19 September 2011

Helping Believers Resolve Contradictions: A Biblically Correct Approach

Up to now I've mostly ignored contradictions. Oh, I list them, alright, but I don't focus on them, because they seem to me to be the least of the Bible's problems. Deuteronomy 13:6-10 is disgusting to everyone that reads it. And believers know better than to try to defend it or any of the thousands of other similarly unjustifiable passages. They focus on the contradictions instead.

And I've never seen a contradiction that a believer can't explain away in one way or another. Rarely, however, is a contradiction actually resolved with a straight answer.

So I've decided to help them out. I'm going to try to find Biblically Correct answers to all of the contradictions that I've listed. (They'll be given at the bottom of each contradiction.)

But first, I'll explain my approach. I begin with the believer's most sacred assumption, as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof" etc.

So when scriptures disagree, I'll try to resolve the disagreement by using the scriptures themselves. I'll begin by listing the passages that favor each side of the contradiction. Then I'll count the number on each side and select the Biblically Correct answer by determining which side has the highest number of divinely inspired passages. Let the Holy Ghost vote on it, so to speak.

That should work for most contradictions, but what happens with a tie?

I don't have a simple answer to that, except to say that I will try to find a Biblically Correct way to resolve God's disagreement with himself.

So let's get started. Here is the first contradiction on the list.

How many men did the chief of David's captains kill?
800
300
2 Samuel 23:8
These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time. (KJV)

These are the names of David's mighty men: Josheb-Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter. (NIV)

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshe'beth a Tah-che'monite; he was chief of the three; he wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he slew at one time. (RSV)
1 Chronicles 11:11
And this is the number of the mighty men whom David had; Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, the chief of the captains: he lifted up his spear against three hundred slain by him at one time. (KJV)

this is the list of David's mighty men: Jashobeam, a Hacmonite, was chief of the officers; he raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter. (NIV)

This is an account of David's mighty men: Jasho'be-am, a Hach'monite, was chief of the three; he wielded his spear against three hundred whom he slew at one time. (RSV)

Note from the Oxford Annotated Bible for 2 Samuel 23:8-11: Josheb-basshebeth a Tachemonite is an error of a copyist; 1 Chr 11.11 has Jashobeam a Hachmonite. It has been proposed that the man's original name was Ishbaal (see 2.8 n. and 11.14-25 n.).

So according to the Oxford Annotated Bible, Jashobeam and Josheb-basshe'beth (and Ishbaal) are different names for the same person.

Darn! Wouldn't you know it? The very first contradiction is a tie. First Chronicles says one thing and Second Samuel another. How will we ever know how many guys old what's-his-name impaled on his spear? This is important stuff, too. God wants us to know the answer. That's why he put it in the Bible -- twice.

Well, luckily when different versions of the same story are told in 1 Chronicles and 2 Samuel, we know which divinely inspired story to believe. First Chronicles was written several centuries after Second Samuel and the Chronicler used 2 Samuel as a source, so any conflict between them is easily resolved. The Biblically Correct answer is from 2 Samuel.

And just like that, the first contradiction is resolved. The answer is 800.

Wasn't that fun?

84 comments:

teavee said...

Gen 8:5 was presumably written several seconds after Gen 8:4 was written, so the Biblically Correct resolution is Gen 8:5. Is that right?

Steve Wells said...

No, teavee, I think this one is going to be a tough one to resolve. It isn't always easy to be Biblically Correct. But we need to keep trying. The Holy Ghost is depending on us to sort this mess out for him. (He is a male, isn't he? I mean, he has a penis and all that, doesn't he?)

skepticmatt said...

Actually, I think the biblically correct way of deciding a tie is to cast lots.

"The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." (Proverbs 16:33)

So just flip a coin. It'll land the way magic sky man wants it to. Terrifying as it is, there are actually people who make decisions this way.

Richard said...

But doesn't solve the conflict. If Timothy says *all* scripture is the divine inspiration of God and must be correct, and if Chronicles is also scripture, then regardless of its later date Chronicles cannot be wrong.

skanksta said...

Where does god say which book was written at which time ?

Isn't this a human construct ?

Teavee's point is, (possibly accidentally) logical.

If god doesn't say what order his books were written in, in his book, then surely the biblically correct answer is both at the same time ?

It's a stupid answer, but then, it's a stupid book.

By the way Steve - excellent idea on the contradictions.
I'm sure these will be lots of fun...

Stephen said...

O, come on, fellas... The ark was tired, carrying all those animals, supplies, waste... it needed a rest. Then back to sea for three more months. No problem!
Steve Weeks

Steve Wells said...

You're right, skepticmatt! Now I'll be able to resolve them all. If there's no good way to know which is (more) Biblically Correct, I can always do it God's way by casting lots. I'll do it in my own lap and leave it up to God, just like it says in Proverbs 16:33.

As for you, Richard, of course it solves the problem. One of the statements must be true, since they can't both be -- or at least one is more true, or at lest more likely to be true than the other. They couldn't all be equally false, could they?

Yeah, I suppose teavee has point, skanksta, on the Gen 8:4/5 contradiction. It's either that or casting lots in my lap.

And I am already having too much fun with this. I've already resolved the first six. I can't make myself stop. I need help!

teavee said...

Steve, If you do flip coins, roll dice, whatever, make sure you do it only once for each question. God will make the first result non-random. If you do it multiple times to verify the answer, you lack faith. Then God will have known this and will have made the first result random along with all the subsequent results.

Il Censore said...

Just 2c: it is 2 Timothy, not 1 Timoty.

Andy said...

I fear that your head is going to explode if you do too many of these.

Steve Wells said...

Thanks for the correction, Il censore. I need to be more careful if I'm going to correctly correct God's mistakes.

Steve Wells said...

Your right, teavee. I should only do it once, although sometimes three times seems to work better (See 1 Kings 1:1-15 for example).

What I really need is an Urim and Thummim. You don't know where I could get a pair of those, do you?

Or maybe I should use some of Joseph Smith's seer stones.

Or dreams. God often communicates important things to people when they're sleeping.

Or maybe I should ask a witch to bring Samuel back from the dead to answer the question for me, like Saul did in 1 Sam 28:8-19. That worked out well for him.

Or I could ask for an evil spirit from the Lord to help me find an answer. (1 Sam 18:10)

Or make some golden hemorrhoids, put them in a cart pulled by oxen, and send them on their way. If they go to Pullman, then it's one thing and if to Troy, another. (1 Sam 6:7-10)

Or should I strip off all my clothes and lie around naked all day and night? That'd make me a prophet so I cold prophesy the answer or something (1 Sam 19:24).

I'm pretty sure there's an answer in 1 Samuel somewhere.

Keep your ideas coming. I want as many options as possible.

Lovie said...

Regarding Question 1. How many men did the chief of David's captains kill?

I take the assumption that Joshebbassebet the Tachmonite (a.k.a. Adino the Eznite) and Jashobeam an Hachmonite are in fact the same person. I think we need to take this assumption because the following verses in each passage both reference Eleazar son of Dodo the Aholite.

I see two possibilities here. On the one hand, 300 is less than 800; therefore, when he speared 800 men on one day he also speared 300 on the same day. On the other hand, these could just be two different days: he speared 800 on one day and 300 on another day.

SamuEL said...

In Hebrew, 300 and 800 do consist of very similar letter formations. When writing on papyrus or skins that naturally have texture making copies can be tedious. Who cares if it was 300 or 800 it was a lot. The writers of the scriptures where indeed inspired by God... does this type of copyist discrepancy really change the inspired content of the scriptures...no it does not. The scriputes by their doctrine and content bear witness to Holy inspiration not picking apart every textual error.

David said...

The thing that gets me with Christians is they blatantly lie about contradictions. They CAN'T be honest and they MUST explain away contradictions with one convoluted and contradictory explanation after another because if they just admit the obvious IE:it is a contradiction, then obviously the Bible isn't the "word of God", then the Atheists and other religious people who don't believe the Bible must be correct, then they lose their security blanket-salvation. Just like what SamuEL had said, my point. They must make excuses to explain away an obvious problem just like this person did. My question to them is if it was the inspired word of God, and God is not the author of confusion, then why the difficulty in the first place? Is this "God" so incompetent that "He" couldn't have got it right the first time? Is "He" so incompetent that he needs us puny humans to prove how something that is blatantly a contradiction isn't "really" a contradiction? If he really was guiding the translators no matter what paper it was originally written on or the difficulty of writing down the correct information, if he truly is the one and only correct god WHY in a million years are there so many "translation" errors? Statements like the one SamuEL made prove to me that Christianity is bullshit. They jump through hoops trying to prove what is a contradiction isn't "really" a contradiction when all it does is make it look WORSE than just admitting it's a contradiction. My favorite is using an explanation that sounds as bad as a child who gets its hand caught in the cookie jar by it's mommy, the kid denies it while they are in the process of pulling a cookie out of the jar. IE:the devil planted the archaelogical evidence that disproves scripture(yes it does exist just as evidence for some historical events occurring also exists this that or the other king living at a certain time for instance), and the scripturally valid evidence in their mind proves the Bible true, but yet the evidence that shows the Bible is full of shit is neatly swept under the rug complete with an explanation that is insulting to my intelligence-the devil planted the evidence there because God was making things more difficult to believe as a test of faith...WHAT?! The "contradiction" makes the Bible EASIER to believe...WHAT?! That for all Christians reading this is why there are ex-Christians who become Atheist. You try to defend your book, but in the process you destroy the faith.

Theodore A. Jones said...

"It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." Rom. 2:13

Cormack said...

Wow... I stumbled across this blog somehow and after just reading your first paragraph it was clear how little you know about the bible and its history. (Though I did read past the first paragraph, and that only confirmed it for me.) Take some classes on the the history of the Torah, biblical history, and exegesis before making an idiot of yourself to anyone educated in this area who happens to read your blog.

Steve Wells said...

OK, Cormack. Explain the meaning of Deuteronomy 13:6-10. Use your extensive knowledge in the Bible and its history and exegesis to show why it is a good thing to stone to death your family and friends if they ask you to believe in a different god.

Cormack said...

First of all, it's not "a good thing" to stone anyone to death--family or not. Even in Deuteronomy this was not a good thing, but for the nation of Israel it was a necessary thing, which I'll explain in a minute.

One of the central purposes of the covenant that God made with the people of Israel was to reveal himself to the surrounding nations; to show the nations that He alone was the one true God, above all other "gods" at that time, and that He alone is supreme. (This was necessary in order for the next step to occur, which was to show the world that He, the holy author of life, loves all people and can redeem them, no matter what they have done in their lives, so that they can ultimately have abundant lives of peace and joy with God. But this is getting ahead of ourselves. First it was necessary for God to reveal his ultimate authority, which for whatever reason He purposed to do through Abraham and his descendants.)

All of the surrounding nations at that time had various gods that they would worship and sacrifice to. They believed that if they pleased their god(s), everything they did would prosper (including, among other things, victory in battle). God chose to make a covenant through Abraham through which he would ultimately "bless all nations". The first step was to make himself known as supreme, THE God. The way the nations at that time would understand this is by serving the true God faithfully and prospering as a result. Of course, for the world to see that the God Israel served was the supreme God, the other nations would need to know that this was the only God Israel served. Otherwise, which God is actually the one blessing Israel and making them prosper? This is why God was so serious about not allowing foreign "gods" into the nation of Israel, and also why they were given very unique and seemingly obscure laws to follow strictly - God wanted to give them a very distinct identity among the nations, to make Israel "holy" ("set apart") and to reveal his ultimate authority by making them prosper. (Of course, as we know, the Israelites failed at these burdensome laws time and time again, which is one of the reasons Jesus would later fulfill the law for them in himself and would manifest some of God's other attributes, such as grace, in order to redeem all people, restoring all who seek forgiveness to a loving relationship with God.)

Essentially, you have to look at the big picture. 1) Everybody dies. Will they die of old age? Will they die in battle at the hands of another nation? Will their death serve a purpose in the nation of Israel and/or God's larger plan of holiness and redemption? 2) The nation of Israel, as part of their covenant, would need to follow God strictly in order for the other nations to truly be able to "see" God through their nation.

The stoning was always something to mourn, and was also never meant to be a permanent enactment or a reflection of God - rather it served a functional purpose for Israel, not a descriptive one about God's character. Also, in enacting the judgment, the hope would be that those doing it would feel terrible doing it and move them in the direction of longing for grace and mercy.

(Now, obviously that doesn't solve the emotional aversion people today have to such a primitive method of judgment. God has since put a stop to all of that, at any rate.)

Cormack said...

@David:

I AM a Christian, and I do acknowledge contradictions in the Bible. God, for whatever reason, works WITH and THROUGH us, not FOR us. He chooses to limit himself and share power (and thus responsibility) with us. For this reason, the Bible isn't perfect and neither is the Church. And no, of course that doesn't mean "atheists are right". Atheists will believe they are right because they cannot prove God using their own methods, and Christians will continue to believe they are right because they know that, if there is a God, scientific proof is limited to our own reality, not its author.

Steve Wells said...

Carmack,

You say it was not "a good thing" to stone family and friends as God commanded in Dt. 13:6-10, but it was "a necessary thing."

Here are God's words in those verses:

If thy brother ... or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods ... Thou shalt not consent unto him ... neither shall thine eye pity him ... But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die."

Was it right or wrong for the Israelites to obey this command of God? Would it be right or wrong for you to obey it today?

You say, "The stoning was always something to mourn ... the hope would be that those doing it would feel terrible doing it."

Well, it wasn't God's hope, that's for sure. Here's what he said when giving the command.

"Neither shall thine eye pity him ... But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death."

You're right though, Carmack, all that exegetical knowledge of yours is coming in handy. I feel like an idiot already.

Cormack said...

I understand your aversion to stoning... Anyone with a conscience would be averse to that. For someone who believes in evolution, however, I am surprised that you do not seem to understand the philosophical concept that morality might also be context-dependent. But I am not surprised that that you seem to assume that the Torah was meant to be applied directly to Christians and Jews today. Most atheists I talk to assume the same thing. Many, in fact, grow up in Christian homes but reject "God" because of the same shallow understanding about the scriptures or their modern implications. It is unfortunate that so many people reject the message of Jesus after only a cursory glance the history behind scriptures or the context from which they were recorded. The vast majority of "issues" people have with the scriptures are either misinformed or would be genuinely resolved after further research. Only a small minority of the issues they have raised are ones that should actually cause genuine wrestling with concepts about God, truth, and morality. (Notice I believe those issues do exist, but I don't think they warrant rejection of all things God-related.)

I don't know how philosophically inclined you are, but in order for you to answer your question you have to consider what "right" means. What is your moral standard? If you believe the "right" course of action in any given case is something that remains constant across time and context, then it was wrong for the Israelites to obey this command. If you believe that a "right" course of action is one that takes into account culture, context, and evolution, then you may have a harder time finding an answer to your question.

If you are asking my opinion, I think that if God commanded the Israelites to do that then it was right for them to obey. It served part of a much bigger and more important purpose than the next 40 or 50 years of life any one of those people may have had. It's good that you place a high value on individual human life - I think all people should. But we place even more importance on individual human life today than was common at the time those commands were given. Back then, much more emphasis and value was placed on the well-being of one's people-group, collectively, than we do today. Westerners in general, and Americans in particular, tend to place a high emphasis on individualism. Even other modern cultures such as Japan place more value on their family or community than they would any one contributing member of it. Perhaps if they read the verses in question, they would totally understand its purpose - just like the Hebrew people at that time, and the nations around them, did.

It would be wrong for you or I to obey such a command today, which is why God has not commanded either of us to do such a thing. To do so would be to take a specific command given to a specific group of people out of time and context to be applied directly to you or me today.

Steve Wells said...

Cormack,

So it was right to stone to death your family and friends as God commanded in Dt.13:6-10 before Jesus, but wrong after?

Why didn't God make that clear when giving that command?

Why did he put things like this in the Bible?

"All thy commandments are truth ... Thou hast founded them for ever." Psalm 119:150-1

"Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." Psalm 119:160

And why did Jesus say this?

"Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." Mt.5:18-19

"It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail." Luke 16:17

Are there any jots and tittles that you think still apply, Cormack? How about Leviticus 20:13 or Exodus 18:22? Leviticus 19:18 maybe?

Is there anything that you think is wrong -- for everyone in all cultures and time periods? Is it wrong, for example, to burn people to death?

Cormack said...

Steve,

No, it was right for the Israelites at that time to stone to death someone who brought idols into their nation (even if it was members of their own family). Why didn't God make that clear when He gave that command? If I say to my roommate, "You need to do the dishes" would you think I am talking to EVERYONE IN THE WORLD? :) Did you really think that the command your referencing was meant to be for all people, everywhere, at all times?

"Why did he put things like this in the Bible?"
Really?? That question doesn't even warrant an answer... (God didn't write the Bible. Neither did Jesus.)

I'll assume that perhaps you meant, "why did God allow the church to include that in the Bible"? That is a question worth answering. In order to understand the New Testament (new covenant) one must understand the Old Testament (the covenant God had originally made with Abraham and his descendants). So the church figured that it was important to include the Jewish Books of Law (the Pentateuch), Books of History, Books of Poetry, and the prophetic books, even though their law does not apply to us.

"All thy commandments are truth ... Thou hast founded them for ever." Psalm 119:150-1

"And why did Jesus say this?"
Jesus didn't say this. Seriously, you need to do some research (although it doesn't take research to know that Jesus didn't write that - just some critical thinking). (Even spending 5 minutes with Google will give you answers to some of these simple questions.)

"Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." Mt.5:18-19

Now, Jesus did say that. He was implying that He was about to "fulfill" it all. In the meantime, the law was still there (and would always be there, though after it is fulfilled by him everything changes).

"Are there any jots and tittles that you think still apply, Cormack? How about Leviticus 20:13 or Exodus 18:22? Leviticus 19:18 maybe?"
The short answer is, no. Though the law is still around, but it is fulfilled in Jesus. All of it. It is no longer meant to be applied to the nation of Israel today (let alone Gentiles like you and me, for whom it never applied in the first place) as it was before Jesus came.

"Is there anything that you think is wrong -- for everyone in all cultures and time periods?"
Yes, but such a broad and universal question requires a very broad answer. I believe it is wrong to disobey God.

(By the way, the Psalms are essentially songs and letters to God, emotional and artistic writing - not the Law or any kind of system out of which to build a theology.)

I'm not going to attempt to teach you everything there is to know about the Bible - you can do that on your own time if you care to learn. But blabbing out misinformed statements or accusations without knowledge is not becoming. A place to start is by actually understanding who wrote the different "books" of the Bible, who they were written to, when, for what purposes, etc. http://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Bible-All-Worth/dp/0310384915 The author of the above book is a well-known and respected contemporary biblical scholar. If you want to be serious about issues in the Bible (because there are some), I suggest you see what the experts have to say. But if you don't and you just want to have fun posting silly little uninformed straw-man arguments like you did here, go ahead - but acknowledge them for what they are...

Sorry if I come across as rude. I just get frustrated sometimes when people say things without knowledge, and it is even more frustrating when other people take those people seriously.

Steve Wells said...

Cormack,

You have nothing to teach me, or anyone else, about the Bible. So please, stop lecturing.

I understand why you don't want to answer my questions, though. You are deeply ashamed of most of the Bible, so rather than try to defend it, you insult me instead.

Cormack said...

Lol... I'll answer any serious questions you have, but most of the assumptions you have made have been ones that anyone serious about them would realize were incorrect, after only 5 minutes of googling. What I mean is that I don't want to answer questions with incorrect premises. I'd be happy to dialogue with you if you are serious enough to at least make an effort.

Steve Wells said...

Will you stop with the googling (and lol), Cormack? Five minutes of googling about religion will give you whatever the most popular belief happens to be -- which, unfortunately, still happens to be yours. But that's changing, isn't it?

I understand that you think your religious views and interpretations of the Bible are the only correct ones. But you'll have to do better than just making that claim and asking for support from the google.

Whatever premises you make, need to be stated and defended.

I'm glad you are willing to answer my questions. I'll start with this one.

Leviticus 20:14 says this: "And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they."

Was this a good idea at the time it was written? Was it right to burn husband, wife, and mother-in-law if the husband "took" them both?

Was it right to burn people to death back then for any reason? Would it be OK to do that now?

I tried googling it, but all I got was this.

Cormack said...

I had a feeling you would try to make it sound as though I find "support" from googling popular opinions rather than having established my views from reading books and commentaries by those who actually spend their lives studying the subjects. Certainly you will find popular and mistaken beliefs on google, but you will also find sites summarizing actual scholarly views. If you want to be sure, however, I'd recommend using a "google scholar" search and looking for commentaries on whatever verse you have questions about.

The burning was to be done after they died. If you'd read it critically, taking the verse in the context of the whole rather than prooftexting (singling a verse out of its original context), you could see that the death sentence for individuals was always to be done by stoning. There are places where individuals were consumed by fire, but the instances I can think of where this was done was always by God directly, not by another person.

I already answered the other half of your question, but I'll answer it again: We are not bound by those laws.
You ask if it is okay to burn someone to death for any reason. I wasn't alive in the past, so I don't know about any culture or instances where this was okay, I have no reason to believe it was every okay for one person to burn another to death. (Perhaps during a war, if there were no other means, it may have been okay, but this is just speculation.) It generally was not okay even for the Israelites. Burning was only to be done after death. And I would say it is certainly not okay to burn someone to death today.

Steve Wells said...

You say, with your usual confidence, that "the burning was to be done after they died." But how do you get that from the context? There's a long list of people to be killed in Leviticus 20 (parent-cursing children, adulterers, homosexuals, people having sex with animals, etc.), but only two are to be killed by stoning (wizards and those who give their seed to Moloch). Verse 20, however, says to burn the strange threesome. It doesn't say stone them to death first (or use lethal injection) and then burn their bodies.

God likes to burn people to death. What do you have against it?

Cormack said...

I'll grant that it is more difficult to recognize just by the context that the burning spoken of in the verse refers to the destruction of those individuals after death rather than a burning to death - for this to be apparent one would have to understand a little bit of the way the laws were structured in Leviticus. The entire chapter 20 of Leviticus focuses on things often done by those who worshiped Molek (verse 9 is not referring specifically to children), and are to be read as a whole. In the beginning of the chapter (as in other chapters in Leviticus) the punishment for worshiping Molek, which is specified in the rest of the verses of chapter 20, is death carried out by stoning. The rest of the verses describe things that are often done by worshipers of Molek. They Israelites were expected to be cautious of those things and not to tolerate those who practiced those things in their own nation. The assumption is that the death sentence is stoning, as stated in the first couple verses of the chapter. The burning, most scholars agree (you don't have to take my word for it; you can look at some commentaries yourself if you want), was not the death sentence itself but the method of disposal. Those who did the act were not even allowed a proper burial.

"God likes to burn people to death. What do you have against it?"

God doesn't "like" to burn people to death, or even stoning. This is just faulty logic. If a mother spanks her children when they do something wrong, you wouldn't assume that she "likes" doing it. (At least I wouldn't. Whenever my parents disciplined me they gave me a talk first about how they don't "like" doing it, but that what I did was unacceptable and this was the consequence my family had agreed to give.)

Steve Wells said...

Cormack,

So I guess you misspoke when you said this in your previous comment:

"The burning was to be done after they died. If you'd read it critically, taking the verse in the context of the whole rather than prooftexting (singling a verse out of its original context), you could see that the death sentence for individuals was always to be done by stoning."

The only reason for saying that the burning was after death is to try to make it sound (slightly) less disgusting. There's nothing in the context that suggests that the punishment was anything other than what the text says: "they shall be burnt with fire."

Still, you say that most (apologist) scholars agree with you. So I guess you've read their opinions. Could you provide a reference?

God doesn't "like" to burn people to death, or even stoning. This is just faulty logic.

Well, he sure does it a lot, Cormack. Like when they complain too much (Num 11:1), burn incense without a license (Lev 10:1-2, Num 16:35), dabble in astrology (Is 47:13-14), or make God angry (Ps 21:9) or jealous (Dt 32:21-24) or something. And sometimes God burns people to identify a prophet (2 Kg 1:10, 12) or to identify himself (Ezek 15:6-7), and sometimes for no reason at all (Is 24:6, 33:12).

And then, of course, God burns most people forever after they die (Jn 15:6, 2 Th 1:7-9, Rev 14:10-11, 21:8).

So yeah, I'd say it's a pretty good bet that God likes to watch people burn.

But maybe God (like a child-abusing parent) does nasty things for no good reason while making excuses for it.

I suppose it's possible. But it's much more likely that he doesn't exit. Thank goodness for that!

Cormack said...

You're right, I spent years studying biblical texts (as well as a few non-biblical texts written during the same time-periods) and exegesis in a university, and I did read a lot of commentaries. I have only read one of these ones, but here are some references for you:
http://www.amazon.com/IVP-Bible-Background-Commentary-Testament/dp/0830814191/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1330306703&sr=8-2
http://www.amazon.com/Literary-Structure-Old-Testament-Genesis-Malachi/dp/0801027934/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1330306703&sr=8-14
http://www.ligonier.org/blog/top-5-commentaries-on-the-book-of-leviticus/

As for the verses you listed, once again, your belittling remarks are uninformed. The fact that God's fire is recorded as having consumed a number of the Israel people is true, but most of the reasons you listed were incorrect, and certainly the one about there being "no reason at all". That just reflects a misunderstanding about Isaiah. The same thing with your misunderstanding of the verses you cited about people "burning forever after they die" - though this is the "popular" view that has been perpetuated by figures such as Dante and other artists from the middle ages, this does not reflect an exegetical understanding of those passages and the language used. I understand though why you would believe this; Christianity has, in a sense, been "hijacked" by churches and pastors who themselves have relatively little knowledge about the scriptures and how they were originally understood. If you want to actually learn, talk to or read some scholarly material. You can't understand any texts written centuries ago and in different languages in our own, postmodern, individualistic, westernized mind frames. Gotta do some research. Unfortunately, people are lazy and will just accept whatever they hear or read.

I agree with you - the god you have in your mind does not exist!

Steve Wells said...

Cormack,

I'm not asking for a list of amazon books. I'd like to see links to online books, papers, or websites that interpret Lev 20:14 in the way that you claim is common among scholars (or anyone else for that matter). A book would be fine too, but you'll have to provide chapter and verse.

While we're on the subject of burning people to death, take a look at Lev 21:9.

And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.

I suppose you interpret that one the same. "She shall be burned with fire. (Her dead body, that is. Stone her to death first; then burn her.)"

And when Judah commanded that his daughter-in-law be burned in Gen 38:24 (Tamar thy daughter in law hath played the harlot; and also, behold, she is with child by whoredom. And Judah said, Bring her forth, and let her be burnt.), he probably meant it the same way too. ("Stone her to death first; then burn her.") Is that right?

Oh and it'd be really great for you to tell us why God burned to death all those people that I mentioned in my previous post. How about starting with Numbers 11:1? I'll quote it for you. (I know how much you like it when I quote scripture.)

And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

You say, "As for the verses you listed, once again, your belittling remarks are uninformed" and that "most of the reasons you listed were incorrect."

Well, I said that God burned people to death in Numbers 11:1. What was uninformed or incorrect about that?

Cormack said...

I am wary of online resources, so I gave you books like the ones I used in school. Since I used my school's library and don't own the commentaries myself, I can't provide page number. However, if you want some online sources:
http://kad.biblecommenter.com/leviticus/20.htm
http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/jamieson-fausset-brown/leviticus/leviticus-20.html

Also, I found here a response to something actually from your own "skeptic's bible" (but I haven't actually read it, so I can't attest to his credibility): http://thetheist.webs.com/atheist/burningalive.html

Same for Lev. 21:9. The verse you threw out there from Genesis 38 is different. Judah, in his anger, did demand that Tamar be burned to death (but she wasn't). This was not the law; the Law was given through Moses, and this was before Moses' time. It was just an angry impulse by Judah.

"Oh and it'd be really great for you to tell us why God burned to death all those people that I mentioned in my previous post."

I do not have to go through every single verse and try to defend them to you. Do your reading. Is it not enough that I'm even humoring you with these ones? I'll respond to your question about numbers 11:1 since you asked specifically, but I'm not going to go through the whole Bible with you. I don't have time for that, and I know you don't really care anyway. I'm not going to keep coming back here. You have some sources and I don't need to keep summarizing them for you when you can just as easily do your own research on your own time.

I did tell you in a previous comment that God himself did in fact at times consume people with fire (the Numbers verse is an example of this). God isn't another human being; this is descriptive not prescriptive. In other words, God is on a different level than we are - He created us and all the laws of the Universe. He can create and destroy (as He did with the great flood alluded to by many cultures); that's his prerogative.

As young children, we get pissed off or cry when our parents discipline us in a way we don't like. We don't always understand why they do the things they do until we become adults. Our minds are simply not mature enough to understand everything our parents do. The difference between what we (humans) can comprehend and the wisdom of God (creator) is a far greater difference even than that of child and father. God expects humans to treat one another a certain way (as ultimately revealed through Jesus), but He, being our creator, is not on the same level as other humans. He does things that seem extreme to us, and we can whine about it if we want but He has knowledge and understanding that we don't have, and He has reasons for things that are done that we cannot begin to comprehend. He created us. Everyone dies. He has every right to determine the meaning behind our deaths. In this instance, He had performed miracle after miracle to rescue the people from their abusive bondage in Egypt, gave them manna from the sky, and promised them a good land, yet they constantly complained that Egypt was better then their trip to this promised land. God put them out of their misery by killing some of them immediately, bringing them into paradise sooner than they would have, and also reminding those that were left that He is not just another human being. The rest who God didn't kill would be stuck travelling through the desert for years, complaining all along the way, and some of them would not even get to see the land anyway. They probably wished that God had just killed them in the fire as well.

At any rate, there's nothing to say that God "likes" that. In fact, there are plenty of verses that say that it grieves God when he does such things.

Perhaps the answer that the author of life also has the right to take life away when He chooses is not satisfying to you. If so, well, there's nothing I can do about that.

Steve Wells said...

I think we're finally getting somewhere, Cormack. We agree on pretty much everything now, with the exception of the interpretation of Leviticus 20:14 and 21:9.

We agree, for example, that God burned people to death for complaining in Numbers 11:1. Our only disagreement is that you think it was a fine thing for God to do and you thank him for it, whereas I think it was evil.

It's fairly obvious that we agree on God's other burn victims too(Lev 10:1-2, Num 16:35, Is 47:13-14, Dt 32:21-24, 2 Kg 1:10-12, Ezek 15:6-7, Is 24:6, 33:12), though I guess you don't have time to make long excuses for them. (God made us, so he can do whatever the hell he wants to us for whatever reason he likes -- or for no reason at all.)

The links that you provided weren't very impressive. They made the same claim that you made with exactly the same evidence as you had -- zero.

But it has been fun talking to you, and I hope you'll stick around. Heck, you can even do a guest post if you want on one of God's killings. Pick your favorite one and tell us why you like it so much.

Cormack said...

"Our only disagreement is that you think it was a fine thing for God to do and you thank him for it, whereas I think it was evil."

Lol... I don't know if it "was a fine thing" for God to do, and a lot of Christians also have a problem with it, but the relatively few examples we have of God doing things like that (perhaps a couple dozen in the whole OT, compared with the thousands and thousands of experiences of God's redemption and love, including coming to earth in the form of a human and experiencing suffering and death along with all of us) the God that we have experienced is one of love, grace, forgiveness, and redemption. Because of the overwhelming love we have experienced, we are able to acknowledge the tensions and the things that appear harsh, trusting that God has an understanding that we do not and knows what is best.

Your problem, it seems, is that you think we are entitled. You think the world revolves around you. When God creates, you take advantage of it, and when He destroys, you throw a fit. The fact is that all of us deserve to die... Everyone who continues to LIVE after the any of the crap they do is being shown grace by God, in spite of the utmost arrogance and self-righteousness of people. When people die, that is fair. When people live after all the crap they've done, that is a grace they don't deserve. Yet, it's our job to love one another (the example God gave for mankind through Jesus) because it's God's job, not ours, to judge or punish. (A fact that was different for the nation of Israel, who God intended first to reveal his power and holiness through.) You also think this life is all there is, when in fact it's nothing compared to eternity. So of course you're going to be pissed off when your sense of entitlement to it is threatened.

"The links that you provided weren't very impressive. They made the same claim that you made with exactly the same evidence as you had -- zero." That's why you've got to read a book, bro. These people spend their whole damn lives studying this stuff, and after a cursory glance at some stuff on the internet, you're going to say you know better?? How blatantly arrogant. If you want "evidence", don't look online - go read a commentary, lazy ass. Or better yet, learn Hebrew so you can read the ACTUAL text in Leviticus yourself.

Steve Wells said...

Cormack,

I don't know if it "was a fine thing" for God to do.

So you think it was not a fine thing to do? You think it was wrong for God to burn people to death as he did in the 8 or so passages that I cited?

Hurray! We agree again. (God, I love it when you and I agree, Cormack.)

If we could just get that stoning/burning issue resolved, we'd agree on pretty much everything. But I guess we can leave it at that. You think that God told people to stone people to death and then burn their dead bodies in Lev 20:14 and 21:9 and I think he told them to do what these verses actually say to do: Burn them (alive). Either way, it's a horrible death; one you might expect from a Taliban god, but not from a good one.

Oh well, it's your god. I guess you're stuck with him.

Unknown said...

To say that the Bible is inspired and useful is not the same as saying it is correct in every detail. Since the Scriptures were copied by human (non-inspired) hands and by some self-interested parties it is unreasonable to assume that everything must be exactly correct. I think people have the word inspired mixed up with Dictated By. A poet or painter may be inspired by a sunset or a lover, a lawyer dictates a letter to a secretary. The painting and the poem are not expected to be exact replicas, otherwise we wouldn't call them inspired. The letter typed by the secretary is not inspired, and is therefore expected to be 100% accurate. Inspiration and accuracy are not only distinct, they can never, by nature, be found in the same place.

Ajrote Jboy said...

Hi Steve!

Here's some things to think about in sort of a broad reference to all of the questions your asking.

It says in scripture that God is both a loving God, and a just God. He created the heavens and the earth. He is the Alpha and omega and every knee will bow one day knowing Jesus is Lord.


I'm saying this to give a bit of background as to why some of these commands, as you said, are very brutal, there is a key thing to understand here.

We are alive because of God. And God created man so that we may have a beautiful, eternal relationship with him. But because of our Sin, God required Sacrifices to cleanse people of Sin in the OT. Our sacrifice today is Christ Jesus, which is why the Cross is so significant. Today there is no more need for a sacrifice, because the blood of Jesus is enough. That is just to demonstrate that while the OT is still relevant and useful today for learning and understanding how things unfolded, the law of the OT was created for a people who did not yet have their savior.


This brings me to a reason for such commands as you've talked about in Lev. This Loving, Just God knows how sin is like a disease, and can spread and cause disaster among people. In a world in which Jesus hadn't died for their sins yet, sinning had consequences. You see we all deserve death for our Sin. None of us have any right to enter the kingdom of God apart from the Grace of Jesus Christ.

Are these commands brutal? Answer: Yes

The point is God is showing just how incredibly devastating sin is in our life. (not because of the commands He gave as consequences of this sin, but because of how it separates His people from Him)


Now I'm sure this may still not be a completely satisfying answer. I really cant say I went to seminary or have done a lot of research about the OT. Nor am I saying I understand God's ways and reasoning.

But I just thought I would shoot my thoughts about this. just to let you know not every Christian is blindsided into just believing the Bible or not open to correction. There are plenty of valid, logical reasons to believe that this is the Word of God. I have yet to hear of a good explanation to it not being it.

I hope this was at least somewhat helpful.

Have a great night Steve,

-J

Cormack said...

J, no point trying to reason with Steve. He asks Christians questions but then ignores their answers because they are Christians. He won't even study serious books about the questions he's asking by people who have dedicated their professional lives to studying Hebrew and Jewish religious history, simply because they are religious themselves. It's utterly meaningless to attempt to engage with Steve, imho. If he really wants to find the answers, he could study the resources himself. But clearly he doesn't; he just wants to fume.

Bhikkhu Ananda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bhikkhu Ananda said...

Isn't it amazing how long the almighty needed to come up with the solution, 'Jeeesus'? I am also surprised how many times believers give examples from human actions to explain the actions and motives of the almighty... so, they compare themselves with an almighty being. How arrogant, how stupid. There is no need to discuss with people so deranged. They rely on a mix of half-truths and self-delusion. Do they even have the slightest idea what death by stoning means? Of what do people die in stoning? It is also called death by torture and it is one of the most evil and defiled ways to kill a living being! And your almighty is just? What about sodomy: "The punishment of death, which was to be inflicted in all these cases upon both the criminals, and also upon the beast that had been abused" (http://kad.biblecommenter.com/leviticus/20.htm).... ***and also upon the beast that had been abused*** what justice is that? Punishing a beast? Punishing a victim, the one that had been abused? This is plainly evil!

Cormack said...

You don't do a great job at appearing credible when you interpret texts written thousands of years ago, in a language very different from yours and a culture very different from your own, in a face-valid, postmodern way. You clearly don't yet have the knowledge to interpret such ancient texts with any shred of literary authority. This blog is just a place to let off some steam about a very shallow understanding of religion. You'll notice that anyone with much actual understanding about this stuff doesn't even bother arguing with anyone here after a while. Even I've given up on that.

Steve Wells said...

Welcome back, Cormac!

(For a good time read Cormac's defense of Deuteronomy 13:6-10.) Cormac, you see, has "much actual understanding about this stuff."

darchaf said...

I recently studied this contradiction, and have found that in fact these two people mentioned are NOT the same.

2 Sam 23:8 "Josheb-basshebeth the tahchemonite was chief of the officers. (also translated as "The Three") He wielded his spsear agains 800 [men] he killed at one time"

1 Chron 11:11 " Jashobean son of Hachmoni, chief of the Thirty... wielded his spear against 300 and killed them at one time"


- Jashobean was chief of the Thirty, which were according to 1 chron 11:15 "The thirty chief men". So if we are to take the verse literally in a straightforward manner, Jashobeam was the head of the Thirty Chiefs.

- 2 Sam 23:8 states the word "Officers" which can also be translated from Hebrew as "The Three". When reading further into 2 sam 23 (verses 29 on), the author mentions two other great fighting men before moving into a story about David, thus showing us that Josheb-basshebeth, Eleazar (2 sam 23:9) and Shammah (2 Sam 23:11) were "The Three", who according to 2 Sam 23:13 were "3 of 30 leading warriors".

MAJOR CONFUSION:
- Josheb-basshebeth led "the Three", which were the best of David's warriors;
WHEREAS
- Jashobean was the Chief of the THIRTY

Thus, Josheb-basshebeth and Jashobean must have been different people and this is not a contradiciton.

Steve Wells said...

@darchaf,

So the Oxford Annotated Bible is wrong then and the chief of David's three killed both 300 and 800 men at one time with a spear.

In any case, it's an inspiring, if somewhat unbelievable, story.

anonymous said...

Thank you so much Cormack. I learned plenty from reading your comments. I believe I read other comments from you on some other blog. I need to study the bible and do my own *thorough* research. Thank you for the links. G*d bless you in all that you do. Also, do you have your own blog or website?

Cormack said...

Thanks, I'm glad others can see the importance of studying and the need to take into account all the factors of context before jumping to conclusions. I don't have a blog; I did a while back but unfortunately I don't have time to write these days outside of grad school. I'd be glad to talk though; all my accounts on other websites, and my e-mail address, are pretty straightforward (I have a pretty unique name apparently) so you can find me if you'd like to continue a conversation.

benJephunneh said...

Too easy, sir.

In my Bible, which doesn't use the Masoretic Text as its source for the Old Testament as the KJV, NIV, and RSV do, it has the following:

2 Sam 23:8:
"These are the names of David's worthies.
"Jebosthe, the Chananite, a chief of the third rank, who is also called Adinon the Asonite. This man drew his sword against eight hundred warriors at one time."

1 Chron. 11:11:
"And this is the number of David's worthies. Jesebada son of Achaman, the first of thirty. He drew his sword once against three hundred men who were slain at one time."

Note the different names and their different positions in the ranks. I needn't belabor the point that this isn't a contradiction *in my Bible*. Obviously, we're at the mercy of the translators if we're unable to translate it ourselves, in which case we can be misled, just as much as a translation of any book can lead to difficulty.

Integrated Combative Concepts said...

Let's get to the truly ridiculous part- one man stands with a spear against 800 men in one event and slays them all? I have studied Martial Arts for 38+ years. In all my time, not even the best fighters or teachers whom have studied and trained most of their life and have done so under rigorous testing could hold their own, even with a spear against 8 trained men, much less 80, or 800! What utter bullshit! 800 men could swarm any man with a spear (although they may take some injuries or some be killed) those 800 men would get that spear-wielder. If the Bible is to be believed on this, then why was there a need for an Army...as just ten spirit juiced men could wipe out enemies numbering close to 100,00'! The point here is there is no Logic nor Reason whatsoever from the beginning to the end of the Bible. Modern day folks that should know better, but still believe this crap do so out of fear of being singled out by their fellow believers and they do the same so the myths just keep getting perpetrated over and over as the masses just grow more and more ignorant...yet there is light to be seen over the horizon as more and more break from these ridiculous traditions...however it may be too late as so much damage has already been done to this World, Religion seems to be breaking of into deadlier strains each and every day.

John Y. said...

I have nothing to contribute, other than to say thank you: To Cormack, for some great reading. To Steve, for being the catalyst by which they happened. I pray you'll join us one day brother.

Chris Miller said...

To Cormack (and also Ajrote, John Y., and the rest of his cheering section):

You seem to misunderstand where the burden of proof lies here, and as a result your attitude is rather condescending and offputting. You seem to think you don't have to "try to defend" every single verse to skeptics, and that you're "humoring" Steve and his readers by bothering to explain even as much as you do.

This is, perhaps, understandable in light of your clear (and self-proclaimed) training in Christian apologetics, a discipline full of finely-honed techniques for getting people to believe unspeakably irrational things while rejecting logic, evidence, and basic ethical principles. It inverts your worldview.

But the fact is, the burden is all on your shoulders. You're the one making the extraordinary claims here, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

After all, there are two possible approaches to a book like the Bible: 1) This is all a bunch of bronze-age mythology; the "God" character at the center of it is obviously fictional; and it has nothing of value to offer by way of truth claims about either the physical universe or human behavior. Occam's Razor pretty much compels that approach, but if, as an alternative, 2) just for the sake of argument we accept the proposition that "God" exists, then his defenders have a whole lot of explaining to do to justify why anyone should accept him as anything other than petty, irrational, and monstrous.

So that's your burden to bear. As a believer, it falls to you to explain why God has an understanding of law, morality, and science that is precisely as sophisticated as that of bronze-age goatherders, and not one bit more; and, concomitantly, why anyone today should give him any attention whatsoever, much less obedience or worship.

Props to you, at least, for acknowledging that the Bible is a human-written, error-ridden document, and that morality is not universal across all times and places; those two concessions are a lot more than most self-proclaimed Christians are willing to make. However, neither one of them does anything to bolster your claims about God. Yet instead of approaching the task with humility and careful reasoning, you pile one implausibility on top of another, until the end result is utterly absurd, an insult to any intelligent reader.

You speak of God as creator of the universe, of life, and of humanity, a project he undertook (per Ajrote) so that we could "have a beautiful, eternal relationship with him" (was he lonely?). In your words, he wanted us to enjoy love, peace, and joy.

Yet how did he pursue these ends? Answer: in the most indirect and convoluted way imaginable, through means virtually guaranteed to confuse and alienate people rather than win them over.

First of all, he waited millions (or if you're a creationist, thousands) of years before "revealing" himself. Then he did so only to one family of itinerant herdsmen in one barely civilized corner of the planet (which you handwave away with a "for whatever reason"), and through them sets up a nation on which he imposed a "covenant" (basically a one-sided contract of adhesion) full of obscure laws that even you admit were so burdensome that even his chosen people never succeeded at obeying them consistently.

All this he did despite wanting (you say) to reveal himself to "the surrounding nations" (apparently other continents didn't count) as the One True God. But it's really never clear why he's such a ruthlessly jealous being in the first place, insisting on such strict obedience and worship. You say "it is wrong to disobey God" — indeed, disobeying God is the very definition of "sin" — but you admit that you can't explain why. He has his reasons, he has "knowledge and understanding that we don't have," so we just have to take him at face value.

(continued...)

Chris Miller said...

(part 2)

Why were his laws so burdensome? So his chosen people would stand out to nonbelievers. And what was his approach to "revealing" himself to those nonbelievers? Why, to have his chosen people defeat them in battle. Yeah, because *that'll* always win people over. Conquered populations are always quick and happy to adopt the belief systems of their conquerors, right?

Did it ever occur to God to just try, y'know, *talking* to them? Maybe revealing himself to everybody at once? Maybe offering a set of rules that was consistent for everybody and that actually made some moral sense instead of being insanely burdensome and unforgiving? Maybe that way he could've gotten to all the "love and peace" without so much hatred and bloodshed along the way.

Why wouldn't a loving, omnipotent, omniscient God have granted all humanity (never mind just a tiny subgroup) some actual helpful wisdom, like, say, the germ theory of disease or Newtonian mechanics? Why not try mentioning the whole "love thy neighbor" thing up front and making it clear that slavery wasn't cool, rather than dictating the exact opposite for so many centuries? None of that would've interfered with "free will" at all; it would've just enhanced his credibility and improved quality of life all around.

But that wasn't his approach, and we are not to question his ineffable plan. Because of all that "knowledge and understanding"... none of which is actually in evidence in the Bible. In fact, we actually understand a *lot* more now about the physical world, human behavior, and moral philosophy than anybody could possibly glean from the Bible, which is limited to the preconceptions of those abovementioned goatherders.

But none of that matters because the old rules don't apply today anyway, you say, because "all was fulfilled" by Jesus. That phrase is about as opaque as it's possible to get — what does it even mean for a law to be "fulfilled"? — and the notion that "God requires sacrifices to cleanse people of sin" (as Ajrote reminds us) has never made a lick of sense either. and reflects nothing but sheer bloodthirstiness.

Yet despite all this, you insist that "the author of life also has the right to take life away when he chooses"... that's "his prerogative." (You say this right after analogizing him to a loving parent, yet this is a right no parent would ever assert.) And if this is "not satisfying to us" then "there's nothing [you] can do about that."

Well, if there's nothing you can do, then you've failed at your entire mission here, because justifying that kind of behavior was the entire thing you were setting out to do.

The fact is, we owe no obligation to any alleged "creator" (any more than a child does to parents; the moral obligations flow the other way!), and nobody simply "deserves to die"; on the contrary, we are indeed "entitled" (as you put it) to certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If God actually existed, and tried to stand in the way of those rights, then God would be deserving of nothing but contempt. Simple as that.

Cormack said...

Chris Miller:

I am aware of the burden of proof, and I am aware I can't prove the existence of God to any of you; that was never my purpose. Scientific theories and methods were constructed by us for the purpose of understanding the world we live in, and I value it for that purpose. Our concept of "proof" has developed within this framework and therefore can only function within this same framework. We can learn amazing things about the natural, physical world using the scientific method, but it can tell us nothing about the existence of things outside the natural, physical world, if indeed such things do exist.

If someone is looking for a conversation about how to prove the existence of a God, they should look elsewhere because I have no intention of doing so. Like most everything else in the philosophical realms, both parties have to start at a place of some agreement before any meaningful conversation can occur.

If one wishes to challenge the way a group or individual understands God, there can be no meaningful conversation unless both parties BEGIN with the assumption that a God of some kind does indeed exist (at least for the sake of argument). If one is asked to essentially "prove God", then the conversation is no longer about the character of God or any Biblical understanding about God, because that individual has essentially "begged the question". The Biblical writers believed in God, so in order to engage with their material one must grant that idea from the get-go.

One of my original purposes was, as you pointed out, to provide some justification for the Biblical concept of God. I stopped caring to do so for a number of reasons, but mostly because it has become apparent that this is clearly not the forum to go in order to engage with those who are seriously interested in such conversations. The information is out there already, and I have explained where someone can find such material, but no one has cared to do so. I prefer to spend my time instead engaging with individuals on forums or blogs where they are serious about having such a conversation rather than simply venting or airing their own justifications for disbelief, which I've found to be uninformed in the very areas this blog seeks to create dialogue about.

Cormack said...

Chris:

Now about your "two approaches to a book like the Bible".
1) Mythology; the "God" character at the center of it is fictional (though even if this is the case, it can be easily argued that it still does hold value on a number of different levels),
2) God does exist and defenders are challenged to justify why anyone should accept him as, basically, "good".

For the second one, there is already a wealth of good information out there; books and books written by those who defend the concept of the Biblical God who are far smarter, more intelligent, more learned, who know more languages and have more degrees on more topics than anyone here. Serious engagement requires serious reading (another recommendation would be any book about Judeo-Christian scriptures by N.T. Wright, a leading theologian well-respected by almost every other scholar in his field(s), religious and non-religious alike).

Cormack said...

(2)

To address some of your other points:
"First of all, he waited millions (or if you're a creationist, thousands) of years before 'revealing' himself." Actually, the earliest recorded history suggests that God had already revealed himself to us to some degree. And if we can learn anything about God by looking at nature, it would be that God is someone/something who values time and process; revealing things to us at times appropriate to history.

You poke fun at the Judaic belief that God had helped them in battle as a way of "revealing himself" to surrounding nations. The revelation was not simply in the victory (and they clearly failed to win many of their battles) but in what that victory meant. The people would have been wiped out by other nations if they did not succeed in battle, and that would have meant that the things God promised them would have been clearly wrong. The fact that God's promises to them were not wrong (in spite of overwhelming odds at times and even situations requiring miracles), however, would demonstrate to the surrounding nations that this God was, in fact, real. This is how the world worked back then; the God with the most respect would be the one whose prophecies came true. "Did it ever occur to God to just try, y'know, *talking* to them?" That's precisely what God did; God talked not only to the Hebrew prophets but some of those in other nations as well. Why didn't God "talk" to everyone at once, all at the same time? For that matter, why didn't God just reveal himself from the very beginning? (Oh wait, the Biblical God did...) Well why didn't God do it again, for everyone else as they reached an age where their brains would be capable of understanding? Why didn't God reveal himself to everyone else later on in history? Should God reveal himself to every single person, and if so, how, and at what age, etc. Would it have really stopped wars? It is obviously a very complicated topic, and it has been discussed at length in theological literature that you would seek out if you were serious enough. My simple suggestion is that God ultimately is one who respects what you said we are "entitled" to have: Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. (I would argue life isn't something we are "entitled" to except to the degree that it is given to us, but that we certainly aren't inherently entitled to take it away from others.) God respects the liberty humankind has to make choices and decisions, and to think and presume we know better, to seek what we believe will make us happy even if it means ultimately denying the Creator or hurting one another. You said yourself that if God actually existed and tried to stand in the way of those rights, then God would be deserving of nothing but contempt. And God doesn't stand in the way of our "rights" - as horrible as that has turned out to be for many of us. Instead God (who is inherently outside of the system of rules/laws that govern us) modeled for us the way we SHOULD treat one another when God in some sense became human, like we are. God as a creator is inherently outside our bounds, but God as human would be expected to follow the same moral code God expects of us, and (in the Biblical canon, whose framework for God we are talking about) Jesus DID do that.

Lettie131 said...

@teavee
@Steve Wells
I have not read ALL the comments. Just coming to the conversation fresh. So in answer to the Genesis 8:4/5 question...they are both correct!
Sound stupid? Think scientifically.
Water covers the whole earth.
Wooden boat floats.
Many animals and food etc on board weigh it down.
Several feet of the boat (hands if you want to use biblical language) are beneath the water.
Rain stops.
Winds blow.
Water evaporates.
Tops of mountain hit bottom of boat.
Boat stuck up a mountain.
Mountain tops still not seen.
More winds blow.
More water evaporates.
Mountain tops can now be seen.

So where is this contradiction?
Let's not be brainless when we read the bible!

Lettie131 said...

The bible is many books (66), written by many different people (some of the books are compilations by many writers like Psalms and Proverbs), over more than 4000 years. Some will have used historical books of the times for getting the "correct" numbers in their writing, but that all depends on who wrote these history books. We know from recent history that depending on the side the historian took you will get different answers! Look at the history from Macabee and Josephus to see what I mean

Buddha Amitabha & Western Pure Land said...
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Cloud Hermit said...
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Cloud Hermit said...

1) How come the Almighty and Omnipotent God cannot prevent good Christians and young innocent good Christian kids from dying young, including from accidents and crimes, if He were so omnipotent, almighty, and powerful? (Newtown shooting, CT, US, Sandy Hook Elementary, 12/24/2012). How can I trust the Almighty and Omnipotent God to protect my young innocent children, my family, and my loved ones? Jesus and the Holy Spirit did not (decide to) stop or thwart the shooting deaths neither. Or maybe they are just not omnipotent, almighty, and all-powerful after-all, or maybe they just don't really care that much. They don't really care if your kids just die.

‎2) How come God just sits in heaven and enjoys paradise while all of us humans have to suffer the unjust and unfortunate miseries and sufferings of life? These sufferings are very real to us. A lot of good Christians die young in accidents and robberies. This God appears nonchalant, arrogant, and unjust. Was He bored or lonely? He created humans and doomed like half of them to hell. (The word "half" here is used figuratively speaking - a figure of speech - it is not used to refer to an exact quantity value but refer to the non-Christians).

3) Why do we have to pay for the sins of Adam and Eve; I didn't eat that apple? Where is the logic and fairness from God?

4) Why does God create people and then predestined some of them to hell to burn for eternity? Why did God create us in the first place? Well, He created us and let half of us doomed to hell by His predestination. When He created us, He already know we won't choose Him and will burn in Hell for eternity. What fun logic...? What a nice father... He created non-Christians just so He can watch creations be burnt in hell for eternity.

5) How come a law-abiding atheist or homosexual who lives a secular philanthropic and humanitarian life is condemned to hell if s/he does not accept Christ, while a prison inmate who had committed murders, killed cops, and raped many children (with lifelong PTS on the children) can still go to heaven by mere repentance at death-chair, however sincere the repentance was?

‎6) If God were so powerful, why does He allow all the natural disasters like the plagues (like the black death in the medieval times), earthquakes, tsunami's, Newtown shooting, etc., to occur, and so many innocent children died? How can I trust the Almighty and Omnipotent God to protect my children, my family, and my loved ones?

‎7) If God were perfect, why did he fail to create a better but defective angel Satan (the Devil) who has caused a lot of problems?

‎8) God cannot be said to be omnipotent if He cannot dictate humans' choices. If He can by predestination and divine force, how is that humans have free will? There is no logical answer to this Christian beliefs of free will and predestination that can make any logical sense. And why is God not intervening to save innocent children's deaths everyday around the world and in the third-world countries? If he intervenes where is the free will? If God is truly compassionate, why did He need to test men?

9) If God is truly compassionate, why did He need to test men? If I were God, I would do everything to prevent men from falling into hell, whether they worship me or not. But no, God needs to be validated by His creation to fill his ego, his vanity, his void, his need. God needs to be worshipped, and Jesus needs to be validated as a "Saviour" or else He won't save you. What EGOS are these... How needy are these beings... So limited and conditional a religion. Isn't that kinda needy for a "God" and very demanding for a "Saviour" to ask of puny men? How is this God unconditional at all...? What about the phrase "unconditional love" that even ordinary humans can understand and do...?

Cloud Hermit said...

10) Please don't give me the analogy of "God is the Father hence He knows better." Andrea Yates, Case Anthony, and many other "parents" made no sense and murdered their own children. What makes you think God is any better other than the indoctrination you lazily accept from church that God is the "perfect" parent, Creator. Who can prove that? Look at the mess on Earth. (Some says humans made the mess; oh well, God made the humans...)

11) It is shallow that a lot of Christians know nothing about other religions but label them as "Satanic" or false idol-worship. How can you review a novel if you have not read the novel. Similarly, how can a Christian judge other religions when s/he knows nothing in-depth about other religions? It is a sign of lack of education and of blind ignorance. These Christians are most annoying - not to mention I see statues of idols of Jesus and Mary everywhere. Isn't that idol-worshipping!?

12) Where did all the people before Christ go? Hell? The ancient civilizations of the Chinese, Aztecs, Indians, Native Americans, etc., for the history of mankind, all these and a lot of cultures and civilizations had not encountered Christ and millions and millions of them died. Are they in hell now since they did not proclaim Christ as the ONLY Savior?

13) Why did God create humans? Was He lonely? Half of His creation are damned to Hell to suffer real pain. He is not good with creating stuff. Just look at the mess on Earth; everyday massive people suffers agonies because God wants us to.

14) God created men in His image. Men are imperfect. God must also be imperfect. Also, if God is so perfect, why didn't he have the ability or wisdom to create more perfect or better men. The thought of a God creating men and then with no good sound fair reason make half of them to suffer hell-fire for eternity (God shouldn't have create in the first place) - the thought of such God watching half of his creation (-children-) suffering is just appalling. Also, Kids are born in third-world countries everyday and die from hunger everyday, and I don't see God do a thing about it. This God is supposedly merciful and compassionate; you must be kidding me?

Most Christians live in the lazy fallacious mind-set that "I am still alive hence God is good." Well, the good but dead Christians have no voice anymore to ask, "God I had been pure (I am a kid) why am I dead?"

15). How come God allowed Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting to happen on 12/24/2012 (Newtown, CT, USA)? If God were omnipotent, why did He not prevent it? If God is really almighty and all-powerful (omnipotent), why did He not stop the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took 20 children's lives (and 6 adult teaching staff)... He could easily prevented it if He were all-powerful, but He did not stop it. The children were young and innocent Christians from a Christian town of Christian families. God did not stop it. How can I trust God to protect my loved ones or my children.

Cloud Hermit said...

Why is it that there is so much confusion and contradictions in the Bible to make me have doubts? I think God wants me to burn in hell for eternity. God likes to watch people burn and die and not do a thing.

I heard somewhere saying that God is like a kid with an ant farm. He lights matches and burns ants for pure fun fancy.

Cloud Hermit said...
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Cloud Hermit said...

I think I am one of them that when God created me, He already decided that I am going to burn in hell anyways when he made me. He wanted to watch me be an atheist and damned by Christians. Predestination and fate.

After all, God's probably bored in heaven watch people sing and dance, I mean, I would too. It's fun for Him to make some people to burn in hell, to watch people burn in hell, and not do a thing about it. God likes to watch his creation, his children burn. It is the ultimate show of "omnipotence" to see your own creation/children burn. This is called real power. Almost no one in this Earth has that kind of power.

Hold on... wait a minute, God sounds kinda like the Devil to me now... putting him this way.

Oh No! This is confusing. Bible, the Devil-God.

Cormack said...

Cloud, if you REALLY wanted to find answers to some of those questions, you wouldn't be looking for them on an anti-Christian blog, you would study several works by Old/New Testament scholars or Theology doctors. (I've mentioned where you might start in one of my previous posts.) No, you're just here to vent on the ridiculousness of the Sunday-School God you've been taught about growing up. You don't really care about answering those questions (indeed, you probably believe they can't be answered, but that reflects a very concrete, shallow conceptual understanding). Suffice to say, the God you are talking about is not the God I believe in either.

Cloud Hermit said...

There are no historical accounts of “Jesus”, there are only a handful of historical accounts of “Christ”, after his death, but “Christ” is not a name, “Christ” is a title. Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, which is a title meaning "The Anointed One".

The name Jesus is also Greek. If Christ existed he would not be named Jesus, as there’s no J in the Hebrew alphabet.

The name Jesus stems from the Greek God Zeus. This is why Mexicans call Jesus, HaZeus. So when you pray to Jesus, you are praying to Zeus. The name YH-Zeus comes from merging the Jewish god YHVH and the Greco-Roman god Zeus. In comparison the popular first century Egyptian god, Serapis, was the result of merging the gods Osiris and Apis. The English "Jesus" comes from the Latin transliteration of the Greek name into the Latin Iesus. Now Greek has no "y" sound, but the Latin "i" is both an "i" and a "j".

Thus YHWH becomes YH-Zeus,which becomes Hazeus, which becomes Iesus, which becomes Jesus.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth, thus becomes, “the anointed Yh-Zeus of Nazareth”.

Also the story of Jesus was heavily influenced by Re-Harmakhis(Ra-Horus at the horizon), as well as other Pagan religions. Christianity at its core is a perversion of Atenism.

Cloud Hermit said...

Horus (Hor) was a sky and solar god and was one of the oldest gods in the Nile Valley.

Mary comes from the Egyptian word "Meri" meaning "beloved". Isis's title was the beloved, making her name, Isis-Meri. Isis stood for motherhood, love, magic, children, medicine and peace. Isis was Horus's mother.

Horus's father was Osiris. Osiris was king of the afterlife and originally a god of agriculture and nature. He was the chief judge in the court in the Underworld, where all the dead citizens were trying to come through to Paradise.

The "Myth of Osiris" is about his death (murdered by his brother Set) and resurrection.

Set was a god of storms and disorder from Upper Egypt.

In the Myth of Osiris, Set killed Osiris out of envy. Isis asked the sun god Ra to resurrect Osiris. Osiris was resurrected for 1 day. In that one day Osiris impregnated Isis, in which she gave birth to Horus, in a cave. Set took the form of a snake and bit Horus attempting to kill him, but the God of wisdom, Thoth, saved Horus. Isis hid Horus until he was fully grown. When Horus was full grown he searched for Set, in order to avenge his father’s murder.

By fighting Set who had killed his father Osiris, Horus defeated all evilness in the world (symbolically).

Re (Ra) was the solar god and a major deity all over Egypt. He stood for the rising sun, life, rebirth, children, health, virility, and ect.

Horus was often fused with Ra to create Re-Horakhte. Horus was also seen as a manifestation of Ra.

Cloud Hermit said...

Re-Horakhte, meaning "Re-Horus at the horizon" was a combination of the sun god Re from Lower Egypt and Horakhty who was an aspect of Horus from Upper Egypt.

From Re-Horakte, we get the story of the birth, death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We also get the holy Trinity, the devil, and salvation.

Around 1340 BC, the pharaoh Amenhotep IV declared that just a single deity should be worshipped, named Aten. Unlike other Gods, Aten had no human form. Aten was praised mainly by hymns, poems and offerings of fruit and flowers.

In one of the Hymns to Aten, in the 14th century BC, it sings about a trinity, with Re, Aten, and Ptah.

Ptah was the creator god, and was called "The First of Gods". He was the patron of all craftsmen especially the smiths. Among some other gods he was creator of mankind, and could create life by just using words. He stood for good moral and order. He was said to have created Atum, and thus was responsible for creation of the World.

Atum, meaning "The Completed One" was a creator god and was the first to rise from the water Nun at the dawn of time. He created everything and thus became the first god on earth. His body was considered the parts of all physical matter. Atum was also a aspect of Re, just as Horakhte was an aspect of Horus.Mostly Atum was depicted as a man.

Cloud Hermit said...

Ptah thus is the creator.
Osiris is the father
Atum is Adam
Re-Horakte is Jesus
Isis is Mary
Aten is the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore Ptah was often combined with the falcon god Sokar, to create Ptah-Sokar. By the middle kingdom, which lasted from 2055 BC to 1650 BC, Ptah-Sokar became fused with Osiris, becoming Ptah-Sokar-Osiris.

This merges the stories of Ptah, and Osiris, further unifying the stories of Re and Horus.

Furthermore, the Christian cross comes from the Egyptian ankh, which is the symbol of life. The roman crucified people on a cross that looked like a capital T, not a lowercase t. The Christian cross is more an ankh than a crucifixion.

Cloud Hermit said...

Christianity is a perversion of the ancient Egyptian religion, which is nothing more than myth. The pope is a newer version of the Egyptian Pharaoh, and is, or at least was considered God on Earth, by canonists.

Cormack said...
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Cormack said...
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Cormack said...

(A couple typos and poor wording in my previous posts but I couldn't edit them so I decided to delete and re-post.:)

Cloud, copying and pasting the argument of one person from another website ( http://www.debate.org/debates/Resolved-Buddhism-is-more-valid-than-Christianity/1/ ) is not the same as studying the work of scholars to find the answers to your questions. Again, you don't really want your questions answered or don't believe any answers exist.

A Christlike understanding of God is that there is one God, who has connected in various ways to different peoples and cultures all throughout time and history. God, the creator, has been know in varying degrees by cultures all around the world, though knowledge of God is often perverted by religion (no matter what the religion). So of course there is overlap with other religions. However, there are unique inferences that can be made about much of the NT writing that set it apart from other religious texts at the time and contribute to its sincerity and validity on certain levels. This you would understand if you studied the work of biblical scholars. There are works from Christian and non-Christian biblical scholars for you to study, but I don't believe you will because you've demonstrated you don't REALLY want answers or don't really care.

Books have been written; I can't respond to your questions in a forum like this without oversimplifying, so if the answers to those questions really mattered to you, you'd pursue them in a legitimate way rather than finding outlets like this to vent your frustration.

Cloud Hermit said...

Thank you, Cormack, for your response.

Simply one out of the 15 questions not answered by you: the fact that an Omnipotent God allowing the Sandy Hook shooting of innocent children to occur is very difficult for me to swallow.

To me, for now, Christianity is just a round-about religion: people (scholars) try to prove theories with newly make-up theories, and people making changes on the Bible interpretation to fit the grim reality. Sandy Hook shooting of innocent kids is real and God/Christ/Holy-Ghost permit it to happen, with no intervention.

The Bible indicates that God is a jealous, vengeful, and wrathful God - vindictive, ruthless, and omnipotent, an iron-handed most supreme monarch ruling us with fear and by fear.

For now, I need to get away from his vengefulness, wrath, vindictiveness, massacres, and ruthless killings (of infants, children, etc.)

I will go read some Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucius texts for now.

Perhaps when the Bible OT/NT/NewNT has changed and reinvented by men enough so that God is worthy of worshipping, I will become a Christian.

For now, strictly from what you offered here, let me study karma, reincarnation, Buddha, Krishna, Socrates, Einstein, Plato, and science.

Have a great Christmas!

Cloud Hermit said...

Although I copied and pasted, I have read the argument points and agree with the arguments.

Here is also Copy and Paste:

Bible Study

GENESIS 6 & 7 Unhappy with the wickedness of man, God killed every living thing on the planet except Noah’s family. Men, women, infants and animals drowned in unimaginable terror and agony.

GENESIS 38: 8-10 – Onan was instructed by Judah to lay with his brother’s wife to produce offspring for his brother (who was put to death by God for wickedness). Onan slept with his brother’s wife but "spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother" (NIV). God found this wicked, so God killed him.

EXODUS 2:12 Moses saw an Egyptian beating up a Hebrew. He looked around, saw no witnesses, killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

EXODUS 9:10 God sent a plague of festering boils on the people and animals.

EXODUS 9:22-25 God sent a hail storm to Egypt, striking man and animal, stripping the land.

EXODUS 12: 29 God killed the first-born in every Egyptian home that wasn’t marked with lamb’s blood.

EXODUS 32:27 After seeing the golden calf, God commanded the Levites, "Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor." 3,000 were slaughtered, and God was pleased.

LEVITICUS 26:22 God warned that, if the people didn’t listen to Him, he would send wild animals to rob parents of their children, destroy cattle and leave the roads deserted.

LEVITICUS 26:27-29 God threatened hostility, punishing people for their sins "seven times over," making them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters.

NUMBERS 12:9-14 God was displeased with Miriam, so he struck her with leprosy and banished her from the camp for seven days.

NUMBERS 15:32-36 A man gathered sticks for a fire on the Sabbath. By God’s command, he was stoned to death.

NUMBERS 16:35 A fire from God killed 250 men.

NUMBER 16:48 A plague from God killed 14,700.

NUMBERS 21:6 God sent venomous snakes, which bit and killed many Israelites.

NUMBERS 25:9 A plague from God killed 24,000.

NUMBERS 31:17-18 God commanded Moses to kill all of the male Midianite children and "kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man." The virgins were presumably raped. (NOTE: How could the soldiers know which women were virgins?)

DEUTERONOMY 2:33-34 Under God’s leadership, the Israelites utterly destroyed the men, women and children of Sihon. "…we left no survivors."

DEUTERONOMY 20:13-14 God laid down the rules for battle, instructing the slaughter of all of the men. Women, children, livestock and possessions could be taken as "plunder for yourselves."

DEUTERONOMY 28:53 God’s punishment for disobedience included eating "the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you."

Cloud Hermit said...

Cormack,

I actually wanted to find answers about life, meaning, about the world, and "the truth", unlike what you believe about me. Otherwise why would I did extensive Internet research on different religions and different perspectives. If I did not want answers, why would I sat down and read the OT/NT and came up with 15 vital, essential, fundamental, important questions. I come upon this and other sites as I care to search and see both pros and cons from both sides.

Not to mean any personal insults, a lot of Christian scholars write stuff to keep their job to keep money keep coming in for themselves and their families and don't really care about the truth, whether Christianity is really true.

The Christian scholars are the ones not care anymore.

They are already "sucked in" and stuck, can't find other jobs for making a living.

And Jesus was where during his Lost Years?

These are just my opinions.

Steve Wells of this thread is a legitimate scholar to me.

Please don't let me spoil your Christmas. Merry Christmas! :-)

Cormack said...

Cloud,
Thank you for your thoughtfulness - happy holidays to you too!

This will probably be my last post for you; if you truly cared about what the biblical message is you can study it yourself from the sources who understand it best, as I have done. I understand that you may want to find answers about life... I am only suggesting that you do not really care to find answers about the actual biblical message (as understood the way they were intended to be understood when they were written). You can continue to search for your answers to life; I am only saying that unless you really study the biblical* texts, you have very poor grounds for criticizing them.

"Not to mean any personal insults, a lot of Christian scholars write stuff to keep their job to keep money keep coming in for themselves and their families and don't really care about the truth, whether Christianity is really true."
Yeah? And where did you learn about this? Did you study their lives or their work? Do counselors really want to bring emotional healing to people, or do they just want to make money? Do nurses really want to help people feel better, or keep the money coming in? Do Dentists really want to fix teeth, or just make money? There are much better ways of making money than becoming a scholar. Biblical scholars must learn languages such as ancient Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Aramaic. They study Linguistics, so they can identify the different authors' writing style to identify which books were likely written by the same people or any segments that may not have been in the original texts; they make very little money unless they publish books, which take a lot of work. There are much better and easier ways to make money, if that is all they care about. Your opinion about biblical scholars demonstrates that you have not really invested much time into learning about them. There is a variety of opinions withing the field, but I guarantee that every one of them is more informed than yours. Certainly there are a handful of scholars that are only interested in money or in their own agenda, but the fact that you believe such a blanket statement about Biblical scholars in general shows how little you have actually studied what they do.

Your impression of the Bible indicating a "wrathful, vindictive, ruthless, iron-handed monarch" who is "ruling us with fear and by fear" also suggests you have not actually studied the bible anymore than the average churchgoer or sunday-school kid (or internet blogger); your understanding of context, language, and interpretation of biblical texts is naive and overly simplistic. Again, I would urge you to actually seriously study what it is you criticize. You don't even take the texts seriously enough to read them in their cultural context.

As for the problem of evil, events like the Sandy Hook shooting are difficult for everyone to swallow. The Problem of Evil is something that all Theists have always wrestled with. For whatever reason, God has limited God's own power in order to allow us to truly have free will/volition; God has chosen for us not to be "puppets", and has respected since the beginning our God-given ability to make our own choices. It is true that we have the capability for great evil, but we
also have the ability for great good. God is constantly inspiring those who listen, to be a force of good in the world, and all of the best religions pick up on this sense (though most unfortunately distort it as well).

"Perhaps when the Bible OT/NT/NewNT has changed and reinvented by men enough so that God is worthy of worshipping, I will become a Christian."
The Bible OT/NT has not been "changed"; (though it has been translated to several languages) and will not be changed. However, the God it speaks of is one that, when the biblical message is understood, is very beautiful and worthy of worship. So if your opinion is anything different, you are probably missing the point.

Have a wonderful New Years!
-Cormack.

Cloud Hermit said...

Dear respectable Cormack,

Thank you for your time. I can see that, in your belief, you are trying to save my soul from hell. For that, I thank you for your truly genuine intention. Now, I must go back to contending your fallacious and false belief. Thank you.

If you think it is okay to have massive people and children and infants burning in hell fire in painful torture for eternity, (speaking even as of right now, in hell), and the Christians, the selected and predestined, and perhaps some of them would think to themselves, the smarter and chosen ones, are entitled to go to heaven, and from there, just watch the rest burn in hell, perhaps just watch, hopefully not rejoicing, or celebrating, and hopefully, not dancing, about that, in heaven, for eternity... Sir respectable... It is not a good picture to look up. I don't think you are a person capable of that. I think you neglect this picture of your religious belief. From your writing, I see that you have a better heart than that. Let me continue:

Cloud Hermit said...

I contend that your Christ knows nothing about love, for he had, is, and will leaving souls behind in hell in torture, in hell-fire, for eternity. A lot of LGBT and atheists are the best souls I've ever seen, and also the Hindus and Buddhists, who are non-believers of Christ or God. The religion you believe in has a god who made a very disturbing game of needless cruelty - which is what I see as the fallacy of your religion. For Jesus to teach about "love thy neighbor", but forsake countless souls in hell and hell-fire for eternity. And that, the "game gaining point" is to have faith in a god of cruelty and nonsense. Any one who sees that clear picture would think that your god should need to re-evaluate what he had done, perhaps his decision was far from perfect.

Because of your heavy indoctrination from early, let me try to clear up better in the next post, if you really want to see the truth better, unlike most Christian scholars who somehow missing the -huge- point:

Cloud Hermit said...

Perhaps I over-estimated the general Christian scholars' spiritual quotient (as in IQ, EQ, AQ, SQ). I am sorry, the general Christian scholars, you mentioned, I met, their SQ, I must say, is low. I coined SQ.

For that, I guess they are not for money, but for true faith. I apologize, sincerely, deeply, to those who are real faithful. I am sorry. Bad karma on me.

You are smart.

Let's cut to the point.

Your God decided the decisive factor is -faith-.

Faith to God, Christ, or Holy Spirit, or one or combination of the three for arguments' sake.
Even just one's enough.

You are a smart man.

I will cut to the chase.

If your God has decided the decisive factor is -goodness- or -kindness- or -self-sacrifice-,

I assure you, Christianity will spread all over the globe in less than a month, and will replace all other religions in no time.

You seem to genuinely believe in your God.

Well, for some Christians, they have an underlying deep fear of ending up in hell for not believing in God and Christ. I have that too.

But I researched extensively, including the Bible, not to your extent, but definitely enough to see clearly, unless you refute my views rightfully.

Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, gave me alternatives for afterlife.

For one. Buddha's requirement is not faith in him, but goodness.

Hinduism requirement is: devotion to virtues.

Taoism factor: devotion to good character.

I strike to your center b/c you are smart. So let's not waste your precious time coming here with good intentions to save souls among your busy time.

I want to bet that you do not know of other alternatives mentioned above, nor do you know about them in depth, nor do you know of the persecution of non-Christians by your fellow "brothers" as such as in the GOP and Tea Party initiatives.

In your religious context, they are justified, violence, justified, slavery, justified, killings, justified, rape, justified. But you missed out some key points.

The Bible premise could be wrong.

Could be, Sir.

The Buddha, Krishna, Taoist Jade Emperor, all offer good eternal afterlives.

Tell me, why should I pick Christian God over them?

If you do not response, for your gentlemen manner, I assumer you got busy with your lives and will blame God for my destiny, not you.

Meanwhile, please, in your justification, in your context which I understand, contrarily to your belief, please tone down on your persecution of non-Christians.

Our forefathers had separation of church and state, in fear of our country becoming a Christian nation, by people like GOP and Tea Party.

Hope the new year bring you to a higher self and see... more clearly.

Cloud Hermit said...

Again, I beg you sir, for mercy, that persecuting, discrimination, bullying, isolation, of non-Christians, which is apparent in America, as you must be able to see, for you are a sharp man, is prevalent.

I beg you to tell them your fellows, in that, to tone down, however, in your belief to save our souls, justified, for it goes against Jesus's teachings of love thy neighbor and fellow men.

Cloud Hermit said...

Repost (I think you deserve to read this, even though some content is repeated, to neutralize... and I'm lazy to edit out):

Theme: "Why should I pick a Jew over an Indian, or a Chinese? when the Indian and Chinese clicks with my forefathers' hidden ambitions for our country!?"



We know of IQ, EQ (emotion quotient), AQ (adversity quotient), and now I am coining SQ and RQ (spiritual and religion quotient).

With the amount of talents and minds in our country, I am shocked of our collective SQ and RQ. We are low in SQ and RQ.

After all, our forefathers told us to have separation of church and state, so our country don't turn into like a Christian nation, jeopardizing basic human rights and personal choices, technological advances, jeopardizing *free will*. Why the heck did we, our forefathers, fight for independence?

Let's cut to the point.

God decided the single most important decisive factor is -faith-.

We are talking about faith to God, to Christ, to Holy Spirit - one or a combination of the three. And for arguments' sake,
even faith to just one is enough.

We are smart Americans.

I will cut to the chase to talk about this Jew - Jesus.

If God has decided the decisive factor to heaven over hell is *goodness* or *kindness* or *self-sacrifice* - something like that...

I assure you, Christianity will spread all over the globe in less than a month, and will replace all other religions in no time to Asia and Middle East.

Well, for most Christians, we have an underlying deep fear of ending up in hell for not believing in God and Christ. I have that too, for my afterlife.

But I researched extensively of all religions and all philosophies of East and West and Middle.

Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc., gave me alternatives for afterlife.

For one. Buddha's requirement is not faith in him, but goodness.

Hinduism requirement is: devotion to virtues.

Taoism decisive factor: devotion to good character.

They have their fallacies, but extremely minuscule compared to Christianity.

In our Christian religious context, we are justified in a lot of things, in the name of saving souls, to preserve our religion, to preserve Christianity: violence, justified, slavery, justified, killings, justified, rape, justified, incest, justified, war, justified, screwing around in politics, justified.

But we missed out some key points.

The Bible written by men - the premise could be wrong.

The Jew was wrong.

The Buddha, Krishna, Taoist Jade Emperor, all offer good eternal afterlives, comparable if not better than heaven.

Why should I pick a Jew over an Indian, or a Chinese? when the Indian and Chinese clicks with my forefathers' hidden ambitions for our country!?



Cormack said...

I'm sorry, Cloud, you misunderstand me. I am not trying to "save" you from anything, and I don't even believe in the "hell" you keep bringing up. This idea of hell is not even biblical. This is an idea that has pervaded the religion of Christianity from influences such as Dante, Des Cartes, and various Greek thought and extrabiblical cultural influences. Unfortunately most of those who identify with the Christian religion buy into this idea and interpret the Bible through this lens (eisegesis), rather than actually reading and studying Biblical texts for what they were actually meant to communicate (exegesis). Remember, I am not religious and am not trying to defend Christianity as a religion. I have simply been trying to communicate to you that you have little basis for criticizing biblical texts, because you do not understand them. (And much of the fault for that is Christians'.)

"Because of your heavy indoctrination from early, let me try to clear up better in the next post, if you really want to see the truth better, unlike most Christian scholars who somehow missing the -huge- point:"

Clearly, by the picture you have painted of me, you do not understand me (and it is clear you have read very little work from biblical scholars - certainly not enough to claim that "most" scholars are apparently missing the point). I am getting ready to refrain from further discussion with you because clearly, this is less a discussion than an argument based upon prejudice and a need for you to air your own opinion. It seems clear what this is all about: You have been hurt by Christianity or are upset about doctrine you have learned from Christians (not scholars). And that is a sentiment we both share. But you do not even understand what it is you are criticizing, so what you think you are attacking is very far removed from my actual beliefs and those of many biblical scholars. And your language tells me you don't really care to try to understand what the message of the Bible ACTUALLY is, either. So I think it would be meaningless for me to continue discussing this with you.

But I will say that what "faith" saves us from is not a fiery hell, but from being disconnected or out of touch with God. Those who do not believe in God and want nothing to do with the idea of God have nothing to be saved from, do they?

God wants us to be good. This is very clear from all of history, and from spirituality all around the world in all sorts of cultures who have had some revelation from the divine. And this is clear from the life and message of Christ. But that is a given. That is not the point of salvation because God expects all of us to do that, simply because we are HUMAN. That is a HUMAN need. We are failing in our humanity when we are not practicing love for one another. The message of salvation includes this, but goes beyond; it is about our connection with the divine. We are "saved" from ourselves and are restored unto God through the life and death of Jesus for all of mankind. The reason this is not based on "doing good", as you suggest it should, is because God already expects this of us and has since the beginning, and God knows that if we are doing good simply out of fear for our eternal lives or simply because we want something out of it, WE have missed the point. Do good, not because we must to be saved, but because that is our basic human duty. But salvation is about our connection with the eternal God, and that depends less on what we do and more about how we respond to God. Because in how we respond to God, how we seek and search for God, and how we live a life of love motivated by genuine love for one another, with faith that this Love is good and will cause all to be right, it is in this that we find answers and connection with God. And Jesus is this Love. That is the message of the gospels in a (unrefined, rough, overly simplistic) nutshell.