30 April 2011

The good people in the Bible

A while back, I said that Vashti was the best person in the Bible. And while I still think she's a good choice for that award, I'd like to consider all possible candidates. Here is my attempt to do that. Let me know if I've left out any of your favorite Bible characters.

  1. The Talking Serpent

    OK, so maybe he wasn't human, but he was the wisest and most honest character in Genesis. Here's his conversation with Eve.

    Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

    And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

    But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

    And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

    For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:1-5

    And the serpent was correct, according to the Bible anyway. When Eve and Adam ate from the tree of knowledge, they didn't die*, and their eyes were opened to know good and evil.


  2. Eve

    The Bible doesn't say much about Eve. There is only one conversation recorded and that is with a talking serpent. But in it she shows a courageous love of goodness, beauty, and truth.

    When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat. Genesis 3:6
  3. Hagar

    At Sarah and God's insistence, Abraham sent Hagar and their son Ishmael into the desert. When Ishmael was about to die, Hagar left him under a bush and cried because she couldn't bear to see him die.

    And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bow shot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. Genesis 21:15-16
  4. Zipporah

    Zipporah saved Moses from being killed by God by cutting off the foreskin of their son with a sharp stone. I don't know how she knew what had upset Moses' psychopathic god, but she figured it out quickly and did what had to be done. Then she threw the bloody foreskin at Moses' feet saying, "a bloody husband you are to me."

    It came to pass ... that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.

    Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. Exodus 4:24-25

  5. The ten honest scouts

    Moses sent out twelve scouts to check out the land of Canaan. When they returned, one of the scouts (Caleb and maybe Joshua) told Moses that it would be easy to invade and conquer the people of Canaan. But ten other scouts disagreed.

    The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.

    And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. Numbers 13:32-33

    So God, who only likes good news, killed them for their honest report.

    Those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD. Numbers 14:37
  6. Korah and his companions

    Moses and Aaron had absolute authority over the Israelites -- until it was challenged by Korah and his companions. Here's what they said to Moses.

    Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? Numbers 16:3

    So God and Moses arranged a test. If Korah and his companions die a natural death, then God didn't send Moses. But if Korah and his friends (and their families) are buried alive, then God is Moses' special friend.

    And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me.
    ...
    If these men die the common death of all men ... then the LORD hath not sent me.

    But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD. Numbers 16:28-30

    The test proved that Moses is God's special friend (since the other guys were buried alive).

    But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.

    And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:

    And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

    They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. Numbers 16:28-33

  7. The people who complained about God's killings

    During the Exodus, God burned and buried people alive, had people stoned to death, and killed tens of thousands in plagues. So, as you might expect, the people were pretty freaked out about it. Here's what they said:

    All the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD. Numbers 16:41

    So God sent a plague and killed another 14,700.

    And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

    Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. ...

    Behold, the plague was begun among the people. ...

    Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred. Numbers 16:44-49


  8. The couple murdered by Phinehas

    The Israelites pissed off God by having sex with Moabite women.

    the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. Numbers 25:1
    So God sent a plague to kill them all. Then Phinehas saw an Israelite man and a Moabite woman,
    One of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman. Numbers 25:6
    and impaled them with a spear through their bellies.
    When Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand ... and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. Numbers 25:7-8
    God was so pleased by Phinehas' double murder that he stopped killing people with the plague, after only 24,000 died. (Well, 23,000 if you believe Paul.)
    So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. nd those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand. Numbers 25:8-9
  9. The daughters of Zelophehad
    Then came the daughters of Zelophehad ... Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.

    And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,

    Our father died in the wilderness ... and had no sons.

    Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.

    And Moses brought their cause before the LORD.

    And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

    The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father's brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. Numbers 27:1-7

  10. The peaceful unsuspecting people of Laish
    The children of Dan ... came unto Laish, unto a people that were at quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire. Judges 18:26-27
  11. Nabal

    When David was fighting with Saul, he hung out "in the wilderness" with a gang of outlaws. While there, he heard about a rich man named Nabal and sent some of his "young men" to pay him a visit. So they went and introduced themselves to Nabal and told him to give them whatever he owned.

    David sent out ten young men, and David said unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my name. ...

    Give, I pray thee, whatsoever cometh to thine hand unto thy servants, and to thy son David. 1 Samuel 25:5-8

    But Nabal was on to David's protection racket. He refused to give his belongings to people he didn't even know just to get them to go away and leave him alone.

    And Nabal answered David's servants, and said, Who is David? ...

    Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give it unto men, whom I know not whence they be? 1 Samuel 25:10-11

    When David heard about it, he swore to kill Nabal and all his men (everyone "that pisseth against the wall").

    So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall. 1 Samuel 25:22

    But, as it turns out, God beat him to it and killed Nabal for David,

    And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died. 1 Samuel 25:38

    and gave David his wife and other stuff.

    When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, Blessed be the LORD .... And David sent and communed with Abigail, to take her to him to wife. 1 Samuel 25:39
  12. Phaltiel

    After Michal helped David escape from her father Saul, Saul gave her away to another man named Phalti.

    Saul had given Michal his daughter, David's wife, to Phalti.

    But later, after he had collected a half dozen or more wives, David demanded Michal back. (Heck, he paid 200 foreskins for her!)

    And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul's son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines. 2 Samuel 3:14

    Poor Phatiel must have loved her dearly since he "went along weeping behind her."

    And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish. And her husband went with her along weeping behind her. 2 Samuel 3:15
  13. Uzzah

    When the ark was being transported to Jerusalem, Uzzah, one of the drivers of the cart, reached out his hand to steady the ark to keep it from falling. God thanked him in his usual way: he killed him.

    And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. ...

    And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor , Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.

    And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. 2 Samuel 6:3-7

  14. Michal

    David bought his first wife with 200 Philistine foreskins. She was the daughter of Saul and her name was Michal. She rescued David from her father by lowering him on a rope through the window (1 Samuel 19:11-17), which was both brave and clever. But what impresses me even more was the way she criticized David for dancing nearly naked in front of God and everybody.

    David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. ...

    Michal ... said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! 2 Samuel 6:14-20

    Of course God doesn't like it when anyone criticizes David. So he made her die childless. (But not really.)

    Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death. 2 Samuel 6:23
  15. Rizpah

    To appease God and end a famine that was caused by his predecessor (Saul), David agrees to have two of Saul's sons and five of his grandsons killed and hung up "unto the Lord."

    There was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites. ...

    Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement. ...

    And they answered the king ... Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD. 2 Samuel 21:1-6

    So David rounded up and delivered two sons of Rizpah, Saul's concubine, and five sons of his daughter Michal, and they hung them up before the Lord.

    The king took the two sons of Rizpah ... whom she bare unto Saul ... and the five sons of Michal ... And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death. 2 Samuel 21:8-9

    Rizpah stayed with her dead sons, chasing the birds away in the daytime and animals away at night.

    And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night. 2 Samuel 21:10

    And God stopped the famine after Saul's two sons and five grandsons were killed and hung up for him.

    They gathered the bones of them that were hanged ... And after that God was intreated for the land 2 Samuel 21:13-14
  16. Jeroboam's wife

    Jeroboam's wife (the Bible doesn't bother giving her a name) was worried about her sick son. So she went to see the blind prophet Ahijah to see if he could help.

    Jeroboam's wife ... arose, and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. 1 Kings 14:4

    When she arrived, Ahijah had a message from God regarding her son.

    Bhold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone. 1 Kings 14:10

    Which wasn't particularly good news to Jeroboam's wife, since her sick son had pissed on a few walls here and there.

    But it got worse as the prophet elaborated a bit.

    Him that dieth of Jeroboam in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat: for the LORD hath spoken it. 1 Kings 14:11

    So God was going to kill all of the male descendants of Jeroboam, strew their dead bodies on the ground like dung, and use them for dog and bird food.

    Oh and her son? He would be dead by the time she got home.

    Arise thou therefore, get thee to thine own house: and when thy feet enter into the city, the child shall die. 1 Kings 14:12

    After hearing the words of God from his prophet Ahijah, Jeroboam's wife returned home. And, sure enough, God killed her sick little boy the moment she entered his room.

    And Jeroboam's wife arose, and departed, and came to Tirzah: and when she came to the threshold of the door, the child died; 1 Kings 14:17
  17. Vashti: The best person in the Bible?

    Vashti refused to entertain the king's drunken guests.

    The king made a feast ... seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace ... And they gave them drink in vessels of gold ... and royal wine in abundance.

    On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded ... Vashti the queen ... with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.

    But the queen Vashti refused. Esther 1:5-12

  18. Job's wife

    In the book of Job, God and Satan play a cruel gambling game with the lives of Job and his family. Satan bets that Job will curse God to his face if Job's life is made unpleasant enough. So God (or Satan, it's hard to tell them apart) kills Job's family and sends various torments upon him.

    Job's wife rightly says that if Job is to keep his integrity, he should curse God (for playing vicious games with Satan) and die. She is the only voice of reason in the book of Job.

    Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. Job 2:9

* God told Adam that he would die the day that he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet he and Eve ate from that tree and lived another 930 years. (In the case of Adam, anyway. The Bible doesn't say how long Eve lived.)

38 comments:

Nameless Cynic said...

Always been partial to Lilith, m'self; Adam's first wife.

In Jewish folklore, God made her from the earth where He made Adam. But she refused to submit to Adam, left, and started having sex with an archangel.

(Does it count as "living in sin" when one of the couple is an angel?)

Technically, I'm not sure if she belongs on your list, since she appears only "between the lines" in the Bible:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

But having already made the two of them, God goes back and makes the woman again:

Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

She's mentioned I think once in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and there's some argument about translation of the word "owl" at one point in the Old Testament - Wikipedia describes it, but I'm too lazy to go looking it up (since I already looked up the Bible verses for you - do I have to do all the work here?)

Shannon said...

Adam and Eve did die after they ate the fruit. Not right away as the Bible might suggest, but they did die (after 900 some odd years)

At least, that's what I've been told by Christians...

teavee said...

I think these people might deserve some recognition.
The Galileans Pilate sacrificed and the 18 killed by a tower; and although a character in a parable, the vineyard caretaker who intercedes for a fig tree. (Luke 13:1-9)
Uzzah who was killed for steadying the ark.
The quiet and secure people of Laish. (Judges 18:10,27)

The Pathway Machine said...

Shannon,

The Hebrew expression used when God told Adam that he would die literally means in dying you will die. In other words he would begin to die when he ate or touched the fruit of the tree.

Had he not eaten from the tree he wouldn't have died. But eventually, he did die.

The Pathway Machine said...

Steve,

The serpent didn't actually talk, it was Satan that used the serpent as a mouthpiece much like Balaam's ass was a mouthpiece.

Steve Wells said...

Thanks, Nameless Cynic, for the Lilth suggestion. I looked up the Wikipedia article (I needed to do something, I guess) and found the verse that you referred to (Isaiah 34:14).

I'd like to include Lilth, but even with Isaiah 34:14, the Bible itself doesn't provide enough information about her to justify it.

Steve Wells said...

Shanon and PM: Yeah, that's the standard Christian excuse. They started dying when they ate the fruit. It just took a while (like 930 years of so) for the poison to take effect.

teavee: Thanks for the great suggestions. I'll get to work on adding them to the list.

Steve Wells said...

PM, you said: "The serpent didn't actually talk, it was Satan that used the serpent as a mouthpiece much like Balaam's ass was a mouthpiece."

What do you mean the serpent didn't talk? Here's what the Bible says: "he [the serpent] said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"

The Bible says nothing about Satan here, so what makes you think it was him? You might as well say it was the Archangel Michael or Jesus (which I guess to you would be the same thing) or Elvis.

And what's this about Balaam's ass. God made a donkey talk and he's proud of it. That's why he put it in the Bible.

Still I'd like to hear your talking ass theory. You say Balaam's ass was a mouthpiece. A mouthpiece for whom? Jesus, the Holy Ghost, Donald Trump?

Nameless Cynic said...

Still I'd like to hear your talking ass theory.

I'm pretty sure that's a scene from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Steve Wells said...

What do you think about these folks?

Ezekiel's wife

Hananiah

Ananias and Sapphira

Balaam's ass (Not really human, I know. But she seemed like a really nice ass.)

Are there any other good people in the Bible? There must be more than those on the list!

Erp said...

Rizpah, Saul's concubine, who had two sons by him. After his death and David becomes king the land has a famine supposedly because Saul had slain some Gibeonites. So David promises the Gibeonites 7 of Saul's male descendants to slaughter. Two of them are Rizpah's children and five are Saul's daughter, Merab's, sons (quite a few early manuscripts actually have Michal instead of Merab). The Gibeonites hang them and leave their bodies hanging. Rizpah sits by the hanging bodies and prevents them from being eaten by vultures and other carrion eaters for several months until David finally decides to bury them. (2 Samuel 21).

Steve Wells said...

Thanks, Erp. I'd forgotten about Rizpah. She definitely deserves to be on the list.

Joker_SATX said...

Good Post. However, I see Good & Evil as different points of view. So I am curious as to what your criteria for Good versus Evil really is?

twillight said...

Man, pretty low standard must apply to choose good ones from the Bible!

Robert Hagedorn said...

Ever wonder what Adam and Eve actually did? Do a search: The First Scandal.

Nelson said...

My choice is Jesus Christ.

There was never a greater person either in the Bible or anywhere else.

twillight said...

@Nelson

someone who advocated slavery, selfmutilation, absolut obedience, human sacrifice, war, opression of women, extreme torture, genocide, punishment of innocents etc. is NOT considerable as "good" person.

The Pathway Machine said...

Steve,

What I normally do in cases like this is just look at the facts. So, here they are.

1. Serpents and asses don’t talk.

2. The first time the Hebrew word satan appears in scripture is at Numbers 22:22. It is translated as “resister” or “adversary” because that is what the word means. It is used in application to the angel of God, who, by the way, was probably in this case, the logos, Michael, who would much later appear as Jesus Christ. In verse 28 it plainly says that Jehovah opened the mouth of the ass. Balaam, though, thought it was the ass, he didn’t see the angel at first. From this we can gather what spirit creatures are capable of in this regard. (2 Peter 2:16)

3. Did the serpent have legs before God cursed it? Or is it possible that God was actually cursing the spirit creature who had used the innocent serpent. All throughout the scripture is it a literal serpent who is blamed for deceiving Eve or is it Satan, who is often figuratively referred to as a serpent?

4. Eve didn’t sin, she was deceived. Adam sinned because he knew better and wasn’t deceived, but Eve didn’t sin. (1 Timothy 2:14)

The Pathway Machine said...

Lilith, as seen at Isaiah 34:14, has been translated as Screech owl, night monster, nightjar, night hag or simply transliterated. Some scholars think the word is borrowed from Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, Lilitu, a female demon of the air. However, the word probably comes from a root word meaning to twist, similar to the Hebrew word layil or lailah means night from a wrapping itself around or enfolding the earth. The nightjar, which often inhabits ruins like Edom, becomes active around dusk and twists and turns to capture their prey.

Steve Wells said...

PM,
You say, "Serpents and asses don’t talk."

Well, they do in the Bible, bub. And here I thought you believed in the Bible, but I guess not. Oh ye of little faith.

I still have some questions about your talking ass theory, though.

You say, "The first time the Hebrew word satan appears in scripture is at Numbers 22:22. It is translated as “resister” or “adversary” because that is what the word means. It is used in application to the angel of God, who, by the way, was probably in this case, the logos, Michael, who would much later appear as Jesus Christ."

So the "adversary" in Numbers 22:22 refers to Satan, who is really the archangel Michael, who, as everyone knows, is actually Jesus.

Therefore, Satan, the archangel Micheal, and Jesus are all the same person? That's quite a Trinity you've got there, PM!

Which mans, I guess, that it wasn't the ass that was talking in Numbers 22, it was Jesus (aka Michael, aka Satan).

Jesus is the archangel Michael, Satan, and Balaam's ass. Three separate persons in one talking ass!

I guess it is kind of obvious when you think of it.

The Pathway Machine said...

The Hebrew word satan simply means adversary or resister just as the various forms of the Hebrew el (god) simply means anyone or anything that is considered mighty or venerated. So the words god and satan are not names, they are words.

When these words are used without the definite article ha they can be applied to anyone. So, since the angel, probably Michael in this case, positioned himself before Balaam as an adversary or resister, the Hebrew word without the definite article was used.

Steve Wells said...

PM,

OK, so Jesus (aka Michael) was the angel in Numbers 22 that was invisible to humans, but not to donkeys. Yet Balaam (and presumably other humans) could hear the voice of Invisible Jesus when he said, for example, in verse 32,

"Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times?"

Which is a marvelous thing and a wonder, but I'm still unclear about who was speaking when Mr. Ed (I mean Balaam's ass) was talking.

You've already told us that "serpents and asses don't talk," and that "the serpent didn't actually talk, it was Satan that used the serpent as a mouthpiece much like Balaam's ass was a mouthpiece."

But if Balaam's ass was a mouthpiece, who was the ass speaking for? You say the serpent spoke for Satan; who did the ass speak for? Jesus and Michael, God, Satan, or someone else?

It couldn't be Jesus and Michael, since he (they?) were the invisible angel that the ass was talking to. Otherwise they'd be talking to themselves, which would make a silly story even sillier.

It couldn't be God because that would make an ass out God when she said this in verse 30: "And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day?"

That leaves Satan, I guess. And yet, Michael/Jesus seemed to like the ass a lot, saying stuff like this in verses 32-33:

"And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? ... the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive."

So I don't think the ass was speaking for Satan.

I think you just need to face it, PM, even if you can't believe it. The ass spoke for herself.

Stephen said...

"But she seemed like a really nice ass."
Not rounded and pink, as you probably think, it was gray, had long ears and ate grass. :-)
Steve

RaptorJesus said...

Why is it that most all the "special" people in the bible who are "good, holy, and blamless" are such cruel, muderous, and just plain crazy people?

And yet some how its still a "good" book? WTF?

The Pathway Machine said...

Steve,

I just want to say that the point of the Bible is to give, as much as is needed or possible, the opportunity for an informed position, whether believing or unbelieving and there are two things that I have always personally admired about you.

1. You put a great deal of effort in making an informed choice and

2. You allow a forum for those who disagree with you.

I do appreciate your effort though we seldom agree.

Daystar said...

Raptor Jesus,

Jesus challenged the rich man that called him good, saying that none were good except Jehovah God.

The holy good and blameless are a product of your great expectations and if I may be so bold, stupidity.

Atheists always fuck that up. If for nothing more than fun.

Well who cares? But you.

Dan said...

PM ,

Steve's positions are informed, and would normally be convincing in an objective debate situation. Unfortunately in the religious realm he is up against the irrational. In this blog he has asked the rational questions which in a normal debate would require a rational answer. (I have to chuckle at using the word rational in the context of an ass speaking, but oh well.)

1. But if Balaam's ass was a mouthpiece, who was the ass speaking for?
2. Therefore, Satan, the archangel Micheal, and Jesus are all the same person?
3. What do you mean the serpent didn't talk? Here's what the Bible says: "he [the serpent] said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"
4. (Am I wrong about the magic dates and numbers (4026, 607, 2520, 1914)? Do you disagree with the JWs on their significance?) From the other blog…

Even you can see how confusing the bible becomes if even the clearly stated stuff can be altered into meaning something quite the opposite. You stated that when we read the words god and satan they are not referring to God or Satan they are just words. That would be like reading about Abe Lincoln and his name could mean any president. If I came to that conclusion I would discount all books about Abe Lincoln as irrational. What kind of author would be that misleading?

You rely heavily on your interpretation of the Hebrew to English, is that your doctorate area? If it is, I would say “go for it”, but if you are an armchair quarterback then you are up against scholars that have studied those words for a living and would heartily disagree with you. In the meantime you’re stating a different Hebrew meaning for a word that is outside the normal just clouds the argument. My golfing buddy in Dallas had a doctorate in New Testament Greek and devoted his life’s work to translating difficult New Testament versus. It is not as easy as looking it up in a book and picking the one that fits your argument. Preachers do this all the time and cause a great deal of harm in the way of confusing the all ready confused and misled.

Dan

trog69 said...

Good morning, Mr. Wells, et. al.

After my previous comments, I figgered I should at least acknowledge the host. As an apatheist, I have tried to read the bible, but I just don't have the patience, nor, since I find the entire Christian religion utterly ridiculous, do I have the will to push myself.

So, I am heartily grateful for your efforts here in providing some insights into this topic. As for me, until I get a straight answer as to why a god, having the entire universe at it's disposal/creation, would bother with the sordid details of one of it's science projects to the point where it decides that it must send itself to Earth as a human representation, in order to placate itself for it's pet's alleged transgressions, and...blahblahblah, I can't see why I should cheat my grandkids by wasting time reading that drivel, when we could be out flying a kite, or looking through the telescope.

Keep up the great work.

Dan, great point about how the oh-so many religious leaders have fudged the terminology to fit their views on biblical accuracy/relevance.

The Pathway Machine said...

Dan,

The so called skeptic tends to have a false sense of rationality. The rational doesn’t have a fixed point. It would be counter productive, for example, to assume it is irrational that man could fly before man had discovered that he could in fact do so. Unless someone challenges the rationality of that assumption which was based upon a faulty premise the only thing stopping man from discovering flight would be the irrational in the guise of the rational.

If a “skeptic” says there is no god it demonstrates two possible facts. 1. They don’t know the simple meaning of the word god and or 2. They are making an uninformed statement of opinion which isn’t testable and therefore can’t accurately be stated as rational fact.

1. But if Balaam's ass was a mouthpiece, who was the ass speaking for?

The ass wasn’t speaking. The angel was speaking on behalf of the ass.

2. Therefore, Satan, the archangel Michael, and Jesus are all the same person?

No. Satan and the archangel Michael are two different spirit creatures and Michael came to the Earth as a man.

3. What do you mean the serpent didn't talk? Here's what the Bible says: "he [the serpent] said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"

Which is why I pointed out that Peter, talking about Balaam’s ass, said “voiceless beast of burden made utterance with the voice of a man.” What the Bible is saying is that Satan spoke to Eve through the serpent. The serpent didn’t talk, and, throughout the rest of the Bible who is blamed for deceiving Eve? The serpent or Satan?

4. (Am I wrong about the magic dates and numbers (4026, 607, 2520, 1914)? Do you disagree with the JWs on their significance?) From the other blog…

The dates given by me and the Jws are not magic they are based upon Biblical Chronology, as well as historical, archaeological and astronomical observations. Variations in these, as in the case of 607 B.C.E. are due to historical inaccuracies. None of these dates are absolutely certain any more than archaeological or historical are.

The Hebrew word satan means adversary, one who resists. Since the angel who became known as Satan was the foremost adversary the word, only when accompanied by the definite article ha applies to him. The Hebrew variations of El, translated as god simply means anyone or anything that is deemed as mighty or venerated. The Bible mentions many gods, including mortal imperfect men such as Moses, and the Judges of Israel. Other gods mentioned by the Bible are Jesus, the angels, Tammuz, a deified Sumerian King, Baal, Satan, Jehovah, Ashtoreth, and many others. Paul said that ones own belly could be a god. Gods of stone, wood. This definition of God is the same as our English modern definition. If anyone or anything can be a god it is foolish to think that no gods exist.

This is the same as saying Abraham Lincoln was a man, was a president.

These things are only confused by the skeptical who begin from a faulty premise.

Dan said...

When two schizophrenics meet and they both believe themselves to be Napoleon, they will readily accept that the other person could be Napoleon as well. It is much the same with religious folks. They will readily accept concepts like the trinity, (three different entities all claiming to be God but only one can be), asses used as mouthpieces or talking asses and serpents used as mouthpieces or talking serpents. . That is what I am generally dealing with when I use the term irrational. Only to schizophrenics and religious adherents can impossibilities become everyday facts.

A skeptic would still argue that humans can’t fly, at least on this planet. When one does we will have to all stop and redefine rationality as it relates to flying humans. Airplanes and hang gliders are no different then scuba gear, humans can no more fly then they can breathe underwater.

You are wrong; it is religion that blurs the lines between rationality and irrationality. In Science a position exists to be proven wrong. But don’t get me wrong, I am not in the crowd that condemns irrationality. I believe it is part of human evolution to move from needing invisible authority figures to trusting our own brains to give us the correct solution to life’s puzzle. Those of us that would count ourselves on the skeptical side realize we have escaped irrationality by a small statistical margin. I would never view a skeptic’s position as superior to a religious view. I would just view religion as improvable. The grand puzzle may someday include some type of energy or particle that has attributes that we currently do not understand. Maybe this is the god particle, I don’t know and I am not interested in doing the heavy lifting to find it. I take solace in knowing there are physicists that are interested and open to this idea. In the mean time I choose to reject all miraculous thinking because it is dangerous to the human race. It all ends in some kind of apocalypse. In the recent case of youthful JW’s, they were instructed to bypass higher education because it would be wasted, since the world was going to end. Don’t it is not just the JW’s; my Father lived his whole life believing his generation was the last. He died last year at 89 and never saw the rapture, second coming, millennium, or trumpets in the clouds calling him home. It isn’t just the JW’s that get their time frames messed up. He was a pastor in a main line fundamentalist group.

“Paul said that ones own belly could be a god. This definition of God is the same as our English modern definition. If anyone or anything can be a god it is foolish to think that no gods exist.”

You are right, if your definition of god includes “ones own belly” Then I have engaged what limited intellect I possess on arguing with either a schizophrenic or someone who lives in a continual hypnotic state. I have no answers for your constantly moving definition of god. It includes whatever reality you are in at any given moment. My bad.

Daystar said...

Dan - You are wrong; it is religion that blurs the lines between rationality and irrationality. In Science a position exists to be proven wrong.

Pathway - Thats what is wrong with you. You can't "prove" religion wrong.

I really feel sorry for you. But, you know, you are only ignorant and xenophobic. If you would just learn about that which you test instead of being spoonfed science that exists only to make you feel intellectual while being totally ignorant.

You would have it made. Like me.

When I say religion can be proven wrong I mean it. I don't assume it in the guise of science.

Fucking idiot atheists.

uzza said...

Balaam's ass was a mouthpiece
Thanks for that mental image guys.

quo_vadis said...

Has anyone suggested Ruth (aka Rut) & her mother-in-law Noomi (aka Naomi)?
The two of them didn't do anything really great but at least they were kind to each other & in contrast to other biblical characters they were peaceful & didn't use any violence. Ruth even "clave unto her", eventhough I am not sure whether Ruth clave to her Mother-in-law Noomi or her sister-in-law Orpah, it nevertheless means that Ruth is an affectionate person.

Some people might be tempted to claim that Ruth (advised by Noomi) tricked Boaz into marriage because Ruth seduced him while he was drunk but did women in this society have much choice?

Daystar said...

Dan,

When one of the two takes it upon himself to irresponsibly and with malice diagnose anyone who disagrees with them as schizophrenics I know that there is no cause for discourse.

Xenophobia isn't a religious thing, is it.

Dan said...

“When I say religion can be proven wrong I mean it. I don't assume it in the guise of science.”

I probably spent too much time mulling over this comment this past week, but in the end decided to take it as a challenge. Steve is so much better at this than I am but I will attempt for my own sake to compile a few ways in which science has proven religion wrong.

1. Bacteria, virus, and genetics cause disease, not sin; these were all invisible to the religious writers.
2. One of the arguments for Creation rested on the lack of transitional species. The fossil record has turned up approximately 175. Living animals such as the platypus have retained certain reptilian traits that are no longer found in modern mammals as well as the traits of aquatic animals.
3. The planets orbit around the sun, not the sun around the earth. “In March 1616, in connection with the Galileo affair the Roman Catholic Church’s issued a decree suspending De revolutionibus until it could be "corrected," on the grounds that the supposedly Pythagorean doctrine that the Earth moves and the Sun was "false and altogether opposed to Holy Scripture." The same decree also prohibited any work that defended the mobility of the Earth or the immobility of the Sun, or that attempted to reconcile these assertions with Scripture.” Wikipedia Quote. This happened after Copernicus died.
4. Pregnancy is the result of a sperm uniting with the egg, not some kind of blessing or curse.
5. The earth is not 10,000 years old (based on a liberal interpretation of biblical genealogy). The Big Island of Hawaii is 800,000 years old and is the youngest of the Hawaiian chain.
6. The church practiced the superstition of blood letting to balance body fluids for hundreds of years. To argue it was killing the patients was heresy.
7. The great flood could not have covered the entire earth; science has shown that the necessary volume would be impossible due to the closed system of our atmosphere. The offending amount of water would roughly fill the moon.
8. I have many favorite memories of rainbows and a favorite song about them so no one who knows me would say I am overly analytical about this phenomenon, but one thing a rainbow is not is a sign from God that he will never flood the earth again. Science has saved us that indignity by allowing even a child to understand that a rainbow involves light and droplets of water. “A rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines on to droplets of moisture in the Earth’s atmosphere.” (Wikipedia) Because we have been told this story so many times it sounds plausible. Since the great flood was so devastating, as children it was easy to associate it with the first rainbow. But as adults it sounds more like a fairy tale, we would have to assume there was no rain or clouds before the flood, which is actually absurd. If that were true it would mean a complete change in the ecosystem. If God had said “the ocean will appear blue as a sign that I will never flood the earth again it would just seem odd at best. But we are dealing with the exact same thing; wavelengths of light passing through water. Whether a great flood occurred or not, rainbows existed before as well as after and were not a result of a covenant between God and Noah.
(the blogger required that I do this in two sections.)

Dan said...

(part 2)

What exactly happened when Christianity took over Europe? The assumption among Christians was that it was all good. It’s necessary to check out what it replaced. It replaced a Greek civilization that initiated intellectual enquiry, experimental science, and the critical examination of all ideas. This was a greater freedom than Judaism had conceived. And to Christianity it was insufferable.
“Christianity stamped out intellectual enquiry and the free criticism of ideas. It put a stop to science. It tried to lay down absolute “truths” in which all human beings must believe. In short, Christianity brought darkness where there had been light. The darkness persisted, sustained deliberately by an intolerant and cruel Church, for a thousand years and more, until the Enlightenment brought a new dawn to Europe and Europe’s greatest product, America.”
I don’t know who wrote that last paragraph but I liked it enough to copy it to my collection of quotes.

Dan said...

Daystar:
My reference to schizophrenics was one used by (Julian Jaynes (February 27, 1920 – November 21, 1997) an American psychologist, best known for his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976), in which he argued that ancient peoples were not conscious)

He simply pointed out how people with this problem will easily accept the impossible as reality. (The Napoleon example) There appears to be a complete range of humans at this time in our evolution. On the one end is the skeptic that requires objective reproducible proof for everything (Randi institute, would be an example).On the other end of the spectrum would be schizophrenics who would readily accept many versions of reality if it fit their current cause or support their current state of mind. I was not suggesting you actually had that problem, it just seemed like your definition of god shifted with each discussion. Hope this adds some clarity, if not let it be know I am a proud participant of the group you affectionately deem as "Fucking idiot atheists." Not the usual name I hear from my religious friends when we discuss some version of magical thinking, but was worth a chuckle. Dan

Mark said...

What about Jephthah's daughter?
Probably had a bit of a mental health problem, and/or was just very unhappy with life (probably due to having a mass murderer for a dad). Jephthah's made a vow, which costs his daughter her life, and she's just like 'Yeah, whatever', and encourages him to keep the vow even though it means she gets killed. Even if she was probably pretty unhappy with her life, encouraging her dad to keep his promises no matter what is still quite commendable isn't it?