Friday, October 25, 2019

"Sorry Guys, It's Still Immoral" - A Response To CMI (part 8)

This blog post is part 8 in a series responding to the Creation Ministries International article, "Is The Bible Immoral?", where I take a rational look at the claims made by one of the more prominent Christian apologetics organisations in its defence that the Bible is not an immoral book.

Previous posts here:

The next section of "
Is The Bible An Immoral Book?" is headed "Broken Clocks: Bad Christian Rationalisations
"

(Note: CMI have a plethora of articles available to peruse over at https://creation.com/qa, including some which may already answer points I have made in this series. Head on over, have a read, compare both sides of the argument!)


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The video is right regarding one thing...

What video?
...there are some bad rationalizations that Christians use for hard passages in the Bible.

Got that right. I explore this topic in my video "Overlooking The Bible's Bad Bits and Christian Delusion".



While you're checking that video out, feel free to look at some of the others on my channel...drop me a subscribe, perhaps?

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One (rationalisation) is to say that they are merely symbolic, but that doesn’t solve the problem...

Actually, I think for Christianity to have any hope of winning the moral argument, the only real tactic they have left is to borrow all the good stuff from secular humanism, then admit that what is in the Bible is merely symbolic/mythical - yes, morality is about maximising human wellbeing, yes, there is a God, but no, that God is not represented accurately by the Bible because various authors throughout history have (incorrectly) tied the character of God to the atrocities and genocides in the Bible. 

To defend any other theological position, you're faced with the uphill task of trying to say that yes, God is real, yes, God did command people be killed, yes, killing is good, and yes, killing is good because God commanded it.

Out of the two alternatives presented above, only one of them allows Christians to keep their moral integrity intact.

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...never mind that the Bible never presents the passages in question as anything other than historical narrative.

Hold on! In one of the previous paragraphs, Is God A Homicidal Maniac?, the author relied on the defence of genre to say that God really doesn't want children to be slaughtered in Isaiah 14:21 (which is followed by God's desire for genocide in Isaiah 14:22).

And so comes the Catch 22 for Biblical Literalism - either it is ALL literal; or, it is a mix of genres that then requires a hueristic to determine literal from metaphorical, thus, not everything in the Bible is literal.

It has to be one or the other.

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Nor does it do any good to separate the Old Testament from the New and claim that the Old Testament God was mean and angry, but Jesus is meek and gentile and nice, so there’s no problem anymore.

Agreed. If it's all the same God, then we have to look at the Bible as a whole, and if we look at the Bible as a whole, we then need to remove the concept of context, because a God who is eternal and unchanging cannot be defined by context - what God said 3000 years ago should be exactly the same as what God said 2000 years ago.

Furthermore, I think current practicing Jews may have an issue putting the Old and New Testaments together. One of my Jewish friends actually considers the Christian practice of revising Jewish texts to fit Christian theology as anti-Semitic.

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First, the Old Testament frequently portrays God as long-suffering, merciful and kind; 

Except when he's not (which is a pretty long list).


...and second, Jesus had some pretty severe words and actions too, and frequently taught on Hell.

And torture...and slavery...and tearing families apart.

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Rather, the answer is to understand the Bible in its historical context, on its own terms.

And this, my friends, has played right in to the trap of contextThe author has fallen victim to the Catch 22 of Biblical re-contextualisation

Either the texts of the Bible are to be interpreted in the contexts that they were written in, or there is no context.

If we want to use a contextual understanding of the Bible, this has the unfortunate effect of denying Christians the ability to make words Jesus said 2000 years ago apply to them in this modern age;

Or, there if you want to argue there is no differentiating context, this then means every single verse, especially all of the passages in the Bible that command genocide, slavery, infanticide, sexism, racism, banning of mixed-race marriage, etc, are able to be criticised and condemned from our the best available point of view and understanding.

Because to admit that the meaning of the text changes with historical context, this means that the book that the unchanging God chose to communicate with the world and with mankind changes and revises things depending on context.

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Feel free to leave feedback, particularly if I have got something wrong.

Until next post...


-Damien (quiterationaldad@gmail.com) 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

"Sorry Guys, It's Still Immoral" - A Response To CMI (part 7)

This blog post is part 7 in a series responding to the Creation Ministries International article, "Is The Bible Immoral?", where I take a rational look at the claims made by one of the more prominent Christian apologetics organisations in its defence that the Bible is not an immoral book.

Previous posts here:

The next section of "
Is The Bible An Immoral Book?" is headed "Cruelty To Animals And Trees
?"

(Note: CMI have a plethora of articles available to peruse over at https://creation.com/qa, including some which may already answer points I have made in this series. Head on over, have a read, compare both sides of the argument!)

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The narrator waxes eloquent about God’s murder of millions of animals in the global flood of Noah’s day—despite the fact that he believes in neither God nor a global flood.
(Emphasis added from original) 

I love it when Christians respond to criticism of God with this kind of apologetic - it means they have no argument left, because if there was still a coherent argument to be made for God's existence (let alone for his morality being superior), it wouldn't rely on "You don't believe in God anyway!".

My favourite response to this kind apologetic is to remind Christians that you don't need to believe in Batman to know that The Joker is the bad guy of the story.

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To have any ground for moral outrage, he would need to be a vegetarian, and express similar horror at anyone eating a hamburger.

Indeed, some people are vegans on ethical grounds.

But when we're talking about the divinely ordained drowning murder of millions of people, to bring up the above point is once again a distraction from the point at hand. Rather than make the positive case for why killing millions of people is (somehow) moral, the author responds with a tu quoque.

Remember, the argument is about morality, and the goal of morality is to maximise human wellbeing and minimise human suffering - anything on top of that is personal ethics.


But even if you did want to take the author's point to ridiculous extremes, we should then be outraged whenever someone kills a cockroach, a bacteria, or even eats a piece of fruit - because these are all life forms, and all life was created by God, no?

No-one thinks twice about killing a cockroach to ensure the plates their children are eating from are healthy.
Anti-bacterial handwash is a requirement in medical facilities.
And to consume fruit, you have to cut it off from its life source, tear it apart and then soak the pieces inside a biological bucket of acid.

So let's be reasonable and agree to the fact that comparing the necesity of eating of food or killing germs to sustain life, to compare that with the drowning of every single infant in the world in a divine dummy spit is not a way to make your argument reasonable.

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Perhaps even more ridiculous is his condemnation of Jesus for cursing the fig tree because it didn’t have fruit—especially since it wasn’t the season for fruit. But this simply shows gross ignorance of the Bible, and of fig trees, for that matter. 
It is extremely unusual for a fig tree to have leaves but no fruit—Jesus wasn’t expecting to find mature fruit, but the tree should have had immature fruit that was nonetheless edible...
...Jesus’ curse of the fig tree serves as a caution to people who give indication that they should have spiritual fruit—professing Christians—but have none. 

I'm not going to get in to debate about botanical science, so I'll let Cosner's point about the nature of fig trees stand.
But when it comes to theology, I believe it is actually Cosner who is ignorant of the Bible.

Allow me to give an impromptu Bible study:

1. The two passages in the gospels that we get story of Jesus withering the fig tree from are Mark 11:12-25 and Matthew 21:18-21. (For some reason, neither Luke nor John saw fit to include a narrative of Jesus magically killing a plant during the last week of his life in their gospels, despite Luke explicitly stating that he was trying to bring the most accurate account).

Both of these passages explicitly mention that Jesus was hungry - so we need to think, how is it possible that the son of God, the agent of creation, the one who was there with God at the beginning of time, firstly gets himself in a position where he's hungry, second, act all surprised when he comes across a tree he should (fore)know won't have fruit, and third, behaves like this when he apparently created the cycle of the earthly seasons that dictate when fig trees grow fruit.

This whole episode makes Jesus as violent and unpredictable as his dad - instead of helping the tree to magically grow fruit (and satiate his hunger), Jesus takes a leaf (pun intended) out of his dad's book and decides death and decay to make a point are better outcomes.

Jesus was a dick to foreign women, and now he's a dick to plants.

2. When we compare the two gospel passages of Jesus withering the fig tree, we see a clear contradiction.

In Mark, Jesus first speaks to the fig tree in earshot of the disciples, they all then go and turn over the temple, leave in the evening, and the text explicitly says that in the morning (implying the next day) the disciples notice the fig tree has been withered after they have left the temple with Peter explicitly saying to Jesus, "that fig tree you cursed has withered".

But in Matthew, it says that fig tree withered immediately - no delay and no trip to the temple in between.

In what reality and in what theology do immediately and overnight both mean the same thing?

3. Cosner is wrong when she says that the story of the fig tree is a warning to Christians. 

In Jesus' time, there were no Christians - everyone who wanted to follow scripture had to be a Jew. This is a basic fact of history.

Which means the only way Cosner could be correct is to admit that the gospels were written with a theological slant - which means not dispassionately recording history - and that the gospels were written at least one, if not two or more generations after the time of Christ - when there were Christians to warn about not producing fruit.

It's like when Jesus says to Peter, "on this rock I will build my church!". Instead of saying "Yes, Lord", Peter should have immediately replied back to Jesus, "Jesus, what is a church?".

4. The truth of the matter is that Mark originally wrote the story of the fig tree not as a warning to Christians, but as a parable about the destruction of the Jewish temple.
This is not an unreasonable conclusion because first, the weight of both the scholarship and the actual evidence indicates Mark's gospel was the first written, and second, Mark frequently employs a writing style called inclusio where he writes one story in between the start and end of another story - he starts with the first half of story a, switches to story b, then goes back to finish story a.

So we see in this example of inclusio that Mark starts the passage with Jesus being hungry and cursing the fig tree. The story then has Jesus going in to the temple to clear it out. Once Jesus finishes with the temple, he goes back out and sees that the fig tree has been withered.

Start of a - move to b - finish a. Classic inclusio.

The whole passage is an interpretation of the destruction of the Jewish temple and a commentary on the corruption of the temple cult. Because far from being monolithic, first-century Judaism was a vast collection of beliefs and opinions, including the belief that the Romans were occupying Israel because the Jewish religious leadership was corrupt and that the temple rites had failed to please God.

We then know that in 70AD, the temple was destroyed by Vespasian during the First Roman-Jewish War - one of the key indicators that Mark was written after 70AD.

So Jesus curses the fig tree (the pronouncement of judgement on the Jewish elite), he next overturns the temple (symbolic of the defeat and destruction of the Jewish elite), and then pronounces that the fig tree is dead, indicating the end of the ability of the Jewish rites to bring about any change or good, thus ushering in a new faith system that doesn't require temples, markets or sacrifices - and Jesus knows just the bloke who can help with that...


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If the narrator has anything made of wood or paper in his house, he has grounds for outrage, because multiple trees have then died for his comfort. If it is acceptable for a tree to be killed to make a desk or a chair for him to use, then surely it is permissible for Jesus to curse a tree as part of an object lesson.

Again, the problem is there because CMI have not given us the link to the original video, it really comes across as CMI attacking a straw-man.

But I will leave my response to this: Sure, Jesus can curse a fig tree to make a point (even though I don't think he actually did) - but wouldn't it have been better to cause the fig tree to grow and make a positive case, rather than kill it perniciously and make a negative case?

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But once again, absurdities from evolutionists know no bounds: some have even called for plant rights.

But once again, fallacious and factually-incorrect absurdities from Creationists know no bounds.

CMI have engaged an association fallacy to attack evolutionists (yet again), which both nullifies any argument they make, as well as make it seem like anyone who believes in evolution is immoral/amoral. I'm sure Billy Graham and Dr. Francis Collins would love to be told their morality is flawed because of their acceptance of the findings of biological science.

To be clear, and to anyone who hasn't swallowed the Fundamentalist rhetoric - there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the theory of evolution that dictates who or what has or doesn't have rights. The theory of evolution by natural selection is, and only is, a theory explaining the diversity of life on planet earth. Nothing more. 
There are no morals prescribed with the theory of evolution, no behaviours prescribed, no indoctrination classes or re-education camps you have to attend.

But the delicious irony of this is two things:

1. While I can't read German fluently, I think the URL CMI have given is broken. So only when CMI can attack evolution do they bother giving an external URL (but in this case, they forgot to check if the link still works).

2. In America, there are Christian politicians who want to bring in a Biblical theocracy, including mandating the death penalty for anyone not living biblically.

I'm afraid to ask CMI what is more dangerous: someone saying plants have rights, or legally mandating death for someone who works on Sundays?

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To sum it up, ending the life of a plant or animal for the reasonable sustainment of life isn't a bad thing - animals eat plants and animals eat other animals all the time - and I would argue that a cow being slaughtered under ethical guidelines is a lot more humane than a lion tearing apart a live gazelle with its teeth.

But killing humans in a fit of rage is a bad thing.

And when people can understand that contrast, then we can have a rational and healthy conversation regarding morality.

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Until next time, stay healthy.

-Damien (quiterationaldad@gmail.com)

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

"Sorry Guys, It's Still Immoral" - A Response To CMI (part 6)

This blog post is part 6 in a series responding to the Creation Ministries International article, "Is The Bible Immoral?", where I take a rational look at the claims made by one of the more prominent Christian apologetics organisations in its defence that the Bible is not an immoral book.

Previous posts here:
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5.

The next section of "
Is The Bible An Immoral Book?" is headed "
What about Jesus?"

(Note: CMI have a plethora of articles available to peruse over at https://creation.com/qa, including some which may already answer points I have made in this series. Head on over, have a read, compare both sides of the argument!)

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The narrator claims that Jesus is evil for endorsing the law for killing the person who curses his father and mother...

While I don't personally believe the character of Jesus to be outright evil, it doesn't make sense that someone who is known for love and mercy to endorse religious laws that command execution of people who curse their mother or father. 
Or to endorse slavery.
Or to endorse torture.
Or to encourage men to leave their family members behind, which actually meant condemning the rest of the family to poverty and hardship.

To the apologists who try to say that Jesus meant "leave your family and follow me" metaphorically, answer this: did Jesus command the disciples to follow him literally, or merely metaphorically?

But considering Jesus is quoted as saying that he came not to bring peace, but a sword, and that he came to turn family members against each other, how many hits can the 'shield of context' sustain before you realise that maybe Jesus could indeed have been a bit of a dick? 

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First, we must understand the law that Jesus is citing. It’s not talking about someone who says in a fit of rage “I wish you were dead!” but someone who undertakes a more serious rejection of their parents, saying in effect, “I am no longer your child, I deny any obligation to support you in your old age, and I wish you nothing but harm.” 

Firstly, that is but one interpretation of the scriptures. How do you know you have the correct interpretation, and that everyone else is wrong, considering the amount of different interpretations possible?

Second, fact check! If someone says to their parents "I am no longer your child and I deny obligation to support you", refuses to support them, and then the law of God says to have that person killed, aren't you then ensuring that the parents have no support in their old age by killing the very person who is best-placed to support them?

But thirdly, I think the bigger problem is this: what punishment is there on parents who abuse their children, be it physically, emotionally, psychologically, monetarily or otherwise? The Bible-thumpers want to scare you with the fear of God for not respecting your parents, but there is no onus on the parents to ensure that their children grow up emotionally healthy. Heck, God even condemns parents to eat their children when he feels pernicious enough.

(Now, before you have a go at me, I do know that the epistles say things like "Fathers, do not embitter your children", or "Fathers, do not exasperate your children". But God himself never said those things - it was the apostle Paul!
Also, there are no threats of death as a consequence - Paul apparently feels so strongly about consensual adult sexual activity in 1 Corinthians 5 that he wants a guy handed to Satan no less, but for someone who abuses their children, he has nothing to say, except a meek and weak "guys, pretty please don't make your children angry"!)

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In an era before widespread charity (brought about by a Christian worldview), or government welfare...

The first known examples of government welfare was one instituted by the pagan Roman empire, and then we have examples of welfare in the ancient Chinese culture.
So the fact that the Christian West also came up with welfare programs clearly demonstrates the fact that because many cultures independently came up with state-sponsored welfare programs, state-sponsored welfare programs don't need a God to inspire them.

You can't say that because the Christian West came up with government welfare, government welfare was instituted because of the Christian West.

But the author's assertion that it was the Christian worldview that created widespread charity is clearly knocked on the head that it wasn't God who instituted widespread charity - it was the culture that created the charity, not the religion.

And even if you did want to credit the concept of welfare systems as broad as what we see in the western world to Christianity, why has it taken almost 2000 years for this to happen?

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...it would be tantamount to the death penalty for the parents in their old age, so the death penalty is applied to the person who, in effect, wishes it on their parents.

Which then makes it completely ridiculous to kill the very person who was in the best position to help the parents.

If the aim of this law is to get children to help their parents, killing the children isn't the way to ensure the parents get the help they need from their children in their old age.

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This explanation makes perfect sense in the context of Jesus’ citation of the law (which is further support that He believed in the divine inspiration of the Old Testament)...

Jesus believed in the divine inspiration of the Old Testament? Great!

This means Jesus had no problem with the multiple genocides his dad commanded.

This Jesus had no problem with his dad commanding slavery.

This also means Jesus had no problem with the temple of his dad (which really means his temple as well, because Jesus was God, remember!) being built by slaves.

As I've asked many Fundamentalists:

Why does Jesus saying a few profound things make you so willing to forget how horrible his dad was?

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The narrator also accuses Jesus of immorality in his statement in Luke 9:61–62, where he seemingly refuses to let someone say goodbye to his parents before he follows Jesus. In fact, this is not so much a refusal as a warning that once someone follows Him, his loyalties can’t be divided between Jesus and his family.

This confirms the fact that Jesus did indeed command men to leave behind their families. The context of this is key - Christianity was a Jewish messianic apocalypse cult, and the Christians of the time were clearly expecting the world to end in their lifetimes - so when Jesus says 'leave your families', he's saying this not to Christians reading the work of an Australian Creationist organisation in the year 2020 - he was saying that to a group of people who were expecting the world to imminently.

But even if we do play the cute game that the author wants us to, we can interpret Jesus' instruction to leave families behind either physically, or leave families behind emotionally.

If Jesus meant physically leave families behind, then this indeed was condemnding the rest of the family to poverty and hardship.
In those times, especially as rampantly misogynist as what Christian apologists want you to believe, women couldn't just walk in to an office or jump on Seek.com.au to get a job - the failure of men being present to do the bulk of the physical work that agrarian societies of the time required indeed condemned the rest of the family to poverty.

Or if Jesus meant it only emotionally, then this is just as bad - we all know the damage that children suffer when their fathers are distant, not to mention broken marriage bonds.

So on one hand, Jesus endorses the law that says you must support your parents, but then on the other hand, directs men to leave their wives and children in poverty.

Either way - Jesus doesn't want you to have a happy family.

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So when the author asks, "What about Jesus", I indeed ask, what about him?

Yes, Jesus (is reported as having) said some wise and profound things.
But by the same token, Jesus (is reported as having) said some pretty horrible things as well.

To highlight, I will recount a debate I got in to on Facebook with a Christian regarding the story of the Canaanite woman coming to Jesus for healing and how wonderful Jesus was for healing this woman.

The debate started because I pointed out that Jesus initially refused to heal her because Jesus was frankly being a bit of a racist - the gospel of Matthew explicitly records Jesus as having ignored her.

I then gave an analogy of a black man, having being bitten by a poisonous snake and stumbling to a white doctor to save his life, only for the white doctor to ignore the man specifically because he was black and say to the nursing staff (in earshot of the black man) "It is not right for me to apply my knowledge and expertise on those who are clearly inferior" (and trust me, racist views like this are still present in Christian America), and it is only when the black man says something that the white doctor is happy hearing that the doctor bothers to treat him.

If the white doctor in this hypothetical is racist, so was Jesus.

Another bad apologetic I have heard Christians say is "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father!".

This has two unfortunate consequences:

1. Either Jesus is just as racist, genocidal, totalitarian, egotistical and violent as his dad; or:

2. Christians pin their hopes on Jesus in order to white-wash the violence and human rights abuses of God in the Old Testament.

What about Jesus! What about him?

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Stay happy, warm and look after yourself!

-Damien (quiterationaldad@gmail.com)



Saturday, October 19, 2019

Sorry Guys, It's Still Immoral" - A Response To CMI (part 5)

This blog post is part 4 in a series responding to the Creation Ministries International article, "Is The Bible Immoral?", where I take a rational look at the claims made by one of the more prominent Christian apologetics organisations in its defence that the Bible is not an immoral book.

Previous posts here:
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4.

The next section of "
Is The Bible An Immoral Book?" goes by the weighty heading "Does God Force People To Sin, Then Punish Them For It?".

So begins the next part of my response.


(Note: CMI have a plethora of articles available to peruse over at https://creation.com/qa, including some which may already answer points I have made in this series. Head on over, have a read, compare both sides of the argument!)

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The third law basically claims that God can make people sin, and then He kills them for it. This is not the case in any of the examples he actually brings out.

And again, we have this problem that because CMI's web editor hasn't/won't share the link to the original video/article they're trying to rebut. I can't tell if Cosner is being accurate in her summary of the article she is trying to criticise, so I'm just going to have to go by faith that Cosner isn't attacking a strawman.

But on the basic claim that God can make people sin? I kinda agree - a God as powerful and omnipotent as what we are told the Christian God is should indeed have the ability to make people do anything he wants them to do - otherwise, that goes against the very definition of omnipotent. It may be against his nature (to use the cop-out that modern Christians use to explain away contradictions), but certainly not outside of his abilities.

And does he kill them for it? In my opinion, given that God has shown a tendency to kill people for any number of minor reason, regardless of guilt or innocence, it would totally be in the general character of God to kill people after he has done what he wants them to do.

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God is said to harden Pharaoh’s heart, but in an equal number of places he hardens his own heart...

Even if God does it once, God is still guilty of overriding someone's free will. You only need to be found guilty once of robbing a bank to be called a bank robber...

Let me put a hypothetical to you - I put you in an mind control helmet and influenced your mind, in whatever way, shape or form that this mind control helmet works, such that I made you start swimming from Melbourne to Launceston - a distance of 447km.
To swim this distance is humanly impossible, not to mention dangerous due to all the cargo ships and sharks around, so by making you swim, I am basically condemning you to serious pain before an early death.

But in my defence, when your family attempts to sue me, I would then say something like:

"The deceased enjoyed swimming regularly at the beach, which is basically an accessible part of the ocean. The deceased has also been on the Spirit Of Tasmania on one occasion, so for an equal number of times that I made him swim that distance, he had already travelled that by boat. What's the problem here?

If my hypothetical court defence doesn't stand up, neither does Cosner's theology.

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...so there is at minimum a level of cooperation—and it is simply a reinforcement that God is involved throughout.

This is modern Christianity trying to be cute.

The plain text of the Bible clearly states "...and the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart..." (Exodus 9:12, for example). There's no two ways about it. The text doesn't say "...and Pharaoh hardened his own heart...", or "...and Pharaoh hardened his own heart by co-operating with reinforcement from God...".
Either the text means what it says, or the text doesn't mean what it says.

Christians say God is not the author of confusion, but I'm definitely confused - how and when do I know that a Biblical text doesn't mean what it literally says in plain English?

And my criticism here goes back to a point I made in a previous post about Biblical Literalism - why is it that Fundamentalists will force a literal reading of some passages down your throat and make you feel guilty for not accepting that literal reading, then as soon as something becomes morally uncomfortable, they hide behind the defence of extra-Biblical texts or behind the defence of "it doesn't really mean what it says".

And by the way, how can a book be called perfect and inerrant if we have to resort to fanciful heuristics in order to deflect valid criticism?

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It could also be said that Pharaoh is being punished for his crimes against the Jewish people—namely attempted genocide by killing the baby boys.

So God kills babies to punish baby-killers for killing babies? That makes sense...I think.

I recently got into a debate with a Christian about this general topic, and his defence was that God needed to kill the babies of the foreign nations to make sure the children of the parents the Israelites killed didn't grow up to take revenge.

So now, not only does modern Christianity require you to shun the most logical and scientifically-sound definition of morality in favour of being compelled to say nice things about God (because you're guilty of something unspecified if you don't), but Christianity now requires you to think that picking up sticks is treason and that babies are dangerous.

If you needed proof that Christianity requires you to twist your morality, re-read the above paragraph.

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This is even more serious on a spiritual level, since the Messiah was to be born from the Jewish people.

So God could do literally anything at all to protect the Jews - create magical forcefields, give Jews the special power of immortality, or even translocate the entire Jewish race to another planet (if God can make one Earth, surely he can make a second) to keep them safe until the Messiah arrives - but God modus operandi goes, "To protect you guys, I'll need to kill LOTS AND LOTS OF BABIES. Don't be outraged - be thankful!".


And here I was thinking God is all about peace and love and kindness. If I, as a mere human, can think of ways to protect the Jews, why can't God?

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The case of David’s census is another case where God is said to act unjustly by inciting David to sin, then punishing not just him, but the whole nation, for it.

Hold on, Cosner! I've read the Bible and I'm confused - was it God that incited David to sin, or was it Satan?

2 Samuel 24:1 - "Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”"

1 Chronicles 21:1 - "Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel."

In what reality is God causing David to take a census the same as Satan causing David to take a census?
So much for the Bible not having any contradictions...

At this stage, I can just imagine a Fundamentalist preacher saying something ridiculous like, "it's not a contradiction - there were two censuses!", as if David didn't learn his lesson the first time around (as well as each Old Testament writer only writing about one census each and completely forgetting about the other one...)

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...so David’s sin could not be in the mere fact that he carried out a census. Rather, it is probably that he didn’t require every male counted to pay a half-shekel ransom...


So God released a plague that killed 70'000 people because his reps didn't get enough money. Can someone please explain how God is not a mob boss?

But you notice something else about this passage - the reason the plague happened in the first place was because David was given three choices for a punishment - three years of famine, three months of military defeat, or three days of plague.

David's answer - "...I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great..."

If 70'000 people died because the Lord's mercy is great, then two things:

1. If God's mercy wasn't great, then how many people would have died? Millions? Billions? Trillions?

2. I have never killed anyone. Why does no-one say my mercy is great?

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The next section is titled "What About Jesus?" and will be discussed in the next post.

Until next time, stay happy, healthy and keep a positive frame of mind.

-Damien



Saturday, October 12, 2019

"Sorry Guys, It's Still Immoral" - Response to CMI (part 4)


This blog post is part 4 in a series responding to the Creation Ministries International article, "Is The Bible Immoral?", where I take a rational look at the claims made by one of the more prominent Christian apologetics organisations in its defence that the Bible is not an immoral book.

Previous posts here:

The next section of "
Is The Bible An Immoral Book?" is headed "Is God A Homicidal Maniac?".

So begins the next part of my response. This is a long one, so grab a coffee and a muffin and a comfy seat...


(Note: CMI have a plethora of articles available to peruse over at https://creation.com/qa, including some which may already answer points I have made in this series. Head on over, have a read, compare both sides of the argument!)

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The second is based on a false premise:

Yeah? And just what would that false premise be?

That God routinely orders killing, and for arbitrary reasons.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!

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Sorry. I had to pick myself up off the floor after reading that and accidentally hit my keyboard on the way up.

Oh dear! I've come across bad apologetics, but after reading this, I need to question if the author even trying to defend God, or just throwing platitudes out, hoping to squeeze a bad apologetic through an ajar door of doubt.


Please don't read this as an atheist merely being critical for the sake of being critical - I want anyone who accepts, or even espouses, this kind of apologetic to seriously consider just how wrong and how bad it is.

Before I expand further on this topic, I again have to point out what I feel is the author being disingenuous. By limiting the term to 'God's orders to kill', instead of the broader topic 'God role in killing people', she narrows the scope for criticism.

Atheist: I believe God is immoral. See how many thousands of people God has killed!

Cosner: That's a false premise. God does not routinely order killing. God's orders for killing are comparatively rare.

We call this moving the goalposts. By trying to deflect the argument by limiting the scope to God's mere orders to kill rather than all the times God has killed directly, when it is the corpus of deaths associated with God's actions and choices that we want to take in to account to consider God's morality, Cosner wants to minimise the target Bible critics can hit (then claim atheists have it all wrong).

However, this could all be avoided is CMI actually provided the link to the original article they are criticising - then we can truly say the author's rebuttal is accurate.

But even if I consider only the times God has ordered people killed, as opposed to all the times he has actively killed people, I can still come up with a fairly comprehensive list:

1 Samuel 15:2-3 - God commissions the Amalekite genocide.

Numbers 31:1-2 - God commissions the Midianite genocide.

Genesis 19:13 - The angels sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah state that they were sent by God.

Numbers 21:33-34 - God commands Moses to kill the king of Bashan and enslave the people.

Deuteronomy 20:10-13 - God tells Israel that when they approach a town in the land whose inhabitants they will dispossess, they are to either make slaves of that town, or kill all the men in the town and take the women and children as captives.

And that list didn't take long to find.

If, as an alternative, you want a comprehensive list of all the recorded instances of God actively killing people in the Bible, RationalWiki have a page dedicated to the topic.

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In fact, God’s orders for killing are comparatively rare in the Old Testament...


The only way you can truthfully say that is by again moving the goalposts.

"God's not a killer. His orders for killing are rare!"

The point isn't just how many times God has ordered killing - it's also all the times God has commanded killing, such dictating death as punishment and killing people directly, especially when there was no active threat or when God could have averted danger another way instead of killing, that we need to look at

So with that in mind, God's involvement in killing is so comparatively frequent that in the first fifteen books of the Old Testament, there are only two books where God does not either kill someone, order someone killed, pronounce death as judgement on someone, or help Jews kill people (and between the those two books, there is a marked change in theology on one particular topic - first one to correctly tell me what that topic is wins a prize!).

Any god that decides that they wanted to be represented to humanity by the Bible has to accept any criticism that comes their way...

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...and non-existent in the New

While there may not be any verses in the New Testament where God, directly speaking, orders or demands someone die as punishment, there are three summary divine executions (which could not happen without God's divine foreknowledge and predestination) recorded in the New Testament - which is the exact opposite of non-existent. 
These, however, are all recorded in the Book of Acts - which may indicate a theological slant the author of Acts was trying to bring across that wasn't present in either the gospels or epistles.

But then this all changes when it comes to the last book of the Bible, 
Revelation.
In Revelation 14:19-20, we see God will kill so many people in his winepress of wrath that the blood of his victims will flow for 1600 stadia, which translates to 300 kilometres.

Just how many people need to die for a 300 kilometre river of blood to be produced? A bit over 
83 trillion - or almost 12'000 times the current population of the earth (many thanks to inaweofeverything for the calculation).

So either Revelation is foretelling what is to come, which means God will kill 83 trillion people; or 
Revelation is only metaphorical, which then means the author of Revelation had no problem tying God's character to the violent murder of over 83 trillion people in a fit of rage.


Whichever way you look at it, the people who wrote the correct things about God (because how else would your book make the canon?) had no problem tying him to the murder of trillions of people!

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But one fundamental principle is overlooked by the atheists: God as the Creator of life has the right to take it.

This, frankly, is bad. To put this apologetic out as a defence of God is frankly admitting defeat, because rather than argue a case that morality ISN'T about maximising human well-being and minimising suffering, anyone who uses the "God has the right to take life" apologetic is basically saying:

"I don't care what my God does, how many people he kills, how many children he kills or how many babies his chosen people murder, whatever reason, in whatever number. I will defend God to the last and for one of two reasons: either I haven't considered the evidence, or I am afraid of what God will do to me if I reach an adverse finding about him.

You know what this is? This is called being in a cult, and any argument made under the influence of emotional manipulation should not be considered valid or honest.

Please. Get out. While you can.

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Humans are not, therefore can take life only if delegated this duty by the One who owns life.

God owns life and delegates who has the authority to take it? I may have made the point elsewhere, but this kind of statement confirms that Fundamentalist Christianity really does require you to warp your morals to fit in.

Anyone trying to argue Cosner's theology has two problems:

1. Under Cosner's theology, it is entirely possible that I could kill someone, anyone at all, in whatever number and by whatever method, then absolve myself of guilt by claiming 
divine mandate by delegation. I ain't a lawyer, but I can't see that holding up in court.


Imagine both the scenario and the injustice...

"Your Honour, the creator of the universe spoke to me (and only to me) and told me to kill that woman. Sure, I took the opportunity to rape her, steal her car and money while I was at it, and then I dumped the body in a shallow grave as a mark of divine dishonour. But what are you and her family going to do? Argue against God? The creator of the universe personally delegated the responsibility of murdering that woman to me, so 
I was merely doing God's will. You people should be thanking me!"

Divine mandate is something only psychopaths use as a defence.

But even if it wasn't, is God going to come down, walk into a courtroom and testify on your behalf that he indeed did command you do kill someone?

And even if he did, there is nothing in any court of law anywhere on earth that allows God to personally override legislation.

Judge: "Due to the fact that God Almighty has honoured us with his presence in this very courtroom and testified that he indeed did command the defendant to murder the victim, on the count of murder, the state finds the defendant not guilty by reason of divine mandate by delegation...".

Defendant: "Thanks, God! I was getting worried you weren't going to turn up.".

Judge: "...and on the counts of sexual assault, theft of a motor vehicle, theft of property, and interference with a corpse, the state finds the defendant guilty."

Defendant: "Hey, God, aren't you going to get me off those other charges?"

God: "I only told you to kill her. The other stuff is on you, buddy!"

2. For a God who apparently 
owns life, he sure has done very little to ensure that the life he owns goes on for as long as possible and as pleasant as possible.

Vaccines? Advances in medical technology? Preventing terrorist attacks? Providing potable drinking water? Mental health awareness and treatment? Global communications and travel?

All these are done by 
humans. God is neither involved nor needed. He is at best ambivalent.

If God owns life, not only he is completely negligent, but the life he created has actually worked out how to make life work better than actual author could himself.

If God were a project manager, he would be that guy that makes other people do all the word, takes the credit, then gets angry when you don't thank him enough in the client presentation.

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Failure to understand the Creator/Creature distinction underlies a lot of atheistic fallacies...

This is Fundamentalist tripe. Pure and simple. Sure, there are some versions of atheism that are based on fallacies, but an apparent failure to recognise this Creator/Creature distinction underlies none of them.

But even if you want to push the 
Creator/Creature distinction, you are then admitting that morality isn't about maximising human well-being - morality is just whatever God says.

You've just forfeited the argument...

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...so it’s important for Christians to understand it.

Thankfully, most of the Christians in my friendship circle have no concept of this dynamic. Some of them even explicitly have problems with all the killing and bloodshed in the Bible.

And I dare CMI to state my Christian friends aren't Christian. I remember one of their representatives once said something along those lines about Dr. Francis Collins because he supports the theory of evolution...

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Furthermore God has sentenced all of us to death, first as descendants of Adam, and secondly because we deserve it for our sin, and He even took on human nature to suffer this penalty on our behalf.

There are plenty of criticisms of the concept of original sin and of substitutional atonement out there so I won't hash them out, but my understanding of this paragraph is that because of the curse of sin, Jesus had to come and rescue humanity from the curse of death.

I have two things to say:

1. If Jesus came to take the punishment for sin, why did Ananias and Saphira die for their sins in Acts 5?

2. The best summary of the role of Jesus' death and resurrection is as such: 
God sacrificed himself to himself to serve as loopholes for rules - rules he created and that he foreknew wouldn't be able to be kept - in order to stop us going to hell, the very same hell that he personally created and the very same hell that he personally determines the criteria of entry for.

And I've never had a Christian tell me I'm (factually) wrong!


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There are two relevant scenarios here: the first is in the course of the conquest of the holy land where they were commanded to go into the land and kill the inhabitants. 
But the Bible teaches that the people had lost their right to the land because of centuries of sin

This just says that, yes, God is a killer, but you don't care.

If you're trying to defend and deflect the charge that God is homicidal, you won't have any success by confirming that God indeed did order his people to kill and dispossess other people.

And once again, the author has the unintentionally confirmed that Christianity is not a morality system where we use a rational understanding to work towards a goal - Christian morality is just a series of decrees by God.

Cosner isn't arguing that morality is about humans living long and prospering, or that the basis of morality is having humanity's best interest at heart - Cosner is just arguing what God says goes and no-one has any right to argue back because it's God word!

But, furthermore, the idea that God dispossessed the original inhabitants of the land of Israel to make way for the Jews to come in is just window dressing - for anyone who wants to defend God, they will find any way to absolve God of culpability.

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The case of a woman showing insufficient evidence of virginity is brought out as if every woman who was even suspected was stoned. But again, this is the most severe allowable punishment the wronged husband would have the right to accept lesser punishments. And he would be seriously shamed and face economic consequences if he were proved to be dishonest.

Here, again, I feel the author is being quite disingenuous with how they present the scriptures.

The passage that CMI are referring to is Deuteronomy 22:13-21, which are instruction for what a man is to do if he believes his wife wasn't a virgin prior to their marriage.
In these cases, the husband is to take his wife and make the case before the woman's father and the elders. If virginity can be proven, the man is to be fined and punished, but if it cannot be proven, the explicit instruction is to have the wife executed at her father's doorstep.

And this is where the author is misrepresenting scripture. Stoning was not merely the maximum punishment allowed - it was the only punishment allowed. Which means the assertion that execution was the maximum punishment allowed is flat-out wrong, and serves as an example of how, if you don't know to look for them, it is very easy to be deceived by half-truths and the slick sales pitches of modern Christianity.

This whole passage is immoral and goes against any sense of justice and proportionality, for a number of reasons:

1. Despite the fact that it was actually the wife who is being slandered, the 100 shekel fine the husband is mandated to pay doesn't go to his wife - it goes to his father-in-law.

2. Assuming the wife can prove her virginity, the man is then not permitted to divorce his wife.
This doesn't indicate that the wife cannot reciprocally divorce her husband, but given the general lack of support and rights given to women by the scriptures, it could well mean that the woman is trapped in an unhappy marriage - right off the bat, the husband has accused his wife of harlotry, which would make romance a bit of a hard task.

3. The onus is on the woman to prove her virginity, not for the husband to prove the lack of virginity.

4. If marriage is supposed to be solely between the husband and wife, why would the father-in-law be in any position to prove his daughter's virginity?

5. The last line of that passage, "you must purge the evil from among you", actually makes consensual adult sexual contact a moral crime. This should strike anyone with a sense of fairness and proportion as horrifying.

6. The discrepancy in punishments. If the man is found to be wrong, he merely gets fined, or maybe even beaten. But if the woman is wrong, she gets executed. That is so completely fair...

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Furthermore, the rabbinic commentary on the law...

And this exacerbates one of the issues I have with this article in general - Cosner is relying on interpretation (which is what rabbinic commentary is) given by fallible humans (i.e. the rabbis providing the rabbinic commentary) to try show that the law given by the Almighty God doesn't really mean what we actually read it to mean.

This should strike anyone as strange, especially given the absurd reasoning found espoused modern apologists.

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The video claims that God orders the murder of children for their father’s sins, but this can only be deduced by ignoring genre. 

Umm, not quite. On more than one occasion, God has either directly killed a child or commanded a child be killed for the sins of its father. My previous post, Five Uncomfortable Facts (Part 2), goes more in to this topic.

But my criticism of this section is based on Fundamentalist's claims that the Bible is literally true.

I don't want to put words in peoples mouths, but  while CMI don't say outright that they're Biblical Literalists, they don't deny that they're not Biblical Literalists, and they say and do all the things that Biblical Literalists say and do.

And one of the problems with Biblical Literalism is this: either the Bible is 100% literally true - but if this is the case, you then can't fall back on the defence of genre because what the text says is literally true - or, the Bible is a collection of texts from a variety of sources and genres, including genres such as poetry and rhetoric - which then means isn't 100% literal, and also means you have to have a heuristic for determining what is literal and what isn't. What is that heuristic, and isn't your heuristic merely personal incredulity, which is just a another way of saying personal bias.

Put it like this - I've never met a Fundamentalist who states, with authority, "In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth" who then has a cogent and rational explanation for why, one, God (foreknew he would) make a talking snake with legs, only to take those legs away, and two, how they know that snakes had legs and could talk for the Genesis account to be literally true.

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And the passages that talk about people eating their children are describing circumstances that will come about due to their rebellion—God is not actively causing or advocating it.

A cursory search of the Bible showed me two passages where familial cannibalism is mentioned (though there may be more).

Deuteronomy 28:53-57 (paraphrased below, emphases added) -

Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you. Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children...The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears...

While this isn't God directly pronouncing cannibalism as punishment, this was all stated by Moses, who was speaking with the authority and the backing of God - so it may as well be God directly speaking. It's not as if God went to Moses and asked him to retract his statement.

But it gets worse. In Ezekiel 5:8-10 (paraphrased below, emphasis added), God does directly endorse familial cannibalism:
Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will inflict punishment on you in the sight of the nations. Because of all your detestable idols, I will do to you what I have never done before and will never do again. Therefore in your midst parents will eat their children, and children will eat their parents...

So to say that God doesn't endorse cannibalism is plainly false.

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So, let's use the data we have to answer the question, is God a homicidal maniac?

Firstly, let us consider, what would a relevant definition be for us to categorise some as a homicidal maniac.

Now, homicidal maniac is more a pejorative, or a social categorisation, rather than a clinical diagnosis.

So let us break it down in to homicidal, and maniac.

Homicidal:
Murderous; Willing to and/or capable of murdering.

So, could we reasonably consider God to be homicidal?


Has God killed people? Yes. Multiple times.
Has God directly commanded other people to kill on his behalf? Yes. Multiple times.
Has God shown a willingness and desire to kill people in future? Yes. Multiple times.
Has God ever shown any repentance or remorse for any deaths he has caused? No. Never (also, is it possible for a God who knows everything to ever regret anything?).

What about maniac?
One exhibiting wild, unstable or violent behaviour.

Let's go through the data:
Are God's punishments in proportion to the offences committed? No. God's punishments often go beyond the harm caused by the initial transgression.
Does God always and consistently respond in a proportionate manner to the situation at hand? Definitely not. God kills plenty of people for merely complaining.
Could God's character be rationally understood to be equivalent to someone who is emotionally healthy? No.
If God was a human, would the actions ascribed to him in the Bible warrant war crimes charges? Yes.
  So, is God homicidal? Yes.

Is God a maniac? Yes.

God is, in my opinion, a homicidal maniac.

The only way Christians could escape that uncomfortable fact is by falling trap to a trilemma:

1. Either the Bible does not accurately represent God (fatal to the Fundamentalist cause).

2. Or participating in mass murder is morally OK (confirming you need to twist your morals to make Christianity acceptable).

3. Or, God does not actually exist (rendering the Bible as pure mythology).

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Until next time, stay happy, healthy and positive.

-Damien















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