And God is not Good, Either

Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011) died one year ago today. This repeat post is an homage to the powerful speaker and eloquent author of God is not Great and much more. Hitchens fought nonsense till the end, and he has been an inspiration to me and countless other atheists. In my own small way, I hope I’m continuing the fight against nonsense.

Thanks, Christopher.

The child’s blessing goes, “God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food.” Hitchens’ God is not Great is an eloquent rebuttal to the first claim of this prayer. Let’s consider here the second claim: God is good. Indeed, the Bible makes this clear: “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good” (Ps. 135:3).

But does the dictionary agree? We must use words according to their meaning.

Here is what God commands about cities that refuse to submit to the Israelites: “Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you” (Deut. 20:17).

You and I know what “good” means. If you were a king or general and you ordered the genocide of those tribes—over ten million people, according to the Bible*—would you be considered good?

But you might say that this was wartime, and the rules were different. Yes it was wartime, but the Israelites were the invaders, displacing Canaanites from land they had occupied for centuries. God tells the Israelites to destroy the Amalekites: “Attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants” (1 Sam. 15:3).

What could the infants have possibly done to deserve death?

Moses tells the Israelites that they must kill all of the Midianites, with one exception: “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man” (Num. 31:17–18).

Who’s ever heard any of these verses made the subject of a sermon?

The immoral commands don’t stop with genocide. Slavery wasn’t prohibited in the Bible; in fact, it was so much a part of everyday life that it was regulated. In the same way that God told the merchants to sell using fair weights and measures (Deut. 25:15), he told the Israelites how to handle slaves—how to treat a fellow Israelite as a slave (Exod. 21:4–6 and Lev. 25:39), how to sell your daughter into slavery (Exod. 21:7), how to decide when a beating was too harsh (Exod. 21:20–21), and so on.

Don’t pretend that biblical slavery was like indentured servitude. That was true for fellow Jews, but for non-Jews, it was good, old-fashioned slavery for life. “You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites [harshly] (Lev. 25:44–46).”

And this doesn’t even consider the Flood. Why drown his creation instead of poofing them out of existence? God may exist and he may be powerful, but can the word “good” be applied to a being who does this?

Let’s turn from God’s unsavory side to his attempts at encouraging good behavior. It’s odd that the Ten Commandments has room for “don’t covet” but no prohibitions against slavery, rape, genocide, or infanticide. Christopher Hitchens cuts through the problem:

It’s interesting to note that the tenth Commandment, do not covet, is given at a time when the Israelites wandering in the desert are kept alive with covetous dreams—of taking the land, livestock, and women from the people living in Palestine. In fact, the reason why injunctions against rape, genocide, and slavery aren’t in the Ten Commandments is because they’ll be mandatory pretty soon when the conquest of Palestine takes place. (Videos here and here.)

So they’re not crimes—they’re tools!

Christians respond in several ways.

1. But things were different back then. We can’t judge Jews in Palestine 2500 years ago with today’s standards.

Can we assent to these crimes at any time in history? I agree that standards of morality have changed, but Christians are supposed to reject moral relativism. They’re the ones who imagine an unchanging, objective morality. If slavery is wrong now, they must insist that it was wrong then.

2. But God’s actions are good—they just are. His actions are the very definition of good. That’s as fundamental a truth as we have.

Shouldn’t God follow his own rules? If God is the standard for goodness (Matt. 5:48), what else can this mean but that we should look to God’s actions as examples for us to follow?

Abraham made clear that God was held to the same moral standards as Man. He said, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” as he argued against God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. And God agreed (Gen. 18:20–33).

If Christians modify the dictionary so that no action of God’s could ever be bad, assigning the word “good” to God’s actions says nothing. They hope to make an important statement with “God is good,” but debasing the dictionary makes the word meaningless.

Playing games with the dictionary causes other problems. If there are two supernatural agents, God and Satan, how do you tell which is which? If the one that controls our realm is “good” by definition, maybe we’re stuck with Satan and have simply convinced ourselves to call him good. That’s not a crazy idea, given the world’s natural disasters, disease, war, and other horrors. Imagine Satan ruling this world and convincing us that the death of an innocent child is part of a greater plan, if you can believe such a thing. And yet that’s the world we live in! People look at all the bad in the world and dismiss it, giving Satan a pass. (… or are we giving God a pass? I can’t tell which.)

If this thinking is getting a bit bizarre, that’s the point. That’s what happens if you declare God’s actions good by definition.

3. But the Canaanites were terrible, immoral people! They sacrificed babies!

How reliable are these summaries of the Canaanites’ morals? If these tales come from their enemies, how objective are these accounts? And even if the Canaanites did sacrifice babies, isn’t solving this with genocide like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly? Couldn’t an omniscient guy like God figure out a better way than genocide to encourage a tribe to improve their behavior?

4. C’mon—can’t you recognize hyperbole when you see it? This is just soldiers bragging around the campfire that grew until it was incorporated into Israelite lore. You don’t really believe the genocide stories, do you? Indeed, archeologists show no evidence of this mass slaughter.

Take your pick—is the Bible reliable history or not? I disagree with the Bible literalists, but at least they wouldn’t be so hypocritical as to abandon the Bible when it embarrasses them.

Christians who label some Bible passages exaggerations and others as history are using their own judgment to figure this out. I’m not complaining—that’s what I do myself—but they can’t then turn around and say that they get their guidance from the Bible. No, my friend—the interpretation comes from you, not the Bible!

5. A bad thing today sets us up for a greater good in the future.

This is no more plausible than the reverse: “a good thing today sets us up for a greater bad in the future.” Why imagine one over the other? Only because we presuppose God’s existence, the thing we’re trying to prove. And it’s ridiculous to imagine an omniscient God deliberately causing the Haiti earthquake and killing 300,000 because he can act no more precisely than this.

6. But God is unjudgeable. God said, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). It’s presumptuous of us to judge God. If God says that the Amalekites deserved to die, that’s good enough for me.

Okay, let’s not judge God then. Let’s avoid labeling him. But then not only can we not label his shocking actions “bad,” we can’t label his pleasing actions “good.” The good God is no more.

And there’s more fallout from the “we imperfect humans can’t judge God” argument. Consider this from Bob Price:

[The ultimate certainty in your mind, the believer’s mind, is] the guarantee that [God] will honor that ticket to heaven he supposedly issued you. Here’s a troublesome thought. Suppose you get to the Day of Judgment and God cancels the ticket. No explanation. No appeal. You’re just screwed. Won’t you have to allow that God must have reasons for it that you, a mere mortal, are not privy to? Who are you, like Job, to call God to account?

Of course many Christians want it both ways. They want to judge God’s noble actions as “good” but withhold judgment for actions that any thoughtful person would find hideous. But if you can’t understand God’s actions when they look bad, why flatter yourself that you understand them when they look good?

Think of this as the Word Hygiene argument. You can either call a spade a spade and acknowledge God’s cruelty or say that he’s unjudgeable. Take your pick—either way, you can’t call him “good.”

Photo credit: Church Sign Maker

* Here’s the math behind that figure: Israel had 600,000 men before entering Canaan (Ex. 12:37), or about two million people total. These six tribes are all larger than Israel (Deut. 7:1). That makes well over ten million people in the tribes God orders exterminated.

Gullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities
in every department of human life—
except religion.

— Christopher Hitchens

William Lane Craig Misrepresents Christianity and Insults Islam
Response To an Angry Christian (2 of 2)
Christians: Can ANYTHING Change Your Mind?
Response To an Angry Christian
About Bob Seidensticker
  • Charles Carter

    Quite a one-sided view. Read Genesis 1 and 2 carefully. It shows God’s attitude toward man when he was not in rebellion against Him. Please post it along with your future rants against God, wherein you quote scripture! Or don’t post it. That will keep your lopsided view in tact.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Man is how God created him. Is God sad because Man is imperfect? OK, but who’s fault is that?

      We are imperfect out of the box. Thanks, God.

  • godzilla

    If scientists have created the means for ultimate genocide then that must be `God`s Will` …….. according to believers ! Which brings us back to the proposition that God is not a very nice entity.

  • Guest

    Hi Bob. Thanks for your in-depth study about the goodness of God. You have certainly done your research. However, your entire premise has one major flaw. We don’t know what “good” is. Sure, we think we know what “good” is but we don’t. In fact, every single person has a different definition of what “good” is.

    For example, one person might say it’s not “good” for two men to marry. Another person might say that it’s not “good” to try and keep two people who love each other apart. Thus, the definition of “good” is relative depending on whom you’re talking with.

    God might not fit your mold of what is “good”. But, He doesn’t have to. God is sovereign; meaning God has authority over you, not the other way around. You will answer to God, God will never answer to you.

    I would challenge you to carefully consider what it will be like when we all stand before judgment. If you think you will have an opportunity to accuse God of anything, you are mistaken. Every time someone in scripture comes in contact with God, they fall on their face and tremble in terror. They can’t even move unless God gives them permission to do so. There won’t be a time when God is on trial.

    I don’t like several laws that I have to obey. I don’t like having to slow down to 35 miles per hour in a school zone when the school is 4 blocks away from the highway where the lights are flashing. But, if there is a sign posted and lights flashing, I’m still subject to obey the law, whether I agree with the law or not.

    God is good, all the time and all the time God is good. Not because we say so, but because He says so. The sooner you realize that, the better off you will be.

    Instead of spending all of this time researching how God isn’t good, you should have spent time researching how God isn’t fair. If you want to spend time researching this topic, let me give you a point of origin for your study. Start at the foot of the Cross where God sent his son to die for your sins. That certainly wasn’t fair. But then again, God is God, and he can do whatever he wants. Including raising from the dead three days later.

    • adam

      ‘god’ has no authority over me, no IMAGINARY being does.

      And you’ve certainly NOT demonstrated such in your posting preaching.

      • Jonathan Waller

        Hey Adam. You don’t have to believe in the theory of Gravity for it to have authority over you. Whether you believe it or not doesn’t make it irrelevant. Sorry, nice try.

        • Pofarmer

          Problem is, there is evidence for he theory of gravity, even though the exact mechanism for it isn’t known. What you propose, is a mechanism without evidence.

        • Jonathan Waller

          There is evidence for the theory of intelligent design, yet scientist who believe in it are blacklisted.

        • Pofarmer

          O.k. You are a conspiracy nut as well. I’m done.

        • Jonathan Waller

          Because there is never such a thing as a conspiracy, right?

        • MNb

          Yeah yeah. Scientists who support ID prove ID is correct. Scientists who reject ID are the victims of a conspiracy and hence prove ID is correct.
          That’s why sensible people call it IDiocy.

        • hector_jones

          You mean like the conspiracy going on in your church right now to cover up the fact that your pastor is a child molester?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Whoa–who let all the evolution denialists out?

          I thought they were going to be penned up, with food dropped in, so they’d just die out.

          Wait–my bad. Sorry–that was the gays.

        • adam

          It makes it irrelevant until you can demonstrate that YOUR ‘god’ is not IMAGINARY.

          How about you just show the Math for YOUR ‘god’ like that for gravity, and demonstrate the predictive qualities of how YOUR ‘god’ works?

        • hector_jones

          What other ‘theories’ do you believe in?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      Hi, Jonathan. (I don’t know why the email shows your name but I don’t see it in the comment online.) Thanks for the comment.

      There’s not much of a problem with the definition of “good.” Just look it up in a dictionary. But how that expresses itself in society is, like you say, subjective. Still, we have a widely shared views on good (helping people) and bad (torture).

      So God’s definition of “good” is different from ours? What is this definition? And how many definitions are there?

      To say that God can define “good” to be whatever the heck he feels like or, alternatively, that “good” is what God does doesn’t help us much. The idea of a variable, subjective “good” doesn’t seem like a sensible concept for a Christian to propose.

      I would challenge you to carefully consider what it will be like when we all stand before judgment.

      What judgment? Will I be judged by Zeus? Quetzalcoatl? Osiris?

      If you think you will have an opportunity to accuse God of anything, you are mistaken.

      I hear you, bro. Dictators, eh? Whaddya gonna do? They just do whatever the heck they feel like. Don’t get me started …

      I’m still subject to obey the law, whether I agree with the law or not.

      These laws exist. No one disagrees. God’s existence is very much in doubt, however.

      The sooner you realize that, the better off you will be.

      This is Christian dogma. Doesn’t compute. I’m an atheist, remember?

      Start at the foot of the Cross where God sent his son to die for your sins. That certainly wasn’t fair.

      He was out of commission for a day and a half. Not that big a deal, sorry.

      • Jonathan Waller

        Sorry, Bob, I didn’t see this post, only my second one after I deleted this one and edited it.

        • Jonathan Waller

          I’ll post down here to keep it clean. The dictionary has a definition of “good” that man wrote. The Bible (the book I can recognize you don’t believe) explains why we each have different definitions of what is “good”. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

          In other words, the advice, “Follow your heart” is one of the worst pieces of advice a person can receive. Your heart lies to you because of our sinful nature (A topic the Bible explains in great detail).

          In short, yes, God gets to do what He wants because He is God. That’s why we say God is Sovereign. Yes, my God is a dictator. I don’t rebel against Him because He gives orders that I don’t like. Surely by now we should learn this lesson. Those who rise up against dictators get crushed. If you’d like to continue to try, by all means, go for it. But I can tell you that it won’t turn out well for you.

          Also, if crucifixion sounds like a walk in the park, why don’t you try it out sometime?

        • Pofarmer

          I hate, hate, hate, this fucking sinful nature theological crap bullshit. Hate it. it disgusts me. Give evidence for Adam and Eve and the fall, or STFU about it. Thanks.

        • Jonathan Waller

          Hi Pofarmer, nice job keeping your cool. Prove they didn’t exist and I will gladly “STFU” about it.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, fuck you and your prove they didn’t exist theological nonsense. You have made the posittive claim, back it up or shut up, it’s simple.

        • Jonathan Waller

          I noticed you make negative claims without backing it up. Should I do what you say or follow your example?

        • Pofarmer

          If you want to shove theology on someone you should be able to back it up. Now, can you?

        • Jonathan Waller

          Hey Pofarmer. I’d like to officially apologize for “shoving” theology down you’re throat. That was not my intention. But then again, this is the accusation many people make when someone makes a statement they don’t like about the existence of God. No one is forcing you to agree with me, am I not entitled to have an opinion? If so, why are you so hostile about my opinion because you and I don’t agree?

        • Jonathan Waller

          “Your throat” sorry

        • Pofarmer

          You are welcome to have an opinion, expressing it as universal truth is somewhat-grating.

        • MNb
        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Burden of proof is yours, pal.

          Shirking it makes baby Jesus cry–everyone knows that.

        • adam

          What proof is there that IMAGINARY beings dont exist?

        • Pofarmer

          And lose the preaching. Thanks.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          It’s best to reply to my post instead of to your own. Sometimes I must delete comments (not enough time to do them justice), but I always read comments addressed to me.

          The dictionary has a definition of “good” that man wrote.

          Human language comes from humans. Yes, humans write the dictionaries. That’s the only sensible options.

          The Bible (the book I can recognize you don’t believe) explains …

          Then you can imagine why I don’t have much use for advice in Jeremiah.

          the advice, “Follow your heart” is one of the worst pieces of advice a person can receive.

          And the alternative is … ?

          Yeah, follow God. How do you know you haven’t deceived yourself about God? The Muslims have, right? And the Hindus and Mormons and Buddhists. Maybe you’re in the same boat.

          yes, God gets to do what He wants because He is God.

          Wow—must be sweet as the dictator of the world. People piss you off, so you just drown them all. That’ll teach ’em a lesson!

          Yes, my God is a dictator.

          And, given what the OT says about him, he’s a very unpleasant character. Are you saying that we’re stuck with him, so if he’s an SOB, that’s too bad?

          Those who rise up against dictators get crushed.

          True enough, but this isn’t a pleasant portrait you’re painting!

          Also, if crucifixion sounds like a walk in the park, why don’t you try it out sometime?

          He had a bad day for our sins. Your own death might be more unpleasant. What’s the big deal?

        • adam

          So of course you follow YOUR ‘god’s’ orders?

          Let us look at Deuteronomy 13:6-9 “If
          your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying: Let us go and worship other gods (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other, or gods of other religions), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not
          spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people.”

          Also let us look at Deuteronomy 17:3-5 “And he should go and worship other gods and bow down to them or to the sun or the moon or all the army of the heavens, …..and you must stone such one with stones and such one must die.”

    • hector_jones

      So this is how it plays out? Christians tell me their god is the ultimate in good. Yet you have to split hairs and equivocate to get the word ‘good’ to apply to your god, like cramming square pegs into round holes. You’d think that with god it would be an easy fit. Apparently not.

  • adam
  • Jonathan Waller

    Hi Bob. Thanks for your in-depth study about the goodness of God.
    You have certainly done your research. However, your entire premise has
    one major flaw. None of us can agree on what “good” actually is. Every single person has a different definition of what “good” is.

    For example, one person might say it’s not “good” for two men to marry. Another person might say that it’s not “good” to try and keep two people who love each other apart. Thus, the definition of “good” is relative depending on whom
    you’re talking with. Because of this discrepancy, like it or not, we have to go to the ultimate authority on what is “good”.

    God might not fit your mold of what is “good”, but the beauty of it all is that He doesn’t have to. God is sovereign; meaning God has authority over you, not the other way around. You will answer to God, God will never answer to you.

    I would challenge you to carefully consider what it will be like when we all stand before judgment. If you think you will have an opportunity to accuse God of anything, you are mistaken. Every time someone in scripture comes in contact with God, they fall on their face and tremble in terror. They can’t even move unless God gives them permission to do so. There won’t be a time when God is on trial.

    I don’t like several laws that I have to obey. I don’t like having to slow down to 35 miles per hour in a school zone when the school is 4 blocks away from the highway where the lights are flashing. But, if there is a sign posted and lights flashing, I’m still subject to obey the law, whether I agree with the law or not.

    God is good, all the time and all the time God is good. Not because we say so, but because He says so. The sooner you realize that, the better off you will be.

    Maybe you have a hard time submitting to a God that doesn’t answer to your set of moral standards. If you’ve read the book of Genesis, you know that’s exactly what happened to Adam and Eve. They didn’t feel that it was “good” that God withheld from them what they wanted. That, sir, is why we have to deal with injustice in the world. Man is imperfect because God gave them a choice as to which tree they would eat from. The tree of life, or the tree death. They chose death. God could have stopped it, but he didn’t. He chose to give us free will. In other words, God gave you the choice to accuse Him of all the things you’re accusing Him of. Don’t you think that’s “good”?

    On several occasions, I’ve sat and wondered why in the world Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. The Bible says they walked with God daily in the garden. What an incredible opportunity! Yet they still disobeyed God and tasted the forbidden fruit. But then again, You and I are guilty of the same thing. God has set before us the tree of life, and the tree of death. We can choose to accept Christ and live, or reject Christ and die. In short, we have an opportunity to walk with God in the garden to. Unfortunately, many people reject this opportunity because God isn’t they way they want Him to be.

    Which, on a side note, you most likely don’t agree that Adam & Eve were real people, however, Jesus himself believed that they were. And, if a guy can raise himself from the dead, I’ll believe everything that guy says. If you don’t believe this either, you should do an in-depth study on this topic with former atheists that tried to disprove it.

    In conclusion, instead of spending time researching how God isn’t good, you should have spent time researching how God isn’t fair. If you want to spend time researching this topic you will have more than enough evidence to make a solid point. If you need help, let me give you a point of origin for your study. Start at the foot of the Cross where God sent his son to die for your sins. That certainly wasn’t fair. But then again, God is God, and he can do whatever he wants. Including raising from the dead three days later.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

      No, there’s no reason to imagine that Adam and Eve were real. Nor any reason to believe the supernatural claims about Jesus.

      • Jonathan Waller

        If you really believe this, you live with your head in the sand my friend. There is overwhelming evidence for the resurrection of Christ.

        • Jonathan Waller

          I noticed you had nothing to say about “good” being a relative term. Do you believe this?

        • adam

          Full Definition of GOOD

          1 a (1) : of a favorable character or tendency (2) : bountiful, fertile (3) : handsome, attractive

          b (1) : suitable, fit (2) : free from injury or disease (3) : not depreciated (4) : commercially sound (5) : that can be relied on (6) : profitable, advantageous

          c (1) : agreeable, pleasant (2) : salutary, wholesome (3) : amusing, clever

          Which ‘good’ are you referring to?

        • adam

          Where is your ‘overwhelming evidence’?

        • Pofarmer

          “There is overwhelming evidence for the resurrection of Christ.” Tell that to the 4 or 5 billion people in the world who aren’t Christian.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Deliver it.

          Before you do so, though, you might want to click the All Posts button above and scan some of the posts I’ve already done. Or search “resurrection” (search box is along the right). As you can imagine, I’ve thought about this quite a bit.

        • hector_jones

          Finally someone has overwhelming evidence! Up to now all the evidence I’ve seen has been only underwhelming. So what evidence have you got?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Be careful for what you ask for, amiright? Jonathan has brought his A game, so look out, wise guy.

        • hector_jones

          To me he looks like just another middle reliever sent in to get a little work in, in the middle of a losing effort.

        • adam

          Yippee I am finally going to be a Christian and NOT be held responsible for my own life.

          Any plans for the massive atheist extinction?

        • Greg G.

          I’d better let my boss know I’ll be needing an 11% raise so I can live on 90% of my income while keeping up my tithes.

        • hector_jones

          Church tithing is inflationary.

        • adam

          and who cant WAIT for this:

          14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

          15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16
          The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia [or 1,400 miles!] in length, and as wide and high as it is long [1,400 miles wide and tall!].

          17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits [that is 200 feet!] thick.

          18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.

          19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation
          was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst [these last two stones are unknown or only exist in heaven today].

          21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls,each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of
          gold, as pure as transparent glass.

          Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-does-the-bible-say-heaven-is-like/#ixzz3Dsf7CR00

          El Dorado…..

        • Greg G.

          Wait a minute. It just hit me that one of the twelve foundations has the name of Judas on it. Matthias would have been an apostle of the other eleven, not of the Lamb.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Literally has the name Judas? I don’t see his name in Revelation.

          Why couldn’t Matthias be a proper disciple if he’d been a subordinate disciple since the very beginning?

          I’ve heard Robert Price say that you have two tropes clashing here, the Twelve and the Traitor. You can’t have them both (one honorable disciple for each of the 12 tribes + one of them being a traitor), and yet they’re uncomfortably mushed together in the NT. I’d be curious to read more on this clash. Any suggestions?

        • Pofarmer

          It seems to me that, truth surge talks about that in his excavating the empty tomb series.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          I’ll take a look, thanks. I found the video series here.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s kinda long.

        • Greg G.

          The misunderstandings begin when you read the gospels back into the epistles. Paul mentions the twelve once but doesn’t say they were apostles or disciples and Peter isn’t one of them.

        • Greg G.

          I am pressed for time ATM. Pieces of this reply may be episodic. Matthias was chosen by drawing lots, according to Acts. He was either picked by random chance or maybe there was collusion.

          Do the foundations have a bunch of names Mark made up?

        • Greg G.

          Do you mean Strobel and McDowell? Many have become atheists while trying to defend their arguments.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Well, yeah, but Strobel and McDowell got some serious money during that time. And that’s the main thing.

      • Guest

        There’s no reason to imagine they weren’t.

        • Dys

          Except for genetics and a complete lack of any evidence supporting their existence.

        • Guest

          There’s a complete lack of any evidence to deny their existence. You don’t know anything about genetics so I have no comment on that.

        • Dys

          Go educate yourself on the burden of proof. You obviously don’t have the first clue as to what you’re talking about, and want to pretend that “bible says so” is all you need to support your assertions, and you’re completely and utterly wrong.

          You don’t have a comment on genetics because you’re ignorant.

        • adam

          You mean like Flying Invisible Pink Unicorns, leprechans and faires?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          There’s no reason to imagine that Adam and Eve weren’t real? Wow–I’m not sure where to start with that one.

        • MNb

          Then there is no reason to imagine Harry Potter isn’t real either. He also could talk with snakes.

    • Dys

      “God is good, all the time and all the time God is good. Not because we
      say so, but because He says so.”

      No, he doesn’t. You have a book that says he is. God is good only because he’s defined that way, by apologists and the people who wrote the bible.

      Modern genetics has demonstrated that the Adam & Eve story is a fable. It is not historical in any sense.

      • Jonathan Waller

        Modern genetics has to consistently change because we’re discovering that what we thought just a few short years ago has been dis-proven. Is it possible that “modern genetics” is wrong since it’s followed this pattern in the past?”

        • Pofarmer

          Science is always wrong, it just gets less wrong as time progresses. Religion does not possess this asset.

        • Jonathan Waller

          Because the Bible hasn’t been wrong. Wow, this is easy.

        • Pofarmer

          The bible is wrong all the time on lots of topics. If all you have is this nonsense. i don’t know what you expect to accomplish.

        • MNb

          Yeah, the Bible was entirely correct in Deu 14:11-18 (bats are birds), 2 Sam 24:9 (the entire US army was fighting qua numbers), 2 Chr 13-4 (imagine Obama holding a speech without amplifiers for the US army), 1 Kings 7:23 and 2 Chr. 4-2 (all math books should be rewritten.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          What day was Jesus crucified on? The synoptics and John disagree.

          More interesting: Jesus predicted the end in the lifetime of his followers: “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.“

          Fail.

        • Guest

          Friday, rose again on Sunday.
          sun was darkened, moon not give light : symbols of doom
          stars fall from sky : kings and rulers killed and deposed
          heavenly bodies shaken : nations’ fates in jeopardy
          These prophesy events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and in the 1930s until the Holocaust.

        • Pofarmer

          Obviously.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          For an omniscient being, God sure gives fuzzy predictions. Why the Holocaust? Why not the Black Death or the Plague of Justinian? Why not the Napoleonic Wars or WW2?

          God is apparently as useful as Nostradamus–you can reshape him like Play-Doh to make him into whatever you want.

          My bad, I guess, for having higher hopes.

        • Guest

          Nostradamus.. oh, you don’t want to go there. If you can’t figure out the Bible you’ll never understand Nostradamus.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          No, I think I’ve got the Bible figured out, thanks.

        • Greg G.

          Wait until the Interplanetary Conflict of 2736. Then those predictions will be both literal and figurative, making all past interpretations look silly. The Intergalactic Clash in 17456 will make the interpretation of 2736 look naive.

          There probably hasn’t been a generation in at least 2000 years that hasn’t expected a visit from the Messiah during their own time.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s as reliable as theists exhorting that the world is going to hell and morals are failing and society is going to collapse.

        • Greg G.

          But the Greeks were saying that before the Christian era. They probably got it from the Egyptians or Akkadians. It probably goes back to the Homo ergaster clans and they were right.

        • 90Lew90

          Pinker includes this in his new book in discussing how a perceived decline in “proper” language usage is linked to moral decline. It’s perennial…

        • Pofarmer

          Hoffer talks about it in “true believers” as well.

        • adam

          Just ‘wishful thinking’ on their part.

          Because apparently THAT is the ONLY way THEIR ‘god’ was present itself to them…

        • hector_jones

          WW2 wasn’t enough to bring him back, but apparently gays marrying each other is finally going to do it.

        • Greg G.

          Bob’s question is about whether the crucifixion was before or after the Passover meal. John doesn’t agree with the Synoptics.

        • Guest

          Yes he does.

        • Greg G.

          The Synoptics say Jesus ate the Passover meal. John says Jesus was crucified on the day of Preparation before the Passover. John was going for the comparison of the Lamb of God being sacrificed which is inappropriate because Jesus was supposed to be a sin offering while the Passover has nothing to do with sin.

        • Guest

          Read John again.

        • Greg G.

          Been there, done that. Your turn.

          And sign in with an account, please.

        • Guest

          Do it again and get it right this time.

        • Greg G.
        • Guest

          Why would I need that?

        • Greg G.

          You haven’t demonstrated that you know anything at all as yet. You can’t even figure out how to log in to Disqus. We don’t know if your ignorance is natural or enforced by religion.

        • Guest

          Obviously I have figured out how to log into Disqus, since I am commenting here. But the question is why do I bother when you’re so out of your depth. Do you actually imagine you have anything new? Everything you’ve come up with has been explained and disposed of hundreds of years ago.
          You’ll have to do better if you expect to keep my attention.

        • Greg G.

          You are “Guest” which shows you haven’t logged in. You are boring. Goodbye.

        • Dys

          Only if you turn your brain off, put your fingers in your ears, and chant “la la la can’t hear you” when presented with evidence to the contrary.

        • Greg G.

          That song is in many church hymnals but it’s hard to read with your eyes closed.

        • Greg G.

          The Bible has been reinterpreted many times. There are 43,000 separate denominations of Christianity today because of schisms. How can you say the Bible isn’t wrong when there are so many disparate ideas about what it says.?

        • adam

          ???

        • adam

          ???

        • adam

          the ‘bible’ hasnt been wrong….

          Nice to know where stand on morality

        • 90Lew90

          “Because the Bible hasn’t been wrong. Wow, this is easy.”

          Chortle. I had been giving you the benefit of the doubt because you seemed polite and articulate. But…

        • Dys

          Two people don’t have the genetic variation required for survival. It’s the same reason why all the supposedly unclean animals on the ark would have been just as good being left off the boat. You can’t save a complex species with only two members.

    • Pofarmer

      “you don’t believe this either, you should do an in-depth study on this topic with former atheists that tried to disprove it.”

      Tried to dissprove what, and which former Atheists?

      • Jonathan Waller

        There are numerous studies done about the claims that Jesus was raised from the dead. Lee Strobel, Glenn Doss, Josh McDowel, to name a few.

        • Pofarmer

          None of them are particularly convincing, and most of them are wrong on the accepted, pertinent facts. Things such as the gospels being eyewitness accounts, which they are not, by their own admission. If that’s the best you’ve got, you can peruse other threads here and save us a whole lot of time and typing.

        • Jonathan Waller

          So you don’t like these authors because you don’t like them? Which pertinent facts and where are your sources?

        • Pofarmer

          Lets start with the Gospels as eyewithness accounts. According to the consensus of NT scholars, they are not, consult Bart Ehrman, et al. If we can’t agree on this, I am done here.

        • Jonathan Waller

          Which NT scholars agree on this? Could you kindly post your sources?

        • Pofarmer

          Bart Ehrman has written a long series of posts on it on his blog, and what the accepted scholarship is, I cannot link to it, as it is a membership sight. You are welcome to join and challenge Dr. Ehrman personally.

        • Jonathan Waller

          Thanks, I will do that. I think it’s great that you can recognize that some people have a little more depth on the subject we’re discussing than you; and have the decency to point to a more educated source. I get frustrated at people who are too lazy to investigate this topic for themselves and would rather just repeat what others say (although I’m guilty of this myself at times; but that’s my hypocrisy showing). I would also like to state my ignorance and point you to someone who has devoted his life to Christian Apologetics; Dinesh Desouza. You are also welcome to take him on personally as well.

        • Pofarmer

          I would guess i’ve covered about every argument Dinesh can make. Maybe not. I’ll check him out, but probably not soon, harvest approaches rapidly.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Nothing I’d like better than debate a popular Christian apologist like Dinesh D’Souza. I’m sure he has no time for small fry like me. But convince him otherwise, and I’m there.

          As for publicly humiliating apologists in print, I’ve done quite a bit of that in this blog already. Search for your favorite apologists and see if they’re here.

        • Greg G.

          I think it’s great that you can recognize that some people have a little more depth on the subject we’re discussing than you; and have the decency to point to a more educated source.

          Do you think of Strobel, McDowell, and D’Souza as “people have a little more depth on the subject”?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Jonathan’s standards are low if this is the case!

        • Greg G.

          It would be an ad hominem to ask which of Dinesh’s arguments he finds most persuasive: those made while he was cheating on his wife and committing felonies or after his conviction?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Someone has a cruel streak!

        • hector_jones

          Those wacky Christians!

        • Pofarmer

          Ya know, honestly, I’ve read Desouza, mcdowell, Craig and others. Have, you read Dennet, Harris, sagan, price, ehrman, remsberg, Ingersoll ?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

          Wikipedia: “None of the Gospel authors is thought to be an eyewitness, and none claims to be. There is a broad consensus that many of the books of the New Testament were not written by the people whose names are attached to them.”

    • MNb

      “You will answer to God, God will never answer to you.”
      Then there is no use for praying.

      “carefully consider what it will be like when we all stand before judgment.”
      I have done so. It won’t happen, because there is no god to judge me.

    • 90Lew90

      “Man is imperfect because God gave them a choice as to which tree they would eat from. The tree of life, or the tree death. They chose death.”

      No, they ate of the tree of knowledge. It’s almost like God was afraid they might get wise. We’ve been doing pretty well with more knowledge and less God.

    • Lipstick Lesbian

      Basically it is follow and obey God, accept his sacrifice, or burn in hell for eternity. God doesn’t give a f**k what any child or adult thinks about him being unfair or his eternal torture chamber. Everybody who has lived and died should have nothing but utter contempt for the idea of a wicked being like this.


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