18 May 2009

Who is on the Lord's side? (Forcing friends and family to kill each other)

In his previous killings, God killed indiscriminately. He drowned everyone and everything in the flood, smashed people with burning stones at Sodom and Gomorrah, and killed every Egyptian firstborn child and animal just for the heck of it. So I guess we should be used to this sort of thing by now.

But in this killing, God forces 3000 friends and family members to kill each other. That seems kind of nasty even for a very nasty god.

Here are the gory details.

Moses was up on Mount Sinai getting the ten commandments from God. Since he'd been gone so long (he'd been up there for 40 days) the people began to wonder if he'd ever come back, so they asked Aaron to make some other gods for them. Aaron thought that was a pretty good idea, so he:
... said to them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me ... And ... he had made it a molten calf. Exodus 32:2-4
You might think that a bunch of runaway slaves wouldn't have much gold. But God told them to steal whatever jewelry they could find from the Egyptians. (This was before God gave them the ten commandments, so it was OK to do back then.)
The children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment. And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. Exodus 12:35-36
I guess God wanted them to have enough gold to make a golden calf. It was all a part of his plan.

So the people gave Aaron their stolen gold and Aaron made a golden calf.

Now making a golden calf out of a bunch of ear rings and a campfire might seem hard to you. But Aaron just threw them all onto a fire and out came a golden calf. Really.
And I [Aaron] said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf. Exodus 32:24
It was a miracle. God made the golden calf when Aaron threw the jewelry on the fire. It was all part of his plan.

In any case, when Moses came down from the mountain, he saw the people dancing naked ("for Aaron had made them naked") around the golden calf. So he smashed the stone tablets, burned the golden calf, ground it into a powder, sprinkled it on water, and then forced everyone (all 3 million of them) to drink it.

But Moses was just getting started. Here's what he said next:
Who is on the Lord's side? .... Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour ... and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. Exodus 32:26-28
So those on God's side went out and killed 3000 of their friends, neighbors, and family members. (A question for believers: Are you on the Lord's side? Are you willing to kill your family, friends, and neighbors for God?)

But God still wasn't satisfied. When he first found out about the golden calf and the naked dancing he wanted to kill everyone, but Moses talked him out of it. Imagine that. Moses is a nicer guy than God. (Read Numbers 31:14-18- to see the implication here.)

So:
The LORD plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made. Exodus 32:25
And I have another killing to add to God's list.

This killing is highlighted in the Poverty and Justice Bible.
The Lord God of Israel commands you to strap on your swords and go through the camp killing your relatives, friends, and neighbours.
I guess it shows God's sense of justice.

God's next killing: The Lord plagued the people because of the calf that Aaron made

30 comments:

busterggi said...

What is the bible's obsession with the number forty anywho?

$0 days of rain for the flood, forty years of Hebrews wandering around the desert, Moses sitting on top of Mt. Sinai for forty days, Jesus fasting in the wilderness for forty days.

If I didn't know better I'd say this was a cultural meme rather than fact.

Oh, and gold doesn't burn.

Steve Wells said...

busterggi,

Yeah, I'm working on a 40 day/year post. It will be ready in 40 days.

And you're right about gold not burning. I don't know what God was thinking.

Brendan said...

40 is a lost in translation thing that should read "many".

Steve Wells said...

Oh, thank you, Brendan, for explaining that to us!

Now whenever the Bible says something crazy we can just ask you and you'll tell us what God really meant to say.

Brendan said...

Actually, a lot of numbers are used symbolically rather than literally. For example, "thousand" is used to denote a unit of soldiers, a village, etc.

That's not to say I think the Bible is word-for-word true.

busterggi said...

Its a good thing yahweh has Brendan around to tell him what he means.

Steve Wells said...

Brendan: "That's not to say I think the Bible is word-for-word true."

What kind of true do you think it is, Brendan?

I am the wise fool. said...

You know what strikes me as odd?

-We see "all the people" contributed gold for the idol (Ex 32:3).

-Only the Levites armed themselves to fight those who were not with God. (Ex 32:26)

-Yet of the 500.000+ other Israelite men, only 3000 were killed. (Ex 32:28)

Maybe this is God's mercy, or maybe God got tired of the killings, or maybe the Levites are just really poor fighters, and therefore much better suited to be priests.

Brendan said...

What I say is generally accepted by scholars and Hebrew numerologists (I should mention I'm Jewish, so this isn't a Christian perspective). What I believe is that most of the stories are based on truth.

Some facts:
*There WAS a place which resembled the Garden of Eden and its residents hated snakes. Archeologist have found a couple thousand grave sites at this spot.
*There WAS a flood that destroyed part of Mesopotamia, but only part of it, and certainly not the entire world.
*There have been artifacts that have resemblance to things described in Joshua. The Hebrews believed that God was to give them any land they put their feet on, and a campsite dated to that time period was found in the shape of... a foot. May just be a coincidence.
*There WAS a King David. No proof of Solomon or the deeds the Bible credits David with.
*Much of the later parts of the Bible are true to a certain extent, including the civil war & exile
*Ezekiel was real, although he may have just been delusional.

Do I believe in God? Yes. Do I believe the events the Bible described happened EXACTLY like they say? No, that's ridiculous. Do I believe God is merciless and cruel? No. The Amalekites, for example, worshiped Molech, a god associated with child sacrifices. I could go on, but I'm not bored enough to do that. Maybe another time.

By the way, before you say anything, I'm a liberal who is pro-gay marriage, anti-torture, etc.

ecoute89 said...

Does anyone know what religion was target in so far as the idol goes ?

What is it with god and these small puny insignificant religions. Is there anywhere in Judaism, Christianity or Islam where he or his prophets take on a much larger religion / people such as Current Day India/Hinduism, China/Buddhism or even mayans.

I Am said...

Brendan, thank you for explaining your beliefs. I have a few questions about what you said:

By the way, before you say anything, I'm a liberal who is pro-gay marriage, anti-torture, etc.I'm glad to hear this, and I share your sentiments on these issues. It's too bad the Bible isn't also pro-gay marriage and anti-torture. If the Bible is God's word, then why would it be wrong or silent on so many important issues (gay rights, torture, slavery, etc.)?

Do I believe the events the Bible described happened EXACTLY like they say? No, that's ridiculous. I'm happy to hear that you don't believe the Bible word-for-word, but then how do you objectively determine what is ridiculous and what isn't?

"There WAS a place which resembled the Garden of Eden and its residents hated snakes. Archeologist have found a couple thousand grave sites at this spot."There have been a number of sites proposed as the lost Eden. Which one are you referring to, and what source leads you to believe that this is actually Eden and that its inhabitants hated snakes?

There WAS a flood that destroyed part of Mesopotamia, but only part of it, and certainly not the entire world.I'm glad you don't believe in a global flood that killed all life on Earth. Do you believe that (the allegedly non-cruel) God caused a non-global, but still massive, flood to kill everyone living in parts of Mesopotamia, except Noah and a select few? Or was it just a flood then that God didn't cause, and that naturally happens from time to time? (If so, why didn't God stop it if he's not cruel, or are you saying that every man, woman, child, and animal that died in that flood deserved to die?)

The Hebrews believed that God was to give them any land they put their feet on, and a campsite dated to that time period was found in the shape of... a foot. May just be a coincidence.Where is this campsite, and what is your source for this information? If such a site exists, wouldn't it be just as likely that the Israelites came across or built the campsite and *then* made up the story about God promising the land to them?

*There WAS a King David. No proof of Solomon or the deeds the Bible credits David with. [...] Ezekiel was real, although he may have just been delusional.So you're saying that all we know is there was at some point a king named David and a person named Ezekiel, but we don't know if there's any truth to what the Bible says about them? This does not sound like a ringing endorsement for Judaism or Christianity, although I appreciate your honesty.

Much of the later parts of the Bible are true to a certain extent, including the civil war & exileWhy wouldn't the whole Bible be true, instead of just stories "based on truth"? Why wouldn't God just tell us which parts are or aren't true, so we know what to believe? If God isn't cruel or unjust, why doesn't he clear his name for the parts of the Bible that clearly depict him as such?

I'm very glad that politically and morally you appear to be open-minded or liberal on some issues, and I wish more religious people were like this. But it sounds like you are this way separate from or in spite of your beliefs, not because of them.

Ian G. said...

Stories like this make me think that the writers of the book of Exodus weren't just products of an age of extreme ignorance and superstition, but were actually mentally ill.

Brendan said...

This is directed to Steve Wells. how come you're such an advocate of free speech when it comes to bashing religion, but you won't publish some of my comments? Are you a hypocrite or did you simply not see my comment for 2+ days?

I'm pretty sure that you're just going to publish this comment and the other comment to make me look stupid. That's OK, I can deal with it. Just publish my other comment because I don't feel like typing it again.

Brendan said...

About this story: The 3,000 who were killed were Calf worshipers. The Calf worshipers were worshiping a foreign god, and those who worshiped foreign gods frequently sacrificed live, helpless human beings, usually young children (ages >1 to 6).

So, Ian, the HEBREWS were mentally ill? What about the guys around them burning children at the time? m

Steve Wells said...

Brendan,

I think I've published all of your comments.

The only comments that I reject are those that are pure spam or pure preaching. I even let most of the preaching go, as long as it has something to do with the topic.

I will be gone, though, for a few days (sailing in Hawaii), so I won't be able to publish anything until I return on Tuesday.

Ian G. said...

Yes Brendan, the ancient scribe (or scribes) who cooked up the story of Exodus sure seem to be out of their minds since much of the story doesn't make an ounce of sense.

God tries to kill Moses for no reason, and then fails, and then it's never brought up again.

Moses tries to make Pharaoh let his people go because God wants it, but God tells Moses that he'll harden Pharaoh's heart anyway (so what the hell is the point of all the plagues?).

Apparently the angel of death can tell who the first born sons are and kill them, but can't tell the difference between a Hebrew and an Egyptian, so lamb's blood is needed.

Need I go on? I'm not saying that every ancient Hebrew from c. 500 BCE was insane, but that this book seems to be a work of madness (although it pales in comparison to the work of madness that is Revelation).

Virginia said...

I love your blog! I find myself laughing and nodding! Thanks!

When reading about the golden calf I've always wondered how the heck it was made. So...you can just dump your grandma's gold into the fire and a "golden calf" pops out? A golden Chia Pet? Is this another instance of "Yahweh Magic"?

I've tried sculpting with clay and it is difficult...I can't imagine making a calf out of other people's earrings...LOL!

BTW: Nude dancing must have been a welcome sight...One has to wonder if Yahweh's henchmen were not on some sort of holy narcotic.

matt311 said...

Have fun in Hawaii, Steve!

I've known about the golden calf story for a long time, but I never knew (until now) that Moses "burned the golden calf, ground it into a powder, sprinkled it on water, and then forced everyone (all 3 million of them) to drink it."

That's overdoing it a bit, don't you think? :|

twillight said...

About Molech (or Moloch):

I once found a source what described its religion. It was a milicist-god, and the child-offerings weren't sacrifises rather sending them to a testing-ground/church for being town-guards with abandoning their families entirely.

Sadly I lost the book that mentioned this :(


Anyway: have a nice time on Hawaii!

Brendan said...

@ Ian: There's a belief out there that God acts through nature and that nature can explain the Exodus. Having them spread Ram's blood also gave a chance to tell the Hebrews what exactly to eat, which is what may have cause the first-borns to die (they got to eat first, and the Egyptian food was tainted). It should also be noted that God didn't "fail" to kill Moses (he chose not to), and many interpret the story quite differently, namely that God was testing Moses. You'll find that most of the stories up for extreme interpretation, and that Jews have been arguing over their meanings for thousands of years.

@ Virginia: Aaron fashioned it into the calf and lied to Moses.

@ twillight: That's wrong/outdated (ie, before the archeological evidence was found). Not only are there existing accounts of the child sacrifice, but burnt remains of children were found in the area of what was then Canaan. It was a religion of child murder. Molech was also known as Ba'al in many cases, and was occasionally identified as a sun god, similar to Ra or Cronus.

In II M'lakhim (2 Kings) there is an account of an Israelite king sacrificing his son to idols.

When Vayikra says that God said to stone those who "pass their seed through Molech", it refers to someone who burns a child alive for that god.

asdfasdf said...

Holy Hephaestus! Fashioning a calf out of gold taken from others, using a campfire, is still quite a feat or quite the "tall tale".

The Bible is amusing when read as fiction...but so full of colorful holes it might as well be a bedsheet from a Baghdad Target.

I've enjoyed the comments!

Xolotl-Tzin said...

You gotta look at it like Stewie does from Family Guy.

I like the idea that God is evil. but people seem to get all upset about it when they hear it. I don't.

I want to add btw, the ten commandments is not from "God" but from the code of hammurabi, which is Babylonian laws based on older Sumerian ones.


The one thing i want to see before i die... Is a atheist who knows all the Mesopotamian and "pagan" customs, cultures, and times of the bible.

Lennart said...

Hey, I'm doing a paper for a History class with the thesis of 'increased relgiosity/religious fervour hinders the development, safety, and/or quality of life of civilizations'. I was wondering if they were any lists of people in the Bible who killed because they thought God was on their side or whatever, but it turned out he wasn't? I think I remember something like that. I need an example like that because you can't really use something the religion's God ordains as just to say that the religion is bad.... at least not at my Christian school... Thanks!

Brendan said...

These points are addressing "I am"'s points.

1. The Bible doesn't support gay marriage/the Bible isn't liberal.

Answer: For starters, the entire Bible is NOT God's word. A lot of it is simply a historical account. Second, King David was bisexual, which means that the passage on homosexuals in Vayikra (Leviticus) must mean something less obvious. What I think it says is that God was addressing the priests. It was a practice of Molech worshipers to double as male prostitutes. A lot of things prohibited in Vayikra were simply practices of the Molech worshipers, who would shave, have sex with the men that went to their temples, and then would burn children (usually between the ages of birth and 6) alive as a sacrifice to Molech. As evidenced by King David, homosexuality is not considered evil in the Bible, Molech worship is.

2. How do you determine what's real and what isn't?

Answer: Generally whatever doesn't fit with the rest of the text is most likely wrong.

3. Where's the Garden of Eden/How can you tell they hated snakes?

Answer: I believe it was in Iraq. Archeologists discovered, aside from the graves, large numbers of mutilated snake's bodies.

4. On the flood.

Answers: In the Sodom & Gommorah story, God said he'd spare the entire town for the sake of a few good people, which means that there probably weren't very many, if any at all, innocent people in the area destroyed. We aren't given a figure as to the number of children living in the area.

5. Where's the campsite?

Answers: There was an article on Haaretz awhile back. I can't find it anymore, but I believe it was shortly after Passover. As to your other question, why would the Jews make up the Torah? It limited quite a number of practices they had.

6. On David, Solomon, and Ezekiel

Answer: Well, Ezekiel wrote the book of Ezekiel over a 30 year span. The question is if the contents of it are genuine. I DO believe the Biblical accounts of David & Solomon's lives, by the way, I'm just trying to be fair.

7. What parts are true, why doesn't God just tell us the truth about all religion?

Answers: Well, the ending parts about the civil war and captivity have been entirely proven to have happened. There is no doubt about any of the later events. As for the God question, God wants us to challenge our faiths, figure it out for ourselves. If God solved everything for us, there would be no point to life. God wants our beliefs to be as complicated as the holy books themselves.

I'd also like to say that I do believe in Separation of religion and politics. Laws written 3,000 years ago often do not apply to today's world.

Xolotl-Tzin said...

> For starters, the entire Bible is NOT God's word. A lot of it is simply a historical account.

no the bible is full of political biased coupled with account and reflection of religious beliefs.

>Second, King David was bisexual, which means that the passage on homosexuals in Vayikra (Leviticus) must mean something less obvious. What I think it says is that God was addressing the priests. It was a practice of Molech worshipers to double as male prostitutes. A lot of things prohibited in Vayikra were simply practices of the Molech worshipers, who would shave, have sex with the men that went to their temples, and then would burn children (usually between the ages of birth and 6) alive as a sacrifice to Molech. As evidenced by King David, homosexuality is not considered evil in the Bible, Molech worship is.<

Please, cite your sources. I am highly doubtful of every claim that was just made.

> I believe it was in Iraq. Archeologists discovered, aside from the graves, large numbers of mutilated snake's bodies.

Serpents were associated with wisdom. they were not hated by biblical peoples. Modern Iraq is actually Babylon in any cases. So if anything it reflected the beliefs of the ancient Babylonians not Hebrews.

The Eden story pararells the ones in Gilgamesh where Inanna asks Gilgamesh to remove a snake from a tree.

Please see NEHUSHTAN: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?letter=N&artid=177

The ancient Hebrews actually worshiped snakes, not hated them.

I Am said...

Brendan, thank you for your reply. Here are some thoughts as well as the source for the footprint campsite article you mentioned.

1) "King David was bisexual." Interesting interpretation, and a Google search shows there's a fair amount of people who lean towards this. If it's true, why didn't the Bible just come out and say it? The Leviticus verses are clear in their prohibitions. If you are a man and want to be part of God's people, you shouldn't lie with a man (Leviticus 18:29-30). No exception for David or anyone else is given, and the reason for the prohibition is irrelevant to its effects. Male homosexuality is "abominable" to God, and you should not "defile" yourself with it. Are there any verses that clearly contradict this?

2) "Generally whatever doesn't fit with the rest of the text is most likely wrong." Who decides what "fit"s? How? If you're using something outside the Bible to determine if it's accurate or moral, then you're not getting it from the Bible but some other source.

3) "Archeologists discovered, aside from the graves, large numbers of mutilated snake's bodies." I looked for a while, and was unable to find a source online referencing this.

4) "God said he'd spare the entire town for the sake of a few good people, which means that there probably weren't very many, if any at all, innocent people in the area destroyed." I'll do my Abraham impersonation here, but go even lower. What if there's even ONE innocent person: is it just for God to kill him or her? It's also obvious that God saved corrupted people: unless you think incest and/or rape are good, then Lot and his daughters weren't very good people and yet God spared them. It simply doesn't make sense.

5) "There was an article on Haaretz awhile back": I found what must be the article you're referring to here. The article states that "Prof. Zertal's excavation team uncovered five large foot-shaped compounds" and quotes the prof. as saying they're "the first sites to have been built by the Israelites upon entering Canaan and manifest the biblical notion of claiming ownership of the land by setting feet on it."

However, note what the article says next: "Most contemporary archaeologists do not consider the Israelite Exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Israel to be verifiable historical events. Zertal is one of the few Israeli archaeologists who claim to have found archaeological evidence supporting the Israelite entrance to Canaan." This suggests the majority of his colleagues don't support his findings. This doesn't mean he's wrong, just that it isn't proven and should be taken with a grain of salt.

6) "I DO believe the Biblical accounts of David & Solomon's lives, by the way, I'm just trying to be fair." Thank you for your honesty and fairness. I'm not claiming most of the Bible is definitely false, but there are enough things in it that I find to be impossible (talking serpents, etc.) that make me doubt what it contains without independent confirmation. As I mentioned for point 2, it seems that in least some cases, you're doing the same, which I think is a good thing, but we are willing to accept different evidence in and out of the Bible, it seems like.

7) "If God solved everything for us, there would be no point to life." I find it surprising that a believer would say this. I would think from a believer's point of view that praising God, loving family and friends, and enjoying God's creation would be meaningful. Let's imagine a case where God exists, and people and the world we live in still aren't perfect (because of original sin, let's say), BUT at least we know clearly what God expects from us. I would think there would be less fighting, less killing, and more peace in the world. My conclusion would be that since that's not how the world is, either God doesn't exist, doesn't care, or isn't good.

Xolotl-Tzin said...

It's also obvious that God saved corrupted people: unless you think incest and/or rape are good, then Lot and his daughters weren't very good people and yet God spared them. It simply doesn't make sense.

I'm not trying to play devil's advocate but let's take into account some things here.

Rape and incest were looked at completely differently in the ancient world. I know for one that incest was common and accepted form of practice in ancient Egypt. Whereas rape was more accepted in places like Rome and amongst the Norse. To these people they did absolutely nothing wrong. So how can you condemn them for it?

I know for a fact that the rape comment is to the fact that Lott obeyed Mesopotamian hospitality laws of the era. If you read this passage to a ancient Mesoptoamian, they would not account for the rape thing so much, they would praise Lott for being good for following such customs.

Now the flip side, and this is my point, you look at this and say "Oh they weren't good cuz they liked to do this and this.", well um, please do tell what the definition of good and evil is, right and wrong? If you answer, then you answer with your opinions. Now put yourself in a ancient Mesopotamians shoes, do you honestly believe they would have the same definitions of right and wrong, good and evil, and whats moral and immoral as yourself? Do you think they think the same way you do? Of course they would not. As i have said before, incest-common practice in ancient Egypt, yet not a single person here is bashing them for behaving that way or saying its against their gods and they aren't "good".

Do you see where i am coming from with this?

I Am said...

Xolotl-Tzin said "Rape and incest were looked at completely differently in the ancient world. I know for one that incest was common and accepted form of practice in ancient Egypt. Whereas rape was more accepted in places like Rome and amongst the Norse. To these people they did absolutely nothing wrong. So how can you condemn them for it?"

Because I think it is inherently wrong to rape someone or knowingly have sex with a family member.I don't believe moral laws were handed down to us by some deity, but I do think that some things are wrong for humans to do.

I agree that it's difficult to define what is and isn't good. Maybe in some or most cases it's natural law (incest can of course cause genetic deformations, for example), instinct (desire to protect one's family from aggression in the case of rape, for example), or something else.

If some ancient Egyptians were fine with performing incest just because they thought it was okay, you could say the same thing about Islamic fundamentalists nowadays: in their moral code it's okay to imprison or even kill a woman if she's raped, or to fly planes into buildings. Should we just accept that as okay? Is it okay for a Christian to kill a doctor who performs abortions just because some people agree those doctors should die?

put yourself in a ancient Mesopotamians shoes, do you honestly believe they would have the same definitions of right and wrong, good and evil, and whats moral and immoral as yourself?

No, they wouldn't. I think when looking at someone's acts, we can take into consideration what is/was common practice in the past or now, but whether or not they are in step with other people of the time doesn't automatically right IMO. Sometimes you have to go against what most people think to promote justice (e.g. civil rights in the US in the 1960s). I think something can be right (or wrong) even if a majority of people don't think so.

incest-common practice in ancient Egypt, yet not a single person here is bashing them for behaving that way[...]Do you see where i am coming from with this?

I think I do see where you're coming from, but I disagree with you that it applies directly here.

IMO, the difference is that, as far as I know, few people nowadays praise Amon-Ra or promote ancient Egyptian religions or customs as a moral guide for modern living, whereas people do so for the Bible incessantly. But since it's come up, please consider the Egyptians bashed; I am an equal-opportunity basher. :-)

I guess you could say I don't know yet (and may never know for sure) how to define good, but I know how not to define it, if that makes sense.

Giant Hogweed said...

I don't understand the rationale behind trying to explain away all of the offensive behavior in the bible by dismissing it as "just the morality of the time". Bible apologists will tell you out of one side of their mouth that the bible is a timeless source for morality, and out of the other side, they want you to just ignore those nasty things that are clearly at odds with modern morality because they were "OK at the time".

It's also interesting since it's usually the right-wing (and the associated religious right) that rails against so-called "moral relativism". To dismiss immoral behavior as "moral at the time" is the definition of moral relativism.

As "I Am" pointed out, it's really hard to define right/wrong in a way that is time and culture independent. However, I'll take a stab at some of the things that I think are wrong, were wrong at the time of the bible, and will always be wrong:

- Murder
- Rape
- Slavery
- Incest (whether it's father raping daughter or daughter raping father).
- Offering your virgin daughters to a crowd of horny angel rapers.
- Tricking a whole tribe of people into circumcising themselves, then killing them all as they recover from said circumcision. Even if one of them might have raped your sister.
- Killing and incinerating your only daughter as a burnt offering, even if you did promise god that you'd offer whoever/whatever greeted you at your front door in exchange for success on the battlefield.
- Assaulting your son with a knife because you hear voices in your head.
- Allowing your girlfriend to be raped and killed by strangers, then dismembering her body and sending various body parts to local governments.

I'm sure I'm missing plenty, but I don't find any of the above items consistent with "timeless morality".

Xolotl-Tzin said...

I don't understand the rationale behind trying to explain away all of the offensive behavior in the bible by dismissing it as "just the morality of the time". Bible apologists will tell you out of one side of their mouth that the bible is a timeless source for morality, and out of the other side, they want you to just ignore those nasty things that are clearly at odds with modern morality because they were "OK at the time".

I'm not dismissing it. I am saying your applying modern morality to something that is ancient where people didn't even think the same way as people now. Then some people only stab at biblical peoples, witless ignoring behavior of any other ancient people.

if you read my other comments, you'll see that i actually don't mind the malevolence in the bible. And i do not have a problem looking at the bible from the perspective of him being evil.

It's also interesting since it's usually the right-wing (and the associated religious right) that rails against so-called "moral relativism". To dismiss immoral behavior as "moral at the time" is the definition of moral relativism.

No where did i dismiss the behavior. What i am saying is that their behavior is applicable for their time. Things like abandoning your child may be looked down upon in modern Western culture, but that does not at all reflect every culture or period of time in the world. This is something modern people do not take into account.

If you took the time to read Code of Hammurabi you'd realize how strict it was in ancient Mesopotamia. Does that make it right? That is entirely a matter of opinion.

Things like the treatment of women in the bible--such as the idea of rape which was just thrown around a lot there. Well take a look at the culture of the era. A woman was pretty much owned by her father, if not her father, then the next heir and so forth. If her father married her off then she was owned and had to obey her husband. (Honestly, it sucked being a woman back then.) The same kind of "ownership" applies to ancient prostitutes. Except your life was even more troubled.

I really, don't agree with this treatment of women personally. But it was kind of just how things were done back then. A lot of the people would not have known any better. Women being equal to a male or just the idea of women's rights, was not thought of or heard of.


Its like this... Some of the people in the bible (not all, because some are clearly wrong.) don't know better. It'd be like punishing a tiger for eating a human being. How does it even know better? To them it'd be natural to eat a person.

Condemning the behavior based on personal beliefs, yeah maybe i get that. However, i have not seen many even try to comprehend what ancient people thought. And you really have to be careful with that kind of thinking. Some of the old, outdated, biased scholarship on a lot of history and culture had modern Christian slant that didn't even attempt to understand what these people were thinking. Instead they condemned the people for anything they did. This seems to be what some atheist do with the bible while making comments with out completely comprehending the history, culture, or idea. (Such as is it common knowledge that Noah's myth is from the flood of Gilgamesh, Eve's from Ninti's, Cain and Abel from various myths or Adam from Adapa? To me that is more damaging in atheistic arguments than making one simply based on opinion.) Modern anthropology an ethnography tries to understand the culture from the perspective of the people, which is how it should be done in a sense. The rest is a matter of opinion.(which btw is why i took out your opinions. I am not really disagreeing with that part, personally.)

To me right and wrong, good and evil, are all subjective. Even the idea that god is evil is based on subjectivity. Obviously, there are Christians that disagree with the notion, no matter how much evidence for god being evil you throw in their face.