an ongoing discussion


I have the permission of a fine gentleman to share a discussion we have been having on this blog here, here, here and here. The reason we agreed to do this is to consolidate the different arguments in one place. I must apologise in advance if this post ends up being long but I will endeavour to make it precise :).

The first question we dealt with regards the nature of god and whether it is knowable. I have tried to show that the nature of god is unknowable and also that the god of the bible is incoherent and impossible. My good friend thinks that we can know god from what we are told in the bible. I contend that what we are told about this god is contradictory. To show this I offered the following examples

1. that god is all loving and merciful yet he drowns everyone except 8
2. that god is evasive. when confronted by Job why he is suffering, he evades the question and only tries to awe Job with his clothes
3. we are told he is all-knowing but seems several times to forget. he forgets that Noah and co are in the boat and so on
4. he is malicious. he hardens pharaoh’s heart to get an opportunity to kill Egyptians
5. tribal:- he chooses people over others without reason
6. he is evil:- he says he is the author of good and evil and also the author of confusion. he does this to confound the people as they are building the staircase to heaven.

I must add there are places where god does good things maybe but I pointed out that what this further proves is the inconsistency of this god.

My good friend disagrees. He says that either am reading this out of context or that I have no right-as a mere mortal- to question the intentions of god which I find to be rather hilarious. He has also indicated that I could be reading the wrong outdated translation, and I asked for his help in choosing which of the 800+ translations as the correct one. We have also covered the matter of what part is metaphor, literal or allegorical and since I have a difficulty in choosing  which to take for what purpose I leave it to you, good friends, to help me. My friend has said also that I can’t talk about the wrath of god of the OT without looking at the NT. I agree fully. The only question is, why did god change from being a violent, misogynist, tribal god to a loving though still suicidal god? If he is to be unchanging, is it of its nature to be all things?

I have further shown that god is angry at us for no reason. I have attempted to show that if a god exists and that this god created man and the serpent, it his fault man failed. I say this because if his address about what fruit was to be eaten and which was not was intended for man, why did he/she/it make it in the vicinity of other more intelligent animals? I also ask, why if this god is omniscient,  did he create the serpent knowing it will tempt man?

We looked at the laws of god and I ask why would a god who is not bound the laws he is making ask us to follow them? Why would such a god who does not forgive his enemies ,who can’t hurt him, asks us to forgive our enemies and pray for them? My friend tells me, god makes those laws for our good!  Please be the judge of this: is stoning your brother for picking sticks on the sabbath for our good, is stoning a woman who has been raped for our good, is killing a disobedient child for our good, is tithing and alms giving for our good, how is  not infringing his copyright laws on altar perfume for our good? Please please tell me how all of this is for our good!

My friend argues that we are saved through Jesus. Am asking why has salvation to be conditional? Is it impossible for an impotent and benevolent god to save all without asking them to believe in a guy whose existence is doubtful? On still this same question of belief, I did ask what happens to my great grandpa who for no fault of his own died before the Spaniards, the Portuguese and the Brits came here with bible in one hand and gun in the other. My friend gave a very honest answer, I don’t know! But added that he knows god is just and will deal with them according to his justice. Which brings us to the problem we had at the beginning, is the mind of god-does he have one- knowable?

I also mentioned Paul, the person credited with developing christianity and said this man or group of men had nothing kind to say to women. He says

As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?” (1 Cor. 14:33b-36 NIV). 

Elsewhere he has this to say

11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

I also said Paul is against many things beautiful

1 Corinthians 7:1  “Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry

1 Corinthians 7:For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I

About fighting tyranny, this is what Paul tells us about governments

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor [Roman 13:1-7 NIV].

I will leave you to make your judgements on Paul.

In coming the end of this post, I did submit that the churches own nothing, the priests own nothing which is not people’s labour and any help they claim to give can’t be treated as charity. To be charitable, you need first to own. No church meets this requirement. They are in the business of collecting tithe and alms in exchange for a place in heaven. The priests make claims that they are the mediators between man and god, either follow me or be damned. They are selling false hope to a great majority that do not know better. They lie about the existence of god, about our universe and about everything else. Whatever they are against, their god is against, whatever they support their god supports! My good friend says that even the governments and hospitals should be abolished because they operate on taxes- people’s labour. This I think is fallacious, every tax payer has a right to a government service and besides the government shouldn’t discriminate on where to take resources. For one to benefit from a church, they more often than not ask you to join them or take the highway. I also told my friend building churches doesn’t add to the good of humanity. It enslaves the mind so I asked they build libraries and hospitals in place of churches.

I hope first with this post, I have captured the core arguments we have had in the different posts, that I have represented my brother correctly and without bias. I would love to hear your comments on the issues raised in this post. Thank you 🙂

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

51 thoughts on “an ongoing discussion

  1. john zande says:

    You’re a more patient man than I, Noel.

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  2. goldheathen says:

    Arguments that the “laws of god” are for our benefit, or arguments supporting the “love of god” are nonsense. God, the god of Abraham, if such a being existed, would be (we are told) an omnipotent omniscient creature. This would have to mean that even before creation began this god was well aware of every possible permutation and possibility that would result from creation. if this is so then it is inescapable that this god created me, and billions of other people, for the express purpose of torturing us forever in hell. All of creation was established in full awareness that most of said creation would…no, had to be…displeasing to god. To believe in the existence of such a being is to believe in a life form which knowingly set in motion a chain of events that could never have had any other result than the damnation and suffering of the vast majority of those it had created. It means that this being consciously littered the world with competing and contradictory faiths, purposefully allowed multiple disparate texts and willfully provided little to no convincing evidence of it’s existence. The picture one gets is not that of a loving and concerned parental entity. The picture one gets is more that of a cruel and malicious bully pulling the legs off of insects to watch them squirm before finally setting them alight with a magnifying glass. How wonderful that there’s no evidence such a thing is true!,

    Great post, thank you. Sorry if I pontificated there a bit…

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  3. RE: “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right” – I suggest your friend discuss this with the Jews in Auschwitz, I’m sure he can still dig up a few.

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    • Well, I guess we’ve got that ’cause we didn’t accept jesus, isn’t it?
      Well, in spite of being told to throw away my kippah and forget about Moshe’s Law, I did put all my faith in jesus. I’ve lost two unborn children, been mocked and finally marginalised because I did not want to repudiate my nazi chased ancestors, nor some of the traditions of my people, also realised from VERY within what christianity truly is… In the end, after two decades of missionary work, I dumped it all and lo and behold, I am truly free! Have my dear christian friends considered what jesus said: “By their fruits shall you know them…” AND TOOK A DEEP LOOK AT THE FRUITS OF GOD’S WORK IN THE WORLD, AND ALSO AT THE FRUIT OF THE CHURCH’S WORKS IN THE WORLD? And please stop lying to yourselves about being all the work of the devil! And before attempting to convince me of the opposite please consider I’ve been a missionary for about twenty years, with several hundreds of radio programs and several dozens of TV program’s ALL about defending the faith, and I’ve NEVER lost an argument with atheists, agnostics and evolutionists, converting LOTS of them! I dumped my faith after realising I have become part of a very profitable business, where what was preached on one side, became rather flexible when it meant gaining contributors…
      Sorry “archaeopteryx1” for replying beneath your comment, of course it is not addressed to you at all, actually I am so thankful ro you for pointing out the issue about Jews, which stirred my heart…

      Rom (the agnostic Jew)

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      • Liberty – no need to apologize at all. In fact, though you’ve rather briefly explained you abandonment of Christianity, I suspect your decision to leave Judaism is a fascinating story.

        Onyango Makagutu and I both belong to an atheist discussion site – http://www.thinkatheist.com – and I believe I can speak for him in saying that we would both invite you to join us in a close-knit community of free-thinkers who discuss all aspects of religion.

        As for the seemingly universal persecution of the Jewish people, Yeshua (Jesus), if he ever existed at all, was executed by a few for religio-political purposes that had nothing to do with the Jewish people in general, and those who persecute Jews for being “the ones who killed him” are only looking for a dog to kick in frustration over the way their own lives have turned out.

        The mass murders of seven million people, regardless of their ancestry, will stand forever as a shameful monument to the depths to which the mind of Man can sink, and as a reminder that we must never allow such a person to rise to a position of power again. If in fact, “there is no authority except that which God has established,” then we must also accept: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. God is all-powerful. Draw your own conclusions.”

        LT, you have an open invitation to join us —

        arch

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        • Thank you my good friend, your invitation is most honouring, I hereby promise to check the site, and probably in, even though it may take a while, since I have to lick my wounds first and finally enjoy my beautiful family life, which in spite of hardship is my reason to live!
          As for leaving Judaism…, well, I haven’t left Judaism. I have left our god (if any) who watched our sufferings all along, and left us, after promising us milk and honey. What we’ve got is chlorine which ain’t funny… I envy my Orthodox people who can still believe, even if they have denied my right to return, as the nazis have burnt all proofs of who we were…
          I do hope to keep in touch, I’ll visit this (and your:-)site, and take it from here/there!

          Thank you both, you are good people!

          All my respect.

          Rom

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    • I shall humour this ridiculous post and answer it properly on Tuesday. until then, a little food for thought: “The first thing we do, lets kill all the lawyers.” –Shakespeare, clearly inciting violent xenophobia right there!

      What’s wrong with the assumption I just made?

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      • Sorry @leaveblank1986…
        As your reply appeared under my reply to someone else, not you, and yours appeared under mine, in which you say somewhere, someone is “inciting to violent xenophobia right there”; you mean where, if you don’t mind, because this is quite serious, and I guess I haven’t said or written anything to deserve it! You were addressing who? Me or someone else, or I may have misunderstood, and I must apologise?

        Could you please clarify?

        Respectfully awaiting…

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        • Archeopteryx1’s original comment read, “RE: “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right” – I suggest your friend discuss this with the Jews in Auschwitz, I’m sure he can still dig up a few.”

          I was responding to that. I am sorry for any confusion.

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        • As I read it, Rom, he was addressing my comment regarding Auschwitz, but the comment regarding xenophobia dealt with his Americanization of Shakespeare’s quotation.

          arch

          P.S. When you find time, feel free to visit my own site as well: http://www.in-His-own-image.com – I’m currently compiling a history of the Torah and could use some reference material. I suggest you open any page, scroll to the bottom, and click on the button marked, “FIRST,” which will take you to the beginning, from there, read it as you would a book.

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          • makagutu says:

            I was about to recommend he visits your site but I see you have beaten me to it already 🙂

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          • I would never hold that against you —

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          • I would never hold that against you – no one’s perfect —

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          • @leaveblank1986
            Now that I have understood who were you addressing, would you allow me please, to attempt a reply to your “food for thought”?
            If yes, and if your assumption has to do with the Shakespearean quote, then “xenophobia” is superfluous for your it, as lawyers are not an ethnicity against which xenophobia could be directed…
            If you weren’t about to allow me to reply to your -directed to someone else- reply, please kindly practice mercy and grace towards me:-)

            Right, mate:-)?

            With respect,

            Rom

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          • I suspect, Rom, he’s saying he intends at some point in the future, to address my statement regarding Jews at Auschwitz – possibly he’s one of those who denies the Holocaust ever happened —

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          • Thanks archy,
            but I guess I’ll uphold neutrality for the moment, and wait for Mr. Joe’s reply to my guess, if he’d honour me with it, and also for his general reply to he post.
            I have visited one of your sites, the other one just drags (probably my rather slow broadband) but I’m getting there:-)
            We’ll hopefully have long and meaningful discussions, many of them from surprisingly different points of view:-)

            All my very best,

            Rom

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          • Rom – if you join thinkatheist, then click on my avatar and “friend” me, we can send private messages and discuss anything you like.

            arch

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      • makagutu says:

        Joe, where is the ridicule? Plus killing all lawyers for whatever Shakespeare meant can’t be xenophobia unless you are saying lawyers are a particular race.
        You need not make excuses for when you will respond, just do so when you got time.

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        • Xenophobia, contrary to popular belief, can apply to any number of different groups of people with the rule that they may be considered, ‘other’.

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          • moonshinestill says:

            @leaveblank1986
            Xenophobia is a Greek word. I am Greek. I can assure you that xenos means “foreigner” and fovos (phobia) means fear. Xenophobia is a fear of foreigners. I know that many people have to twist and “translate” their religious scripts to make them sound acceptable in this day and age. I have no problem with this, as I don’t think their scripts matter. But you cannot apply the same twists to my language. Xenophobia is utterly inapplicable to “any number of different groups”. It means fear of foreigners. Dikigorosophobia is the fear of lawyers. Dikigoros is lawyer in Greek. Fovos (phobia) is fear. Trust this clarifies.

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          • I am certainly no expert! And shall humbly accept that correction! The point still stands (perhaps even more so) that when you take stuff out of context, like a single verse from the bible etc then you will almost certainly fail to convey the intended message.

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          • moonshinestill says:

            @leaveblank1986
            The contexts of your bible are somewhat vague, but as you appear to have a rather cranky deity, there is no reason to expect that you would have a tranquil, orderly set of texts.
            As far as I can tell, most of the religious people I have met feel that they should be kind to others, help where they can, and generally contribute positively to the community in which they reside (which takes quite a bit of biblical wriggling as far as the texts go, but I’m OK with that).
            I think those are all laudable attitudes, I just don’t see why you need a deity to practice this type of good, kind, honest behaviour. Those are basically functional traits that society has evolved in order to protect and pro-generate our species.
            There is no Pope in the bible. There are no group gatherings for prayer in the bible. If I give it my kindest consideration, it is a set of documents trying to get people to be nice to each other. I find it very disappointing that so much pomp and circumstance is given to institutionalise what really ought to be common decency.
            You only need two words. Be nice.

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          • archaeopteryx1 says:

            “So many Gods, so many creeds,
            So many paths that wind and wind,
            When just the art of being kind
            Is all this sad world needs.”
            — Ella Wheeler Wilcox —

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Joe, nobody objects that taking a verse out of context would make one not convey the intended message. What I find interesting is that whenever you take a verse in context, it comes out much worse, you are better of taking the parts that make your god look good even when good and god are not to be used together 🙂

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  4. Hello there! I am the other side of this discussion! I just want to say WOW, there’s a lot to respond to here. I ask, please can you guys refrain from piling more up because my window for answering these blogposts are between tuesday’s and friday’s whilst I’m at work. I’m exceptionally busy tomorrow so won’t be getting round to unpacking this debate until, at least, tuesday now.

    Thank you for trying to explain what has become a rather lengthy debate in a nice concise blogpost. I understand the limitations of such a post and will presume that is why I have been depicted as I have in this post. I will say this, whilst you have shown every aspect of courtesy towards myself in this post, I feel my arguments have been entirely misrepresented in your summaries and would urge your readers to check the links at the top of the post to get a better representation of my argument.

    I look forward to tackling all of this head on when I have a little more time on my hands next week 🙂

    Keep thinking, keep smiling.

    Joe

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  5. I would never hold that against you – no one’s perfect —

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  6. it is unsuprising that your Christian tries to excuse his book’s nonsense by citing “context” and then translation. I have read the entire bible at least twice (once in my Presbyterian incarnation) and the context does not help. The bible is a mess and any editor now would simply laugh at such nonsense. We have direct contradictions. We have completely wrong information presented as supposed facts, and even the same story, told twice or more can’t agree. It appears your Christian is little different than the bulk of them, making baseless claims, deciding those claims are the only “right” answers, and then having no more evidence than the next Christian who disagrees with him to demonstrate who is right.

    I also think the OT should indeed be reviewed with the NT. You know, Revelation with the violence fantasies like a small child who didn’t get his way. And I find hat Christians do think they know why their god has damned people for daring being born at the wrong place and time to be “saved”. At least some of them are sure that one is only saved by this god’s “grace” and he already has picked out who’s going to heaven, screwing the rest of us. How “fair” and “just”. I have looked at Joe’s posts and do not find them misrepresented at all. I would ask him if he could tell us exactly what is misrepresented and how. As for “rulers hold no terror for those who do right”, the usual Christian response for this is that their god is impotent when it comes to rulers and please please don’t read Romans 13, where it gives no exceptions to the claim that their god puts *all* rulers in all places always. Unsuprisingly, they must rewrite their bible so its ridiculous claims aren’t what their god “really” meant.

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    • makagutu says:

      The thing is they think if we were to consider the original Hebrew text or Greek it would magically become work of a deity. It is the same problem the muslim has, he insists his is the true word of god and only makes sense when read in Arabic when this Arabic isn’t known by everyone. They profit from creating herds.

      Most christians think the NT makes god look good through Jesus. They of course ignore the places he calls others broods of vipers, threatens people with hell fire, lies about the end of times and then the epic that is revelation with the horrors of dragons with seven heads and a select 144K people in the book of life which makes me ask what will happen to the remaining billions and how is the theist sure he is in the chosen?

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  7. Right, it’s tuesday and I have a little free time to respond. For now I shall keep it to the original post but, will get round to answering the stuff in the comments section as and when time permits!

    First and foremost, a massive thank you for keeping this civil and intelligent, all too often in these kinds of debates people can get a bit too heated and resort to personal insults!

    The first points you make:

    1. that god is all loving and merciful yet he drowns everyone except 8
    2. that god is evasive. when confronted by Job why he is suffering, he evades the question and only tries to awe Job with his clothes
    3. we are told he is all-knowing but seems several times to forget. he forgets that Noah and co are in the boat and so on
    4. he is malicious. he hardens pharaoh’s heart to get an opportunity to kill Egyptians
    5. tribal:- he chooses people over others without reason
    6. he is evil:- he says he is the author of good and evil and also the author of confusion. he does this to confound the people as they are building the staircase to heaven.

    My response:

    1: Here you are judging the flood as an unmerciful act but, my question to you is, by what standards are you ruling this unmerciful? Are you perfectly just and righteous? Because, if you aren’t then how can you possibly know what mercy looks like to somebody who is perfectly just and righteous. Even if we reject the premise of a God, it is easy to imagine a supremely just and righteous being. With that being, it would be ridiculous to measure its standards against our own, floored, standards.

    2: That is one of the most misconstrued interpretations of Job I have read, even as a secular atheist when I read Job, I could see beyond God’s immediate actions to the overarching point of God’s actions. This seems to be a recurring pattern in your line of argumental reasoning and I believe it is presenting a problem. You see, as you constantly pour over the scriptures with a fine tooth comb you are bound to be able to convey almost any message you want. I do strongly advocate a close reading of any text but, not without taking into account; context, plot, etc.

    By concentrating on what God does to Job at any one moment is to neglect why Job is going through these things. I have mentioned this before but, read Job again, this time pay close attention not to content but, instead, focus on stylistic nuances. Notice anything? To the astute reader, the first thing that becomes apparent is that this particular account does not read at all like a biographical account. Notice how, for instance, it is separated into three distinct acts. Notice the recurring dialogue patterns? Once you realise that this is not an actual account of an actual being and part of the Bible’s canon of dissenting wisdom, you begin to notice the true point of Job. I shan’t point it out, it’s more fun to discover for one’s self!

    As a side note, some interesting lines exist within Job as an almost meta-textual call not to take it too literally as you have been doing! Job says: “God is not a mortal like me, so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.” (Job 9:32). Does that not echo what I am asking you to do? I ask you to stop looking at God in light of your own experiences and to look at your experiences in light of God and that is exactly what Job conveys here!

    3: I have already adressed this and, in my opinion pointed out the failings of a misreading of the word, ‘remembered’ in Genesis 8:1. You can read it here: https://maasaiboys.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/about-hell/#comment-1018

    But, I shall reiterate here for the benefit of those with no desire to leave this page at the present moment. Notice that, in almost all translations, Genesis 8 reads, “God remembered” and not, “God forgot”. Forgetting and remembering are very different things my friend. I can forget that it’s my girlfriend’s birthday soon but, when I remember my girlfriend it doesn’t mean I have forgotten her just that I chose that moment to pay specific attention to her for any particular reason. So, when God, “remember[s]” Noah, it isn’t that he has forgotten him, merely that he chose that particular moment (according to the narrative) to pay specific attention to Noah’s situation.

    4: Interesting observations. Again, the point seems to have been missed.
    Let me refer you to Paul’s writings in Romans:
    “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.””

    Again, it is so so easy to see things in light of human experience isn’t it? The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was for the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth, it was so more people knew God’s awesome power and name. An obvious retort to that would be to say something like: “well clearly God is massively arrogant and full of himself if that’s what his intentions were”. My answer (I seem to be parroting myself a lot here) would be to stop looking at the actions and motives of a sovereign creator in light of the limited perception of a mere mortal.

    5: Can you share some specific examples here. I certainly don’t quite see this line of contention.

    6: Also adressed this one fully here: https://maasaiboys.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/about-hell/#comment-1018
    For those that don’t want to click away, here’s my exact response:

    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (NKJV)
    Are you living in medieval times man? Let’s look at some more accurate translations shall we:

    I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. (NIV)

    Or

    I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. (ESV)

    The Hebrew word that is used there is, “Ra” this word carries the following connotations: “sorrow,” “wretchedness,” “adversity,” “afflictions,” “calamities,”
    Note that, at no point, does the word evil crop up.

    The king James Version uses evil because it was the best word at that time to describe the above list.

    Evil is Sin, the affects of sin etc. “sorrow,” “wretchedness,” “adversity,” “afflictions,” “calamities,”, are all Righteous and justified responses to the evil of sin.

    As for the tower of babel:
    The people had begun, yet again to rebel against God. God’s command was to go, not to remain still. The people decided to stay and build the tower. God’s response was perfectly Just. In changing their languages the people had no choice but to scatter thus, going about with what God had commanded in the first place.

    Sooooo, that covers the first paragraph or so, let’s move on…

    “The only question is, why did god change from being a violent, misogynist, tribal god to a loving though still suicidal god? If he is to be unchanging, is it of its nature to be all things”

    Have you ever read Romans?? Literally half of the letter addresses the idea of God’s wrath head on. If you have an issue with God’s anger towards humans I’d highly recommend re reading Romans. God doesn’t change in the sense that we as humans change, that would be ridiculous. And how on earth can God, who created both man and woman, be a misogynist, that one perplexes me?
    I think this question is a little fumbling a lot confused and doesn’t really address a specific contention. Therefore, I find it hard to give you a concise answer. I’m answering a vague objection, expect the answer to be equally as vague.
    God certainly isn’t nor was he ever, suicidal what a ludicrous proposition. I believe you are referring to Jesus here so let me address that with the following:

    -The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.- (Hebrews 1:3)

    Jesus is, was and, shall always be fully God. God is ETERNAL:

    Isaiah 57:15
    Deuteronomy 33:27
    1 Timothy 1:17
    Revelation 1:8
    and so on…..

    and onwards we go….
    “I have further shown that god is angry at us for no reason. I have attempted to show that if a god exists and that this god created man and the serpent, it his fault man failed. I say this because if his address about what fruit was to be eaten and which was not was intended for man, why did he/she/it make it in the vicinity of other more intelligent animals? I also ask, why if this god is omniscient, did he create the serpent knowing it will tempt man?”

    Quick question: What is love?
    Of course, the answer is quite complicated however, there are some intrinsic universal truths about love that will help us with the above question asking, in essence, why God created that which separates us from him.

    Love is a choice. Love is deciding to devote yourself fully to another. Love is understanding and lead by will alone. We want to love, we chose to love.

    God is love. God created us out of a desire to share love. In order for us to reciprocate that properly we need to be free to chose to love him back. God doesn’t want some mindlessly devoted robots. God wants to share his powerful love with a thinking, free-to-chose people!

    God did create everything including the fallen angel, Satan. But, God is sovereign over all creation, including Satan who will, one day be reigned in.

    Satan had a choice and made that choice, man had a choice and made that choice. God is not responsible for evil, we are.
    A pastor in America put it like this, “God desires that His creatures respond to Him with a love that is free and not forced. Satan abused his freedom and become a slave of evil. ” I think that explains it succinctly enough.

    “is stoning your brother for picking sticks on the sabbath for our good, is stoning a woman who has been raped for our good, is killing a disobedient child for our good, is tithing and alms giving for our good, how is not infringing his copyright laws on altar perfume for our good? Please please tell me how all of this is for our good!”

    This questioning represents a level of anger towards God and that is something I cannot and will not help with, that is for you to work out. I will point out, YET AGAIN, that it is beyond us to anticipate God’s motives.

    A thought experiment….

    Imagine a universe in which the Christian God was true (I’m not saying He is merely asking you to imagine this were the case). Now this God is all powerful. This God has absolute authority. Being the creator of good itself, this God must be entirely good. This God would therefore, be perfectly within his rights to create and rule exactly as he pleases and anything he created would, if subject to thoughts and feelings, be free to chose weather or not to be thankful for that.

    Now, in this universe, God’s creation is not above God. Remember, God is sovereign absolute. It is not within creations capacity to fully comprehend the motives of that creator.

    I make dance music. It’s a form of expression and each tune I make conveys a little about myself. My creation reflects me but it cannot demonstrate why I chose to create it, only I can do that.

    In short, although the things you listed may seem wrong to us, is it within our right to say that God made the wrong decisions for these people?

    I can’t tell you how these things are for our good, I am not God, I do not know his mind and cannot tell you his plan. But, that alone isn’t enough of a reason to conclude there is no plan and, in extension, no God.

    “Am asking why has salvation to be conditional? Is it impossible for an impotent and benevolent god to save all without asking them to believe in a guy whose existence is doubtful?”

    Salvation is conditional for the same reason we fell from God in the first place. God wants us to choose.

    I don’t like the term impossible there, it is a rather leading term. I think it is highly improbable that an impotent and kindly well-meaning (but not necessarily, by implication, well doing) God would desire to save all without asking them for their faith.

    Assuming that this kind of God would exist the natural question that needs answering would be: why would this kind of God create in the first place?

    It is because God and Jesus are one that God created (as I have explained when talking about the trinity). Understanding that, will lead to an understanding of the extent of God’s sacrifice on the cross. If we were forced to believe in this stuff then there’d be no need to have Jesus in the first place. It is because we have a choice that Jesus needed to die on the cross.

    Most Scholars, wether secular or theists agree that Jesus did exist. Even prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins will not contend this point. Most disagree on wether or not this Jesus was the Christ but that’s a different point entirely.

    “is the mind of god-does he have one- knowable?”

    Yes God has a mind, no it is not knowable. Is my mind knowable? Is your mind knowable to others? We can see glimpses of what is on each-others’ minds at given moments but never fully know those minds as a whole.

    In regards to Paul being a chauvinist let me refer you briefly to Genesis before moving on:

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

    Notice here that the word, ‘man’ refers to both male and female. Now re read that verse in that context. Read man as male and female.

    Secondly, consider Romans 16:1-2:
    “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.”

    It seems to me and many scholars that Phoebe had been sent to speak and teach in the church in Rome. Also:
    “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.”
    (Romans 16:7)

    Now, it is currently a popular idea in theological debate that Junias was female and there is lots of evidence to support that idea (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Junia-Is-Not-Alone-ebook/dp/B006H4PFZ8, is a great starting place). Unfortunately, the original word: “apostolos” was used in so many different ways in the new testament, what Paul was quite getting at has been lost in translation but, it is contended that she was a prominent early church teacher.

    I don’t know why you draw the conclusion that Paul is against anything beautiful.
    You quote 1 Corinthians 7:1 but fail to take into account the first 7 words of that verse! Paul is addressing a particular issue facing the Corinthian church in that particular time frame. At that time, the guys in Corinth where under heavy persecution for marrying (see the Jamieson-fausett-Brown commentary: http://jfb.biblecommenter.com/1_corinthians/7.htm). So the question he was adressing sounded, most likely, something like this:

    Given the current circumstances, would you recommend any of the men here marry?

    So his answer now makes a heap of sense and we didn’t need to jump to any conclusions about Paul hating what is beautiful 🙂

    Continuing, you cite 1 Corinthians 7:7 as another reason why Paul might abhor what is beautiful.
    Let me refer you to the words of the prominent 19th century Theologian Albert Barnes:

    For I would … – I would prefer.

    That all men … – That Paul was unmarried is evident from 1 Corinthians 9:5. But he does not refer to this fact here. When he wishes that all people were like himself, he evidently does not intend that he would prefer that all should be unmarried, for this would be against the divine institution, and against his own precepts elsewhere. But he would be glad if all people had control over their passions and propensities as he had; had the gift of continence, and could abstain from marriage when circumstances of trial, etc., would make it proper. We may add, that when Paul wishes to exhort to anything that is difficult, he usually adduces “his own example” to show that “it may be done;” an example which it would be well for all ministers to be able to follow.

    But every man hath his proper gift – Every man has his own special talent, or excellence. One man excels in one thing, and another in another. One may not have this particular virtue, but he maybe distinguished for another virtue quite as valuable. The doctrine here is, therefore, that we are not to judge of others by ourselves, or measure their virtue by ours. We may excel in some one thing, they in another. And because they have not our special virtue, or capability, we are not to condemn or denounce them; compare Matthew 19:11, Matthew 19:12.

    Of God – Bestowed by God either in the original endowments and faculties of body or mind, or by his grace. In either case it is the gift of God. The virtue of continence is his gift as well as any other; and Paul had reason, as any other man must have, to be thankful that God had conferred it on him. So if a man is naturally amiable, kind, gentle, large-hearted, tender, and affectionate, he should regard it as the gift of God, and be thankful that he has not to contend with the evils of a morose, proud, haughty, and severe temper. It is true, however, that all these virtues may be greatly strengthened by discipline, and that religion gives vigor and comeliness to them all. Paul’s virtue in this was strengthened by his resolution; by his manner of life; by his frequent fastings and trials, and “by the abundant employment” which God gave him in the apostleship. And it is true still, that if a man is desirous to overcome the lusts of the flesh, industry, and hardship, and trial, and self-denial will enable him, by the grace of God, to do it. idleness is the cause of no small part of the corrupt desires of people; and God kept Paul from these:

    (1) By giving him enough to do; and,

    (2) By giving him enough to suffer.

    As you can see, your conclusion is quite far from the evident textual analysis. It’s really amazing what a little context can do huh?

    As for the final one. On first reading it seems quite damning doesn’t it? What’s the golden rule here with scripture? I’ve brought it up on numerous occasions…
    That’s right, context! Here’s an interesting position on Romans 13:

    “Paul’s instructions in 13:1-7 are not concerned with the state, empire, or any secular government at all. Paul’s concern rather is the obligation of gentile Christians, associating with the synagogues of Rome for the practice of their new “faith”, to subordinate themselves to the leaders of the synagogues and to the customary “rules of behaviour”(Nanos 291).

    I’m not saying you have to agree with this line of thought but, it does make sense logically. Romans, whilst being important for understanding certain aspects of what it means to be a Christian, was also a specific letter to a specific people. A lot of the points raised by Paul were specific to those people (not that you can’t find overarching themes and truths within).

    Here’s another stance on the same subject:

    When Paul wrote Romans, “Judaism was on the brink of catastrophe as a result of its longstanding resistance to Roman imperialism”(Fitzmeyer 664). Christianity was founded by a Jew whom the Roman authorities had crucified, and Christianity was regarded as a Jewish sect and were thus caught up in the crisis of Jewish-Roman relations. It is possible that Paul wanted Christians to model civil obedience to distinguish themselves from their Jewish neighbours.

    Want more… here you go then:
    One of the overarching themes of the Pauline texts was that God is good and that he loves us. Through a desire to follow the example set by Christ we must learn to submit to authority, sacrifice etc. However, following Jesus also means committing to following God’s commands.
    Hodge sums it up well when he says, “Whenever obedience to government is inconsistent with obedience to God, then disobedience becomes a duty” (406)

    Here’s some of the references I’ve used in that last section:

    Fitzmeyer, Joseph. The Anchor Bible: Romans . Toronto: Doubleday, 1993.
    Nanos, Mark. The Mystery of Romans . Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.
    Hodge, Charles. Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans . Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.

    Now, one can always contend in this kind of debate that it is hard to tell if a certain biblical statement holds out of context or not. I agree and therefore encourage refutation on these grounds.
    Where I can hold some authority though is when my own writing is quoted out of context!

    You quoted me thusly, “My good friend says that even the governments and hospitals should be abolished because they operate on taxes- people’s labour.”
    This is certainly not what I said at all.

    Here’s that same conversation with a little bit more context:

    ME: The church gets its money from the labours of its members, we at no point insist that it is given. The money gets pumped straight back into things like those I have already listed.

    You: My contention was the church has nothing to give, the priests live on the labor of others and whether it ploughs it back or not is besides the point, it didn’t own it in the first place.

    Me: Using the same logic: Government should be abolished, as should charities, public sector schools, hospitals etc. In the UK, hospitals are entirely funded by the taxpayer. Technically they don’t own their assets, we do, however, they do an amazing Job and the money is clearly well spent.

    you then add to your argument by saying:

    “For one to benefit from a church, they more often than not ask you to join them or take the highway. I also told my friend building churches doesn’t add to the good of humanity. It enslaves the mind so I asked they build libraries and hospitals in place of churches.”

    I disagree entirely. Using my own tiny (less than 200 members) Church as an example -and there is an overwhelming number out there that do so much more- we run something called a foodbank. We collect and store food donated (by and large) from members of the congregation. This service costs us a lot to run. At no point do we ask those who rely on the foodbank to join our church. At no point do we even tell them (unless they explicitly ask) that the foodbank is part of a church. It is even set up as a separate charity to avoid any stigma associated with being a church organisation. To the public, without enquiring, it appears entirely secular.

    The reason we and many other churches have projects like this is because of the example Jesus set.
    You don’t win people to Christ by forcing your opinions on them, you certainly don’t win them to Christ by telling them to come to church. You win people to Christ by demonstrating his love for others. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done, a Christ follower is first and foremost called to show you love.

    Can you give me some clear examples of how a church enslaves the mind? Be careful you don’t cite fundamentalist examples because that would be an unfair representation.

    I can assure you that I am at liberty to think exactly as I please and pursue any line of enquiry I might decide to. I am writing this very response now at work, I have devoted the best part of my working day to this article. It is certainly encouraging me to think freely about things. I am doing all of this whilst working for my church.

    I am perfectly free thank you very much, it is a sweeping (inaccurate) generalisation to accuse church of being a mental oppressor, I can assure you it is far from it!

    Well, that is my response to the original article. I shall get round to the comments section as the week advances.

    For the sake of keeping things clean, can I ask that any points you want to contend or make be delivered directly to my email inbox (joew@tcch.org.uk) so that this page doesn’t become an illegible list of replies. I promise to quote your entire question/response when replying here. I’m sure Makagutu would agree with that one, it will keep this page as clear and concise as possible.

    Thank you for reading, I look forward to more challenging encounters as this conversation progresses.

    Like

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      @leaveblank – I’ll address only two points you’ve made, and I prefer to do it here:
      1. RE: “God is love. God created us out of a desire to share love. In order for us to reciprocate that properly we need to be free to chose to love him back. God doesn’t want some mindlessly devoted robots. God wants to share his powerful love with a thinking, free-to-chose people!”

      But let’s look at the choices your god gives us: “Love me or burn in hell for eternity.” I’d call that a loaded option.

      2. RE: “Now this God is all powerful. This God has absolute authority. Being the creator of good itself, this God must be entirely good.”

      Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. God is all powerful. Draw your own conclusions.

      pax vobiscum,
      archaeopteryx

      Like

    • Wow, a lot of words to basically claim “You aren’t reading it right.” aka You aren’t reading it like me and I claim to be the TrueChristiantm.

      A few thoughts.

      1. You want to claim that someone must be perfect before judging anyone else. That fails since there is no reason to think it needs to be so. BTW, your bible says that humans see right and wrong, good and evil just like your god. So by it’s claims, we should have no problem in judging this god.

      2. “But but you didn’t read it right.” Evidence your way is the “right” way? Yep, didn’t think so. Poor god, can’t make it self clear except to those who want to consider themselves the only TrueChristians. You desperately assume no one reads it with context, history, literature, etc, and at least in my case, you would be wrong. You try to claim that only “astute” readers are reading it right and thus agreeing with you. How convenient. And I can say that golly, the gospels aren’t a real biography, note the stylistic nuances. It’s also always great to see a Christain claiming that know the “true point” of Job but can’t tell us what it is. Yep, I’ve seen that before, you don’t want to have to defend your supposed “true point”.

      3. More “But but you didn’t’ read it right”. The word is translated as remembered in all of the bibles I’ve looked at: NIV, KJV, Orthodox Jewish, RSV, YLT. I can keep going. Your argument appears to be that all of those translators are wrong and magically you are right. Reading the book, one sees that “The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. But (in some cases this is “and”) God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” There’s no reason to think that remembered isn’t accurate. As for god remembering things at all or forgetting them, the bible supposedly from him sure forgets if a people have supposedly all been destroyed or not. The claims about the Amalekites is notorious for that. I suppose you could blame the writers of the bible, but then how does one know what is true?
      4. My favorite. How about we look at the OT before the NT: “4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” Yep, all to show off, all for “glory” and “fame”. Your god murders people to show off. You wish to claim it was okay since it somehow “advanced god’s kingdom on earth”. I wonder what else would you agree with as long as someone told you that.

      5. Your god chooses people over others with no reason. See Cain and Abel. Poor god, doesn’t like veggies? Let me just say chosen people called the Israelites. Yep, choosing one group of people over another with no more reason than the people say he did.

      6. One more time with the “but but you didn’t read it right”. I love how you think one translation of the bible is better than the next as long as it agrees with you. The translations are translating one word “ra” so you don’t like it. One of the best treaments I’ve seen for the excuses Christians use for this is here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism/2007/01/little-known-bible-verses-v-god-creates-evil/

      The word “ra” also is used to mean evil. And all of those other words you mention “sorrow,” “wretchedness,” “adversity,” “afflictions,” “calamities” were around in the 1600s and the 1700s, so your claim that “evil” was what they used because they had nothing else is just hilarious. The 21st KJV says evil, the YLT says evil, the ASV, the Amplified, 1599 Geneva version, all say evil. The Orthodox Jewish bible says woe: condition of deep suffering from misfortune, affliction, or grief ruinous trouble : calamity, affliction Harming people is evil so there is no problem here in repeating that your bible says yoru god causes very bad things to happen. Why would a supposedly good god go out of its way to create such evil acts?

      I’ll finish by saying it’s great to see you insist that no one can mention fundamentalists because that would be unfair. Well, until you show your version is any more right than theirs, you are beholden to the same standards. Anything else is just you trying to declare that you are the only TrueChristian and they aren’t.

      Like

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        @club – he neglects to mention that the concept of perfection is entirely subjective.

        The “flood story: is a rehashing of the Mesopotamian “Epic of Gilgamesh,” written more than a hundred years before the fictional Noah’s flood allegedly occurred, which was itself a fictional account of an actual historically-attested flood that took place in Mesopotamia in 2900 BCE, when the Euphrates River overflowed it’s banks to a depth of 22.5 ft. (15 cubits) and flooded an area equivalent to that of three counties, and King Zuisudra, an actual, historical king, escaped the deluge on a trading barge loaded with cattle, cotton, grain and beer.

        As for the fictional Cain and Able, one must ask why Able was raising sheep, for the wool? This fable was alleged to have occurred prior to their god’s lifting of the ban on eating meat, so Cain would have every reason to believe that his god would prefer an offering of “the herbs of the field,” their mandated diet, over the flesh of a slaughtered animal. Ever have two children each bring home a piece of their artwork and run to show it to you, and tell one they’re a modern Rembrandt, and the other that his project is a piece of crap? What effect do you suppose that would have on the children? I consider such things before I speak – clearly, this god does not.

        Like

    • makagutu says:

      Since some of the issues you have raised in your response have been dealt with, I will just add one or two.
      To say god means something else with mercy is to make a claim you can’t defend and to take meaning out of the word mercy. That said no god has a right to a create a being with feeling and treat as it pleases! No way, that is the height of tyranny.
      You keep insisting that I ignore the nuances in Job. I read job when I still believed god wad all merciful and all the attributes he is alleged to poses but I still couldn’t wrap my head around why he such a being would make a creature he loves suffer just so he can win a bet. He says at the beginning of Job that there is no one as sinless as job and at last when Job gets audience with this god, all he asked can he create s**t so why ask for answers. If that is not evasion for you, I don’t know what is!
      You have quoted several translation to show your god means darkness and light. Tell me what this means to you.
      Paul believed the world was coming to an end at his time and as such advised those who were unmarried to remain as such not marriage persecution as you want me to believe.
      The church tells you are born defective and they alone have the cure. If that is not enslavement enough, I don’t know what else will work!
      My friend, you do not notice I have given you a lot of rope to keep quoting the bible as if it were a true document. In the OT, especially genesis when a woman is referred to by name she is wife to Abe, she is sleeping with Abe or sons and mostly they go nameless. Was god to busy to name them as well? You keep asking me to read the bible within its context, what do you think I do? I don’t jump from book to book just to get a quote to use against theists, no I look at what other commentators have said on the same manner and I don’t have to agree with them. They expressed their ideas, what makes me incapable of developing an interpretation myself, if the text is meant to speak to everyone?
      I have written elsewhere, if god can’t forgive his enemies, he shouldn’t ask us to forgive ours. You say this god was mad because men were building a tower to heaven, seriously, an all knowing god ought to have laughed it off knowing they were going nowhere but you don’t seem to consider such possibilities because you so want to see your god as being perfect and beyond blemish. I unfortunately do not share a similar ambition.
      What is love. Ambiguous like the word god. Means different thing to different people!
      Am not angry at your god. I only use those examples to show you it is absurd for any one to claim the horrible things god commands are for our good. Unless good means something totally different to you!

      Like

  8. I’ll respond to the top two guys today as my time is limited. I shall also point out that I am, by no means, obliged to address anything and would therefore like to remind you guys that, my silence over a certain topic neither indicates an opinion or lack of.

    So, let’s start with archaeopteryx1’s comments.

    1:But let’s look at the choices your god gives us: “Love me or burn in hell for eternity.” I’d call that a loaded option.

    Well, of course it’s loaded! But, I have never heard it put that way outside of a secular interpretation. When I was an atheist I used to describe it as the gangster God holding a loaded gun to our heads and i’ve heard all sorts of other ways of describing it but, it isn’t really the way it is described in the bible.

    For example, Paul writes in Romans 3:23,
    “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
    What he’s getting at here is: because of the choice to disobey God’s commands and live for our own desires in eden, that original sin corrupted the world entirely. We are now, all of us, prone to satisfying self first before we look to include others.
    This has been well documented in the secular world as well as the Christian world and I shan’t need to elaborate. The problem of evil in the world is self evident.

    So Paul informs us that God has a set of standards and our sin (evil/whatever you want to call it) means that we fall short of those standards.

    The punishment for that choice is death and, complete separation from God.
    The promise of God is that, if we accept what has been done for us in Jesus, we needn’t be separated, we have acknowledged him and said we want to restore that relationship. The consequences of making the latter decision is God honors his promise of a, “real and eternal life” in Christ.

    So, whilst the choice IS, love me and live eternally in that love or, reject me and live for eternity in that rejection; and it does seem pretty loaded. If you decide that this is the truth then the decision making process is fairly easy.

    If you chose to reject it, that’s your choice, I’m not going to hold that against you, nor am I going to force my opinion on to you. I will continue to show you the same love I always have. I think a lot of these qualms come from a warped view of the Church.

    There is a clear difference between organised religion and faith in Jesus Christ.
    Organised religion seeks to control through fear of hell, and a hierarchical structure.
    Faith in Christ follows the Jesus model: Love everybody, don’t judge, to lead is to serve etc.

    2:Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. God is all powerful. Draw your own conclusions.

    Did God write the above? God, if you chose to believe in him, would be above all that we could imagine. He would certainly be bigger and better than our philosophical musings. Stop looking at God (mine or an imagined one) through the limited spectacles of human capability. If God exists, He would be more than capable of being incorruptible.

    Now to tackle what clubschadenfreude has presented:

    “Wow, a lot of words to basically claim “You aren’t reading it right.” aka You aren’t reading it like me and I claim to be the TrueChristiantm.”

    I find your tone here to be almost confrontational and, would like to point out that I am giving up free time to engage in informed, intelligent discussion with you guys. I would appreciate keeping the debate on topic and not resorting to nitpicking about word counts etc.

    1: “You want to claim that someone must be perfect before judging anyone else. That fails since there is no reason to think it needs to be so”

    Can you explain what you mean here, I find this sentence to be rather conceptually abstract and am struggling to work out the appropriate response.

    I think it would be unfair to judge others ethically based on one’s own merits. The reasons I think this are varied and not just based on my Christian ideology. Let me give you a secular reason why I think it is ethically imoral to judge based on personal or cultural standards.

    If you judge someone against the standard of your own character then that judgement becomes fallacious. I would almost dare to say that judging people from a personal standpoint falls under the specific fallacy: argumentum ad verecundiam

    The point is, according to universally agreeable standards of moralistic behaviour, humans are far from perfect (you will find that, almost everyone agrees that there is a set of moral laws that govern us -weather they be God given or evolved). It is therefore, unfair to judge anyone else’s level of perfection because we are not perfect.

    “BTW, your bible says that humans see right and wrong, good and evil just like your god. So by it’s claims, we should have no problem in judging this god.”

    Let’s look at what the bible says here! I’m going to use King James because a lot of you guys seem to prefer that version:

    “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”(Gen 2:9)

    “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen 2:17)

    “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5)

    And here’s the verse I think you are referring to:

    And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: (Gen 3:22)

    Now, there’s loads that can be said here and it is really interesting stuff but, because of time I’m going to keep it fairly specific.

    “The Hebrew was היה hayah, which is the third person preterite tense, and signifies was, not is.” (http://clarke.biblecommenter.com/genesis/3.htm)

    This changes the implications of this verse dramatically. Basically, before eating of the tree, man, was(היה hayah) Godlike, knowing of good and evil. Now Man is fallen, and therefore must be banished and consigned to death.

    These verses tell the crucial part of our Christian gospel story. They explain the consequences of choosing to reject God and the subsequent separation between us and God.

    2: Evidence your way is the “right” way?

    When I said that it resembled a play I was perhaps being a bit over simplistic but, here’s a tiny sample of some of the evidence that Job isn’t as straight forward as a literal historic account:

    http://www.teleiosministries.com/pdfs/Understanding_Yahwehs_Word/the_book_of_job.pdf

    http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/18-Job/Text/Articles/Harris-JobGod-GTJ.pdf (page 14 onwards)

    http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/18-Job/Text/Articles/Smick-SemiolJob-WTJ.pdf

    http://www.rbsp.info/rbs/RbS/JOB/sem00.html

    Hope that these lengthy articles will help you realise the complexities and problems faced when taking the book of Job as a literal historical narrative.

    “It’s also always great to see a Christain claiming that know the “true point” of Job but can’t tell us what it is.”

    The dominant theme of Job is the difficulty of understanding why an all-powerful God allows good people to suffer. Job wants to find a way to justify God’s actions, but he cannot understand why there are evil people who “harm the childless woman, / and do no good to the widow,” only to be rewarded with long, successful lives (24:21). Job’s friends, including Elihu, say that God distributes outcomes to each person as his or her actions deserve. As a result of this belief, they insist that Job has committed some wrongdoing to merit his punishment. God himself declines to present a rational explanation for the unfair distribution of blessings among men. He boasts to Job, “Have you comprehended the / expanse of the earth? / Declare, if you know all this” (38:18). God suggests that people should not discuss divine justice since God’s power is so great that humans cannot possibly justify his ways.

    “But (in some cases this is “and”) God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” There’s no reason to think that remembered isn’t accurate.”

    Erm, I suggest you read my argument again here. I am arguing that the word remembered and forgot are different contextually. I, at no point, contend the use of the word remembered!

    “he claims about the Amalekites is notorious for that. I suppose you could blame the writers of the bible, but then how does one know what is true?
”

    Can you recount what you mean here by God forgetting the Amalekites?

    “Yep, all to show off, all for “glory” and “fame”. Your god murders people to show off. You wish to claim it was okay since it somehow “advanced god’s kingdom on earth”. I wonder what else would you agree with as long as someone told you that.”

    I think your understanding of glory and fame are probably different to how an all powerful, creator God would see the same things.
    I also think your use of the word murder is particularly biased! Is it murder when an influx of grey squirrels moves into a red squirrel population and drives them out for their own gain? No, it is natural and expected behaviour. It is only through a human-centric disposition that we can label the actions of God as, “murderous”.

    I do not do things in my own life in blind obedience. I never have and certainly never will. That is not to say that I’m disobedient more to suggest, that I act out of obedience because of a driving reason rather than compulsion.

    “Your god chooses people over others with no reason. See Cain and Abel”

    We are going to come to a point where we disagree so fervently here that neither of our arguments will satisfy the other’s position.
    You see, my argument shall be based on the need to read the entire bible in light of the new testament (I wouldn’t be a Christian otherwise) and you shall base your argument (no doubt) on the fact that the bible comes in two parts OT and NT.

    If you read the story of Cain and Abel in light of the entire bible then it becomes apparent why God favoured Abel’s offering.

    Leviticus gives us a little insight: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Lev 17:11)

    “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”(hebrews 9:22)

    So you see, it is because Cain is disobeying the command of God that God favours Abel’s sacrifice.

    Of course, my argument only holds if you believe in God and this point of contention cannot be resolved cross-worldviews! I feel it would be fruitless to pursue this line of enquiry as there isn’t any real evidence for either of us being right or wrong and this becomes more a point of opinion.

    As for the final point: It is important to understand a Christian perspective on where evil comes from.

    God does not create evil. What God does create is the potential for evil.
    An American philosopher put it quite succinctly when he said:

    “…it is not logically possible to have free will and have no possibility of moral evil. In other words, once God chose to create human beings with free will, it was up to them, rather than God, as to whether there was sin or not.
    That’s what free will means. Built into the situation of God deciding to create human beings is the chance of evil, and , consequently, the suffering that results.”
    ~ Peter Kreeft

    If we had no will to choose weather or not to obey God, we would become mindless God serving Robots. But God loves and wants love to be shared. Love is a real response that requires free will.

    This is why evil exists. It isn’t that God created evil, it is that God loves so much he is willing to risk evil becoming a reality.

    Can you give me five good reasons why I should be, ” beholden to the same standards” as a fundamentalist? What am I doing that likens me to a fundamentalist

    Thanks for the conversation. Let’s continue to keep it civil.

    In love

    Joe

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    • makagutu says:

      Joe, first you need not start your response with an apology for shortness of time. There is no requirement that any of these posts should be responded to within a specific time frame, that said I will say a few things. Two is you are by all means free to respond to what you want!

      1:But let’s look at the choices your god gives us: “Love me or burn in hell for eternity.”

      What does it say in John 3:16 and please tell at what time in the history of man did we not satisfy the self? I consider it a bonus to be eternally separated from god.
      Organised religion can’t exist sans faith in Jesus. Any one making a claim to the contrary is definitely lying. There are those who are religious but do not want to associate with organised religion but are still in some kind of church which organises them.

      Did God write the above? God, if you chose to believe in him, would be above all that we could imagine.

      God if it exists demands absolute power for himself. I didn’t know it can write.

      Wow, a lot of words to basically claim “You aren’t reading it right.” aka You aren’t reading it like me and I claim to be the TrueChristiantm.”

      Club doesn’t mean to be confrontational, but if you look at the comments you have made, the above conclusion is apparent. It is unavoidable. You in many places insist that I have misread or misrepresented the bible.
      The idea of perfection originated with god belief, it is not a priori proposition. You’d need to show why anyone should be perfect? The idea of perfection is tied to the gods. Remove the gods from the picture and human beings just are!
      You keep talking context. Now if the OT is written before the NT, how then does the NT create a context for the Old? I don’t get it!
      If god is the creator of all things, he can’t be excused from creating evil. You can’t have it both ways.
      You may want to see Job as you want and you’ll be correct. I on the hand apart from the fact that god does not answer why we suffer in the book of Job, places a bet with Satan to show his glory makes him a fiend!

      Like

    • Damn straight it’s confrontational, sweetheart. That’s what debates are. Spare me the excuses. You made a choice to participate. You want to use your free time in other ways, that’s your choice too. I certainly haven’t nitpicked about word counts; I’ve shown how ridiculous your claims are.

      1. You claim that somenoe needs to be perfect before they can judge. So by your argument, no one can judge anyone else unless they are perfect and you define perfect as your god. Now, if it’s what’s described in the bible, it’s anything but perfect. And no one said anything about judging someone else based solely on one’s own merits. Nice strawman, but it fails. That’s what laws are for, commonly held ideas of beneficial acts and harmful acts. Since your god can’t even keep those straight for itself, it has no objective morals that are any better than human ones. It can be argued that they are worse since this god has no problems with things that many humans find abhorrent. I find it just a riot that you want to whine that others are using the argument from authority when that’s *all* you have for claiming your god can judge people. ROFL.

      2. Back to a Christian claimign interpretations are wrong, until they find the one they like. Always a good one. And no, I rather prefer anything but the KJV since it is an old translation that has missed about 400 years worth of scholarship. That is the verse though. And it says directly, except for being immortal, humans are like us in knowing good and evil. “22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.”
      I really don’t care much about the Hebrew since your god supposedly guides translators if the propaganda is to be believed. Not one of them translates it as “Man was like one of us.” And it makes no sense at all if it continues “he must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take ALSO from the tree of life.” It’s amusing that this Clarke claims that a “very learned man” supports him but does not actually tell us who this man is. Isn’t it great to appeal to authority and not actually give one? We have in Clarke’s own words a great demonstration that Christians can’t agree at all about what the heck they want those words to “really” mean. Surely Clarke is “right” when he makes baseless claims but no one else is. Wow, the pure unadulterated arrogance there.

      I will agree that the story is necessary to the gospel stories since without the original sin nonsense of A&E, your Jesus is pointless.

      You weren’t “overly simplistic” you were simply wrong. And more links. Can’t you actually put down what you think in your own words? It seems that so many Christians want to attempt to bafffle with nonsense rather than actually debating. But lets look at the links. Yep, more baseless opinions attempting to excuse the actions of this god. Things are always claimed to be metaphor or parable if the Christian doesn’t like the implications of his god actually being such an ass. It’s the usual magic decoder ring, where a Christian consults it for what is metaphor and what is literal, according to what the Christian wants to believe. I know that the book is a problem and has always been a problem for Christians. If it’s a parable then anything in the bible could be, including the gospels. And boy wouldn’t that be a problem right? No literal salvation, no real JC, no hoping for people to be punished for disagreeing with you.

      Why there you go, with the “true point” of Job. And yep, it’s more baseless claims created to excuse an unpleasant picture of your god. There is no question why good people suffer, it’s because your god made a bet with its supposed archenemy. God has a choice, if it existed, to present a rational explanation but doesn’t.

      I’ve read your argument twice about the whole remembered thing in the Noah story and it still is an excuse. If something is omniscient, it does not need to remember anything. It knows. Thus the book is written by humans not written/inspired by some god.

      In the bible, your bible says that the Amalekites are entirely destroyed in one place 1 Samuel 15:7–8, then in another, they’re still around 1 Chr. 4:42–43. So, did your god forget to get them all? Was he lying when he wrote/inspired that they were all killed? This story is also a great one for “Hey, kill all of these people for what their grandparents did to you.” How “wise”, and “fair”. Not.

      I always enjoy when a Christian says that I simply must misunderstand a word and does their best to redefine it to excuse their god. There is nothing to say that glory and fame don’t mean exactly the same as they do now and no reason to think that some imaginary friend of yours has a magically different definition. Yep, it makes you feel better to not think that your god is a braggart that wants attention but the bible makes it clear that he does. And oh, my use of the word murder is biased when I use it for your god killing people. That’s sweet, dear, it really is. Murder is the intentional killing of someone. Your god is per you, an intelligent being that can make decisions. So it can and does committ murder. I do like how you’ve tried to reduce the Egyptians to animals (“squirrels”) to excuse your god’s actions. That’s really very Christian of you. Not that it actually occurred but let’s review the events of Exodus. We have a group of people who were enslaved because their god wanted it that way. He finally remember what he did by hearing them “groaning” (Exodus 2:24) and set things into motion to get them out of the punishment he decreed. His major representative murders a man and hides the body. Moses also whines and gets Aaron appointed as spokes person. Then we have the hardening of the hearts. Pharoah does it and so does God and he says he does it so he can show off. He sends the plagues and at the final bit, God murders the first born of everything, including animals. These are people who had no choice because the pharoah is the absolute ruler in Egypt. Your god also mind controlled the Egyptians and *made* them give up their gold and silver to the Israelites.

      I disagree with you because you make things up to excuse your god. You don’t like my arguments because they show where yours fail. And I do not care if you don’t agree with me. Oh darn we disagree and this is to make me afraid that I won’t be graced by your presence? Please. I have read the entire bible old and new testaments as a Christian and as not. Your whines about reading it in a certain way aka “read it like me and agree with me” are more of the typical Christian nonsense. I know one follows the other and supposed builds on the other. And your god, supposedly this all-powerful thing, prefers meat to veggies. It is entirely a random choice. This god, if it is what you claim, could have said “for the life of the veggie is in the juice and I have given it to you to make atonement on the altar”. It is a whimsical decision to prefer blood over juice. Your argumetn only holds if you are a primitive that thinks blood is something magical. I’m sure you don’t want to discuss it. Declare it fruitless (heh) if you want, but the problem is still there.
      I know that Christians sure don’t like to have to admit that their bible says that their god creates evil. So you do all you can to avoid it. Now, if yoru god creates the potential for evil, there goes free will. Because we have no choice in what this god forces upon us. If he would have left well enough alone, then no sin at all. We’d all be in heaven supposedly. It’s so great to see you appeal to authority and then declare that it wasn’t god’s fault there was sin, why it was humans! Pshaw on that god allows this satan into the garden to corrupt people intentionally or out of stupidity.

      Oh yes and that heaven, that’s where we do become mindless robots endlessly praising God and having to love him no matter what. No free will in heaven so that means this love is worthless now. Tsk, what a conundrum. God doesn’t want to be loved; nothing shows that is true at all. He wants to be obeyed. He is a controlling parent, with the gun of “hell” pressed to our temple.

      You share the same beliefs in an imaginary god as a fundamentalist does. You just think your version is better for no reason except for your certainty that you are the one with the “right” answers. You are sure that they are wrong. As for being “civil”, love to see that too, the excuse already in the shoot for when my questions get too hard and then you decide that I’m being “too uncivil” to answer. How convenient.

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      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        “‘Scrutumini scripturas’
        (‘Let us examine the scriptures’)
        These two words have undone the world.”
        — John Selden —
        (1584-1658)

        Like

  9. I am trying to follow this debate, but there isn’t a moderator keeping people focused on particular issues; each of you is jumping around.

    Would it be too much to ask for one post, dedicated to one point? Maybe some concessions will appear, which is supposed to be the point, I think. After you have exhausted that discussion, move to a new post, etc. I just can’t follow all the back and forth.

    Great to see an open dialogue though!

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Culpeper, I think they respondents have not gone so far away from the major question under debate which is the cruelty, impossibility of the christian god, and the anger and misogyny of Paul.

      Like

      • Fair enough. I’ll have to read more closely. I probably was reading too quickly.

        Like

      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Speaking of “the misogyny of Paul,” Mak, I suspect you are referring to the Pauline letters of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, in which women are instructed to keep their place and defer to their husbands. According to Bart D. Ehrman, in his book, “Forged,” all three of these letters are forgeries, intended by the anonymous author to “correct” Paul’s liberal (for the time) outlook on women, in which Paul actually recommended women be allowed to become priests. Paul was not the misogynist that his forger was.

        Like

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