Responding to “10 Myths About God” (3 of 3)

Responding to “10 Myths About God” (3 of 3) September 14, 2018

Let’s conclude our critique of a Christian ministry’s video series of ten myths about God (part 1).

Myth 7: People are basically good. The Bible says that we have an inherent dignity and that there’s good within us, and we’re created in the image of God. But the guys reject the idea that we’re good at heart. No, it’s like humans are infected with a virus. Our hosts wallow in descriptions of our corruption, depravity, and rebellion against God and in the hopelessness of our condition. (Color coding explained in part 1).

I’ll agree that people suck sometimes. We may not be much, but we’re all we’ve got.

But we start looking pretty good when you consider what mankind has done that God didn’t. We’ve ended slavery as an acceptable institution in the modern world, we feed billions of people with industrial agriculture, and we’ve improved the health of the world through vaccines, antibiotics, clean water, and so on. Human society is far from perfect, but it’s a lot better than the Old Testament society that God was responsible for.

Myth 8: All paths lead to God. Remember the story of the blind men and the elephant? Each one felt a different part, and each came to a different and incomplete understanding. This myth says that Jesus is like the elephant, and different cultures just describe him differently. But no, the video dismisses this and tells us that the message of Jesus is an exclusive one. “No one comes to the father but by me” (John 14:6).

To the idea that the sacrifice of Jesus would be called just one path of many, one host called this a slap in the face of the father. I disagree. I don’t see the slap since the “sacrifice” wasn’t really that big a deal.

We’re told that the other options are wrong but are given no reason to accept the Christian path over the others. Or why any supernatural claims are correct.

Let me sketch out the obvious natural explanation: life is scary, and our fragile, imperfect minds have cobbled religions together to help explain the things that go bump in the night. The answers offered by Christianity were okay when it was the only game in town, but it’s not anymore. Humanity has grown up, we have far better explanations, and it’s time to leave childhood superstitions behind.

Myth 9: I go to church, so I’m a Christian. Just like being in a barn doesn’t make you a horse, being in a church doesn’t make you a Christian. Don’t be like the Pharisees, who focused on the godly appearance.

They say that the church is about fellowship and relationship. It’s easy to understand the community among people in church, but isn’t it ironic that God isn’t as obvious? What does that tell us?

Myth 10: Satan is the opposite of God. The myth is that God and Satan are like yin and yang—equal and opposite forces, and we can only hold our breath, hoping that God wins in the end. It’s like comic books where the superhero is equally matched to the villain, and we’re on the edge of our seats until the last scene.

The truth, according to the video, is that this is actually the most boring and mismatched matchup ever. God could, in an instant, wipe out Satan’s works and even his existence. Imagining Satan defeating God is like imagining any of us defeating God. But since Satan has read the Bible, he knows how it all ends. Why then imagine that he’s sticking around to put up with the charade?

Yet again, I wonder if the boys have actually, y’know, read the Bible. For example, it wasn’t Satan in the Garden of Eden, it was a talking serpent. To imagine it was actually Satan in disguise is simply to map Christian thinking into a far older non-Christian story. The book of Revelation vaguely makes this Satan/serpent argument, but it’s simply stated without justification.

We see Satan in one of the Bible’s oldest books. In Job 1:6–12, Satan is “the adversary,” like a prosecuting attorney. Here, “Satan” is a title, not a name. Far from being God’s sworn enemy, Satan is God’s handyman or assistant. Satan tests God’s people to make sure that they are as stalwart as they appear.

Only later in the Bible do we see Satan or the devil as a bad character:

[Jesus said,] “Away from me, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10).

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

[The angel] seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:2).

We can see the complex background from which our modern idea of Satan as a villain arose when we consider the many names and ideas that are often conflated: Satan, Lucifer, Leviathan, Belial, Beelzebub, the devil, the dragon, the serpent. That we do see Satan as evil in the New Testament only argues that the idea has evolved, something that happens in manmade literature, not in the unchanging plan of an omniscient creator.

Any being that wants to be worshipped
has shown itself to be unworthy of worship.
— commenter Without Malice

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 12/3/14.)

Photo credit: WSJ

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  • JustinL

    Years ago I was researching the biblical Satan for a script I was writing, only to discover there basically is no biblical Satan. Roughly 99% of everything society thinks about the Devil comes from pop culture, whether it’s Dante or the Exorcist.

    • epicurus

      I always find the idea of the devil and minions ruling in hell and torturing people there as a bit off, as the few references in the Bible indicate Satan will be in the same boat as every one else in the pit/lake of fire, etc.

      • Bob Jase

        Kinda also makes you wonder why the devil et al are allowed to screw with humanity as they do, almost as if they’ve been given permission by someone higher up.

        • epicurus

          As if we humans don’t have it tough enough with an inherited sinful nature that clouds our minds and makes us choose evil, we also have a super smart super powerful divine being running around trying to trick and deceive us. But apparently it’s our own fault if we wind up in hell.

        • Otto

          In 6th grade my teacher, a Nun, said that Satan can only do what God allows.

          I don’t really feel like she thought through the implications of that statement…it certainly stuck with me.

        • Since Satan has read Revelation and knows how it’s all going to turn out, why would he play the charade?

        • Bob Jase

          I’ve asked that of believers because I certainly wouldn’t play along. I’ve been told Satan has no choice but to do what Revelation says – so much for Satan having free will but then, how did he rebel?

          Just doesn’t not make sense.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Pride?

        • Would pride get you to undertake a project you knew for certain you’d fail at, humiliatingly?

          It makes it all sound like literature, not prophecy.

        • Probably out of spite knowing his fate is sealed (that idea is mine).

        • It still seems crazy to collaborate with your sworn enemy, to play a part in his charade that leads to your demise.

          (I’m pretending, of course, that the Christian idea of Satan being the bad guy is actually how he’s introduced in the Bible.)

        • True -the alternative to that is not pretty at all-, even if one assumes is acting in Kamikaze fashion wanting to take as many as he can with him. Looks like the problem of evil pop ups again.

          Did not say that idea had no faults, especially what you mention about causing your demise (why God does not know better that some people are born more gullible than others and punish them?. Same for Fundies’ threats to skeptics, when are plenty of reasons not to believe, said Fundies being among the most conspicious of said reasons)

        • Clement Agonistes

          Satan would be the very embodiment of evil. The Problem of Evil is that Satan would exist in the first place. Satan is a created being, created intentionally to serve a purpose.

          How do we persuade smokers to stop doing what they enjoy and save their lives? We talk about death, cancer, heart disease, and that nasty smell – all the negatives. Yet, if they live, they will eventually experience all of those anyway, right? We are able to predict with absolute certainty that this life will end, and probably badly. The demographic with the highest suicide rate is the elderly. Their health is bad today and it will be worse tomorrow. Death is a welcome friend. Life becomes a punishment at some point. Who in the world would punish us by forcing life on us without our permission? Who would dare to speak that truth to us?

        • Satan, evil? Not according to what we read in Job.

        • Clement Agonistes

          He is trying to drive a wedge between God and a godly man. He says Job’s godliness is actually evil; motivated by greed. This book would be the exception, and that is iffy. You are pointing to an exception that might not be an exception.

        • Greg G.

          Satan and God made a bet in Job. Satan could not do anything to Job without God’s permission.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Satan and God made a bet in Job. Satan could not do anything to Job without God’s permission.

          Agreed.

        • Susan

          He is trying to drive a wedge between God and a godly man.

          And Yahweh takes the bet.

          I’m sorry maybe by “God”, you mean a deist god because you don’t actually specify when you say “God”.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVgZqnsytJI

        • Nope. Say that “Satan” has changed through the years, but Job is clear that Satan is on God’s team. Satan thinks that Job is making a monkey out of God, smiling only because he gets the goodies, and he wants to make sure God is treated fairly.

        • Clement Agonistes

          Satan thinks that Job is making a monkey out of God, smiling only because he gets the goodies

          And that is different than saying, “Job’s godliness is actually evil; motivated by greed,“?

          Say that “Satan” has changed through the years, but Job is clear that Satan is on God’s team

          It’s not clear that is the case. To be sure, one can make the case that Satan is the “devil’s advocate” here, but he is also the “Adversary” (on the other team). Without question, he is lying about Job. He was stirring up trouble in the relationship between God and Man.

          As an aside, a major point of Job is that faithfulness to God is no guarantee of a cushy life – a part of your theology that proved God does not exist. I agreed with you that at least in this instance, you have plenty of Christians who also have to ignore Job (et.al.).

        • And that is different than saying, “Job’s godliness is actually evil; motivated by greed,”?

          Obviously.

          one can make the case that Satan is the “devil’s advocate” here, but he is also the “Adversary” (on the other team). Without question, he is lying about Job.

          Is this the powerful “Nuh uh!” argument?

          Read Job 1. Satan is God’s prosecuting attorney.

          As an aside, a major point of Job is that faithfulness to God is no guarantee of a cushy life – a part of your theology that proved God does not exist.

          You’ve lost me. What about proving God doesn’t exist . . . ?

        • Clement Agonistes

          And that is different than saying, “Job’s godliness is actually evil; motivated by greed,”?

          Obviously.

          If it were obvious, I wouldn’t have asked. Can you be more specific?

          Read Job 1. Satan is God’s prosecuting attorney.

          Which verse do you read that (into)? “Whatcha been up to, Satan?”
          “Nuthin’ much Just checking out the Earth.”
          “Hey, what do you think about Job – cool guy, huh?”
          “Hardly. He’s in it for the Benjamins [one of Jacob’s son’s, no doubt].”
          “Is not.”
          “Is too.”

          It doesn’t read like prosecutor, and it doesn’t say “attorney” (although we could assume it from him being the devil), or “prosecutor
          “. his name means “adversary” and “accuser”. An adversary is on the other team. An accuser . . . . accuses.

          As an aside, a major point of Job is that faithfulness to God is no guarantee of a cushy life – a part of your theology that proved God does not exist.

          You’ve lost me. What about proving God doesn’t exist . . . ?

          4. Why do bad things happen to good people? Shouldn’t good Christians get a break? Shouldn’t there be at least a little boost here on earth for backing the right religion? How about something tangible to prove that one’s faith is well placed? Rain falls on good people just like bad people. There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.”
          – You.

        • If it were obvious, I wouldn’t have asked. Can you be more specific?

          Apparently not.

          It doesn’t read like prosecutor

          Satan answers to Yahweh (or is it Elohim here?). You like to complicate things, don’t you? Satan answers to God.

          a major point of Job is that faithfulness to God is no guarantee of a cushy life – a part of your theology that proved God does not exist.

          Yes, I see that God can allow shit to happen to people in his camp. The rest of your sentence I didn’t understand.

          “4. Why do bad things happen to good people? Shouldn’t good Christians get a break? Shouldn’t there be at least a little boost here on earth for backing the right religion? How about something tangible to prove that one’s faith is well placed? Rain falls on good people just like bad people. There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.”
          – You.

          Yes. You’ll have to show me where the proof that God doesn’t exist comes in, because I’d sure like to know about that.

        • Clement Agonistes

          What a bizarre post. You can’t clarify the difference between Job wanting goodies and being greedy, a “prosecutor” is “one who answers to God”, and “There is no God” has nothing to do with God not existing.

          Suddenly, I miss Amos’ frankness in telling me to fuck off.

        • Greg G.

          Psalm 109:1-6 (NRSV)1 Do not be silent, O God of my praise.2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,    speaking against me with lying tongues.3 They beset me with words of hate,    and attack me without cause.4 In return for my love they accuse me,    even while I make prayer for them.5 So they reward me evil for good,    and hatred for my love.6 They say, “Appoint a wicked man against him;    let an accuser stand on his right.

          The word translated as “accuser” is the word “satan” in Hebrew. This is not the Satan of Christian theology but the Satan in Job is playing the same role as the satan in this Psalm. “Satan” also appears in Zechariah 3 but again, it is more of an accuser, not the Christian Satan.

          It seems that they had an adversarial court system without lawyers, just an accusing witness and a defendant before a judge.

          Remember that God punished serpents in Genesis. If it was really Satan, then God owes serpents an apology. If God is that gullible, then Satan has blasphemed the Holy Ghost in a Clement Agonistes costume so you can forget about going to heaven.

        • Susan

          “Is not.” “Is too.”

          “Be as cruel as you like. I don’t care. Obedience to me is all that matters.

          Slay animals, servants, children. All of them. None of that matters to Yahweh. I can torture whatever I like. ‘Cause I’m fuckin’ Yahweh.”

          You don’t get to equate “evil” with being “unYahwehly”.

          Without showing your work.

          (Which you’ve never done.)

        • Clement Agonistes

          I don’t think yours is an accurate characterization of the conversation under discussion and represents yet another attempt to hijack the conversation (although, granted, Bob has already seen to it that it will go nowhere).

        • Susan

          Why do bad things happen to good people?

          Because we live on a planet where bad things happen all the time. Because we are fragile biological beings in a universe ruled by physics.

          There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.

          The evidence doesn’t point there.

          That’s in the article too, no?

        • Clement Agonistes

          Your understanding of Bob’s article jibes with mine. Only Bob seems to be lost.

        • Susan

          Your understanding of Bob’s article jibes with mine.

          No. Bob’s very clear about there being no evidence that leads to “God”.

          You are claiming that he claims “There is no God:”.

          People have made this distinction (including Bob in his articles) for over a year now when engaging you.

          But you are intent on shifting the burden.

          So… meh.

        • Clement Agonistes

          By all means, let’s personify him. Your premise is that whatever makes sense to us would make sense to the devil. I’m on board with that idea. Can we point to any instances in human history – heck, our own individual histories – when pride has brought on destruction? Is there enough paper on which to write the list we are about to construct? Are there enough electrons to do it electronically? Is there enough time left in our lives to complete the list?

          The first example that always pops into my mind is the Japanese at the end of WW II. Not only will I directly cause my demise, I will attempt to take as many of the enemy with me as possible. Barring that, I will stab myself in such a way as to make my death slow and painful. I don’t think the kamikaze (or those in the banzai charge) viewed what they did as “collaborating” with their sworn enemy.

        • I don’t think the kamikaze (or those in the banzai charge) viewed what they did as “collaborating” with their sworn enemy.

          Nor do I. I wonder then why you brought it up as an example.

          This isn’t what we’re talking about.

        • Clement Agonistes

          My apology for misunderstanding. I probably misunderstood Alec, as well. Whose fate was sealed? Whose demise were you referring to and who is the sworn enemy/crazy one collaborating? I note Alec also mentioned “kamikaze” in his reply to your post. Can you clarify?

        • See the Book of Revelation. According to it he’s gonna be sent to the Lake of Fire to be tormented for all eternity like so many people deceived by him using the Fundie logic, which causes the logic of Hell to be even more less understarable -two hells, the first one the current one where Satan rules and the second said Lake of Fire?.-

          The sworn enemy is God himself -see the book of Job as others have stated and remember that in the OT Lucifer -just one reference- is known to refer to a Babylonian king, the Snake originally has nothing to see with Satan and that identification came later, and what some consider “demons” were actually other deities venerated in place of Yahweh or in close places (Baal, Asherah/Astoreth, etc). Even one could interpret Jesus’ meeting with Satan in the desert as this working in a similar role, as the latter does not attempt to smite the former or vice-versa-, and as for “kamikaze”, etc. is what you mention above -by the Fundie logic, as he knows is defeated is trying to cause the most damage he can as long as he can-

        • Clement Agonistes

          See the Book of Revelation. According to it he’s gonna be sent to the Lake of Fire to be tormented for all eternity

          Hell, itself, will be thrown into that Lake of Fire and cease to exist. A quality of fire is that it consumes what is thrown into it. That said, I applaud you if you can understand Revelation – many of the finest minds humanity has produced have been stymied by that one.

          The sworn enemy is God himself

          OK, good, that was my understanding also.

          as for “kamikaze”, etc. is what you mention above -by the Fundie logic, as he knows is defeated is trying to cause the most damage he can as long as he can

          Good – I at least understood what you were trying to say. The motivation for Japanese suicide was pride . . . . after defeat was guaranteed. For Trekkies, Khan’s famous quote of Milton was, “Better to rule in Hell than to serve in heaven.” C.S. Lewis pegged pride as being at the core of many other sins. I’ve seen a number of atheists say that if they meet God, they’ll (basically) shoot Him the finger rather than worship him for one moment, much less eternity. surely, as humans, we get Pride.

        • Yes, you’re right and I missed that part. The book says that Death and Hell will be thrown there. That said, that part of the Bible is so trippy and full of symbolism (and schadenfreude, if people knew God was sending all those plagues it’s more likely there’d be a lot of conversions instead of blaspheming him as happens there), that is easy to obtain a mess or worse, and not just because interpreted literally some parts do not make sense (as in the part of stars falling to Earth because they were hit by the dragon’s tail).

          Then are the views of some dispensationalists (John MacArthur comes to mind), who identify the dragon with Russia and its Arab allies and the Sun-clothed woman as Israel and even include the book of Daniel in the mix but that’s another history.

        • Clement Agonistes

          “Humiliatingly”? God loves each and every human beyond measure. We are God’s beloved children.. Hurt me and it is no big accomplishment. Hurt my children, and it is a pain without a name. He’s taking billions of God’s most beloved away. Your own adult children have thought deeply about it and said that they hate your guts and are repulsed by you. Satan has hurt his enemy beyond calculating. “Failure” is in the eye of the beholder.

        • Susan

          God loves each and every human being beyond measure.

          In your imagination.

          For over a year, you’ve refused to even define what you mean by “God”, let alone support its existence.

          Now, you are making claims about it.

          Also, any agent that tortures earthlings to death for hundreds of millions of years (including humans, including massive numbers of humans under the age of five) when it’s supposed to have created the whole thing out of metaphysical nothingness is a sociopath.

          As it all appears to be just another myth (and you’ve provided nothing to separate it from being another myth), then your claims that it “loves” are ridiculous.

        • Clement Agonistes

          For over a year, you’ve refused to even define what you mean by “God”, let alone support its existence.

          I went through that exercise with you, and it was just chasing after a rabbit – the Endless Questions, remember? The fact that you would even say that I “refused” shows how pointless trying to satisfy this evasion is. Either your memory or your sincerity is so bad that we can’t go forward.

        • Susan

          I went through that exercise with you.

          No.

          the Endless Questions, remember?

          No. You accused me of asking endless questions because I asked what you were claiming and how you support it.

          You avoided answering and accused me of things I didn’t do.

          Either your memory or your sincerity is so bad that we can’t go forward.

          Rather than blow up another warehouse of irony metres, you could just define “God” and support it for anyone new to this conversation.

          Come on, Clement. Give it a try.

        • wannabe

          Satan is playing the part of the Washington Generals in their games with the Harlem Globetrotters. Everyone knows how it will all turn out. It’s all for show.

        • Greg G.

          God = Meadowlark Lemon
          Jesus = Curly Neal

        • Bob Jase

          the Twelve Apostles = the Washington Generals

      • When you have pastors who accept without questioning it an at least 3,000 years-old tale that they, like so much of the Bible, stole from Judaism where it has different meanings and was inspired by previous stories, and say that is far more credible than evolution (a belief according to them, as if a woman appearing from a rib was science), don’t expect miracles.

    • eric

      Don’t forget Milton’s Paradise Lost. Dante contributed a lot of mythology about hell, but his Satan pretty much did nothing except stand there in the middle of the 9th circle. It was Milton who made Satan a personality.

      • Otto

        Those kids were innocent.

        😉

    • I like Satan as depicted in Lot–he’s just God’s assistant.

      • Greg G.

        I like Satan as depicted in Lot

        Job?

    • Phil

      I love the story of Satan tempting Jesus, who is god and created Satan, created the self imposed hunger he felt, the kingdoms that were already his and gravity that required angels to overcome if he jumped. Just ridiculous yet supposed to be profound.

  • Bob Jase

    “[Jesus said,] “Away from me, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10).”

    i wonder why Jesus was afraid of being tested? Especially as he set up the test under one of his aliases.

    • eric

      I always took it as more of a dismissal of annoyance. Here J goes into the desert to meditate, only to have Satan try to start a conversation with him not once but like three times. So he gives Satan the “in a movie, stop texting me” treatment.

  • Doubting Thomas

    God could, in an instant, wipe out Satan’s works and even his existence.

    And this would be a good thing, at least to the Christians saying it. And yet god just lets Satan wander around performing all sort of evil and inflicting all sorts of suffering.

    The really amazing thing is that the Christians saying this don’t understand how it makes their god look like a giant, uncaring ass. And it’s their article. They could’ve chosen to leave that part out. And instead they are clueless enough to think of god allowing evil to continue as a positive instead of the negative it is. Self awareness is not Christianity’s strong suit.

    • Otto

      I saw a number of Catholics blaming Satan for the Church’s mess…funny how they don’t realize God would have had to sign off on it too.

      • Pofarmer

        Funny how Satan seems more powerful than God.

        • As the serpent in the Garden, he’s Prometheus. Satan is the bringer of wisdom, while God wanted to keep humanity childlike.

      • epicurus

        Maybe it was another bet, like in Job. A divine gambling addiction perhaps?

    • eric

      It’s a completely incoherent mess of theology.

      God doesn’t interfere because FREE WILL. But letting Satan attack us and claiming it’s necessary for free will is like claiming I can’t make a free willed decision unless there’s a bully holding my hand and punching me with it while saying “stop hitting yourself.” This is obviously untrue, or at least a really warped definition of free will. You could, at that point, argue that God doesn’t interfere with Satan because Satan has free will too…but Satan has direct experience of God. If beings with direct experience of God can maintain their ability to make free willed decisions in the face of that experience, there’s no reason for God to remain hidden and the entire thing falls apart and it becomes a reductio.

      Christians could take another tack and state that God’s ultimate good is not understandable to humans. But then, how can Christians claim Satan is doing evil? If actions we think are evil actually serve a higher good, Satan could be doing ‘higher good’ acts. There is no way to claim we know Satan is doing evil while simultaneously claiming we humans are incapable of judging theologically ultimate good and evil.

      Of course this is all beyond what is discussed above. After reading parts 1-3, it appears to me the target audience for these guys isn’t really atheists and this isn’t really an attempt at converting nonbelievers. This is Christians attacking other Christian sects. Their target is Christians who aren’t their version of Protestant, and they’re signaling to these other Christians that they are bound for hell too unless they convert to the authors’ particular flavor of Protestantism. Acts aren’t enough, you dirty Catholics. People aren’t good, you dirty unitarians. Going to your misguided Church isn’t enough, you dirty other-sectarians. Join us, us in particular, or burn!

      • Otto

        >>>”unless there’s a bully holding my hand and punching me with it while saying “stop hitting yourself.”

        You just described the entirety of my relationship with my older brother until I was 12.

      • Michael Neville

        If beings with direct experience of God can maintain their ability to make free willed decisions in the face of that experience, there’s no reason for God to remain hidden and the entire thing falls apart and it becomes a reductio.

        I’ve made that argument against the hiddenness of God several times and never got a reasonable response from a Christian.

        • Ficino

          Yeah, in Aquinas it’s like the very first thing Satan and 1/3 of the angels do when they realize they have free will is go out and rebel, all the while having an intellectual grasp of the vision of God. But we poor slobs are supposed to figure out God’s existence from the way clods of earth fall and shit.

        • eric

          Given that the US is 75% Christian, maybe he stays hidden because being with us would cause more people to rebel against him lol.

          “BEHOLD ME…hey, where you guys going?….dammit, not again!”

        • If all-wise angels think that God is worth rebelling against, who am I to criticize?

        • Quality control with his servants is lacking if 1/3rd of them rebel. At least is more credible than one third of the stars being thrown to Earth after being hit by a presumably galactic-sized tail.

        • eric

          The only thing I’ve gotten back was the argument of incredulity, phrased as “oh, so you’re as remarkable as satan now are you?” Implying that just because an archangel can experience God and maintain their free will, doesn’t mean they think I could. Problem with that is, all the disciples saw miracles too. Thousands saw Jesus’ miracles (supposedly). The dead supposedly walked the streets of Jerusalem. In the OT, the entire Hebrew people saw mana fall from heaven, pillar of smoke by day, etc… David wrestles an angel. Adam and Abraham and Moses talk to God, and sometimes talk back to him. The bible is choc full of stories of people with such experiences.

          The entire “he can’t be witnessed or our heads will explode” thing is clearly a later retcon intended to try to address a difficult (and otherwise pretty much unanswerable) criticism. And the really killer thing is, it’s not even a good retcon.

        • The entire “he can’t be witnessed or our heads will explode” thing is clearly a later retcon

          especially since Moses spoke to God face to face.

        • Bruce Gorton

          Wasn’t Moses supposed to have talked to God’s butt?

        • And in Ex. 33:11, he spoke to his face.

      • I remember hearing about the relative of my next-door neighbor was going to Portugal to evangelize. But since they’re already all Christians, don’t you just declare victory and move on? Nope, since they were the wrong kind of Christian.

        That was an early clue that logic didn’t really apply in this domain.

        • eric

          Most of subsaharan Africa is predominantly Christian too. There’s both a big dollop of intersect warfare and a big dollop of colonialism/racism involved in US evangelicals sending missionaries there. Every evangelical wants to bring the word of God to the heathens; none of them want to do the hard work of improving the lives of desperately poor Christians. They all want to be the Great White Hope.

          I visited a fairly backwater community in Namibia some years ago (not as a missionary; as a tourist). Their “local cultural entertainment” was singing us traditional hymns their community had been singing for a century (in their own dialect). It was quite cool; the English was so transformed by dialect, accent, and interpretation that it took me half the song to recognize the hymn. Their biggest complaint about western missions? “They come here and keep rebuilding our church. We don’t need help with our church, it’s fine. But they never help with our school.”

        • epeeist

          Their biggest complaint about western missions? “They come here and keep
          rebuilding our church. We don’t need help with our church, it’s fine.
          But they never help with our school.”

          Having stayed at a community village in Madagascar earlier this year I can empathise with this, though in Madagascar it is the Catholicism left over from French colonial days. Go through any of the towns and villages and always the biggest, best built and maintained building is the church.

        • Greg G.

          In Vietnam, it is not just the Catholic churches, it is that way with Buddhist temples. I saw a spectacular Cao Dai Temple, too.

          Cao Dai is a hybrid of Buddhism, Catholicism, and Taoism. Victor Hugo is one of their patron saints.

  • Any being that wants to be worshiped has shown itself to be unworthy of worship.
    — commenter Without Malice

    Like. This recalls:

    “All the means by which a man is made moral are, themselves, thoroughly immoral.” — F. Nietzsche

  • In Zoroastrism, things are supposedly more balanced and that point is far more credible than here, where attributing omni*** has ruined things and listening evangelicals about the Devil screwing everyone, being the prince of this world, etc. are tiresome as in fact is far more active than God according to them. Same as refering to him as “the Accuser”, ignoring what happens in Job.

    Also not only seems one must squint very hard to see demons in the OT after removing the single reference to Lucifer there, actually a Babylonian king, and what actually were other deities as Baal or Asherah/Astaroth or whatever, I feel the Satan Jesus encounters looks more like the Job’s adversary than the typical picture of the Devil as the former did not even attempt to fight the latter.