Why Would A Loving God Say Any of This?

NonStampCollector points out that God screwed up on the simplest of all moral questions: Is slavery ok?

You would think it was Satan doing the talking…

Way to get it wrong, God.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Michael

    There’s a very interesting take on this in the last 15 minutes of yesterday’s Chris South show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, with a vicar giving this as a prime reason why religious law should always come second to secular law.

    Not sure if you can hear it overseas but it’s at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00p7722 – the vicar arrives around 1:30, you can certainly skip the first hour unless you’re a keen gardener.

  • Johnk

    I would agree that slavery is evil. As a christian, I struggle with these parts of the Bible as well. Although this doesn’t solve it for me, this quote from Tomothy Keller helps to shed some historical light on it. In addition, the Bible in several places condems slave-trading and kidnapping, which was the basis for the African slave trade.
    “The ‘slavery’ mentioned in the Old Testament was really indentured servant hood and was a very different kind of institution than the New World slavery that developed in modern times. For example, Exodus 21:27 says that if you knock a slave’s tooth out, the slave has to go free. That doesn’t sound like the same institution you are thinking of, does it? Slavery in the Greco-Roman world was harsher than the indentured servant hood of Israel, but it was almost never for life (average 10-15 years in length) and slaves were paid and lived about the same as other working people. So be careful when you equate the African slave trade to the forms of slavery and servant hood you hear about in the Bible.”

    • Anonymous

      Complete bullshit

      You even managed to misquote that passage

      • Johnk

        what’s the misquote?

        • Anonymous

          Sorry. You quoted that idiot right, but he misquoted the bible. Ex 21:27 mentions eyes, not teeth

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

            NIV:

            Exodus 21:26 “An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth. 

            Exodus 21-27 is teeth, Exodus 21-26 is about eyes.

            • Anonymous

               Arg. Google fooled me. I entered 27 and it spit out 26 first

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                I’m here to help.

    • Anonymous

      LOL.. Really?  Indentured Servitude?  Last time I checked that was still slavery.

      So it’s A-OK in one form, but not in the other?

      • Jordan walsh

        Indentured servents and slaves are 2 different things the words mean 2 different things. Once again someone trying to justifiy something awful that the bible preaches!!! not u sunburned but the post above it!!

        • Rwlawoffice

           So Jordan, let’s say you owed someone some money and you offered to work for that person without wages for a time in order to pay off that debt. If the English translated word for that voluntary arrangement was slavery, you would still object to it?

          • The Captain

            What is the difference between forcing someone into slavery by the sword, or by the threat of starvation. Both are not really “voluntary” now are they?

            • Rwlawoffice

               Whoever said those were the only two options? If that was how someone decided to pay off his debts then it is voluntary. Would be okay for the person who owes the money to not pay it back in anyway and let the other person who loaned it to him to potentially starve? 

              • The Captain

                Wow, you really have no knowledge of what ancient societies where like do you? Yet you act like an expert. So tell me, what temp agency did a poor person go to to get a job to repay someone in ancient times? If someone can’t pay a debt, they obviously have no money (or wealth), so tell me, where did someone who had no money get food to eat in the bronze age then?

                As others have pointed out many times to you too, foreign slaves where not voluntary (neither where children sold into slavery as I have noted).

                But more importantly, stop acting like these people where just volunteering to do web design on the weekends!!! These weren’t part time office jobs. Even if this hypothetical Israelite volunteered to pay off his debt as you keep saying, they worked full time (as in 24-7) probably in a field, (or house if lucky) and could be whipped, beat, treated badly and where not FREE TO COME AND GO! That IS slavery!!!! and it is immoral to all but those who think their immoral god is perfect.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Actually it is you who wants to ignore the realities of ancient culture and ignore the economic relationship that people engaged in.  If you read further in the Bible  you will see that Jacob became a servant of Laban voluntarily to earn the hand of Rachel. It was not an uncommon practice. People didn’t have money or property to pay their debts but they did have their labor.  Also, some would become bondservants to their owners and stay even after their time was up because they were treated well.  Don’t take my word for it.  Here is a quote from anthropologist Dexter Callender : 

                  The Hebrew Bible refers regularly to the people
                  generally as “servants”(>bdym) of God, on the one hand, yet attempts to
                  restrict the possibility of chattel slavery, on the other. With regard both
                  to the understanding of people generally as “slaves/servants” of the god(s)
                  and to the limited role of chattel slavery, ancient Israel appears to have
                  been similar to other ancient Near Eastern societies, and very different
                  from classical Greek and imperial Roman societies. Yet the Hebrew Bible also
                  articulates an opposition unusual in antiquity, to various forms of
                  servitude, one that appears rooted in Israel’s formative deliverance from
                  bondage in Egypt, the basis of its own distinctive social identity.”5Read more: http://www.comereason.org/soc_culture/soc060.asp#ixzz1oH7ksJQg

                • The Captain

                  I’m responding to this in a new post do to the weird way things get formatted in long discussion on this site.

                • Guest

                  Dexter Callender is not an anthropologist. He’s an associate professor of Religious Studies with a PhD in Near Eastern Languages.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  I stand corrected on that statement

              • Anonymous-Sam

                 Except it wasn’t voluntary in the Bible. As Exodus 22:3 shows, slavery was used as a punishment to thieves and debtors.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Actually that verse says he is to make restitution for what he stole and if he couldn’t then he would be sold to work off his restitution.  So I guess like a thief going to prision isn’t doing it voluntarily, this would not be voluntary and would be punishment.  

                • Butterflyy12482

                  We are all “slaves” to different things. Our country (pay taxes or go to jail) our jobs (show up or get fired) our relationships (what man hasn’t felt like a slave to his wife at some point??).  I am a “slave” of Jesus Christ and I am thankful to be one. 

                • Anonymous

                  This mentality, right here. This is why I can’t tolerate or respect Christianity. The absurd falsehoods I can take in good humor, but this sniveling, happy submissiveness disgusts me to my very core. 

                  Please, for your sake and mine, find some self-respect.

                • Butterfly12482

                  Like jail??

            • Anonymous

              Never mind that it’s simply a flat out lie that the Bible only refers to indentured servitude. It doesn’t.

              Claiming that it does is simply a way to deal with one’s cognitive dissonance. The rational part of their brain knows that it’s immoral, but they have been brainwashed to believe that everything in the book is true and has to be believed at all costs

      • Johnk

        Where did I say it was OK? I thought I said that I struggle with it.

        • dorothy30

           that’s known as cognitive dissonance.

          • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

            Don’t provoke him when he obviously is struggling with it. He might shut down and stop even trying to struggle.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

       Funny as hell. Even if all of that were true, are we supposed to ignore all the other instances of cruelty, hate, injustice commanded by your god? Psha.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tiffany-Jade-Brown/640358790 Tiffany Jade Brown

        Oh, and also: 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)

        Sounds like real fun “indentured servitude” to get the shit beat out of you.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

        Keep in mind, that at the beginning of the Bible, there was only one prohibition, and that was to NOT eat of the tree or life. Every unfavorable, thought, idea, attitude can be traced back to this point.

         It was man that sinned and turned away from God, therefore the world is broken. The Israelites had rules imposed on them, but that was to point to the uselessness of rules. They were so intense that there is no way we can keep them. We (humanity) couldn’t even keep one rule. Thus is the reason Jesus had to come to earth.

        • Anonymous

          It’s mindboggling how supposedly intelligent people can believe such idiotic, illogical nonsense

        • Heidi

          Keep in mind that this one prohibition was supposedly given to a couple of people who didn’t know the difference between good and evil. So how were they supposed to know whether they were doing something wrong?

          And don’t even get me started on how god lied to them and told them if they ate it then on that day they would surely die. Which they did not.

        • Anonymous-Sam

           God gave us rules purely so that we would break them, even under threat of death for doing so? Duly note that it was considered lawful, moral and dutiful to stone people to death for working on Sunday. That sound like the kind of thing that makes you glad you worship such a god?

        • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

          “It was man that sinned and turned away from God, therefore the world is broken.”

          Hilarious.

    • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

      You should actually read those sections of the bible again, paying particular attention to when it says “Isrealites” and when it doesn’t.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-A-Anderson/100000016895400 John A. Anderson

      The Bible does not condemn slave-trading and kidnapping. In fact, Moses tells his soldiers to kill all the men, boys and old women, but to keep the virgin girls for their own use, i.e., sexual slavery. Leviticus is quite clear on the subject of slaves and in what manner they may be beaten. Don’t argue with atheists about what the Bible says, my friend. You will always lose. BTW, this post doesn’t even mention “African slavery.”

      • Rwlawoffice

         I will be glad to argue with Atheists about what the Bible says.  But if we are to discuss it let’s discuss all of it.  What it teaches as a whole and how the verses you object to fit into the whole picture of God’s plan and how he has dealt with humanity.   To do anything else is to cherry pick for your own purposes.

        • Anonymous

          That’s funny.  Let’s discuss a book with out discussing what’s in it…since that would be cherry picking.

          “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”…eh?

          • Rwlawoffice

            Actually I said let’s discuss all of it.  That includes what is in it. What happens though is that atheists pick one verse and say “see God was immoral and evil” yet they don’t want to talk about other verses that talk about how He is loving and merciful, nor do they want to discuss how these particular verses fit into God’s oveall plan for mankind.  If you want to discuss that then it is called cognitive dissonance. Just another way to shut down the conversation by ignoring the whole and labeling those that see the whole picture.  

            • Anonymous

              LOL.  Yeah, let’s not forget about the *good* parts.  You know the part’s that no one actually has any issue with….lol.

              Somehow I don’t think you see the *whole* picture if your complaining about cherry picking:)

              • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

                They don’t understand the concept of a logical inconsistency or contradiction. They aren’t “ignoring” the parts about slavery, they’re just paying more attention to the parts about being infinitely good, thus overriding the parts about slavery when the whole is rationalized together.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

              So, we are only to talk about the parts of the Bible you like then?  How about you address the parts of your holy text that are obviously evil, wrong and immoral?  

              • Rwlawoffice

                 I’m happy to talk about the whole Bible if you are happy to accept the parts of it that you don’t like as well and include those in our discussion.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                  Um, I’m talking about the parts I don’t like…

                • Rwlawoffice

                  If you want to accept the part of the Bible that says God is omnipotent and all powerful  then you must also accept that the Bible says that God is just and holy  and merciful and all loving.  Otherwise you are using part of his attributes to condemn him and ignoring other parts of his attributes that could explain his actions. That is what I am referring to when I say the whole Bible.  That is never done in these discussions

                • Anonymous

                  LOL.  And there is an issue with this?

                • Butterflyy12482

                  If you don’t believe God exists, then why devote so much time into trying to prove Christianity wrong? Why not focus your attention on something a little more productive? 

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                  Talking about the morality of the Bible, not proving a religion right or wrong.

                • Anonymous

                  @4a094f7c5922c6964f36a26c047f97a3:disqus
                  Because unfortunately, people still believe in this shit. And they don’t keep it to themselves, but make decisions and laws based on it, hurting real people  in the process

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                  I don’t accept that God exists, why would I accept any claims about it?

            • http://wading-in.net/walkabout Al Denelsbeck

              I actually see no purpose in averaging out any collection of accounts, because I have no desire to obtain a final verdict on some individual, or book of stories. That’s for the simple-minded.

              You see, individual actions can be good or bad, largely determined by the consequences. People do both good and bad, and deserve no overall pronouncement of their nature that conveniently ignores or minimizes everything else. The same can be said for books, and your ephemeral supreme being.

              Slavery bad. It isn’t adjusted by ‘context’, carbon offsets, or being kind to ducklings the next day. Priests are not allowed one murder, because they’re otherwise so ‘good.’ So your plea for context and balance is being ignored.

              • Rwlawoffice

                What a convenient way to avoid a discussion of God’s true nature and yet at the same time attempting to condemn him for it.  Just what I was talking about.  For example, you, a human being  who is not all knowing claims that you do not agree with or understand why God regulating slavery as opposed to simply saying it is always bad, but He being all knowing and all just may have a reason that you don’t know.  For the people involved at that time it could have been more merciful then the alternative of another unknown circumstance   that only an all knowing being would understand. But you want to use the all knowing part when it suits you and ignore it when it doesn’t or ignore the all loving part that could explain it.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                  You have to actually support the claim that there exists any gods before you can start talking about characteristics.  And the conversation about Old Testament slavery is actually irrelevant to the existence or non-existence of any deity.  We are judging the morality of the Bible, not your God.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Actually you are trying to have it both ways.  You want to deny His existence and then use some the attributes about him when it fits your purpose.  Read the Title of this post to see that. When people claim that the “morality” of the Bible needs to be judged by the times the response is but wait it came from an all knowing and loving being.  When we say, ok then as an all knowing and loving being just because you don’t know how that instruction could be moral, loving and just you want to ignore that attribute to fit your needs.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                  I’m not talking about any gods.  As I’ve already said, I’m talking about the morality of the Bible, not your God.

                  And morality does not come from deities, it comes from communal living.

                • Rwlawoffice

                   Too narrow now for a complete response. 

                • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

                  Oh, this is fun: “For the people involved at that time it could have been more merciful then the alternative of another unknown circumstance.”

                  There are infinite “another unkown circumstances.” No matter what happens, there is another worse circumstance. So anything God did in the bible is forgiven by your context. Kill a child? It might have been about to be tortured and killed!

                  God may do no wrong here, but humans are easily capable of being better than God! That’s something a modest piece of biomass like myself can understand.

                • http://wading-in.net/walkabout Al Denelsbeck

                  I said nothing whatsoever about judging mythical beings – I’m not bothering with nonsense arguments like that. What I addressed was the idea of trying to explain away bad behavior so you could justify your personal definition of ‘good.’

                  You see, some of us know that ‘good’ is defined by how it relates to other people, most especially being of benefit to them, not harm. It’s a remarkably sophisticated concept that takes a long time to fully come to terms with, I know.

                  But, in the face of scripture openly advocating subjugation and abuse, you need to desperately find some method of still claiming that this is good in some way. That you’re actually at the point of imagining bizarre circumstances worthy of a conspiracy theorist is disturbing, but certainly not going to convince anyone who can think for themselves.

                  You have considered that  this supreme being of yours is said to have wiped clean the entire planet, but you’re trying to sell the idea that he was creating loopholes for those that were enslaved? Why, pray tell, would he think that rules for slave treatment would be heeded more than [just as a wild thought] rules against whatever barbaric mistreatment he was supposedly saving people from with enslavement?

                • Rwlawoffice

                  I’m not justifying bad behavior. What you are arguing against in the law set out by God.  If we are to argue that then you must take into account his whole nature as described in the Bible and that is something you refuse to do, so you are intentionally limiting the discussion. To answer your question I have no misgivings that the Israeli people would follow God’s instructions. They rarely did.  In fact they routinely adopted the cultures of the countries around them and accepted their behavior. This would have included slavery that involved no protection for the slaves like in the Code of Hammurabi. Maybe God knew that and understood that any other more lenient rules would be worse  for slaves. For example, maybe the Captain is correct and that the only other choice was starvation so instead of outlawing it completely God knew that slaves were better off with rules that controlled the master otherwise they would die. I don’t know and won’t venture a real guess. What I am saying is that it is possible that there was a reason that an all knowing God would know that we don’t. Don’t forget it is the same God who later says there is no slave and master that all are equal and that we should change our hearts completely to end all suffering of all kinds. That is the same God you are complaining of here. 

            • http://lizheywoodwriter.blogspot.com/ Liz Heywood

              Atheists don’t have as big a problem with the bible itself as they do with the people who have turned it into a ruthless, cruel, political tool.

            • Anonymous-Sam

               So wait. You’re criticizing atheists for not looking at the whole picture–that is, that God is said to be loving, merciful and forgiving–while simultaneously ignoring things like Exodus 23:20-33, where God orders the genocide of six nations?

            • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

              The only way for other verses to provide a significant context for the atrocities in the bible is for them to have anything at all to do with those atrocities. You want to discuss the nature of God and how a holistic perspective can allow greater understanding of slavery? Explain away…

        • Edmond

          No one is saying that the bible has ZERO good portions.  If the bible was written by humans, as atheists believe, then certainly the authors would be likely to get SOMETHING good in there.  Humans HAD learned a few good things up to that point in hisotry.  But, as humans do, they included much BAD as well as good.

          If this book were actually authored by an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving being, it would have zero bad parts.  There would be nothing that COULD be cherry-picked.  It would all be perfect.  Perfect to quote, perfect to live by, perfect to emulate.  But, it’s not.  It’s exactly what you would expect if it were written by primitives.

          Atheists DO want to discuss the WHOLE book, and when we do we point out that the book includes garbage like slavery, which it SHOULDN’T include.  We don’t need to be reminded that there is kindness and love depicted in the book.  Humans ARE capable of that.  It would be surprising if those attributes WEREN’T present.

          But the inclusion of immoral practices invalidates the book as “divine”.  That doesn’t mean that there’s NOTHING good in it, or that NONE of its commandments should be followed.  It just means that we can’t TRUST that everything in it is automatically good.  We have to figure out good and bad for ourselves.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

          This is an obvious dodge.  We are talking about the Laws as laid down in Exodus and Leviticus.  Why are you trying to avoid that conversation?  The supposed nature of the God of the Bible, the loving things he supposedly did, none of it is relevant to this conversation.  If you would like to bring in other parts of the Bible to support your arguments on Exodus and Leviticus and slavery, feel free.  But don’t try and deflect the entire conversation.  

          • Rwlawoffice

            Not a dodge at all.  You want to argue the morality of laws given by God from strictly a human viewpoint without including His nature in the discussion. As an example only and not to equate it with slavery so don’t take it as such:  We all agree that it is wrong for a parent to harm their child, but what if that parent throws a child out of the way of a moving car knowing that he will break the child’s arm in the process? The parent knows that what he is doing is for the best of the child because he has a different perspective and is all loving and all knowing.

            So if you want to discuss these morality rules given from God, then you have to include all of his attributes. Otherwise you are dodging.

            • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

              One more time.  I have no reason to believe that the Bible has anything to do with any deity.  I’m judging the Bible based on fairly common morals.    This is NOT about your God, but your holy book.  

              • Rwlawoffice

                 Well then contact Hemant and complain to him that this blog post is inaccurate because the Bible has nothing to do with God and there was no all loving God handing out the instructions. You can’t call it a holy book in name only and then disregard who we believe the source of the rules are, including all of his attributes and his entire plan. You want to argue morality outlined by God in the Bible based only upon your limited  viewpoint as a man. If you want to say that the Israeli’s were immoral and had an immoral code of ethics then say that but don’t blame it on God. 

                • Anonymous-Sam

                   And you want to argue morality based upon the assumption that even rape, murder, torture, slavery, abortion and the demeaning of women is all perfectly fine because there must be a silver lining to it that none of us understand. Even when these issues are still very relevant in this day and age because people can point to these same parts of the Bible and feel justified that it is what God wants them to do, somehow, this must balance out to be far more beneficial in the long run. Countless billions of people throughout history, slaughtered in inhumane ways, living lives of starvation and condemnation and poverty and rampant discrimination — but God ordered it, so it must be for a good reason.

                  Or you could be honest with yourself and admit that “God is always perfect because the Bible says God is always perfect” is a transparent excuse to ignore a pertinent question: why would a perfect being who loves each and everyone of us arrange life so purposefully unbalanced with such horrible, contradictory messages as to create strife and war and racism and sexism and the inability to tolerate each other?

                  And the honest answer is always going to be “God didn’t do any of these things, not because the Bible can be construed in such a way as to justify everything God does, but because there is no such thing as an all-loving God who sees global-wide destruction, degradation and depravity as the means to an end.” Your god is a lie, and you are lying to yourself.

                  God may well exist, but not in these pages, and not in the way you see him.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  ” why would a perfect being who loves each and everyone of us arrange life
                  so purposefully unbalanced with such horrible, contradictory messages
                  as to create strife and war and racism and sexism and the inability to
                  tolerate each other?”

                  The answer to this question is in the Bible, but you don’t want to accept it. 

                • Anonymous-Sam

                   That’s because you’re using a circular argument with no internal consistency to explain why a being who demonstrates no internal consistency has no internal consistency.

                  Which is, obviously, the only consistent thing about this argument.

                  You cannot point at the Bible and say “Obviously the Bible is true, because the Bible says so.” That’s flagrant lunacy. Anyone can write a book in which they demonstrate that their arguments are true by stating that they are. “What I write is true, because I have written the truth. QED, it’s true!”

                  (And when said book contains numerous exploits allowing the priests of God to capitalize on religious nonsense  like “sacrifice your children or pay the priests five shekels” (Exodus 13:11-16, Numbers 18:16), I call BS.)

                  What separates the Bible from any of the other ancient books proclaiming their divine origin? What about the Book of Mormon? The Qur’an? The Golden Verses of Pythagoras? If you want an exercise in mental gymnastics, try comparing Jesus Christ to the dozens of other mythical figures who were born on the winter solstice, killed and raised from the dead in the easter equinox, who healed the sick and the dying. Try explaining how Egypt had the story of the raising of El-Azarus from the dead centuries before it occurred in Christianity, by Horus, born on the solstice, killed and raised on the equinox, a man who walked on water, was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, had twelve desciples, born from a virgin named Mary, and was crucified between two thieves. This story isn’t new, isn’t original, and isn’t relevant.

                  No, it’s intellectual dishonesty. You’re going into an argument with the predetermined assumption that nothing, no matter how heinous it sounds, could possibly be an indication of anything but God’s divinity. If God had ordered the genocide of the people of six nations (which he did — Exodus 23), then there would be perfectly legitimate reasons to kill those hundreds of thousands of people. If he ordered the sacrifice of children, it would only be His right. If he ordered the rape and murder and torture of millions, hey, He’s GOD! He can do whatever the frig he wants to!

                  And considering God also supposedly has power over Hell and commits anyone who disagrees with him to an eternity of endless torment, you know what that sounds like to me? Stockholm Syndrome. God is the ultimate criminal, performing countless crimes every day, and holding the souls of Christians hostage until they break and begin to identify with Him. You don’t dare do otherwise because the alternative is unthinkable.

                  But the alternative isn’t unthinkable. It need not even be atheism. I’m not an atheist; I’m an agnostic nontheist who probably qualifies as a form of deist. I believe in God–or rather, in something which I refuse to quantify by the antiquated term of God, which did indeed bring about the creation of our world and remains somewhere in the cosmology of our existence. My beliefs are not mutually exclusive to science, because they encompass science. The source of all being would need tools to create a universe and would want that universe to be able to maintain itself, so it would ensure that the universe had homeostatic mechanisms — the laws of physics.

                  See that? All I’ve done is anthropomorphize the nature of our particular bubble in the quantum foam, and I already have a far more coherent religion than Christianity. When I die, I won’t go to Hell because there is no need of such a place. You invented it and it exists for you because you believe in it, but the moment you discard the barbaric concepts of morality that Christianity holds up as ideals, they lose their power over you. Close your gate to Hell. There’s a much better paradise out there, and it doesn’t require you to justify slavery.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Way to narrow at t his point for a full response but I will say that this discussion is about the Bible and the God of the Bible. If you choose not to follow Him that is your choice and I wish you well, but I have no problems with my God as he is described in the Bible and know his character and his nature.

                • Anonymous

                   He is clearly a follower of the William Lane Craig school of insanity and sociopathy.

                  Will someone please think of the poor soldiers who had to carry out the genocide and were probably traumatized by doing god’s holy work

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                  Okay, I’ve been talking to you, and my comments have been about the Bible.  If you don’t want to actually have a conversation, then don’t.  But stop wasting my time.

                  The point is that if we judge the morality of the Bible, and find it lacking, then it can’t be the product of an all-loving and perfect god.  So let us talk about the morality of the Bible.

                  I’m not blaming a fictional character for the stuff in a real piece of literature.  I don’t blame Voldemort for the ethical commentary in Harry Potter, and I don’t blame God for the Bible.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Actually I agree this is a waste of time because you refuse to view the bible from any view other than man. We will always be talking next to each other, not to each other.  But when you argue morality from the Bible, as a Christian I will always view it as instructions divinely inspired by God for his reasons as an all knowing, and all merciful God who has a plan for mankind throughout eternity. On this I know we will never agree.

                  I have enjoyed our conversation and I look forward to doing it again.

                • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

                   How do you “view the bible from any view other than man?”
                  Do you have a pair of god-eyes?

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                  The view of man is the only view, because the book was written by human beings as far as I’m concerned.  Are you going to defend it?

            • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

              Except that we’re talking about things like genocide, not pushing a child. If you want to argue that committing genocide was necessary for the “greater good” of ensuring that the nation of Israel would continue to exist (for instance), go right ahead, but it’s doubtful that you’re going to get any traction.

              • Rwlawoffice

                 What I am saying is that if you want to criticize God for the instructions he gave in the Bible then you must include all of his attributes and reasons why he might have done so.

                • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

                  I think you’ve missed the point. Atheists aren’t likely to criticize a being they don’t believe in. We can, however, point out to Christians that the Bible depicts God in a way that makes him seem like a genocidal tyrant. It’s not much better that he then later decided to give some people the chance not to be tortured eternally if they would profess belief in him (and his son).

                  We also don’t see any reason for seeking justification for actions that seem manifestly immoral. You do, of course, maintaining belief in this deity, but that is your issue to deal with, not ours.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Well the Bible also depicts him as all loving and merciful and those attributes can make what seems immoral from our viewpoint not immoral to an all knowing God.  That is our disconnect.

                  As for athiests not justifying “actions that seem manifestly immoral” I see that all the time in the abortion debate.  Those who support choice go to great lengths to justify why this is not killing another living being and even if it is why it is ok.

                • Guest


                  loving and merciful” is not compatible with “genocidal”, sorry.

                • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                  Okay.  AGAIN.  Don’t give a crap about your god.  I’m talking about the Bible as a collection of books.  Defend it or go home.

            • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

               His nature is to be a dick. We talk about that in many other pages.

        • http://inmyunbelief.wordpress.com/ TCC

          I don’t think discussing all of the Bible is really an issue, as the “good parts” just provide more of a contrast with the “bad parts.” Then you get into the tricky business of talking about inerrancy and the Bible as a moral guide when it has such disparate passages, commanding genocide in one part and commanding total self-sacrifice in another. That’s not better for you; it’s worse.

    • Rwlawoffice

       As a Christian who comments here I agree with you John and with Timothy Keller’s assessment . If you look at Lev. 25:39 it outs this whole discourse into better context. Lev. 25:39 specifically introduces this discourse with “sells himself to
      you” understanding that this was a voluntary economic relationship. But most on this board will respond like Stv84 did because if they took it in context they would not be able to mock it.   What most will not accept is that Christ came to change people’s hearts which if that was ever followed would end all kinds of “slavery”- physical, emotional and spiritual. The fact that during this time of history the Bible outlines regulations regarding an economic reality of the times doesn’t change that nor does it show that God endorsed slavery such as it was practiced here.  In fact the penalty for kidnapping anyone for any reason, including to enslave them was death.  Exodus 21:16.

      • The Captain

        And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master…. Ex.21:7-8
        Not really “a voluntary economic relationship” for the daughter now is it????

        Also those “economic reality of the times” are either starvation of slavery, so I ask again what is the difference between forcing someone into slavery by the sword, or by the threat of starvation. Both are not really “voluntary” now are they?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

        You are the cherry-picking liar, Rwlawoffice.  Keeping reading Leviticus.  

        NIV
        Leviticus 25

         39 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God. 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.

        The voluntary economic relationship only applies to Israelites.  Slaves can be taken or bought from foreign lands and kept for life and given as property to your children as inheritance.  

        Why do Christians get so dishonest about slavery in their holy book?  If you don’t agree with, ditch it.  If you agree with it, be honest.  In Exodus 21:16 it talks of kidnapping someone, but the same book makes exceptions for slaves, because they are property.  Why do you cherry-pick so?

        • Rwlawoffice

           Ex 21:16 is pretty clear.  If you kidnap anyone (not just Isrealites) and you sell them into slavery, it is punishable by death.  If that is the case, then even among foreigners that could not be done involuntarily.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

            Yeah, just like it says in Leviticus, you are supposed to acquire slaves from foreign lands.  So, the Israelites can’t kidnap, but they can still buy slaves.  It clearly states later in Exodus 21 that the Israelites can own slaves.

            Leviticus also says that the Israelites are to buy slaves:

            Leviticus 25:

            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.

            So, unless God commands the Israelites to take slaves, they can only buy them.  How is this better?

            And of course none of this addresses the fact that you either out and out lied in the previous comment, or you were ignorant of the text immediately after that which you quoted.

            • Thackerie

              Makes it pretty clear that not all (or even most) slaves in biblical times were “indentured servants” as our resident apologist claimed. That’s why it’s so frustrating to try to have a discussion with a fundigelical; they either can’t be trusted to know the bible very well or,  those who do, can’t be trusted to be honest about it.

            • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

              Obviously, you can buy slaves from foreign lands as long as you don’t get your hands dirty while you do it. Morality solved!

              • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

                Rwlawoffice’ silence here is deafening. 

      • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

        This defense is only applicable if it was written by fallible humans.  If you believe that your unchanging and omnipotent deity had a hand in writing the Bible, then your defenses  invoking the “economy reality” of the time are null and void. 

        If you want people to accept that the Bible is a holy book, then you need to stop defending it with excuses that only make sense if we’re talking about purely man-made historical literature.

    • The Captain

      “And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master…. Ex.21:7-8″ Seems the daughter didn’t have much choice in her slavery there. 

      Also, “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, that’s a little more brutal than knocking a tooth out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin

      And right before Exodus 21:27 in Exodus 21:20 it says that if you beat a slave, and they die a couple of days later, that’s okay because they are property.  

      Property, not indentured servants.  And let us not forget, this was in there because otherwise the master would have to give up a tooth or an eye to the slave, so this is actually giving the master less punishment than they would normally get.  

      It is slavery, plain and simple.  There is nothing in the Bible that makes it even a little better.  The rules for eyes and teeth just say “Don’t aim for the head.”  

    • Anonymous-Sam

      Exodus 21:1-6: Hebrew slaves are set free after 6 years, but their families remain unless they beg to remain slaves forever. Children born during this time become the master’s.
      Exodus 21:7-11: Female slaves remain slaves forever unless married off.
      Exodus 21:20-21: Masters are free to beat their slaves as long as the slave regains consciousness within two days.
      Exodus 21:28-32: If a slave is killed, the penalty is a paltry 30 shekels. If anyone else is killed, stone the bull and owner to death.

      Totally sounds like indentured servitude to me, aside from the parts where it doesn’t. ._.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        I’m still waiting for someone to give me the context that explains Exodus 21:4.  My sincere apologies if either MommaJ or rwlawoffice have and I’ve missed it.  But so far as I can tell, it’s simply that women and children are chattel, and that’s that.

        After all, He’s God and He can do whatever He wants.  And what He wants is good and just and loving be definition.

        (and he gives us a rainbow to prove it)

        • Rwlawoffice

          In this society men arranged the marriages of their daughters and their maidservants. This arrangement included a dowery for the wife.  This could not be paid by the makeservant except through additional work. For example, see the story of jacob and Laban.  he worked seven years to earn who he thought was Rachel but it wasn’t and had to work seven years more before he could leave. This would not change if the marriage was arranged while the male servant was in the service of his master. In verse 5 if the marriage was one that was not just arranged by the master but grew into love and the slave did not want to leave his wife then he would stay and not be freed from his obligation.

          I hope this helps you.   

          • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

            Allow slave to beget a child -> apprx 7 more years ownership for you! If you’re lucky, the male will never be able to leave.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            I sincerely appreciate the effort.

            But honestly that still sounds like a victim of domestic abuse defending the actions of (usually) her abuser.  “He really does love me.  He told me not to go out with my friends that evening, but I did it anyway.   He just loves me so much, it made him angry for me to disobey him.”

            • Anonymous

              That’s exactly the kind of relationship many believers have with religion and their churches. They get hurt and may even realize it in some way, but they stay anyways

  • The Captain

    I have to admit, I love to watch the mental gymnastics that christians have to do to justify the horrific morals their supposed higher being has whenever this subject comes up (and the genocide one too). It reminds me so much of the conversations I have had with die hard southerners who claim slavery in the US really wasn’t that bad and the slaves where all treated nicely. Just a delusional fantasy to cover up for your shitty morals is all. 

    • http://profiles.google.com/jinxmchue Jinx McHue

       I find your comments ironic given the mental gymnastics that went in to creating this video. 

  • SimonPure

    Slavery was an established institution for millenia, both before the Bible was written and after. The Code of Hammurabi acknowledged it around 1770 BCE. Why should the Bible be any different, as it merely reflects the mores of its time and place?

    Of course slavery is unacceptable now, but is it fair to judge the past by present standards? What will our remote descendants disparage us for?

    We atheists should be aware of the hazards of presentism.

    • Anonymous

       It doesn’t matter if it were practiced for thousands of years.  That doesn’t make it right in any time period.  It’s EXTREMELY fair to judge the past by present standards.  When a civilization advances and becomes more humane and better, how else can we measure today’s social and cultural successes if not by comparing them to those of the past?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Goodwin/676660806 Stephan Goodwin


      Why should the Bible be any different, as it merely reflects the mores of its time and place?”

      Sure, as atheists we can say that.  But Christians don’t believe this, and that’s the point.  

    • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

      I’d be all for this if everyone accepted the Bible as mere historical literature, written by and for men. 

      However, if people are going to claim the Bible is the Word of an unchanging, benevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent God, then I’m going to judge it as if it were written by just such a being.  And when judged by those standards, it falls spectacularly short.

      If the claim is that the Bible contains timeless capital-T Truth, then I should be able to judge it by modern standards.

    • Matto the Hun

      Simon, thats bullshit.

      Talk about missing the point. Yes it is absolutley fair, when prescriptions on slavery are supposedly handed down from what people claim to be the all knowing, all loving, all benevolent god. 

      So if the claim is that the Bible is the Word of God and the source of morality, when Christian half-wits claim we need the ten commandments on every public school and government building because they we can’t be good w/o them… then yes, we do get to cal them out for slavery being condoned in the Bible.

      You cannot have an all loving, moral God on one hand and one that condones slavery on the other no matter what time the slavery was taking place.

      Got it?

      • Anonymous

        I prefer to think of it this way: If “God” thought things like slavery were okay way back when, and we know without question that it’s evil and bad and all that today, then I guess we know that today’s humans are far better people than “God” ever was.  We’ve evolved; “God” hasn’t. That’s a good metaphor for religious people not evolving. Sure, they may say slavery is bad, but they still condone many things the Bible says they should condone, like homosexuality and having a woman answer entirely to her husband and daughters being used as currency by a father looking to unload them. Maybe the religious folks will continue to get fewer and fewer as more of them realize what silliness the whole mess is, and arguments like this won’t matter — we’ll all look on the Bible as the collection of fairy tales they are, written by uneducated, unknowing desert nomads thousands of years ago.  Either that, or a new sect will start up, worshiping the true stories of Mother Goose — probably constantly at war with the other sect that worships Aesop and the other sect that worship the Grimm Brothers.

  • Anonymous

    @SimonPure
     If one acknowledges that those texts are simply human products of their times, then of course it’s understandable. Not right or moral, but one can understand why it was written that way.

    But it makes zero sense as the product of a being that is described as omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. A truly all-knowing, all-loving god would have known that slavery was always wrong and he would have known that it wouldn’t last forever. So he could – and would – have told his people to stop doing it

  • The Captain

    @Rwlawoffice

    Look, first, I’ve read the bible… AND I’ve read many many other books, text, papers and listened to many lectures on ancient pre-history, and history. The best bit of advice I can give you here is that you need to learn about history through more than one source. You however seem to think you know everything there is because the “bible says so”. Your quoting of the bible to support the bible, is well a joke that’s made regularly. I find it hard to discus historical realities with people who refuse to look at anything outside of one source which you do. That admittedly was a long winded way to say that Jacob’s story of servitude does not mean it was typical just because it was a story in your bible.

    But, lets roll with this then anyway.  The link you posted (you just googled it huh?) is well pathetic in its reasoning. Fist off, it builds it’s entire point from the assumption that  economic slavery is “voluntary”. As I have said repeatedly to you “What is the difference between forcing someone into slavery by the sword, or by the threat of starvation”? If someone can’t pay a debt, they obviously have no money (or wealth), so tell me, where did someone who had no money get food to eat in the bronze age then? Either by the sword, or wealth it makes no difference, there was no “choice” for these people!

    But this gets better, the source you link too, is just an opinion piece, but it does have some links for it’s reference and boy, is those just as bad. The one from “Christian Thinktank” (that’s the best name they could come up with for a think tank?) I’ll address here. The premiss of the “Christian Thinktank” article is that the term “slave” was so broad in usage that it includes forms of “servitude” that we would not consider slavery by the standards of pre-1860′s America. They then go on to just assign the most benign form (one I would still consider immoral) to be the only one used by the Israelites with the only evidence being because they say so. 

    They then spend the rest of the time trying to say that slavery was in fact a benefit for the poor (an argument made by 18th century slave owners by the way). And goes on to cite an example of famine as reason for entering into slavery. So once again! What is the difference between forcing someone into slavery by the sword, or by the threat of starvation”?

    The rest of the paper is just as bad and full of contradictions. My favorite is the assertion that these people weren’t “real” slaves since they could still own their property they had when they “volunteered”. Ahh yea, the same people who apparently where so poor they couldn’t afford food so they had to be slaves, yet where so rich they owned all sorts of stuff. 

    Also I guess that the Israelites where just working off some debts to pharaoh then? 

    And finally I repost this question  to you once again!!!!!!!!! And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master…. Ex.21:7-8

    Not really “a voluntary economic relationship” for the daughter now is it????

    • Rwlawoffice

      Captain,  If you have another source to dispute my understanding of slavery in the Israeli culture during this time frame then I would be happy to read it, but simply attacking the source is not really persuasive. 

      I agree with you if a daughter is sold by her father to another to pay the debts of the family then it isn’t really voluntary for the daughter unless she agrees to it to help the family. But then when is the economic circumstances of any child their choice? These verses are clearly talking about an economic relationship because it further refers to a release of the servant in the year of Jubilee. Also, if you will read further, the maidservant, if she marries the master or the master’s son she is to be treated as a wife or as a daughter.  If she doesn’t marry the master or the son of the master then she is to be redeemed by her family. Ex. 21:7-11. She is not treated as property and under no circumstances can she be sold to foreigners.

  • Tigerboy

    The discussion about the precise meaning of “slave” that was intended by the goat herders of 2000 years ago is sort of irrelevant. The finer definitions of “slave” vs. “indentured servant” are meaningless to each new generation of scholars of this filthy book. There is no question that the people of the American South used the Bible to justify slavery to themselves, and others. We know which application of the word “slave” they had in mind. They referred to the same book we do, and decided it meant slavery was just fine. Each child who learns the filthy book reads the word “slave.” The Bible teaches that slavery is acceptable. Period! The original intent doesn’t even matter. Did Abraham really intend to kill Isaac? Or, was God’s true intention  . . . who cares?!! It is a filthy story about a man willing to kill his son because of what the voices in his head told him! The Bible teaches little boys and little girls that women are inferior to men. Destructive. Out of place in 2012! Dangerous. What some PhD. in Divinity figures out to be the “true” meaning of Leviticus matters little to the homosexual who gets beaten-up every day after school. The filthy book teaches filthy things to credulous fools. The credulous fools don’t get PhDs in Divinity. They just read the filthy book and spread its hatred around the world. Interpret original intent all you want. We are teaching our children that there is moral perfection contained in a book that demands blood sacrifices!  Are we not any more civilized than this?!  The Bible is extremely dangerous, and it offers morality lessons that are totally out of place in the 21st century.

  • Anonymous

    Numbers 31:17-18
     Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds just like “indentured servitude.”

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been thinking of committing some seriously heinous crimes:  Abduction, child slavery, surprise matrimony.

    I probably won’t, but if I do…

    Rwlawoffice, I’m going to hire you as my criminal defense attorney.  I have never seen anyone go to such lengths to mount a vigorous, exhaustive criminal defense.  Whatever you get paid, it isn’t enough.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X