What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?

The Old Testament patriarchs would scratch their heads at the problem conservative Christians have invented and seized upon. “That’s not what ‘Thou shalt not murder’ means!” they’d say. “It means that you shouldn’t take a stick and beat someone over the head until he’s dead! We kill people around here at the drop of a hat—both our own people when they transgress the Law and people of other tribes when we get into border squabbles. And God has no hesitation in killing people. To simply make someone not pregnant is vastly different. People try lots of folk remedies to bring about that very thing, and our only complaint is that they’re not effective.”

All this hand-wringing about the safety of a single cell, less than one trillionth the size of an infant, would baffle them. God is happy to slaughter (or order slaughtered) lots ’n lots of humans—men, women, and children.

If the Big Man doesn’t care, why should we? That’s a rhetorical question—of course we should care. It’s just that we shouldn’t imagine an argument against abortion based on what the Bible says.

About Babylon, it says, “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” (Ps. 137:9). And: “Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished” (Is. 13:15–16). Whether God uses genocide against the other guys, poisonous snakes against his own people, or an old-fashioned global flood against everyone, God has a broad palette of options when it comes to death, and he makes no special provision for children, infants, or fetuses.

The Bible even describes a potion to deliberately induce a miscarriage, used by the priest when a woman is suspected of adultery.

God himself has a hand in abortions. Roughly half of all pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion, a far greater rate than that of clinical abortions. If God exists, he’s the biggest abortionist of all.

Why imagine that the Bible is against abortion? Maybe it’s that whole “thou shalt not murder” thing.

But you do know that “thou shalt not murder” isn’t in the Ten Commandments, right? Let’s review the story. Moses comes down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and then smashes them when he sees the golden calf. He goes back up for another set (Ex. 34), but God must’ve been stoned when he dictated them the second time because it’s quite a different set of rules. Note that these rules aren’t just an addendum of some sort; these are the replacement Ten Commandments. Exodus 34:28 makes this clear: “[Moses] wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.” In other words, if you’d been able to peek inside the Ark of the Covenant to see this Ten Commandments 2.0, nowhere would it have said, “Thou shalt not murder.”

But let’s ignore that and assume that the scriptures say not to murder. What is “murder”? Is capital punishment murder? It’s illegal in Europe, and many people think it’s murder in the U.S., and yet it’s legal in 32 U.S. states. What about killing in wartime? Or killing in self-defense? Or killing accidentally? Or killing animals? Or euthanasia? Murder is undefined, so “Thou shalt not murder” is meaningless.

You’d think that this vaguely supported legal opinion that God is against abortion would give Christians pause, but I guess the hearts of pro-life Christian soldiers are resolute. They’re quick to argue that God’s actions are beyond our understanding when it suits them—when confronted with the Problem of Evil or the justice of hell, for example—but at other times they acknowledge no vagueness and know for certain what God wants. In particular, they know that God is against abortion!

Why is abortion that big a deal from the Christian standpoint when abortions send souls to heaven without the risk of doing the wrong thing in adulthood? That murdered babies go straight to heaven was one way William Lane Craig tried to wriggle out of the moral consequences of God ordering the Canaanite genocide.

Using Craig’s logic, abortion clinics may save more souls than churches!

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.
If you have that awareness, you have good manners,
no matter what fork you use.
— Emily Post

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 1/16/12.))

Photo credit: Wikimedia

About Bob Seidensticker
  • RichardSRussell

    It’s good to be a Christian. No matter what you believe, you have absolute assurance that God agrees with you.

    • wtfwjtd

      Nice and convenient isn’t it Richard, that for Christians God always hates the same people they do!

      • RandomFunction2

        They why did Jesus tell us to love our enemies?

        • Itarion

          Well, it’s one thing to love your enemies, and another thing completely to love your Enemies. It’s an inaccurate translation, see, because the Greeks had two words for enemies, one analogous to rival, another analogous to foe. Jesus says love your rivals, like the Pharisees, but its still okay to hate your foes, like the Samaritans. That one story aside.

        • RandomFunction2

          Then what was the point of the parable of the good Samaritan?

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

          That if a detested Samaritan can show great love for people not in his tribe, that the omniscient creator of the universe should do the same?

        • Itarion

          That goodness and kindness should be shown to everyone.

          I had a reason to pick the rival/enemy groups that I used.

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

          The Old Testament talks about treating your neighbor as your self, but “neighbor” in that context means “fellow Jew.” It didn’t mean that we should treat everyone in the world nice.

          I wonder if the same problem applies. Itarion has an interesting point, that “enemy” might not be what we think it is.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Jesus, if he did actually exist and did actually say that, probably wanted to encourage people to be nicer to each other. Not a bad thing, but bot by any means a Christian idea either.

        • wtfwjtd

          That’s a good question RF2, one that needs to be sincerely asked by a lot of people. I think that modern Christianity would have a lot more appeal to lot more people, if it concerned itself with questions such as this, rather than its tunnel-visioned focus on promoting partisan Republican politics.

      • Niemand

        I understand that Allah does too. Isn’t there a line in the Koran (or maybe the ancillary lit) where Mohammed announces to Aisha that Allah wants him to take a second wife and she says something like, “Isn’t it wonderful how God runs to fulfill your desires?” (Warning: I got this story from Jesus and Mo.)

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

          The story of Joseph Smith was similar. I’m also just repeating what I’ve (imperfectly) heard, but he would do stuff like say, “Hey, Frank, God told me to tell you that you should give me your gold watch.”

          And also wives. But the pettiness of the material things was what surprised me.

        • Niemand

          I suspect the theme is common to most, if not all, religious leaders. I remember a line in the NT about Jesus coming upon a fig tree that had no fruit because it wasn’t in season so he cursed the thing for not giving him fruit out of season and it died the next day.

        • purr

          David Koresh and the Branch Dividians were also similar.

          Koresh told his flock that God said that Koresh must have sex with all of the women in his ‘church’, and that husbands must never touch their wives again.

          So Koresh subsequently slept with all the ladies and had loads of kids.

  • Brian K

    Don’t forget Exodus 21:22-25

    “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she has a miscarriage but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

    To my knowledge this is the only place in the bible that causing harm to the unborn is directly addressed, and it sure doesn’t seem like the author considered it taking a life.

    • smrnda

      If you dig through old posts on Slacktivist (a Christian blogger on patheos) he goes back and finds this verse was used by Christians at Dallas Theological Seminary to argue that, contrary to what the Catholics said, abortion was not murder. Seems like the modern pro-life position, and how now some Protestants are anti-birth-control (that was a big enough point to laugh at on Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”) might just be a kind of pissing contest to see who is more pro life.

      • purr

        The church used to believe, and a pope even stated that ‘life’ did not begin until 40 days for men, and 80 days for women.

        That up until then, the ZEF was unformed…and if it is ‘unformed’, it is not considered a person.

        • Itarion

          Why does it take longer for women? If, at 40 days, it’s either a man or not, shouldn’t it be self evident that not a man is probably going to be woman? [Transgender aside, as that is a relatively rare occurence.]

        • purr

          Because women are not quite human so it takes them longer.

          Women are more akin to farm animals.

        • wtfwjtd

          If you think about it, this is really a theoretical construct. How would one know the sex of the fetus until after the abortion? Some of you that are more knowledgeable on the subject than I can comment on how early that sex can be be determined, but even with modern tools determining sex before birth is not a sure thing. So,it appears to me that the pope was making a value judgement, that would have little practical application in the real world.

        • Itarion

          Well. Good for the Pope, I guess. Whichever one it was. Can someone tell me which pope?

        • purr

          http://www.badnewsaboutchristianity.com/gah_abortion.htm

          “Pope Gregory XIII confirmed the traditional line in the sixteenth century: it cannot be homicide to kill an embryo of less than 40 days, because it is not yet human”

        • wtfwjtd

          I was once told that “traditional” Jewish law was also 40 days, more or less about the time of”quickening”, as they called the first perceptible fetal movements. I wonder when Gregory was overruled?

        • purr

          It’s in that link

        • wtfwjtd

          Thanks jejune, that’s some fascinating info and worthwhile reading.

        • wtfwjtd

          Interesting, St Thomas Aquinas is the guy whose “5 proofs” are considered irrefutable evidence of God’s existence by Christians, and in this regard he is hailed as a genius who is directed by the very hand of God. However, when it comes to a hot button social issue like abortion, organized religion just tosses his writings aside like they’re written by a moron, simply because they don’t further their current partisan political agenda.Just more evidence that religion is always moving the goalposts when it comes to absolute morality, to fit what’s convenient at the moment. You’d think that God could do a better job of communicating, especially concerning important matters such as morality.

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

          There are two links at the bottom of my spectrum argument post that show how this resolute pro-life position is quite new, and many churches were OK with abortion.

  • Sven2547

    Numbers chapter 5 describes a ritual where a woman, suspected of adultery, should be required to drink a specially-prepared “bitter water” that potentially induces a miscarriage. Yes, the Bible supports chemical abortions.

    • wtfwjtd

      That’s a bizarre passage all right. It more or less reads like a “magic” potion, with God causing the miscarriage when appropriate. So I guess this is a good indicator that God don’t mind abortions, at least some of the time anyway.

      • https://www.facebook.com/michael.carteron Michael

        It reminds me of the “dunk test” for witches, or the “ordeal by water”-if you miscarry, you’re guilty, if not, you’re innocent. You can just imagine how many women in that situation prayed to miscarry. One more chapter in our glorious history.

    • purr

      The grain taken from the temple floor was often rotten. The rotting grain is an abortifacient.

      • Pofarmer

        I think it’s a little more complicated than that. I did a little reading, and the Romans, I think, knew of some fermented concoctions that could cause abortions. I would bet that the dude writing the verse, didn’t know the exact recipe, or that it was a secret gaurded by the temple types, and so just made something up to describe it.

        • purr

          From what I have read, the liquid contained dust from the temple floor, which would contain remnants of sacrifices. Grain was frequently sacrificed, and science tells us that when grain rots, it develops ergotamine. Science also tells us that ergotamine is an abortifacient.

  • GCBill

    I have yet to see a pro-life religious person honestly address the argument in your last paragraph.

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

      Remember Andrea Yates who drowned her 5 kids to protect them from hell? I wonder if Wm. Lane Craig celebrates her as a hero. I kinda doubt it, which also makes me doubt the logic behind his position.

      • GCBill

        I actually thought of that case as I wrote out my comment.

    • RandomFunction2

      The classical answer is that only God is the master of life and death so he’s the only one to have the moral authority to decide when someone should die. At least when it comes to an innocent life.
      The more recent answer is that the person is sacred, so that it is not permissible to take the person’s life. Unless in some cases in which he or she is not innocent.
      And now a personal thought. If God did not think that earthly life had a purpose, he would not have bothered to created this world at all. God would have created all of us directly in heaven… If this world exists, however, it must be because we have some part to play in it. So that putting an end to a fetus’ life is not the right order of things. It contradicts the purpose of this world.

      • Kodie

        How sacred can life be if animals procreate like we do. How morally authoritative can god be if we can judge people and end their lives? I don’t know what’s “innocent” about a ZEF. Why can’t we just decide they are guilty of stealing our organs, and conspiring to hold us hostage for the next few decades or longer?

        There is no really good reason to save any of them, except if you are really lenient about that sort of thing.

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

        The last bit is your own personal theology. That’s fine, but it doesn’t help us from a societal standpoint as we try to figure out the role of abortion.

      • Ron

        If God did not think that earthly life had a purpose, he would not have bothered to created this world at all.

        Christians make the following claims:

        1. God is a perfect being.
        2. God created the universe.
        3. God desires adoration and obedience.

        By definition, the word perfect means complete, i.e:

        – lacking in no essential detail
        – entirely without flaws, defects, or shortcomings
        – conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type
        – excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement.
        – as good as it is possible to be.

        In other words, a perfect being is a being without needs, wants or desires.

        Yet claims two and three directly contradict claim one. Moreover, the god of the Bible is prone to sudden paroxysms of rage, anger, hatred, jealousy, vengefulness, grief and remorse — hardly the traits of a perfect and complete being.

        Hence, the Christian conception of God is severely flawed.

        • RandomFunction2

          God did not create the universe because he needed it or anyone of us. He created it, and he created us (through evolution) out of pure love. He was under no obligation to create. He could have refrained from creating without any diminishment of his perfection. Yet he chose to create and the reason theology gives is because he loved us and wanted us to share his divine life.

        • purr

          If God is perfect and God is love then why does God sanction the torture and killing of so many children?

          How can that possibly be *justified* ?

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

          Oh, yeah. The god of the Old Testament is a rape-, genocide-, and slavery-happy monster. We have no reason to call this dude loving or omnibenevolent or perfect, and every reason not to.

          The only response I’ve heard is to say that if a perfect god did exist, then he might well have reasons for seeming to be an SOB. Fair enough, but, again, where is the evidence pointing toward this supposition? Aside from preserving a presupposition, why would anyone propose this hypothesis? It begs the question.

        • purr

          Why does God create anencephalic babies?

          Why does God allow babies to be raped and murdered?

          Why does God allow innocent children to die in horrific natural disasters?

          Why does God create children that are born with cancer that will kill them?

          If God is perfect – all good, all powerful, all loving, omnipotent and omnipresent – he knows where you are RIGHT THIS MINUTE, and he can foresee the future – then why does God allow children to suffer? Surely he could intervene to prevent natural disasters? Surely he can prevent babies from being born with leukemia? Why allow such suffering of the most innocent of his creations? Is that out of love? What is the *lesson* to be learned, if it is out of love? Is he trying to teach us something? And if he allows children to be tortured as part of some greater plan, is that torture justifiable?

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

          Ah, you just don’t appreciate God’s respect for free will. He could make you perfect, but then that would turn you into a robot.

          Wait–hang on. No, my bad: that does nothing to respond to your question about natural “evil.”

          And even in the case of interpersonal wrongdoing, God’s respecting the free will of the rapist means that he doesn’t give a damn about the free will of the victim.

          Never mind.

        • purr

          Ah, you just don’t appreciate God’s respect for free will. He could make you perfect, but then that would turn you into a robot.

          A wannabe apologist tried to explain away the free will problem. All he did was confuse me.

          I said that, if God knows where you are at every minute, can read your mind, and the future is ‘already written’ – then do we have free will?

          And he presented me with some bullshit about ‘simple necessity’ vs. ‘conditional necessity’.

          Simple necessity would mean that our future is written in stone. What God has done is presented us with possible futures, and he has no control over whether or not we choose to turn left..or right. That, apparently, is ‘conditional necessity’

          I looked it up on Google, and couldn’t find a single thing about conditional vs. simple necessity.

          Ever heard of it?

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

          I’m always wary of a philosophical smokescreen. Big words and long, detailed explanations are a warning to me. Shouldn’t arguments for God’s existence be simply and obvious?

          I’ve heard an example in this domain that may be relevant. Imagine Future You records next week’s football game and then teleports a DVD back to Present You. You watch the DVD, and now you know how the game will turn out.

          As you watch the game, you’ve already seen every play, but the players out there on the field are still acting under free will. The point is that there’s a difference between knowing the future and free will.

          Has anyone heard a rebuttal to this argument?

        • purr

          I believe that you are describing ‘conditional necessity’.

          Only in the example that the apologist gave, God knew that the chariot driver was going to turn left, however, the chariot driver still had the free will to turn left or right…

        • RandomFunction2

          I don’t buy this argument. Backward time travel is nonsense. Find another analogy.
          Some believers don’t buy divine foreknowledge at all. Their stance is known as “open theism”.

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

          The free will question doesn’t much interest me, but this DVD argument still seems relevant. I’ll happily avoid using it in the future if you show me what’s wrong with it. But “RF2 doesn’t find it appealing” is hardly a compelling reason.

        • purr

          The problem with this argument is that it puts more weight on big events, and no weight on the small events.

          The team is destined to win. God has foreseen it. However, God has not foreseen HOW the players will go about winning. Well, why does only the end of the game count, but not all the stuff in between?

          When we humans think of ‘destiny’ we tend to focus on big, life changing events, and ignore the small ones. But why should one of the players scratching his ass be any less significant than the eventual victory? The victory ONLY matters because we WANT it to matter. But if you look at the whole thing as a timeline, and nothing more, the ass scratching should have the same value as anything else.

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

          In the DVD analogy, of course, God has seen every single play. It’s much more than just the final score.

        • purr

          Yeah, it sounds like a bunch of made up bullshit to me.

          Here is an explanation of the theory:

          http://scholasticus.wordpress.com/2007/05/14/boethius-consolation-freedom-and-divine-foreknowledge/

          “Philosophy’s response to this problem in chapter VI draws a distinction between simple and conditional necessity (429). Simple necessity is tiedto the nature so, for instance, it is a necessary truth that “man is a
          rational animal.” Conditional necessity is not tied to the nature, but rather to some contingent state of affairs at a particular time. SupposeI see Socrates seated. When I see him, it is conditionally necessary that he be seated because he is seated at that time, but there is nothing in his nature that forces him to be seated. A moment later he can choose to stand. This conditional necessity is sufficient for me to have knowledge that Socrates is seated. So my present knowledge and Socrates’s contingent willing to sit are perfectly compatible.

          There is no past, present and future in God’s experience of time, rather all temporal events are present simultaneously to God’s simple knowledge

          IE, make shit up. Reminds me of the assertion that God exists OUT OF TIME, and only briefly blinks into existence in order to punish wrongdoers, then he blinks out again:)

          I mean, this shit is really nothing more than sci-fi, if you really think about it. Just make up anything. And the great thing is because God is omnipotent, he literally CAN do anything – as long as you can imagine it, God can do it :)

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

          Agreed. The thing I’ve been increasingly noticing is the attempt to readjust the facts so that the God presupposition is held. Well, OK, maybe that works, but why would you think that way?

          Yes, you can squint at the facts so that your presupposition is held, but then you toss into the toilet any pretense of objectivity. You’re not following the evidence, just blindly rationalizing things to please yourself.

        • purr

          Oh, and if God exists out of time and he can see past present and future all simultaneously then uhm..why did he fuck up so many times with humanity?

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

          Why, for example, did God say to Abraham that he’d heard reports about bad stuff happening at Sodom and Gomorrah. Didn’t he know already?

        • RandomFunction2

          To Bob the broken, yet somehow fabulous, atheist,
          Scientists do the same thing when their pet theory is threatened by contrary facts. They just make some secondary hypotheses to accommodate the new facts without questioning the core of the theory.

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

          A courtroom lawyer is a better example. Lawyers don’t care about opposing facts except that they have to rebut them. They simply want to make the strongest possible case for their client. Heck, they might even believe themselves that he’s in the wrong, but that doesn’t matter.

          To a small extent, scientists do the same thing. But, unlike the lawyer, they do care about the truth and want to be on the right side of it. Sure, scientists have egos, and they dislike admitting that they backed the wrong horse, as any of us would. But their job is to be on the right side of truth.

        • RandomFunction2

          Some theologians have suggested that God is actually not all-powerful.
          But that line of defense doesn’t tell us why he chose to create while he could foresee so much misery.
          One possible reply is that our earthly standpoint is limited and that beyond the grave we will understand how everything is supposed to fit into a coherent picture of God’s love.
          It’s like a child who doesn’t understand why she or he’s supposed to learn all those weird things at school while he could be doing much more interesting things, such as sport or videogames. Later, she or he comes to understand what the purpose of school was.
          But a better reply is to talk less and to fight more against evil.

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

          Whenever you hear yourself speculating about “beyond the grave,” alarm bells should ring.

          Sure, this whole thing might make sense from the standpoint of God, a standpoint to which we’re not privy. But why imagine that? There’s no evidence pointing in that direction.

        • RandomFunction2

          The atheist makes a claim that the existence of evil is evidence against God. All the believer needs to do is to undermine the claim by questioning its assumptions. The believer could doubt the logical entailment of the atheist’s argument by suggesting plausible ways in which that entailment fails to obtain. The believer need not prove that evil has a solution. He or she just needs to show how it could have a solution.

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

          All the believer needs to do is to undermine the claim by questioning its assumptions.

          And, voila! Your presuppositions are protected against all possible attack.

          Yes, I agree with your statement. I was imagining a different scenario, where both parties were seekers, interested in following the evidence where it lead and not much concerned about protected prior conclusions.

        • RandomFunction2

          To Bob the broken, yet somehow fabulous, atheist,
          I was speaking of a specific instance. The problem of evil is a positive attempt to prove that God does not exist. If believers want to show that this attempt fails, they need not go so far as to prove that God is good. Though that would be a great achievement. But to reply to the argument from evil, believers need to show possible ways to reconcile evil with God’s goodness.
          God belief can still be weakened if all arguments for God’s existence are disproven, if the problem of evil turns out to have no satisfactory solution and if God belief can be explained by science as a delusion of the brain.

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

          I think we’re repeating ourselves. Yes, if the Christian puts forward a possible way evil could exist but God have his own good reasons to allow it, then the proof that this God doesn’t exist is undone.

          But is this the end of the story? Surely the Christian claim is more interesting that “Well, you haven’t proven that my position is flawed, so I’m entitled to hold it!” Instead, you want to show that your position is where the evidence points. And with the PoE, the evidence isn’t pointing in your direction.

        • smrnda

          I’ll admit that god not being all powerful solves a lot of problems – the John H guy who comments here is a Mormon and he says they understand got as powerful but not omnipotent. It’s not the most popular view of a monotheistic god, and might contradict some verses, but it does get you around the problem of evil.

        • RandomFunction2

          If you’re referring to the Bible, you should know that not all theologians claim that it is inerrant or always morally perfect. I’ve heard that Spong wrote a book called “The Sins of Scripture”.
          The Bible is a human construct by people who had more or less insight into God and his purposes. God did not literally speak from the sky to biblical characters. Besides, there are many incompatible theologies within the Bible, which is evidence of its multiple authorship. The theology of the book of Joshuah is outdated while that of John may still appeal to us.
          Recently, I’ve read a theology paper that suggested that a Christian should relate to the Bible in the same way a marxist relates to Marx’s writings or a platonist to Plato’s writings. Which means not taking the Bible to be more divinely inspired than Plato or Marx, yet continuing to use it as foundational to Christian identity.
          But maybe you’re referring to the problem of evil outside of the Bible.

        • purr

          The genius of the bible is that it can be interpreted in a variety of different ways.

          I was watching an episode of the show “The Naked Archaeologist’ and the host was talking to an RCC priest in Jerusalem, and the priest looked at the camera and said “The Bible is nothing but stories.”

          My first thought was…dude, tell that to the creationists!!

          Of course, protestants can dismiss everything that Catholics say because Catholics engage in ‘idolatry and sin’.

          Heh.

          And around and around we go.

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

          The genius of the bible is that it can be interpreted in a variety of different ways.

          I agree. My own hypothesis is that a contradictory Bible might have a hard time initially since it doesn’t make much sense, but in the long term, there’s a perverse value in the contradictions. It means that it can be all things to all people (or for all times). You want support for slavery? You want support for not slavery? No problem.

          Suppressing women or elevating them? Genocide or love?

          It’s all in there. The Bible is a sock puppet.

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

          That whole love thing–the Trinity just sat around loving each other all the time–falls flat for me. It’s so outside human experience that we can’t say, “They loved each other continually, just like X” (where X = some situation that we are familiar with).

          But Ron’s concern remains: if things were perfect before the universe was created, creating the universe could only make things worse. Why would God do that? Sure, I see that this Loving Trinity is pretty weird, but we’ve defined it as perfect.

        • RandomFunction2

          I think you are limiting God to ontological categories, like “perfect”, “imperfect” . They are useful at some level, but the important thing is to view God as a relational being. The first epistle of John (whoever really wrote it) defines God as “love”. It doesn’t give a metaphysical definition of God as the Greeks would have done. God intended to make a covenant with us. Some people will accept it, others will reject it. Yes, in some sense the creation is a failure if some people end up in hell. But in another sense, it is a success, since some people end up sharing the life of God.

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

          Is God ontologically perfect or not? Are you saying that there are different kinds of perfect, maybe a philosophical one and a practical one?

          The first epistle of John (whoever really wrote it) defines God as “love”.

          God = love? Love = God? What is that supposed to mean? Do I “god” my family?

          If it’s simply an end run so you can say, “Well, you believe in love, don’t you? Well, there you go. You believe in God,” then it’s just a meaningless word game.

          Yes, in some sense the creation is a failure if some people end up in hell.

          There are fallible human teachers that graduate all their students. What kind of a bonehead must God be if he has a poorer graduation rate?

          But in another sense, it is a success, since some people end up sharing the life of God.

          “Yeah, billions wind up broasting in hell, but think of the positive side.”

          Sorry—the negative side is all that I can see. And I can’t imagine any of the loving, enlightened residents of heaven being able to think of anything else, either.

        • RandomFunction2

          To Bob the broken, yet somehow fabulous, atheist,
          I’d say that Christians view God as unlimited love and our own love as derivative from God. It’s like the sun which lights up the world. The world is not luminous by itself. Whatever light it has comes from the sun (sure, there is fire and artificial light but they are beside the point of the analogy).
          And moreover, God is powerless to convert a reluctant person. He could choose to fiddle with our brain so that we might give the appearance of faith, but that would not fair. God has too much respect for our freedom for that kind of trick. God wants genuine friends, he does not want slaves. So your analogy with students is irrelevant.

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

          I’d say that Christians view God as unlimited love and our own love as derivative from God.

          OK. This is just theology. I don’t see it explaining anything or providing any evidence that God exists.

          And moreover, God is powerless to convert a reluctant person.

          So you acknowledge the problem of heaven. You’re going to have a good time there when for trillions of years, you will know the torment that I’ll be concurrently going through? How could an enlightened citizen of heaven just ignore the torment of billions?

          So your analogy with students is irrelevant.

          Nope. It may not be perfect, but don’t turn from the argument. God is the perfect teacher, and he’s created this classroom (earth) to show us how to get into heaven. And, by some accounts, most of his students will fail the class.

          A pretty sucky teacher.

        • RandomFunction2

          Bob, many theologians don’t view hell as eternal torture. They tell us that hell is basically existence apart from God, and people go to hell because they WANT to be there and God respects their freedom. I have no idea what it is like to be in hell. My guess is that there is no physical pain, except perhaps self-inflicted pain. C. S. Lewis said that the gates of hell are closed from inside. People stay in hell because they prefer to be there. While it’s true that the elect may pity those in hell, in another sense they may respect their choice and be happy that they got just what they wanted.
          Besides, the classroom analogy may be useful at some level, but it is also misleading and must be handled with care. God’s goal is not primarily to teach us a piece of knowledge about him or the world, but to become our friend or in more classical terms, to make a covenant with us.

        • Kodie

          So hell is whatever people want to think it is. That’s what you’re saying, go with whatever made-up fantasy realm sounds nice to you (or worse, depending on what else you want to believe is true).

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

          I’m aware of C.S. Lewis’s “the gates of hell are locked from the inside” argument. Kinda flies in the face of some of the hellish “wailing and gnashing of teeth” lines that Jesus said, doesn’t it?

          If you don’t like God as a teacher, think of him as a counselor or a leader or a big brother. Whatever you imagine him to be, the problem remains: he’s terrible at it.

          Heck, you do a far better job of summarizing the important points that we all need to know than God does. The only problem is, you have no credibility. Imagine if God got off the couch and spread the word … wow.

        • Ron

          The doubter says:

          “I could never follow Stalin. He puts people in the Gulag.”

          That is what doubters tell themselves to rationalize their rejection of Stalin. But the truth is that Stalin does not send anyone to the Gulag. It is those who have hardened their hearts against him who send themselves to the Gulag through their bourgeois attitudes and counter-revolutionary actions. This was not Stalin’s plan at all. He truly wants everyone to go the Worker’s Paradise. And it grieves him that so many harden their hearts against him. But he will not force anyone into the Worker’s Paradise against their wishes, he respects their free will.

          So if you don’t want to go to the Gulag, just open your heart to the love of Stalin. And stop resisting him.

          groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/msg/a452cb8d34a6ffe4

        • Nox

          Is rewiring our brains the only way he could demonstrate his existence? What’s wrong with just appearing? He appears to several people in the book, so he can’t care that much about free will.

        • Ron

          And moreover, God is powerless to convert a reluctant person.

          A god incapable of persuading us that it even exists cannot be called all-powerful, can it?

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

          God has too much respect for our freedom for that kind of trick.

          God doesn’t give a damn about our freedom. When someone is having their freedom trampled (by a murderer or rapist, say), God takes no particular action.

        • purr

          God intended to make a covenant with us

          That is the same argument that has been used to justify slavery.

          “God made a covenant with the Jewish people, and that involved slavery and genocide but, who are we to judge? It is a covenant WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND”

        • Ron

          Unfortunately, wants of any kind betray a lack of perfection. And the command to love and obey someone or else perish in eternal torment is — to say it graciously — not an act of love.

      • Baby_Raptor

        A fetus is not a person, nor is it a life.

        Further, an unwanted fetus is not “innocent.” Nor is a fetus whose endangering the life of the mother it’s leeching off of. So try again?

        Lastly, could you please explain why god gets to be the “master” of life and death, and the only person who gets to decide to “kill” a clump of cells, when god had nothing to do with the woman getting pregnant? The only time god has knocked somebody up is when he raped Mary.

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

          As I see it, some things are on a spectrum of innocent/guilt (adults, say), but other things are not (squirrels, rocks)

          The squirrel may have shorted out the transformer, and the rock may have been used to whack someone on the head, but neither the squirrel nor the rock were guilty of what we interpret as bad. But you wouldn’t call them innocent either; better to say that they’re simply not on that spectrum.

          A fetus is also not on that innocent/guilty spectrum.

        • Baby_Raptor

          Interesting view. Would you mind explaining why you see it that way, please?

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

          It just occurred to me. I haven’t thought about it much.

          Is something missing?

        • Baby_Raptor

          No.

          I had to have a medically necessary abortion about a year and a half ago, so I admit that there’s probably some bias in my opinion. I just wanted to hear and think out your reasoning, and maybe use it to try and adjust mine.

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

          My point was simply that the “but the fetus is innocent!” argument may be like saying “but the rock is innocent!”

          The rock isn’t even on the innocent/guilty spectrum. That spectrum doesn’t apply. I propose that the same may be true for the fetus.

        • smrnda

          Are you suggesting that only things with the capacity for intent and premeditation can be innocent/guilty? That seems like what you’re saying.

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

          Hmm … that does sound like what I’m saying. Thanks for the input.

        • purr

          I catch and kill the chipmunks and squirrels that crawl into my attic and prevent me from sleeping at night.

          I don’t so much kill them though, as let them die from exposure.

          I used to travel 2km out of town and release them, but, in the end, a squirrel is really just a rat with a fluffy tail, and more of them is not necessarily better.

          I even let the pack rats die. OMG they are so cute. I used to have pet rats as a kid, and they are the most adorable, loveable pets.

          But, I still let the pests die because they are pests and they carry disease.

        • Baby_Raptor

          We have a mouse that snuck into the house at some point. I don’t have it in me to set up mouse traps, and neither does the roommate. We named him Fuzzy and will occasionally leave stale bread or something in his corner where we always see him.

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

          Having had mice myself, I fear that Fuzzy is actually many Fuzzies. Bread may not be exactly what you’re looking for …

        • purr

          I had about 6 mice in the ceiling above where I sleep, and they drove me mad.

          I didn’t realize that 6 tiny animals running around could be so noisy. They sounded like one giant pack rat or something.

          Unbelievable.

      • GCBill

        I greatly appreciate the response, though I suppose for the sake of the discussion, I should have elaborated more on what I was looking for. I’m worried about Christians framing abortion as a *human rights issue* when they don’t have logical grounds to do so.

        Your 1st and 3rd reasons are valid (though I would argue unsound) reasons for considering abortion immoral. But they don’t explain why the issue pertains to human rights. Violating God’s will might be wrong, but it says nothing about the value of the fetus.

        Your 2nd reason actually explains the logic of the Christian pro-life movement. However, it’s not clear to me why it should be taken seriously, given the other challenges Bob outlined against that perspective. The problem is precisely that it is a “recent” answer that doesn’t find much scriptural or traditional support.

        • RandomFunction2

          Recent it is. I had a theology professor who told me that the idea that “life is sacred” as wielded by pro-lifers does not go back beyond the sixties. By the way, Catholic theology doesn’t really say that life is sacred. It is the person who is sacred.
          Bob’s objection and yours are still interesting. If the greatest good is to be in heaven, why is it wrong to kill babies to make sure they go there?
          But on the other hand, if this life is all there is and the whole of it is objectively meaningless, how can we expect heroic deeds of self-sacrifice? What would be worth dying for? Wouldn’t cowardice become the most rational policy?
          And moreover, what should we say as a manner of encouragement and hope to broken people who have no expectation of normal lives (due to handicaps, to mental diseases, to traumas, to a very limited intelligence, to adverse life circumstances and so on? I’m not saying it is alright to manipulate their vulnerable feelings into a religious faith, but it is also wrong to lead them to think that their lives are bound to be meaningless and hopeless and that they can expect no real good from it because that’s the way the real world is. Try to say that to an eldery person who has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease…
          And it’s not just wrong because it’s callous, but also because it goes beyond the available evidence. The God question has not been solved yet. While believers should not try to present their faith as absolute certainties (and many don’t), atheists cannot claim absolute certainties for themselves either.

  • Itarion

    A lot of your recent posts have been on abortion. Is there a specific reason for this, something habitual, or are you just on a pro-choice/[baby-murdering] spree right now?

    • purr

      He is on a ‘baby-killing spree’, get it right Itarion.

      • Itarion

        Is it right now?

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

      I guess it’s a spree. To give me more time on the upcoming book, I’ve been recycling some old stuff, and I have a few pro-choice posts that’ll probably come out on a few upcoming Fridays.

      Your thoughts on that? Do you like this topic or are you tired of it or what?

      • Itarion

        Well, I won’t say that it isn’t interesting, because it is. There is a whole lot of territory in the question that doesn’t ever get explored, and what the Bible really says is part of that.

        That said, yes I’m a bit tired. Variety the spice of life and all. The discussion/argument/debate/ragefest that is choice/life will continue until – probably – long after I am dead and forgotten. The morality bits you did maybe a month ago were quite good. (Kinda wish JohnH2 would come back. He was interesting too.) I won’t stop reading, of course, as I like the content you put out, but some variance would be appreciated.

        Upcoming book? Am I missing information? Is this common knowledge?

        But keep doing what you need to, authors gotta publish.

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

          No, the book isn’t common knowledge. It should launch around Thanksgiving. (It’s a novella this time, rather than a novel. And it’ll be Christmas themed. Stay tuned!)

  • Maxximiliann

    Exodus 21:22,23

    וְכִֽי־ יִנָּצ֣וּ אֲנָשִׁ֗ים וְנָ֨גְפ֜וּ אִשָּׁ֤ה הָרָה֙ וְיָצְא֣וּ יְלָדֶ֔יהָ וְלֹ֥א יִהְיֶ֖ה אָסֹ֑ון עָנֹ֣ושׁ יֵעָנֵ֗שׁ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֨ר יָשִׁ֤ית עָלָיו֙ בַּ֣עַל הָֽאִשָּׁ֔ה וְנָתַ֖ן בִּפְלִלִֽים׃

    וְאִם־ אָסֹ֖ון יִהְיֶ֑ה וְנָתַתָּ֥ה נֶ֖פֶשׁ תַּ֥חַת נָֽפֶשׁ׃

    New International Version

    “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life,”

    New Living Translation

    “Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely. If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve. But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life,”

    New World Translation

    “And in case men should struggle with each other and they really hurt a pregnant woman and her children do come out but no fatal accident occurs, he is to have damages imposed upon him without fail according to what the owner of the woman may lay upon him; and he must give it through the justices. But if a fatal accident should occur, then you must give soul for soul”

    English Standard Version

    “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life,”

    New American Standard Bible

    “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life,”

    Holman Christian Standard Bible

    When men get in a fight and hit a pregnant woman so that her children are born prematurely but there is no injury, the one who hit her must be fined as the woman’s husband demands from him, and he must pay according to judicial assessment. If there is an injury, then you must give life for life,”

    International Standard Version

    “If two men are fighting and they strike a pregnant woman and her children are born prematurely, but there is no harm, he is certainly to be fined as the husband of the woman demands of him, and he will pay as the court decides. If there is harm, then you are to require life for life,”

    NET Bible

    “If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no serious injury, he will surely be punished in accordance with what the woman’s husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides. But if there is serious injury, then you will give a life for a life,”

    GOD’S WORD® Translation

    “This is what you must do whenever men fight and injure a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely. If there are no other injuries, the offender must pay whatever fine the court allows the woman’s husband to demand. If anyone is injured, the offender must pay a life for a life,”

    Jubilee Bible 2000

    If men strive and hurt a woman with child so that she aborts but without death, he shall be surely punished according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him, and he shall pay by the judges. And if there is death, then thou shalt pay life for life,”

    American Standard Version

    And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow; he shall be surely fined, according as the woman’s husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follow, then thou shalt give life for life,”

    World English Bible

    “If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow. But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life,”

    So you see, with a basic understanding of Hebrew and with the aid of accurate renderings in English, it’s patent that Jehovah God places such high a value on innocent human life that even the manslaughter of a child in utero was punished with death.

    • purr

      The famous medieval biblical commentator Solomon ben Isaac, known as Rashi, interprets “no other misfortune” to mean no fatal injury to the woman following her miscarriage. In that case, the attacker pays only financial compensation for having unintentionally caused the iscarriage, no differently than if he had accidentally injured the woman elsewhere on her body. Most other Jewish Bible commentators, including Moses achmanides (Ramban), Abraham Ibn Ezra, Meir Leib ben Yechiel Michael (Malbim), Baruch Malawi Epstein (Torah Temimah), Samson Raphael Hirsch, Joseph Hertz, and others, agree with Rashi’s interpretation. We can thus conclude that when the mother is otherwise
      unharmed following trauma to her abdomen during which the fetus is lost, the only rabbinic concern is to have the one responsible pay amages to the woman and her husband for the loss of the fetus. None of the rabbis raise the possibility of involuntary manslaughter being involved because the unborn fetus is not legally a person and, herefore, there is no question of murder involved when a fetus is aborted.

      Based upon this biblical statement. Moses Maimonides asserts as follows: “If one assaults a woman, even unintentionally, and her child is born prematurely, he must pay the value of the child to the husband and the compensation for injury and pain to the woman.” Maimonides continues with statements regarding how these compensations are computed. A similar declaration is found in Joseph Karo’s legal code Shulkhan Aruch. No concern is expressed by either Maimonides or Karo regarding the status of the miscarried fetus. It is part of the mother and belongs jointly to her and her husband, and thus damages must be paid for its premature death. However, the one who was responsible is not culpable for murder, since the unborn fetus is not considered a person.

      The Talmud also explains that the embryo is part of the mother’s body and has no identity of its own, since it is dependent for its life upon the body of the woman. However, as soon as it starts to move from the womb, it is considered an autonomous being (nefesh) and thus unaffected by the mother’s state. This concept of the embryo being considered part of the mother and not a separate being recurs throughout the Talmud and rabbinic writings.

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

      So you see, with a basic understanding of Hebrew

      Yeah, good catch. No one who doesn’t have a basic understanding of Hebrew should be reading the Old Testament.

      I must ding you a few points, however, for not making clear which manuscript that Hebrew came from.

      it’s patent that Jehovah God places such high a value on innocent human life that even the manslaughter of a child in utero was punished with death.

      Which “Jehovah God” are we talking about? The one that ordered the genocide of the Amalekites? Nope, that dude doesn’t care much about innocent life, whether adult or child.

      • Nox

        Joe doesn’t know which manuscript it came from. He just copied it without reading.

        And “Jehovah God” refers to the god of jehovah’s witnesses.

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

          Whaaa … ? Joe put the Hebrew to suggest that he used that as a source himself, but he doesn’t actually know Hebrew?? He had me fooled.

          But that’s a good catch on the JW thing. I didn’t make the connection.

        • purr

          Joe copy pastes from numerous JW sites.

          He will copy and paste the entire argument and pretend it’s his own.

          You’ve been warned.

          He also uses latin phrases to prove that he’s smart, but he doesn’t know what they mean.

          Where do you think I got my ‘nym from? He likes to throw around the term ‘jejune’ a lot, to describe those who do not understand his sophisticated arguments:P

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

          What?? But I had to look up a word that Joe used! That proves that he’s very, very smart.

          I’m hooked and can’t wait to read what hilarious thing he’s going to write next.

        • purr

          I done learned ‘casusistry’ from him:)

      • Maxximiliann

        ii. First, prove Jehovah God has murdered anyone. Next, prove the just execution of evil peoples is wrong. Finally, and correct me if I’m wrong but, weren’t Elizabeth Bathory, Talat Pasha, Margaret Sanger, Josef Mengele, Reinhard Heydrich, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, Kim Il Sung, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Emperor Hirohito, Nero, Caligula, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Leopold II of Belgium, Tomas de Torquemada, Mao Zedong, Ivan the Terrible, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Vlad Dracula once children too?

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          2 Kings 2:23-24 – Jehovah murders kids with bears.

          1 Samuel 6:19-20 – he murders curious people

          Exodus 12:29-30 – he murders all the first born in Egypt.

        • Maxximiliann

          Not so fast bud. You need to prove that executing an evil people is unjust and wrong.

        • purr

          Executing an evil people’s fetii is unjust and wrong.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          So it’s moral for god to intentionally deceive poeple, then execute them for being wrong due to the deception from god? That’s morally absurd.

        • Maxximiliann

          Oh ye who knows not Hebrew nor what he speaks of …

          Here’s a friendly suggestion. Before you attempt to teach someone something you don’t know learn it first. Like I said, just a suggestion. Take it or leave it.

          Now, pay attention:

          Jehovah “let [Pharaoh’s] heart wax bold” -Exodus 7:3 (Rotherham)

          The appendix to Rotherham’s translation shows that in Hebrew the occasion or permission of an event is often presented as if it were the cause of the event, and that “even positive commands are occasionally to be accepted as meaning no more than permission.” Thus at Exodus 1:17 the original Hebrew text literally says that the midwives “caused the male children to live,” whereas in reality they permitted them to live by refraining from putting them to death. After quoting Hebrew scholars M. M. Kalisch, H. F. W. Gesenius, and B. Davies in support, Rotherham states that the Hebrew sense of the texts involving Pharaoh is that “God permitted Pharaoh to harden his own heart—spared him—gave him the opportunity, the occasion, of working out the wickedness that was in him. That is all.”—The Emphasised Bible, appendix, p. 919 (cf. Isa 10:5-7)

          Corroborating this understanding is the fact that the record definitely shows that Pharaoh himself “hardened his heart.” (Exodus 8:15, 32, KJ; “made his heart unresponsive,” NWT) He thus exercised his own will and followed his own stubborn inclination, the results of which inclination Jehovah accurately foresaw and predicted. (Exodus 8:30-32; 9:34,35) The repeated opportunities given him by Jehovah obliged Pharaoh to make decisions, and in doing so he became hardened in his attitude. (cf. Ecclesiastes 8:11, 12.) As the apostle Paul shows by quoting Exodus 9:16, Jehovah allowed the matter to develop in this way to the full length of ten plagues in order to make manifest his own power and cause his name to be made known earth wide.—Romans 9:17, 18.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          You forgot two:

          2 Kings 2:23-24 – Jehovah murders kids with bears.

          1 Samuel 6:19-20 – he murders curious people

          And btw, your god still murdered babies. Oh but wait. According to you god can do anything he wants, because something is moral because god commands it. Right.

        • Maxximiliann

          Is a diamond gemstone hard? Do photons tear across space at luminous speeds? Do cerulean suns blaze? Is rain wet?

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Are JoHo’s willing to lie for their cause?

          You forgot two:

          2 Kings 2:23-24 – Jehovah murders kids with bears.

          1 Samuel 6:19-20 – he murders curious people

        • Maxximiliann

          i. Don’t know what a JoHo is. Why don’t you ask them?

          ii. Don’t be so jejune. First off, Elisha was on his way to a city infamous for its depravity, perversion and iniquity. Next, the KJV translation ‘little children’ is very misleading because the Hebrew term employed here (na’ar) had a broad meaning encompassing infants to teens to young men. For example the same word is used when describing the servants of soldiers (1 Kings 20:15) and of Isaac when he was about 25 years old (Genesis 22:5). Obviously, then, the term does not refer exclusively to tiny grade schoolers.

          Further, it’s highly unlikely that a group of young children would have been outside the city and out on the road unsupervised by their mothers. Moreover, it’s readily apparent that these were old enough to recognize Elisha as one of Jehovah’s prophets. He was, after all, wearing the prophet Elijah’s official garb.

          Another point to consider is if 42 of them were executed there were, in all likelihood, considerably more in the group. As such, this mob could have easily represented a lethal threat to this lone man of advanced age. Whether his personal welfare was under threat or not, Jehovah God came to his defense deeming the gang’s disrespect of Elisha as an affront on His very person. In short, this canaille of delinquents were duly judged mature enough to receive sentencing for their contumacious impudence for the Sovereign Lord’s representative.

          The lesson? Contumely towards your Creator and/or His appointed servants can be very, very bad for your health.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          You forfeit. All I had to do was ” prove Jehovah God has murdered anyone.”

          You conceded. Children, men, pregnant Canaanite women. Doesn’t matter. Murder is still murder.

        • Maxximiliann

          When did you prove the just execution of an evil peoples is murder? I missed that most crucial piece to your delusion, er, argument.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Making fun of bald people requires one to be executed? Don’t be biased here….

        • Yoav

          Obviously, then, the term does not refer exclusively to tiny grade schoolers.

          First, while making fun of bald people is not nice only a seriously disturbed homicidal maniac, or a religious person forced to twist himself into a pretzel in order to argue that biblegod isn’t a deranged homicidal maniac, would think that it justify having the offenders mauled to death, regardless of their age.

          And now let us look at what the bible actually say.

          וַיַּ֥עַל מִשָּׁ֖ם בֵּֽית־אֵ֑ל וְה֣וּא He was on his way to the town of Bet-El, where did you get the idea that it was a city infamous for its depravity, perversion and iniquity.

          The text doesn’t say Ne’arim, which as you say can mean teenagers or young adults but specifically ne’arim ktanim וּנְעָרִ֤ים קְטַנִּים֙ that is small ne’arim which strongly suggest they were on the younger end of the spectrum. Moreover when describing the bear attack the text use a different word, yeladim יְלָדִֽים, which is much more specific for young children.

        • Maxximiliann

          i. “Biblical narrative incorporates tales of Baal worship into the traditions of the wilderness wandering, thus tracing Baal worship to the earliest period of Israel’s existence. At Shittim they attached themselves to Baal-Peor, ate sacrifices for the dead, and indulged in sacred sexual orgies (Num. 25:1–11; Ps. 106:28). Life in a land dependent on rainfall enhanced the appeal of the Baal cult and its pervasive influence persisted through the centuries, as the unrelenting protests of the prophets and the sporadic efforts at reform attest. Horrendous and repulsive aspects of the worship – sexual excesses and perversions (Isa. 57:3–10), perhaps including copulation with animals (Hos. 13:2) such as Baal himself performed in the Ugaritic myth – are depicted in the prophetic tirades.” http://bit.ly/17bOm6l

          ii. New American Standard Bible (©1995)
          Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!”

          International Standard Version (©2012)
          Later, Elisha left there to go up to Bethel, and as he was traveling along the road, some insignificant young men came from the city and started mocking him. They told him, “Get on up, baldy! Get on up, baldy!”

          King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
          And he went up from there unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth youths out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, you bald head; go up, you bald head.

          American Standard Version
          And he went up from thence unto Beth-el; and as he was going up by the way, there came forth young lads out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou baldhead; go up, thou baldhead.

          World English Bible
          He went up from there to Bethel. As he was going up by the way, some youths came out of the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldy! Go up, you baldhead!”

          New International Version (©2011)
          From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!”

          New Living Translation (©2007)
          Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of boys from the town began mocking and making fun of him. “Go away, baldy!” they chanted. “Go away, baldy!”

          GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
          From there he went to Bethel. As he walked along the road, some boys came out of the city and mocked him. They said, “Go away, baldy! Go away!”

        • Yoav

          1. What the fuck does that have to do with your claim that the town of Bet-El was infamous for its depravity, perversion and iniquity?
          2. You complained about translation inaccurecies, I went to the original Hebrew text, how is copypasta of other translations relevant?

        • Maxximiliann

          ii. You’re not an expert in Paleo-Hebraic syntactical analysis. They are.

          i. You’ve also never read the Bible in full I see …

          Read 1 Kings 12-14.

        • Yoav

          1a. It describes Yerovam establishing a competing religious center in Bet-el after the splitting of the kingdom, nothing about Baal or any of the other things you mention.
          1b. Even if some people from a town used to be really evil it doesn’t follow that anyone from this town deserve to die.
          2. So are the people who made the translations you don’t like. And once again, even if they were all over 40, only someone who is seriously deranged would think that making fun of someone for being bald merit the death penalty.

        • Maxximiliann

          I must say, I admire your bravery. Not too many would insist on proffering their opinions on a text they know next to nothing about …

          That said, read Section II of this article from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: http://bit.ly/19uTTuw and 1 Kings 12-14.

          ii. Oh? What Bible translation are you responsible for?

          iii. You’re right but that’s not what happened.

        • Maxximiliann

          Argumentum reductio ad absurdum. Do you even know the kind of people the Philistines were? More importantly, how did they end up with the Ark of the Covenant in the first place?

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Argumentum ad Jehovahswitnessum.

          You forfeit. All I had to do was ” prove Jehovah God has murdered anyone.”

          You conceded.

        • Maxximiliann

          It wasn’t murder! That’s my point! It was the just execution of an evil people. See for yourself. Read 1 Samuel.

        • purr

          You’re a sick fucking rape genocide torture apologist.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Why were the people evil? And define ‘evil’.

        • Maxximiliann

          Read 1 Samuel. It’s all right there …

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          C’mon, are we getting lazy?

          The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.

        • Maxximiliann

          Give a man a fish …

        • Itarion

          An evil PEOPLE? You wish to have me believe that every man, woman, and child within that entire nation had not one positive quality between them? Is that what you mean?

        • Maxximiliann

          I see you have no idea the kind of people the “clients” you’re defending were. Start here http://bit.ly/17bOm6l then finish up here http://bit.ly/11rGfOK.

          I hope you don’t have a weak stomach …

        • Itarion

          Regardless of the depravities in which some number of people engaged, the entirety of the people cannot be so judged unless it can be shown that every last person participated in said acts, and – more importantly – did so willingly and happily, without any form of threat or coercion.

        • purr

          Explain how Amalekite fetuses were guilty of evil.

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

          Whoa–they were totally bad people! I say that we kill them all, babies included.

          That’ll teach ’em a lesson.

        • Maxximiliann

          Strawman. I said they were evil peoples.

          Strawman. Here’s a thought. How about attempting a cohesive refutation of what I’ve actually stated instead of bickering with the crooked mockeries fabricated by the voices raging in your head?

        • Niemand

          Strawman. I said they were evil peoples.

          YOU said that they were evil people. (Or even peoples.) But so what? Maybe your an evil person trying to smear innocents who can’t fight back. Or maybe you’re wrong because you’ve believed an untrustworthy source. In any case, your saying that they’re evil doesn’t make it so. And whatever Baal worship might do to make people evil, what about the babies or even the fetuses? Also evil?

        • Maxximiliann

          i. Then show me I’m wrong.

          ii. Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t Elizabeth Bathory, Talat Pasha, Margaret Sanger, Josef Mengele, Reinhard Heydrich, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, Kim Il Sung, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Emperor Hirohito, Nero, Caligula, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Leopold II of Belgium, Tomas de Torquemada, Mao Zedong, Ivan the Terrible, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Vlad Dracula once children too?

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

          How about attempting a cohesive refutation
          of what I’ve actually stated instead of bickering with the crooked mockeries fabricated by the voices raging in your head?

          I’ve tried that. And you know how well that turned out.

        • Itarion

          “In case you draw near to a city to fight against it, you must also announce to it terms of peace. And it must occur that if it gives a peaceful answer to you and it has opened up to you, it must even occur that all the people found in it should become yours for forced labor, and they must serve you.”

          Yep, feeling sick already. Before you invade, ask if they opposing forces – all of them, not just the army, mind – want to surrender, and become your slaves. That sounds like a poorly written fantasy overlord.

          On the other hand, spiritism, child sacrifice, sadistic violence, and various forms of grotesque sex worship were the order of the day with the Canaanites.

          I’m going to note the complete lack of any sort of references here. Surely the researcher who wrote this document found some sort of outside source to support his ideas? Some sort of rediscovered text from the era during which the Hebrews were invading the area, such that we might have exo-Biblical evidence of such debaucherous acts?

          My point is this: it is easy to accuse and condemn people who are not here to defend themselves. Accuse the Cannanites of goat-fucking, and consecrated orgies all you want, and child sacrifices, but do not CONDEMN them because of your accusations. Condemn them because they DID them, and ONLY IF they did them. More importantly, condemn ONLY the ones who committed these alleged atrocities. You would not desire to be executed for my crimes, in the same manner as I would not desire to be executed for yours, and we can, I’m sure, agree that there would be no justice in either case.

        • Maxximiliann

          Historian Henry H. Halley notes that archaeologists excavating ancient Canaan territory “found great numbers of jars containing the remains of children who had been sacrificed to Baal.” He adds: “The whole area proved to be a cemetery for new-born babes. . . . Canaanites worshipped, by immoral indulgence, as a religious rite, in the presence of their gods; and then, by murdering their first-born children, as a sacrifice to these same gods. It seems that, in large measure, the land of Canaan had become a sort of Sodom and Gomorrah on a national scale. . . . Archaeologists who dig in the ruins of Canaanite cities wonder that God did not destroy them sooner than he did.”

          Adversus solem ne loquitor!

        • Itarion

          A preacher is hardly a historian. Find me a REAL historian who has located this stuff.

          I argue not against the sun, but a moon who claims to be such.

        • Maxximiliann

          Argumentum ignorantio elenchi. You evaluate someone’s evidence based on the body of facts and information presented, not their religious beliefs. That’s called bigotry. Try again.

        • Itarion

          Stop with the Latin, I don’t care to read it.

          I evaluate someone’s evidence – secondhand evidence, mind you – based on their area of expertise. A Christian preacher is a biased source for evidential material, because he has a vested interest in maintaining the beliefset he and his followers have. I will respect his knowledge of Biblical things, but not historical discoveries, as he has not made a study – as far as I am aware – of Caananite religion. Find me a Middle East historian who says the same. Perhaps the historian that Henry is quoting? Also, do not misrepresent your sources. Henry H Halley is not a historian, except a Biblical historian, and Biblical histories can and do deviate from archaeological histories.

        • Maxximiliann

          So you expect an Atheist convinced by all the evidence for the Bible’s historicity and it’s preternatural origin to remain Atheist?

          How is that not noetical bigotry?

        • Itarion

          I expect that an atheist would be convinced by sufficient evidence. What is sufficient evidence? That depends on the atheist. Historicity and claimed preternatural origin might be enough for some. Not for me. You’ll need to prove the preternatural origin. Show me something in the Bible that a person writing could not have known or guessed. Then I will rethink it.

          If you can point me in the direction of some proven, major, modern day miracles, that would make me rethink it too.

        • Maxximiliann

          i. Try this on for size: http://bit.ly/14Ckccl

          ii. So your answer to my question would beeee?

        • Itarion

          the fact that not a single one of fulfilled Bible prophecies has ever been wrong constitutes irrefutable indirect evidence for the existence of it’s author, Jehovah God.

          Since you are asserting this, I expect that you have a complete list of prophecies, and the matching list of their fulfillment. Please share.

          Here are some preeminent examples of these extraordinary and precise prophecies:
          http://bit.ly/11s7PTp

          http://bit.ly/136NAEZ

          http://bit.ly/18jlXQq

          http://bit.ly/11wklzZ

          Okay, there’s a few. So what? If you make a thousand predictions, the chances are that a few of them will be right. The problem with prophecies is that they are rarely in any sort of clear and concise, unequivocal language. They can be interpreted in a variety of ways after the fact, and not everyone will agree that they have been fulfilled.

          Only the Bible reveals that our Creator has a personal name, Jehovah

          Only the Qu’ran reveals that our Creator has a personal name, Allah.

          Only the Vedas reveal that our Creator has a personal name, Brahma.

          So what if you have a book that names a god? LOTS of people have a book that names a god.

          Because Jehovah stuck with them through good times and bad during all those centuries, he could tell the nation: “With a love to time indefinite I have loved you. That is why I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”—Jer. 31:3.

          Quite. Through good times and bad. Wouldn’t one expect that if the only living god was with you, there would be only good times, because his power would be unopposed?

          An expectation that one remain atheist despite being shown proof that atheism is incorrect is indeed bigoted. And not what my expectation is. MY expectation is that you cannot show sufficient proof to me that your god is real.

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

          And that justifies genocide?

          I can think of a half-dozen more humane ways to have the Israelites steal the Canaanites’ land. But genocide is the best God can come up with? If I didn’t know better, I’d say that he was invented by Iron Age men.

        • Maxximiliann

          On what objective moral basis do you dare condemn anyone’s actions? Who made you God?

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

          Who made me God–oh, that’s funny! Or, at least it would’ve been if I hadn’t read this same comment from you before. And made clear that I claim no objective moral foundation for my statements.

          Not so funny anymore. Frustrating, actually.

        • Maxximiliann

          And so, hopefully, you see why your opinions on morality have no purchase.

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

          Bye.

        • Yoav

          I can find this comment, verbatim, on several places none of them provide a shred of evidence that what it say is actually true.
          Halley seem to be a preacher who wrote some bible pamphlets not an historian and as far as I can find actual archeologists not living in Joe’s imagination have never found anything resembling evidence to human sacrifice being practiced by Canaanite societies, let alone child sacrifice on an industrial scale.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Same reason Indiana Jones ended up with the Ark of the Covenant: Some one made it up in a story.

        • Maxximiliann

          “Atheists don’t hate fairies, leprechauns, or unicorns because they don’t exist. It is impossible to hate something that doesn’t exist. Atheists — like the painting experts hated the painter — hate God because He does exist.”
          ― Ray Comfort

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Pity goes to the man who needs Ray Comfort to make his argument for him because he has no evidence to support his fairy tales. Risible!

        • Maxximiliann

          Yet here you’ve been for hours, foaming at the mouth over what you consider a mere story …

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Hey if people were trying to get fairies, leprechauns, or unicorns taught in public schools and were trying to get other people to believe in them, you damn right I’d be against the belief in them.

          Haven’t you ever hated a fictional character that didn’t exist?

        • Maxximiliann

          Then you bear a heavy burden. Theistic beliefs are not some fad and the Bible wasn’t written yesterday. In order to undo the thousands of years of influence it’s exerted over humanity you’re going to “GASP” have to prove God does not nor cannot exist. Otherwise you’re just clapping with one hand …

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          No sir, the burden of proof lies in the one who makes the positive claim that fairies, leprechauns, unicorns or gods exist. So far all you’ve been able to do is copy and paste second hand flawed arguments from other people as your so called “proof” god exists.

          And a lie told for thousands of years is still a lie. The length of time a lie has been told says nothing against the fact that it’s still a lie.

        • Niemand

          Haven’t you ever hated a fictional character that didn’t exist?

          I detest practically every character Somerset Maugham invented. Also War and Peace made me long for the Russian Revolution. What a bunch of jerks!

          Sorry, was that supposed to be a rhetorical question?

        • Itarion

          Argumentum assertio. “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Prove your claim. Prove that literal froth is coming out of his literal mouth.

        • Maxximiliann

          Another one who doesn’t know what a literary trope is …

        • Itarion

          I’m perfectly aware of what a trope is, and merely suggesting that your continued use of the argumentum assertio is rather silly. I know that “foaming at the mouth” is just high excitement, typically anger.

          Would you like to know where the anger comes from?
          It comes from the same place as the anger against people who ban books, people who burn fictional works because they think that they aren’t really fictional. It comes from the same place as anger against people who will use any excuse, real or imagined, to cause harm to another. It comes from the same place as anger against people who think that violence is the only way out of there situation. It comes from same place as anger against people who think that killing someone else is important enough to go ahead and off themselves as well.

          This anger comes because there are people who believe that their beliefs are more important than the lives, and the quality of the lives, of others, and uses these beliefs to defend actions that reduce the number and quality of the lives of others.

        • Maxximiliann

          You’re contention, then, is not with all religions but false religion. True religion has always been nothing but a blessing for all of mankind. Why, then, throw the baby out with the bathwater? http://bit.ly/193MAWW

        • Itarion

          This is true, my contention is not with true religions, but with false ones. Presumably, you would have a similar disapproval of false religions. The difference between us is that I consider the set of all true religions, which we’ll call {T}, do be an empty set. I do not think that there is a baby in the bathwater.

          The fact that people bound within the same group – in this case the Witnesses – helped each other out is not indicative that that group’s bonds – their religion – are any more true. The fact of the matter is, things which are not technically true, but manage to approximate truth, are still useful in getting close enough to find the truth.

          Your argument, as I understand it, is that a religion is true if it causes people to help each other. I think that a religion is merely good if it causes people to help each other. Any form of altruism, be it religiously inspired or otherwise, is good. What can be inspired religiously can be similarly inspired in less mystical ways. Patriotism causes hatred or love, depending on loyalty to the country.

          Any sufficiently strong group bond will cause them to help each other in the face of severe consequences. This is herd behavior, or tribal instinct, or pack association, and has been seen and demonstrated in non-human – and thus nonreligious – groups as well.
          http://www.brighthub.com/environment/science-environmental/articles/81020.aspx

          Religion causing herd behavior is more indicative of human nature than of the religion in question. I won’t, and frankly can’t, discard and disregard herd behavior, because it hurts people, such as it does when two or more “herds” – be they countries, religions, tribes, social circles, or other sociopolitical units – come into conflict. In the same manner, I cannot disregard the USE of religion to either aid or harm.

          I was merely stating where anger at religious persons comes from, the use of religion to defend criminal behavior. “Everyone else did it” is not a legitimate legal defense. My disregard for religion as a worthwhile beliefset comes from the numerous occasions where it fails to match the reality that I perceive, and fails to best science in any category that you care to name.

        • Maxximiliann

          i. “The vulgar modern argument used against religion, and lately against common decency, would be absolutely fatal to any idea of liberty. It is perpetually said that because there are a hundred religions claiming to be true, it is therefore impossible that one of them should really be true.

          The argument would appear on the face of it to be illogical, if anyone nowadays troubled about logic. It would be as reasonable to say that because some people thought the earth was flat, and others (rather less incorrectly) imagined it was round, and because anybody is free to say that it is triangular or hexagonal, or a rhomboid, therefore it has no shape at all; or its shape can never be discovered; and, anyhow, modern science must be wrong in saying it is an oblate spheroid. The world must be some shape, and it must be that shape and no other; and it is not self-evident that nobody can possibly hit on the right one.

          What so obviously applies to the material shape of the world equally applies to the moral shape of the universe. The man who describes it may not be right, but it is no argument against his rightness that a number of other people must be wrong.”

          ― G.K. Chesterton

          ii. Because (as anyone who’s spent any time in the third world or in inner cities knows) violence, abuse, strife, discord, animosity, hatred, bigotry, inequality, injustice, abject poverty, disease and depravity continues to torment mankind.

          Here we are in the 21st century, at the pinnacle of all scientific and technological advancement, yet, these problems are no where near being eliminated.

          On the other hand, across cultures, languages, countries the world over, socio-economic barriers, ethnicities, lengths of schooling and disparate upbringings, Jehovah’s millions live in loving harmony.

          They are a microcosm of world peace and unity.

          Now here’s the million dollar question. How is it that these, for well over a century now, have been able to accomplish what continues to elude the rest of mankind?

        • Itarion

          My argument is not that because the average truth value of religions is very nearly zero, so the truth value of each individual religion is zero. You misunderstand my argument, and thus, me.

          My argument stems from a disparity between that which is preached to be, and that which is observed to be. It is true that I worship no gods. It is equally true that I worship precisely as many gods as I have seen reflected in the world. (Though, perhaps, given the nature of events at the [unimaginably] small scale, I should be worshiping a god of chance.) I would not pretend to argue against that which is patently and incredibly real. I do not, to translate, argue against the sun. I argue against the aether. Somewhat like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminiferous_aether

          A million dollar answer:
          Relatively small numbers, an even distribution of wealth, and a high wealth to population ratio.
          Alternatively, they’re better at hiding the skeletons in their closets.

        • Maxximiliann

          Then I invite you to broaden your horizons:

          “It is noteworthy that even these reliable contemporaries [Czech and Slovak Jewish survivors] have with marked admiration testified in favor of prisoners from among Jehovah’s Witnesses. ‘They were very courageous people, who were always helping us in whatever way they could, although running the risk of execution,’ many commented. ‘They prayed for us, as though we belonged to their family; they encouraged us not to give up.’” – “Severočeský Deník”

          “They refuse any form of violence and without rebelling put up with the many trials inflicted on them because of their beliefs . . . How different the world would be if we all woke up one morning firmly decided not to take up arms again, whatever the cost or the reason, just like Jehovah’s Witnesses!” – “Andare Alle Genti”

          “I have come to the conclusion that if Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only ones living on the earth, wars would cease to exist, and the only duties of the policemen would be to control traffic and to issue passports.” – “Gyűrű”

          “Suffice it to say that if all the world lived by the creed of the Jehovah Witnesses there would be an end of bloodshed and hatred, and love would reign as king!”- “The Sacramento Union”

        • Itarion

          The same thing can be said of a great many groups who abstain from violent activity. See the Jain monks of India. Peacefulness does not mean that religions are true. In these cases, the “herd” was more than just the religious adherents. That STILL does not mean anything about the religion. TONS of people, regardless of religion, help out around the entire world.

        • Maxximiliann

          Riiight, riiight. Jainists the world over love each other as fiercly as Jehovah’s people do … gimme a break …

        • Itarion

          Do you know of any Jains who don’t?

        • Itarion

          Bit of a bias there, don’t you think? “Only the Jehovah’s Witnesses can be perfectly loving.” Doubtful. Very very doubtful.

        • tyler

          (if jehovah’s witnesses were the only ones living on earth people would die by the thousands every day of diseases and conditions that could be cured with a simple blood transfusion)

        • Itarion

          Low blow man. True, but low blow

        • Maxximiliann

          What an extraordinarily benighted thing to say: http://bit.ly/17zeCZu

        • tyler

          do you actually read the things you link or

        • Andy_Schueler

          “I have come to the conclusion that if Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only ones living on the earth, wars would cease to exist, and the only duties of the policemen would be to control traffic and to issue
          passports.” – “Gyűrű”

          A testable claim, interesting! Let´s compare this claim to actual data:
          Self-identified Jehovah´s Witnesses represent ~0.61% of the US population ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Jehovah%27s_Witnesses )

          and ~0.66% of the population in federal prisons ( http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/16/what-percentage-of-prisoners-are-atheists-its-a-lot-smaller-than-we-ever-imagined/ ).
          So JWs are actually enriched among the prison population (if only very slightly).

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

          Nice response.

        • Niemand

          Also interesting that there is an implicit admission in the quote that JW are not completely law abiding: the police still have to control traffic. And issue passports. If everyone’s perfectly law abiding and peaceful, why do you need passports? Of course people have permission to move at will-why shouldn’t they?

        • Maxximiliann

          “My work as a biochemist involved studying the design of certain molecules found in ocean-dwelling cyanobacteria, which are microorganisms that don’t depend on other living things for food. Some researchers think that these organisms were the first living things on our planet. Using energy from sunlight, the microbes use an extremely complex chemical process, which is still not fully understood, to convert water and carbon dioxide into food. I was also amazed at how cyanobacteria can harvest light with incredible efficiency.

          The deeper you go in the sea, the less light you find. So the cyanobacteria that live there must capture every scrap of light energy that comes their way, and they do this by means of highly sophisticated antennae. The collected energy is transmitted to food-producing centers with nearly 100 percent efficiency. The design of this light-harvesting machinery has even attracted the interest of solar-panel manufacturers. Of course, manufactured solar cells are nowhere near as efficient as the systems found in bacteria.

          I thought about engineers trying to imitate the marvelous mechanisms found in living things, and I came to the conclusion that life must have been designed by God. But my faith was not based solely on what I studied in science. It was also based on a careful study of the Bible.

          One of the many things that convinced me was the detailed fulfillment of Bible prophecies. For example, centuries in advance Isaiah described in abundant detail the death and burial of Jesus. We know this prophecy was written before Jesus’ death because the Isaiah Scroll, found at Qumran, was copied about a hundred years before Jesus was born.

          That prophecy says: “He will make his burial place even with the wicked ones, and with the rich class in his death.” (Isaiah 53:9, 12) Remarkably, Jesus was executed with criminals but was buried in the tomb of a wealthy family. This is just one example of the many fulfilled prophecies that convinced me that the Bible is inspired of God. (2 Timothy 3:16) In time, I became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.” -Dr. Davey Loos, former atheist (http://bit.ly/16DSMSi)

        • Itarion

          The argument from complexity is not a viable proof of God, because it addresses something that is adequately explained by other processes.

          Like, say, organisms in the shallow depths need to absorb a significant portion of the light that reaches them. They do so, and the best can move deeper. Repeat through more generations that are imaginable by the human mind, but are calculably less than the time since life appeared on earth. Reeaally efficient organisms result. Frankly a biochemist should be familiar with evolutionary theory, but whatever.

          Reality conforms to something, and I have not observed, directly or unequivocally indirectly, that that something has godlike aspects.

          Several places have been proposed as the tomb of Jesus, the place where Jesus Christ was buried:
          Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, accepted by many Christians and scholars as built on ground on which Jesus was crucified and buried
          Garden Tomb, discovered in the 19th century outside of the old city of Jerusalem, considered a possible site of Jesus’s tomb by many Protestant scholars and pilgrims
          Roza Bal in Srinagar, India, a shrine venerated by locals and Ahmadiyya Muslims as the grave of a sage named Yuz Asaf, or “son of Joseph”
          Talpiot Tomb, rock-cut tomb in the East Talpiot neighborhood, five kilometers south of the Old City in East Jerusalem
          Tomb of Jesus in Shingō, Japan, where, according to legend, Jesus died, aged 106, after he escaped the crucifixion in Jerusalem

          So… which one is the one near the wealthy people?

        • Maxximiliann

          Complexity is not the sole issue. It’s the conformity to an independently given pattern plus high improbability. It’s what makes a distinct signal unmistakable from random white noise. Such arrangements of multiple interconnected component parts or elements in a series of steps followed in a regular definite order to effectuate a task, objective, intent or function (ordered complexity) betrays the presence of an intelligent mind.

          This is why trying to use “poof” (blind chance)% to explain the absurdly small compound probability of independent events giving us a life sustaining universe is just naked, irrational sophism.

          %“It is our contention that if ‘random’ [chance] is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws, physical, chemical and biological.” -“Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory”, Dr. Murray Eden, MIT

          “There is no chance (<10-1000) to see [evolution based on mutation and natural selection] appear spontaneously and, if it did, even less for it to remain. Thus, to conclude, we believe there is a considerable gap in the Neo-Darwinian Theory of evolution, and we believe this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged within the current conception of biology.” -“Algorithms and the Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution,” Marcel P. Schutzenberger, University of Paris (Bracket mine.)

          This multiplicity of probabilities on top of probabilities on top of probabilities on top of probabilities perfectly illustrates the mind-boggling probability of our universe ending up with the perfect mix and ratios of life permitting constants by pure chance.

          Your argument would make it reasonable for a person who stumbles upon a copy of “Hamlet” to assume it is the product of an infinite number of monkeys in an infinite number of universes banging away copies at an infinite number of typewriters of texts produced by another infinite set of monkeys in another set of infinite universes baning away with their infinite number of typewriters instead of simply concluding “Shakespeare.”

          When you hear hoofbeats, why think unicorns?

        • Itarion

          What’s the pattern? DNA? That’s the dominant brand of life that Earth has, but geneticists have shown that it isn’t the only possible one. See here:http://io9.com/5903221/meet-xna-the-first-synthetic-dna-that-evolves-like-the-real-thing

          The fact that you, a life form, lives on a world that supports life forms is not chance. It’s a certainty. IF there exists a world that supports life, THEN life will be found on it. The scale of the universe practically guarantees that there will be life, because it is effectively infinite, meaning that any probability, no matter how improbable, will be guaranteed to occur, because every possibility HAS to occur in an infinite space. That there is life within our observable universe simply follows from life having to exist – no matter how improbable – and the fact that WE – living creatures – have to exist in order for an observable universe to be observable by us. This would be the anthropic principle, explaining that the universe we see supports us because we are in it to see it. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t see it to know that it didn’t.

          Actually, I would conclude that there were some several million apes scratching at paper with ink. The one whose work that I am looking at just happens to be named Shakespeare. However, my explanation of a great many apes scratching – with intent, of course, which makes this inherently different from evolutionary theory – explains far MORE works than just the theory of Shakespeare. Mind you, the theory of Shakespeare is accurate, as far as his works go, but incomplete in explaining the sum total of human literary works.

          I’m not explaining hoofbeats with unicorns. I am explaining not hoofbeats with not horses, while you are, to my point of view, explaining not hoofbeats with silent unicorns, or perhaps pegasi (no hoofbeats when they fly).

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

          Another one who prefers rope-a-dope to actually discussing an issue honestly.

        • Maxximiliann

          Patience is a virtue …

        • Yoav

          Ray Comfort, seriously, that’s your source? You do know he’s a dishonest clown who’s arguments tend to be moronic even by creationist standards, which are not that high to start with, and a mushy as an over ripe, human modified from the original “god made” debacle, banana.
          But seriously, atheists don’t hate god what we have problem with is people like you dismissing reality and trying to use your 3rd century fairy tale to determine policy that would affect all of us, or people like Al-Shabab using their 7th century fairy tale to justify the subjugation of women and the murder of anyone who doesn’t believe in the same fairy tale as them.

          The day someone start advocating the elimination of dental care based on their belief in the tooth fairy then I would take the time to argue against toothism, the day people, other then Ron Paul, start pushing leprechaun based economic policy then their existence will become an important issue.

          The day god take it’s rightful place with the tooth fairy, leprechauns and unicorns as just another fairytale then I would stop paying it the attention I do now.

        • Maxximiliann

          i. Looks like someone forgot to tell “”Thinker”” …

          Maybe it’ll get him to stop frothing at the mouth …

          ii. Argumentum assertio. “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Prove your claim. Prove God’s necessary existence is a “false notion.”

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

          Y’know that assertion point kind of bites you in the ass. Since you never prove anything, you might not want to use that one so often. It highlights the vacancy of your own claims.

        • Yoav

          I really don’t know why but I actually tried to figure out how is that word salad an answer, even a bad one, to what I said.

        • Maxximiliann

          Sorry I tripped you up. Want a hand?

        • Niemand

          Very few people invoke fairies and leprechauns as excuses for mass murder. Quite a number of people invoke god for same.

        • Itarion

          If I recall correctly, then – within the confines of the narrative – the Isrealites were bad at fighting.

          God punished the Philistines for being at fighting than his chosen people. Me? I’d have chosen a different people, or made my chosen objectively better in every way, such that losing one battle – let alone two battles in a row – is nigh impossible.

        • Maxximiliann

          You don’t recall correctly. Try again.

        • Itarion

          Did they lose a battle, which inspired them to bring forth the Ark? Did they, then, lose another battle, causing the Ark to fall into enemy hands? That would seem to be very poor fighting skills indeed.

        • Maxximiliann

          Argumentum reductio ad absurdum. Israel’s fighting skills had nothing to do with whether or not they won the wars they fought.

          Now ask me why.

        • Itarion

          I don’t have to. They lost because they upset their god.

          Now tell me if I’m wrong.

        • Maxximiliann

          Give the kid a silver star!

        • Itarion

          Now, if you would, look at the events from a nonbeliever’s perspective. There was not god, so he could not have been upset. Thus, the outcome was determined by the numbers, fighting skills, and tactics of the armies in question. Three options: Isrealites/Hebrews were vastly outnumbered; Isrealites/Hebrews were individually less capable; Isrealites/Hebrews had poor command. Being vastly outnumbered would cause most outnumbered groups to flee, so, regardless of whether they were, the fighting skills or tactics of the Hebrew army were poor. Had they been outnumbered, the proper tactical choice would have been to flee – they did not take that choice, thus they were either not outnumbered, or not tactically skilled. They lost, therefor they were less individually capable across the board, or were less tactically capable, by the skills of their generals. Therefor, either on an individual basis, or by the generals’ tactics, the Hebrew army was lacking in comparison to the Philistinean army.

          I only take gold stars, thank you.

        • Itarion

          Yes. Tear, no. Travel, yes. Cerulean star appears to be a flower, a type of lily. So no, unless you light them on fire. Depending on the definition you use, both yes and no, but the general use of the adjective “wet” refers to the presence of a liquid on an object, not the liquid itself, so by that meaning no. It makes wet, but is not wet itself.

        • Niemand

          Making fun of someone’s hair (or lack thereof) is a bit obnoxious and rude, but hardly “evil”. Feeding children who make fun of your baldness to bears, OTOH, strikes me as pretty darned evil. So I guess we’re back to Jehovah as an evil god.

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

          ii. First, prove Jehovah God has murdered
          anyone.

          No, first prove that there are no blue swans.

          You’re good at changing the subject when the heat is on. That misdirection would be good for a sleight of hand artist. Are you a magician? Or 3-card monty player?

          God ordered genocide. This guy has a poor track record for worrying about human life.

        • Maxximiliann

          Of evil peoples. Prove the just execution of evil peoples is wrong.

        • Niemand

          Prove that every person in the world except Noah was evil. (Including, presumably, the newborns and, if you’re going to claim that zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are people, the gestating embryos.)

          For that matter, “just execution” is not particularly useful as a method of reducing crime, including preventing capital crime. Nor has anyone worked out a way to make it truly just, partly because of uneven application. In the Bible, were the babies in Sodom more evil than Cain who killed his brother and yet was allowed to live?

  • Maxximiliann

    Correct me if I’m wrong but weren’t Elizabeth Bathory, Talat Pasha, Margaret Sanger, Josef Mengele, Reinhard Heydrich, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, Kim Il Sung, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Emperor Hirohito, Nero, Caligula, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Leopold II of Belgium, Tomas de Torquemada, Mao Zedong, Ivan the Terrible, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Vlad Dracula once children too?

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

      Your point being … ?

      • purr

        JOP has been banned from every other blog I’ve visited.

        I wonder how long he will last here.

        He has a habit of spamming and arguing dishonestly.

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

          Thanks for the tip.

        • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

          Wait, he’s a Christian. Christians are always honest.

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

          Now that I’ve enjoyed a few thousand of Joseph’s comments, I see what you mean. Does he ever improve, or does he just insult and use big words when he gets backed into a corner?

        • purr

          Goes on and on and on and on for days. Won’t stop.

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

          If only that energy were directed constructively…

        • purr

          I for one am quite pleased that JOP is ignoring me.

          I honestly don’t know how The Thinker can even stand to engage him.

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

          I think JOP needs an exit strategy.

        • purr

          Good question.

          Why is god more pleased to see JOP putting all of his effort into finding new converts rather than helping the poor and the needy and the sick?

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

          But that’s the thing–if he were the prototypical winsome Christian, where atheists would marvel at his good cheer and frank admission of error, he’d be an honorable representative for Christ. As it is, he’s just an obnoxious asshole.

      • Maxximiliann

        Think about it. What if you knew without a hint of doubt that a child would inexorably, inevitably become a sadistic mass murderer. Would it be just to protect innocents by executing him?

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

          Think about it.

          OK, all right–things are starting to fall into place now.

          That Banda Ache earthquake and tsunami in 2004 that killed 300,000 people, including children, babies, and pregnant women? They must’ve all been destined to become serial murderers! Wow–I just hadn’t put the pieces together right.

          And don’t get me started on the Haiti earthquake …

        • Maxximiliann

          Argumentum assertio. “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” Prove your claim. Prove those were acts of God, not random events.

        • Itarion

          They were acts of God by insurance and legal definitions.

          They were acts of God because they followed naturally from the rules He set at the beginning of the Universe.

          They were acts of God because he did not act to prevent them, despite having the capacity – as an omnipotent entity – to do so.

          Or they were not acts of God, because God does not exist.

          The existence of an omnipotent entity, or even a transcendent entity which exceeds humans on a finite but incomprehensibly large scale, brings with it implications of power that are rarely recognized. Add to it absolute goodness, and you have an entity which CAN and WILL act to prevent measurable harm. This is the part where I turn to the Problem of Evil for the remainder of my argument. Frankly, that was the argument of the problem of evil….

          Could you define God such that I know how to argue this? The definition seems to vary person to person.

        • Niemand

          What if you knew without a hint of doubt that a child would inexorably, inevitably become a sadistic mass murderer.

          How would I know that?

          And if I knew it because I was god then, well, didn’t I create this child as a mass murderer? Why would I undo my work?

        • trj

          Funny, you Christians always resort to the free will explanation when someone asks you why God doesn’t interfere against evil. Yet here you are, claiming God murders infants before they even have a chance to do evil.

          Apparently free will isn’t all that important after all. God will kill an infant for the evil it never gets a chance to commit, but he won’t stop Hitler from killing millions because of that whole “free will” thing which is so incredibly important but which can never the less be overruled whenever convenient, according to you.

          Not very self-consistent.

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

          And when God allows a murderer to proceed, why imagine that God is anxious to preserve free will? The victim has his free will violated. Does God care about that?

        • Maxximiliann

          He loves his own just that much. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere …

        • trj

          I think the lesson is that you can’t expect apologists to be consistent.

      • Yoav

        Joe has used this line of argument in the past in order to claim that god was totally justified in ordering the murder of all these Canaanite babies or drowning everyone during the flood since, being a know it all, he could tell that they were all going to grow up evil but that in no way mean that some people are predestined to be evil so it isn’t god fault for not killing any of the people on Joe’s list when they were babies since he couldn’t tell they were going to be evil because of free will.

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

          Which begs the question. Sure, if we assume that God exists and knows everything, he had his own good reasons, and that gets Joe out of his uncomfortable bind trying to justify God’s murderous and petulant rages.

          … But isn’t showing that an omniscient God exists exactly what we’re trying to do here?

        • Yoav

          The problem is the internal inconsistency of arguing that both

          A: God was justified in killing, or ordering the killing, of children because he knew that they would turn out evil when growing up if he didn’t and therefore shouldn’t be counted as innocent.
          B: Everyone has free will and god can’t be held responsible for not causing Hitler’s mom to miscarry because there was hope that he would get saved and choose to be good.

        • purr

          Simple necessity vs. conditional necessity + God lives out of time and doesn’t see a past/present or future, just everything laid out simultaneously, therefore, he sees everything, yet seemingly has no control, or foresight, except when he does cuz…magic?

    • Mark Martin

      Joseph, if the god you believe in actually existed and hated abortion as much as you do then he would do something about it. Apparently he could care less (my own personal assertion of the mind of god since you seem to know exactly what god thinks) so why do you care?

      • Maxximiliann

        Because you’re making a very powerful enemy of the Sovereign of the Universe and it will cost you everything. Why do I care? Same reason you’d care if we were neighbors and my apartment was on fire … because we’re supposed to …

        After all, we’re all family.

        • purr

          Is that why you visit atheist forums and talk down to people?

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

          That’s Joseph’s idea of “Christian love.”

        • Mark Martin

          Thanks for you’re posts on abortion Bob, I know it’s really difficult to defend our position without coming across as callous and cold but you do a good job with such an emotional issue.

          Unfortunately Joseph has fallen into the trap that many Christians do with issues like these and has become self righteous about it. People like him could care less about people who disagree with him. Because god is on his side he doesn’t have to show us any love…

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

          Ah, too bad there isn’t a JW hell, because Joseph would enjoy the gloating.

        • Mark Martin

          I’m shaking in my boots… So tired of a toothless and useless god who doesn’t do anything to help us and the people like you who think you speak for it.

        • Maxximiliann

          Look at it differently. Why would our Creator help anyone who derides him as “a toothless and useless god”?

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

          When a 5-year-old says, “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!” to his parents, how should they respond?

          Now imagine how a being who’s a billion times more patient and understanding and wise. What should his response to an insult be?

        • Maxximiliann

          Come now, referring to Mark as a five-year0old baby is pretty below the belt.

          Prepare for a most severe tongue lashing from Astreja. (She’s self-appointed herself absolute moral arbiter of all things snark.)

        • Yoav

          According to Joe’s book of absolute morality said 5 year old should be stoned to death.

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

          You know the Good Book well.

          Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.

          Leviticus 20:9

        • Itarion

          Curses, like bad word curses?

          Or curses, like a pox upon you and your family curses. They’re different, and translations are sticky. Black magic would be different than a few insults.

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

          Literally, “makes light of his father and his mother.”

          Since Joseph is fluent in Hebrew, I’ll include that for him below:
          כי איש איש אשר יקלל את אביו ואת אמו מות יומת אביו ואמו קלל דמיו בו

          More at NET Bible: https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Leviticus+20:9

        • Itarion

          So… curses bad words. Ill meant jokes. Wow. Umm…. If you’ll excuse me, I am going to advocate that Biblical law never return. Ever. I like my bones intact.

        • Itarion

          Ummm… revelation and communion and a precise response tailored to the questions would be nice.

          A mysterious response relevant to an important choice in my life that becomes clear exactly when I need it to be would be expected and tolerable.

          A voice I have to struggle to hear with my soul would be difficult to notice, and so highly irritating.

          Complete understanding silence, with the absence of a physical presence, would be useless.

        • Mark Martin

          I wasn’t talking about me personally, I have a really easy life living her in America. I’m referring to all of the things that a god you believe in could accomplish without having to interfere with free-choice. I.E. natural disasters, birth defects, creating so many assholes, “divine hiddenness”…

        • Tayglas

          Because we sinned, this is how it has to be. No parent would punish a kid every time he/she did something wrong until that child loved that parent completely. Love must come from a choice. Likewise, God would not force us to love Him because our love would not be real.

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

          When someone wrongs you, I’m guessing that you may sometimes forgive them. Why can’t God do the same thing? He needs a human sacrifice to assuage his fury that people behave the way he made them?

          Dude needs to up his meds.

  • purr

    Whenever I get a new comment notification, I simply skip by everything that JOP writes.

    That’s how compelling his arguments are.