Tough Questions for Believers

From an email:

Dear Mr Hank Fox,

To promote skepticism/critical thinking I wrote some questions for the Christian believer. Mefiante from South African Skeptics made a good translation. She is now working at the last part. The most sophisticated questions. Are you able to put the link to these questions at your blog?

Thank you very much,

Piet – Rotterdam – Netherlands

—————–

Piet: Done! And thank you!

The Original Questions

The Translation

This one was fun:

15. Leprosy was not an unknown condition in the time of the Bible. There were even rituals performed by priests to cure the disease. In Leviticus 13-14 it is clearly proscribed what the priests need to do. The ritual requires two clean birds of which one is to be killed, and the other dipped in its blood together with some cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop. The living bird is then set free and the sick person sprinkled with the bloody mixture once daily for seven days. After a further seven days of isolation, washing and bathing, and shaving and cutting hair, the patient must take a lamb to the priest who will slaughter it for a trespass offering. The priest will daub some of the blood on the patient’s right earlobe, right thumb and right big toe.

“And the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle of the oil with his finger seven times before the LORD: And of the rest of the oil that is in his hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering: And the remnant of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed: and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD.”

What does Yahweh achieve with bird blood and blood on right thumbs and toes? Wouldn’t it have been easier to give a description of an effective cure instead of these primitive voodoo rituals?

Or how about:

21. The Bible is often pointed to as a source of morality. Why are war and slavery not forbidden?

—————–

Oh, crap. My original title to this post, now changed, was “Tough Questions for UNbelievers.” Argh.

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  • Makoto

    A better question is – why is slavery illegal in the US, yet given rules to follow in the Bible, the so-called source of morality? If our laws are based on the Bible (for all those “We are a Christian Nation” folks), shouldn’t we codify those rules for taking/maintaining slaves, along with making our other laws in line with the Bible? I’m looking at you, former Senator Santorum, and your recent comments about bringing our laws in line with “God’s laws”.

    (To be clear – no, this is not my position. But I’m not the one saying “This is a Christian Nation”, either)

  • Ms. Crazy Pants

    I tried to answer some based on what I’ve heard believers say. Granted, I am not a believer, but, I think I could fake it very well. But then, maybe I shouldn’t be giving out the answers?

    1. He has always been. It’s not our responsibility to know. He will tell us when we get to heaven.

    2. It’s not our responsibility to know. He will tell us when we get to heaven.

    3. The Bible speaks of a male. God has no gender, but language always defaults to male, so it’s a fault of language, not gender.

    4. God’s ways are mysterious. To create good.

    5. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand.

    6. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand.

    7. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand.

    8. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand. We could not prove ourselves worthy of his love if he did everything for us.

    9. Tough love. Just like with children.

    10. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand.

    11. Plants and animals have no soul, therefore it does not matter. They are for us and god to use like tools.

    12. Plants and animals have no soul, therefore it does not matter. They are for us and god to use like tools. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand.

    13. They were jewish and followed jewish law as they understood it.

    14.God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand. Miscarriages are a learning experience, whereas abortion is murder.

    15. Leprosy: Leviticus was written to old testament jews, not new testament Christians. Anything relating to sacrifice was thrown out in the new testament. I don’t remember where it’s at right now, but Jesus said obedience is the way, not sacrifice of animals. So that part he changed.

    16. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand.

    17. Because they have been looking for a political leader instead of a spiritual one. That is why they released Barabbas in exchange for Jesus. Barabbas was for the overthrow of Roman rule, whereas Jesus was not concerned about that.

    18. If the children are young enough, bears could make quick work of them.

    19. He was punishing the Jews for some offense. My sister gave me some kind of detailed answer to this a while back, but I don’t remember it. I just remember that she claimed it was punishment.

    21. od’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand.

    22. That changed in the new testament. People misunderstood, so not all of the old testament is relevant.

    23.Because people were involved. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand. He wants us to have to dig deeper instead of have easy answers.

    24. You just know. God blesses you when you make the right choice.

    25. Incest wasn’t a problem at that time.

    26. People can misuse reason as well, therefore, reason is not more reliable than faith.

    27. Secular government gives them a pass. That wouldn’t happen in a theocracy.

    28. The examples you used are gods that are no longer worshipped. People wised up. If they were real, we’d still worship them.

    29. If your family has evil ways and you can’t get them to change, sometimes it’s better to move on to where you could do good rather than stay with an evil family.

    31. No, it is founded on love, like children and parents, but children still don’t want to be punished, so that’s where the fear comes from.

    33. Once in heaven a person will have perfect understanding, and perfect understanding will involved no bad feelings nor guilt.

    34. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand. If not exposed to it, then they aren’t responsible, and they go to purgatory to be judged on the last day. God probably does reveal himself to them and they reject him, so they probably do know and will go to hell.

    35. How can a parent punish a child for breaking rules?

    36. It was to be a learning experience for people. People were supposed to think about it.

    37. He didn’t behave violently to personal offense; only offenses to god.

    38. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand.

    39. Things became corrupted due to the fall of adam and eve.

    40. Since a person will live on in heaven, those in heaven will see his return.

    41. Why would he??

    43. God’s ways are mysterious. He has a purpose for them that is not for us to understand.

  • unbound

    This one was a novel issue I hadn’t read before:

    57. Why would an infinite, almighty, etc. god demand worship from a being he himself created? This being, angel or human, is infinitely insignificant compared to god himself. Would any person wish to be worshipped by a bacterium? Would any person be offended if a bacterium doesn’t believe in him/her? And the difference between a person and a bacterium is indeed huge, but finite. The difference between god and a person is infinite.

    • carollynn

      I think the “what god wants” from the bible is what an important guy from a small tribe isn’t getting enough of and thinks a really important king would want from his subjects. “Stop wanting me to keep making decisions! This is what I said. Go do it. Now Just stand around and tell me how great I am all the time. People ought to bow to me and sing my praises all day and night. Yeah. And harp music. There ought to be harp music!”

  • Midnight Rambler

    Are these really tough questions for unbelievers, or did you get the header wrong?

    • sunnydale75

      I agree. Definitely tough questions for believers (if they try to actually answer them, instead of “god works in mysterious ways”; sorry, that get out of jail card doesn’t work when believers make claims to know gods will), but unbelievers? The vast majority are non issues. I don’t believe in god, and I think the Bible is barely even an interesting collection of myths (much of what I’ve read, especially the family tree crap is so yawn inducing I’d rather go watch the 700 Club; at least Pat Robertson’s insanity can be ever so slightly entertaining). Once the god hypothesis is tossed out, are any reasonable questions left?

      Tony

      • jamessweet

        I was bummed out (until it was fixed) because I was hoping for some difficult questions to grapple with. Then I saw it was only tough questions for believers — and very easy ones for unbelievers. Good stuff, to be sure, but I was hoping to be challenge! :D

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    In Leviticus 13-14 it is clearly proscribed what the priests need to do.

    Hank, you may want to let them know that the word they want here is “prescribed”. “Proscribed” means “forbidden”.

  • kennypo65

    This was great. thanks Hank. Unfortunately, some of it was not translated. I have been to Amsterdam six times in the last ten years, but I never learned to speak Dutch. I went for the pot Oh I mean the art.


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