoma [Islam] and to all idolatries and heresies, with a view that they might be converted to our holy faith.”
And Columbus later wrote this about his divine inspiration to sail Westward:
“It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel his hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies . . . For the execution of the journey to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied . . . No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service”
Columbus didn’t rely on maps, but instead heard (God’s) voices in his head! Columbus was SOOOOOO lucky there just happened to be an entire, unexpected continent to exploit, because if America weren’t there, they would have all died long before reaching India.
When Columbus finally met the Caribbean locals, his first thoughts were along these lines (from his journal):
“They would make fine servants . . . With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
Columbus’ boyhood friend recounts whipping and raping a native woman
“whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me.”
The expedition’s priest recounts the vilest of all the crew’s acts:
“And the Christians . . . spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women . . . (They) snatched them by the arms and threw them into the rivers, roaring with laughter and saying as the babies fell into the water, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!”
Columbus’ crew may have been a bit imbalanced to agree to join his ill-planned voyage in the first place, but an imbalanced mind can find much malevolent inspiration with the Christian holy scriptures:
Complete destruction will come on any man who makes offerings to any other god but the Lord. —Exodus 22:20
And when the Lord has given them up into your hands, and you have overcome them, give them up to complete destruction. —Deuteronomy 7:2
And now slay every male, even of the children, and put to death the women that have carnally known men. But the girls and all the women that are virgins save for yourselves. —Numbers 31:17-18
Their infants also shall be dashed in pieces before their eyes. Their houses shall be rifled, and their wives ravished. And their bows shall dash the young men in pieces, and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb. Their eye shall not spare children. —Isaiah 13:16,18
And finally for one of the most unforgivable lines in the entire Bible:
Blessed be he that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock. —Psalms 137:9
Which is exactly what Columbus’ crew did, again from the writings of Columbus’ priest, Bartolome de las Casas:
“They took infants from their mothers’ breasts, snatching them by the legs and pitching them head first against the crags.”
Leading us sadly to Bible Funmentionables’ Core Principle #4: Just because the Bible has consoled many with its uplifting verses, it does NOT mean that it is a harmless book. In the wrong hands it can be the source of profound misery, suffering, and from time to time catastrophic atrocities.
Columbus’ mindset does shed light on why humans like to assume that aliens arriving to earth would have hostile intent. It’s not that we understand alien nature; it’s more that we have seen human nature throughout history.
Here’s hoping that the aliens’ holy books are a little holier than ours.
Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.