Yes, Biblical Slavery Was the Same as American Slavery

biblical slaveryI’d like to respond to two recent posts on slavery in the Bible from Jim Wallace of the Cold Case Christianity blog. I’ve argued several times before with Wallace (here, here, and here).

Let me begin with a positive comment on his “Four Differences Between New Testament Servitude and New World Slavery.” Many Christian apologies for biblical slavery avoid the most unpleasant passages in the Bible, such as the part about slavery for life (Lev. 25:44–6), but Wallace’s list of relevant Bible verses is fairly complete.

That’s a good start, but he argues toward an odd conclusion:

The New Testament Servitude of the Ancient Near East had little in common with the New World Slavery of our American ancestors.

Wallace tries unsuccessfully to distinguish slavery as it was practiced in the Old Testament from that practiced in the 13 Colonies and then the United States (I’ll call this “America”). Let’s take a look at his four claims.

“1. A Difference In the Motive Behind Slavery.” We read that slavery in America was for the economic gain of the masters, while in ancient Israel, “the primary motive for slavery was often the economic relief of the servant.”

First, let’s disentangle the different kinds of slavery. In America there were two kinds. An indentured servant was typically a European who came to America to work for another European. Masters paid for their servants’ passage, and they provided food, clothes, and training. In return, the servants were typically obliged to work for four to five years (terms varied). Roughly half of the European immigrants to the 13 colonies came as indentured servants.

The other kind, of course, was chattel slavery where the slave and any children were owned for their lives and were property that could be bought or sold. Here, Americans enslaved non-Europeans, typically from West Africa.

The Bible documents the same practices: Hebrews owning Hebrew slaves for roughly six years (indentured servitude) and Hebrews owning non-Hebrews for life (chattel slavery).

Let’s return to Wallace’s characterization of Hebrew slavery. He’s right that slavery as an institution in America benefitted the masters. Obviously, the same was true in Old Testament Israel—why else would it have lasted? It wasn’t an obligation that Hebrew masters took on reluctantly, only as a service to the community. Wallace gives OT (Old Testament) slavery a pro-servant spin, but the verse he cites (Lev. 25:35–7) is not about slaves.

Wallace is also right that OT slavery addressed financial issues. Ditto American indentured servitude. He’s not off to a good start in making a distinction between American indentured servitude and OT slavery of fellow Hebrews.

“2. A Difference As to How People Entered Into Slavery.” Wallace finds several different types of indentured servants in the OT and imagines that these illustrate important differences when compared with American indentured servants.

  • “Voluntary Temporary Indentured Hebrew Servants.” These were just like American indentured servants.
  • “Voluntary Permanent Hebrew Servants.” Suppose one indentured servant married another. What do you do if the man has completed his term, but his wife and children must remain with the master? If you’re thinking that the Bible recommends the master compassionately permit the wife and children to leave as well, you’re giving the Bible too much credit. No, the Bible says that the man could opt to remain, but only as a permanent slave. I know of no parallel with the American concept of indentured servitude (which is not a plus for the biblical position).
  • “Involuntary Hebrew and Gentile Criminals in Restitution.” Thieves must make restitution for their crimes. If they can’t, they will be sold as slaves. I imagine there were cases like this in America.
  • “Permanent Pagan Servants.” These are slaves for life taken from surrounding tribes and from the non-Hebrews living in Israel. Wallace tries to dilute this by arguing that Israelites still couldn’t kidnap and sell people into slavery (Ex. 21:16), but the NET Bible says that this refers only to the kidnapping of fellow Israelites and selling them into slavery (like Joseph, sold by his brothers). The trick here is to make sure that you understand what kind of slavery a particular Bible passage is referring to.

Here again, American and OT slavery are matched step for step.

“3. A Difference In How People Were Treated Once They Were Slaves.” Wallace says, “Slaves were treated humanely and their treatment was regulated by Biblical law.”

  • The Bible dictates that slaves could rest on the Sabbath and celebrate religious holidays. Slaves could adopt their masters’ religion. Conditions in America were similar, and Christianity was an important tool in keeping slaves in line.
  • The Bible holds masters accountable for fair treatment of slaves. For example, beating is allowed but only up to a point. Conditions in American were similar: the 1739 South Carolina code limited the number of hours that slaves could be made to work and fined anyone who killed a slave £700. The 1833 Alabama law code dictated, “Any person who shall maliciously dismember or deprive a slave of life, shall suffer such punishment as would be inflicted in case the like offence had been committed on a free white person.”

“4. A Difference In How People Freed Themselves From Slavery.” Wallace argues that there were more ways for OT slaves to free themselves than in America.

  • Someone could pay the debt of an indentured servant, or they could do it themselves.
  • The indentured servant could complete his term of service.
  • Slave could be freed if injured from a beating (it’s unclear which kind of slave this refers to).

How is this different from conditions in America? In addition, slaves in America sometimes bought their freedom, which the Bible doesn’t address.

Let me again give Jim Wallace credit for giving a fairly thorough list of Bible verses on the subject at hand. But Jim, tell me the truth. Are you a Poe? You let the Bible speak for itself, and it does: it documents a 2500-year-old version of American slavery. The two are almost identical, point by point.

That’s why it’s hard to understand Wallace’s conclusion:

While it is clear that the ancient Israelites did possess slaves, it is also clear the reason for their possession, the manner in which they were treated, and the manner in which they could be released was very different from the institution of slavery in more recent times in Europe and America. … It is unfair to say that the God of the Bible supports the institution of slavery as we understand it in more modern times. That version of slavery had little in common with the version of servitude in Biblical times.

No, the God of the Bible supported a form of slavery basically indistinguishable from that practiced in America.

The United States didn’t get much of its founding principles from the Bible—principles such as democracy, secular government, separation of powers, and a limited executive; freedoms of religion, speech, press, and assembly; protection from self-incrimination and double jeopardy; speedy and public trial, trial by jury, and the right to confront witnesses; no cruel and unusual punishment; and no slavery—but one trait that it got almost identical to the biblical version was slavery.

This discussion is concluded in Part 2.

This government of God was tried in the U.S.
when slavery was regarded as a divine institution.
The pulpit of that day
defended the buying and selling of women and babies.
The mouths of the slave-traders
were filled with passages of Scripture,
defending and upholding traffic in human flesh.
Robert Green Ingersoll

Photo credit: Travis Forsyth

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  • Annerdr

    I grew up in the South. My elementary school social studies teachers had been taught in the South. Here’s what they told me.

    1. A Difference In the Motive Behind Slavery. The purpose for Southern slavery was to take care of the poor African who otherwise would be starving to death in the jungle, unable to take care of himself and his family, and (primarily) teach that African about Christianity.

    2. A Difference As to How People Entered Into Slavery. Africans would volunteer for slavery because they saw how powerful white people were.

    3. A Difference In How People Were Treated Once They Were Slaves. In most cases, African slaves were treated well, like one of the family, and taken care of until death.

    4. A Difference In How People Freed Themselves From Slavery. African slaves didn’t want to leave their beloved masters.
    In short, Southern slaveholders, and their descendants, justified the moral wrong of slavery to themselves and to the world exactly like ancient Hebrew slaveholders did. I’m fortunate in that I loved reading and ran across things at the public library that provided a more honest version of history than my social studies teachers provided.

    • Claire Nollet

      Wow. Did your teachers REALLY teach you that “Africans would volunteer for slavery because they saw how powerful white people were.” Man, your teachers were some really self-deluded white idiots. What horse****.

      NO ONE volunteers for slavery. Especially since it must have been well known how the captured slaves were shackled and imprisoned in Africa until they could be shipped overseas. And who would voluntarily agree to be separated from their family and culture for the rest of their life?

      Slaves were treated well? Yeah, that’s why slaves lived in terror of being “sold down the [Mississippi] river” to the deep south, where their life expectancy was horrible because of the insanely inhumane conditions. That’s why there are so many archival pictures of slaves with hideous scars on their backs from savage whippings. That’s why slaves ran away so often that the Underground Railroad had to be developed.

      That’s why it was against the law to teach a slave how to read, for fear the poor bastard would actually get their hands on the Declaration of Independence, and wonder why he was being treated so differently than the document declared human rights should be.

      • I’m sure there was a wide variety of conditions. American slavery, bad as it was, was in general better than in much of the rest of the New World. Only about 5% of the Africans shipped to the New World wound up in America. Twice that number went to Jamaica alone, where the economics were such that they were worked to death and then replaced.

      • Annerdr

        I was also taught that the War of Northern Aggression was not fought over slavery. That was just an excuse to allow the damned Yankees get power over the Southerners. And that we will rise again.

        On the up side, I didn’t believe it since I did read so very, very much that disagreed with this. I went on to get a degree in history because I became fascinated with the way that humans can twist and justify pretty much any horror if it helps keep their particular group in power.

        Unsure what my son would be taught (things have definitely improved, but some things I prefered to cover myself to ensure he was taught correctly – history, sex ed, morality) in his public school, I reviewed the slave system with him. His teacher was impressed because when one smart-ass kid in fourth grade said slavery didn’t seem so bad (the kid was white), my son (also white) pointed out that even as a plantation owner it sucked because you and your family were surrounded by 300 people who HATED you and you would feel the need to terrorize your slaves to keep them from killing you and your family.

        • MNb
        • Claire Nollet

          re being surrounded by people who hated you — Many people know that George Washington’s will made provisions to free HIS slaves after his death.

          What’s not widely known is that his slaves were not to be freed until after his death, but also after the death of his wife, Martha.

          And not all the slaves on the property WERE his slaves. The rest were Martha’s. And she had no plans of freeing any of her slaves; they were to be handed out as property to her heirs.

          Apparently, Martha lived in mortal terror of George’s slaves, because she knew that they knew that all they had to do was kill her to gain their freedom. She became very paranoid after George’s death.

        • Annerdr

          I doubt that would be uncommon. It’s a rational response to being surrounded by people you treat poorly.

        • That’s a fascinating observation about Martha. Perhaps she treated them extra nice.

          One dark chapter in American slavery was Thomas Jefferson’s keeping of slaves. I don’t think he freed them on his death, arguing that they couldn’t make it on their own.

        • gimpi1

          As I recall, Jefferson had actually taken out a mortgage using his slaves as collateral. At his death, I think many were sold to pay his debts.

        • Yeah, he was a brilliant guy, but he wasn’t much of a farmer. I heard that he was $100,000 in debt at his death.

        • gimpi1

          He was a fascinating mass of contradictions. A lover of liberty who owned slaves. A advocate of simple living who lived lavishly. A man who argued against debt, yet ran up huge debts. No matter how you look at it, the man gets 10 out of 10 for cognitive dissidence.

        • Kodie

          Ask A Slave is a satirical web series based on the actress’ time working as a living history character at the popular historic site, George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Starring Azie Dungey as Lizzie Mae and directed by Jordan Black.
          All questions and interactions are based on true events.

          https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHPZR1lUMS47BA-N2Ihrtlg

        • wtfwjtd

          Ah yes, the struggles of the wealthy–life must be so tough when you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, and eventually inherited a fortune. We common folk have life soooo much easier…

        • Greg G.

          The story that the Civil War was not about slavery began as soon as the war ended. It was all about “states’ rights”. But the only right ever mentioned was slavery. They change the terminology and the narrative.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, and of course it was the vile politician’s fault that the Confederacy lost the war–you know, those politicians that the people of the South themselves had elected. They lost because, you know, Jeff Davis wore women’s underclothing, or some other such blathering nonsense. Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

        • Jackson

          I don’t remember where I heard it but there is a saying “In elementary school you learn that the civil war was about slavery. In high school you learn that the civil war was about state’s rights. In college you learn that the civil war was about state’s rights to have slavery.”

        • I was raised in Richmond, VA, and I remember several homes with drawings of a short old codger in a Confederate uniform with the slogan “Forget hell!” underneath.

          Yep, the South will rise again.

    • Ah, if only biblical slavery could be like the American utopia.

      • Annerdr

        Exactly. You wonder why they kept attempting to rebel and/or escape since they were all so happy.

        • MNb

          Must have been because they were ungrateful non-christians.

        • Which begs the questions why some of their leaders were preachers then, like Nat Turner.

    • smrnda

      On ‘volunteering’ – a lot of the time, supposedly ‘voluntary’ work arrangements were totally coercive.

      After slavery was abolished, a number of laws against ‘vagrancy’ were passed so that any Black person seen anywhere could be accused of ‘vagrancy’ and slapped with a fine, and then would be forced to work it off. Of course, under such a system a person could be more or less forced into working off their ‘vagrancy’ time and time again. Similar tactics were used in Mexico to enslave indigenous peoples – B Traven’s books deal with this a great deal. A great deal of legal codes, historically, have been about getting people to submit to forced labor.

      • MNb

        Contract labour (according to Wikipedia “contractarbeid” translates as indentured servitude) in Suriname was exactly like that. It was made nearly impossible to pay debts off by working on a plantation.

        • smrnda

          This went on in the States under the guise of the ‘company town’ and even included white worker. The idea was workers were billed for expenses, and paid in ‘company money’ that could only be redeemed at the company store, so you were in debt for life. The song that ends “I owe my soul to the company store” sung in the US is about this.

          That history has been erased from US history books as US right wingers (I don’t call them ‘conservatives’ ) have decided that history needs to be more pro ruling class. I’m not surprised if the neo-Confederates down south are making history books tell ‘both sides’ of slavery these days.

        • Pofarmer
        • MNb

          I only can repeat what I wrote above: contract labour in Suriname was exactly like that. If you dared to buy something at another store you got fined. Of course prices in the company store were twice as high as elsewhere.

        • smrnda

          It seems that if ‘slavery’ ; explicit ownership of another person is abolished, it isn’t too difficult for those who want slaves to find ways to make it possible. On paper, and in some abstract way the person is ‘free’ but not in any sensible, real world way.

          How long did that practice continue in Suriname? Many history books talk about an ‘end to slavery’ but they tend to ignore things like this.

        • Plutosdad

          Wow I never really understood 16 tons, or what the company store was. We just sang all these songs in school and the teachers didn’t really tell us what they were about. Or maybe they did, it was 3rd grade so I wouldn’t have understood if they did.

      • Annerdr

        Yes, and all done to “help” the African Americans or the indigenous people of Mexico. Not at all to maintain and reinforce the white power social structure. Not. at. all.

      • Roman law had a provision for “self-sale” into slavery. Of course, the people who did this were usually desperate, unable to find work. Naturally “voluntary” slaves have always been the minority. A law in Louisiana also permitted free black people to sell themselves.

      • Claire Nollet

        My father (born in 1921) served in WW2 with a man whose father was warden in a prison deep in the American South; this man had been largely raised by the trustee prisoners.

        This man’s father was quite well off — because of the prisoners. A local business wanted a bunch of workers to do a nasty spot of labor cheap? (Such as cotton picking at a large plantation, etc.) A call went out to the local warden, and suddenly, any black man, and a few white men, who were walking along the country roads were arrested for vagrancy and told they had to work off their “crime” by being hired out to the local business.

        The prisoners saw none of the money, but the warden — and the sheriff, and the judge — got their cut from the business owner. To his credit, the man that my father knew was deeply ashamed of his father, and had cut ties with him.

  • C.J. O’Brien

    Well, practically nothing in the culture and societies of the ANE was “almost identical” to any tradition or institution of the modern (Western) world, so I feel like you’re overstating the case somewhat.
    But Wallace’s post makes no sense. He claims to want to be talking specifically about “New Testament Servitude” but he adduces zero evidence from the Greco-Roman cultural matrix of the New Testament, he just quotes Hebrew scripture from the Pentateuch as if the civil law of a fictional idealized Judean state of the Iron Age was normative for “ancient Israelites” living under the Roman Imperium. Based on the incoherence in his use of terms and the confusion of historical eras in this single post, it appears to me that he knows functionally nothing about the relevant history, and so can be safely ignored on the matter.

    • I did hesitate before saying that they were almost identical, but I can see no significant differences between the customs. If you see any, point them out.

      I didn’t mind Wallace using biblical dictates in lieu of history about the time. I don’t actually care much about what the rules and customs were in practice. Instead, I’d like to let the Bible tell us what Yahweh wants or thinks. That is, give the Bible enough rope to hang itself.

  • gimpi1

    Thank you for this.

    I’ve noticed that people, trying to defend the indefensible notion of Biblical inerrancy as regards morality will claim that the slavery described and affirmed in the Bible was more like indentured servitude. They will only cite the (slightly) more reasonable ways of enslaving members of your own tribe.

    They totally ignore that it was just fine to enslave for life as chattel non-tribal members, i.e. pagans. Prisoners of war, captured women and children, people bought from slave-traders, anyone not a citizen of your nation was fair game for lifetime chattel slavery, including rape, beatings and breaking up families.

    Personally, I prefer a standard of ethics that doesn’t give enslaving fellow human beings a pass.

    • I do appreciate Wallace (the Christian author of the post I critiqued) acknowledging slavery for life. Most of the Christian apologists don’t. I suspect that many of them don’t even know what their own Bible says.

  • Mick

    The Christian says:
    Masters were to be held accountable for the way they treated their slaves:
    Exodus 21:20
    And if a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished.

    But he fails to mention the very next verse, which says but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two (Exodus 21:21 NIV) In other words, the slave owner could be punished if the slave died, but the slave owner could bash the shit out of his slaves every day and there would be no punishment if the slave didn’t die.

    Later the Christian says:
    Foreign slaves were prescribed refuge under Biblical Law. They were not treated as property

    And again he fails to mention Exodus 21:21 which clearly states that slaves were treated as property: the slave is their property. (Exodus 21:21 NIV)

    • Lightning Baltimore

      A scan of English translations on BibleGateway.com shows that most indicate that the master shall not be punished if the slave lives for a couple of days before dying. Only a handful refer to the slave recovering after a day or two, as in the NIV translation you’ve chosen.

      • Here are a number of different translations side by side. I see “survives” and “gets up” as well as “recovers.”

    • Greg G.

      The NIV and similar translations of Exodus 21:21 don’t make much sense. Why would it say that if the slave doesn’t die there is no punishment? The harsher reading seems more likely that if the slave dies but not the same day as the beating, the slave-holders is off the hook. So it seems that the punishment for beating a slave to death was the loss of property as long as the slave suffered a day before expiring.

  • Al

    Bob since you are an expert on slavery could the slaves in America be beaten to death without breaking any laws?

    • What a coincidence! I answered that very question in the post above.

      • Al

        Thank you. Can you tell me what atheists were involved in ending slavery before the civil war?

        • Abraham Lincoln is all that comes to mind.

        • Can you tell me if there were any Christians in favor of slavery before the Civil War?

        • Al

          There probably were some based in a incorrect understanding of the Bible. So who were the atheists involved in ending slavery? Any come to mind?

        • MNb

          Have you forgotten what I told you about the French Revolution? Those anti-christians abolished slavery 70 years before christian America did.

        • smrnda

          If the Bible is such an easy book to misunderstand, then it’s not a very good book from the standpoint of providing instructions in how to live

          I mean, Gravity’s Rainbow, Finnegan’s Wake, these are some well known hard to understand books, but they are read as literature and art, not as moral guides. A moral guide should be clear enough that nobody is confused.

        • There probably were some based in a incorrect understanding of the Bible.

          Interesting. I thought that an honest reading of the Bible showed that chattel slavery was exactly what the Israelites did. Show me how I’m wrong.

          So who were the atheists involved in ending slavery? Any come to mind?

          Lincoln? You’ve heard of him? 16th president?

        • Al

          Where is the proof that Lincoln was an atheist? Need some explicit statements.

          Question: How did the Israelites get their slaves? How did the south?

        • Greg G.

          Abraham Lincoln was a non-believer in Christianity until he was accused of it during a campaign for Congress. He put out a handbill that said he had ” never denied the truth of the Scriptures”, which is clearly not saying he had ever supported the truth of the Scriptures. Just because a person doesn’t come out as an atheist doesn’t mean they aren’t one.

          Israelite and southern slave owners got their slaves the same way: they paid money for them.

        • Al

          Didn’t the Israelites get their slaves from those they conquered?

        • … and how does this get you off the hook for your god being OK with slavery for life?

        • Greg G.

          The Bilbe has no regulations about the slaves aquired by conquest. That may have been an earlier time or just legend.

          Leviticus 25:44-46 (NIV)
          44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

          Genesis 17:12 (NRSV)
          12 Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring.

          Exodus 12:43-45 (NRSV)
          43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; 45 no bound or hired servant may eat of it.

          Deuteronomy 15:12 (NRSV)
          12 If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free.

          Exodus 21:2 (NRSV)
          2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt.

          Exodus 21:7 (NRSV)
          7 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.

        • The Bible hangs itself, and yet apologists keep apologizing. I wonder how they sleep at night–the ends justify the means, I suppose.

        • adam

          What does any of THIS have to do with the IMMORALITY of the slavery in the bible?

        • Dys

          Nothing whatsoever. Al is playing the same game most internet apologists do when discussing slavery and the bible – shrug off the fact that it’s condoned in the bible, and focus on taking credit for fighting against it (and ignoring or denying the role Christianity/Judaism had in propagating it in the first place).

        • adam

          Well of course, if HIS god were not IMAGINARY, he would have demonstrated that long ago.

          Being DECEPTIVE, that is BEARING FALSE WITNESS is key to apologetics…

        • “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” ― Abraham Lincoln

          They got slaves through capture.

        • MNb

          Hey Al, how come that a pagan could write this in the first half of the 2nd Century, but no Church father came even close?

          “What you shun enduring yourself, attempt not to impose on others. You shun slavery—beware of enslaving others! If you can endure to do that, one would think you had been once upon a time a slave yourself. For Vice has nothing in common with virtue, nor Freedom with slavery.”
          “Freedom is the name of virtue: Slavery, of vice…. None is a slave whose acts are free.”
          “Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish? Nothing else.”
          “No man is free who is not master of himself.”

          Epictetus, some 15 centuries or more before something similar dawned upon christians. How come? Had all those smart christians “a incorrect understanding of the Bible”? Why did it take them so look to develop a correct one, if the pagan Epictetus was so much faster?

        • The Greek Cynics and Stoics opposed slavery long before Christianity even existed and a very long time before they sanctimoniously began taking credit for abolition.

          I think Al’s “We Christians single handedly wiped slavery from the earth” attitude is a bit overblown.

        • Dys

          “I think Al’s “We Christians single handedly wiped slavery from the earth” attitude is a bit overblown.”

          Especially when you consider the fact that papal decrees were responsible for sanctioning the practice in the New World. How much patting on the back does a religion deserve for working to clean up a problem it caused?

        • Especially when you consider that Christianity was pretty much in charge for 1000+ years in Europe. They didn’t even overturn slavery in their own back yard. The claim that slavery offends Christianity is ridiculous.

        • adam

          He is probably referring to something like this:

        • Al

          What did the atheists do to end slavery in ancient times? What did they do a couple of hundred of years ago?

        • How does this get you past the fact that your own holy book accepts slavery?

        • Al

          Since the Bible is a historical book it accepts slavery as a fact of life in ancient times. God gave guidance to the Israelites in how they were to deal with this issue. In the NT, the focus is on how to live within the institution of slavery in a god honoring way. The church did not have the means at this time to end slavery nor has it ever.

          Now tell me where the atheists were in ancient times who spoke against slavery. Who were they? What did they accomplish?

        • Before we go off on your pointless tangent, tell me how we can conclude, from the Bible itself, that God is against slavery.

        • Al

          I can’t think of anything specifically but that He instructed His people to treat slaves humanely.

          BTW- I can’t think of any command for a husband not to beat his wife either. I guess that would mean He approves it. Right?

          Then again, we can’t turn to atheism for any insights on this or slavery. Bummer.

        • Correct. God is OK with slavery but, like other things, there are right ways and wrong ways to practice it. There are right and wrong ways to practice commerce, animal husbandry, marriage, and slavery. God might give rules for how to handle them best, but that leaves a glaring gap between our view of slavery and God’s.

          I can’t think of any command for a husband not to beat his wife either. I guess that would mean He approves it. Right?

          Does God mention this one way or another? No? Then why bring it up except as a desperate, inept attempt to save your sinking boat?

          Then again, we can’t turn to atheism for any insights on this or slavery.

          Trust you to never learn a goddamn thing. How many times have we been over this? No, atheism doesn’t help us with quantum mechanics, cake baking, or morality. That’s simply not its domain.

          To your larger point, you’re right that Christianity does say something about morality. And, as we’ve seen, it gets it outrageously wrong. You want insights into slavery? Good ol’ Yahweh has them in abundance. And they’re all wrong. Kinda surprising for an omniscient deity, no?

          Pro tip: don’t bring up arguments in which the evidence is not in your favor.

        • Kodie

          Since the Bible is a historical book it accepts slavery as a fact of
          life in ancient times. God took guidance from the Israelites in how they
          were to deal with this issue.

          Fixed that for you.

        • Dys

          Frankly, there wouldn’t have been enough of them to be identifiable as a movement, and considering the demonization they constantly received by religions such as yours, even if they had, we probably wouldn’t find out about it. When you have to play the guessing game today to find out who’s likely to be an atheist in today’s politics, it’s even harder in the past.

          But you’re still busy trying to create a distraction to get around the fact that the bible condones a blatantly immoral practice, and that the Christian religion itself authorized it. Patting Christianity on the back for working to resolve a problem it helped foster and spread only deserves so much consideration. And your idea that only those who wrongly interpreted the bible endorsed slavery is a joke based on delusional wishful thinking.

        • adam

          A bit?

        • It helps that Epictetus was born a slave.

        • Al

          Not that familiar with the writings of the church fathers. There are over 38 volumes. Have you read all of them to know that they have not written about slavery?

        • MNb

          If they had written against it, do you think it would have been neglected for 1000 – 1500 years? If they have written against it, why did it take organized christianity so long to take action?

        • Ron

          Who cares what the Church Fathers wrote? What matters to Christians (i.e. followers of Christ) is what Jesus said about slavery:

          “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. ~Jesus (Luke 12:47-48, NASB)

          “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” ~Jesus (Luke 17:7-10, NASB)

          tl;dr

          Jesus on slavery: “No problems. I’m cool with it.”

        • Al

          What is the contexts of Luke 112:47-48 and 17:7-10? What is the point that Jesus is making?

        • Ron

          Context? In Luke 12 slavery is used as an analogy for what awaits those found unprepared upon Jesus’ return. As for Luke 17: there is no context. In fact, it’s a complete non sequitur. Jesus just throws it out there in response to his disciple’s request to increase their faith.

        • Dys

          “There probably were some based in a incorrect understanding of the Bible.”

          Interesting. How do you know their understanding was incorrect? Because a God setting rules down for how to do slavery the “right” way instead of abolishing it sure doesn’t seem anti-slavery to me.

        • Ron

          Some? You mean like most of southern US Christendom? You are aware of the major schisms that occurred over slavery in three denominations (Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians), aren’t you?

        • hector_jones

          Watching an apologist at work is often just like watching a game of Twister.

        • Al has the correct interpretation of the Bible, but the Southern Baptist Convention, built on support of slavery, didn’t?

          I’m impressed that this blog attracts such erudite commenters.

        • Al

          I don’t know that much about this period. Ask Bob. He’s the “expert.”

        • Greg G.

          You’ve heard of the Baptist Church and the Southern Baptists, haven’t you? The used to be just the Baptist Church but they had a schism over slavery.

        • In 1995, on the 150th anniversary of the split, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution repudiating racism and slavery.

          You’re the American Christian Al. You really should educate yourself on what your Bible has supported.

        • Greg G.

          In addition to MNb’s quote:

          A Roman pagan writer who thinks of slaves as friends who should be treated well.

          “‘They are slaves,’ people declare. NO, rather they are men.
          ‘Slaves! NO, comrades.
          ‘Slaves! NO, they are unpretentious friends.
          ‘Slaves! NO, they are our fellow-slaves, if one reflects that Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike. That is why I smile at those who think it degrading for a man to dine with his slave.

          But why should they think it degrading? It is only purse-proud etiquette… All night long they must stand about hungry and dumb… They are not enemies when we acquire them; we make them enemies… This is the kernel of my advice: Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters.

          ‘He is a slave.’ His soul, however, may be that of a free man.”
              — Seneca the Younger (4 BC – 65 AD), Epistulae Morales, 47.

          Jesus doesn’t think slaves should even be thanked for their service.

          7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” –Jesus, Luke 17:7-10

        • But then again, the world was going to end any day now. (Or at least Jesus thought so.)

        • adam

          What ‘incorrect understanding of the bible’ are you talking about?

        • Al

          That slavery was to be practiced by Christians. There is no teaching in the NT for it. It says nothing that Christians are to have slaves or to get slaves. Since the NT was written in the period when slavery was widespread it does acknowledge it and that some or most Christians were slaves and that some were masters. In these cases the NT does give guidance how these relationships are to be. Paul does say that if a person can become free then do so.

        • Philmonomer

          There is no passage in the Bible that condemns slavery.

          (Arguably, Paul thought it best that Christians should not enslave other Christians. But Jews also thought it best not to enslave other Jews, and it makes sense that the Bible teaches that you shouldn’t enslave your own “kind.” What it does NOT say is that you should enslave no one.)

          Simply put, slavery (in at least some forms) is ok in the Bible. It is undeniable.

          (Actually, lots and lots of people do deny it. But they are not intellectually honest.)

        • The best that I can find in the Bible about slavery are God bragging, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

          In other words, it sucks if you’re the slave, but if it’s some other dude, no problem.

        • Al

          The Bible does not say slavery is ok. Rather it recognizes that it is part of the fallen world and gives guidance in how to deal with it.

          What’s tragic is that the atheist has no argument against it but mere opinion. It’s neither evil or good. It just is.

        • Philmonomer

          The Bible does not say slavery is ok. Rather it recognizes that it is part of the fallen world and gives guidance in how to deal with it.

          See, you are doing the intellectually dishonest thing. In this regard, the Bible clearly/unequivocally 1) provides guidance on how to deal with slavery and 2) fails to say slavery is wrong/bad.

          Based on these two facts, there is no other conclusion than slavery is morally permissible.

        • MNb

          “It says nothing that Christians are to have slaves or to get slaves.”
          Wow, that’s a strawman if there ever was one. No atheist claims that according to the Bible “christians are to have slaves or to get slaves.” Atheists argue that a) the Bible doesn’t condemn slavery (which you implicitely agree with when arguing that Ancient society was completely different from ours), b) implicitely approves of slavery (which you dispute by arguing that it’s all about indentured servitude) and c) indentured servitude might be less evil than slavery, but still totally sucks.
          The conclusion is that biblical morals are seriously outdated. If you disagree you are invited – I can use you as an indentured servant. I’ll make some room for you in the chicken shack. Deal? It will be an uplifting spiritual experience for you, I promise.

        • You might throw in this sweetener: tell Al that he would be allowed to adopt your religion.

        • Al

          The Bible does not approve of slavery. It does recognize that is it part of a fallen world and it gives guidance in how to deal with it.
          Ultimately this world will be done away with where sin and slavery will no longer part of it.
          The atheist can give his opinion that he doesn’t like slavery but can never show that its evil.

        • The Bible does not approve of slavery.

          That’s a bold statement. Back it up or retract it.

        • The atheist can give his opinion that he doesn’t like slavery but can never show that its evil.

          Another flabby claim. Show me how the definition of “evil” makes it a word atheists can’t use.

        • Kodie

          The bible acknowledges that slavery is a fact and says nothing is wrong with owning people, if they are the other people.

        • So you admit that neither God nor Jesus declare slavery as an institution to be a bad thing and you try to salvage the Bible by saying that it never argues that Christians should acquire slaves. Is that it?

          I would’ve had higher standards. You can apply whatever moral attributes to God that you want, right? Why not imagine that he’s better than that?

        • Al

          Slavery is not a major issue in the NT. Christ did not come to abolish slavery per se. That would come later as His followers through the centuries worked on.

          Christ did come did deal with breaking the power of sin which enslaves people. The slavery to sin is far worse than the slavery to men.

          BTW- what is your “higher standard” based on besides your opinion?

        • Slavery is not a major issue in the NT.

          Yeah, tell me about it.

          Christ did not come to abolish slavery per se.

          I wonder why he didn’t at least give his followers a clue that it was something worth stopping.

          Oh wait—no, Jesus thought that the end was nigh. Perhaps that explains why he didn’t care.

          The slavery to sin is far worse than the slavery to men.

          If sin is made up, then perhaps we ought to focus on the issues in the here and now.

          BTW- what is your “higher standard” based on besides your opinion?

          That’s it. Just my opinion. And the wisdom of society. You’re saying that not decrying slavery isn’t a problem in your opinion?

          Why? Do you have something else?

        • The Man With The Name Too Long

          “Christ did come did deal with breaking the power of sin which enslaves people. The slavery to sin is far worse than the slavery to men.” Do you think he succeeded? I’m not sure what you mean by this either. Are we “enslaved” in the sense that our sin pushes us to sin more? If that’s the case then Christ failed to break the power of sin of which you speak. Maybe it means that the power of sin causes us to turn away from good, but that can’t be the case since atheists commit the sin of disbelief (and others) yet many of them still do good things, and many people before Jesus were the same way. This is another of those, “What exactly did Jesus (and his ‘sacrifice’) do?” conversations.

          As to whether or not the “slavery of sin” is worse than “slavery to men”, there’s no point in trying to discuss this since it’s a matter of opinion.

        • adam

          So you dismiss the OT.

          Isn’t YOUR Jesus god the SAME god of the OT who prescibed how to procure and treat slaves?

        • Kodie

          Holy fucking shit, Al. The bible says it’s ok to own another person as property, like you might buy a car or a computer or an oven, to perform tasks dependably without having wishes of their own. And to cross threads, what a regard for life your god has! He created these people according to you, sacred in the womb, only to be born as if an inanimate object to buy and sell and treat as you will, and discard when it’s used up.

          So what if slavery is a historic fact, god could have smited all the slave owners and said do it your damn self or pay humans adequately for their service and treat them with the same respect you expect for yourself. We still pretty much have slavery, people are underpaid to serve people and get treated like shit while doing so, selling a great portion of their actual life for much less than it’s worth so you can eat in a restaurant or have your trash picked up or your children educated.

          Fuck you and your biblical morals.

        • Timothy Cooper

          Well of course Al wasn’t there to set them straight.

        • Annerdr

          As atheists would not have declared themselves then due to the harsh reaction of the Christians around them, this is a rather spurious question. I personally am descended from Christians, good Christians, pastors of their church and respected in their communities, who owned and beat their slaves and justified it as being acceptable in the Bible.

    • HematitePersuasion

      I think I understand what you’re asking, and I think it’s the wrong question. Even if beating a slave to death was illegal, was the crime prosecuted? And I think the answer is pretty clearly no.

      • We’re comparing apples to apples by comparing Southern laws protecting slaves against OT laws protecting slaves. And there certainly were Southern laws protecting slaves, as noted in the post above.

    • Plutosdad

      And as we all know, if it’s a law then people don’t break it.

      I guess all the memoirs and stories published from escaped slaves are all lies from Satan then, because Southern slave owners treated their slaves well! I suppose you believe house slaves had it easy too, they weren’t beaten and even killed by the white women that owned them for crimes as egregious as spilling some soup. Those are also lies.

      • MNb

        Your first sentence is meant sarcastically of course. Historians actually take the opposite view. If it was a law this means people practiced what was prohibited.

    • Annerdr

      Isn’t the fact that they could be beaten intolerable enough? We’re talking human beings exactly like you, who could be beaten on the whim of their “owner”. Owner is in quotes because people cannot own people — the system is absurdly evil.

  • Guest

    No, Biblical slavery was not the same as American slavery.
    But what would you know about it, unbeliever?
    Repent of your sins, only then may you learn the Word of God.
    Otherwise, you know nothing.
    Many will be refined, purified and tested, but the wicked will prove wicked,
    none of them will have understanding. But the wise shall have it.

    • “The wise”? Give me an argument, wise one. Show me how my argument is flawed. This is just a meaningless drive-by.

    • Philmonomer

      I wonder if this person realizes he doesn’t help, and actually hurts, his cause?

    • Robert_Loblaw

      oh, just because you said so? no counter-points to refute the author’s careful deconstruction of an already exhaustive argument? of course not, all you need is to point out that he is not a believer! and who could forget to quote the words that he does not believe in, eh?

  • MNb

    I simply don’t get the “indentured servitude” argument. How is that morally justified? Suriname had it for several decades after slavery was abolished in 1863. It’s how the British-Indians and Dutch-East-Indians ended up in the country.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Mariënburg

    This is just one example of a rebellion out of several. The servants didn’t like indentured service at all.

    According to Wallace and co the Bible says slavery is bad, so apparently indentured servitude is OK. Would they really think it a good idea to reintroduce it again? If no indentured servitude doesn’t come to their rescue. At best Wallace and co show that the OT doesn’t suck that bad – but its morals still suck.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_indenture_system

    The last transport from Dutch East Indies arrived in 1939. This is what the transport ships looked like:

    http://www.imexbo.nl/mediapool/74/744902/resources/big_33358968_0_800-571.jpg

    Their Dutch masters were devout christians.

    • All the way across the Pacific and through the Panama Canal? That’s a long trip.

      • MNb

        You won’t be surprised that quite a few “voluntary” workers died underway. Cost reduction, see. Like Smrnda above I simply don’t get how indentured servitude saves the OT.

    • smrnda

      I need to find a source on this, but occasionally in the US colonies, people would kill the indentured servant before their term expired, usually when the agreement meant that the indentured servant would be paid some sum of money upon release.

      • Greg G.

        I have read that as the indentured servant’s term neared it’s end, the most dangerous jobs were assigned to him. No sense risking a long-term investment.

        • hector_jones

          Hah. You need to do some reading. If you did you’d find out that in biblical indentured servitude as the indentured servant’s term neared its end they threw him a non-stop party. None of this is in the bible, but you need to ‘understand’ that it’s true.

    • Plutosdad

      And in America we had Bacon’s Rebellion, with the indentured servants and slaves fighting against their owners. That was when slave owners wised up and tried to get people to see how indentured servants had it so much better, to get them to look down on black slaves and not join up with them. Wallace is just playing into this.

      • Greg G.

        Bacon’s Rebellion happened about 100 years before the Revolutionary War and began when Nathaniel Bacon raised a vigilante army to fight Indians. Governor Berkeley refused to send the Virginia Militia, apparently because he had a trade business with them. He sent the Militia to oppose Bacon’s group but the vigilantes defeated them and took Jamestown. Bacon died suddenly, some say he was poisoned. The rebellion fell apart and order was restored. My direct ancestors, a father and son, we’re on opposite sides. The father was a Colonel in the Militia. His 18 year old son was sentenced to hang but his father interceded. I don’t know of any slavery angle.

        • Plutosdad

          The main problem was Bacon’s Rebellion was composed of both whites and blacks,and many former indentured servants, as Bacon himself was. This served to convince many wealthy people that 1. slaves were better since they never got free to cause trouble later, and 2. they had to do whatever they could to drive a wedge between poor whites and poor blacks, to make sure the other whites never again worked with or helped black slaves. (this was repeated with the Republican Southern Strategy in the 1960s).

          Maybe it was not slavery so much as a racial angle I am thinking of.

          It is one of the turning points of black history in America. If you google “bacon’s rebellion indentured servants slavery” there are a bunch of links near the top. Also Michelle Armstrong’s The New Jim Crow covers it in one of the early chapters.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks for the sources. I’ll check them out.

          My ancestor, Col. Bridger went on to be a general in the Virginia Militia. He and his brother came to the colonies to supervise the roofing of a church that may still be standing and in use*. Their uncle was the Archbishop of Canterbury at some point. I doubt he or his brother or his son were indentured.

          *There’s a question whether the church he is buried under was the original or a replacement. If it’s a replacement, it’s the second oldest church in continuous use in North America, if original, the oldest.

  • smrnda

    Even if they are different, OT slavery is still morally indefensible. I don’t see why people don’t give up at trying to rehabilitate Biblical slavery.

    • Yeah, but what’s the alternative? God being A-OK with slavery plus no more objective moral truth is a tough pill to swallow.

      • smrnda

        Well, you could go with the idea that the Bible isn’t totally right or authoritative, but then you’d be throwing out a key doctrine of many Christians – Biblical infallibility.

        • Pofarmer

          The truth is hard.

        • gimpi1

          It’s a pity so many people will twist themselves into logical and ethical pretzels to avoid the simple reality that the morality posited in many Biblical accounts is pretty crappy, and our “hedonistic” and secular society often does much better.

          I’m just not that logically and ethically flexible. More moral yoga, perhaps:-)

        • smrnda

          I think hedonism is one of the most morally defensible philosophies. If the purpose of life is pleasure, it becomes hard to justify suffering.

    • joshuaism

      Give up rehabilitating Biblical slavery? If you did that how would you ever reach the ultimate goal of rehabilitating American slavery?

  • MNb

    As my comment underneath has gotten too longwinded once again I’ll try to reformulate it in a short and to the point way. Because christianity there is no better way than an analogy, a parable, a piece of theology if you like to call it that way.

    Atheist: Your holy book sucks, it says stealing is OK. Look here, here and here.
    Apologist: No no no! You misunderstand those quotes! They don’t talk about stealing paper money, cheque fraud and credit card fraud. They don’t even talk about stealing golden and silver coins. They talk about stealing coins made of copper. Actually they regulate stealing coins in old societies which have disappeared since long.
    MNb: I scratch my head.

  • GCBill

    If the best defense of a practice you can come up with is “it’s not as bad as American slavery,” you should rethink whatever you’re advocating.

    • Nice! A variant is that Israelite morality was better than that of surrounding tribes. First, this is said without much evidence to support it, and second, that’s not much of a bar to set for the omniscient Creator of the Universe.

      • gimpi1

        A low bar, indeed. Good point.

  • Plutosdad

    Now that I moved to the South (sort of, I live in Virginia), I hear some of the same attitudes. People really believe the BS that slaves were treated well, and that the people of the North were the REAL racists, because they hated black people just as much and sent runaway slaves back. I don’t mean everyone here thinks like this, but I never heard it in my life in Chicago, so just hearing it twice is a big deal to me.

    The whole idea of “it was for economic relief of the slave” also sounds straight outta FOX news. That is why corporations need tax breaks, but we need to restrict SNAP even more because charity is corrupting, corporations only do good with their money.

    • MNb

      Incredible. I remember the TV-series Golden Girls, not exactly the most progressive one ever, having an episode on this issue some 30 years ago. The four heroins thoroughly got debunked by an Afro-American friend.

    • RichardSRussell

      Now that I moved to the South (sort of, I live in Virginia)

      The capital state of the Confederacy is not merely “sort of” the South.

      • Plutosdad

        Some people tell me I am not far south enough, I work in the District so I’m in “Northern Virginia” or NOVA

        • RichardSRussell

          “Washington DC: a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.”
          —John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), 35th US president

      • “The South” often refers to a kind of nuttiness that you find more in the Gulf states.

        I lived my first 10 years in Richmond, though I’m admittedly out of touch now. I suspect that the “sort of” qualifier (as opposed to, say, Alabama or Mississippi) isn’t amiss.

    • Kodie

      I’ve never lived in the south for comparison, but suffice it to say the north can be pretty racist. I grew up in suburban New York, and white people justify a lot more racism than you might think.

  • He has another article linked after it which tries to explain why slavery is okay because, basically, we all die and go to heaven anyway.
    But I think that misses the point that the Bible gives specific instruction about how to do Slavery.
    If the Bible said nothing about slavery at all, it’s an easier dodge. But when the Bible goes to lengths to give rules and outlines and prescription of how to do slavery ‘the right way’, then you really have to question why all that information is in there. Apparently God sometimes cares more about proper economic situations than personal freedom?

    • Claire Nollet

      “He … tries to explain why slavery is okay because, basically, we all die and go to heaven anyway.”

      Oh, OK. Then all charity is worthless. There’s no point in trying to alleviate any human suffering, because the suffering people will all go to heaven.

      Well, THAT’S going to save me a ton of money on charity and good works going forward. My sponsored Guatemalan family will just have to suck it up and start going hungry — which is great, because the sooner they die of starvation, the sooner they see Jesus.

      What an ass.

      • Greg G.

        That’s a problem I see with Karmic religions. If you kick someone when they’re down due to a Karmic retribution, the length of their suffering should be shortened or they will receive a blessing. If I kick them when they are blessed, their blessing would be extended to compensate. If I assist a suffering person, their suffering must be extended. Why should Karma reward or punish me when no matter what I do neither harms nor helps in the long run?

        • Claire Nollet

          Well, I don’t help people because of karma or anything else. I help people because my family had a rough patch economically when I was a kid in the 1960s, and I remember what it was like to go to bed hungry and cold.

          I can’t save the whole world, but for the kids I’ve sponsored over the years, I made a world of difference to THEIR childhood, and to their future earning potential as an adult (that is, they were able to go to school until they were 18).

    • I’ll be addressing that article tomorrow.

  • RichardSRussell

    Can you quit your job and walk away any time you want? No? Then you’re a slave. You have no personal freedom. Period. End of story.

    Quibbling over the different colors of the pebbles that have rolled down from that single gargantuan mountain of a fact is casuistry of the most servile and craven variety.

    • adam

      Of course I can quit my job and walk away any time I want.

      • RichardSRussell

        Then you’re not a slave.
        It’s even easier for me: I’m retired.

    • Greg G.

      I can walk away from my job but walking away from the bank that holds the mortgage on my house would be tough.

      I know men and women who are in a SITCOM – Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. They aren’t exactly free.

      • RichardSRussell

        Would the bank have you flogged if you missed a payment?

        • Greg G.

          They are even more insidious. They start adding fees and service charges.

        • Powell Powers

          omg this is really uber funny i’m super impressed

        • Niemand

          Student loans are not wiped out by bankruptcy any more. Wages can be taken from people who are not paying their student loans. What they do if you don’t have an income I don’t know, but I strongly suspect we’re moving back towards debtor’s prisons. Prison labor is an increasing part of the “free market” economy. We’re not quite to where the two bits meet (get into debt=imprisonment and forced labor) but it looks like we’re moving in that direction pretty quickly. Yeah, the bank might end up owning you.

        • adam

          Perhaps student loans will be wiped out now:

        • Kodie

          I get it, but work for pay is something like a rock and a hard place. You know, the old “if you don’t like it, get another job.” Your lot in life is to need to sell a large portion of your life in order to get the essentials to stay alive, so that you can be of use to your employer. So the employer doesn’t pay someone else to own you, but a lot of people do not have a choice of employer or the freedom to be selective about conditions, or speaking up about illegal conditions. I can’t see a great life ahead of me if the best part of me is sold so I can merely eat, and I know I’m relatively spoiled compared to conditions elsewhere on the planet. The problems are compounded when you need to feed and house other people, the choice to quit is no choice, your best years slip away in no time, and what was your life? Was it yours or did someone else do little more than take care of your basic needs just so you can keep showing up?

      • InDogITrust

        Richard didn’t say everyone who is not a slave is entirely “free.”
        Perhaps he should have stated it as: “Is it a violation of the penal code for you to quit your job?”

        The negative impacts of just up and quitting one’s job don’t result from the specific act of quitting one’s job: they result from the fact that no job = no $.
        That is, you *are allowed to* walk away from your job any time you like. You’ll have to deal with the consequences of not having a job, but the act of quitting in and of itself isn’t what causes the problem.
        YMMV depending on contractual obligations. But again, if you walk away from a contract job, the trouble you get in is a result of violating the contract.
        SITCOMs are legally free in that they have personal liberty. They might feel trapped by their legal obligations to others, but that’s not the same as the law stated they are literally someone else’s property.
        Of course the sorry fact is that a lot of people on this planet are held in de facto slavery, in that the conditions are virtually the same, even if the law doesn’t recognize the legality of the relationship.
        Forgive me if i’m pedantic. But the post is about slavery as a legal institution. Apologists like JazzQueen try to claim biblical slavery was a completely different legal institution from american slavery.
        Mind you, i’m totally on board with the idea that the average person is utterly screwed by the current system.

  • Claire Nollet

    In 1858, Abraham Lincoln said, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”

  • Pofarmer

    For all those trying to reason with Asmondious. Keep in mind that this is the kind of stuff his religion believes. showed up on a Facebook feed

    http://www.marypages.com/ArchangelSaintMichael.htm

    • Greg G.

      By the intercession of Michael, that looks like putting another god before Yahweh.

      • Pofarmer

        The whole thing would be amusing if they didn’t take it so seriously.

        • Greg G.

          It’s polytheism in denial.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s really quite interesting. The Catholic Church has constructed this whole alternate reality, which really bears only passing resemblance to the world we actually inhabit. Catholics then get all huffy and defensive when you point out that things don’t actually work like their modeled world would suggest.

        • smrnda

          I think all monotheisms are polytheisms in denial. Any supernatural being other than the One God is just a less powerful god, and almost all monotheisms have such supernatural beings.

        • Then there’s that whole Trinity thing.

        • adam

          You must mean this thing:

        • Niemand

          Can anyone explain who the holy ghost is supposed to be? I kind of think I understand the characters of Jesus and Yaweh, but I just don’t know how this HG guy fits in.

        • Al

          The Holy Spirit is the 3rd person of the Trinty.

        • adam

          Where is this TRINITY defined in the ‘bible’?

        • Al

          Its not defined as much as demonstrated.

        • Then demonstrate it.

          If you went back in time and asked Paul about the Trinity, what do you suppose he’d say? Would he recite the Athanasian Creed? No, I’m pretty sure he’d have no idea what you were talking about.

          That kinda makes the Trinity look made up.

        • Al

          There are to many passages in Scripture that can only be understood by the Trinitarian doctrine.
          Paul would agree that the nature of God is trinitarian. The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Three person sharing the same nature as deity. Paul refers to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as God. Paul was not polytheist but a monotheist.

          Don’t worry. I don’t expect you to get this.

        • This is your argument? Give me all references you have from Paul to the Trinity, or whatever clues you can find. I can think of none. Perhaps you have some in mind.

          If you’re saying that there are passages that can be interpreted differently when seen through Trinitarian glasses, well, obviously. The same is true for Gnostic, Marcionite, and other kinds of worldviews. This does nothing to support your argument.

          You want us to believe that the most fundamental idea about the nature of God is not even mentioned in your enormous holy book? Maybe it was (dare I say it?) invented?

        • Al

          Some of the passages that show the Trinity are:
          Genesis 1:26
          John 1:1-3
          Acts 5:3-4

          Hope this helps.

        • Greg G.

          Thanks, Al. The Genesis verse is a remnant from the polytheism roots. The John passage introduces the Word or Logos making it a Quaternity. It seems to have an Egyptian influence like Philo. The Acts passage doesn’t differentiate between God and the Holy Goats anymore than all the different names for God in the Old Testament.

        • adam

          Don’t worry, we can all see that you dont get this.

          It is clear by the diagram that there are 3 gods not one in YOUR system.

        • hector_jones

          “Don’t worry. I don’t expect you to get this.”

          Because no one really does get this. Getting it and pretending to get it aren’t the same thing.

        • Kodie

          You need to be more explicit for the people who don’t get what ‘3rd person’ means. 1, 2, 3. 3 people.

        • adam

          It is ONE of the THREE gods that christians worship….

        • Greg G.

          Ahkenaten was the first monotheist we know of. I think all the Egyptian gods were just that one god in that system. I’m certain they had some justifications for that.

  • MNb

    Breaking news and especially Pofarmer (maybe Asmondious as well) is going to like it. The diocese Paramaribo (capital of Suriname) will appoint an exorcist. It’s in my newspaper De Ware Tijd and not online yet. Three quotes:

    “It looks like a fresh wind is blowing through the RCC. We can trace it back to Pope Franciscus.”
    “Deacon Waterberg says that the church is on her way to appoint an exorcist. If he is appointed his name will not be made public.”
    “The devil has remained as described in the Bible: a disloyal angel who leads a legion of evil spirits.”

    • Pofarmer

      Yeah, the RCC is diving back in the deep end.

      • Greg G.

        We see that in other denominations, too. The young are being driven away by the church’s core beliefs so the leaders think they are too weak on those subjects.

        • Pofarmer

          The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    • smrnda

      Why not make the name public? Are they worried about the guy being overwhelmed by exorcism requests?

      • Ron

        The spirits are willing but the revelation is weak.

      • Pofarmer

        Laughed at would be my guess.

  • Pofarmer

    Lol. One, of my Bil’s posted an apologist video that had Albert Einstein arguing with a school professor reminiscent of God’s not Dead. It ended with the young Einstein explaining to the professor that evil was the absence of God. Except it’s totally made up. I posted “never happened” and then gave a link to a Snopes, article on it. To my surprise, I got 3 up votes. My BIL, replied that it wasn’t about Einstein, it was about the message. I replied that the message should stand on it’s own without being miss attributed then. I had probably better just stay off facebook.

    • MNb

      Not to mention that Einstein was way too intelligent to say that “According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat.” Not to mention that his “teacher”, if qualified, would have answered that no law of physics says such a thing. Cold just means relatively low temperature. The “student” applies a daily life term on temperature with a form of energy. That’s an elementary mistake. Regarding that form of energy the “student” doesn’t distinguish between heat as the kinetic energy of molecules and the transfer of heat, which causes changes of temperature.
      The correct answer to “does cold exist” is “it doesn’t have a place in the terminology of physics.” Of course that makes the entire point irrelevant.
      Something similar is the case to the darkness vs. light argument. It has nothing to do with physics. Black holes in fact show that we totally can study “the absence of light”.

    • I had my way with that video here.

    • UWIR

      Evil isn’t a real thing, it’s just an absence of God? So what’s up with that “deliver us from evil” line? If evil isn’t a real thing, how is one delivered from it? If someone wants to show how evil Hitler is, do they list all the good things he didn’t do? When scientists find a rock on Mars that has spent the last million years not providing humans with any value, do they say “Gee, that’s a really evil rock”? The fact of the matter is that is much more accurate to say that goodness is the absence of evil. I mean, sure, if you want to win a humanitarian of the year award, you’re probably going to have to perform some affirmative acts. But if all you want is to have people call you a good person, then all you have to do is not do anything bad. Someone who goes their entire life not insulting anyone, not ever getting angry, not ever being dishonest, etc., would be called a saint.

      And if this is presented as a solution to The Problem of Evil, it’s a massive failure. Simply reframing evil as an absence of good doesn’t address the issue. If I’m freezing in my apartment because my landlord hasn’t bothered to fix the furnace, I’m not going to take kindly to my landlord saying “Well, cold is just the absence of heat”. Whether we call it “evil” or “the absence of good”, its presence argues against God.

  • Philmonomer

    FWIW, in this week’s Atheist Experience (I listen to the podcast), I thought Matt Dillahunty did a pretty good job of walking a Catholic through slavery in the Bible, showing how that demonstrates we all (basically) use the same faculties to evaluate moral actions–and that we don’t use the Bible as any sort of grounding for morality.

    • Pofarmer

      I listened to it today. That was a really good show.

  • InDogITrust

    How about we pass a law that says anyone who thinks biblical slavery is justifiable shall become a slave under biblical terms.
    Make these people put their freedom where their mouth is.

    • Not them. Their daughters. Since the Bible also permits selling daughters into slavery.

      • InDogITrust

        Mmmm, no. They can’t sell their daughters unless their daughters agree that biblical slavery is justifiable. Some of these bastards really would sell their daughters if they thought they could get away with it.

    • Eric Sotnak

      Actually, there is a really interesting reply to the apologist here. If Biblical slavery was defensible, while American slavery was not, then would the apologist approve of re-legalizing slavery subject to the proviso that it conform to Biblical restrictions? If not, then on what grounds would such re-legalization be opposed?
      There are many Americans, after all, who are experiencing financial hardship. If Biblical slavery existed for the purpose of alleviating financial hardship, then why would it not be an ethically acceptable option for today’s Bible-believing Christians?

  • Urbanlemur

    this is just the kind of article i would expect from a supposed christian turned atheist.

    • Kodie

      That’s just the kind of comment one would expect from a typical drive-by Christian who just wants to get something off their chest but doesn’t want to say what that is, in case someone asks them to elaborate.

      • Urbanlemur

        ok, here you go. the notion that God or Christianity encourages or approves of slavery is utterly false. all you have to do is read the Bible to see that. truth be told, anyone who was found to have sold another person into slavery was to be executed. another case in point: as voluntary slavery was widely practiced during biblical times, God put into place laws that would protect the lives and health of slaves. they were also given the opportunity to become free during the 7th year. Paul, the author of many of the NT writings, all but ordered the Philemon to release his Christian slave from his service to “do what is proper”. in addition to these, numerous verses from the NT show that God values slaves as much as any free person and is not partial to anyone’s standing before other people.

        what i don’t understand is why someone like Seidensticker feels he has to twist Scripture in order to authenticate his distaste for it. it’s like two people who absolutely love one another and get married, then absolutely hate each other when they divorce. if he doesn’t believe in the Bible anymore, fine. but don’t drag it and the people who do believe in it through the mud.

        • Kodie

          I don’t understand why people believe it. Period.

          But you should read the bible with less rationalization, and then maybe you would see what Bob’s saying, instead of getting a reaction. The bible is a distortion of reality and as long as you put your faith in it and rationalize what it says in there, you’re going to come up with people who do not protect their invisible best friend because we don’t need to have one. You could also read some of the other comments that address the same things you pretend aren’t a problem. It makes you uncomfortable, and it should make you uncomfortable. We’re not here to let you excuse the deity of your preference for ugly things like genocide and slavery with a “just read the bible the right way like me!”

        • Urbanlemur

          the Bible is what it is. my faith is in God and in His Word which is the Bible. if you choose to believe otherwise, then so be it. if you are uncomfortable with God, then perhaps you should go to Him and explain why…He will listen.

        • Kodie

          Tell me how I’m supposed to go to a figment of your imagination and ask it a question.

        • Urbanlemur

          how about you start by reading the Bible? it has a lot of answers for you there.

        • Kodie

          Why aren’t you a Muslim?

        • Urbanlemur

          because i don’t believe in Allah or Muhammed. and btw, the Biblical God and the Muslim god are not one in the same as many would have you believe. ask any Muslim and they’ll tell you the same thing.

        • Kodie

          That’s not the answer to my question. You rejected a very popular and documented deity you simply do not believe in. I don’t think your bible is anything but a popular fiction, so your answer to me is just read it? Just read the Koran.

        • Urbanlemur

          that was a perfectly legitimate answer. if you don’t like it, ok. i’m not here to try and appease you. i believe in God and the Bible, period. if you don’t, then that’s you. end of discussion.

        • Kodie

          You’re very unreasonable that way – all chatter, no substance, just read the bible so you can ask god, I don’t believe in Allah because he’s not god, I just believe because I believe. You’re not impressing anyone so I don’t know why you bothered to say anything in the first place. God in the bible condones slavery, and you would know that if you opened your eyes when you read the bible.

        • Urbanlemur

          i’m not trying to impress anyone, even you. i just tell it like it is. if you’re not happy with it, then that’s just you. also, i have a right to post an opinion just like you do so don’t even try to make me feel bad for posting what i did. and since this discussion is not getting us anywhere, i will bid you goodnight.

        • Kodie

          You’re uninformed, but you felt like you had to say something, it’s not the same thing. There are over 200 posts in this thread alone, and you didn’t read any of them first. You want to criticize Bob with “just read the bible if you don’t believe me,” and do not describe where Bob “distorts” anything. You want people who critique your beliefs to shut the hell up, that’s why you came here. The problem is you can’t put an argument together. Your advice is to “read the bible” and guess what, so many have. You’re blind to its flaws like an abuse victim.

        • Dys

          But you’re not telling it like it is, at all. You’re just telling us what your wishful thinking wants it to be.

          The discussion didn’t go anywhere because you didn’t have any real objection beyond “I think you’re wrong”.

          i have a right to post an opinion just like you do

          Only if Bob decides you do. Because it’s his blog. That your opinion is incredibly uninformed just means it won’t be taken seriously.

        • MNb

          “i just tell it like it is.” “i have a right to post an opinion”
          Nice contradiction. An opinion by definition is not telling like it is.

        • Susan

          that was a perfectly legitimate answer

          Kodie: Why?

          Urbanlemur: Because.

        • So the post about slavery is all wrong, just because you’re sure it’s all wrong. You have no reasons and no specific errors you can point out.

          And now you realize that your demand that we read the Bible isn’t an honest search for the truth–with you carrying the equivalent burden to read other books–but just an empty assurance that you’ve backed the right horse. Just because you’re sure it’s right.

          You’re not impressing us here.

        • Urbanlemur

          and i would say that many Christians who would read this would not be impressed with you either.

        • Ouch–you’re not portraying your fellow Christians in a good light. They don’t care about evidence either? A content-free “You’re wrong cuz God!” is enough for them as well?

          If I were you, I’d be nervous that they’re not going to appreciate your characterizing them as boneheads.

        • Urbanlemur

          funny. you’re twisting the argument here just you did in the piece but i’m not buying it. so how is it that someone who claims to have been a Christian all of a sudden decides that they don’t believe in God any longer? it pretty much would be discerned that you never had a true conversion to Christ. is that true?

          i would recommend that anyone who wants to understand the true nature of “servant” or slave go to biblehub and search for slave. that will give you a more accurate portrayal.

        • Kodie

          Did it ever occur to you that there is no such thing as a true conversion to Christ? That it is self-deception? And that when one realizes they were deceiving themselves, the whole thing collapses. You seem deep in it yourself, such that you never considered it from another perspective.

        • Susan

          funny. you’re twisting the argument here just you did in the piece

          Funny. You’re failing to explain how Bob S. has twisted the argument here just as you failed to explain how he twisted it in the article.

          how is it that someone who claims to have been a Christian all of a sudden decides that they don’t believe in God any longer?

          From where I sit as a long time lurker and recently hyperactive commenter, it appears that Bob critically examined “the” bible and christian claims and found them wanting. I have to agree.

          it pretty much would be discerned that you never had a true conversion to Christ.

          Bullshit.

          i would recommend that anyone who wants to understand the true nature of “servant” or slave go to biblehub and search for slave. that will give you a more accurate portrayal.

          More accurate how? I thought you told us to read “the” bible.

          Many of us have. Why is biblehub’s portrayal more accurate?

        • Urbanlemur

          it’s not more accurate…it’s just an accurate portrayal of what the Bible states. nothing wrong with that.

        • Susan

          it’s not more accurate…

          A comment ago, you described it as “more accurate”. Which is it? I’ll address either.

          it’s just an accurate portrayal of what the Bible states

          OK. So it is more accurate. By what measure? How do you evaluate that?

        • Urbanlemur

          because it uses Scripture references AND Hebrew definitions.

        • adam

          Exactly how I portrayed it:

          Slaves are purchased PROPERTY that you can beat as much as you like as long as they live for a day or two after you BEAT them.

          http://biblehub.com/leviticus/25-44.htm

          Redemption of Bondmen
          …43’You shall not rule over him with severity, but are to revere your God. 44’As for your male and female slaves whom you may have– you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. 45Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession.…

          Leviticus 25:45
          You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.

          Holman Christian Standard Bible
          Your male and female slaves are to be from the nations around you; you may purchase male and female slaves.

          Exodus 21:21
          but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

        • Susan

          it uses Scripture references AND Hebrew definitions.

          I just went to bible hub and typed in “slavery” and I don’t see how they undermine Bob Seidensticker’s article at all. He addresses these apologetics.

          Nor does that link do much to support your opening statement: “the notion that God or Christianity encourages or approves of slavery is utterly false.”

          For the love of Pete, please provide something.

          Earlier, I mentioned that I don’t think you’ve read your fabulous book. Just apologists’ interpretations. This only confirms my suspicions.

          Is there a specific link to biblehub that does something to argue with the article here?

          Have you read the article here? I’m starting to think you only read the title and didn’t even bother to listen to its arguments.

          You know, you’ve made a lot of claims and done absolutely nothing to support them.

          “Read the Bible. There are a lot of answers there.”

          “Answers to what? Where?”

          (Crickets.)

          “Read biblehub.” (subtext “There are a lot of answers there.”)

          OK. Where? Please be specific.

          You’re letting Jesus down.

        • I hear baby Jesus bawling.

        • MNb

          I can give you a theologian from the 18th Century who defended contemporary slavery by “using Scripture references AND Hebrew definitions”.
          So we are immediately back at Susan’s question: “By what measure? How do you evaluate that?”

        • I feel moved by the Spirit to back up your claim with a quote from one such book (Slaves Without Masters, 1857):

          If we prove that domestic slavery is, in the general, a natural and necessary institution, we remove the greatest stumbling block to belief in the Bible; for whilst texts, detached and torn from their context, may be found for any other purpose, none can be found that even militates against slavery. The distorted and forced construction of certain passages, for this purpose, by abolitionists, if employed as a common rule of construction, would reduce the Bible to a mere allegory, to be interpreted to suit every vicious taste and wicked purpose.

        • Kodie

          I suppose it also never occurred to you that these were rationalizations to keep you from being horrified and leaving this disgusting faith?

        • So some interpretations of the Bible are correct and others are wrong? How do you tell the difference? In particular, how can you tell which camp you’re in–the accurate or the inaccurate camp?

        • Kodie

          as a long time lurker and recently hyperactive commenter,

          A positive addition. If anyone wanted to know what I’d hope to sound like if I could keep my temper, it would definitely be you.

        • Susan

          If anyone wanted to know what I’d hope to sound like if I could keep my temper, it would definitely be you.

          Thanks Kodie. That’s about the sweetest thing you could say to me. 🙂

          I’m just bumbling along but that made me smile.

        • MNb

          Personally I don’t want you to keep your temper and I suspect BobS doesn’t want to either. One of the factors that might very well contribute to the success of his blog (the comments regularly go well over 1000 – compare other atheist blogs!) is the variety of characters. If this is correct this blog needs you as much as it needs Susan.

        • Kodie

          Nothing to worry. I just don’t have time to measure my words, and after agonizing to write short, pleasant emails for work and being so careful, I come here to say what’s really on my mind. It’s just that sometimes I’ll see something someone writes and think, I wish I could have put it so well.

        • MNb

          “recently hyperactive commenter”
          What Kodie writes.

        • I’m trying (without success) to cajole you into providing evidence and arguments either in favor of the God position or rebutting something that I’ve said in a post. What do I gotta do?

          As for deconversion from Christianity, there are many Christians you could ask (example: one of the atheist blogs is from ex-pastors). No, it rarely happens “all of a sudden.” Often, it’s reading the Bible and really paying attention to what it’s saying (instead of papering over the crazy bits) that does it.

        • adam

          Let’s go right to the ‘bible’

        • Nonsense

          Who cares if your impressed? Your arguments are not impressive to him either.

        • adam

          ….

        • Kyle Wheaton

          Kodie, quality stuff here, your putting into words hours upon hours of frustrated conversations with Christians.
          At a certain point you need to see the major holes in the bible and start exploring into other things instead of taking the “God is the answer for everything” approach. If Jesus really was real, and I’m not saying he isn’t/wasn’t, then why do human beings who get beyond less than a fraction of what eternity taste like get punished the most terrible punishment for things no one can help.
          It’s like God got a new puppy and it pissed on the floor, but instead of God putting him in puppy timeout for a few moments, he throws the puppy into the bathroom and leaves him in there until for all eternity.
          Human punishment after death created by God, shows clearly, he is either not ALL loving or Hell doesn’t exsist.
          Personally, I think we have enough human punishment today with just not even knowing where we really came from or our purpose as a species.

        • Nonsense

          Why does he have to see certain holes and explore other things? Why does it matter if he lands in the Bible believing camp

        • MNb

          So you believe in your christian god because you have read the Bible, which your recommend us to read to convince us that we should believe in your christian god.
          CIrcular argument.

        • adam

          So the ‘god’ of Abraham is their and YOUR god?

          I asked a Muslim and he said you are lying, that you have to lie. Their ‘god’ is the ‘god’ of Abraham.

          Since you’ve already lied about slavery, you have a history of LYING.

          So that means YOU do have the same god as the Muslims, you just HAVE to LIE.

        • Susan

          how about you start by reading the Bible?

          I read it. Humans. Most of it is really not very good. Much of it (like the Koran) is horrifying.

          What led you to the conclusion that it’s anything but human writings?

          it has lot a lot of answers for you there.

          Answers to what? Specifically where?

        • And you read other people’s holy books? If not, why ask others to read yours? Yeah, I know it’s popular among English speakers, but popularity hardly equates to correctness, especially given the thousands of nutty religions humans have invented through the millennia.

        • Nonsense

          I read other religion’s books and I just disagree with them. Is that okay with th you Bobbie? You seem to have an issue when people don’t fall in line with atheism

        • Yes, that’s fine with me, Andy. Not sure what the problem is.

        • adam

          Yes, a lot of answers…

        • adam

          I am uncomfortable with you because you seem to have the NEED to LIE to convince people.

        • MNb

          “as voluntary slavery was widely practiced during biblical times, God put into place laws that would protect the lives and health of slaves”
          Given the fact that the Bible is your all time favourite book – likely even infallible – would you support voluntary slavery in the 21st Century? If no, why do you deviate from your all time favourite book here? If yes I’m ready to buy your daughters. I can use some maid servants for the next seven years.

          Exo 21:7 “And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.”

          I promise you not to beat your daughters so hard that they will die. But I have no doubt you will be OK with me using a stick.

          Exo 21:20 “And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.”

          What’s your price? I want to make a deal with you.

        • Nonsense

          Would it matter if he biblically answered your question?

        • MNb

          No, because it cannot be demonstrated that the Bible is relevant for the 21st Century and that’s what my questions were about.
          It would matter though if he just answered it. Must I really explain to you how?

        • Susan

          the notion that God or Christianity encourages or approves of slavery is utterly false. all you have to do is read the Bible to see that.

          Yet here we have an article where someone who has clearly read “the” bible makes a good case that “the” blble both encourages and approves of slavery. Rather than show where his case is in error, you simply assert that he has “twisted” things without showing where.

          You don’t sound like someone who’s read your book. More like someone who’s listened to apologists interpret it.

        • Lemur: do us all a favor and read something outside your circle. Yes, I realize that there are plenty of people eager to pat you on the head and assure you that you’ve backed the right horse. But if you want to sit at the adult table, you need to do the hard work and analyze opposing arguments.

          Read the 2 posts thoroughly and then tell me what of this list of yours is still unaddressed.

          what i don’t understand is why someone like Seidensticker feels he has to twist Scripture in order to authenticate his distaste for it.

          Since we’re sharing: what I don’t understand is why someone who seems well educated like you has this much confidence with so little research. Instead of ignoring the post and blathering on about why your position is correct, I suggest you address them directly, like an adult. Before other commenters thrash you for your ignorance.

          Oops … too late.

        • Urbanlemur

          thank you….and God bless you all.

        • Taking the loving high road? Or is this just “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”?

          God is more likely to bless you if you engage with the arguments instead of offering content-free rejections.

        • Urbanlemur

          now that’s an interesting comment coming from an atheist. no thanks, i’ll let the Bible speak for itself.

        • Because the atheists are the ones eager to engage in actual arguments and the Christians like to make content-free claims?

          i’ll let the Bible speak for itself.

          And therein lies the problem: the Bible is a mirror. You see yourself in it, and everyone sees their own version.

        • Urbanlemur

          and why is it that “supposed” Christians who become atheists feel that they have to mock God and His Word and malign those who truly do love God and His Word. why can’t they simply say, “you know, it was nice but i don’t believe it anymore” and walk away from it. why is there the propensity for them to twist Scripture and present to the world what they believe is the “real” truth according to them? what happened to “agree to disagree”?

        • Kodie

          There’s no “supposed”. Insulting people doesn’t make what you believe any truer. And if Christians would believe what they believe but not seek to overthrow the government with their fantasy they cannot prove, nor even agree on, as a cohesive group, then nobody would give a shit.

        • Urbanlemur

          insulting? really? show me where i insulted you.

        • Kodie

          You believe the lies that true Christians don’t leave the faith, and insult atheists who used to be sincere Christians. You really want to believe that it’s so true nobody could leave, but guess what, it’s a fantasy, and plenty of sincere Christians come to recognize that it has no basis in reality.

        • Urbanlemur

          you’re right in a sense. i don’t believe (and many share this) that someone who claims to be a Christian and then turns away ever had a true conversion. i know you and many people do not like it but that’s the truth of it.

        • Kodie

          It just makes you feel better to believe it, but it’s demonstrably not true.

        • I’m sure there are thousands of ex-Christians who would assure you that they were more dedicated than you. They’d say that they were in the same position. How then can you be convinced that you are a true Christian?

        • Nonsense

          I am convinced they were not based upon 1 John.

        • Tell me more. What about that book supports this conclusion?

        • Susan

          I don’t believe (and many share this)

          Irrelevant. Unless you accept Muslim hell because you treat a mere prophet as a god. You really need to make a case.

          that someone who claims to be a Christian and then turns away ever had a true conversion

          How do you measure “true” conversions? Christians love to say “true” but it’s a meaningless term in these statements.

          I know you and many people do not like it

          It doesn’t matter if I like it or not. It does matter that this is the worst kind of thinking. And ad hoc rationalization to explain away the presence of real people who realized christian claims are not supported.

          You could prove us all wrong by supporting them. Can you?

          but that’s the truth of it

          Why should anyone believe that? Why do you believe it?

        • MNb

          Because you “don’t believe that someone…. ever had a true conversion” “that’s the truth of it”?
          Wow, I have met many arrogant christians, but you top them all.

        • Dys

          Yes, it’s obnoxious because it’s yet another example of Christians pretending to have knowledge they don’t possess. They do the exact same thing when claiming that atheists secretly know a god exists. Too many Christians mistakenly believe that they have carte blanche to make ignorant and stupid comments about the convictions, past or present, of people’s beliefs. They don’t, and neither do you.

          That’s the real truth of it.

        • Nonsense

          Actually his argument is biblically based. Regardless of your position on the Bible since he claims to be a Christian it makes sense he would look to it. Kind of weird that his thoughts on this offend you so much

        • Dys

          It’s nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s offensive because it’s blatantly self-serving tripe meant to justify their baseless assertions of knowledge. Not weird at all. The fact that an insult is biblically based doesn’t magically make it not an insult.

          What is kind of weird is responding to comments made over 2 years ago. Yet I suspect you’ll have an excuse for it as well.

        • Kodie

          It’s a home-schooling Christian creationist – of course they’re googling old atheist blog posts in the middle of the night.

        • Dys

          Looking through some of his other Disqus comments, it’s pretty clear that spouting nonsense is pretty much all he’s capable of.

        • Kodie

          Relying on whatever the bible says about atheists instead of what atheists say is fucking ridiculous. It’s funny you use the word “offend” because you think it’s “weird” that people get it wrong and say stupid offensive things because the bible said to say these things to atheists, and you’re the one who’s actually offended enough to be posting in the middle of the night because you’re oblivious to why anyone would be offended by people who are repeating offensive things to us about us instead of listening to us and going, “oh, I never thought about it that way before.”

        • MNb

          You got the things the wrong way. If his argument is biblically based that’s too bad for the Bible – ie it affects my position on it.

        • I have no interest in simply mocking Christianity. I say things that you may not like, but it’s with a higher goal than simply annoying you.

          It should be pretty obvious why I’m not going to go the “It was nice, but I don’t believe” route. Look around–you see politicians climbing all over each other declaring how much they luv Jeezus and how we must circle the wagons because the secularists are attacking. Prayer in the city council meetings, Creationism in the public schools, and so on. That’s why it’s an issue.

        • Nonsense

          Ingomesxhool and have zero problem teaching my kids all thoughts on the creation, etc. why does it bother you?

        • That’s English and … is that Klingon?

          Anyway, assuming I’ve understood you, it bothers me when anyone is taught something false in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.

          Consider your own position. Does it bother you knowing that children are taught Scientology or Islam? If you’re out there trying to spread the Word, I’m guessing so. How much more offended would someone be if the things being falsely taught were in the face of scientific evidence?

        • adam

          I think the propensity to twist “Scripture” is the hallmark of the believer not the disbeliever.

          After all it was YOU who twisted the bible when your LIED and claimed:

          ok, here you go. the notion that God or Christianity encourages or approves of slavery is utterly false. all you have to do is read the Bible to see that. truth be told, anyone who was found to have sold another person into slavery was to be executed.

          How can you CLAIM ‘truth’ when you HAVE to LIE to make YOUR point?

        • Urbanlemur

          no lie there…only what you disbelieve.

        • adam

          You lie.

          Let the bible speak for itself….

          However, you may purchase male or female slaves from
          among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You
          may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

          If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only
          six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married
          before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still
          belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door
          and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

          When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will
          not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.
          (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

          When a man strikes his male or female slave with a
          rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

        • MNb

          “feel that they have to mock”
          Because it’s fun. Btw have not even been a “supposed” christian, as I haven’t been baptized.

          “what happened to “agree to disagree”?”
          If you feel like that you just can ignore this blog. Nobody will haunt you. But as soon as you enter this blog you, like everybody here, including our dear BobS, potentially is a target of mockery.
          Because it’s fun.

          Mockery is far from the only point though.

        • adam

          Let the bible speak for itself….

          However, you may purchase male or female slaves from
          among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You
          may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

          If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only
          six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married
          before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still
          belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door
          and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

          When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will
          not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.
          (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

          When a man strikes his male or female slave with a
          rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

        • Golly! Maybe that “let the Bible speak for itself” bit wasn’t such great advice.

        • adam

          Oh ye of little faith….

        • Dys

          i’ll let the Bible speak for itself.

          Then you’ve got no argument when it comes to the fact that the bible endorses slavery. You’ve just undermined yourself.

        • ChaznGwenie Gugins

          God may or may not have endorsed slavery. He seems to be giving rules but that does not mean the same as endorsing. God also allowed Moses to give rules on divorce but God was not in favor of divorce. God also wanted to lead his people before they had their first king, yet the people wanted a king like the surrounding nations had. I Samuel 8:7
          So it is clear God has allowed many things because the people wanted them. As I have said the slavery issue is odd and I do not understand all the things discussed in the bible about slavery.I certainly do not reject God because he may have allowed slavery.

        • Dys

          So it is clear God has allowed many things because the people wanted them.

          There’s a significant difference between allowing divorce, establishing a ruler, etc. and letting people own other people as property. The main point is that it’s very difficult to posit an omnibenevolent God (or even a perfectly moral one) that had it in his power to outlaw slavery and yet did not. Apologists recognize this problem, which is why they keep desperately trying to recast biblical slavery as indentured servitude.

          But there is a tacit endorsement in allowing a blatantly immoral institution like slavery. And when you have God telling the Hebrews to get their slaves from neighboring countries, it certainly sounds like an endorsement by any reasonable definition.

          I certainly do not reject God because he may have allowed slavery.

          Of course not. Neither do I. I don’t believe in God because I see no compelling evidence whatsoever to support his existence. The problem of evil doesn’t disprove God, but it does throw a wrench in the works for some of his claimed properties. And the only real escape from it is the cliched non-answer of Mysterious Ways.

        • ChaznGwenie Gugins

          Simply because you are someone who feels God should have handled things differently doesn’t prove anything other than you do not agree with God.History is full of beings that did not agree with God. See Ezek 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:12-20 to see one being that wanted it his way!!

        • adam

          “Simply because you are someone who feels God should have handled things differently doesn’t prove anything other than you do not agree with God.”

          No, it is more that YOUR ‘god’ doesnt demonstrate any ‘god’ qualities.

          It is almost like the bible was written by murderous, misogynistic, homophobic MEN..

        • Dys

          Stories in a book do not constitute evidence that a god exists, nor do they automatically qualify as history. Like I said, the escape hatch is always going to be “God works in mysterious ways” – it’s the cop out answer to the blatant immorality God endorses/allows/commands.

        • Chaz: You do know that this is an atheist blog and that many of the commenters are atheists, right? We’ll consider arguments for God’s existence, but we won’t take it as a given. Bible quotes won’t help your argument.

          If you want to convince us of that remarkable claim, you must provide some pretty impressive arguments and evidence.

        • ChaznGwenie Gugins

          Fair enough Bob. I will bow out of the conversation at this point. Have a nice day and good luck on this site.

        • adam

          ..

        • If providing good evidence for the existence of God isn’t your thing, then thanks for dropping by. But if you have good arguments, you’re welcome to share them with us.

          We don’t accept incredible supernatural claims just because you’d like us to.

        • Nonsense

          Lol! This is hilarious. You don’t care what he presents. You are iron clad in our beliefs so what exactly could actually bring.

          It’s the same stuff the Pharisees and scribes brought to Jesus. Just one more sign ….

          Nothing would be sufficient for you. Why don’t you admit that? You have no problem pointing out that this is an atheist blog so why don’t you complete the statement: nothing anyone brings here will convince you otherwise.

        • You don’t care what he presents. You are iron clad in our beliefs so what exactly could actually bring.

          Wrong again. I follow the evidence. Give me sufficient evidence that Odin exists, and I’m there. Or Yahweh.

          Nothing would be sufficient for you. Why don’t you admit that?

          Uh … because it’s not true?

          Give me your best argument for God’s existence.

        • adam

          “Simply because you are someone who feels God should have handled things differently doesn’t prove anything other than you do not agree with God.”

          It not that we ‘feel’ YOUR ‘god’ should have handled things differently, it is that YOUR ‘god’ does not handle them in a Godly fashion, but in a fashion written to cover for the fact that this ‘god’ is just imaginary.

        • I think you’re imposing your views on God and the Old Testament. How do you know God wasn’t in favor of divorce? That he gave rules to Moses makes clear that he was. Ditto slavery–an ordinary guy like you might impose rules to make the best of a bad institution. An omnipotent deity like God can do way more than that.

          God didn’t like kings? Consider how the Bible was written–first by a prophet or scholar with this opinion, next by one with that opinion. One book says God doesn’t like kings, and another says something else.

          I certainly do not reject God because he may have allowed slavery.

          But what does the Bible look like but a book written and inspired solely by men? A book that puts rules about slavery into God’s mouth? Does that really look like what an omnibenevolent god would actually say?

        • ChaznGwenie Gugins

          Not quite. God did not favor divorce. How do I know? I know from scripture, how do you know differently.? Read Genesis 2:24 God said man will cleave to his wife and become one flesh. In God’s view marriage was permanent. Read Mat 19:7-9 where Jesus is telling you why God permitted divorce. Because of the hardness of man’s heart. That’s how I know. want to show me how you know?

        • adam

          ” Because of the hardness of man’s heart. ”

          And THIS is the VERY BEST that YOUR ‘god’ is capable of?

          Then why call it ‘god’?

        • Hardness of hearts is like kryptonite to God–he just can’t overpower it.

          Iron chariots, too.

        • Greg G.

          Paul got 1 Corinthians 7:10-12 from Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which has no provision for women to divorce so he says the Lord ordered that part but Paul thought men should not divorce, either. The law of the land of the Corinthians allowed women to divorce their husbands.

          Mark copied from 1 Corinthians 7:10-12 when he had Jesus talking to his disciples. But that would make no sense to the disciples as women couldn’t divorce their husbands. Matthew and Luke caught that mistake and dropped it.

          Matthew 19:3-9 comes from Mark 10:2-12 and the part you are referring to comes second-hand from Paul, who was talking about the Lord who communicated through scripture, not directly from a historical Jesus. The whole thing is fiction.

        • Read Mat 19:7-9 where Jesus is telling you why God permitted divorce. Thats how I know. want to show me how you know?

          You’re pretty confident for a guy whose holy book is a sock puppet that can be made to say about anything you want. You already alluded to the bit about Moses and divorce. Here’s the verse: “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house” (Deut. 24:1).

          It’s as easy as that.

          I suppose you’ll say that that’s just what Mo said, but obviously God wouldn’t let anything get into the Bible that was amiss. Or perhaps you’ll say that God clearly didn’t want divorce to be that easy, but where’s the evidence for that?

        • ChaznGwenie Gugins

          Read Jesus words in Matthew 19:8
          Jesus says Moses, because of the hardness of your heart suffered you to put away your wife but from the beginning it was not so.
          The hardness of the people was the reason. And as far as God is concerned He does not care that you would have done things differently. I grow real tired of people that have what they perceive as a better way than God and think themselves smarter. You who do not believe in God do not show yourselves to be smart at all. You simply do not want to be held accountable to a creator so you have deceived yourselves.

        • Jesus says Moses, because of the hardness of your heart suffered you to put away your wife but from the beginning it was not so.

          I don’t think Dueling Bible Verses is where you want to go. That the Bible can be twisted so easily to say different things (1) doesn’t show that your holy book is particularly reliable or useful and (2) argues that it’s contradictory and therefore unlikely to have come from God.

          The hardness of the people was the reason.

          Not a very good argument. God says to himself, “Dang! These Hebrews have weird traditions on divorce, and I’d sure love to see them changed … but what can li’l ol’ me do? I’m just the omnipotent Creator of the Universe.”

          That doesn’t sound like how God works. He gave the Ten Commandments, with the death penalty for most of them. Doesn’t sound like God has any problems making clear how things have to be done.

          And as far as God is concerned He does not care that you would have done things differently.

          And that’s what you say after you know that God exists. Before that point, you look at the evidence, including what God is supposed to have said and done, and see if it sounds like what an omniscient, all-good god would do. If not, then you reject the supernatural claims.

          I grow real tired of people that have what they perceive as a better way than God and think themselves smarter.

          Then I fear you need to get real tired of me, real fast. Until I know that God exists (I don’t), I have no choice but to evaluate the supernatural claims with my own fallible brain. It ain’t much, but it’s all I’ve got.

          You simply do not want to be held accountable to a creator so you have deceived yourselves.

          Is that why you reject Islam, Mormonism, and Scientology? Or is it because the arguments for those religions are weak? And if you’re allowed to reject weak supernatural claims, will you extend that privilege to me as well?

        • Nonsense

          Who said he isn’t extending the privilege? Do you allow him to speak based upon his worldview?

          From reading your posts, ninotba chance. You are clearly an emotionally oven person.

        • You’re angry about something, but I have no idea what. Take a breath and explain it to me more thoroughly.

        • adam

          “You simply do not want to be held accountable to a creator so you have deceived yourselves.”

          Actually no, we dont believe that YOUR ‘god’ is anything but IMAGINARY.

          You on the other hand are really the one who does not want to be held accountable for your own actions, you want Jesus to take responsiblity for YOUR own actions.

        • ChaznGwenie Gugins

          You are quite right Adam. I am convinced from reading the bible that God is the creator and that I have sinned aginst him. I am think the penalty is harsh but its his creation so its his rules. Besides I believe if you accept Jesus as the son of God who dies a substitutionary death on our behalf you will be saved. I would like to live my life the way God had intended and I believe when he returns he will remake the earth and we can get on with fulfilling his plan that he had for us before Adam and Eve sinned. so yes I would rather had eternal life with God than face darkness without him.

        • adam

          “Besides I believe if you accept Jesus as the son of God who dies a substitutionary death on our behalf you will be saved.”

          So you’ve LIED
          It is not atheist who dont want to be held accountable it is ‘christians’ like YOU.

          I have no FEAR of IMAGINARY gods.

          But you should understand that even the ‘god’ is the bible is a ‘sinner’ according to the ‘bible’.

        • ChaznGwenie Gugins

          No lie. I said I was guilty, I just happen to have someone who will pay my penalty. If you want to suffer yourself then by all means just die in your sins. that is your right. I am finished here. I don’t think Bob cares much for the direction the conversation is going. I am not here to convince you of anything. I responded to the article about slavery so this is getting way off course.

        • If you want to suffer yourself then by all means just die in your sins.

          Speaking for myself, I’d be quite content to suffer in proportion to my sins in a Purgatory-like way. The Christian infinite-punishment hell is, of course, impossible for a loving god to have created.

          I don’t think Bob cares much for the direction the conversation is going.

          Keep giving us evidence and argument, and you’re welcome here forever. We don’t have a lot of use for evangelization, however.

        • Nonsense

          So, you don’t like people who disagree with you in the end. That’s awesome

        • MNb

          What’s even more awesome is your silly non-sequitur.

        • adam

          Of course, you’ve LIED
          It is not atheist who dont want to be held accountable it is ‘christians’ like YOU.

          I have no FEAR of IMAGINARY gods.

        • I am think the penalty is harsh but its his creation so its his rules.

          It doesn’t work that way. Once you know God exists, then you can accept whatever arbitrary nonsense he demands, I suppose. But before that point, when the claims for an omniscient creator who unaccountably looks no more morally enlightened than a Bronze Age barbarian, you question them.

          Besides I believe if you accept Jesus as the son of God who dies a substitutionary death on our behalf you will be saved.

          Why do you have to believe? You didn’t opt in to take on Adam’s sin; why must you opt in to take on Jesus’s saving sacrifice? Indeed, Paul says the same thing in Romans 5:19.

        • Nonsense

          How do you know he did not consider these points prior to his belief in God?

          You do realize it hits a point where everyone of us, including you, operate by a faith commitment regardless of what we ascribe. There comes a point where peeps agree to disagree.

          So, this guy hasn’t thoroughly studied Biblical slavery. Who cares? After he studies, he may agree with your assertion but still worship the god of the Bible, which is his right.

        • You do realize it hits a point where everyone of us, including you, operate by a faith commitment regardless of what we ascribe.

          No, I don’t realize that. I don’t think I use faith (defined as: belief without sufficient evidence or in the face of contrary evidence) for anything. I do use trust however (defined: belief supported by sufficient evidence and which will change if/when the evidence changes).

          So, this guy hasn’t thoroughly studied Biblical slavery. Who cares? After he studies, he may agree with your assertion but still worship the god of the Bible, which is his right.

          Yes, that’s possible. I’m simply trying to reach agreement on what the Bible says about slavery.

        • MNb

          “Who cares?”
          If I were Chaz I would care.

        • MNb

          Eternal life with your god (an ethically deprived one) is the same darkness you try to avoid so hard.

        • Nonsense

          Why would anyone want to speak with someone who references someone’s bible to a sock puppet?

        • My goal isn’t to offend. If you’d like to chat about anything, let me know.

          My criticism is of Christians who bend the Bible to make it look more like them. Aren’t you critical of them as well?

        • MNb

          Why do you?

        • MNb

          “I certainly do not reject God because he may have allowed slavery.”
          Neither do I. My three main reasons to reject god do not contain the word slavery.
          However the OT providing rules for slavery goes against the “God is Good” stuff many christians like so much.

        • Greg G.

          The Bible says “Thou shalt not kill” came from God. It doesn’t have “Thou shalt not enslave people.” But it also says God commanded the killing of women and children which is the highest degree of endorsement. So you can’t really say what God endorses or not.

          It’s like the Bible was written by people trying to justify whatever they wanted to do at a given time.

        • Dys

          This is the Christian version of “Fuck you for demolishing my poorly researched argument”.

        • adam

          READ your bible…

        • Dys

          The passage about man-stealing wasn’t about outlawing selling people into slavery, it was about stealing other slaveowner’s slaves.

          what i don’t understand is why someone like Seidensticker feels he has to twist Scripture in order to authenticate his distaste for it.

          Uh, you’re the one making poor excuses and twisting scripture to get around the distasteful parts. Like most people who don’t bother to read the bible very critically, you’ve failed to recognize the fact that the bible describes two different types of slavery. You’d think, for how much Christians claim to read the bible, they’d have a more comprehensive understanding of it. But unfortunately, adamantly sticking to devotional interpretations numbs their brain to any other possibility.

        • Yep, two different types of slavery, just like the ones in America.

          I should write a post.

  • Urbanlemur

    many folks here are incensed that i actually wrote an opposing post. wow, what responses! i give it to you that you folks are adamant about what you believe and that’s fine. but you know what? true Christians are very adamant about what we believe also and get offended just like you do with us. we take God very seriously just as He takes us seriously. but i won’t waste any more of your time. i have other things to do just like you probably do also. have a blessed life.

    • Kodie

      “Incensed”? Don’t hurt your arm patting yourself on the back. You didn’t make your case that there is a god, and you defended the practice of slavery, because slavery’s always good when god says it is.

    • Wrong again. You’ve had the problem explained to you many times. Providing a competent Christian argument would be fine. We’d welcome the challenge. The problem, as you seem unable to understand, is that you’re giving us nothing. You’ve got nothing but schoolyard reasoning.

      Being adamant isn’t the point.

      You don’t have any arguments, do you?

      • adam

        Probably this one:

      • adam

        Probably this one as well:

      • ChaznGwenie Gugins

        I too believe in God but I do have a problem with some of the slavery practices and others I simply do not understand. I am unclear why a non-Hebrew slave was to be permanent property yet Hebrew slaves can be free after 7 years. I also understand how some people were better off as slaves because they could not provide for themselves.or their family. Remember there was no food stamp program, no unemployment compensation and no welfare office so a person falling on hard times did not have the same options as are provided in the united states currently.
        But I must admit I have not spent a lot of time pouring over the details. I do believe in God and if your argument against either following God or that God does not exist because he allowed slavery I find the argument weak. You or I do not have a clue about the culture and acceptable practices of 3000 years ago.

        • I do have a problem with some of the slavery practices and others I simply do not understand.

          What’s hard to understand? It seems pretty clear to me. God in the Old Testament looks just like other Bronze Age gods of the time—simply a Superman version of a man of the time.

          I think what you mean by “do not understand” is that it looks on its face as pretty bad stuff, and you feel obliged to shoehorn that into some sort of reasonable box.

          I am unclear why a non-Hebrew slave was to be permanent property yet Hebrew slaves can be free after 7 years.

          Is it unclear? The Other usually gets the short end of the stick compared to people who are like me.

          I also understand how some people were better off as slaves because they could not provide for themselves.or their family.

          Yeah … God is omnipotent. Is that the best he can do? “I’ll just provide the institution of slavery as a safety net for my most cherished creation” doesn’t sound like God.

          Remember there was no food stamp program, no unemployment compensation and no welfare office

          Remember: God loves us to pieces and can do anything.

          if your argument against either following God or that God does not exist because he allowed slavery I find the argument weak. You or I do not have a clue about the culture and acceptable practices of 3000 years ago.

          God looks identical to the Bronze Age men that wrote of him … almost as if they created him. That’s the argument.

        • Kimberly Matthews

          what a lot of people do not understand is that the Hebrew Israelites were put into slavery because of disobedience to God’s Laws, Statues and Commandents- for following after false gods read Dueteronomy 28 thru 34 of God’s blessings and curses for the Israelites, this is why God allowed slavery! [TransAtlanic Slave Trade] now these people [Hebrew Israelites] or so called Negroes were the one’s taken from West Africa { this is where they had migrated to] and were sold by the Tribal Africans- they were the ones that sold our ancestors [ if you are an American Negro or Black Person as we are labeled] we were sold into slavery to the white man, yokes of Iron were put around their necks and they were shipped to the four corners of the earth.– now in the Bible there were different ways or reasons to enslave people as in Genesis 37;28 where Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery to the Ish’me-el-ites for 20 pieces of silvers. Now if a Hebrew servant was brought, six years he shall serve; and in the seventh year he shall go out free for nothing, if he came in by himself ,he shall go out by himself; if he were married,then his wife shall go out with him, but If his master had given him a wife, and she had bore him sons and daughters; the wife and children shall be her masters [ the children by birth would be slaves], and he [her husband] shall go out [leave] by himself. And if the servant shall plainly say I love my master, my wife and my children, I will not go out free: then the master shall bring him into the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul, and he shall serve him forever. This is called self sale [the servant sold himself to his master to stay with his wife and children]. Another answer to enslavement in the Bible, is when there was war- against their enemies, they would smite every male with the edge of a sword; but the women, the children, the cattle, all that is in the city and the spoils of the enemies would be confiscated [enslaved by capture]. also read; { Leviticus 25:39-thru-55 } It says; And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxed poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shall not compel him to serve as a bondservant: But an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile; And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return, For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as bondmen. Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God. Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids, Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your possession, and ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever, but over your brethern the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour. { therefore slaves can be purchased or attained as an inheritance, as in Leviticus 25:45-46}..Here is one more read { 2nd.Kings 4:1-7}This is where a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets { she cried unto Elisha} because her husband had died and apparently he owed a creditor, so the creditor came to take her two sons to be bondsmen, to pay the debt. In Biblical times there were a lot of ways and reasons for people being enslaved or put into slavery as well as in these days and times in America and in other countries.
          God allows slavery to happen for various reasons, Sometimes to inflict punishment for being disobedience, for capture during war etc. But man also unrighteously and hatefully enslaves his fellow man for his own evil selfish, wicked agenda, but rest assured, everyone will be Judged! especially the enslaver.

        • Not really sure what the point of all that was.

          American slavery had indentured servitude (for people who were like us) and chattel slavery (for people who weren’t). Old Testament slavery was the same.

          Doesn’t put God in a very good light, does it?

        • Susan

          what a lot of people don’t understand is that the Hebrew Israelites were put into slavery because of disobedience to God’s laws.

          I know the story. But your inability to demonstrate that there is any truth to this is not a problem with my “understanding”.

          The rest is more gibberish. And preaching.

        • MNb

          “Now if a Hebrew servant was brought, six years he shall serve; and in the seventh year he shall go out free for nothing.”
          Which did not apply to black slaves. What does tell you about the OT god? It tells me that he’s a racist.

          “God allows slavery to happen for various reasons, Sometimes to inflict punishment for being disobedient, for capture during war, to pay a debt owed.”
          Captured during war? You just justified “so called Negroes were the one’s taken from West Africa and were sold by the Tribal Africans” because they were all captured during war.

          “this is where they had migrated to”
          You seem to think Hebrews were black. It’s unscientific nonsense. as DNA research has made clear.

    • MNb

      So you don’t want to make a deal with me regarding your daughers, whom I’d like to purchase as housemaids.
      I suppose you reject your own Holy Book after all. I’m not surprised.

    • Dys

      You take God so seriously you couldn’t be bothered to actually understand what the bible really says about slavery, nor make a good argument trying to excuse the bible’s endorsement of it. And then you feel the need to undeservedly pat yourself on the back, mistaking the refutations of your poorly reasoned arguments as some evidence that you accomplished something.

      have a blessed life.

      This type of send off has become the failed apologist’s “fuck you”. They’re just not honest enough to come out and say it.

  • ArcaneLife

    The Last comment is a joke. Whether you or I would like to agree or not, America has always drawn inspiration from the Bible. An accurate study of the founding fathers and those who put their lives on the line to forge this nation were Bible believing Christian.Unfortunately, they exhibited flaws and thats why your last statement made me laugh because you said “no slavery” as if to infere that the US at its inception wasnt a nation built on slaves.( right?) That we most be honest. I am a black person and quite familiar with what transpired in American Colonialism and how black people were treated as second class citizens. It is true that Many people owned slaves(even Africans had “slaves” although we kept our identity and culture among ourselves) before we were extradited( if I can put it that way) to the ” Land of the free and the home of the brave”.
    the “slavery” that the Bible promote is not the same as the one America had in place. You may say I’m ignorant but that is the case. Both societies were different in how one officiated. Not everybody could survive and make a living especially at a time where the amount of animal (Cattle, Sheep, etc) determined wealth. Often times people sold themselves as you stated correctly in order to survive. This was prevalent in other societies. When dealing with a society where welfare and reforms for all is virtually non existence, what alternative did people have to survive, feed themselves or their families? The Jewish laws and what transpired in America was different.
    One. “Slavery in America” strip Blacks of their identity, assigned to them “white” names( if there is such a thing.
    Two. It was perpetuated to make the white race a superior group to Blacks. The falsifying belief you made that this was similar is further compounded by the fact that they A master could actually Marry one of his daughter to a “slave” under OT times. ( History in school never mention this to be the case).
    Thirdly. One of interest to me is that why did so many black people believe the Bible. I know the usual atheist I speak to will say that “Slave owners gave it to their servants” but since most black leaders are fully aware of what transpired in American Slavery, why did we have the Bible with us and each generation of black only tend to see more been raised and continuing to be Christian Ministers.Isn’t that a bit ironic that King Jr would use a book that he held a PhD in to lead the Charge for Civil Rights (I’m born in the 90’s BTW)
    But I have personaly been researching many black slaves and former slaves who became Christian and remained Christian afterwards. Why didn’t they abandon it. People like Frederick Douglas to name.
    I would love for you to respond.
    ECM

    • Greg G.

      The Jewish laws and what transpired in America was different.

      You don’t hear this from Christian sources much. They always get it wrong.

      The colonists from Europe thought of themselves as like the Israelites in the Bible. They bought foreign slaves. They had indentured servants from Europe and they hired free men.

      This passage shows the distinction between three types of workers:

      Exodus 12:43-45 (NRSV)43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; 45 no bound or hired servant may eat of it.

      Indentured (bound) servants were freed after 6 years. In the US, they were freed after 6 years. Here are two passages that describe this:

      Deuteronomy 15:12-17 (NRSV)12 If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free. 13 And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14 Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today. 16 But if he says to you, “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave forever.You shall do the same with regard to your female slave.

      Exodus 21:2-6 (NRSV)2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5 But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6 then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

      Notice how a Hebrew could be tricked into becoming a permanent slave using family values? The Bible spells it out clearly for the slave owner exactly how to do it.

      Women did not get the indentured servant option.

      US slavery laws did not allow indentured servants to become permanent slaves.

      Exodus 21:7-11 (NRSV)7 When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8 If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. 9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. 11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.

      Here is a passage on buying permanent slaves who could be passed on in a will:

      Leviticus 25:44-46 (NRSV)44 As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. 45 You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. 46 You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness.

      Notice that fellow Israelites were not to be treated with harshness, which implicitly allows non-Israelites to be treated harshly. How harshly?

      Exodus 21:20-21 (NRSV)20 When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21 But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

      A foreign slave could be beaten to death without penalty if they suffered at least a day before expiring. The punishments were harsh in surrounding verses but was unspecified here. That would allow for a slap on the wrist.

      There are some laws about Jubilee where slaves were released every fifty years. There is no record of that ever happening. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time but it got canceled before it was implemented.

      The slavery laws of the Americas were originally following the Bible slavery laws. The laws changed over the years just as the laws about Jubilee did.

    • Whether you or I would like to agree or not, America has always drawn inspiration from the Bible.

      And whether or not you like the fact, the founding fathers gave us a blatantly secular constitution.

      An accurate study of the founding fathers and those who put their lives on the line to forge this nation were Bible believing Christian.

      That’s nice. Nevertheless, they still gave us a secular constitution.

      as if to infere that the US at its inception wasnt a nation built on slaves.( right?)

      Wrong.

      I’m from Virginia. America had slaves. I get it.

      the “slavery” that the Bible promote is not the same as the one America had in place.

      And since the thesis of this post comes to precisely the opposite conclusion, go through it and show me where I made a mistake.

      When dealing with a society where welfare and reforms for all is virtually non existence, what alternative did people have to survive, feed themselves or their families?

      Seriously? You’re saying that times were tough in the land that God provided for his beloved children, and slavery was the only option people had to make ends meet? Doesn’t make God sound like an especially loving and thoughtful Creator.

      since most black leaders are fully aware of what transpired in American Slavery, why did we have the Bible with us and each generation of black only tend to see more been raised and continuing to be Christian Ministers.

      It is indeed ironic that black people accepted the subjugating religion of their masters. One hypothesis that sounds compelling to me is that the preacher might’ve been the most powerful and respected man in the black community, and that helped maintain Christianity’s prestige. But if you have other thoughts to explain this, I’d like to hear them.

      I have personaly been researching many black slaves and former slaves who became Christian and remained Christian afterwards. Why didn’t they abandon it.

      Good question, but let’s not lose sight of the primary issue here, the difference (or not) between American slavery and biblical slavery.

      • Only Some Stardust

        Christians deliberately threw ‘boons’ to Christian black people, like letting them not work on certain days, and did what they could to wipe out other religious beliefs among them.
        Also, some tried to use the contradictory piece of work that is the Bible to try and convince Whites not to enslave others, since you can make just about any claims you want with it if you squint hard enough, and such individuals would have been reluctant to give up one of their few ‘weapons’; if they couldn’t appeal to Whites via secular principles of kindness and compassion, they could appeal to their (perceived) Boss.

        edit: Wha? This is not the comment I hit reply to… dammit Disqus.

  • 2016 A.D. (or C.E. or whatever else), and there’s still idiots talking nice about slavery. Something that’s still happening today in many locations, particularly in tribal regions in the Mideast… *ugh* just *ugh*

    • I’ve commented about a podcast with two African-American men defending slavery (search for “Dan Savage”).

      This is what religion makes you do.

  • Slavery can be generally defined as follows:

    1. The condition in which one person is owned as property by another and is under the owner’s control, especially in involuntary servitude.
    2. (Law) the state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune
    3. The subjection of a person to another person, esp in being forced into work

    So at least two conditions have to be met in order to properly be called slavery: (1) The person has to be forced into the position against their will, and (2) the person has to be made to perform some kind of labor, and paid nothing or next to nothing, for a certain amount of time, up to life. This would not generally include people punished for crimes in a just court of law. If anything meets these two conditions, it can be properly called slavery. I will argue that the Bible allowed for situations that meet these conditions.

    In the Old Testament foreign slaves could be acquired by war, purchase, or birth. Deut. 20:12-14 says that the Israelites could force the inhabitants of the region they call their “Promised Land” as well as “all the cities that are at a distance from [them] and do not belong to the nations nearby” into forced servitude if they surrender their land and belongings. If they don’t surrender, their towns will be besieged and their men will be killed and the women and children can be taken as booty. In Judges 1:28-34 it even says the Israelites forced the Canaanites, the Naphtalites, and the Amorites into servitude, all while the “LORD was with them.” 1 Kings 9:21 tells of how King Solomon conscripted foreign tribes who the Israelites couldn’t exterminate “to serve as slave labor” building temples, palaces, and the walls of towns. And to distinguish the rules between Hebrews and non-Hebrews, Leviticus 25:44-46 specifies that foreign slaves are not to be freed after the 7th year as a Hebrew servants do, they serve for life and can be inherited as property. This meets both of the conditions for slavery above in that under Old Testament law (1) persons could be forced into the position of subordination or property to another person against their will, or be born into that position, and (2) made to perform unpaid labor.

  • futureboy

    Great post!

    I’ve been reading about the history of American slavery and abolitionists, and one interesting document which popped up was The Bible Against Slavery (1838) by Theodore Dwight Weld:
    https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Bible_Against_Slavery

    Have you ever seen/considered the arguments presented there? The main point is that the “servants” weren’t actually considered possessions or property. I somehow always come back to the masters being allowed to beat their slaves, so they are, by definition, considered property (that which you can damage you own).

    It’s an interesting read, though, and wondered if you’ve ever come across it.

  • Brad Magyar

    So, I’m confused by your position. Are you saying that the Bible is bad or that American slavery wasn’t that bad?

    • Kodie

      Uh…. slavery is bad. Christians who pretend slavery in the bible “wasn’t that bad” are bad.

    • Greg G.

      American slavery was bad, American slavery was based on Bible sanctioned slavery, so the Bible is bad.