Childlike Faith

Why is it acceptable to have childlike faith when it comes to Christianity, but we are expected to evaluate other religions with critical thinking skills?

Recently I’ve had a couple of conversations with theist bloggers that have really left a sour taste in my mouth in regards to this idea of childlike faith.

The first was a gentleman who was actively trying to proselytize to me. So I asked him “why should I believe your god and not someone else’s”  to which he would respond that Jesus was the only God to die to save the world. This of course is not accurate statement of world religions, but setting that aside, even if he was that isn’t a reason to believe Christianity over another religion. Right off the bat Islam and Judaism are going to counter that claim, so I pushed again “why should I believe Christianity over Islam.” He had two suggestions for me, first that I needed to diligently seek after (his) God, and if I did I would find him. And second that I needed to just believe, and that answers would come later.

Now I live in a major US city and work for a large university. I encounter many people of differing religious beliefs on a daily basis. If I treated every religion the way this individual wanted me to treat Christianity, basically sans any critical thinking skills, I would be changing my religion more than a freshman changed majors. Somehow I don’t think he would be supportive if I “just accepted” Christianity today and “just accepted” Islam tomorrow.

So this whole concept of “childlike faith” seems, well childish. But apparently you can’t get into heaven without it according to Matthew 18:3. I don’t understand why this doesn’t offend more Christians. After all, we convince children that a fat man in a red suit can fly around the world in a single night delivering toys created by elves in a workshop at the North Pole, squeezing down non existent chimneys all along the way. Children are, in effect, stupid. No disparagement is meant, they just lack the critical thinking skills to evaluate information effectively.  And this is how Jesus wants you to be or you can’t go to heaven. This seems incredibly insulting to me, does anyone else feel this way?

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The Absence of Evidence

Christians have a problem. Their problem is much of their 100 percent accurate Bible does not have the evidence to definitively prove, or even support that the Bible is 100 percent accurate. A favorite counter of apologists though is “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Which is logically true, but let’s examine that a little bit deeper.

While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, the absence of evidence can lead us to make fairly accurate predictions. Take sloths for instance, I have no evidence that a 5 toed sloth does not exist. What I have is good evidence that every sloth species that we are currently aware of either alive today or extinct have been either 2 toed sloths or 3 toed sloths. Now it is entirely possible tomorrow some biologist in Costa Rica, or some paleontologist in Canada might discover a 5 toed sloth either a single mutated individual or an entirely new species, at which point I would need to reevaluate my views on the subject. For the time being however, I am very comfortable stating 5 toed sloths do not exist because all available evidence points in that direction. In light of the available evidence, the absence of evidence provides no reason for me to believe in the claim that a 5 toed sloth exists.

Let’s apply this to the Bible. When examining the Bible as an historical text (that is a text from history, not a history textbook) it is the position of mainstream scholars of all faiths that the exodus story, as well as its leader Moses are both fictional. We have zero archeological evidence to suggest that 2-3 million Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt, that the ten plagues happened, that 2-3 million Jews wondered around a relatively small desert for 40 years, or that a Canaanite conquest ever happened, and if it did, definitely not in the scale proclaimed in the Bible. That’s four events that include any number of smaller details that should be attested through archeology and other historical analysis. Only one needs to be untrue for the inerrancy of the Bible to be shatter and the entire foundation of Judaism and therefore Christianity to come crashing down like a house of cards, and we have zero evidence to confirm any of it. Now again, just because evidence hasn’t been found yet doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen, new evidence could always be found tomorrow. However, the fact that experience tells us that the events as described in the Bible would leave behind a mountain of positive evidence, and the fact that we have searched for decades and have been unable to uncover any evidence to suggest the exodus story, as described Biblically, is accurate, the absence of evidence here is incredible suspicious and we can with a high degree of confidence conclude that the exodus story is in fact fictional.

Furthermore, we do have positive evidence of much smaller nomadic tribes living in Canaan worshiping a tribal storm god named Yahweh as part of a larger Canaanite pantheon during the time period 2-3 million Jews should have been wondering around in the desert, which makes the lack of evidence for 2-3 million Jews running around the desert even more suspicious and suggests a different development of the Judaism religion/culture, and consequently Christian tradition thanthe development described in the Bible. So the fact that we do have evidence for smaller nomadic tribes but no evidence for the 2-3 million Jews, we can again, with a high degree of confidence conclude that the Biblical exodus story is not historically accurate. 

I would even go so far as to say that if the Bible did not exist the historical and archaeological evidence produced in the past 200 years would never lead us to entertain such stories as remotely plausible. And since part of the circular reasoning of Christianity is “The Bible is 100 percent accurate because God exists, and because the Bible is 100 percent accurate we know that God exists,” the Bible being wrong, doesn’t necessarily prove that a god doesn’t exist or even necessarily that the God of the Bible doesn’t exist, but it does require a serious recalibration in Christian thinking.

The Cliché of Magical Fruit

My favorite part of the Bible is when God damns all of humankind to eternal torment in Hell for the actions of two people who failed to live of to his ideals of good and evil, when God is the one who locked up all knowledge of good and evil, and therefore any possibility Adam and Eve could live up to those ideals, in a piece of fruit.

The real crime here is God imbued a piece of fruit (well, a tree to be fair) with magical powers.  Whenever someone gets the bright idea to imbue an inanimate object with their magic it always comes back to bite them. Seriously hasn’t God read Lord of the Rings? What a cliche.

For a longer post read Genesis 3 and the Age of Accountability

Genesis 3 and the Age of Accountability

I have always wanted to know how any reasonable person could hold Eve accountable for the crime of eating magical fruit.

The Bible teaches that because of the Fall of Man everyone inherits original sin, the punishment for this is death and eternal hellfire, unless you accept Jesus as your personal savior. If we follow this to its logical conclusion that means millions upon millions of “innocent” children are currently experiencing eternal torment in fiery Hell all because they are too young to understand their own sinful nature and to accept Jesus as their personal savior. Well that doesn’t seem like something a just, loving and benevolent deity would do and therefore Christians need an escape hatch to save their opinion of their deity. Enter the “Age of Accountability.” This is the belief that since Jesus covered the sins of the whole world, God, out of his mercy saves those children too young to be held accountable for their actions.

Just to be clear there is absolutely no biblical doctrine about the age of accountability, this is purely the result of a thought exercise trying to account for why a just and loving God would send millions of innocent babies to hell just because they are not old enough to accept Jesus as their savior. It has since become a widespread belief. And this is what gets me. If Christians refuse to believe that God would punish children who are incapable of understanding, why do they believe that God would punish all of humankind for the actions of two people who are also incapable of understanding?

Let’s briefly recap Genesis 3. God creates Adam and Eve and places them in the garden with the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which Adam and Eve are commanded not to eat from. A talking snake reveals to Adam and Eve that the fruit is wisdom granting magical fruit and convinces them to eat. The two realize they are naked, sew some fig leaves together and hide from God. God curses all three of them, makes some clothes for Adam and Eve and then kicks them out of the garden.

So Adam and Eve have been running around the garden completely in the buff having no idea how bad being naked is. They eat from the magical wisdom granting fruit true and suddenly they realize that being naked is very bad. They had no knowledge of how bad their nakedness was and therefore could not be and were not held accountable for their actions. Then they received knowledge of the “wrongness” of their current state and immediately, independent from God, take steps to correct their wrongness. There is a clear and evident transition.

Because of their lack of knowledge of Good and Evil Adam and Eve cannot be held accountable for any of their actions up to and including the eating of the fruit. In fact, based on the information provided in the Bible we have every reason to believe had Adam and Eve been given the knowledge that eating of the magical tree was wrong they would have taken steps to prevent that action just like they immediately took steps to cover their nakedness as soon as they had the knowledge they were naked. Anyone who believes in the Biblical God needs to ask themselves why God would hold back the very knowledge that would have allowed Adam and Eve to follow his will. Some people will argue that Adam and Eve knew eating form the tree was wrong because God had commanded them not to. However, these same people will argue that disobeying God is evil and following God is good, knowledge of Good and Evil is exactly the knowledge that Adam and Eve lacked. Adam and Eve are like the little girl whose mother is desperately trying to convince her not to accept cookies from strangers, if a stranger offered her a cookie the next day and she accepted it no one would argue the little girl was purposefully trying to disobey her mother, the girl just isn’t old enough yet to have the mental capacity to comprehend that accepting cookies from strangers could possibly be bad. Satan could have appeared in full red-face, horns, tail, and pitchfork and Adam and Eve would have had zero reason not to listen to him.

In a cruel twist of fate Adam and Eve were incapable of preventing themselves from eating the magical fruit because they could not know eating the magical fruit was wrong precisely because they had not yet eaten the magical fruit that would give them that knowledge.

If God cursed all of mankind because of the actions of two individuals who He failed to give the knowledge they needed to effectively follow His will, why on earth would he spare children from eternal torment because they lack the same knowledge? I have no reason to believe that the millions of children who God has murdered, commanded to be murdered, has allowed to die in the hands of abusers, through various natural disasters, accidents, or starvation are in a “better place,” in fact if I believe in the God of the Bible, I have every reason to believe the opposite. And that is just one more reason why I’m not a Christian.

Thoughts? Comments? Share them below and remember, don’t follow the herd.

Says Who: A Conversation

So recently I have been spending all of my free time that I normally would reserve for blogging purposes engaging with Christian bloggers, which I think is a good thing, however it has prevented me from posting new content to my site. So I think a change of practice is in order.

One of the Christian bloggers I have been engaging with is Apologetics Minion on moral relativism and objectivity in the Bible and ancient world. You can go to his blog post “Says Who?” to see what sparked our conversation and read some of my comments, many of which are quite good (in my opinion), and I may be doing posts related to them in the future.

Now AM has said a couple of times that I have missed the point of his post. I would argue that I haven’t missed the point so much as I have raised new points that are intrinsically related to the point of his post, but we will get back to that.

“Says Who?” is essentially AM’s take on Divine Command Theory (DCT) and objective morality, which, in the briefest of terms postulates:

I. If God does not exist, objective moral values cannot exist.

II. Objective morals do exist.

III. Therefore God exists.

There are of course a number of issues with this line of reasoning, not the least of which is that any Christian assertion of the validity of II. is circular reasoning to the Nth degree. But that is something else we will have to get back to.

AM extends DCT to say since atheists reject “any competent authority” (i.e. his personal Christian God), then “good” can only mean “I like it,” or “we like it.” This brings me to the very first question I put to AM, which he seems to have overlooked, or perhaps he feels he covered it sufficiently in his first post.

I am curious as to why AM thinks humans are incapable of being competent authorities on what happens to other humans. It would seem humans would have the most relevant experience to determine what is best for humans in general.

AM likes to ask “says who?”

The truth is we all experience morality as a social construction, even Christians. If in doubt ask your favorite Christian if they believe slavery is morally wrong, if they answer in the affirmative ask them “Says who?” because they are experiencing morality as a social construction. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you would know that any time the Bible deals with slavery (as it pertains to anyone besides “Gods chosen people”) it is at best only condoned as a morally neutral institution if not explicitly approved. So while Christians may use Bible verses to influence their belief that slavery is morally wrong, they are just interpretations and inferences and not based on any biblical teaching that slavery is wrong.

Which brings me to the second point I raised with Apologetics Minion. If God is a “Competent Authority” on right and wrong, and not only that but the only competent authority we would expect a perfect law code from the beginning. Right away we have two problems God doesn’t give any law code in the beginning, and when he finally does provide a law code it is far from perfect.

The issue of “form the beginning,” we see throughout Genesis there are some really excellent opportunities for God to lay down a law code. Adam is kicked out of the garden, isn’t given a law code. Cain is banished for murder, still no law code. God drowns the whole world for being wicked, Noah isn’t given a law code. Abraham is the father of gods religion, no law code. Lot is the only righteous man (who thinks it’s okay to offer his daughters up to be gang raped) and Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed for being wicked, still no law code. Jacob is the father of God’s favored nation (a feat accomplished with two women procured in a business arrangement and their two slaves), no law code. It isn’t until the Hebrews really haven’t done anything bad because they’ve been slaves for 430 years before he finally sets down some rules.

As far as a perfect law, AM says atheists have a “grounding problem” since we can’t attribute morality to a higher power, it is each man for himself, and who is to say otherwise? That being said and with full awareness of the issue, inherently wicked humans have made some pretty cool improvements to moral codes. For instance the Geneva Convention. Here we have agreed upon rules for (among other things) the treatment of POWs including banning murder, mutilation, torture, and degradation. Same goes for civilians. I think AM would agree with me, that those are all good things, but “says who?” those are all things wicked humans think are good things. what we see is every time that God goes to war, he would be indicted for heinous war crimes. This really puts apologists in a bind because they have no moral grounds to condemn something like ISIS. ISIS brutally murders their POWs, God says that is okay. ISIS captures women to be their “brides” and subject them to systematic rape? God says that’s okay. ISIS fighter wants to die for his God, God says that’s okay. God doesn’t seem like such a competent authority on human morals anymore does he?

Now I can already hear the Christians shouting “But that’s the Old Testament!” and I’m going to shout back “You believe God is unchanging!” That’s the thing about insisting God created and revealed objective moral truths. The fact that the so called “New Covenant” means Christians do not have to follow OT commands, does not change the morality of the OT commands. The fact that they are objectives means they are true regardless of situation or time.

I think I will leave that here for now. Cheers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversations about Slavery

So I have been having a long conversation about slavery in the Bible with the blogger Saintofchrist. The conversation stems from a blog of his Answering Exodus 21:4,7 & Deuteronomy 20:10-15. Which in itself is a response to some comments from a previous blog that you can link to from his site. As anyone who has followed my blog at all knows Slavery in the Bible is one of my favorite topics so we have already gone several rounds. I am going to plop all of you into the middle of it just because I have been having conversations like this instead of putting content on my blog, and I just want to post something. Obviously this is not intended to be one of my better blogs, and obviously a good portion of it will be confusing if you do not go back and follow it from the beginning, but perhaps you can find some interesting tidbits inside that are worth your while.

<I see, you didn’t read the article because the law of slavery in Exodus 21, as I clearly explain in the article was optional, in other words, they didn’t have to agree with it, hence in verse 16, it says, “And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death”.>

Saint, i’m really struggling to understand what kind of decent human being would try to justify truly brutal slavery laws by saying they were optional. I did read your blog, I just don’t see what difference the optional factor makes. 1800s chattel slavery in the United States was optional too, are you suggesting that we should still allow slavery to exists so long as it is optional to own slaves? You seem to think my objection is that God coerced the Israelites into owning slaves. No my objection is that owning slaves was permissible at all. I don’t understand why you can’t seem to grasp that.

You keep holding up verse 16 like it is some kind of a shield. It’s not. Verse 4-6 says you can entrap a man into being your slave forever. verse 7 says you can sell your daughter into slavery. Leviticus 25 says you can buy slaves from foreigners and bequeath them to your children for forever. exodus 12:44 (the isralietes aren’t even out of Egypt yet) God says they can buy foreign slaves, but you have to mutilate their genitals before they can take part in the Passover. Which is just full of irony, not the genital mutilating part that is just weird, but the foreign slaves taking part of the holiday to celebrate God delivering freedom to the Hebrew slaves, a freedom that these foreign slaves, who the Hebrews have the “option” of beating within an inch of their life with a rod (exodus 21:20-21), will never get to experience.

But back to verse 16. The Bible makes it pretty clear that buying, selling, or owning slaves is not punishable by death. We know this because God, not someone speaking for God, but explicitly God says you can buy, sell, and own slaves. so this verse you keep holding as evidence that the bible doesn’t condone slavery really only deals with kidnapping.
<Also my point about the divorce was to show that not everything Moses said was God’s commandment but I also quote Jesus’ word about enemies in Matthew 5:44 but you have to ignore that one or you didn’t read it.>

Matthew 5:44 love your enemies, Great! Please explain which parts of genocide is loving your enemies. Please explain which parts of raping their daughters is loving your enemies. Please explain which part of murdering women and children prisoners of war is loving your enemies. Modern Christians “love” women who choose to have an abortion, as they try to systematically deny them their right to do so. Modern Christians “love” the LGBT community, as they try to deny them their rights. So why am i supposed to believe that the Israelites couldn’t love their enemies as they were systematically murdering and robbing them of their freedom? Mathew 5:44 is supposed to mean something? Matthew 5:44 doesn’t mean the anything. And even if it did mean anything Matthew 5:44 came about 4,000 years too late for our discussion anyways.

<As I said before, you ignore some of the things I’ve said. No, those are not the only two options. The children of Israel didn’t trust Him enough and the Bible says, “Without faith, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). God is a God of principle, He doesn’t just force things to people; otherwise everyone would have believed in Him by now. God gave them those options for them to operate because they were SENSE RULED. If He didn’t, they would have been obliterated from the face of the earth long time ago. They had to fight since they were sense ruled. They could only relate with their senses, this is why the asked for a king. They rejected God as their King (1 Samuel 8:4-7).>
You concede that enslavement and murder are not the only two options for God, and then say that the israelites didn’t trust god and immediately imply that enslavement and murder were the only two options for God. You argue if God hadn’t let the israelites enslave and murder their enemies they would have been obliterated from the planet. The Israelites had an all powerful deity on their side! The only way they could have been obliterated from the face of the earth is if he desired it. He could have commanded the isralites to beat their enemies with wet pool noodles, and they israelites would have been fine. So i’m going to ask you again why do you think enslavement and murder are the only two options for an infinitely powerful God?

You argue the the israelites “had” to fight their enemies because they were sensed ruled. serial killers of the psychopathic variety literally can’t help themselves, they have to kill, there is something off with their brains. Are you suggesting we let them continue to murder people because they “have to?”

God doesn’t force things on people. No, he just lets his people force things on other people. and I don’t mean “let” in the “god let’s bad things happen,” he explicitly says, slavery is an okay thing to do.

<When they were in Egypt, did God tell them to fight the Egyptians? When they were chased by the Egyptians, did God tell them to fight them? What happened? God saved them without fighting. But after all that and many miracles God performed, did they believe and trust in God’s ability to save them? NO, they didn’t>

I’m glad you bring up Egypt because now we can talk about not just what God thinks is allowable, but the actual actions that God made. I want to remind you, because you seem to forget, that God is all powerful and God is all knowing. This means that God has not only an infinite number of options for any situation, but he has an infinite number of “Best” options for any situation, and not only that, but as a kind, just, benevolent God who values all life, he has an infinite number of “best” options that doesn’t involve the death a single man, women, or child. And that’s why we see in Exodus God puts all of the Egyptians to sleep and allows all the slaves to flee Egypt without any bloodshed or death. Well that’s what we would see if the OT God was all those things Christians like to claim he is. What we see instead is a hardened pharaoh’s heart and plagues, famine, disease, hailstorms, and perpetual darkness. Hundreds if not thousands would have died and that is before god reached down and murdered children in their beds. My favorite part of the exodus story is when this kind, just, benevolent God murders the slaves and the captives of the people he is mad at for owning slaves (Exodus 11:4-5, and 12:29). These are completely superfluous deaths. The slaves didn’t do anything wrong, they were in the same predicament as the Hebrews for crying out loud. and Pharaoh doesn’t give to shakes of a stick about their lives, so their deaths wouldn’t do anything to spur him to free the Hebrews. Again, of course God could have just not hardened Pharaoh’s heart to start with, or just put all the Egyptians to sleep at the beginning of the ordeal, or, i don’t know not have allowed his people to languish in slavery for 430 years to begin with. All viable options. but no, OT god prefers to solve his problems with death and destruction.

<. As I said before, slavery and killing your enemies are rules of war. If you don’t agree with that, then I don’t know if you actually know what war means.>

I understand wars are terrible things. But killing your enemies and enslaving your enemies are not necessary rules of war. We have this thing called the Geneva Convention. We don’t kill our POWs, we don’t rape the survivors, sometimes we have to be reminded not to torture our POWs but we are working on it. There are rules of engagement even, rules for when you can fire upon your enemy. Of course not every is going to follow the Geneva convention, but does that mean the Geneva convention shouldn’t exist? you keep suggesting that the israelites weren’t going to follow God’s laws so God had to make different laws. What kind of sense does that make? Remind me was God supposed to bend his will to the israelites, or were the israelites supposed to bend their will to God’s? What kind of all powerful deity makes laws based on what people were going to do anyways? How does “they were going to do it anyways” makes those actions moral or just? The laws we see the govern warfare and slavery in the OT are not indicative of a moral and just God, they are indicative of a group of people who were exactly like every other group of people of their time, otherwise we would have based the Geneva convention off of those OT laws, because they would have been the best laws to govern warfare, moral guideposts in the messy if not necessary business of war. They fail utterly in that regard.
<You said: Judges 6:1 God is using the midianites to punish the Israelites for disobeying him, and then God is going to turn around and punish the midianites for doing the thing he wanted them to do in the first place.>

In what world does Judges 6:1 reveal the fairness of God? God does not need the midianites to punish the israelites. God is more than happy to use other israelites to kill other israelites (exodus 32: 27-29) or poisonous snakes (numbers 21:6). Or he could send plagues, he seems to enjoy plagues. God has no problem manipulating other people, Pharaoh, King david. I see nothing fair about manipulating someone into doing your dirty work, and then punishing those people for doing the thing you manipulated them into doing. There is a word for that, it is called entrapment.
<Thank you for pointing out how fair God is; yes He also used the Midianites to punish Israel. The Midianites didn’t just pop up from nowhere. Read their history, why did God want them destroyed (Start from Numbers 22-25 or you can go back from Genesis if you want to know who they are, their origin). God always had reasons for everything.>
Numbers 22-25, this is beautiful actually. I love when grown adults believe that God can make a donkey talk, but has to resort to manipulation, murder, disease, and destruction in order to accomplish his will.

God wanted the midinites to be destroyed because of Numbers 22-25? First of all it was Balak the king of the Moabites who tried to curse the Israelites 3 times, unsuccessfully I might add, so no harm, no foul. Second the midinities don’t pop up until Chapter 25 and what was their big crime? Enticing the israelites to worsihp Baal? God supposedly gave everybody free will so they would have the ability to freely choose to worship him or not, but he is going to kill you if you don’t do exactly as he says. That is kind of the opposite of free will. Sure people aren’t robots, but doing as you say out of fear of death isn’t exactly the same thing as love and devotion. Seriously if a couple of pretty girls could entice the israelites to forsake Jehovah, that is on the isrealites not the midianites. And what reasons would the midianites have for not worshipping Baal? As you said yourself after all the miracles, the deliverance, the israelites still couldn’t stick with the OT God, so why would the midianites just suddenly drop Baal? What kind of proselytizing has the OT God done for the midianites? Seriously he couldn’t spend any time convincing the midianites not to worship Baal through more diplomatic means, but nope, more death and destruction from that kind, loving, just, benevolent God.

<Isn’t it possible that Eleazar just took them to stay with him? After all, nowhere does it say they became his wives or slaves. All you have here is an assumption because of your ‘cynical view’ which is understandable as skeptic. Isn’t it possible that he adopted them?>

Could Eleazar have adopted the 32 virgins? Yes that is a possibility, I can grant you that, but is it plausible? I can provide a number of instances where the Bible indicates typical Israelite behavior would be to hold them as slaves and concubines, a number of passages we have discussed already, but there are more, always more. Sometimes the actions are approved by God, other times he is strangely silent, but offers no discipline, implying a tacit approval. What we haven’t discussed are instances in the Bible that would make your adoption theory plausible, I am open to considering some, if you have any to provide. But even if your adoption theory is true did those 32 women want to be adopted? Were they given the choice to go home to their families, Oh yeah, the isrealites had just killed all of their families. And none of that deals with the fact God approved of the practice of taking human tributes.

This section is too long to quote all of the relevant pieces of it. You are just going to have to deal with going back and reading your own argument <As you can see, it’s the WOMEN who enticed them, not men; what leads to your next comment

Thank you for the clarification on the verses, my translation was less specific. In regards to the question though, which was “But regardless you seem to be suggesting that say a 6-year-old boy would be polluted by the practice of idolatry, whereas a 12-year-old girl would not be. I don’t see how that makes sense, perhaps you could offer some clarification.” You take pains to point out that it was the women who enticed the israelites men to commit idolatry, and then launch into a convoluted theory as to why the boys had to be killed. I’m not sure what “the imagination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” has to do anything with women enticing men to commit idolatry, or why they needed to kill young boy POWs. And the young boys couldn’t grow up and destroy them from within, the israelites have an all powerful deity in their corner remember.

<Before you want to categorize, ‘man’ as, every human being (male and female); no, it clearly says, “I will never again curse the ground BECAUSE OF MAN”.>

One last thing on this, Exodus 21:16, that verse you like so much is also a verse that is specifically about kidnapping someone with a penis. As you can see we are dealing a lot with kidnapping people with vaginas and keeping them as slaves, so Exodus 21:16 really isn’t the shield you keep thinking that it is.

<He is a all-knowing God who knows the ends from the beginning; He knew they would never change; after all if you don’t believe, He actually gave them 400 years to repent (Genesis 15:13-16).>

He gave them 400 years to repent? we are talking about murdering children here, he didn’t give children 400 years to repent. Every person has an opportunity to make up their own minds, and not blindly follow their parents, or else i’d be a Christian right now and my mother would be a much happier person.

Again, murdering children, captive children no less, by an all knowing, all powerful God who has an infinite number of best solutions none of which involve murdering a child, and the solution he comes up with is infantcide. You worship a deity whose first answer is always death and destruction. Assimiliation seems the much more moral option, consequences be damned. At least you didn’t murder a child. The ends never justify the means. What is the cliche? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

<I get your point but how can marriage be sexual slavery? The fact that they were commanded to take them as wife in itself suggests that this isn’t slavery the way you try to portray it to be. Slavery has no respect of marriage, since they can rape or do anything to their captives. Why marriage then?>

If you are asking how marriage can be sexual slavery you do not get my point. you are far, far from understanding my point. And the fact that I even need to have this conversation with you embodies every reason why I am not a Christian.

Let’s start with spousal rape is real. Just because a man is married to a woman does not entitle him to her body anytime he damn well pleases. So that is one way that marriage can be sexual slavery, and that is starting with two people who actually agreed to be married to one another in the first place. Despite what the Bible would have you believe wives and daughters are not the property of their husbands and fathers, they are not property at all, they are human beings and are entitled to, if nothing else, basic human dignity as such.

Next let’s ask ISIS. ISIS goes into a town captures women, kills their families and then forces the women to marry their fighters. You think that is a marriage? You think that doesn’t constitute rape? https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/04/14/iraq-isis-escapees-describe-systematic-rape

Just because you use the word Marriage, doesn’t actually make it a marriage. Sarah gave her slave Hagar to be Abraham’s wife. You think that is a marriage? You think Hagar had a choice in the matter, you think Hagar wanted to raped over and over again so she could bear Abraham’s children? The text doesn’t say Hagar volunteered to help Sarah out, the Bible makes it pretty clear that Sarah treated Hagar miserably, but yeah sure she was “married” to Abraham. Just because you use a word doesn’t make it so.

The 12 tribes of Israel were conceived by 4 different women. Rachel and Leah were procured in a business arrangement that Jacob made with their father, and while they were having an offspring war (because their worth was tied to not the fact that they were people, but to how many children they could have) they also gave their slaves to Jacob to be his “wives” so they could literally steal their children for their own. You think Zilpah and Bilhah had a choice in the matter? No, they didn’t, because they were slaves.

If I was a soldier and killed a terrorist’s entire family, but kidnapped his daughter, brought her back to the states, away from anything she has ever known and had sex with her (raped her), that wouldn’t make it a marriage, even if I said it did. She may even say she wants to be my wife, she may say she wants to have sex with me, but because there is a very strong likelihood I would kill her if she said no, after all I did just kill her entire family, everyone she has ever known or loved, that is duress, not consent. I don’t need to prove how bad the slavery the israelites engaged in was, I can and I will her in a little bit, but for this particular part of the conversation it is completely irrelevant. It is not the quality of care that defines slavery, it is the lack of freedom that defines slavery. I could treat my terrorist’s daughter to the top of the nines, best food and clothes, lavish gifts, fancy hotels, but if she didn’t willingly choose to be with me, or if that choice was based on death being the only alternative then it is slavery and rape. And there is no such thing as good slavery or good rape. Frankly your cavalier attitude towards treating women as property is truly frightening to me.
from your original post you have this truly fantastic rose-colored glasses view of how the israelites engaged in slavery. A large chunk of your argument seems to be, correct me if i’m wrong, that the israelites were terrible at following God’s laws, so God had to let them engage in slavery. You then assume that they followed all of Gods laws on slavery, even though they were terrible at following God’s laws. Let’s be realistic if the speed limit is 30 people are going to drive 35, if the speed limit is 40 people are going to drive 50, if the speed limit is 60, people are going to drive 75, thats the way it is. You give them an inch they are going to take a mile. Assuming all of God’s slavery laws were good laws (they’re not) there are a million different ways to exploit them. You are supposed to free your (male, hebrew) slaves in the year of jubilee, but nothing that says you can’t manipulate the situation so they want/need to submit themselves to slavery again. Shoot exodus 21:4-6 throws in a loophole right away. You say they could buy their freedom, how are they going to do that their master controls how much money they earn? Slaves in the US could buy their freedom too, how often do you think that happened? 1800s chattel slavery was no big deal, they could buy their freedom

Exodus 21:7-11 a man has three responsibilities to a slave he buys to be his wife (she is still a slave) He has to feed her, clothe her, and have sex with her. He is literally commanded to rape her. If he fails in any of these three things he is supposed to let her go for nothing. But who exactly is going to make him? who determines what an adequate amount of food, or clothing is? And if she is let go, where is she going to go, what is she going to do? What if she had children, is she supposed to just leave them?

Exodus 21: 20-21 “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.”

“For the slave is his money” you do realize that is the actual definition of chattel slavery right? This verse takes specific pains to specify you can beat both your male and female slaves, and draws no distinction between Hebrew and foreign slaves. literally the only thing they cannot do is kill the slave. Beat him/her within an inch of his/her life, you are fine so long as they survive a day or two (I’ve always wondered what happens if the slave dies on the third day, he the slave to be avenged because of his/her death, or is he/she not to be avenged because he/she survived or day or two, I feel like we need a little more specificity here). But you are right, US slavery was so much worse, because they could kill their slaves without worrying about being avenged. How progressive of God to draw the line at murdering human beings. Oh and if you maim your slave by poking out their eye, then they can go for free (Exodus 21:26), of course they were already a slave as a full bodied individual so where exactly are they going to go now that you’ve maimed them, go be someone else’s slave and hope they don’t poke out the other eye? And that is the only punishment, no eye for an eye in this case, you just lose some of your property, property that you maimed.

<Show me that they enslaved them the way you try to portray the slavery as in torture and hard labor. Show that to me, like how the Egyptians did to the Israelites. YOU CAN’T because that’s not what happened otherwise they would have recorded it.”>

Actually I can, because they did record it. Naturally they didn’t just come out and say “rule over your slaves ruthlessly, but they managed to make it pretty darn clear in Leviticus 25:39-46.

We start in verse 39-43: “If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave: 40 he shall be with you as a hired worker and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. 41 Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers. 42 For they are my servants,[e] whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. 43 You shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God.”

you are not to rule over your Hebrew brothers ruthlessly like the Egyptians did to you. Reminder that is specifically Hebrew, and that is specifically male. that is the full extent of who you are not to rule over ruthlessly.

then we transition to 44-45 and the first half of 46: “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. 45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. 46 You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them

We have drawn a clear distinction here between Male hebrew slaves, and foreign born slaves. Male Hebrew slaves you are not to make slaves of them and you are not to rule over them ruthlessly. Foreign born slaves you can make slaves of them, and no reminder not to rule over them ruthlessly. This is really strange if the israelites were not supposed to rule over anyone ruthlessly because the second part of verse 46 we swing back around and get a second reminder not to rule over specifically male Hebrew slaves ruthlessly “but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.”

Seriously Leviticus 25: 39-46 is the ideal place to say “hey, don’t rule over any of your slaves ruthlessly” if that was going to happen, but that is not what we see, we see “don’t rule over your male hebrew slaves ruthless, you can do what you like with everybody else.”

even if your rose-colored glasses view of israelites’ slavery is true, and they all perfectly followed the law, the law still allows them to do pretty terrible things. And even if they didn’t do those terrible things, my objection does not center on what the israelites did or did not do, my objection, once again, is centered on what an all powerful, all knowing, kind, just, moral, and benevolent God made permissible in the first place. And seriously you don’t have any philosophical issues with slavery as a social safety net? You are telling me that the deity who created the universe that requires such fine tuning that if the radiation was just a little off we would all die, if gravity was just a little off we would all die, if the earth were just a little further or closer to the sun, we would all die, you are telling me the God who did all that, that his best plan for a social safety net is “voluntary slavery” that’s what you are going with? This guy fed 2-3 million people with literal bread from heaven for 40 years, and voluntary slavery is his best plan for a social safety net?!? Are you sure you want to stick with that? I mean you have to, the Bible doesn’t give you a whole lot of wiggle room there, but perhaps it’s time you took those rose colored glasses off.

Yes, I have a cynical view of the Bible, I freely admit that. I came about my cynical view of the Bible because I realized I had no reason to believe a book as both “good” and “true” because that book told me that it was both “good” and “true.” That is called circular reasoning. Take yourself out of that circle for a minute and stop making justifications because you have to believe that the Bible is good and start evaluating the Bible on whether or not it is *actually* good and true.

Give the whole world free will, then drown the whole world for not acting the way you want them too, yup that is pretty terrible. Destroy a city for wanting to gang rape two men, save the guy who offered to let them gang rape his two daughters instead, yup that is pretty terrible. You’re mad at a country for enslaving your people, murder their other slaves because #reasons, yup that is pretty terrible. There is no justification for these things, no amount of “god works in mysterious ways” that make those actions good and just and moral, and noble, and that’s just a few examples from like the first 3 percent of the Bible. And not even all the examples I could have picked from that first 3 percent.

I don’t think you are a terrible person, but you believe in and worship a deity who you believe did some terrible things, and that doesn’t seem to bother you at all, and that scares me. That scares me to my core about Christianity and America. you spend your time trying to rationalize and justify why these terrible things were actually good things, but no they are just terrible things. Terrible things that made a little nation who kept getting conquered again and again feel better about themselves, that’s it, and it’s time for you to let go, take off those rose colored glasses, read the Bible for what it is, accept that your not going to heaven, you are not going to hell, there is no God. If it makes you feel better, there is no historical evidence that any sizable population of Hebrews were ever enslaved in Egypt let alone 600,000 men plus their families (some 2-3 million people), no historical evidence that the 10 plagues of Egypt ever happened (Egyptians were really good at keeping records) No mainstream scholar, Jew, Christian, or skeptic who believes that Moses was a real person, not historical evidence of any sort of Canaanite conquest, particularly on the scale that the Bible indicates. No historical evidence that 2-3 million Hebrews wondering around the desert for 40 years, we’ve looked and the dessert is relatively small. We do for whatever reason have the historical records of much smaller nomadic Hebrew tribes worshiping a tribal storm God Yahweh who was a part of a much larger pantheon, who had a consort named Asherah, and reported to a supreme deity named El, and how Yahweh and El eventually gradually merged as the same deity over the years.

If any one of those things about the Exodus story is untrue it collapses the claims of an inerrant Bible, and we don’t have one thing, we have a list, and that’s just about one story. But the story isn’t just one story, its the basis of almost all Jewish culture and identity, and it never happened. That coupled with the fact that we do have historical evidence that biblical mythology grew and developed just like all other mythologies in the world and didn’t spring fully formed at the beginning of the world. Well, like I said, it is just time to let go.

My favorite part of the Bible

There is a meme that goes around Facebook from time to time that says “my favorite part of the Bible is when God gives people free will, and then drowns the world for not acting the way he wanted.”

That’s pretty good, but I have another one. It admittedly is not as devastating as a global flood perhaps, but it is a bit of a head scratcher just the same.

“My favorite part of the Bible is when God kills the slaves of the people he is mad at for owning slaves.”  Exodus 11:4.

The bible of course makes it quite clear that slavery wasn’t the problem it was his “chosen people” as slaves that was the problem. You can tell because he only freed the Hebrew slaves and actually killed quite a few of the others slaves (which really seems like a missed opportunity to save more of that world “God so loved”). And are not we all supposed to be his chosen people? At very least shouldn’t slavery be immoral because “we are made in his image” no other reason to condemn slavery necessary?

This is one of the reasons why I’ve never been able to reconcile a global Jesus with a tribal OT God. I don’t buy the character development. I don’t understand why what difference someone’s ethnicity makes when it comes to slavery being immoral or not…I better stop here before I break goodwin’s law.