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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Does the God of the Bible Condone Rape?--Part One

It is fairly well known that the God of the Bible condones slavery and lays out laws governing the treatment of slaves. Often, Christian apologists argue that this slavery was not at all like slavery in the antebellum Southern United States. According to them, it was not based on race and it was not truly slavery but "indentured servitude." If a person found himself deeply in debt, he could sell himself and/or his family into servitude for six years to pay it off and then he was free (although apparently the Israelites did not always follow this law--Jer. 34:14) The master provided room and board in exchange for the servant's work and was required to treat him/her with a certain amount of dignity. So, according to these apologists, slavery as a means of paying off a debt was really not so bad.

What these apologists don't usually tell you is that the laws regarding non-Hebrew slaves was different. The contrast is seen clearly in Leviticus 25 (NIV).

Law regarding Hebrew servants
If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan and to the property of his forefathers. Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God (vv. 39-43).
Law regarding non-Hebrew slaves
Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly (vv. 44-46).
Note, (1) the non-Hebrew slavery was in fact based on race. They must be non-Hebrews. (2) The slaves became the property of the slaveholder, and could even be inherited by the master's children. That appears to be the same as the slavery of the antebellum South. (3)These slaves were slaves for life with no hope of gaining freedom. (4) They could be treated ruthlessly. The last part of v. 46 says that fellow Israelites cannot be treated ruthlessly. The implication is that non-Israelites could be so treated.

Thus, there can be no doubt that the slavery of non-Hebrews condoned by the God of the Bible was not much different, if different at all, from the slavery practiced in the Old South. My purpose in this post, though, is to focus on something that the God of the Bible condoned that is not widely known or recognized, namely rape.

In Exodus 21:1-11, laws are laid down related to Hebrew servants. These laws are part of what is usually called, The Book of the Covenant or The Covenant Code (Exod. 20:22-23:33). Douglas Stuart writes:
This foundational portion of the Sinai covenant continues without interruption from the Ten Commandments. Although God left off speaking directly to all the Israelites at their request after the Ten Commandments (20:19), he had not stopped revealing his covenant. Moses simply went directly to the top of the mountain (20:21) and the instructions continued . . . . Now the divine discourse continues with what has come to be called the Covenant Code, a basic block of laws that guide the behavior of God's covenant people ( New American Commentary: Exodus [2006], p. 473).
So, following on the heels of the 10 Commandments are these regulations regarding female slaves (I doubt any of the Christian Right want to post these on public property):
If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do.If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money (Exod. 21:7-11--NIV).
The word tranlated "servant" in verse 7 is the Hebrew word אמה ('amah ) which means maid-servant, female slave, maid, handmaid or concubine (Gesenius' Hebrew Lexicon, p. 63 ). So, here we have God condoning a man selling his own daughter to be a female slave. Note the phrase if she does not please her master (v. 8). What does this have reference to? Certainly, it means that he does not find her sexually satisfying. So, if the master has sex with his female slave and decides he does not like her, he has four options: 1) get his money back ("let her be redeemed"); 2) give her to his son as his wife; 3) continue to provide for her; or 4) let her go free.

Carolyn Pressler writes:
The law of the enslaved daughter highlights the extensive authority a father has over his daughter. He may sell her into bondage. She is one of his economic assets; her economic worth is, first of all, her sexuality and her reproductive capacity. Because she is purchased for sexual purposes, the daughter, if sold, does not go free at the end of six years (Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East, eds. Victor Matthews, Bernard Levinson, and Tikva Frymer-Kensky [1998], p. 162).
So, a master buys a young girl to be his slave. She has no rights of her own but belongs now to her master. When her master has sex with the slave girl is it rape? Rape is defined as: unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent.

Even if the girl were to give her consent, it would still be rape because as a slave she is incapable of valid consent. A slave has no will of her own. She is fully at the disposal of her master. As Martin Noth writes, only the man is a person, while the woman on the other hand is a possession. (Exodus: A Commentary, 1962, p. 177). The slave laws are unquestionably written from an androcentric perspective. The presumed audience is male. ... Women are referred to in these text as objects of men's claims and obligations (Pressler, p. 160).

Now I can hear some apologist saying that the slave girl actually becomes the wife of her master with all of the privileges that entails. That is simply not true. As Pressler points out:

Three factors indicate that the daughter assigned to her master (v.8) or his son (v.9) was regarded as a slave rather than a "full wife" or "free wife." First, the drafters of Exod. 21:7-11 carefully use terminology that distinguished the girl from a free wife. . . . she is called an 'amah (אמה) not an 'ishshah (אשה). She is sold (makar--מכר), not given in marriage (nathan--נתן) The purchaser is referred to as her master or owner ('adown--אדון), not her husband (ba`al--בעל).

Secondly, if her master dislikes her, he causes her to be redeemed; if he deprives her of food, clothing, or oil (?), he must let her go free for no payment. Redemption and letting go free are ways of speaking about the manumission of slaves, not the divorce of a wife. . . .

Thirdly, the view that the girl is a free wife rather than a slave wife is based largely on v. 9, which accords her the customary rights of a daughter, and v. 11, which requires her master to provide her with clothing, food and oil (?). Neither phrase demonstrates that the 'amah (אמה) has the status of a free wife (pp. 163-64).
Since God only regulates this practice and does not forbid it, it seems crystal clear that the God of the Bible is condoning rape. More instances of God condoning rape will be seen in the next post.

68 comments:

  1. Note the phrase if she does not please her master (v. 8). What does this have reference to? Certainly, it means that he does not find her sexually satisfying.

    You made that up. Prove it from the text.


    When her master has sex with the slave girl is it rape?

    Not necessarily. It would be, however, concubinage. The two are not interchangeable.


    Even if the girl were to give her consent, it would still be rape because as a slave she is incapable of valid consent

    And you know that how?

    So...nothing even remotely compelling yet. If you just wanted to share YOUR OPINIONS, you didn't have to bring in the Bible.

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  2. And what of the larger context of salvation-history? Did not Jesus suggest that a number of elements of the OT law were regulations that tolerated the hardness of man's heart, rather than expressing the perfect will of God? Within the framework of progressive revelation, and with it the systematic re-introduction of his rule on the world, there is incompleteness, more completeness, and ultimately completeness. The ultimate revelation of God's will is the future perfection when the kingdoms of this earth have become the kingdom of our God. There we are told "nothing will hurt or do harm".

    To equate toleration with commendation is to impose one's preconceived view of the will of God onto the progressive revelation of Scripture. It is an example of text without context, hence pretext.

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  3. To equate toleration with commendation is to impose one's preconceived view of the will of God onto the progressive revelation of Scripture

    Well said, David.
    Even more pressing, to equate RECORDING with commendation is to impose one's preconceived view of the will of God onto the progressive revelation of Scripture.

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  4. God tolerates the hardness of man's heart, rather than expressing his perfect will?

    Huh. I've learned something today.

    -Old David

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  5. Yes, Old David. Thus, a sinful world exists NOW, but will be remade LATER. This is basic biblical theology, which, I point out for the nth time, you've demonstrated great ignorance of.

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  6. David and Rhology,

    If those same laws appeared in another religion's holy book -- say, Islam's -- I'm betting you'd see them as a proof of the religion's falsity. You probably wouldn't tap so much ingenuity to furnish an explanation, nor would you extend such an overriding benefit of the doubt. My guess, anyway.

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  7. If those same laws appeared in another religion's holy book -- say, Islam's -- I'm betting you'd see them as a proof of the religion's falsity.

    Well, you guess wrong. Islam doesn't need any help to disprove itself, so there's no need for me to hold irrational eisegetical positions about the Qur'an.

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  8. A sinful world exists NOW. Ok, so why are there any commandants prohibiting anything?

    It's a sinful world, but there are still divine rules explictly prohibiting murder (unless a voice in my says "This is God, go kill). God isn't tolerating murder, right? So, why tolerate the "hardness of man's heart" with respect to the treatment of women?

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  9. Oops. I don't think there's any doubt, but the last comment was from Old David.

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  10. The cmdmts restrain evil and reflect God's holiness.

    You're equivocating on the word "tolerates". All evil will be punished, but He's not wiping out every evildoer right this second.

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  11. So the commandents do not express the perfect will of God, yes?

    -Old David

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  12. Rhology, when the text says, "if she does not please her master," just what IS it talking about? Since you balk so strenuously at Ken's interpretation, there must be some obvious meaning embedded in the context. What is it? (Maybe she doesn't keep up with the dusting or make good omelets?)

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  13. BTW, this is another area where the biblicist wants things both ways. On the one hand, he'll point out how much more humane the OT laws were when compared to the laws of surrounding nations (and in many cases, this is true). Such loftiness, they say, is proof of the Law's heavenly origin. But when a law is either harsh or overly permissive, the same peson will invoke the "accommodation of man's sinfulness" theory. So which is it? Was the Law designed to lift humans up into a more exalted standard of living or were its parameters set to avoid taxing man's wicked impulses too much?

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  14. Let's not forget this jewel of morality:

    If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days. -- Deuteronomy 22:28-29

    Verses like this show me that the bible is merely a collection of human documents that reflect the morality of the ancient writers. Nothing "divine" here.

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  15. Dr. Pulliam,

    Just as NT writers took quotes from the Hebrew writers out of context or did not know the details of the laws they quoted, your arguments about the Almighty and the Torah are undermining your credibility.

    You want your blog to be open, honest, and ethical. My request is that you ask an authority in Jewish law the meaning behind the verses that you have quoted in this blog and your previous blog about theories of punishment. You are misrepresenting the Hebrew writings to bolster your view. That is unethical.

    You are too intelligent to make this kind of mistake.

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  16. So the commandents do not express the perfect will of God, yes?

    See the other David's quotation of Jesus' exposition of certain OT cmdmts.


    SteveJ,
    when the text says, "if she does not please her master," just what IS it talking about?

    "Be evil in the eyes of her master" F16; and he has no liking of her, and love to her, not being agreeable in her person, temper, or conduct, so that he does not choose to make her his wife... (Source)

    There's nothing in the psg that implies he gets to kick the tires sexually. Again, you made it up.


    he'll point out how much more humane the OT laws were when compared to the laws of surrounding nations

    Which they were.


    Such loftiness, they say, is proof of the Law's heavenly origin

    That's not what I say.


    But when a law is either harsh or overly permissive, the same peson will invoke the "accommodation of man's sinfulness" theory. So which is it?

    Both, and depends on the context.


    Was the Law designed to lift humans up into a more exalted standard of living or were its parameters set to avoid taxing man's wicked impulses too much?

    Both, and depends on the context.



    Walter,
    Argument from personal subjective outrage duly noted. Now explain what you mean, since the rape is punished. Also, please provide an objective standard of morality for judging whether rape is wrong.

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  17. >So the commandents do not express the perfect will of God, yes?

    See the other David's quotation of Jesus' exposition of certain OT cmdmts.

    Oh, but I can't understand theology, remember? So how about just giving me the answer.

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  18. Rhology says:

    Walter,
    Argument from personal subjective outrage duly noted. Now explain what you mean, since the rape is punished. Also, please provide an objective standard of morality for judging whether rape is wrong.


    The rapist is punished by paying a fine to the victim's daddy. The victim of the rape, however, is now the property of the rapist. That is truly sick, but it does reflect the moral zeitgeist of the times.

    Laws sent from God? No, I think not.

    As far as the comment about objective moral standards--I do not believe they exist. So yes, I am judging ancient Israel based on my enlightened twenty-first century American morality. Funny thing is: if I get my "objective" morals from God, why do the biblical narratives fill me with moral outrage?

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  19. That is truly sick...Laws sent from God? No, I think not.

    (This is getting to be a tiring refrain.)
    Prove it.


    Funny thing is: if I get my "objective" morals from God, why do the biblical narratives fill me with moral outrage?

    You don't get them from God, but rather from your imaginary "god".

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  20. Rhology: you want it both ways. You want your god to be the singular source of objective, transcendent morality. But then, paradoxically, you claim that the innumerable moral atrocities your god condoned and commanded were circumstantially justified.

    This doctrine of progressive revelation you're espousing is self-contradicting. "Absolute" means "fixed and unchanging". "Objective" means it can be independently verified. What good is God's absolute morality if it changes with the times? What good is "objective morality" if no one can agree on what this objective source is, much less what this objective source wants from us?

    We don't need an objective source of morals. None of us has the luxury of moral autonomy. We are, as a species, innately bonded and interdependent. Cooperative group living is not a choice – it's a survival strategy. We are wholly dependent on other people for every aspect of our emotional and physical well-being. Accordingly, we intuitively recognize that if we do not respect the needs and interests of others, others have no reason to respect our own needs and interests.

    A great variance in moral norms across time and cultures is precisely what we'd expect if morality is a sociocultural outgrowth of evolutionarily selected behavioral traits. It's not what we'd expect if there were a singular, objective and absolute source of moral truth.

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  21. Emet,

    Its not my intent to misrepresent anything. Please show me the errors in my thinking and let's discuss it.

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  22. Since God only regulates this practice and does not forbid it, it seems crystal clear that the God of the Bible is condoning rape

    Since when is regulation of a practice an approval of the practice? There are governments who regulate harmful drugs. It doesn't mean that they approve of harmful drugs. This is what we call a hasty generalization.

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  23. Bossman,

    The FDA regulates drugs that have medicinal values. The DEA enforces the laws against those drugs that are deemed harmful and serve no legitimate medicinal purpose.

    What possible beneficial purpose could rape serve?

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  24. Mike D,
    But then, paradoxically, you claim that the innumerable moral atrocities your god condoned and commanded were circumstantially justified.

    Paradoxically? No, that's called being consistent. When God is the ultimate standard of good, ANYTHING He does or commands is good by definition. They're "atrocities" according to YOU, which is why I keep asking you to provide me your own ultimate objective standard of morality. So far, I get "intuition" and "desires", which are, um, none too satisfying.


    "Absolute" means "fixed and unchanging". "Objective" means it can be independently verified.

    And yet not all of the laws in the Bible were intended to apply to all people at all times in all places, and yet were objective and absolute all the same for the people they were intended for. And there's some overlap. Rape, for example, is never OK. Wearing mixed fabrics, OTOH, wasn't OK for ancient Israel but is OK now. Why? Read the Epistle to the Hebrews.


    What good is "objective morality" if no one can agree on what this objective source is

    Nobody? Methinks you exaggerate a tad. Most everyone in my church agrees, and so do Reformed Baptist churches across the world. Try again.


    We don't need an objective source of morals

    So it's not wrong to
    1) torture babies for fun
    2) commit things you'd call "atrocities"
    3) shove Jews into ovens
    4) hold to biblical morality

    Wow, that's pretty convenient. One wonders why you can't bring yourself, even in the same comment, to be consistent with yourself.


    Cooperative group living is not a choice – it's a survival strategy.

    Survival or non-survival is indeed a choice. Don't be silly.


    wholly dependent on other people for every aspect of our emotional and physical well-being.

    Since there's no objective source of morals, there is no "well-being". There's just whatever we feel like.

    Peace and clearer thinking to you,
    Rhology

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  25. Paradoxically? No, that's called being consistent. When God is the ultimate standard of good, ANYTHING He does or commands is good by definition. They're "atrocities" according to YOU, which is why I keep asking you to provide me your own ultimate objective standard of morality. So far, I get "intuition" and "desires", which are, um, none too satisfying.

    That reduces down to a useless tautology, i.e. 'good' is whatever God says it is. Terms like 'good and 'evil' become arbitrary and meaningless.

    My moral intuition informs me that Yahweh is not behaving in a manner which I consider to be 'good' based on the only moral compass that I possess. If I cannot rely on my moral reasoning, then I would be paralyzed from making any moral judgments whatsoever. No Christian has ever given me a good reason why I should abandon my own sense of right and wrong, and simply accept the Yahweh character as 'good' despite evidence to the contrary.

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  26. My moral intuition informs me that Yahweh is not behaving in a manner which I consider to be 'good' based on the only moral compass that I possess

    And you think THAT'S not a tautology? You don't like what you don't like? You could use more self-awareness.
    I want to know what's TRUE. So, if you can't give me any other reason to think that God has done morally bad things than to say that you don't like what He's done, there's no reason to change my position.


    simply accept the Yahweh character as 'good' despite evidence to the contrary.

    "I don't like it" is not evidence to the contrary. I recommend against such kinds of category errors.

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  27. And you think THAT'S not a tautology? You don't like what you don't like? You could use more self-awareness.
    I want to know what's TRUE. So, if you can't give me any other reason to think that God has done morally bad things than to say that you don't like what He's done, there's no reason to change my position.


    I am assuming that you believe that slavery, subjugation of women, and genocide are morally good? Or are these things only considered 'good' when commanded or tolerated by Yahweh?

    "I don't like it" is not evidence to the contrary. I recommend against such kinds of category errors.

    Again, I ask the question: Why should I abandon my sense of morality when it informs me that the character in question (biblegod) is acting in a manner that I find reprehensible? If you see nothing wrong with human slavery, rape, genocide, or the treating of women as property of men, then I guess you and I are incapable of having a discussion because our moral intuitions are too far apart.

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  28. I am assuming that you believe that slavery, subjugation of women, and genocide are morally good?

    You need to be more specific.
    And I am assuming that you believe that slavery, subjugation of women, and genocide are morally bad just b/c you feel like they are? Why should that be convincing to anyone? What prescriptive, normative power does your belief have outside of you?


    Or are these things only considered 'good' when commanded or tolerated by Yahweh?

    ____ is objectively good when commanded by YHWH. That which God commands is objectively good by definition. I've said this already.


    Why should I abandon my sense of morality when it informs me that the character in question (biblegod) is acting in a manner that I find reprehensible?

    B/c YOU find it reprehensible, and can apparently make no statement that makes any difference outside yourself. Who cares what you think? Your "morality" is self-centered, self-referential, tautological, and arbitrary. You could say anything and anyone could and should rightly respond: So?

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  29. "Your "morality" is tautological, and arbitrary."

    Just for the record, Rho, your morality is also tautological and arbitrary, yes?

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  30. You need to be more specific.
    And I am assuming that you believe that slavery, subjugation of women, and genocide are morally bad just b/c you feel like they are? Why should that be convincing to anyone? What prescriptive, normative power does your belief have outside of you?


    This comment pretty much sums up why you and I are wasting our time in discussion with each other. If you believe that the above examples can ever be considered good, then you and I are simply too far apart on our moral alignment to ever see eye to eye.

    My morality is based on the ethic of reciprocity, empathy, and a desire to reduce the suffering of my fellow human beings. I see slavery, rape, subjugation of women, killing of women and children non-combatants in wartime as wrong acts because they increase human suffering, and I would not like them to be done to me or my family. No Divine Command from God needed.


    ...B/c YOU find it reprehensible, and can apparently make no statement that makes any difference outside yourself. Who cares what you think? Your "morality" is self-centered, self-referential, tautological, and arbitrary. You could say anything and anyone could and should rightly respond: So?

    Whose sense of morality should I defer to? If I cannot trust my moral intuitions, then for all I know Satan is the actual hero in the bible, not Yahweh.

    We all make moral judgments based using our own moral reasoning. When you consider Yahweh to be a being worthy of worship, you are making a moral judgment about this hypothetical being using your own subjective reasoning. I read the tales in the bible and see a deity that I would not align myself with based on its alleged actions and commands.

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  31. Rhology,

    You say: ______________is objectively good when commanded by YHWH. That which God commands is objectively good by definition

    If that is true, then the word "good" means something different than it is commonly understood to mean. In fact, its lost all of its meaning except to say it equals God's commands. Since we know that God has commanded many things which are different than the common idea behind the word "good," then such as killing infants and toddlers, then "bad" really equals "good" in your view and both words have ceased to have any distinction. We might as well throw both words out of our vocabulary.

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  32. Rho, your morality is also tautological and arbitrary, yes?

    Yes. However, the one to which I subscribe is put in place by the Creator of the very universe, Who is unchanging, eternal, and omniscient. I think He probably knows a tad better what is best than you or I do. I don't, however, have that same confidence in you, who can't even bring yourself to be consistent with your own position. I'll go ahead and stick with God on that.



    Walter,
    If you believe that the above examples can ever be considered good, then you and I are simply too far apart on our moral alignment to ever see eye to eye.

    Since you can't make up your mind which of your statements is actually correct, namely:
    On the one hand: These atrocities are horrible and there's no possible way any reasonable person could consider them to be OK.
    On the other hand: There is no objective basis for morality.

    Seriously, my friend - you need to think long and hard about which position you want to take. Then, by all means, TAKE IT. Stop waffling.



    My morality is based on the ethic of reciprocity, empathy

    1) Arbitrary. Again.
    2) You can't tell me whether anyone else should subscribe to this.
    3) You can't achieve reciprocity and empathy for everyone all the time. You have to pick and choose, and you obviously do so based on your own whims.
    Like I said, tautological. A morality that's supposed to guide you as to what you SHOULD do and yet which is merely a reflection of what you want to do is no morality at all.


    they increase human suffering,

    Why is suffering bad?



    Whose sense of morality should I defer to?

    God's. I thought I'd made that pretty clear.



    for all I know Satan is the actual hero in the bible, not Yahweh.

    Yes, for all you know that is 100% true. That's b/c you don't know much. It's also b/c you don't think about it the right way. If you lack any objective standard to which to compare morality, then you of course won't have any compass. But if you realise that God is the ultimate standard, then it's usually incredibly easy to know right from wrong, and the beauty of it is, it's not all based on you, and it's actually rational.



    We all make moral judgments based using our own moral reasoning.

    But w/o a standard to which to appeal, it's directionless reasoning. No way to know up from down.



    When you consider Yahweh to be a being worthy of worship, you are making a moral judgment about this hypothetical being using your own subjective reasoning.

    False. I presuppose Him as my ultimate standard. And then I watch as life's questions fall into place quite beautifully.



    Ken,
    If that is true, then the word "good" means something different than it is commonly understood to mean.

    1) Maybe the way YOU understand it to mean. And YOU apparently mean "good" = "according to my intuitions", which is childishly ridiculous.
    2) I'm one of those types of people who consider truth and logic more important than "common understanding". That's why I'm no longer an atheist.



    In fact, its lost all of its meaning except to say it equals God's commands. S

    Why is that a problem? It's not like there's a dearth of information about God's commands. The Bible is long.


    then such as killing infants and toddlers, then "bad" really equals "good" in your view and both words have ceased to have any distinction.

    You haven't followed anything I've said, and it's getting pathetic. Prove you know anything about good or bad in any objective sense FIRST before you throw around that kind of judgmental, bigoted language.

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  33. David: Rho, your morality is also tautological and arbitrary, yes?

    Rho: Yes.

    David: Good enough.

    The rest of the paragraph simply reflects your subjective imagination. At least we can observe the existence of Walter's reciprocity and empathy. Observing that God is good? Not so easy.

    "It's not like there's a dearth of information about God's commands. The Bible is long."

    In no case can you prove that even one of the commands allegedly given by God was, in fact, actually given by God. You know what's longer than the Bible? The list of invaders, conquerors, torturers and genocidal maniacs who claimed to be following the commands of some god.

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  34. “Prove you know anything about good or bad in any objective sense FIRST.”

    Desire to live. Objectively real.

    Desire that my family lives. Objectively real.

    Desire to avoid physical pain. Objectively real.

    Empathy. Objectively real.

    Instinct for reciprocal exchange. Objectively
    real.

    Reason. Objectively real.

    Ability to use reason to improve my odds of survival by declaring murder, etc., bad.
    Objectively real.

    Language that allows humans to create emergent, moral codes derived from all of the above. Objectively real.

    Given all this objective reality, I think that it’s not unreasonable to conclude that we can say at least something about good and bad that’s based on the word “objective”. And using all this “objective” stuff, it’s not that hard to figure out that the OT is full of bad things attributed to the commands of God.

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  35. Walter: Whose sense of morality should I defer to?

    Rho: God's. I thought I'd made that pretty clear.

    OK. The next time God stops by the house for a chat I will ask him about all the things that I should or should not do; He can give me a complete list of all these absolute morals. I can't take the bible authors at their word because the bible is just a flawed human document and the authors could be mistaken or lying, so I have to get my absolute morality list straight from the source itself. Until God comes by to talk in person, I guess I will just have keep following my own moral reasoning. C'ya

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  36. Do you remember Emily Litella from Saturday Night Live?

    The written Torah could be compared to Cliff Notes on the law and the Oral Torah expounds upon all of the laws written. The Torah laws are specifically for the Jewish people who live in a Torah observant society. Many Torah laws only apply when the majority of the Jewish people live in the land of Israel.

    There are two laws of slavery that follow the 10 commandments because the Children of Israel just left Egypt where they were ill-treated slaves and served a master who was cruel. These two laws apply to the worst case spiritual scenario for Jews.

    A Jewish man who owns a Jewish slave must treat him as he treats himself. The master must give the Jewish slave the same good food, lodging and clothing that he he has. A Jewish slave cannot do any work other than what his trade is. He cannot do back breaking labor. Buying a Jewish slave from the court is extremely difficult on the master. One of the "rehabilitative" purposes of a slave is to live with a proper Jewish family who keep the Torah laws.

    The first law is about a Jewish man who resorts to theft so that a Jewish master will provide for him. The first law is to the potential master, “If you purchase...”. If after the time period of servitude the Jewish “eved” or slave/servant likes being provided for, and does not want to leave, then he is taken to the Jewish court and they try to make him see that no man should want to be a slave. Every man should want to be free and provide for himself and his family. If he refuses to go free then his ear is pierced against a doorpost. This is to remind him that the exodus from Egypt was for the purpose of freedom to serve the Almighty. No man should want to be a slave to another man. He should strive to be an “eved” servant of the Almighty. It’s all about who you serve.

    The second law is about a Jewish man who is so impoverished that he has no way of providing a proper husband for his daughter. The rules not written in the Torah but that are in the Oral Torah state that a man must first sell his possessions, then his house, and finally when he has no way to provide a proper husband for his daughter, he can sell her as a bondswoman. Therefore it says, “If a man sells his daughter...” The sale of a daughter can only be done as a last resort and while she has not yet reached puberty. The “sale/contract” of this underage girl is dependant on the master marrying her when she becomes of age, or it may have been that the master chose her to marry his son when she became of age. In this circumstance the Jewish woman is not an “eved” as a Jewish man is, that is why she is called an “amah”. Therefore if the master has a change of circumstance, and does not want to marry her, the father must arrange for her to be redeemed. If the father cannot afford to redeem her then the courts can make relatives redeem her. All of this is to protect the daughter.

    There are even more rules that apply to the son if he takes the “amah” for a wife. These rules are there to protect the woman. The son might marry the amah but consider her a second class person because she was a bondswoman. Therefore if he takes an additional wife, he still has to treat this woman as he would a wife from the best family in Israel. If he doesn’t provide her food, clothing and her marital rights then she is to go out for free, no betrothal money is repaid. Most casual readers miss the concept here. According to Jewish law, a man is obligated to satisfy his wife’s sexual needs. Maybe that’s why Carolyn Pressler has trouble translating Exodus 21:10 as “oil (?)”. I think it’s the Almighty’s way of discretely saying the husband is obligated to “light her fire”.

    Jewish law condemns sexual immorality, and it was so obvious that it did not need to be repeated in this case. But one can see that a simple reading of the Hebrew texts might lead to the wrong conclusion or worse, it might lead to another society enacting laws based on a faulty understanding of Jewish law.

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  37. Emet,

    Thanks for the information. However, you must keep in mind that I am critiquing evangelical Christianity on this blog. Evangelicals do not accept the oral Torah as being divinely authoritative.

    My opinion is that Oral Torah is a lot like Christian apologists. It attempts to tone down and explain away difficult passages. The simple fact is that women in ANE societies were treated as property of their fathers or husbands and had little or no rights including refusing sex. It is also important to remember that both the written Torah and the oral Torah are productions of men. I bet they would read much differently if written by a woman.

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  38. David,
    David: Rho, your morality is also tautological and arbitrary, yes?
    Rho: Yes.
    David: Good enough.


    Right, and I've already said that. Yet God is the very Creator of the universe. IF He exists, and IF He is Who He said He is, then you have no right or place to sit in judgment over His moral standards.
    But if YOU'RE right, then there's no reason for anyone to accept what you've arbitrarily decided is morally right and wrong. There's a world of diff between the 2.



    The rest of the paragraph simply reflects your subjective imagination.

    Actually, it reflects the BIble. The Bible's been around a lot longer than you or I.



    At least we can observe the existence of Walter's reciprocity and empathy.

    Haha, but we can't observe whether those are right standards for moral behavior.
    You still haven't read about Hume's Guillotine, have you? The naturalistic fallacy? Sheesh, man, look it up. This ground has been covered by Hume 100s of yrs ago. At least do a little legwork to escape your amazing ignorance.



    You know what's longer than the Bible? The list of invaders, conquerors, torturers and genocidal maniacs who claimed to be following the commands of some god.

    1) And it's so touching that you have arbitrarily made up the rules that such things are bad.
    2) Atheists shouldn't get into peeing matches about body counts, given the 20th century's history of atheist regimes. Seriously.
    3) Please show how the Bible APPROVES invasions, conquerings, etc that you're referring to. I can only think of 3 or 4 invasions that are arguably OK'd by the Bible (probably less).


    Desire to live. Objectively real. etc

    Duh. Now please demonstrate that these things are objectively GOOD.
    It's not like I asked you "do those things exist?" Sheesh. Start answering my questions sometime, OK?


    Walter,
    The next time God stops by the house for a chat I will ask him about all the things that I should or should not do

    ??? Um, He's not going to do that. Read the Bible.



    I can't take the bible authors at their word because the bible is just a flawed human document and the authors could be mistaken or lying

    1) Prove it's flawed. I'll give you 5 chances - give it your 5 best shots. But make them your 5 best, b/c I only have patience for that many. If you can't make the 5 stick, I figure you've got nothing.
    2) If the Bible is not true, we're left with nihilism. But you can't live that way, obviously, since you're here arguing over morality.



    Ken said:
    The simple fact is that women in ANE societies were treated as property of their fathers or husbands and had little or no rights including refusing sex.

    To see how false this is, anyone is invited to actually read the OT. The simple fact is atheists generally have no idea what they're talking about, or play down the powerful liberating force that God's Law has been to women all throughout history, b/c it makes them uncomfy and b/c they act inconsistently with their stated beliefs by performing anachronistic judgments on people who lived 1000s of yrs before. If it didn't have anythg to do with the Bible, you think Ken would be ripping these people with such gusto?


    I bet they would read much differently if written by a woman.

    The best answer to naked assertions like these is: Oh yeah? I bet it WOULDN'T!
    Answer baseless statements of opinion with the same.

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  39. >The rest of the paragraph simply reflects your subjective imagination.

    "Actually, it reflects the BIble. The Bible's been around a lot longer than you or I."

    I should have been more precise. Let's try again.

    The rest of the paragraph simply reflects the subjective imagination of ancient tribesmen, and you believe that their imaginings are real and truthful. You're correct, you weren't the one who first imagined. Instead, you've adopted the subjective imaginations of others.


    "Duh. Now please demonstrate that these things are objectively GOOD."

    You've missed the point. The assigning of the words "good" and "bad" to various actions is an emergent property of and consequence of the objectively realities.

    Similarity, the claim that a given act is good or bad is an emergent property of the belief that there is a god who says that things are good and bad. Of course, even if there is such a god, no one knows what that god really thinks is good and bad. So, the actually moral codes that emerge from the belief in such a god are as "subjective" as any moral codes that emerge from the objective realities that I've outlined previously.


    "Please show how the Bible APPROVES invasions, conquerings, etc that you're referring to., etc."

    Umm, I think you missed the point. My point was that there is a repeated historic pattern here. Post-Biblical invaders have often claimed divine sanction. I assume that you would deny that these invasions had divine sanction. (Of course, since the Bible ends 2000 years ago, there’s no way to know for sure). Now, if OT invaders claim divine sanction, too, why should we see this as anything difference from any other invasion in which the invaders claimed divine sanction?

    The Bible describes Bronze Age warfare. In this time of warfare, when you win, you kill or enslave the losers. When the victors tell the tale of their victory, they say that their told them to invade and/or gave them the victory. The Israelites were no different.


    "I can only think of 3 or 4 invasions that are arguably OK'd by the Bible."

    Only 3 or 4? Oh, well, that's alright then. We only have 3 or 4 cases of genocide attributed to God. No big deal. By the way, the math here demands on how you count or group the destruction of a various villages.


    You keep saying "naked assertion" and "baseless opinion". Tell me, do you think that human brains have changed that much in 3000 years? Do you really think that we can take the way we would feel and respond today and apply this to the past? Has the neurobiology of H. sapiens really changed that much in 3000 years? The only way you can repeatedly claim “naked assertion” is by dehumanizing the victims. But then again, religion is good at this.

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  40. Walter: The next time God stops by the house for a chat I will ask him about all the things that I should or should not do

    Rho:??? Um, He's not going to do that. Read the Bible.

    I have read it cover to cover. It is a collection of human documents, not the revelation of a deity. You are trying to ground your morals in a human authored book while claiming that your morals come from "God".

    Walter:I can't take the bible authors at their word because the bible is just a flawed human document and the authors could be mistaken or lying.

    Rho: 1) Prove it's flawed. I'll give you 5 chances - give it your 5 best shots. But make them your 5 best, b/c I only have patience for that many. If you can't make the 5 stick, I figure you've got nothing.

    I do not have to prove anything. You are the one who makes the extraordinary claim that the bible has been written or superintended by the creator-god of the cosmos. I see no evidence for that assertion thus I am justified in rejecting your claim. My claim is far more mundane: the bible is simply a human creation that sprang from the minds of an ancient desert tribe. History shows us that humans have written millions of books, but we have no evidence that a creator-god writes or inspires ANY books. Probability is on my side.

    Rho: 2) If the Bible is not true, we're left with nihilism.

    This is the real heart of your problem with atheism. You feel your life has no meaning if you are not part of some grand cosmic drama playing out between good and evil. You need to be a part of something that is "bigger than you".

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  41. David,

    The rest of the paragraph simply reflects the subjective imagination of ancient tribesmen

    That's not an internal critique of my position. My position is that God wrote the Bible in conjunction with these ancient tribesmen.



    you believe that their imaginings are real and truthful.

    Interestingly, you believe that YOUR imaginings are real and truthful. Prove it.



    The assigning of the words "good" and "bad" to various actions is an emergent property of and consequence of the objectively realities.

    Naturalistic fallacy.



    even if there is such a god, no one knows what that god really thinks is good and bad

    We do if God revealed it.



    Post-Biblical invaders have often claimed divine sanction.

    And mostly wrongly. What should I care if people misuse the Bible? Do you think that the existence of sin somehow militates against Christianity?



    Now, if OT invaders claim divine sanction, too, why should we see this as anything difference from any other invasion in which the invaders claimed divine sanction?

    In this case, God specifically told them to do it. But He has made sweeping commands about in which cases it is OK to kill someone, and most invasions are not justifiable, so we know that God is not OK with those.


    We only have 3 or 4 cases of genocide attributed to God. No big deal.

    Now prove that genocide is wrong.
    How many times do I have to ask you to back up your naked assertions, your value judgments? MAKE YOUR CASE.


    Do you really think that we can take the way we would feel and respond today and apply this to the past?

    Irrelevant unless you can give me a reason to think that the moral value of an action depends on what it does to someone else. Please make your objective argument and explain how you're not continually committing the naturalistic fallacy.



    Walter,
    It is a collection of human documents, not the revelation of a deity.

    1) Please prove that it is NOT the revelation of a deity. How does proving a universal negative work?
    2) We've seen over and over again that y'alls' individual, subjective moralities are totally insufficient, and lack any normative or prescriptive power. We're talking about my position, the Christian one, and asking: Does this position, taken on its whole, provide an objective basis for morality?
    Of course, on my position, God wrote the Bible and also created the universe, and is the very standard for right and wrong. The answer is yes.


    You are the one who makes the extraordinary claim that the bible has been written or superintended by the creator-god of the cosmos.

    And you are the one who is apparently making the extraordinary claim that nothing acted upon nothing never ago and nothing happened to nothing and all of this resulted. I'm not impressed with this kind of stupid argumentation. Hard to see why anyone should be.


    You feel your life has no meaning if you are not part of some grand cosmic drama playing out between good and evil. You need to be a part of something that is "bigger than you".

    My answer to that is my answer to EVERYthing, on nihilism: So what?
    Raping a child? So what?
    You're mad b/c I killed and ate your family? So what?
    Shoved 5 million Jews into ovens? So what?

    You can't live that way either. Your false bravado is unimpressive.

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  42. "My position is that God wrote the Bible in conjunction with these ancient tribesmen."

    As you would say, prove it.

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  43. Rhology:Please prove that it(the bible)is NOT the revelation of a deity. How does proving a universal negative work?

    This is a standard tactic employed by theists, i.e. you are trying to shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic. IOW. unless I can positively refute your fantastical claims, then they must be true. This is not the way it works. Unless you can give good reasons to accept your fantastical claims, I am justified in dismissing them as nonsense. I have no burden of disproof.

    The Qur'an also purports to be the word of God; what methodology do you use in determining that the Qur'an is simply a human book while the bible is a not?

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  44. David and Walter,
    We're getting fairly far afield. And no, the debate has not gone well for you.
    Anyway, please see my response here.

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  45. Rho says:David and Walter,
    We're getting fairly far afield. And no, the debate has not gone well for you.


    There is no debate; you have made a claim that the bible is the Word of God without ANY evidence to back up your assertion thus I reject your claim as nonsense. What evidence do you have that a deity wrote a collection of books? All you have are culturally inherited dogmas and a bad case of fideism.


    I know that I am wasting time talking to you but I am bored ;-)

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  46. See the link, Walter. You're engaging in special pleading. What a surprise.

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  47. I am not sure you know what special pleading is; and no, I will continue to comment on this blog, only.

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  48. That's weaksauce, but feel free to be like that - please reply to my points in the link.

    Special pleading in this case is that you said:
    you have made a claim that the bible is the Word of God without ANY evidence to back up your assertion thus I reject your claim as nonsense

    I will now ask you to respond to this:
    You have made a claim that the evidence is a good way to discover truth and that your cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at correctly interpreting that evidence without ANY evidence to back up your assertion. Thus I reject your claim as nonsense.
    I predict you'll reject this, but you'll do so w/o evidence. Thus it'll simply be on the basis of your bias. Special pleading.

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  49. Methodological naturalism and empiricism have a far better track record for arriving at truth than "faith" does. Every modern day tool of convenience that you use (like the computer that you are posting from) comes from rigorous applications of the scientific method. The scientific method defined as(per wikipedia): Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

    Faith based thinking gives us what exactly? Oh, I know. It has brought us thousands of world religions that are all incompatible with each other. Faith is nothing but credulous trust in perceived authorities.

    Here is the wikipedia definition of faith:

    Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true, belief in and assent to the truth of what is declared by another, based on his or her supposed authority and truthfulness. Informal usage can be quite broad, and the word is often used as a mere substitute for trust or belief.

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  50. Methodological naturalism and empiricism have a far better track record for arriving at truth than "faith" does

    Another inductive judgment. Commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent.
    Further, how do you know that? Have you made a study of every time meth nat has addressed a problem? If you answer "Well, every time I've seen it", on what basis do you make such a judgment based on your tiny subset of observations?


    rigorous applications of the scientific method

    Which you have faith in.
    If you doubt that, please demonstrate using science and evidence, the scientific method. Thanks!


    Faith based thinking gives us what exactly?

    Since all of this stuff you're saying is also faith-dependent, it apparently gives us anything you please.
    Faith in WHAT? and to what extent is that faith justified is the question.


    It has brought us thousands of world religions that are all incompatible with each other.

    1) Like scientific progress throughout time.
    2) Which means that either they're all false or only one is true. And I am convinced that only one is true. So I"m with you.

    PS - for real, don't use Wikipedia when you're concerned with trying to convince someone in a rational argument.

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  51. Rhology likes to denigrate the role of evidence in evaluating truth claims, so I ask him (her?) what is the alternative? fideism? Faith in which supposed revelation since there is so many to choose from?

    My response is that evidence-based reasoning has a far better track record for arriving at the truth than faith-based reasoning has. I see no good evidence that there is any divine mind behind the library of texts we call the bible. Why should I believe otherwise? Because Rhology says so is not a good reason.

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  52. How does a 3 year old child know that it is wrong when his playmate takes his toy away from him?

    1) If atheism is true, he doesn't know it's WRONG. He know he doesn't like it. Interestingly, that's what your own intuition view reduces to. You haven't developed any further from a 3-yo child, by your own tacit admission.
    2) He knows stealing is wrong (on Christianity) b/c God has written the law on human hearts. Read Romans 2, please.


    There are certain actions that are universally recognized as wrong

    1) Like what? I doubt you can find a single one that's UNIVERSALLY recognised as wrong.
    2) The question is not "do people think this is wrong?" but rather "Is this wrong?" I doubt you'd say "most people think young earth creationism is right, therefore it's right" is a very compelling argument. An argumentum ad populi is what you're offering us. Whoopie.


    . Compare this to the concept of beauty.

    Fine. So one man thinks rape is beautiful. Who are you to criticise, you Philistine?

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  53. I'll indulge in one last comment, then I'm off to do more productive things, like climb a few mountains on my vacation.

    What you all have quite ably and cleverly demonstrated in the long and drawn out discussion of rape in the OT (that has a occurred at a couple of sites) is that one can interpret ancient texts as one wishes. What you have proven is that when the documents in question are thousands of years old, one can conclude that they say whatever one needs them to say. Ken is doing a nice job of demonstrating this with his series on slavery. And consider the Calvinists and the Arminians; after centuries of fighting, they are no closer to an answer or resolution then they were 500 years ago.

    There are an almost infinite number of ways to interpret the ancient words, and if one knows how one wants things to come out, the proper interpretation can always be found. When confronted with reality, if extreme skepticism is required to save the day, then one will be an extreme skeptic. If extreme credulity is required, then one will believe whatever is necessary. If an independent test with physical evidence shows that the words are clearly flawed, then the words will be re-interpreted as needed and/or the outside evidence will be dismissed. One doesn’t need a degree in theology to see that it’s all a matter of what one chooses to believe at the start of the exercise.

    I used to do as you do. I went to church every Sunday for over twenty years, and I learned most of the apologetics answers and the various kludges and workarounds for the various contradictions and other problems, starting with Genesis 1 and 2. Despite your repeated attacks on my intelligence, I’m not an idiot, and I learned my lessons well. Problem was, the list of excuses and rationalizations kept getting longer and longer and longer. It wasn’t that any one rationalization didn’t work, it was more the cumulative impact of the constant need to patch and fill and re-interpret. There’s an old cliché about how if you’re working this hard, you’re doing it wrong. Yes, it’s possible to keep patching and filling and denying, but what if one dares to consider that there might be something fundamentally wrong here?

    Some years back, I started thinking and wondering and looking at all of this as an outsider might look at it. How did all of this Bible stuff fit into the grand scheme of anthropology and human history, culture, psychology, biology, etc? How does fit into the whole human experience over tens of thousands of years and across a population that fills an entire planet? What did it mean that so many excuses and kludges were required to keep the whole thing from reaching critical mass? And one day, it occurred to me that this was all mostly bollocks. Think about it enough, dare to consider the possibility that you might be wrong, and it all falls apart.

    Here’s a funny thing. Once you’re seen the man behind the curtain, you can’t get that image out of your head. I’m sure that you’re all happier not looking behind the curtain. Enjoy your wizards, I’m off to enjoy reality.

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  54. What you all have quite ably and cleverly demonstrated in the long and drawn out discussion of rape in the OT (that has a occurred at a couple of sites) is that one can interpret ancient texts as one wishes.

    1) What the Intelligent Design vs evolution debate has quite ably and cleverly demonstrated in the long and drawn out discussion of evolution vs ID (that has a occurred at many sites) is that one can interpret ancient facts as one wishes.
    What the white supremacist vs non-white supremacist debate has quite ably and cleverly demonstrated in the long and drawn out discussion of racial facts (that has a occurred at many sites and over the course of, you know, a couple of wars) is that one can interpret ancient facts as one wishes.
    2) There's nothing distinctive about the difficulty of interpretation of these ancient texts over and against, say, your own comment here. I guess if I were simply to "interpret" your comment to mean that Jell-O has furtherly bones and the bluer they fly the much, and if I were to stubbornly continue to "interpret" it that way, you'd conclude that what we'd have quite ably and cleverly demonstrated in the long and drawn out discussion of whether your comment was totally nonsensical is that one can interpret modern texts and your comments as one wishes.
    IOW, this is an utterly useless throwaway comment, devoid of meaning. Thanks for wasting everyone's time with such inanity.
    Look, if you don't want me making low estimation of your intelligence, give me a reason. This is not a good start.


    One doesn’t need a degree in theology to see that it’s all a matter of what one chooses to believe at the start of the exercise.

    One could say this about ANYTHING. Again, totally useless.


    I learned most of the apologetics answers and the various kludges and workarounds for the various contradictions

    1) I doubt that. Not just b/c I haven't seen the fruit of that in your own discussions with me, but also b/c most American evanjellyfish don't actually learn all that much about how really to give Jesus all the glory He deserves.
    2) Presumably, you've learned why those answers to "contradictions" don't work. I'd like to invite you to give me your 5 best contradictions, and we'll see if they stick.


    Think about it enough, dare to consider the possibility that you might be wrong, and it all falls apart.

    Think about it enough, dare to consider the possibility that evolution/atheism/skepticism/whatever-your-position-is might be wrong, and it all falls apart. Thanks for another throwaway comment.
    Anyway, enjoy your vacation.

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  55. Walter,

    Rhology likes to denigrate the role of evidence in evaluating truth claims

    1) No I don't. I just recognise empiricism's limits.
    2) Since you've not offered any evidence for empiricism, apparently there's no reason to be concerned about someone's denigration of it. There's no evidence for invisible pink unicorns either, but I bet you're not concerned if someone denigrates the possibility of their existence.
    If that bothers you, then by all means, give us some evidence.


    My response is that evidence-based reasoning has a far better track record for arriving at the truth than faith-based reasoning has.

    1) Begs the question.
    2) What is your evidence for that? (Careful how you answer that!)

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  56. @Rhology

    Considering the huge number of "theisms" in the world, how did you choose which one best reflects reality? I would assume that you examined the available evidence that lead you to believe that Christianity is TRUTH whereas Hinduism or Islam for instance were not. In other words, why should I accept one dogma over another when I am presented with incompatible claims unless we examine some kind of evidence?

    You and I would both agree that there is no good evidence that Islam or the Hindu faith is truth, but I go one step farther and include Christianity with them.

    I have looked at all the historical evidence for Christianity and found it lacking. I simply do not believe that all the pain and suffering in this world was caused by the first two people in the world eating a magic apple in a garden because they were seduced into it by a talking snake. I do not believe the tales of a Galilean preacher bodily rising from the dead, then flying off into the air like superman in front of a few disciples. I do not believe that Christians have an invisible buddy that grants them magic favors if they wish real hard. In John 14:12 Jesus said his followers would do greater things than he, so show me your power. If you cannot, then I conclude that you are just a false prophet.

    Show me one good reason to believe this stuff besides your emotional need for an eternal life.

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  57. Considering the huge number of "theisms" in the world, how did you choose which one best reflects reality

    I've studied them and discovered only one is internally consistent - biblical Christianity. That's as far as I've needed so far to go.
    (If you're asking about why *I* personally chose, I didn't choose at all. Jesus chose me, and saved me in spite of myself. But I didn't think that was the thrust of your question.)


    why should I accept one dogma over another when I am presented with incompatible claims unless we examine some kind of evidence?

    A better question should be: Why act like evidence exists? And why act like it leads us to truth?
    My recommendation - examine reality in light of the worldview you're examining. Does Hinduism create a framework in which it's justifiable to think our cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at discovering truth, for example? No, not on Hinduism - the world is an illusion. So you move on.
    Islam does, sorta, but it is internally inconsistent, so it fails. So you move on.


    I have looked at all the historical evidence for Christianity and found it lacking.

    I have looked at all the historical evidence for evidence and found it lacking. And you certainly haven't given us any. You just keep assuming it's real, b/c it apparently makes you uncomfy to think it's not real.
    Show me one good reason to believe in evidence besides your emotional need for facts to make you think you know truth.


    I simply do not believe that all the pain and suffering in this world was caused by the first two people in the world eating a magic apple in a garden because they were seduced into it by a talking snake.

    I thought we were having a rational dialogue here, and now you're getting all Hitchens-y on me and saying "I simply do not believe..." What possible argumentative force could a statement like that have?


    In John 14:12 Jesus said his followers would do greater things than he, so show me your power. If you cannot, then I conclude that you are just a false prophet.

    1) Your last paragraph is a mishmash of disjointed ignorant statements. A little organisation?
    2) You've shown a poor grasp of biblical exegesis, and this is no different. Context?

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  58. (If you're asking about why *I* personally chose, I didn't choose at all. Jesus chose me, and saved me in spite of myself. But I didn't think that was the thrust of your question.)

    I figured you were more than likely a Calvinist based on your seeming love of presuppositional apologetics. There is little point in having a discussion with a Calvinist since they assume that those of us who are not pre-selected by Jesus for salvation are not even capable of believing or understanding the bible.

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  59. Rhology, at "May 23, 2010 2:50 PM" was answering a comment about a maters rape of his slave by quoting a website with it's OWN interpreation.

    Rheology, the part you quote from your source says

    "Be evil in the eyes of her master" F16; and he has no liking of her, and love to her, not being agreeable in her person, temper, or conduct, so that he does not choose to make her his wife... (Source)

    There's nothing in the psg that implies he gets to kick the tires sexually. Again, you made it up."

    It seems YOU are making things up too, as 1) That which you quoted isn't in the Bible, so all of it is literally MADE UP as new material. And 2)

    The passage in the ACTUAL BIBLE reads on to say...

    "...If he selects her for his son..." Exodus 21:9

    So stop crawling the web for someone's MADE UP interpretation which fits with the argument you want to MAKE UP about the bible. As soon as you bring in any sort of interpretation, you've lost.

    There's no way around "If he selects her for his son." He is selecting her. There is nothing about her agreeing, or her having any say in the choice of who will be having sex to bear a child.

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  60. magnumdb,

    Where's the evidence of rape? Bring it forward.
    Besides,
    1) To begin with, in the AncientNearEast, marriages were arranged. The idea of consensual marriage is anachronistic.
    2) You'd need to offer an argument for why your modern, provincial, socially-conditioned view of marriage is morally superior to traditional customs which still prevailed in many parts of the world (if indeed you mean to criticise the biblical law here).
    3) A war bride enjoyed civil rights. Instead of suffering the fate of an involuntary concubine, she enjoys the rights of a Jewish wife, which is more than she would enjoy under ANE law in general.
    4) Keep in mind the historical circumstances. We’re talking about survival in a world of warrior cultures. In the ANE, a woman without men to protect her would be completely defenseless.
    5) You can't prove the sex was forced. All you can make is anachronistic judgments from your comfy chair 5 millennia later.
    6) You have no idea of the state of mind of the women or the men in question.
    7) Deut 21 is not an exhaustive treatise on how married men are to treat their wives. After all, these are wives, not sex slaves, not even concubines (which themselves had legal rights). Deut 21 is dealing with redeeming some women from their self-destructive communities whom God had judged, putting these women into a situation where they could know God and have legal rights under God's Law, and by which some Israelite men could obtain wives. You want laws governing how to deal with one's wife, look elsewhere.
    8) If some men forced sex from the women in question, you have even further to go to prove this would be God's fault. God lays down laws; it comes as zero surprise to the Christian that some people might actually --gasp!!-- sin and deviate from His Law.

    In short, all you have is your hateful bias. No evidence.

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  61. Those who claim anything God does or condones must be good by definition, even the mass murder of babies and children, have voluntarily renounced their own brains and hearts. They act like this rationalization actually makes sense to them, but I would bet that if I hooked these arrogant apologists to a polygraph test, and asked if they really believe mass murder of children, by God or anyone else, is right and good, the needle would belie what they have been claiming. They know down deep that it is wrong and sick to kill innocent babies, and that anyone, God or person, who does, orders, or condones it, is not only NOT a loving being, but a monster. This does not mean God is a monster. One can resolve the problem by acknowledging that the Bible is not infallible, or that God does not exist.

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  62. paleo,

    1) I've never claimed that God condoned or commanded MURDER of children or babies. God can't murder, b/c murder is defined as the unjustified taking of human life. All humans are sinners and deserve death. God gives to some long life and to others short life, but no life is deserved.
    2) Pursuant to that, there are no innocent children.

    Just FYI.

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  63. Pursuant to that, there are no innocent children.

    Just FYI.


    This is what I find so disgusting about Reformed Christianity--the utter contempt for humanity. Christianity makes it a crime against God just to be born. Our mere existence is an affront to our heavenly father. From the moment of conception in our mother's womb we deserve to be tortured forever because the first two people on earth were tricked into eating some fruit. With a God like this, who needs the Devil?

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  64. Walter,

    What is it about constantly demonstrating your lack of understanding of Christianity that is so attractive to you?

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  65. What is it about constantly demonstrating your lack of understanding of Christianity that is so attractive to you?

    Are not "fallen" people like myself supposed to be incapable of understanding Christianity?

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  66. Not to the extent that you have. You're going above and beyond.

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  67. Lol. Okay people, let's just say the Almighty is "tolerating" the sinfulness of men's hearts here. If that's true then he finds rape and the degrading of women more tolerable than say, eating shrimp and wearing poly-blend clothing (which are worthy of death.)

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