Of Mercy and Justice

Those good friends who have been reading this blog must have Caroline a while back. We meet with her here again on a pet subject of mine. As part of the larger series of response to christian apologists, we will have fun doing this, one to show where they are wrong and also to see how we can move forward in eliminating superstition and myth from the minds of the people. It is the only way I think society can move forward as one.

As a small change in my response to the apologists, I would first want them to define god coherently and show that a god so defined can exist and also that the god so defined need our worship. Barring this, I am convinced that apologists and theologians have chosen to willfully delude themselves and the general public. I also contend that they have to show the god they defined is the christian god or whatever religion they ascribe to.

Now that we are done with the basics, let us deal with the question at heart here. Our friend is talking about justice and punishment. I don’t think there is any justice, there is only revenge. We call it justice because we are ashamed of the word revenge while most times that is what people are seeking, in that respect I can’t support any fight for justice. Unless here we refer to cases like where one has grabbed a piece of your land and all you want is that piece to be returned and nothing more, in such an instance I would give a little neck room but not beyond.

I’ve been wrestling with atheists recently, philosophically, not physically. And as we’ve gone back and forth, the charge of God’s apparent capriciousness and/or callousness has been proposed as reason to question his goodness. A case in point is the biblical record of God “hardening “ Pharaoh’s heart. This is the Egyptian king who was ruthlessly oppressing the enslaved Israelites. And when God called Moses to be his instrument of redemption, he did say to him, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.” (Exodus 4:21)

Here before we discuss whether Pharaoh was ruthless, the first question that must be dealt with here is, were the Israelites spoils of war or were they led to Egypt by their supposed god? If it is the first, we need to examine the records to see whether there is any truth in it. And if as I believe, they were led to Egypt by their supposed god, he must be responsible fully for what happens to them while there. Blame can’t be transferred unless the theist also accepts that Pharaoh was god’s agent and is to that extent not guilty. In many posts, I have said what I think about miracles and I will repeat here that truth doesn’t require miracles. As long as a miracle is needed, I insist there is no truth involved.

Many ask, how then can God be just in bringing all the plagues on Pharaoh and the Egyptians if he so decreed that his heart would be set firmly against freeing the Israelites? It is a reasonable question, but I believe some investigating will disclose a satisfactory answer.

Let us look at the answer she proposes

Before I go on, I’d like to emphasize its reasonableness and say to my atheist friends [………..] that these difficult passages disquiet and trouble Christians as well. It is a sign of our sense of justice and concern for our fellow-man that you and we are disturbed by them. And that’s a good thing. The difference, as I see it, is that you stop there and write God off as either nonexistent or not worthy of worship, but we give him the benefit of the doubt, if you will, and pursue a greater understanding. Not because we don’t want to face the facts, but because we must, and the facts of his justice, mercy, love, and grace don’t jive with evil and cruelty.

Why for instance give god a benefit of doubt you are not ready to grant your fellow-man who you can see, who has feelings, he pleads for mercy? Is it a case where one wants to truly believe that the god she believes in is good despite evidence to the contrary? No we don’t stop there, we continue to examine whether the stories so told are credible and whether the god described can be called merciful and we find he falls short. We lack a belief in gods because we find no evidence to suppose one or many could exist. By saying your god is not what it is described to be, we are not saying it exists, no, we are showing that as described he can only be a fiend, capricious and an enemy of men.

In the same way, because I am convinced of God’s goodness, based on how he reveals himself in both the Old and New Testaments, the witness of Jesus Christ who is the “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), the fact that we his creatures are capable of great love, compassion, sacrifice, kindness, etc…I, at the very least, trust that there is a good explanation for the apparent dichotomy. And my faith can be strong without knowledge of that explanation. But because I believe God provides a greater understanding when we pursue it…I pursue it.

Friends, please help me here. Well maybe I read a wrong bible translation but how can someone defend that the god of the OT is good. He punishes his first mistake, sends them out of their residence, curses the earth they are supposed to plow, curses child-birth, drowns almost everything, shows favoritism, allows or commands the killing of several number of peeps for no reason other than that they worship a bigger god than him. This god tolerates slavery, promises to punish great-grandchildren for the sins of their fathers, punishes everyone except the persons responsible[take case of David, kills the baby instead of David]. Please someone help me here. In the NT we are sent this god sent himself to die for our sins, he tells us he was innocent. Which good god sets such an example? While on the story of this Jeebus, how long was his mission here?

Why do you need faith? Why must one continue to suspend reason. If something is true, we don’t need faith. Faith is only required to believe the impossible and credulous and as for me, I don’t want faith. I want to live, as Camus says, with what I know and only with that.

Let us listen to the dichotomy

So I’ve sought understanding of God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, and though God’s ways are so much higher than ours and men have written long treatises on this issue because it is deep and complex, still I think I can confidently speak on one reality that addresses it and that should be helpful. And it is demonstrated in the convicted murderer scenario I opened with: A just punishment is still just even if there is a potential for mercy that is denied.

I have talked about punishment already. To say god’s ways are higher than ours, what does she mean? And then how is this important to us? If it is higher than ours it only follows that there is no point it becomes relevant to us. It can always remain high up there and as such can’t be used as a standard to measure things here, it will always be higher. There is nothing like just punishment, that statement qualifies to be called an oxymoron!

Pharaoh was an evil ruler who denied mercy to the Israelites and abused them as his slaves. He and all of Egypt worshiped false gods and the Pharaoh willingly received adulation from the Egyptians as having godlike status. They were deserving of God’s wrath. What’s more, God foreknew that Pharaoh would stubbornly refuse to release the Israelites “unless compelled by a mighty hand” (Exodus 3:19). His hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was part of God’s method of compulsion. It was retribution for his evil deeds borne of an evil heart, and the means of redemption for God’s people.

Please tell me, dear reader, where is it said Pharaoh was evil? Two where in the bible is the god of Abe described as the god for everyone? I want someone to show me where god revealed himself to Pharaoh saying he is his god and pharaoh dismissed him. The charge that pharaoh worshiped false god can’t be sustained and must be withdrawn. And you have no right to call someone’s god false. It is only false according to you and since no one has shown the one true god, all gods can equally be false, that is even if you could prove that yours exists. How can anyone say pharaoh and the whole of Egypt was deserving of this god’s wrath, a god they had no knowledge of? Is this not the height of cruelty and capriciousness!  It’s like a king asking for the arrest of a fellow he met and who didn’t know him then asking this guy be hanged! Tell me where the difference is between Caroline’s god and this king, and remember am patient 😀

Please tell me, is it remotely possible that, allowing this god to be both omnipotent and omniscient, he would resort to hardening pharaoh’s heart, perform some mundane tricks to get his people to go? But even before we get there, is it possible that he didn’t know by taking them to Egypt they would become slaves and thus send them elsewhere? People let us get serious! I know some of you want this god story to be true, but please just for a few moments everyday, apply reason!

So, God did not compel Pharaoh to resist him in opposition to what Pharaoh was inclined to do. In multiple passages in Exodus Pharaoh is said to have hardened his own heart. He simply executed righteous judgment on him and the Egyptians by ensuring his continued resistance resulting in the ten plagues.

So if pharaoh acted according to his own nature as Caroline implies here, why has god to punish him. It is like saying a blind man should be punished for using a white stick to find his way! My next question was everyone in Egypt a pharaoh? If the problem was between god and pharaoh, why involve everyone else? Could god not seek an address with pharaoh, why even send Moses? This sounds like the queen of England has a problem with Mr. Hollande, then she sends some ignorant farmer to go meet with the president, please friends, is this sensible?

One might object that obviously God knew Pharaoh would have relented a lot sooner or he wouldn’t have needed to harden his heart, and that would have spared Egypt a number of plagues…and that’s not fair. But I refer you again to our convicted Murderer B. Would we think it just, particularly if his victim was a loved one of ours, if upon his expressed remorse and resolve never to murder again as he stood ready to be sentenced, the judge let him go scot-free?

I have said enough about punishment already. The rest of this statement is ridiculous. Here we have a god behaving like Caroline would, why then call him god? He has the same attitudes just like we do?

But whence goeth justice in the case of Murderer A? He received mercy, which is the antithesis of justice, and every judge has the authority to dispense it. But though we are all entitled to justice, no one is entitled to mercy.

Do I need to say here I again that there is no justice and that we are all entitled to mercy. We can’t act against our nature, so all of us must be treated with mercy whether a god exists or not. Anyone who objects to this position please show me why!

But if God is so wonderful and loving, why doesn’t he have mercy on everyone? I think there are a lot of good answers to that, but there’s one that becomes obvious if we ask ourselves this: Why doesn’t any judge sentence every convicted criminal that stands before him to probation?

I think the obvious answer to this question is at the beginning of the post. There are no gods and in as much as we would want things to be different, they are just as they are.

Advertisements

Free at last. Free at last!

At last god decided not to harden pharaoh’s heart but not before he kills every firstborn of Egypt including cattle which he had already killed earlier. Now friends, I know I have said this god ain’t all knowing, it is only fair I show you why 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Am a bit confused here, when there was darkness over Egypt for 3 days, sons of Israel had light, this can only be possible if they stayed separately. If this is the case, why would they need to mark their doors? The reason, however, why I think this stories contradict chapter after chapter is they had different authors and the audience to whom it is addressed was not a critical one as we are now.

12 Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Which month is this?

On other matters, when Moses is addressing the sons of Israel telling them how to mark their doors so as to be spared when the lord shows up to do murder innocents, are there no Egyptians listening? How could he have a kamkunji/baraza without trouble from pharaoh’s guards and soldiers especially since we are told they were slaves.

We can pass the story of unleavened bread and the prescribed eating style which I find absurd and incredulous if it were an instruction from a all powerful god but from a fearful minion it would be sensible.

We are told the sons of Israel lived in Egypt 430 years, I will need help tracing this period. From the verses we have read to this point, it simply doesn’t add up.

And finally one of the many crazy religious laws

43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; 44 but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. 45 A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it. 46 It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it.47 All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this. 

 

The last plague

Up until this moment we have seen god and his handy men perform several magic tricks; turning water to blood, darkness over Egypt for 3 days, locusts, insects, hail storm, boils death of cattle and I think staff that become snakes and at the same time god keeps hardening pharaoh’s heart so that when he is about to release the sons of Israel he changes his mind. At this point now, god is tired and can’t take any more of this ( remember he is responsible for pharaoh hardening his heart) and decides to show his hand in a final decisive way.

Not too fast my friends, he still has some show off to do

Speak now in the hearing of the people so that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold.” The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.

Where did the people get these precious stones, they have been slaves for as long as we can recall. Alchemists would love to know where they got the gold, did it come from the words Moses spoke or did they mine and not hand over to pharaoh, be the judge my friends.

Am confused here  Moses said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well.  All livestock owned by the Egyptians have been killed already, where have these firstborn of cattle come from? What is the guilt of goats and sheep? And what about slave girls? And are there other slaves apart from the sons of Israel and why do they have to lose their firstborn? What wrong have they committed against god or against the sons of Israel if they are also slaves?

You’d think after these senseless murders, god would have some sanity of mind to not harden pharaoh’s heart. No he doesn’t, he is still not satisfied with murder and destruction so he hardens pharaoh’s heart one final time. It is here that Moses and Aaron should have rightly told god to do the rest himself. It is a waste of their time to send them to pharaoh and go behind their back to harden pharaoh’s heart.

Who do you think is responsible for the sons of Israel continued suffering[am not sure they are suffering]. Is it god, pharaoh, Moses and Aaron, the people of Egypt of the sons of Israel themselves?

God showing off

Moses and Aaron are irresponsible, god tells them he is going to harden pharaoh’s heart and they don’t question him but have the audacity to tell him[pharaoh] to humble himself. How do they expect him to do this? To act in deviance of a god so intent on showing off his magic tricks?

They have said, a picture can take the space of 1000 words and so we will do just that for this post. I have just one question, how could Moses cause darkness for three days in Egypt and at the same time have light in Goshen which I guess must have been a stone throw away?

The plague of the locusts

 

Three day darkness over Egypt. The lights in the background is light as seen from Goshen where the sons of Israel live

 


 

Death, boils and hail

When we last visited exodus, god had hardened pharaoh’s heart, to what extent I don’t know, so he didn’t let the sons of Israel go.

God appears to be angered by this and promises Moses and Aaron he is going to do worse things to the pharaoh. He kills all the livestock owned by pharaoh and the Egyptians but spares those owned by the sons of Israel. If the sons of Israel are slaves, it follows then that they are held us property of their master, what would stop their masters from taking their livestock? Am confused here, when  Jake came to Egypt, they asked to be allowed to stay in Goshen to keep their livestock since it was an abomination to the Egyptians, when did they start to keep livestock? Again as you’ll expect, god hardens pharaoh’s heart, so he can’t let the people go.

God angered by this, I don’t for the life of me see why he should be angry, he promises to bring boils and how does he do this;

10 So they took soot from a kiln, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses threw it toward the sky, and it became boils breaking out with sores on man and beast.

I thought all livestock belonging to the Egyptians have been killed, which beasts are this suffering boils? But even after this god still hardens pharaoh’s heart, god must be a sadist? Friends tell me, why would a god harden pharaoh’s heart? Is it to make Egyptians suffer, then he likes our suffering; if to show he is powerful then he is vain?

Boils have failed to work and now he brings hail storm and lightning that destroyed every plant and livestock in the field except in Goshen. If you pharaoh, what would you do? Plead with Moses or move your family to Goshen? That aside, what end did this god of the Hebrews aim to achieve? You realize, he ain’t god of everyone but for the Hebrews so those of you who say he is your god are mistaken 🙂

Pharaoh still refuses but not on his own accord. God is fully responsible for his refusal. We can safely say god refuses to free the people of Israel I think he still has some magic tricks up his sleeves.

Plague of the boils

 

 

Old wive’s tales

When we were last here, the water had been turned red [blood], am not sure whether the pigment has changed. They haven’t said so I can assume it’s still the same. God ups his game and now he promises to bring frogs to the land. I don’t think till here these signs discriminate between Egyptian and sons of Israel. What I don’t here is anyone raising a petition to god, why must the people of Egypt suffer while it is god who had made pharaoh’s heart hard, by the way how do you do that?

Is there anyone around who could just create frogs remotely by stretching a rod over water, I would want to try this sometime if only he/she can share this ability with me.

Did I tell you god is not omniscient, if he were he’d know pharaoh was going to harden his heart after the frogs were cleared or what do you think?

Now when all dust in Egypt has been turned to insects, where would anyone stand? To make things interesting, god puts an insect defense system for the sons of Israel so they are not affected by the insects. But there is a problem here, if they are slaves, are all of them on forced leave or do this protective shield move about them?

Well and as you already know, pharaoh convinces Moses who persuades god to take away the insects and then pharaoh still hardens his heart. What we are not told here though is whether god was kind enough to inform pharaoh he will be hardening his heart or else pharaoh has no understanding why he is refusing and is thus being punished unjustly!

locust infestation. This is not even 1/1000 of what we had in Egypt at that time

dust storm. I think it was something close to this since all dust was turned at once into insects

A time for action

This  chapter that god begins with gloating to Moses what he is going to do to the pharaoh as a young boy would to his playmates to impress them on his abilities

6 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.”

If you thought god had revealed his name to anyone before Moses, think again. This is from the horse’s mouth…

and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them.

Since we are already agreed this god is not omni-anything, I don’t intend to belabor the point, I’ll just mention in passing he remembered he had a covenant he had swore to to keep with with Abe and then he makes a promise that should make the sons of Israel take him as their god,

Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord

Moses then says he has spoken to the peeps of Israel and they disbelieved him, how does god expect pharaoh to take him serious.

I will not bore you with the names of the heads of the families of Israel, who you remember we were told in Chapter 1 that all the generations of Jacob aka Israel died. In fact I don’t know what sons of Israel god intends to get out of bondage.

20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses; and the length of Amram’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years.

I don’t know about you, but to marry your aunt is absurd! And by the way, I thought the matter of Moses speech was already resolved or is he playing mind games with god or is it the other way round?

30 But Moses said before the Lord, “Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?